Category: Boston

Searching For a Miracle and A Dog Named Dug

With all due respect to dogs, I’m totally a cat lady. I love cats. I can’t help it, I feel connected to them. But I also have quite a soft spot for most all animals. Both wise and helpful to their humans, animals are special.

And they’re also somewhat dependent on us. Which is why I kicked into gear for a dog named Dug. Dug, a black Labrador retriever, is our neighbor. We don’t know him, or his human family. But last week, that didn’t matter.

I was just getting ready to leave when I thought a bomb went off in my front yard. BOOM – car alarms blaring – people screaming. I have never heard that sequence of sounds in real life, and didn’t know what was happening beyond noticing a speeding parade of first responders appearing out of nowhere, zooming down my street.

We live inches from Boston’s city line, although inside a woodsy oasis of urban conservation land. It’s still the city, where scary things we try to ignore happen every day. But bombs going off? I was nervous, I couldn’t see beyond our tree-lined property and wondered if the BOOM came from the small private college across the street.

In spite of searching for any breaking news, it took hours before we learned what happened. An 18-wheeler had taken out a car, throwing both its driver and a dog into the road. Although the hit shredded the car, the driver was miraculously ok. The ambulance took her to the hospital, but the dog…where was Dug?

Neighbors, the police, animal rescue – we all searched for a dog we didn’t know, dredging through the muddy woods running alongside the busy road, batting away mosquitoes, removing brush and woodsy debris along the way. But nothing.

Was he injured? Dead? Lost? They said it would be a miracle if he had survived. My heart was breaking.

So I dug deep and tried to conjure up my best psychic abilities. We’ve all got intuition – surely I could locate Dug. I tried, without success, until dusk. So I gave my phone number to the police and neighbors, and tried to let it go. If only I could.

After dinner I stepped outside to shake out my kitchen rug, and that’s when I heard it – barking, loud, big-dog barking coming from the woods behind our house. Sir Husband quickly ran into the woods with our neighbor. The two of them called and called, hoping it was Dug.

As I stood at the edge of the woods trying hard to wait, my cell phone rang.

“We have Dug! He just came home,” said the unknown woman from the accident. “I don’t know how he got here but your search must have somehow directed him home, and he seems just fine. Thank you so much, thank you.”

I’d say maybe that was a miracle.

Everything is connected. Everything.





Maps For The iPhone Has A Mind of Its Own

I don’t have road rage…although some who ride in my car beg to differ. I have GPS rage. Maps is in charge, and I hate it. Oh don’t get me wrong – I love having global positioning at my fingertips to help me navigate the squiggly lines our state calls roads. Even George Washington grumped about that in one of his diary entries when he was passing through Massachusetts, but I find a squiggly grid of asphalt over horse tracks quite charming.

It’s that Siri wants me to go on the highway every single time I hit the road, even if I opt for the alternate route when she hands out the options. I type in the address, watch the spinning ball calculate, and most of the I time pick the back-roads option. Sure it may be a few more minutes in time, but it’s usually less miles in distance, and I just prefer a little more scenery.

But nope. When I pull out of my driveway and hear, “Starting out to <address>” and turn the way I know is the alternate route, all of a sudden I see a big REROUTING come across the screen. Say what?

Then when I hear, “Turn around when possible,” I know she wants me on the highway. So I defy her to stay on the back-road track and the big REROUTING game begins. She directs me toward the highway, I defy. She redirects, I defy. Back and forth back and forth until sometimes I trash my destination altogether just for the sake of defying her. Yea.

Sir Husband with his unbounded patience finds it quite comical, along with my irritation-turned-rage. It’s particularly bad at night, Siri really has the upper hand and knows it. It’s dark, my night vision isn’t keen and things look scary and confusing. She always wins.

I suppose it’s a control thing, I’m only a follower if I can maintain some personal control. Me against the machine, technology, Big Brother.

But, life’s idiosyncrasies prevail.

Because as I caught my breath after a particularly irritating rerouting adventure – in which I found myself on the highway before all was said and done – I learned that Siri is a real person. A woman named Susan Bennett, who in fact was not even hired by Apple to be the voice of Siri and beloved Maps. They took her voice from some previously recorded material she did for another company in 2005, and didn’t even compensate her.

I was feeling rage against a real person, well not really. But technically speaking, there is a human behind the device. There are over 700 million iPhones in the world now. She’s literally all over the map…and in my car trying to get me on the highway.

