Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

A Quest for Justice
      Written for Library Thing Early Reviewer

 The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey opens with an “Afterward”, which explains the whole story without giving anything away---it is the key that unlocks the story’s meaning without cracking open the door. It’s a love letter. Don’t pass by it without a glance as you enter the novel and be sure to revisit at the end, when you will realize the door is made of glass.

The allegory of Ptolemy Usher Grey is a rich portrait of opposites. A gentle, muddled old man, hidden in the fog of dementia, caught in the grip of undifferentiated time, is transformed into a shrewd superhero, a hybrid coydog like his childhood mentor Coy McCann, undaunted by violence in his crusade to save his extended family. The experimental drug responsible for the change is doled out by the devil (Dr. Ruben) in a Faustian bargain to win the body, if not the soul, of the gambler wagering for a cure. Robyn, a sweet bird, embodiment of love in her role as Ptolemy’s young caregiver, morphs into a tigress in a flash in the face of a threat. “He had known women like this before, wild and violent, sweet and loving.” This wonderful characterization of Robyn draws the reader along, anxious to learn what will happen to her and Ptolemy.

The novel, which paints a grim picture of a ninety-one year old man living in the squalor created by his advanced dementia and lack of attention by family or friends, does much more as it gradually reveals itself as a crusade against past and present (2006) horrors of racism and a quest for justice. The story has all the elements of truth that keep a reader interested and wide-eyed to the end. It twists and turns unexpectedly, a delightful surprise in a tale of one’s last days. It presents an accurate, heart-wrenching account of the present day lifestyle of disadvantaged black Americans living under the long shadow of slave history.

At age 58, the only child of a father the author has called “a black Socrates” and Jewish mother originally from Eastern Europe, Mr. Mosley brings a valuable perspective to his art. His mother instilled in her son an interest in the classics at a young age. He skillfully incorporates into Ptolemy Grey symbolism gleaned from western tradition, as well as metaphor and tickling word play (the Tickle River courses through the novel as a significant historical element, a dead serious medicine, and a bit of humor and eroticism.)

I spent a few pleasant hours researching the puzzle he has designed---the one he perhaps intended and the one I might merely imagine, nevertheless a joyful activity to those of us who like to peel away layers of meaning to delve into an author’s imagination.

Title: The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
Author: Walter Mosley
Imprint / publisher: Riverhead / Penguin
Format: Advance reader’s copy
Length: 277 p.
Publication date: November 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1-59448-772-9

Homeless Books ?

The following essay was written on Tuesday, October 26, 2010, one week before the November elections made the earth shift in Foster. I wrote it in reaction to a post on the Foster GOP website, which was apparently swallowed up in the quake, since it has disappeared into a black hole and is no more. If anyone out there knows why, will you comment on this post please? In any case, although I was interrupted in posting two weeks ago, the topic remains relevant.

If I were a teacher I would ask my students to write an essay based on the following quotations:

When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.
Isaac Asimov

No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.
Samuel Johnson

"Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack"
Virginia Woolf

Your library is your portrait.
Holbrook Jackson

Wouldn’t it be fascinating to sound the depths of their minds’ wellspring, to float on the ripples of their confusion, imaginations, common sense, and joy of discovery and creation?

I wandered into the topic for this post via the “Drop a Line” comment feature on the Foster GOP website (www.fostergop.com) where I ventured to take a look at what townsfolk are saying about the looming elections (All Soul’s Day after all, and my birthday---). The site’s administrator (no idea who it is) has done a good job. I like the site. It is dignified with a good balance of fact, persuasion, exaggeration/omission, a little hide and seek and a smattering of chafing-at-the-bit with a smidgen of humor in the mix (I laughed out loud at the Beatle’s “Tax Man” music video on the opening page); in other words, traditional politics at its best if you have an interest in the game. I do at times.

The comments that shocked me into participating in “Drop a Line” expressed the opinion that closing our Town libraries will ease our fiscal crunch: why do we need them, we have computers and can find anything we want there---right? Admittedly, since the rise of the Google book brouhaha in conjunction with the “Kindle” and like devices, the threat to the future existence of libraries has become a serious topic for discussion. But I was unprepared for the sight of this floodtide already lapping at our heels in the outback of Foster.

On a macro level the issue is overwhelming just now; nobody knows how things will play out. Yet here we are in our little Town, which we stubbornly continue to call rural, staring down the Leviathan of techno-progress poised to devour our small antique libraries. My heart skipped a beat when I read the comment, and when I repeated it to my husband at dinner, his eyes opened wide in disbelief. Thank God, I wasn’t alone in my shock!

