Selected Works

Fiction
A sequel to "Sarah's Daughter," published by Gadd Books in 2010.
A 19th century teen deals with family sorrow, joy, friendship, bereavement.
Opinion
Weekly column that has appeared on the front of local news section of daily newspaper for 26 years, 52 weeks of the year, briefly moved inside in 2010 and is now back on the front.
Cookbooks
A series of small books focusing on the use of fresh herbs in various milieu.
Photography
Free-lance photos -- scenic and historic -- have appeared in The (New London, CT) Day, Forbes magazine, Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Berkshire Eagle, The Boston Globe, Yankee Magazine and Yankee Travel Guide.
Opinion excerpts
Taken from past columns in The Berkshire Eagle

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Troubling times

February 12, 2017

Tags: Lincoln, Douglass

Written by himself it says on the cover of the little paperback entitled "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass." Written by himself because he taught himself to read and write, when he suddenly realized that knowing those two things would pave the road to a place where children were given enough food, people were paid for work, kids owned more than just one long shirt to wear and it was illegal to hang people up and whip them. Douglass was a genius at finding his way and emerged from slavery to a home in New Bedford, Massachusetts -- where he learned he was protected in a hotbed of abolishonists -- then Rochester, New York, where he and his wife continued their friendship with fellow agitator Susan B. Anthony. It's a relief, in the same month that Congress approved Betsy DeVos as education secretary, to learn that Douglass is part of the common core curriculum for our nation's children. Is that true in charter schools, too? Or are they exempt.

Excitement

December 4, 2016

Tags: historical novel

Milt used to correct me when I referred to "the elderly" as if they lived elsewhere and might not be anyone we knew. "We are the elderly," he would say with no dismay in his voice.
It's hard to know when exactly "elderly" starts, but certainly I've tried to hold the term at bay (more…)

Too much in view

October 27, 2016

Tags: rear ends

We used to call it the plumber look. So often, as the plumber crawled under the kitchen sink -- a dark, sometimes dank, hole at best -- we as kids would giggle over the way his pants pulled down and the crack of his buttocks showed. Our mother, if present, would shush us, but (more…)

Falling leaves

October 4, 2015

Tags: Milton Bass, Elissa Bass, Amy Bass, Michael Bass

The little orchard
Three maples in front of the house are brilliantly orange, shedding leaves daily by the hundreds. I mow them whenever they are crunchy, saving the raking arm at least a little. And I am forced to remember that they were Milton's view of the world for a day or so before he left us on the 14th of this month. Thus fall, always a season for me of apple picking in the back yard, pumpkin harvest in the garden, crisp air and brilliant colors all around, now has reminders of loss all around. It's easy to celebrate life, his life, quite grand all around. And it's time to remember that in the zillion photos of our long time together, he's nearly always smiling. It was a good time. And he left when it was time. I know that. But I hadn't quite stopped talking with him. Perhaps that time was the time that could never actually come.

Precipitation

March 8, 2015

Tags: Sarah's Daughter, Rose, Michael Bass, teen fiction

It's getting hard to be a stalwart New Englander asserting that it is, after all, wintertime and in these parts it does snow in the winter. Under a dusting overnight, the driveway today was what my mother called "glare ice." The dusting kept Tracer and me from breaking our necks because it gave us something to grab -- he with little leathery pads and me with dependable Yak-Trax. It was sunny enough yesterday to let the salted town crumblage (whatever the substance is) soften a bit, so the edging tool broke some of that up in hopes the sun would attack any open space. But the sun was laid off not much past noon, and snow started to fall again. No need for color photography this afternoon -- the world is once again just black and white and 80 shades of gray. The snowdrops must be worrying by now.

Sun time

January 28, 2015

Tags: weather, mandaville, SAD

In the Northeast, thousands of people are already wondering if the daffodils, six or 8 inches under the soil plus at least that in snow cover, have started to yawn and stretch. Probably not. But if the long weeks till spring are a major burden, the thing to do is turn to the weather page in the local newspaper. Even the weakest of daily papers, in these days of threatened print, will have a weather map. And if the service purchased is a good one, you can find news of the moon (often obscured in clouds these days), the planets and -- here's the good part -- the time for sunrise and sunset. Minute by minute, the sun is pushing back toward 7 a.m. and doesn't disappear again until 5. The sad (and bad for those with SAD) are the forever time between 4:30 and 5. But we're getting there. And in our west-facing house (sort of), the sun is moving north, out of what we call its winter corner. By June it'll be right out there in front, staring at the lavender house.

