When A Squirrel Calls…

I usually don’t give much thought to New Year’s celebrations.  My idea of a fabulous New Year’s Eve is a warm bath with a glass of wine and an early bedtime, snuggled in with my loves..one husband and two Labs.  It’s actually quite uncomfortable, but Beau and Enzo will not be denied , and one of us humans , named Joe, usually ends up at Sofa City.  But, it is New Year’s Eve, so we will give it the old college try.   Ideally, I would prefer my two sons, now young men, to be snuggled in their beds too..but sadly, a New Year’s Eve at home with early bedtime Mom and Dad is not their version of  fabulous.  Sigh..here’s hoping their plans fall through so that I don’t have to  fight the urge to text them every half hour for proof  of life.   I know..I know..let them go.  I  intend on doing so when their frontal lobes are fully developed.  We’re getting there.

Sooooo..back to New Year’s.

There’s something strange happening ’round here, and I am beginning to see a pattern.  I didn’t piece it together until Earl knocked on my kitchen door this morning..well..first rattled the doorknob, then flung himself at the glass, causing my seventeen year- old  incredible hulk of a man-child to respond in a decibel that I didn’t think was still physically possible for him.

But..first a little New Year’s weird history from the home- front…

If you are a past reader of this blog, you may recall my encounters with Prince.  Prince was a white , Piebald deer who lived on the property of a convent that I visit by bike or foot often.  It is an oasis in our crowded community, tucked on a hilltop, overlooking the forest and river here.  Prince was named by the nuns at the convent, they felt his presence was special, a message.  The last time I saw Prince was New Year’s a few years ago..I went to look for him, scanning the edge of the forest in the distance where he usually stood,  only to turn around and find him standing a few feet from my car as if to say, “you lookin’ for me?”   I had read that Native Americans believed the white deer were spiritual messengers..representing wonder, mystery..magic.   I was looking for all three when he appeared, and I gasped and we stared at each other for what seemed like a long time.  He walked away slowly, and I drove away slowly..renewed..believing.   I was told a few months later  by a nun with tears in her eyes that he was found that winter  lying next to their angel garden, their Prince had died.  They still felt his spirit there..so did I, and still do.

prince at car

Meeting with Prince

The next New Year’s,   I awoke to a wounded dove in my back yard who was dragging a wing and appeared doomed.  I ran for help, returning moments later to find the dove gone, replaced by the sounds of soft cooing close by.   The dove is wildly symbolic of course, and I spent that morning reading about their messages of hope and significance to Christianity.  A lovely, hopeful start to a New Year.  Pretty cool.

But wait..there’s more.  The Hawk.   The Hawk came last year , took up post on my fence and had a staring contest with me through my window.  At this point, I had “Spirit Animals”  book-marked on my laptop  and found that the visit from the hawk was a sign to “get ready”, changes were coming , wisdom would be summoned and courage  needed.  Life was indeed changing quickly, and confusion and sadness was hanging in the air.  Painful loss followed in 2018 as  my dear Dad passed away..and everything feels shrouded in sad.  Deep love = deep grief.  I get it now.

hawk on fence

My Hawk

My Dad was many things, kind, smart, generous.. a great guy.  He was a practical man who knew when enough was enough.  Before he died, he asked me..”why can’t you say goodbye?”  Dad had a sense of humor and a playfulness that made him easy to be around…and I know he wants us to laugh often at his memory and mourn less.

Ladies and Gentlemen…meet Spirit Animal 2019.  Knocked on my door this morning.

“Hellllloooooo..it appears you have placed the “bird” (he did the air quotes,  pretty sure) feeder a bit out of reach”.


squirrel at door

Earl The Bat Shit Crazy Squirrel

Then…to the theme of “Rocky”..seriously, my son put the song on…Earl pulls a “Hold my beer” stunt.

squirrel hold my beer

“feeling strong nooooow”


..and …

squirrel in feeder

Earl will not be denied..