So what to think, what to do? The quotations at the head of this post only reflect my swirling, seemingly unconnected thoughts gleaned from a Googling of library quotes to prime the pump of insight, perhaps to pose a pretense of wisdom. Actually they are more like a Rorschach test requiring analysis and interpretation by a psychologist. Asimov and Johnson are clearly addressing public libraries, whereas Woolf and Jackson are talking about a person’s private collection of books. They struck something in me, resonated, evoked, held me up with a truth I can’t put into a few words of explanation, nor would the explanation speak directly to the practical wisdom of funding libraries.

My husband is an avid reader and frequent patron of Foster libraries. Since the financial crisis of 2008 he has requested all his books through the RI interlibrary loan system, CLAN. He keeps tabs on the status of his books-in-transit through his online library account as well as his position in the queue of those waiting for books that have not even been published yet! It is an amazing service, saving us hundreds of dollars by borrowing instead of buying books which would have been given away after they were read; sent out into the world somewhere ---

The Bookworm, 1850,
Carl Spitzweg
In contrast, I like to keep the books I read so I have been hunting in used book stores of late in the interest of affordability. If you are a bibliophile this could become an addiction, since you can walk out of a bookstore with five books for the cost of one new hardcover edition. Hence my choice of Virginia Woolf’s beautiful quotation: “---the charm of wild, homeless books in vast flocks---”. I feel that. And there is no disputing Jackson’s view that a personal library is a portrait of oneself.

I recently joined the online service called LibraryThing (www.librarything.com). It is primarily a cataloguing service for personal libraries but also much more. Other members’ book reviews have sent me to the Foster libraries’ website to order books I want to read. I have found that it is a good way to be sure I want to buy the book before I go on a hunt in a used bookstore; another way to save money.

I will sum up my wandering through the topic of funding Foster libraries with a quote of my own from a novel in progress; it came to mind as I read Samuel Johnson’s words:

Except for the ticking of an old clock it’s quiet, although I hear the books whispering to each other from their shelves under the sloping ceilings, a hushed discussion group debating the merits, or demerits, of philosophy, religion, economics and politics, science, history and stories. There’s a bit of everything, roughly arranged according to Dewey, as if wisdom is merely a matter of logical organization of all we ever thought we knew from as far back into recorded history and the fossil record as we can trace.

Samuel Johnson’s words echo the biblical wisdom of Ecclesiastes: vanity of vanities and all is vanity. It makes one think that all we need is a Bible to convince us of that most complicated of simple truths. But one way or another we have to work it out for ourselves. It’s called freedom. It’s exquisite, exciting and expensive.

Surely we are too enlightened, too generous in spirit and in purse to allow foreclosure on the Foster Libraries.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blue Symphony


They’re rather frantic and quarrelsome, aggressive, disagreeable, skittish bullies. I wait for their beautiful song --- hope they will find the mood --- give in to whatever magical impulse inspires them to one voice of joy and praise, their unique ode to beauty, a gem of sound, a symphony.

How can such a joyous self-conscious blending of voices into one hymn of praise emanate from this band of curmudgeons? I’ve only heard it a few times over the years; perhaps this year.

I spy on them from the kitchen window lest they sprint into the spruce for cover. They’re clearly guilty – of something – or just guilty in essence. The magnificent, serene, blue spruce spreads her arms in embrace of all the winged patrons at the feeder; an unconditional lover and protectress, a perch, a screen, a lookout for all, including the blue jays. Only the Hawks ignored her, now that I think of it. Did they have no guilt, no need of sheltering love? How foolish - such stretching of metaphor – to make what point? Carnivores are playful in the enjoyment of their hunt /attack/devour role. Those hiding in the spruce might be dinner. It occurs to me that I rarely hear or see blue jays in high summer when the hawks are in residence. I suppose they’d make an easy target, a quick lunch.

A related story is the arrival of a new cardinal at the feeder. He’s smaller, lighter in color and less regal; bit of a wimp too, not taking up the old sentinel stance on top of the crook stand; it was actually this difference that convinced me. He was an outsider. It’s so hard to accept a newcomer. The widow appeared unchanged, however, apparently accepting her lot without remorse. One wonders. Am I deranged to feel sad at the loss of a bird in my yard? Rome is burning and I’m bird watching.

