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safe_image (1)Is it frivolous to have spent many many moments in the past few months discussing dresses to wear to weddings with my younger sister Meg?  Her daughter Amelia is getting married this weekend and her son Alex is getting married in October, and Dave, the middle son of our late sister Chris is getting married in two weeks.  There was also the wedding of my son-in-law’s brother this past weekend.  I’m officiating at two of the upcoming weddings, so there are mother-of-the-bride dresses to consider, officiant dresses, rehearsal dinner dresses, and wedding guest dresses.

Add to this the fact that Meg, Amelia and I have traded dresses at the last two family weddings, taking turns with each one.  Sort of like musical dresses, except no one is ever left without a dress.  At the last wedding we got a bridesmaid and mother-of-the-bride in on the swapping too.

That’s a lot of dresses.  So every time Meg and I are together we try on dresses from our closets (luckily we’re close enough in size that most everything fits), we buy dresses and compare, we look at dresses online.  Yesterday I got a text about the dress plan for this weekend just as I was headed in to Marshall’s to look for another dress.  Which I found.

To answer my opening question, no.  I don’t think spending mental energy and attention focusing on what dress to wear to which wedding is frivolous.  It’s a relief.  The world is a tough place to take in these days — a hate-mongering sociopath as a major candidate for President, constant reports of mass shootings and massacres and fatal shootings by police and against police, an attempted coup in Turkey, another too-young death of a friend, escalating climate change that may be a contributor to a dry enough summer that the farmer across the street is already putting out hay for the cows in the pasture where the grass has stopped growing.

The hard edges of life can’t be all we keep in focus.  People still fall in love and get married. People still have fun dressing up and usually look great when they do.  Having reasons to celebrate is a reason to celebrate itself.

Thinking and talking about and texting pictures of dresses back and forth with Meg is a happy thing to do and harmless.  Or maybe not completely harmless.  Maybe the dresses we’ve ordered and bought were made by women and children working in terrible conditions with inadequate compensation.  Do I have to think about that too?

Well, yes, but I can still enjoy myself, even if all those dresses keep stalking me on every page of the internet I open.

Celebration of life-affirming events puts good energy into the world, and right now the world can use all the good energy it can get.


What To Say


Social media has been full of people struggling to find appropriate words for the anguish that rose in our guts last week.  So much loss, so much anger and mistrust, too many guns. What can any of us do?

Maybe instead of asking ourselves what to say, we should ask, what to read?  If you’re white and struggling with meaningful ways to respond to last week’s shootings, you could start by understanding how your skin color provides you with a privilege that’s probably invisible to you but that’s had a powerful influence on your life.

Read “White Privilege:  Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” the 1989 article by Peggy McIntosh that has served as a seminal piece to help educate white people who strive to be allies with communities of color.  Doing ally work means understanding the ways in which whiteness has allowed you to move through the world with a freedom and lack of fear not available to people of color.

Then listen to the Code Switch podcast “Can We Talk About Whiteness” which includes an interview with Peggy McIntosh.  And while you’re there, subscribe to Code Switch, an excellent podcast that explores “race and identity, remixed.”  Keep the learning going.

Read two recent books that speak directly about the experience of being black in the United States, from both a woman and man’s point of view.  Citizen by Claudia Rankine is brilliant and startling, that she lives with so much overt racism everyday.  Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is Coates’ letter to his son about the very real and often lethal danger that faces black boys and men in our country.

We all need to step closer to understanding how profoundly race affects people of color in the U.S.  Black lives matter.




As we moved in to summer I started crying, the light letting the sad memories in — how sick Chris was on the 4th of July last year, being in Humarock without Chris and thinking about what it’s like for her widower and sons to have that hole in their traditional family beach time, what it’s like for my parents.  But our family time in Humarock was also sweet, lots of family still gathered in a beautiful spot.

I don’t mind the crying.  It’s been balanced with the joy of having youth around me. Yesterday I sent Adrienne a chat and asked her to snap the kids for me through the day, happy enough just to see Emilio and Ava but knowing there was the bonus of two more children there over the weekend, adorable child video riches.  And I got to share those videos with the youngsters here, Melia and Mackenzie and a crew of their friends, of course not as young as the grandkids but still much younger than me, in lives that are still expanding and reaching out and full of energy and hope.

Not that I don’t reach out still, but more and more I’m content with what I know I love best.  Home, family, close friends, garden, time at my desk to write.  It’s not only me.  This is a researched phenomenon.  As people age, they more and more value time with a closer circle of people and experiences.  We’ve learned what we like and know there’s limited time left to enjoy it.  We get more careful about how to spend our time when there’s less of it to spend.

Being with our kids and grandkids is top of the list, always.  I realized this weekend David and I never mediate when we’re with our kids in spite of being regular mediators otherwise.  We don’t need it.

So my sad weekend was also a great weekend.  I love a full house, the crowd in the kitchen, the meals with multiple palates contributing to the taste, the conversations and laughing at stories, coffee and toast on the deck in morning sun, cocktails and beer on the porch in the evening. Now I have a line full of laundry, flags of the pleasure being with loved ones brings, soaking up the energy of youth

How lucky we are.