So I might maintain a little George Washington grump when I fight to turn right when pushed to turn left on a road that doesn’t even go in a straight line. But I know without a doubt, eventually Susan Bennett will get me where I am going and let me know it with her clear certainty.  You have arrived.


Time Changes Everything, Most Notably On New Year’s Eve

Is it me or does New Year’s Eve come with a lot of pressure? Why the big deal? Yea, it’s the end of the old year – time moves on, just like it does every day. But we celebrate this particular end of time as if it’s truly the end of time so we better kick it up a notch or three. The build-up mounts in the weeks ahead, “What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?” If you say “nothing” you kind of feel like a loser.

img_2616-1I’m happy to do nothing and cozy up with my honey, a roaring fire, a good movie and a bottle of bubbly. But this year we went out to a jazz club I haven’t been to in over a decade. I was pretty excited actually. The millennial offspring had dispersed after a week of family time and Sir Husband and I were loaded up with Visa gift cards for our night out on the town. Zero pressure.

So there we were sitting in the dim light at our awesome tiny table inches from stage, drinks in hand, waiting on the show to begin while people poured in to the cozy space, and my phone lights up with img_2620a text from my youngest.

“Hey did you hear about the shooting in the nightclub just now? A couple of people dressed up like Santa started shooting everyone.”

BUZZKILL. And startlingly uncomfortable. OMG where? I wrote him back, silenced my phone, stiffened up and started scanning the room. It was on the other side of the world, but Jesus that can happen anywhere, even here, on our big New Year’s Eve night out – you know the important night of celebration and romance without the pressure of worrying about the kids. Shit.

This is what we’ve come to now in the world. Miserable, nasty, sick people think they can shoot you because they want to. You see it on TV and you cringe then disengage, going about your business trying not to think about that kind of horror in your own airspace. By the way, the Times Square ball-dropping celebration was surrounded by SWAT teams and homeland security. Wow.

Change is everywhere. I was surprised when we got to the club (I had frequented annually with my former husband,) to learn it had not only doubled in size, they moved it down a few floors in the building and eliminated the cityscape view from the walls of floor-to-ceiling windows. Bummer.

I said a little prayer in my head thanking the invisible Divine for keeping my boys and us safe while we all did something special on New Year’s Eve in our own respective locations, then I sat back and enjoyed the scene with the love of my life.


Anyway, Happy New Year. It’s here with plenty of new pressures – like resolutions. Mine is to learn to really embrace change. Although you know what they say about resolutions. Statistics show…they don’t last.



Our Comfort Zone Lies Somewhere Between Our Body And The Bus

Three nearly-grown babies and a whole lot of changes in life, I finally got some big news that for many years I thought I would dread. I officially hit the M-word. It’s like a big accomplishment – I would like a commemorative cake.


unknownWhen I texted Sir Husband to tell him I finally crossed into the No More Babies On Board zone, he sent me a text of happy, celebration emojis. That’s because he has seen how uncomfortable I have been inside my own skin. No need to list all the symptoms of the post-childbearing years, but I have not fared too well.


Discomfort by definition can span the gamut from body to mind and everything in between – it’s all interconnected. So when something is off balance we feel it, and it often shows. That goes for anyone – comfort zones are personal, life changes or not. Our comfort can be challenged, sometimes every day just interacting in life, our job, or simply out in the world.

red-lineThe other day we headed to a city festival where parking is tricky, so we took the subway. It’s not that I never liked the train, I just found driving more comfortable. I’m in my own little space, I can control the music, the temperature or stopping if I need to pee. But the other day we took the train as far as we could to get to this festival, then we had to hop a bus.


I never rode a city busy in my life. Sir Husband on the other hand, loves public transportation and uses it a lot. So I did the best I could. I got my bus ticket (they don’t take cash,) I tried to put it in the right slot on the bus (the driver had to help,) I grabbed two seats in the front and pretended to be fine. I had no idea where we were going or where to get off, or even what to do.

To make matters worse, we had gotten on the wrong bus, and by the time we figured that out, we were in another part of the city. I maneuvered toward ear-shot range of the driver (are you even allowed to get up on a moving bus?) and asked her where we should go.

“You’re on the wrong bus honey,” she said. “You need to go the other way.”

tstopSir Husband of course was fine, but cringed at my expressions trying to stay calm. We got off at the next corner and walked several blocks to another stop. While we waited there for what felt like forever, we talked about my strain. I’m not going to lie – I was uncomfortable. Riding a public bus was outside of my comfort zone.

When the right bus finally pulled up and we got on, I acted like I knew what I was doing. But before I even had my ticket in the slot (this time I got it right,) the driver looked at me and said, “Well hello again!”

