Friday, November 25, 2005

A Day of Thanksgiving


This year we were blessed with a full house of family and friends at Thanksgiving. Several weeks ago we invited our friends Edie, Jeff and their son Ko as well as Judy, Charlie and their daughter Lindsay. Plans soon changed for Edie, who after "taking a year off" was suddenly faced with a pile of relatives from another side of her family. Meanwhile, Judy's other daughter, son-in-law and grandson had returned to Africa so they were feeling a bit lonely in their house (see JUDY'S HOUSE entry to this blog in May 2005). I also invited Margaret, a retired English librarian friend of a deceased writer friend of mine, with whom I became reacquainted in the All Saints' Church knitting group. (Margaret used to be the librarian in Jaffrey and my mother bought my first piano from her years ago--a lovely Art Deco style black Steinway.)

As luck would have it, Edie called the night before Thanksgiving and asked if they could all come after all--including her parents. We were delighted! [One good thing about inclement weather at the holidays is that invited guests who have to drive often decide to 'stay put' as was the case with Edie's relatives this year--a "good thing" for us!] As Temple and I had just set the table we were reluctant to take it apart and add another leaf, so we decided to have a second table in the kitchen where the children could sit with Aunt Cynthia. (That was a moderate success-later on Henry said, "I want to have another Thanksgiving tomorrow and sit in the dining room!" but I'm thinking he was just overtired.) I made the easy call of a buffet meal served from the same china serving dishes that would have graced the table--I just didn't want to have two sets of serving dishes to wash! So everything went out on the granite island (I knew there was a reason we added an extra island workspace in our house--we have used it so many times for serving meals), including the 25 pound free range fresh turkey from which Judy and Jeff artfully sliced after we covered it with fresh herbs from Edie's solarium.


My own family is scattered this year--both brothers got together in Texas, which was wonderful, where they celebrated with my sister-in-law's family. My mother is recovering from an illness and had dinner at her new house for her husband's children. I was glad to be home and share the day with an extended group of friends. We were honored in their presence here and were glad they could christen our new adjoining parlor! (We blasted open two parlors into one on the west side of our house and couldn't be more pleased with the results.)


Our menu was traditional: roast turkey (I slow roast it) with stuffing loaded with hot sausages, green apples and cranberry; mashed potatoes (thanks to Edie & Jeff--a huge vat!); butternut squash; baby peas; creamed onions (thank you, Judy!); gravy. We also had four kinds of cranberry sauce: 2 varieties of "canberry" as we call it; Judy's cranberry orange relish; and "Henry's Jam".

Henry asked me mid-morning if he could make jam for the turkey: "It's really easy, Mumma. You just take fruit and a cup of sugar and water and it's done in ten minutes...we made it at school." I was half listening to him at the time and said, "We'll that's nice Hen, we'll make 'Turkey Jam' some other time..." And then I realized: he was talking about the easy, foolproof, incredibly delicious recipe for cranberry sauce on the side of the fresh cranberry bags. So, we had a quick lull in the morning and within ten minutes Henry had the 'jam' simmering on the stove already beginning to thicken. Here it is:


- 1 bag fresh cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- freshly-grated orange rind

Mix sugar and water and stir over heat. Bring to a boil. Add berries and bring to another low boil. Add orange rind and turn down to a simmer for ten minutes until berries pop and mixture thickens. Take off stove. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve cold. Makes about 3 cups and way better, and more colorful, than "canberry" (which, can't be replaced on the holiday table, either--it's just nice to have some homemade alternatives!).

The trick of putting on a foolproof Thanksgiving dinner is to be organized. I finalized the menu on the weekend (which doesn't change much!), did our grocery shopping on Monday (and on route to Shaw's we stopped at Tenney Farms in Antrim and ordered a centerpiece, 4 gallons of their delectable unpasteurized cider AND checked on our pie order with the Black Dog Bakery who sells pies there: pumpkin, apple and cherry), and set our table the night before and organized serving dishes and implements. I am not a good pie crust maker so I left that to the experts. Temple, my husband, knows me too well and suggested we pick up some Parker House rolls at the Kernel Bakery when we dropped by for coffee on Wednesday. That was a good call--my intention was to make homemade rolls as I usually do but I just didn't seem to have time this year. Perhaps it is because I opted to make four loaves of cranberry nut bread and Mrs. Hrone's Pumpkin Bread, a childhood favorite (2 loaves were reserved for the freezer). Another good tip: have house cleaned and organized by Monday--one less thing to do on Wednesday or Thursday! (And, I have to thank Carmen, Paulette and Sue for that--they keep us clean AND sane after they work their magic here every other week--this year I happened to nab them for the Monday of Thanksgiving week.)