There is absolutely no end to the assault of the guilt mongers soliciting one’s attention daily, hourly, through the mail, the news, the computer, the phone - high screams, low whispers, cold shoulders and dirty looks, demanding and scolding. DO MORE!

I wonder if I could crawl under the low spreading branches of the spruce and wait in silence for the blue jays' symphony.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Farewell Facebook

Well, the honeymoon with Facebook is over---already. I deactivated my account yesterday for the second time within a two week period. I had already become irritated with the pushiness of the website a week ago and deactivated. But I then read an article in our local weekly newspaper that I felt required a reaction; I decided to see what the word was among the locals on Facebook. Oops --- you can’t play unless you sign in so I obeyed and typed in my “old” password. The ravenous beast from the deep grabbed me and pulled me right back into that swirling current of social media, that sea of faces and good cheer, instantly advising that it would take a few hours to “repopulate” my profile information. “Oh, alright!”

Since I had made a typo (or two), in a previous post, which Facebook slapped on a wall, allowing me no chance to correct, I thought I’d outsmart the smarty-pants by first typing my post into MS Word. I then cut/pasted it on the page belonging to a local political candidate that I support. A pop-up appears, a sassy jack-in–the-box note informing me that my post has too many characters. “Darn”---I - did – not – say---; but of course I obeyed, what choice did I have, other than to forget it and not post my retort to an unjust statement in the newspaper (in my view). I spent ten minutes cutting my post down to exactly the acceptable size, hit share or whatever, and there it was. I had done my perceived duty as a citizen of my small town.

That should have been the end of the end-of-facebook story; I was back among the living, there was my face! Maybe. But it only took a couple of days until the next incident, rude intrusion, bold assumption, provoking power play, to occur. A feed, which I requested from The National Interest magazine (where I had just read some great book reviews) to be sent to my Favorites folder, was also grabbed by Facebook and pinned to my wall there. Several National Interest articles had been posted---not including the one I had read. Incredible, and frightening. Needless to say that was the end of my sail on the sea of faces. Never again.

I am happy to have had that experience, now knowing of what I speak with regard to the social giant, lest I be browbeaten as the ignorant curmudgeon who never even ventured to put a toe in the waters. I saw for myself how fast is the current that sucks a body in.

I reposted Virginia Woolf’s serene, albeit melancholy portrait here, which appeared beside my original announcement of entry into Facebook. I said there, words that proved to be prophetic: “She is pretty clearly out of line in the upbeat mega social scene of Facebook.” So am I.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Silence in the Tree Tops

Cooper's Hawk
The hawks have disappeared --- there is silence in the treetops. I miss the vibrancy and excitement of their eager, confident, even arrogant screeches as they swooped through the branches. I liked hearing them out there, feeling a bit proprietary as if they were pets, since they made their home here, having been born high in a nest behind our barn and educated in our yard; they also took their meals here---

A little research helped me to identify the young brood as Cooper’s Hawks who, for the most part, migrate south as early as mid-August. I found a wonderful account of these birds in a “web browser-based electronic book collection of Life Histories of North American Birds, by Arthur Cleveland Bent (1866-1954), one of America's greatest ornithologists.” The collection for the E-book is selected and edited by Patricia Query Newforth, © 1996 – 2010. It offers vivid, first-hand accounts taken from the journals of bird watchers, many answering questions about bird behavior that never appear in field guides. It’s delightful and I highly recommend it.

Someone has ceased his visits to the bird feeder as well ---more silence. In wondering about his disappearance, I came to suspect that my young thugs made a meal out of our lovely male Cardinal. The red baron no longer puts in his nightly appearance as the last visitor at the feeder, perching on top of the shepherd’s crook hanger at dusk, calling a haunting goodnight to his compatriots already bedded down. (I always thought he was a bit daring to keep such a predictable schedule.)

Mrs. Cardinal comes alone to the feeder now, no sentinel to protect her or tenderly feed her seeds ---a widow fending for herself. I miss him. I am somewhat consoled to learn, though, that a new male will usually step in to pair with a lone female. I look forward to that. I’m keeping watch for a newcomer.

Note: the reference to the cardinal as red baron refers to his regal bearing, not to his role as an ace pilot, played metaphorically by the hawks of course. I mourn them equally.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Honeymooners

“Don't steam me, Alice, don't steam me! 'coz I'm already steamed!” Remember Ralph Kramden’s famous grouchy line on the TV show The Honeymooners? At the risk of stepping out of line, since I never expected to directly address a political issue on this blog, I have to say I’m steamed enough to speak out!