Finally, with two Labs watching this madness from two feet away, their snouts pressed against the glass, growling and barking…Earl comfortably sat..and smirked..and we laughed and laughed.

squirrel on rail

Believe or not, Squirrels are considered spirit animals and they are believed to carry several messages to believers.  Squirrels tell us to not take life too seriously.  They warn us to prepare- get those nuts buried early and often!  Most importantly, according to the Shamans, they encourage us to never give up.

Thanks for the laughs Earl, message received.  Also, “bird ” feeder lowered..I wouldn’t want my crazy  messenger to sprain his cute, little furry ankle.

Happy New Year!











Two Bucks And A Trip To The Moon

Delusion was in DA HOUSE yesterday.

The house was my place of employment in a Baltimore, Maryland  hospital, specifically in the Operating Room.  Barely ten minutes passed without  seeing a coworker rush by, clutching two- one dollar bills, searching for the self appointed boss of a different sort of operation.  Operation Get Rich.   I directed my friends  with  the urgency of an air traffic controller in a Nor’Easter.   Coworkers dropped their forks mid- bite , obeying  my words, “quick, she’s collecting in the recovery room! Hurry!”  In a work place of marked diversity in ethnicity and socioeconomic class, there was no mistaking our unity, we were in this together.  From the CEO’s to the very good people scrubbing the blood off the instruments,  we were united.  Janitors loaning surgeons two dollars to get in the game. A coworker called out of the country to an ailing family member was added by a generous soul.  No man left behind.  We were making certain that no one walked into the operating room today to find a ghost town, tumbleweeds and crickets..while everyone else was home , drunk on their morning champagne.


Well, almost.

We won four dollars.

Twice, I think.

Now I have to go to work, and  I won’t be arriving to hand in my resignation as I planned..Cleopatra style.


Oh, I  had some plans.  Didn’t we all?

I was going to give everyone I loved , and even some I didn’t, a million or more,  a piece.  My kids would be attending college sans debt.  I was going to celebrate with a fabulous Italian meal, in Italy, on my private island, arriving on my private jet.  Amazing charities established for man and beast.  Cures for diseases would be found.  Sanctuaries and rescues.

Maybe some skin resurfacing, state of the art plastic surgery to erase the wrinkles and age spots and some liposuction.  I know, superficial…but if I’m going to be known internationally, I should probably bleach the coffee stains out of my teeth.

Quit judging.

Instead, I’m leaving for work in a few minutes.

I’m heading back to the folks who I bid adieu to yesterday.  We wished each other a wonderful last night of being poor.  We chatted excitedly while we changed out of our scrubs, crammed in our little locker room, about the logistics of splitting the ginormous jackpot.  Some folks had already contacted their attorneys to start questioning the process and all its’ complexities…yes, the delusion was real.

george bailey I wish I had a billion dollars

While driving home last night with the moon smiling at me , I thought of George Bailey’s “lassoing the moon” for his beloved Mary from the film “It’s A Wonderful Life”..how badly George wanted to be successful monetarily , not realizing that he already had everything ..the love of his life, his family , his friends.

Today, when my husband left for work, he called out to me..”I love you Tessie, I love our life together!”  Joe is a sweet guy, but that is not his usual goodbye, at least not the “life together” part.  I kinda feel like I hit the love lottery last night.

So, I won’t be arriving on my litter today , eating grapes and being fanned by half-naked men.  But  I will be surrounded by hard working friends who care for, and about, their fellow man with compassion and kindness every day.

Jackpot, indeed.





Thanksgiving At 50

Happy , happy joy!  It’s my Golden Thanksgivingversary!

To celebrate this half-century milestone of being a pumpkin pie eating machine, I am going to list fifty things I am most grateful for…

Just kidding.

Oh, good you’re still here.

