The final post… or is it?

Dear Blog Reader,

Exciting news! My blog, which I’ve been writing for…ten years? eleven?… is now only going to be viewable to newsletter subscribers. My subscribers deserve a little something special not everyone can get, you know?

You may already be subscribed. If you are, you should have received the link and password to the new blog in an email from me last week. If you didn’t, click here to subscribe.

Writing this blog is a labor of love. You’ve read about some of my happiest moments, my beautiful and often hilarious family…and some of the saddest times, too. I think the blog contains the essence of my books, except it’s not fiction. A little exaggeration, maybe, usually in regard to Sainted Mother, but all true enough.

I appreciate you, your interest in my books and life, your affection. You, dear readers, are a hugely important part of my life. I hope you know that already, but if not, there it is.

Make sure you check out the new blog! I put an exciting post up there today.

Sending you lots of gratitude and the very best wishes,

Kristan

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Enough already!

My role model for old age.

Is it that I’m becoming a delightful curmudgeon, a la the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey? Am I just crotchety and not at all delightful? At any rate here are a few things I think we’ve all discussed plenty.

The Kennedy Assassination. Listen. It was a tragedy, of course. Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone? Guess what? We’ll never know, will we? The bloody pink dress Jackie wore as LBJ was sworn in…we get it. We’ve seen the iconic photos thousands of times. There is no new information, and even if there were, would it matter? How could it be verified? Who are your sources? It’s time to let that drop that bone, people.

Sigh.

The Beatles. I’m sorry, I’m tapped out where the lore of the Beatles are concerned. I don’t care about their LSD trips or the British invasion or the haircuts (which my mother revisited on my innocent head from ages 6-12). What does the Walrus mean, if anything? I don’t know. I don’t care.  Sure, some of their songs are still great, but I’d say 95% of them could be happily retired. Did Yoko break up the band? I don’t know! It was decades ago! Leave it!

Is Michael Jackson Still Alive. He’s not. Neither is Elvis, and neither is Prince. Sorry. Of the three of them, I choose Prince to rise from the dead, if I get a vote, that is.

How Childhood Was Happier Before Social Media. Hey, fellow old people! I agree. Can we drop it now? We aren’t going backwards. Yes, yes, if I were queen of the world, I’d forbid children from owning phones before they were sixteen. I’d also forbid parents from staring stupidly at their own phones, mouth-breathing and ignoring their children, teaching them that there’s always something on that phone that’s more interesting than you, kiddo. But I’m not queen, alas.

Gosh, who’d have thought these two would break up? Everyone, that’s who.

Charles and Diana’s Not-Love Story. She  was too young. He was too repressed. They were very unhappy.. People liked her best. The. End. Now, if you want to talk about Meghan and Harry, I’m here for it. #sussexsquad

Citizen Kane. I’m gonna be bold and just say it. It was boring. If you think it’s the greatest film ever made, are you kidding me? In eighty-one years, you haven’t seen a single movie better than this? Jeez Louise! I don’t believe you and/or you need to get out more.

In a future blog, maybe I’ll write about subjects that never grow old for me. Hoarding. Infidelity. Baking. Derek Jeter. My kids. But for now, thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

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Game night

Let the good times roll.

The other day, when my sister was visiting our mom, we decided to have a game night. Oh, readers! It was a combination of Trivial Pursuit and conversation starters, curated by McIrish, who clearly won the the lottery because he got to spend the evening with the three Higgins women. We uncapped the wine, broke out the chips, made a fire and settled in to battle to the death.

Mom killing it on Password with Joel Gray, back when I was a chubby toddler and my sister was a babe in arms.

Sainted Mother thrives on games. She is a two-time Jeopardy champion and, back in the day when game shows were filmed in New York, would bop down to the city and slay the competition. She won a car, a vacation, money, a lifetime supply of Q-Vel anti foot cramp pills. She is, in other words, a fierce competitor.

I myself am pretty good at trivia…I have what I call “cocktail party brain,” in that I can discuss almost any subject, at least a little. Football, World War II, Egyptology, even, on rare occasions, math. My beloved sister is also fierce and has a leg up on questions about art, since she works in a museum. Therefore, answers such as “Cleopatra!” and “Broadway Joe!” and “Matisse! No, Toulouse-Lautrec!” were shouted from various points in the family room.

I, however, had an advantage, in that I’m married to the master of ceremonies. “I said it first,” I’d lie, and he’d nod and pretend to give me the win. We weren’t keeping score, and he knows where his bread is buttered, as they say. “Great answer, honeybun!” he’d say as my sister and mom groaned about the unfairness of life.

My sister’s most precious belonging.

It was the conversation starters that gave us the giggles, though. “What sentimental item would you save first in a house fire?” McIrish asked.

“The photo albums,” I said instantly.

“Nothing,” said my mother.

“My Snuggie!” my sister said.

“At which store would you most like to spend $100?”

“Kristan’s Market,” said my mother, previously unsentimental. This was the store her grandmother owned, a little corner grocery with uneven floorboards, sepia-colored freezers and a penny candy counter with hardened Tootsie Rolls and Squirrel Nut Zippers that could pull out your teeth.