On July 29th the Foster Town Council voted to place three proposed changes to our Town Charter on the ballot in the November elections. I am most concerned about the proposal to make the position of Town Moderator appointed instead of elected. I wish I had attended the hearing to speak against the proposal. Shame on me for my complacency!

We have been watching our individual freedoms being eroded for years on the national level and I believe that granting this right of appointment would be another example of transfer of power from the citizenry into the hands of a very few. The five members of our presently seated Town Council speak with one voice only --- lacking any Republican or Independent members to open democratic debate.

We are treated to a pleasant report of Council accomplishments published in the Foster Home Journal each month. I read every word --- never get steamed about the content ---but I wonder about what I don’t read there. Speaking of that, I don’t remember reading, in his monthly FHJ reports, that Representative Scott Pollard co-sponsored the legislative bill to require district moderators’ positions to be appointed instead of elected. Perhaps I missed that? Please correct me. In any case there appears to be confusion of the titles “district moderator” and “Town Moderator”. John Lewis is quoted in the Observer as saying, “The new state law contradicts our town charter.” “As a result the charter has to be changed, he said.” I hope John will clear up the confusion in his next Council report in the FHJ.

Please vote in November to keep Foster’s elected Town Moderator. Unfortunate that there is only one candidate, no choice is a bad deal for democracy even if you like the candidate. That situation too was apparently a mix-up that could have been avoided.

Ah Honeymoons---

For more information you can read the August 5th issue of The Valley Breeze and Observer newspaper, take a look at http://www.fostergop.com/ and the General Assembly page, http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/billtext09/housetext09/h5730aaa.pdf

Friday, August 6, 2010

On the Bench

Do you remember the PC screen saver, back in the early 90s, which continuously scrolled the line “Where do you want to go today?” I loved that --- I fell for it ---. Funny thing is, I have no desire to actually go anywhere these days, quite the contrary, but flights of fancy are my greatest joy --- although payment is sometimes tendered in tears.

The young hawks are having a ball out there this morning --- like the Blue Angels at the air shows. Instead of whining engines, their high pitched whistles tangle around microwaves that prey silently in their midst. Over the housetop, through the fields, fancy maneuver in-and-out of the big blue spruce, then buzz a squirrel. They’re practicing --- showing off their killer skills.

The other afternoon I caught sight of them through the kitchen window. I’ve been wondering how many there are this year and there they were, four of them resting in contentment on my faux teak bench in the yard. What a sight --- one perched on each arm and two on the backrest. Binoculars – camera – picture through the window screen ---wonderful! Such pleasure right outside my window.

It occurred to me that, had I been outside, they wouldn’t have come near my bench. As it is they borrowed it for a few minutes’ respite from their antics. I wonder if they were thinking about their future missions, all their clowning behind them; or perhaps it was a council or a meeting of congress to discuss the new justice.

From my corner perch in the red wing chair I see the flag through the screen door, motionless this morning --- no breeze yet.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Written In Stone

I plunged into Facebook today. I had created an account there a few months ago out of curiosity about the wildly popular site, but didn't participate. I have now upgraded my profile and created a separate page for "Knot In Line". I'm not sure I've got it right yet though. I used this picture of Virginia Woolf  in the blog profile --- not with forethought --- I have her in my picture files as inspiration for the physical appearance of Maude, a character in a novel I am writing; easy to upload. She is pretty clearly out of line in the upbeat mega social scene of  Facebook. No matter.
The novel's working title is Written In Stone.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Weigh Anchor

The last person to own our house was a sailor by avocation. He and his wife named the place “The Anchorage”, which proved to be prophetic since this was their home for the rest of their lives. We took down their sign at the driveway entrance; it wasn’t ours, and each time I drove out I could see the neon letters flashing on the reverse side --- No Exit --- No Exit---. We have kept other nautical references attached to the house though, like the brass front door knocker in the shape of an anchor.

It surprised me to find a little brass anchor on the door to a small bedroom, now an office/library/laundry. I don’t know why it’s there but I like it. Since I can’t abide closed doors anywhere, it has no practical use ---nobody needs to knock. Somehow though, it is evocative. The upper portion of the anchor is a cross with a loop at the top. It reminds me of the crosses dangling from the large rosaries worn by my nuns at St. Mary’s --- in another world, which now seems as much a fantasy as the Avatar movie characters of today or even the lost world of Atlantis.