Today, while I  strolled under a perfect blue sky to my sister’s home for the annual feast, past the old homes that are lined up proudly on my street, I felt the spirits of a hundred Thanksgivings. Imagining the 1920’s, 30’s 40’s families bustling about then.. pulling turkeys from ovens, and yelling at their teenage sons to keep the dog away from the cooling pies..and for the love of Eleanor Roosevelt, get the hell off your iphone and help peel the dang potatoes..oh, wait.  Anyway,   I paused under a tree with just two survivors holding on for dear life and breathed in the wonderful tradition…aided by the aroma of many Locust Drive Thanksgiving feasts being prepared, drifting from open windows on this unusually warm Maryland day.

thanksgiving two leaves

do you cringe at the bare trees…or do you see blue sky?










I thought of my childhood Thanksgivings crammed around a folding card table in a Baltimore City row home, where my grandparents of Italian descent, served up the meal with love, pure and simple.  It was the only meal served at the kid’s table, on the red checkered tablecloth, that wasn’t spaghetti or lasagna..and it always left me wishing that it were.

neno and granpop 1970's

typical spaghetti and meatball Sunday dinner at Neno and GrandPop’s…that’s me right before the exorcism.

We weren’t the Kennedys..there were no cocktails or family football games.  The men disappeared to play poker in the basement , the women cleaned up and chatted, and the kids took off to explore …rummage through button jars, play games, where ever our imaginations took us.   Adult supervision was nonexistent unless it was to break up a fight, not a disagreement, you were on your own there.  It was, pretty much, the perfect Thanksgiving…followed by decades more of them.


Social media, as it will do,  has tried to throw a wet blanket over this simple day.  The heated debate over retailers being open or not on Thanksgiving, or posts reminding us that we shouldn’t be happy when others are suffering…and don’t even get them started on those 1621 Pilgrims.


thanksgiving 1600

what’s not to love?

Today we celebrated connection.

thanksgiving kids on phones

teenage boys er…connecting.

We wore silly hats and took bad selfies while our teenagers rolled their eyes at their daft parents.

thanksgiving selfie with joe

We ate and drank too much.

We loved just enough.


trukey @ 50























































Amazing Grace

I got lost today.

I was found today.

Spun around on my path and pointed in the right direction by a young man named Corran, pronounced “Koran”- just like the holy book.

If my son hadn’t been in the minivan with me, I might have chalked it up to my vivid imagination, but I have a witness to this lovely stranger who climbed in my backseat today.

So I was lost..pretty much in my own little neighborhood.  I was taking my son to a job fair at a retirement community just a couple of miles from our home.  It is easy to find for sure, but once we drove beyond the locked gates, a small city was revealed..and since I can get lost looking for the deli in Wegman’s (true story)…well.   The guard took one look at my coiffed teenage son and knew exactly where we were going and stated “follow the car in front of you” and hurried us along.  The fair was bringing teens in by the dozens to vie for dining room positions, and while I was astounded by my son’s recent response of ..”oh, you wanted me to empty ALL the dishes from the dishwasher?”..I encouraged him to apply and give it a shot, and if he stays for two years, he may be eligible for their scholarship fund that the residents generously chip in for and award to deserving  employees as they head off to college.

I followed the car in front of me as instructed, chatting with my son, prepping him for the interview in air conditioned comfort, and followed..and followed..until it became obvious that the lead car in our little adventure had no clue where she was going, and we all ended up back at the starting line. Once  the caravan of clueless parents and teens were pulled over, I took the bull by the horns and told everyone to stay put and ran over to the guard house to get directions and let my displeasure be known, by God.  I was starting to break a sweat and my little darling was getting nervous.

  • I impatiently questioned a young man who was also waiting to talk to the gatekeeper..”do you work here?” ..to which he replied “No ma’am..I am here for a job fair and I have been walking a long time, I got lost ..I am hoping they will call me a shuttle.”   Dear Lord, it was hot, and he was dressed in clothes that were the attempt of a boy to look dressed up, long dark pants and a heavy blue, cardigan  sweater , substituting as a suit jacket.  He looked miserable. I got directions and offered him a ride.

He told me his name was Corran, after a “what up bro? ” greeting to my son, and hopped in the back of the van.  I was leading the caravan this second trip around, chatting with my new passenger and glancing at my silent son who looked to be in disbelief that I had just invited this stranger into our car. Worlds colliding.