Sort of a Zoo

April 8, 2014

Tags: bears, foxes, turkeys

Today it was a fox, looking almost orange in the late afternoon light. Nose to the ground, he took his time in the field behind the apple trees, no doubt discovering that bears and turkeys had been there before him. They look so dainty, the foxes. Their narrow faces, slim bodies and lush tails combine well. This was the first we had seen since fall. But bears -- ah, yes, Mama and her one-year-olds right behind the kitchen and necessitating early removal of what has been paradise for chickadees, juncos, titmice and the plump mourning doves. As usual, the cardinals dined late, almost at sunset, and bluejays came to scare everyone off. But the pile of feathers on the ground after the snow melted indicate that the blue jay was a little too haughty about his place in the animal world. It was probably a sharp-shinned hawk that got him, obviously with a struggle. As a visitor named Beverly used to say, "Remember, everyone needs to have lunch." We hope everyone gets lunch, every day.

Waning day

November 15, 2013

Tags: sky

The sky floated a silver feather as I was driving home from Pittsfield. But the sun would not let it shine for long. In a minute or two, the giant fringed cloud had turned to pewter and then to near black, tarnished by the end of the day. A few days later, heading east, an egg-shaped moon rose at sunset, surrounded by soft pink clouds. Behind us, the sky had the same kinds of clouds -- like a sweep of a paint brush -- but they were peach against pale aqua. And then, a minute earlier than the day before, the November sun had pulled up its covers and gone to sleep.

Sounds of the sea

September 16, 2013

Tags: Maine, #Maine, Marginal Way

Maine was so full at mid week that we could not find a place to sleep at the ocean-view places in Ogunquit. The town's name, by the way, is Abenaki for "beautiful place by the sea." It qualifies. Here, unlike most other places in coastal Maine, the panorama includes a beautiful beach and the intriguing rocky coast that the state is famous for. I could say "for which the state is famous," but sometimes prepositions belong at the end of the sentence. Or it sounds pretentious and ridiculous. We walked the Marginal Way, my daughter and I, stopping to look at the view, admiring the folks using canes who were navigating the hilly path and looking for a long time at a veritable village of cairns, so many of them looking like funny little people and all very creative. Some of the coast here is solid rock, but some sections have enough loose stones to create a hundred thousand cairns, and the world is working on it. The sea was relatively quiet on our day there, but surfers were gathering, even at low tide. No crashing waves flying into the rock-lined inlets, no spray calling out as photo ops. Nations filled with fear and hate should walk these kinds of places -- no one we walked with or met was arguing, hurrying, anxious or scowling. Something about the sounds of the sea .....

august time

August 3, 2013

Tags: Rose, garden, blueberries

Bluebs, Grandma Haskins always called them. Her fingers were as gnarled as the branches of an old apple tree, but she would scoop a handful out of a bucket and quickly thumb them into either the keeper bowl or the discard, brushing away the small leaves and stems as she went. It was hard to pick over the pails used by the men in the family, especially my father, who liked to "squabble" them off the wild, high bushes in someone's pasture. Needless to say, "squabbling" meant perhaps a dozen berries picked at a time, along with a dozen leaves or bits of dead branches. His blueberry harvest was huge and a mess. So, the women grumbled a bit as they sat on Grandma's porch and sorted, but mostly they talked about this, that and everything.

With too many cucumbers, many cultivated blueberries to pick, lots of weeds to pull and a lawn that grows even when it doesn't rain, poor Rose is quite neglected in the early days of her marriage. Perhaps she will reappear and I will still be able to hear her when we get to the Cape for two weeks. "Rose Runs Away" is nearly finished, but so far I do not see the finale. So I have to keep remembering Milt saying, "It will end when it ends," a promise that holds little comfort!

With drought in May and deluge after deluge in June, the garden is a mixed bag. The beautiful pea plants, green and starting to attach their tendrils to the fence, went brown and rotten even as the blossoms started to come. The first beans look scruffy and produced warped beans. But carrots, potatoes, lettuce, peas, cukes, onions and tomatoes seem to be thriving. And at least two winter squash are there, along with one sugar pumpkin. Last year, the pumpkins grew vines and no orange globes at all.

Pat's tomato soup is on the stove and needs a stir.