With the tables done the night before and the turkey in the oven by 10am (a bit late, I admit), there was time for other things like four loaves of quick bread and Henry's Jam...also, I generally plan dinner for "around 3pm" (depending on the turkey timing) and this makes things less stressful. Having friends bring things like wine, desserts, and side dishes, is also nice.

But here was the best part of the day: it was the spirit, laughter and good fellowship that we shared. It was the happy voices coming from the dining room, the children playing outside in the first snow of the season, the fun and frolic around dish-doing in the kitchen later on. Before the meal we stood around the table and held hands--I started to say something to welcome everyone but I couldn't speak. I could only shed some tears for the joy that was in my heart. Fortunately, Judy had asked earlier if she could do the blessing. I was happy to have her say it. Bringing us altogether in a circle, many of us strangers to each other, many of us friends and relations, it made me realize how many blessings there are in our lives and in our home and in each other.

Of all of the holidays, Thanksgiving is my favorite. And this is a house that was made for Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Three Small Hands


Matt, the new owner of the farm, called us this morning. He was having problems with hot water (not unusual) but he'd also found three plaster handprints on the shelf above the refrigerator. I knew the ones he was speaking about: my brothers had their right hands imprinted in plaster and then painted in 1971, their kindergarten year at Old Trail School (they are fraternal twins) and my right hand had also been cast several years before in the same kindergarten, same school in 1967. I hadn't seen these in many years! I expect that when Mom and Gerry had the kitchen redone in 1987 that they may have been put up somewhere for safe keeping and then forgotten--they were not hung but flat on the shelf. It may also be that my mother found them this summer and placed them there for safekeeping.

I will bring them to her tomorrow--three small hands, one of each of her children. Three small hands that grew into three adults with families and lives of their own. Who knew in 1967 and 1971 what we would become? What life would be like in our 40s (my brothers will be 40 in 2006)? What life would be like without our parents' hands to hold or their bodies to lean on in the world?

My brothers and I have lived a life together yet each of our experiences have been unique. It is incredible how two people can create such difference--whether in three, six or nine. My siblings and I, despite our differences and perspectives on life, will always have a glue that binds us: places, memories, and now families of our own to share. Two of us now have "three small hands" of our own to care for and love, three small hands that will one day leave us, too, and make their way in the world. I wish for each of them a childhood as semi-precious as ours seemed to be.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Closing Day


On November 10, 2005 the Gray Goose Farm left the Grummon family and its descendants after being in our family since my grandparents purchased it in March 1946. A new owner has bought the house, barn and two acres. Sixty-five acres of the original farm (which once was about 100 acres), give or take a few feet, continue to surround the farm and its barn and will remain in the family.

Two years ago we all gathered at the farm for Thanksgiving: my brother and his family, my other brother and his dog, my husband and children, and W's children and their families. I had thought it would be the first of many more gatherings to come because it felt so good "to be back" altogether enjoying the place. Even if our family had changed, we were accepting and welcoming (it had morphed once before in the 1980s when my mother married someone with children, much younger, as we were, too--but that change ultimately was good for the farm and our family, for a while, at least). I was sadly mistaken. It was, in fact, the first get-together we had at the farm since my mother remarried in 2001. It was sadly also the last. In retrospect, it was the end of an era, perhaps even anticlimactic to something great. [These photos, taken in black & white--an odd choice for me at the time--were taken on Thanksgiving Day, 2003, Gray Goose Farm, Jaffrey, NH]


I will always "see" the farm in my memories as it was in those days of my childhood and even into my early adult years when my mother and stepfather Gerry really continued the vision of my grandparents, giving it their own personality and hard work. They had great plans and I admired their ability to work together while keeping family at the core. But in the last decade the farm had become almost a stultifying "house of memory", a saddened place, perhaps even a bit forlorn. I'm not quite sure why this sentiment but I think it has a lot to do with the reality that my brothers and I had moved on to our own lives in the past ten years, with new families and pursuits, but also because my mother had moved on with hers, too. It all changed with a new 'blended' family, but a blended family of adult children and the farm teeter-tottering at its center. Looking back, there was no way to have an easy arrangement or future plan for the farm with the many changes it was experiencing. Our plans were dreams that became anxious nightmares at times--forces seemed to be working against us, like walking upstream in a strong current. Perhaps we just didn't have the fortitude that it takes.