Corran told me that he took the bus to get to the job fair, it took about an hour.  The bus stop is a steep walk up a long hill to the gates. The walk alone would be intolerable…and that was just on our end.  He boarded his bus down on North Avenue where he lives..”that’s in Baltimore City M’am”.  He said “Baltimore City” like he was in a foreign country now ,despite the fact that I could see the city skyline from the front seat of my car.

Yes, I wanted to say, of course I know North Avenue..the whole world knows North Avenue after the riots and burning of this year.  The horror and anger of those days are still fresh, the neighborhoods still disaster zones, the murder rate setting new records every day.  I have been bouncing between outrage, sadness and resignation on nearly a daily basis..and my heart aches from all of it…so yes, I know North Avenue.

west north avenue

Corran told me how he hopes to get the job at the retirement community, he needs to save for college.  I couldn’t imagine the effort he would be making to get to work after school.  He was the same age as my still very quiet, front- seat sitting son..who would be  hand delivered to this place of employment just minutes from home.  Suddenly I felt sorry..but not for Corran.

The boys made it to their interview, and I thought I had seen the last of Corran, until he showed up side by side with my son afterwards.  He asked for a ride back to the gates, which I happily obliged and extended the ride to the bus stop down that steep hill…honestly, I wasn’t ready to see him go.  He seemed pleased with the interview and was excited about his chances.  When he jumped out and gave a little wave, my heart was full of hope for this determined boy..and something else …for the first time in months, my heart was hopeful for Baltimore, for humanity.

Stay strong Corran, you are what’s right and good ..the world needs you.  I hope we meet again.

sunrise sea isle again

Channeling my Inner Miss Ida ..

Miss Ida was a mean old lady.

Growing up in a row home in Baltimore just a stoop hop away from the meanest old lady on College Avenue was no picnic.

Miss Ida kept her postage stamp of a yard pristine.  She cultivated beautiful roses, azaleas and the most evil “sticker” bush, that to this day I shiver remembering the horror of the daily flesh tearing we experienced reaching into the monster to retrieve a stray ball…if we were lucky to get that far.  Usually, Miss Ida would fly from the dark corners and screech in her distinctive West Virginia accent, “GIT OFF MY PRA-PER-TEEE (translation, property) BEFORE I CALL THE PO-LEEECE (police) !!!”

It seemed the old widow hated children and everything about them, and though it was the early 1970’s, she seemed to have some sort of sophisticated surveillance system that was able to detect a single drip of  ice cream on a hot summer day, again launching her from her armchair to the stoop to deliver stern warnings about the “Pissy Ants”  we were sure to attract to her pra-per-tee.

One thing and seemingly the only thing that did not agitate Miss Ida were the birds.

She loved those dang birds. Through the wall  I could hear her happily talking to her parakeet…”sing for me pretty boy, pretty boy” ..and it was just so strange.  She fed the birds and filled their bath and sang to them in her old hillbilly way…I just didn’t get it…how could someone so mean be so nice..to a bird?

Though I have always called myself an animal lover, I guess birds really weren’t included. I considered bird watching an old people thing and would have likely put that on my top ten things to not do when I retire. When my parents started filling their backyard with bird feeders a few years back and keeping  binoculars by the window, I’ll admit I was taken aback..how does this happen?  Why do we start noticing the birds more as we age..and for the love of God, why am I suddenly buying three bags of seed a week and contemplating a third feeder?bird lady 1

Yep, I am becoming a crazy bird lady…at home and abroad.  “Abroad” meaning at my place of employment.  It’s a long story, but real quick..our operating room lounge is being renovated and we, along with our microwaves and our coffee pots were relocated to an upper floor.  A room with a view..something we are not accustomed to down in the hole.  A room that looks out into a courtyard with a very old statue of a Saint whose identity  we are still trying to figure out and a beautiful tree with an old, empty bird feeder swinging from it. Well, it used to be empty. Some crazy,old nurse has been filling it daily, throwing a handful of some extra cracked corn on the ground for the doves and tucking some suet up in the tree for the Robins.  We are moving back downstairs this week..and I am having visions of me trudging out there in the dead of Winter, becoming one of those work place “characters” that the kids will talk about for years to come.birds at kernan

It seems this affection for the birds came on me suddenly..or maybe not.  On New Year’s Day 2015, I awoke to what appeared to be a wounded Dove flopping around in my backyard..by the time I rushed back to it with reinforcements (my braver than me husband) the Dove was gone.  I pondered messages of peace and hope and generally concluded it was a good thing.  I see now that this was meant to be the Year of The Bird for me.