It was the same driver as our wrong bus. She had made a big loop around the city and was headed back.

I don’t know what happened, but she made me laugh and smile. We chatted all the way to our stop – and she didn’t make me sit down. I was actually kind of bummed when it was time to get off.

See how feeling comfortable works? Even when it’s something we dread? You just never know. Discomfort may be in our body, but it’s also in our head.



Blaming Is Easy – But What Good Does It Do?

your faultThere was a whole lot of blame going on at our local registry of motor vehicles yesterday where I took my youngest to convert his driver’s permit. We had put it off since our out-of-state move a few weeks ago, and it finally moved up on the list.

He’s not particularly interested in driving, although he’s now 16. I am secretly glad he’s not ready, insurance rates are sky high. So we went through the motion of converting his permit because someday he will want to drive.


now servingfixI fear the RMV. It’s intimidating. Besides the fact you need piles of documentation and paperwork for a license or registration, the wait is always too long. You go in hoping you have all the right stuff, get a numbered ticket then sit. Maybe an hour or more goes by and when you get to the desk you pray that what you brought with you will pass.

After only 30 minutes on this slower RMV day, we finally were called. At first I thought we were all set but then our processing stopped. Turns out our former state did not give us the right paperwork. This did not surprise me, our former state is behind the times when it comes to the national status quo.

rmv supervisorI got shuffled to the supervisor, and that’s when the blaming began. I had just called our former state a day before to ensure I had the right documentation – they swore I did. They were wrong. Blame.

That began a long list of required paperwork that did not match up from state-to-state. More blame.

She informed me that the regulations are not typical there, they are much less than the rest of our country. Even more blame.

This went on for two hours. Phone calls and faxes and waiting and forms, blame bippety blame boppety blame.

While I was enduring there, I had a loud ah-ha thought.

Blame is in the air around me a whole heck of a lot. People love to blame. It somehow lets them off the hook from their own internal chaos – whatever it may be. They may come right out and directly blame, or they find ways to passive-aggressively blame, using whatever forum they can to announce to the world that they are right and and others are wrong. It’s not just on a personal level, look at this election year. Blame is a prominent theme.

blame o-meter

But as I was thinking about all the blame going on – not just between state-to-state registry of motor vehicle offices – but with other blame that’s been thrown my way lately, I decided to eliminate blame.

I am not to blame, I brought all the stuff I had. The poor girl at the registry in our other state who didn’t send the right documentation isn’t to blame – she was not trained properly in her job. The supervisor at our RMV wasn’t to blame – she was just doing her job. If we really stop to think about it, blame is kind of useless. What purpose does it serve? It doesn’t fix anything.

Blaming is the easy way out. It’s feels better when it’s someone else’s fault. We are off the hook,  absolved of any responsibility regardless of our role. It’s a mechanism that’s backed in anger that allows us to feel like we are justified. But in fact it seems quite selfish.

no more blameSo I’m quitting the blame game. Whether it’s about feeling helpless or out of control, or we are projecting our own inner upset on someone else because we can’t face it ourselves, or we simply have an inability to accept a situation as it is, when blame is in the air, own up or let it go. It really only hurts us.

Within minutes of saying bye bye to blame, the permit conversion was resolved. Amazing how life’s lessons are learned. I love the RMV.



Cheap Sunglasses Won’t Work, But Thankfulness Still Prevails

running waterLife lately has been an exercise in finding gratitude. It hasn’t been easy. From lacking running hot water in our kitchen to intermittent internet, to appliance and apartment fiascos, we have had to really stop and think about the important things, like the healing sound of silence or that our hearts are thankfully still beating. It’s easy to take everything for granted – including having the right sunglasses and shoes.

We found ourselves on several adventures while my college boy was home last week. Unfortunately he lives out of state and works year-round to pay for school, so we try to pack in whatever he wants to do on his short visits home – which can be anything from going to the beach to walking city streets to shopping and bar hopping.

During one of our sunny day outings my sunglasses broke. I have had them for years and love them. Not inexpensive, they are UVA and UVB, anti-glare, perfectly-sun-dimming sunglasses, made for sensitive eyes. Desperate for relief, I decided to buy some cheap ones until I could get mine repaired. Three pairs in one hour and way too much money later, none of them were right. Who knew sunglasses were as individual as underwear – for me anyway. sunglasses

Then the same thing happened with my shoes. Wearing flip flops on our city’s historic cobblestone terrain did not work out too well. After several hours and miles of discomfort, I ducked into Nordstrom Rack and got an over-priced pair of semi-comfortable-yet-fashionable walking sandals.