The farm would have continued on for a while but not without a needed infusion of heart, soul and cash. Just yesterday we found out from the new owners, a young hard-working couple who have been searching for just such a place for the past two years, that they have home owner's insurance coverage from the same group in Jaffrey that threatened to drop us if we did not have the place entirely rewired, the porch replaced, and everything reroofed. I can't even believe this! It is as if the fates have conspired against us in every direction. I don't even want to "call" the insurance company on it now because I don't want to impede the process for this new couple. Ironically, they also have the same "black-listed" breed of dog that we have!

Seeing the farm over the course of the past several months, empty as it has been, has been helpful for me. I have come to realize that people make a house and things only decorate it. The house has lacked the atmosphere within that my mother and grandparents before her had infused at the place. It has been like walking in a vacuum--traces of the place are there, but they are just the bones--not the heart, not the soul, not the flesh. Those things went with my mother to her new home which, I am glad to say, is infused with the same coziness and familiarity--it's just been transported to a different place, just up the road. My mother and I also met at the farm a few weeks ago to "say goodbye". She is the most attached to the place and I wish I could have done more for her--given her life estate, built a small house on the property next to the house, built an apartment--but what we could have done was not enough in the end. Perhaps the deck was stacked from the beginning--now the farm that we have all loved has become a place of mourning. It holds the tatters of a family in ruin over a place, some misunderstandings, some feelings unspoken. It has become a vessel of discontent and confusion and looking back at its past thirty years it is amazing it has stayed in the family for this amount of time.

Several items of interest have surfaced: one is that my grandfather seriously considered selling to a member of the Sawyer family in the early 1970s. Then my Uncle Dan came back to the area and my grandparents parceled off 17 acres for him on which he built his house (we have come to learn that he also had an unwritten agreement with my grandparents as to taking over the farmhouse one day--perhaps that gift of land and a promise were both reasons, as well as our presence, why I remember my aunt screaming at my uncle, her brother, on many occasions out in the garden--when she was done with him, she went after her own mother). We moved here fulltime in 1974, post divorce from Akron, Ohio, and my mother had the early intention of buying a small house in Jaffrey (I remember even looking at several with her, including a log home). But those plans all derailed when my grandfather died in August 1974 and my grandmother soon declined into Alzheimer's (which, at the time, we thought was depression and senility). So, Mom never left and the farm more or less stayed as it was, contents intact. Even after my grandmother died in 1985, very few things left the house. In those years of our later childhood, I remember distinct discord from some of my mother's siblings as to her presence at the farm and assistance with her mother's life. My uncle, tragically, ended his own life in May 1976.

Yesterday, I went through the remaining books left at the farm to make sure there were none left that belonged to family members (with several generations of family scribbled on the front pieces). I had gone through all of the books at the farm and rearranged them by subject, "in a bout of tidy nesting", just before my daughter was born in June 1988 (I wrote about this experience in my second published article for VICTORIA Magazine in an article called "Home Fires"). I spent the same amount of time just lingering over the books, remembering many, seeing my grandmother's notes and scribbles or her mother's, too, realizing that this library, like the house, represents a great family of many interests and pursuits. So I gathered up the books that would seem lonely left on the shelves of a new family--and we left others that the new family will enjoy. The new couple is already calling the old "Toy Room" (why it was called that by our family, I'm not sure, although we kept a toy trunk in there all of my childhood), the Library, so it is fitting that they have some books to line their shelves.

My husband looked out my old bedroom window as we were gathering up the last few boxes of books and said, "There are two deer in the upper pasture." I went to look. Sure enough, they were gazing back at the house, with seeming interest but also a certain nonchalance that deer seem to have. "It's Grandmother and Grandfather," I said. "I think somehow they approve." My mother has always seen symbols on significant days with the animals of the forest. When her second sibling died in 1997, she reported seeing a buck and a doe in the field, and two others coming out of the forest to join them. After a few minutes they all walked into the pine woods together: Grandmother, Grandfather, Dan and his sister Joanne. They will still have those pinewoods to walk through and the farm to gaze down at from time to time.