I get it Miss Ida..(who really turned out to be just a lonely lady who needed a friend.  I remember her crying tears of happiness when my mother got an idea to surprise her with a birthday cake, and now teenagers, we crossed the threshold to her stoop and sang to her.  She said no one had ever given her a birthday party her entire life. ) like me, you found your oasis in the birds.

In the morning I have my first cup of coffee with Edna and Walter, my Doves., delighting in their chicken-y struts and laid back style, while the Jays and Cardinals and Sparrows and Finches flutter from feeder to feeder ..time to step up on Locust Drive since most of my old lady neighbors are filling bird feeders in heaven these days..guess it’s my turn to jump in Miss Ida’s galoshes.  I won’t be planting any child eating sticker bushes, but I am getting  a reputation as the neighborhood trash can police..baby steps.

Ms. Azalea’s Anger Management Class


You’re missing it….missing me.

We don’t have much time together, and I know how you love me so.

I bloomed for the family before you, and the family before them,

through the riots of ’68 to last week, I have done my work and risen to the light

I am old now.

I hear you talking about the “dead parts of me” , my future uncertain.

In spite of it all, I bloomed extra beautiful this year…

for the dead parts in you.

I am climbing up your steps, blocking your mailbox

Touch me.

Finally, today, you saw me.

azalea 2015

Saying Goodbye To The Old Man

The Old Man hiked up his baggy pants today, puffed up his chest and showed us he still has it going on.

Old Man Winter that is…and  I love it.

Before logging on today to what I was sure would be a bombardment of negativity on social media and going to work where I knew hours of complaining awaited me, I took a little detour after the school run.

Roundin' the bend at the old convent..

Roundin’ the bend at the old convent..

To the angels, of course.  I drove to the old convent and parked at the edge of the forest.  The snowy silence occasionally broken by the songs of birds sweetened the moment, their optimism infectious..I wished I could send their message to everyone today who will waste another day of their life complaining and wishing time away.

I thanked the Old Man for this beautiful morning and for filling our rivers and soaking the earth.  I know a glorious Spring awaits under this pretty snowy blanket.

Happy Spring to you, Winter.  Peace.

Having a last moment with Winter in the woods.

Having a last moment with Winter in the woods.

Hellloooo? Testing..Is This Thing On?

Oh, hi.

It’s been a while.

Like a whole, entire month while.

Is everyone o.k.?

Excuse me while I stop to catch my breath.  Crawling out of this rabbit hole I fell down the entire month of February takes some energy.

And, I’m Fifty.

So there was cake.

So there was cake.

So this could take a while…go put the kettle on, I’ll still be hoisting myself up when you get back.

O.k., I’m just going to blog from inside the rabbit hole..I got halfway , saw my shadow..and yikes..looks like the shadow found her spare tire she lost from last year.. and decided to stay until April.

I’ll be honest with you..turning Fifty kinda sucked.  It sucked because I mostly found myself wanting to kill people who were trying to tell me, nearly at every turn, that turning Fifty sucks. God, those people suck.

People that felt the need to console me on my birthday..”oh, it’s not so bad..it’s just another day..just a number, you’ll survive….you don’t look Fifty.”   Funny, I don’t remember asking for a psychiatric consult..a simple “Happy Birthday!” would have sufficed.