But the real discomfort came when I tried to settle for sunglasses and shoes that didn’t do the job I needed them to do. Nobody in my family could understand why I was so finicky about these basic essentials, and gave me a little guff. But why should I compromise my comfort when I know what works best for myself? It shined some light on gratitude.

I was grateful because I knew what would work best for me, no matter what other people thought. We all have comfort-levels for almost everything in life. Some people are ok with lacking hot water or technology blips or dime store sunglasses. Other people, not so much. The trick is to be confident in what we need, and be grateful when we have it.

sorry no internet todayWe still have several unresolved, important issues with our hot water, our internet and other unexpected and frustrating hurdles from our recent move. While it’s all a huge hassle requiring way too much time, energy and attention, it has made us keenly aware of some of our basic first-world things, things we always took for granted. And that goes for our hearts beating too.


I Wasn’t Prepared For Red-Level Security When I Registered My Kid For School

red alertWe hear on the news what has become of the world – our national security, our cyber security, even our privacy. It’s disconcerting to know that we are not particularly safe on any level. Ironically, technology is supposed to help us be more safe, more protected, from secret intelligence to microchip credit cards, but nothing would have prepared me for what I went through to simply register my kid for high school.

Sixteen years ago I moved away from my quiet little town, just 10 miles outside of the big city I now call home again. A lot can happen in 16 years, and a lot did. I just didn’t know that as much as it has not changed, it’s really a whole new world.

Boston skyline

First I noticed increased traffic. This state is known for its traffic, but I thought we would relish in our quiet side streets like we used to. Nope. Then I noticed the small local businesses that I used to call for my home needs are now big businesses that don’t return my calls. Some family businesses survived through the years, but even they are different – nearly a generation gone by – grown children running the business their way.

The town has not changed in beauty, but has changed in numbers. That became clear when I saw that the high school that used to abut my neighborhood is now the middle school, and a big, shiny new high school stands where a plot of trees used to be. I was in awe of the new structure. But it was the inside that surprised me.

We had a registration appointment for my now-junior son. First we had to be buzzed through two sets of doors. Then they took my driver’s license and scanned it into a device that not only made an electronic copy, but printed out a special badge with my picture on it. At the same time that machine also let the administration know if I was a criminal.

paperworkWe had to provide more than 50 pages of signed documentation as proof of everything – residence, citizenship, marriage, language, driver’s licenses, notarized affidavits, utility bills, pay stubs, W-2s, home insurance, bank statement, house payment, and that was just for the parents. The registrar said that if they have any questions, they actually send the police to your house to be sure that you truly live there and with the people you say you do. I have never gone through anything like this to enroll my boys in school. It blew my mind.

My son did better with it than I did, I felt fairly invaded. Why would I lie about who I am, where I live, or anything relating to our identities? Apparently people do. It was like a government agency background check. Then I learned the school re-checks periodically to be sure we’re still good.

That was just for high school. When I learned what we have to do to get our driver’s licenses and car registrations I was shocked again. We don’t live in a police state…or maybe we kind of do. I’ll be so glad when the administration of moving is done and we’re finally real residents here. I must have been living under a rock before, but I bet now even that’s not too safe.

welcome rock


This Move Nearly Killed Us, But Hooray! We’re Finally Home

It doesn’t matter how many times you have moved, each time it reveals a unique blend of mystery, mayhem and occasionally miracles. My vote? Don’t move unless absolutely necessary, it might just about kill you.

For six exhaustingly long yet blink-of-an-eye short weeks, our lives were upside down. A little like immigrants of a past era, Sir Husband went ahead to our new home in Boston and worked his new job while I stayed in Maine managing the house sale, the packing, organizing, shifting, lifting, removing and eliminating of our stuff. He came home each Friday night for the weekend, then trekked back on Sundays with a Jeep full of boxes. It IMG_2840wasn’t easy for either of us.

Finally when the big day came, we loaded the UHaul, teenager and two cats, and turned the page. We thought.

I’ll skip over the part about what it felt like to walk into our new home too tired to really see it, function or breathe. Or the part about movers arriving at the crack of dawn the next day to unload our truck, and the furniture didn’t fit up the tight staircase so we had to saw the bannister out. Or how we tried to direct them where each box and piece of furniture went knowing they were not really listening, later finding our underwear drawers in the kitchen, our dishes next to the bed, and our cat stuck under the furnace.