This story isn't over. In many ways it has just begun. The farm has been a subject and a passion on my mind for some time. When I finish with pantries, I need to return to the farm story, if only to honor those who came before with every good intention. It will be a love song, a poem, a document of a place. Fifty-nine years can't have passed for nothing. We have all been tied in ways good and bad to a special place of great meaning. Now those ties are unfurling and we can each experience a kind of freedom, perhaps a certain levity. As we scan the limitless expanse of horizon ahead--with all of its hidden dangers and opportunities--we must also leave our childhood home. Eventually the wagon furrows we have made in the road behind us will smooth into the unclaimed prairie that awaits. It will be a hard and difficult journey, but one we must all make at some point in our lives.


Saturday, November 5, 2005

At the Wedding


My best friend Di got married this weekend to her "missing half". She spent a long time looking for him but they just landed together somehow, as people often do, in the workplace where their romance smoldered and then kindled for several years before an inevitable proposal (Valentine's Day, of course). It is uncanny how suitable they are for each other and how happy they will be: a life of travel, urban and suburban amenities, a love of dogs, and above all, tremendous senses of humor. Neither has ever been married before and they come together without all of the baggage that one can bring along in middle life--and Di doesn't even have to cook! (And gosh, yes, we are now firmly in our middle years, even though I still feel like a twenty-five year old!)

I have known Di since I moved to New Hampshire in 1974. Our friendship really didn't take off until high school but when it did we became friends for life--even if that friendship somehow morphs and changes along the way, a childhood friendship can always be revisited in whatever guise. Twenty years ago this past August, on August 4 in fact, Di, myself and a guy named Tod (a friend of a friend who would become a very close friend to both of us) moved into a renovated fifth floor walk-up apartment at 43 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02114. On the downward slope towards Cambridge Street, and thus the less fashionable side of the hill, we were excited with our own place, its proximity to everything, and our first post-college apartment. (Even though I graduated in 1984, I spent a year traveling and working at the Kernel Bakery in Peterborough--see ROBERT, THE KERNEL BAKER blog posting.)

Our rent for a small three-bedroom apartment with shared living room, galley kitchen and eating area was $1,100 and divided by three we each paid $366.66 per month. Di had the front bedroom overlooking the street, Tod had the largest middle room with no windows but his own bathroom, and I had a small (no more than 7 x 9) back bedroom with two windows and southeastern exposure. It was quiet and cozy with just enough room for my futon on the floor, a small bookcase, and I think a chair. It was smaller than my college dorm room but it was my first adult home.

I only stayed at Joy Street for a year before becoming resident guide at the Gibson House on Beacon Street, a short walk away in the Back Bay, but I would come and go from that apartment--as other tenants would, too--over the next several years, even after moving to New Hampshire. Di was always the glue that bound a changing group of roommates. Later she moved to Myrtle Street, shared an apartment with another high school friend, and soon after that broke out on her own. She rented a one room studio in a converted Back Bay apartment for over 13 years--I came and went from this apartment, too, on occasion and met a changing group of neighbors in the building, many of whom were at the wedding last night. (My husband and I sat at the table with most of Di's old apartment neighbors, and another friend from high school with whom I was glad to reconnect. I asked Encarnita, Gail and Nancy, all personalities in their own right, if it wasn't the same any more without Di in the building--they all said a forlorn looking "No, it isn't..." Wherever she is, Di always seems to be the glue, the connection.)

Di joined a venture capital firm and rose in the ranks and truly became the single urban girl. Our lives became juxtaposed and perhaps we grew envious of each other as she continued to travel, to come and go as she pleased, and with a salary that enabled her to buy Maude Frizon shoes and to regularly frequent the cosmetic counters at Nieman Marcus. Meanwhile, I married my childhood sweetheart from New Hampshire, retired from full time museum work, settled down to a comfortable life, had two more children. We saw each other at her parents' house in our hometown in New Hampshire and occasionally I came to Boston. My daughter is her goddaughter and the link has continued for another generation. I look back at these twenty years, nearly half our lifetime ago, and am amazed at how far we have come and at the women we are today. Di's single girl-in-the city life ended in August 2005, twenty years after she moved to Boston, when she moved out to the suburbs to begin her pre-married life.