There were anchors everywhere in our childhood; not only for Catholics but as values respected collectively by Americans. Traditional families were still the norm in society. People understood the meaning of the word modesty. Children were still schooled in courtesy and manners. The list is long. I have to stifle a pang of embarrassment in recalling this ancient history, yet I mourn the loss of dignity, the comfort of ideals, and the existence of sin. The title of the 1961 musical “Stop the World -- I Want to Get Off”, is a perfect expression of my sentiments about the world these days.

Our predecessor here was an expert in tying knots, a required proficiency in the world of sailors. His knots were beautifully executed, decorating the ends of a few pull cords where light switches had never been installed. The electrician wanted to upgrade to wall switches but I wanted the knots. I washed and bleached them ‘til it was clear they were meant to be permanent, even adding one to the kitchen window shade.

I have never sailed a boat, having neither means nor a courageous temperament. I’m a landlubber who loves to gaze out over the ocean and sail away in my imagination --- hence our annual trips to Maine. I had no idea before today that the phrase “weigh anchor” means to hoist the anchor in preparation to set sail; it seems counterintuitive. Webster’s New World Dictionary (my old school dictionary, 1961) claims, in addition to the nautical usage, that to weigh is to consider and choose carefully, to balance and ponder in the mind, to bear or press down upon, as with heaviness; yet also to hold in high regard, to esteem and to value --- to hoist?

When you think about it, neither the anchor nor the knot can have a useful existence without the lines to which they are attached. An anchor would rest in place untied and a knot would be naught without the cord from which it was created. Everything exists in relationship. The meanings of words often proceed to a vanishing point much like the meaning of life.

This past Sunday’s reading was taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes whose point was that all is vanity i.e. emptiness. Come to think of it the world is anchored in the emptiness of space. If we order the pilot to stop the world so we can get off, where could we go?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Refrigerator Notes

Dates and Other Bits:
They're tying the knot in September.
Maine vacation, June 26-July 10.
Think you can – Think you can’t
Right!
Note from a sweet neighbor:
caring for her gift of Colacasia Esculenta,
Elephant Ears.
Emily’s alphabet magnets:
E is for elephant with long sucking trunk;
J begins Jack on his magic beanstalk.
Lawn mower gas in blue container,
spout doesn’t work.

Soccer:
Sip ‘n Dip vs Santa’s Helper, Inc. 5:45.
Rough & Ready vs Dante’s Interior 6:45.
A begins apple so ripe and so red.
R is the rat that steals the bread.

Main Breaker:
Two weeks away.
Killed the main breaker---better safe---
Maine cool and sweet, the earth in sleep mode.
Home again, eight hour drive from Blue Hill.
Just getting dark, soupy humidity.
Box of blueberries and a hummingbird feeder on the step.
Open the door---
Ugh! What is that stench?
The fridge – Oh my God!
A putrid mass of rotted chicken, fish and beef.
How stupid! How sorry ---
Two hours of cleanup, lingering smell.
Fridge won’t re-start.
Oh God, add a thousand to the trip tally.
Baking soda, charcoal, coffee grinds.
Suck it up.
Why bother, isn’t it dead?
Maybe it’ll come back tomorrow---
rest, dry out, catch its’ breath.

New Day:
Call the service man
“Shouldn’t be a problem.
Plug it back in---probably shut down in defrost mode.”
Give it some time.
Still smells.
Couple more hours, more baking soda rinses.
More wringing of rags and hands.
Oh God – the fan whirs – its back!
Run out the door, arms waving, yell across the yard.
“We have Blast-Off!”
The earth spins again.
The world turns.

New Notes:
“Hummingbird food
¼ C sugar
dissolve
1 C water
blueberries not washed yet”
From Claire & Don

Berries were moldy after seven days in the heat.
Flashy new flower for the Hummingbirds,
hurry-hover-hum.
S is for sweet or for sour,
for safe or for sorry.

Life on the Line

It didn’t happen here
but found its way
through the phone line-
a stab of fear.

Hey, C topped my story –
(that’d be the bat he banged to death
in a waste basket last night with a broom) -
M had a Red-headed Woodpecker
in the house (voice smiling).
Oh no, B!
D caught it.
With his net?
No, his hands.
Oh no, B! Did it peck him? Is he ok?
What’d he do with it?
Put it in the bird cage with Beauty.
Oh no, B! Did it attack?
No-o-o-o (voice smiling), just sat there,
beauty and the beast.
Oh God, B! Then what?
R took him outside, let him go.
Oh God, B, my heart’s pounding.
I thought someone was hurt.

