Autumn came bright and early that year. My toddler and I wandered down the sidewalk over a carpet of leaves, one that created a riot of color crackling under our feet. I held his hand as he balanced himself, precariously, on a low stone wall. Periodically pain streaked, low and mean, through my belly. For…

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Naturally enough, every year when Father’s Day comes around, I am reminded of my Dad. He belonged to a generation of men who smoked in the hospital waiting room while their wives delivered babies by themselves, men who would never change a diaper or be a Girl Scout Cookie Mom. How different my father was.…

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Our trip over President’s Day weekend to visit my son, daughter-in-law and six-month-old grandson did not begin auspiciously. Before we even arrived in New York, our brand-new dog sitter phoned to tell us that, while she was throwing the ball in the rec room for fetch–crazy Mac, (our youngest Dal), had crashed into the wine…

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Last week, I went back to California for the first time since we moved to Maryland in September. The Bay Area south of San Francisco remains unchanged: still beautiful with its sunlight and winter green hills; still frustrating with its traffic and congestion; still costly to live and wine and dine in. Nevertheless, as the…

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My sister and I are sitting on opposite sides of the table in a drafty Vietnamese restaurant, slurping up bowls of Pho, on the afternoon before New Year’s Eve. We are each consulting our disintegrating copies of The Key To Chinese Cooking, authored by Irene Kuo. In the midst of planning what we are calling…

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Today, a Carly Simon lyric is running through my head non-stop: “Anticipation is makin’ me late, is keepin’ me waitin’.” I am trying to be patient, but suppressing excitement about my trip to New York just makes time drag more: November 17th is only two days away, but I feel like a little girl holding…

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For the first time in a long time, children dressed in costumes and shrieking “Trick or Treat” will clamor at the stoop of my house on October 31st. In California, we lived at the end of a long and dark street where no child ever ventured; over the course of the past sixteen years, I…

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Last week, I received many responses to my last newsletter essay, the one about losing the ones we love. Many people agreed that we all need to pay more attention to the way we try and help those we care about as they grieve.  This week, I find myself dealing with a strong sort of…

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When I was a child, my parents held out to me the example of an excellent and dedicated writer, my great-grandfather, Arthur Gray Staples. My mother, a Pulitzer-Prize winning poet herself, told me many stories of his life in Maine, in the early 1900’s, as the editor-in-chief of the Lewiston Evening Journal, which was considered…

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