The wedding was incredible--every detail thought about and some avoided altogether (there was quiet music, elegant flowers and appetizers, a short and simple service--but no photographer and no dancing and no tacky wedding traditions, either). The ceremony was short and sweet and took place in a Back Bay mansion--we cleared out of the ballroom and the room was set up for dinner. An evening wedding, dinner began at the civilized hour of 9pm after a civilized cocktail hour and fun additions such as a roaming magician and vials filled with M&Ms that told us at what table to sit. (M&Ms had been a prevailing theme leading up to the wedding and throughout.)

Our daughter was the youngest person invited and technically the only "child" at 17. She was also invited to sit at the head table, next to a dignitary who presided over the ceremony and who was able to come at the last minute after a few scheduling glitches were changed. He and his wife couldn't have been more pleasant and it is likely we will see them again on the national stage in a few years. (His connection to Di and Tom was work-related and his words about them couldn't have been more appropriate or perceptive.) Di's brother had been given "notary status" for the event but in the end it wasn't needed. Her sister was a lovely maid of honor and her wheat tones complimented Di's blue suit. Their Dad said to Temple, "Wouldn't Liz just love all this?" I know Di's mother would have approved whole-heartedly and without reservations.

I have never been to such an elegant urban wedding--so different from many country weddings (which have their own special qualities, too--my husband and I, like so many other family members, had our reception in the barn at the Gray Goose Farm--I wouldn't have had it any other way). Out-of-town guests and the bridal party/family all stayed at the Four Seasons. That was a lovely experience and treat, too. The bride and groom gave each of us a box of goodies that they had assembled: a tote bag with an M&M theme, spa robes, a CD of their favorite music, M&M cookies, bottled water (those mini bars are expensive!) and of course, M&Ms.

The whole experience was like a fairy tale come true and I've gotten jaded and sarcastic enough over the years to never think I would say such a thing. We have all been to our share of "throw away" weddings, the ones you know where so much expense is being wasted on something that likely won't last. But Di and Tom will have a happy life together--they are proof that you can find each other in later years, sometimes you just have to wait for the right person to come along and knock your socks off. And they both did just that. They are, indeed, each other's better half.

This afternoon after a lovely post-wedding brunch we came home to a balmy November day, as it had been in Boston. There was a decided "post ball" let down, the feeling of a passing on, and change in the air. It is much the same feeling I had when I brought our son Henry home from the hospital in mid-November eight years ago: something in the house had changed and there was a bittersweet quality to that change, almost a palpable homesickness, even though I was home. We are also approaching the closing on the farm this week which, while getting easier to acknowledge, sits around me like a shroud--I asked Di's sister and father at brunch about their old house, the one where I had spent so much time in high school and where they lived as a family for over twenty years--did they miss it? No. Their "new" home, purchased in the early 1990s, is only a mile away from their old one, right in a historic village setting, less lonely than the other one, smaller, just as historic, and oddly enough, it immediately seemed like their home when they moved in. This is, no doubt, because Diane's parents were there, as were their familiar things. (I am learning, or at least attempting to learn, that the concept of home is more about the people than the buildings.) This Thursday, on the day of our scheduled closing (which I do not have to attend for various reasons), my daugther and I are going to fete Di with a post-wedding lunch and get-together down near her house as their honeymoon had to be postponed due to work complications (but good complications).

In the post-wedding haze of "back to my own life", I found myself feeling envy for my old friend and her new life. We will no doubt continue to monitor each other from our suburban and rural realms, each feeling our own bits of envy from time to time and at others, total bliss and contentment. In her new life with Tom, I couldn't have wished a better scenario for my dear friend. There is no one more deserving of a "happy ending".

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

In the Pantry


A year ago I spent several weeks putting together my book proposal for IN THE PANTRY. Now the research is done, the principal photography is done--thanks to a great week spent in early October (before the rains came and stayed!) with Susan Daley and Steve Gross (we are all thrilled with how the various pantries came out)--and I now have the "bones" for the book.

I have been writing in fits and starts but now with winter settling in, despite the holidays, I will resume that process in earnest. I would like to share much about the writing and the process of this book coming together but I can't give away TOO much (nor can I show photographs from the book--the above pantry close-up is one of the out-takes I took during the photo shoots).