A little drama for pale blue Beauty.
A dashing stranger in her cage;
black waist-coat, red beret,
bayonet at the ready.

By the way
You lost a waste basket -
spattered with bat blood.
I put them out for the trash man.
The broom too.

Life on the line:
A five year old grandson,
grandfather, grandmother,
a wild bird --- a caged bird.
The old fear leering,
raising its beastly head to stab
again and again and again.

Churchyard

Swinging over the stones
ropes untied, hanging loose
Back - and forth
Back - and forth.
Rock-a-bye-baby
on the tree tops.

I hear the young hawks
swoop through the canopy,
screeching their whistle,
eager to hunt.
When the wind blows
the cradle will rock.

I saw them last year in a line,
wings spread out on the grass;
like monks prostrate before the creator.
Rehearsal, ritual – mantling.
When the bough breaks
the cradle will fall.

Swinging over the stones,
Back - and forth -
Do the hawks pay tribute,
pledge their prey as sacrifice?
Down will come baby
cradle and all.

I can’t read the names from here,
but I know them by heart –
old names: Place, Wood, Knight,
their babies where stones are small.
I pass them often on my way
to the new grave by the cedar tree.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Outline

In 1973, my husband and I built a modest home on a five acre lot on the extreme western border of Rhode Island, in the rural Town of Foster,  population 2300 at the time. We live there again now. This outline is not about life during those thirty seven years, it's mostly just a map, the latitude and longitude of our existence --- the where. The map needs color, relief, and a legend.

Our back property line is also the Connecticut state line. When we had lived here for nearly four years my husband's parents wanted to move out of the city so we bought a large parcel of land down the road and built two new houses (well, actually rebuilt an existing shell of one house, which had never been finished). They were hidden down a long lane in a hollow of twenty six acres of fields, woods, stone walls and the Quanduck Brook, still bordering the state line. I called it Hidden Hollow, not original, but what is? It fit. Sixteen years later we hankered to be near the coast (RI) and since the kids were all in college, we sold the house. Unable to find an affordable home near the ocean, we rented for a few months but had no luck in the search; we moved back to the "country". We bought an old abandoned house on the road we had lived on in Foster for twenty years, midway between our previous homes but about twenty feet from the street. The derelict house was lovely after we spent a year restoring it (living there through most of it), the result of back-breaking work, but the intrusion of civilization a few feet from the front windows was more than I could bear.

The pendulum swung again and we moved to CT, clearing land and building a house on twenty something acres across from the Natchaug State Forest in Hampton. Our nearest neighbor was perhaps a half mile away. Although we were just visible from the seldom traveled road, the silence and seclusion were out of a storybook. We moved two years later --- for a variety of reasons, including a long commute to work for my husband, my fear of isolation in the dark of night, and strong emotional attachments to RI that we probably didn't give a fair chance to fade. Part of the land now belongs to the CT Audubon Society.

Incredibly, we found a house on a couple of acres in an idyllic coastal town in RI's east bay, walking distance to the ocean. It needed work of course, which we completed, living in it all the while. Then we put up the For Sale sign. I wanted to go home---to the country, back to Foster.

I've never before written down an account of our house odyssey in an outline such as this. I kept a diary, a tale of the painful and the joyful events taking place in our lives during these moves, but the chronology of relocation written there is muffled by the story of the highs and lows of life, which constitute the focus of those pages. We were more or less nomads (or perhaps mad hatters)for more than seven years before settling for a decade in the spring of 2000.

In 1999 we bought a forty acre lot in Foster Center, cleared a homesite and built another house, more or less the same modified reproduction cape cod style that we have always found appealing (we rented a house in CT during construction). Our driveway was a quarter mile long, no neighbors within sight or sound, a perfectly peaceful environment. We lived there for ten years, until the beginning of the real estate market free fall when we decided to take our equity out of the house before the dire predictions about the economy became reality. We sold the house in February, 2009.

It so happened that the elderly owner of the house we first built in Foster in 1973 had died, the house remaining vacant for two years. Yes --- we bought the house back. After thirty six years it needed restoration. Most of the work is done now, not quite enough to put up the For Sale sign yet, but I have learned never to say never. We have determined that we are the only people living on our road now(44 +/- homes in 2010) who lived here in 1973, when there were 14 homes. So have we come home, come full circle? Time will tell. For now, I have the urge to write about life on the line ---  and knots.