Then, there was Enzo, my Chocolate Lab..who also felt the need to inject some pain and suffering (his and mine) into my big day, after his version of a paint ball party went awry.  Apparently eating over 300 green paint balls is not recommended and will buy you, and an innocent bystander Black Lab, Beau, a night in the pokey for a ’round the clock IV and enema party.  We spent all night sitting in the emergency clinic, anxious and increasingly depressed as trauma and tragedy paraded through the door, and people left in tears with empty blankets or holding collars that would never be needed again.  We were so grateful to have our pups back the next day , that handing over all the spending money for my birthday trip, and then some, was a joyous moment indeed.

Maybe Enzo thought it was St. Patrick's Day?

Maybe Enzo thought it was St. Patrick’s Day?

Speaking of birthday trips..there was New York City.  Which did not suck.  Joe and I hopped a train after emptying our wallets at the vet and steamed North.  Crazy kids on a train, not a worry in the world, no sick dog, no bored teenagers, no piteous looks after learning of my advanced age…just us two..forever young, at least on the inside.  So fun..even when the train broke down.  Was I doomed?  Nah..it un-broke.

Hello NYC!  Concrete never looked so good.

Hello NYC! Concrete never looked so good.

Such fun..a lesson in not putting all your eggs in one basket.  If you are counting on a perfect day for anything..a birthday, Christmas, a wedding..whatever..you may end up in a paint ball hell.  Life is full of surprises..some really, really good…like when your NYC Carriage Horse Driver gives you an extra long ride around a snow covered Central Park and then offers to drop you off at an Irish pub on his way back to the stables..your perfect moment might be down the path a bit, but it’s waiting for sure.

Murphy, our ride to the pub.

Murphy, our ride to the pub.

The Face

“You’re doing it, you’re making “the face” “…I have heard that at least a million times from my husband over the years, and have said it to him twice as much.

“The face” can’t be faked..we have tried, and failed every single time., and we laugh and laugh at our feeble attempts.

We call it “the face of love” and it happens when we are fully engaged with our Labs..you dog lovers know what I’m talking about…  not the “hey, what’s up Enzo” conversation..but the “oooooh, you are so goooood..you like those ears rubbed?? You like that belly scratched?? What a sweeeeet boy!”  It’s a mutual love fest, a slobbering love beast eating it up and his human’s stress fading fast…and out comes “the face”

We always say we need to get a picture of it, since neither of us know what we look like until now..well, at least one of us knows…me.

“The face” was captured  last year while I was enjoying having this sweet black Lab snout to nose.  She wanted my apple desperately, and might have gotten a little nibble or two.

The sweet creature went to mooch from the angels yesterday .  I bet they’re all making this face…it’s not pretty..but it feels beautiful.

lenore with tess

Thank You, Dan

Whoa…I have heard about this stuff happening, but never experienced it myself until today.  This morning, a stranger reached in front of me with a twenty dollar bill and bought my milk, juice and newspaper while I stood, stunned, staring at the “out of order” sign taped to the credit card machine, my card still in my hand which was locked in the mid-air swipe position.

I had dashed to my local 7-11 before heading to work to grab the necessities that I promised my winter vacationing teen boys would be waiting for them, whenever they emerged from their hibernation.  They are lost without their morning, er, make that afternoon bowls of cereal..I swear I have purchased a Mercedes Benz worth of milk in the last fifteen years.

So, I stared blankly at the tall, 50-something man, and suddenly felt like an extra in  “Oliver Twist”…”for me Sir?”..I whispered.  The line was stacking up fast with folks with a single cup of coffee and places to go.  He stuck his hand out and said, “I’m Dan”, and off my angel went.

Now, I’m kicking myself..had my cognitive processing skills not been completely shut down by his generosity, I would have put the juice and newspaper back and replaced the milk with a smaller container…and maybe on my way to replace those things, I would have realized that the ATM, which I have used a zillion times, was in the back of the store, and I would have gotten my own twenty and paid for my own groceries.  Nope..none of that, I just stood there, feeling the tears starting to well from this kind gesture.

Thank you Dan, I will do this for someone else very soon, someone more deserving than myself , and if they thank me, I’ll tell them it was all you, good man.

People are good.

People are good.