We are entering the cozier, most house-bound time of the year. I welcome the change after a long, hot and prolonged summer. I am looking forward to hunkering down, writing in the mornings and part of each afternoon, and being a "house mouse" the rest of the time. I may even pick up some knitting again--it has been a while--and I will definitely be raiding our own food pantries. My husband and I like to store things up for winter. I did not have time to can or freeze this past summer but I am great at hitting sales at the local markets. Right now our cellar pantry room looks like its own grocery store...if we get the Blizzard of the Century or that avian flu decides to morph and spread, we won't have to shop for months. Even Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts, said that we should be prepared for an outbreak and quarantines and to stock our food shelves (apparently the Mormons also believe in keeping a year's food supply on hand--I'll have to research that).

In the meantime, keep on reading my blog and I promise to keep writing.

All Soul's Day


Halloween came and went this year on a balmy late fall day--perfect for the hoards of trick-or-treaters who bombard our village. We love the celebration and buy about $100 worth of candy to keep up with the throngs. Our village is the perfect setting for Halloween--houses close together, a safe rural neighborhood, a sufficiently old New England and sometimes creepy atmosphere, and younger neighbors who deck their lawns and porches with all sorts of festive decor. Our daughter now spends time handing out candy on the porch; I was amazed when our two boys wanted to come back after only going door-to-door at half the houses in the village. They wanted to help hand out the candy but also were somewhat worried about their Dad who bravely walked around with us, traversing piles of leaves and unseen potholes with his cane (he is still recovering from his operations).

My birthday weekend was lovely--a visit with friends from England who left on Friday after too short a visit (Rolf and I met at Lincoln College, Oxford in 1979--he hasn't aged a bit! His Bulgarian wife Tsenka fit right in...); lunch with my mother on Friday; a day of facials, pedicures and hair-stuff for Addie and myself on Saturday (in preparation for my friend Diane's wedding on November 4 but also for my birthday--there is nothing more relaxing than a facial although I have to say having a sacral-cranial osteopath caress your skull comes a very close second--thank you Tsenka!); dinner with Temple and the kids at DelRossi's in Dublin on Saturday night; an extra hour of sleep on Saturday night thanks to "Daylight Savings" (Fall Back...Spring ahead); and brunch with Edie and family on Sunday. Just non-stop fun and food.

Sunday morning October 30th, however, was especially memorable. For many reasons I have not been to church in several years. I have missed the ritual, the people, the architecture that is All Saints'. We are now fortunate to have a new vicar and his wife (he is English, she is American--both are ordained Episcopal priests) after a several year search. They have infused the church with their youthful enthusiasm and spirit--and two children, one of whom is Henry's age. Henry is now part of the youth choir (or Treble Choir) and the entire music program is wonderful at All Saints'. Their first performance was on Sunday during the 9am service, traditionally a "family service" and I'd never attended one. Held in the hall across from the church, it is filled with families and children of all ages, the eucharist was assisted by a little boy who couldn't have been more than 3, and there is more informality. However, there was music and spirit and fellowship and it left me with a good feeling. That night there was going to be an All Soul's service where the names of departed loved ones are read aloud during a quiet, meditative service. It was the first time this service has been held at our church. I think it must have been lovely.

My father died three years ago at this time (October 27th). Halloween was his favorite time of year. I think of him every day but especially now, as the days are darkening into the winter days that he loved (he was a hibernator). I have been seeing 11:11 on the clocks again for several weeks. There is a special, private significance to this number in relation to my father's passing. Now I realize I am seeing it again because the closing for the Gray Goose Farm (more about this later) is to be held on November 11. We are subdividing off two acres and the farm house and barns.


As with my father and other friends and loved ones who have passed on, I will mourn the passing of the farm for many years to come. Even though we are keeping the land, the house is an organic living thing that is being left behind in a several year wake of complications and heartaches and misunderstandings. Houses deserve to be mourned, too, for in them we live our lives and the every day moments--some large but most ordinary--that make us human. But I have learned with great clarity that Thomas Wolfe was right--I set out to prove him wrong but failed miserably: "You can't go home again." You may return in the physical sense, your family may even still live in the home where you grew up, you may even buy or "take over" the place with every intention of living there, but you can never go home in the sense of your past, of your childhood. It isn't there anymore. It is a ghost, an album of memories, drifting around the house, hovering over the present. Sometimes it is just time to move on as "the burden of them is intolerable," to paraphrase from the Common Book of Prayer.