My Hungarian great-grandmother in front of the store she bought and ran for decades.

“Did they have enough inventory for $100, though?” I asked. Mom probably could’ve bought the entire contents of the store for about $35, we speculated, fondly remembering dusty cans of green beans, loaves of Wonder Bread of indeterminate age, and, best of all, the chicken parts that were fused together with freezer burn and hope. My grandfather would take out a dog-sized lump of poultry, pick up the cleaver and hack away, bits of ice and chicken flesh flying in the air.

At one point, McIrish pronounced France the French way. Mom’s less than stellar hearing had her asking “Where’s Frunk? Is it in Europe?” Hilarity ensued, with my sister and me suggesting that Mom call up her cousin and book a nice long trip to Frunk.

But it was at the end of the night that Mom laughed so hard we thought she might pass out, or indeed, die as she had lived, with a glass of wine at her side and her beloved daughters teasing her. You see, McIrish dared to pick up some plates and take them to the kitchen.

“Terence!” she yelled. “Don’t clean up!”

“Oh, it’s happening, Noël,” he said. “It’s happening!”

“Terence!” said I, pretending to be my mother. “Why are you so cruel to me? Why do you torment me this way? Step away from the dishwasher!”

Laughing yourself to death. Not a bad way to go.

(A gentle reminder: my blog will only be accessible via my newsletter in the near future, so if you haven’t already, please sign up here!)

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Hotel Noël

In case of apocalypse, head for my mom’s. She’s got a few of these stashed in the freezer at all times.

While I recently was on Cape Cod, commuting back and forth to my marriage, McIrish was exposed to COVID. Sigh. I was supposed to come back, pick out backsplash tiles for our house reno and get surgery on my wrist. There was only one option: Sleepover with Sainted Mother and stay the heck away from my husband.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my childhood home, but having lived next door for…um…27 years or so, I’ve never needed to sleep over. My sister and her family, my mom’s out-of-state siblings and friends—they’re the overnight guests. Not me.

 

Not *quite* this bad.

My sister and her hubby had come down over Christmas and left one-and two-star reviews for the mattresses in Mom’s two guest rooms. One caved in, trapping the sleeper; the other arched outward, rolling the sleeper off the bed. Irked with the bad reviews, Sainted Mother finally got a new mattress—the old one was only 43 years old, so it bothered her that she had to replace it, but enough with the jokes about springs sticking into her son-in-law’s recently reconstructed spine.

The new mattress is lovely, I’m happy to report. Plus, Mom’s house is a bit drafty, we’ll say kindly. Some of the windows don’t close all the way, and she likes to be able to see her breath upstairs. When I was a youth, I complained about this for decades, but once menopause hit, I embraced my mom’s love of the Arctic. I piled blankies on the bed and made a cozy little nest, as nature instructs us to do in the winter.

The actual floor in our bathroom. Holding up great, I have to admit.

Taking a shower in my childhood bathroom, which still sports the Harvest Gold/Avocado Green of the 1970s, was a blast from the past. I fondly remembered stomach viruses and shoving matches with my siblings. I found some decades-old toothpaste tubes, hardened skin care products and children’s Tylenol from when my now twenty-something nieces were tiny and tossed them, though if Mom knew, she may well have snatched them back. That Noxema just needs a little water, she might say.

Mom watches Jeopardy!—she is a two-time champion—and while I don’t love the show like the rest of my relatives, I’m not bad at it and can give funny, rapid-fire wrong answers to delight my mommy.

I think Jonathan has a slight lead…

We cooked spaghetti sauce and meatballs. I introduced her to the magic of Queer Eye, and she is now trying to decide if she loves Antoni or Jonathan more. Every time she comments on Antoni’s handsomeness, I remind her that he hugged me. Twice. (We met at a book party once, and he was incredibly sweet and kind and even Facetimed the Princess!).

After my surgery on Friday, I had one more night at Hotel Noël before McIrish could definitively test negative. Mommy kept fetching me glasses of water and Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake, great slabs of it, God bless her. Though I may have become slightly diabetic during my stay, it was worth it.

I’m back with McIrish and the pets now, heading for the Cape tomorrow yet again to stay out of the way of the contractors and my husband as they try to finish our house. But I’m awfully grateful for the fun I had these past few days. I guess sometimes you just need your mama. Thanks, Mom! I had a great time!

A note: Blogs will be only available to newsletter subscribers at the end of January. Please make sure you’ve signed up at http://bit.ly/KHBooksnewsletter. You’ll get a free short story, too!

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An unexpected angel

Well, it’s that time of year, so I’m going to tell you a Christmas story. It’s not the happiest story, but maybe it’s a good story anyway.

When my father was killed many years ago by a drunk driver, I was just out of college at the time and worked for his  company. My dad was a  printer and made those coffee table books and posters for museums like the Met and the Smithsonian. He loved fixing a shadowhis clients. Dad was the king of long-term business relationships…he remembered where a kid went to college, remembered special anniversaries, asked after parents. His clients loved him too. As my father’s employee and especially as his daughter, I felt I owed it to his closest clients to go down to D.C., where Dad did most of his business, and see them in person.