FullSizeRender-1   moving    IMG_0201

But we managed. Three days later and in so much physical pain because honestly we are too old to keep doing this, we drove back to Maine to pass papers on our house. We opted to sign a day ahead of the buyer due to conflicting schedules, took care of business, sighed a breath of relief, and headed back to Boston.

An hour later we got the call.

Our house – that had been sitting empty and closed for four days – was filled with gas to such dangerous levels the firefighting hazmat team was shocked it didn’t blow up. Allegedly there was a precarious leak at the stove that no one knew about until the buyer opened the door to do her final walk-through and smelled the gas. Not only could the house have been matchsticks within minutes according to the fire department, the leak may have been going on while we lived there and we didn’t know it because we kept the windows open.

We could have all been killed.

She bought the house anyway, as scheduled.

That’s more than one miracle.

The magnitude of the gas incident did not hit me until the next day. How do you wrap your brain around something like that? Especially removed from the situation. We were not allowed to go to the house since we had already signed the closing papers due to liability, so we heard it all through the real estate agent – her muddled play-by-play leaving us hanging and confused for hours.

But it’s over. All of it. Other pressing matters ensued after that – like my 31-lb Kitchen Aid mixer dropping on my leg when the box broke. You should see the bruises.

This was by far the hardest, most exhausting, most trying, nearly-debilitating and absolute best, happiest, exciting life-changing move for us ever. So, life goes on. Never, ever underestimate the meaning and miracle of that.


Life is Like A Garden, It Takes Some Work To Bloom

What do you want to do when you grow up?

fairyWriting a fairy tale blog was not my answer. Nor was being a writer. But I love it, and feel it deep in my soul. It just comes naturally, even when I have nothing significant to say.

I’ve come a long way since I started Where’s the Fairy Tale in 2009. It took me a while to grasp the reins, and through the years things changed. But I never lost my mission for my blog to grow and bloom. I want it to be relevant and helpful for readers who enjoy and relate to what I share.

I always thought about my blog fairy tale like a garden, lush and green, splattered with vibrant colors and magical fairies blinking and shining like lightening bugs.

So like a garden, I planted the seeds and tend to it every day. Eventually, just like when a tiny bud sprouts, I got a follower, my very first. Followers are a big deal for bloggers because that’s how a blog really grows. Then I got a few more, and a few more. It’s not a contest, but the more followers you have, the more abundant your blog garden.

fairy forest

The other day I read a blog post by a mutual follower, called Find Me in the Garden. She’s a sweet blogger, who at her young age has endured quite a lot. She likens gardening to life.


hepburn garden….I was scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday, and I came across a quote, allegedly by Miss Hepburn:

It goes like this:

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

And for whatever reason, that idea really stuck with me throughout the day. Maybe because I love flowers so much. Maybe because it was full of hope, but it succeeded in getting me thinking.

You see, gardens have a special spot in my heart. They’re meaningful. But not for what Audrey is musing about. For me, they mean something more. To plant a garden, and care for a garden, is to learn how to take care of a living thing. There is beauty in taking care of yourself. Gardening teaches one patience.

I think today, we’re so used to instant gratification. We post an Instagram photo and within the hour we get X number of likes. We order something on Amazon, and we can get it the following day. Cell phones, Facebook chat, FaceTime.

Patience is a dying art.

daisiesFlowers take time to bloom. To expand and anchor their roots. Have the buds open up. Drink the water. Soak up the sun. So too, do we.

Yes, the garden would give me hope for the following day; bating my breath for the day when the pink would pop through the tight bud. But it taught me the importance of gentleness. Gentleness with myself. With allowing myself to grow. To heal. To bloom.

And the thing about gardens is that they’re never finished. Seasons are constantly changing. What looks dead in the winter will find new life again in the spring. What a beautiful image of hope that is.

The thing about gardens is that they’re not just for the gardener to enjoy, but everyone who passes by. A garden makes an impact. Makes the world a brighter place.

Audrey, yes. Gardens remind us of hope for tomorrow. But they also teach us about the importance of caring for yourself. And allowing yourself to bloom. Because when we do, the world becomes a brighter place. And the beauty of the One who created these flowers can be seen by all who encounter it…

dig it

We have pivotal experiences and milestone moments that change our course, giving us room to grow and allowing us to bloom. For me, this is one of those times. In just a few hours we’re moving home – where I left to marry Sir Husband, where I return with him to my heartfelt roots, where I wanted to live when I grew up.

I won’t be online for for several days, but will be back soon.

I’m tending to my garden.

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