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  • Published
    November 22, 2011

    The secret music of childhood

    Talking to my friends John and Parker at coffee about the teachers we had in grade school — not that we had the same teachers, since growing up in different places as we did we weren’t very likely to have had the same teachers, and growing up at different times (not different generations, as I think we are all pretty much of the same one, although I’m not sure that “generation” connotes a particular period of …

  • Published
    October 31, 2011

    Street smarts and dummies

    I must have looked like a madwoman last Sunday afternoon, hustling down Route 1 with a screwdriver in one hand and a pair of pliers (Are they called a pair? Or just pliers? Or maybe plier? Never mind, as long as they work.) and a totally imbecilic grin on my face as I rounded my block taking down fliers asking “Have you seen Emmie?” She’d been gone since Monday and I had despaired, not to despondency but pretty …

  • Published
    October 11, 2011

    Waltzing with Wagner and not Rudolf

    I have resolutely avoided reading the article in the New York Times about how people fall in love with their iPhones. All I need in my life is one more insentient being to which I am slavishly devoted with no fond returns, and if I sound bitter because my cars do not love me the way I love them, I am. Then there are the cats, though even they manage from time to time to communicate their feelings, which are …

  • Published
    September 27, 2011

    Living off the grid and its byproducts

    Living off the grid sounds so, so — well, romantic and dashing, despite the fact that the expression brings to my mind one of those medieval depictions of Satan roasting an array of victims on a giant griddle while a host of little devils jab at the sorry sinners with tiny toasting forks, or perhaps whatever saint it was who was similarly prepared for our delectation, not the one with the arrows stuck in everywher…

  • Published
    September 13, 2011

    As the fifth columnist said to the fourth estate

    It has already occurred to me that my iPhone could perfectly well perform as a fifth columnist, as opposed to the fourth estate, though there is in both expressions a hint of malignity, a word that has always interested me because its antithesis, that is, its counter-proposition denoting a direct contrast to the original proposition, is benign, and I’m not sure there is a word “benignity,” though I could look it …

  • Published
    August 29, 2011

    Deliriously dry, and also not so wet

    It boggles my mind that we take the word of the same people who rated toxic mortgage derivatives — or whatever they’re called; one of the great and unfair advantages Wall Street and its creatures have over us low mortals is that they all understand the language, which to me is as unfathomable as Sanskrit (and have you heard the one about the Sanskrit professor at Harvard who during the course of a decade had only …

  • Published
    August 6, 2011

    The past is present

    I was interested to read in Monday’s New York Times that the path to the debt-ceiling agreement was torturous. I am sure there was a lot of horse-trading going on in a lot of smoke-filled (well, maybe not these days, unless you’re talking about the smoke of heated discussions, or perhaps the smoke that magically appears when the magician pulls the poor mangled rabbit out of the hat, or the rabbit out of the …

  • Published
    July 24, 2011

    Turning right for the environment

    Considering that my remarkable nephew, Charley, is making a career out of handling legal issues having to do with the environment, it comes as no surprise to me that my family’s venerable summer home on Megunticook Lake has come to be filled with all kinds of products whose names start with “Eco” — and believe me, that is not eco- as in economy, since everything that seems to be good for the environment is not …

  • Published
    July 4, 2011

    When heavy pruning is called for

    It’s hard to forget where you’ve put a queen-size duvet with a bright yellow cover, and that’s a good thing, as my friend David used to say, and indeed I would have agreed with him had I not discovered that this phrase was a favorite of Martha Stewart’s, who I suspect did not think hanging around her house with a très unchic ankle monitor when she was convicted of insider trading was such a good thing. It is …

  • Published
    June 20, 2011

    Gently used — but definitely not new

    The other day at coffee my friends and I were checking to see if any of us had names that were listed in the top 100 for our gender. Nobody made the top 10 list of male names. My friend John came in at 26; my friend Mark was way down the list at 66, as I recall; my friend Parker was 89; etc. But none of us was as dissed as my friend George, whose name didn’t appear anywhere in that list. Mind you, there are …

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