Il Mercato Centrale

Reflections on Florence, Italy, circa 2001

I am immediately struck by the sweet perfume of flowers, the pungent odor of the fish counter, a whiff of fresh bread. The blare of horns and rattle of buses on the street outside give way to a steady hum of voices, peppered with shouts from the fish monger and the distant whack of a knife striking wood. I gaze up at the cavernous roof of the Mercato Centrale, a clear blue sky visible through the glass and steel rafters. I’ve stepped inside the Florentine equivalent of a circus tent, with vendors and shoppers buzzing around the food and flower stalls, readying for the show. I stand transfixed by the rhythm of the market place.

I begin walking slowly past tables piled high with green, orange and yellow peppers, vast varieties of tomatoes I don’t recognize, and citrus fruit in neon colors that look as if they could have been plucked from a tree that morning. I peer down into bins of olives in every shade of green, floating like shiny jewels in …

Children know best

I’m with my Mom, sitting next to her in a crowded restaurant, and yet I feel alone. I should be warmed by her proximity, by my ability to put my arm around her shoulder and squeeze her towards me. I can swing my leg three inches to the left and our knees will bump together. But she is light years away. She is the earth and I am the moon. She is a falling star glimpsed out of the corner of my eye; I’m fervently making a wish upon that star, my mother the star.

I'm in the middle of my life with an established career, strong marriage, and healthy and active children of my own. But my Mom's dementia has only made me realize how much I still need her. There are so many things I want to tell her, so many lessons she has yet to teach me. I think about my Mom's life and my own, the similarities and differences, the choices we both made. We've always been close, I thought I knew her well. But there are so many things I've never asked her, so much about her I don't know…

Why I Write

#TBT to a blog post from a few years ago that still rings true. I write my way through things that are troubling me, to gain perspective, and often because I simply feel compelled to put events into words. Writing is a reverse translation that helps me make sense of the world.

I've been going through my old journals lately and I've found a story there I want to tell - a story that is pulling me out of bed and to my laptop every morning. I'm reliving my story as I write and it's wonderful and scary and makes me feel alive.

I've kept a journal for as long as I can remember. I started writing down my thoughts from the time I was in grade school and kept journals through my mid-thirties. My writing changed when I started this blog. No one, not even me, would want to read the sort of drivel I wrote in my journal on a daily basis. Nonsense, ramblings, internal drama that I needed to work ou…

Journal entry, Oxford England 2001

#TBT to a journal entry** (in its rough form!) when I was living overseas and traveling in England to give a few research talks. The world was a scary and unknown place in the initial weeks post 9/11, irrevocably changed in a way we didn't yet understand. I was giving a talk at Oxford University and they put me up for the night in the coziest dorm room in a building straight out of a Harry Potter movie. Having just come from the busy streets of London, I couldn't wait to get outside for a quiet morning run in this magical place. Along the River Thames I found beauty and peace in a time of uncertainty and sorrow. 

September 17, 2001 
Oxford, England

A new morning in a new is so peaceful and beautiful here. I slept like a rock in my room in the castle and woke to hear the sounds of birds - foreign and exotic, outside my tiny windows. The sun shone through the tops of the trees in a clear blue sky - beckoning me out from under warm blankets and into the crisp morning ai…

A reason to celebrate

The house is quiet as the snow falls outside my window. The world is awash with white, hushed and still. Branches bend under the weight of the wet snow; there are no cars passing by on the street. Ryan took the kids sledding and Hazel is curled up and sleeping on the couch after a romp through the fresh snow.

My Mom and Dad left yesterday for their annual month-long stay in California, just escaping the snow storm. It was this same weekend last year, the day after my parents left, that my brother’s house caught fire.

It was just after midnight on Saturday night and my brother, sister-in-law and their three kids were all sleeping in their second floor bedrooms. The fire started in the basement. My sister-in-law woke to the scream of the smoke alarm in their bedroom. They opened the bedroom door to find smoke waist high in the upstairs hallway. After going half-way down the stairs and glimpsing flames through the floor grate in the kitchen, my brother ran back upstairs to get everyone…

Memories made

We made new memories last Saturday.

Somehow we found a day when everyone could get together to make Christmas cookies. We were three generations in a place that has been my family's home for at least that long, and all was right in the world. Mom was having a good day and was energized with all of her family at home. KU won a big basketball game earlier in the day making everyone, especially my Dad, happy. The girls made cookies while the boys played basketball on an especially warm December afternoon. Our cookies weren't Pinterest-worthy, but they were delicious.

Mom was much more interested in taking care of her newest granddaughter, 5 month-old Hartley Paige, than in helping decorate cookies. She lights up and is her happiest when around the baby. Hartley has this effect on all of us. Any hint of sadness gets snuffed out with her around. Baby smells, baby sounds, a touch of her soft skin, those big eyes smiling up at you - that's all a person needs to fill their soul …