You can imagine how it felt to sit in their offices six weeks after my father’s death and have those folks tell me how wonderful my dad was, to have them cry and shake their heads in disbelief that their old friend was gone. But I wanted to make Dad proud—doesn’t every daughter?—so I let them hug me, thanked them for their kindness and told them how much my father had always loved working with them, and how much it meant to my family and me to know how highly they regarded my dad.

washington-dc-85539_640It was awful. To this day, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Add to this, I didn’t know anyone in Washington. I didn’t want to go back to an empty room, so I walked around, found myself in Georgetown, which was bright with Christmas lights, awash in wreaths and ribbons, all those posh shops and beautiful restaurants, the elegant townhouses and wrought-iron fences. Snow was falling, and the whole scene looked like a Christmas movie. Georgetown truly is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in America.

But I wasn’t really in the mood for a proper dinner. I spied to a Roy Rogers, figured I’d get a burger and maybe go to the movies and distract myself as long as I could before going back to my room. In front of the restaurant was a homeless man, sitting in the slushy snow on the sidewalk. “Can you spare some change, miss?” he asked. “Sure,” I answered. “But I don’t have any right now. Come in the restaurant, and I’ll get some.”

homeless manThe guy was white, and he was dirty and skinny, reddish hair. I don’t remember his face too well, but he had a scruffy beard. He followed me in uncertainly—clearly he wouldn’t have been sitting on the street if that restaurant had welcomed the homeless. Up at the counter, I ordered two of everything—burgers, fries, coffee, milkshake (he could use some fattening up). Then I brought the tray back and asked him to eat with me.

He couldn’t believe I’d bought him food. He admitted that he would’ve spent my money on booze, and told me it had been a long time since he ate a square meal (if you could call it that) in a restaurant. “Most folks wouldn’t do this,” he said. “They wouldn’t let me eat with them.”

Before you think this is a story of my goodness, let me tell something. It isn’t. I was nervous. He did not smell good, this guy. I told him I was married (I wasn’t) and that my husband was meeting me in half an hour. I could’ve afforded to give him a hundred dollars, put him up in a hotel for the night, at least paid for cab fare to a shelter, and I did none of those things. I could’ve bought him a lot more than a hamburger and fries.

burger and friesBut he was thrilled, and I admit that it was kind of nice, sitting there under the disapproving gaze of the Roy Rogers manager. My new pal liked that we were breaking the rules…the rule was, he told me, that you had to buy something to come in the restaurant, and he couldn’t afford even a cup of coffee, being that he spent all his money on alcohol. He slept in his car most of the time, though he would go to a shelter tonight. He showed me a very old and tattered picture of a girl—his daughter. She would be in her twenties now, but he hadn’t seen her in a long time, and indeed, didn’t know where she was anymore.

At the end of the meal, I gave Ted the change from my twenty. He thanked me, and I waved as I crossed the street, sort of concerned that he’d follow me, take my purse, kill me, whatever. He didn’t. He just waved, a huge smile on his face. “God bless you, nice lady!” he shouted.

I’m guessing that Ted has died by now. Life on the street, alcoholism, illness…I’m quite sure I’ll never see him again. But I wish I could, because if I did, I’d thank him for giving me the chance to do something decent. I’d tell him how grateful I was that he showed me his most precious possession, that worn picture of his child. I’d apologize for being afraid of him, and thank him for reminding me just how much I had.

starsMost of all, I’d thank him for being nice to me. I was a lost soul that night with an awful ache in my heart…and Ted, he helped me. In the season of angels and miracles and hope, I think that Ted was a sort of angel, because that homeless man gave me a place to sit, a person to talk with, a chance to look outside of myself, at least for a little while.

 

So here’s to you, Ted. Hope you’re okay, wherever you are. And maybe someday, we’ll meet again.

 

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Those slutty closets

My closet will not look like this, alas.

Part of our house renovation means that McIrish will finally get his stuff out of my closet. Oh, back when we were young, it was “our” closet, but please. It was really mine, and his stuff was taking up valuable space. So now he gets his own…or half of his own, because I plan to use mine plus some of his. Also, the kids’ closets upstairs need to be redone since they no longer live with us (you hear that, Dearest? Come May when you’re done with grad school, you can sleep in the GUEST room for a couple of weeks before you become a fully fledged adult and move into your place, wherever that may be, and Godspeed, son).

Anyhoo, closets. The kids’ closets have a sloping ceiling the long way, but are fairly deep. They also have an eaves (an eaves? Or an eave?) on both sides of their room, since we don’t have an attic. When they were little, they called them the beehives, and the name stuck. They drew on the walls and ceilings and stuck glow-in-the-dark stars all over them. I plan to keep those as is and save one to use as a tiny fort for future grandchildren. Okay, okay, for myself and future grandchildren. Every adult needs a hidey spot where they can stretch out and sleep or read for a while. But otherwise, the spaces will have to be put to good use.

Who folded these clothes? I need you right away.

Enter Pinterest. Oh, Pinterest, you Jezebel! You seductress! You liar! I mean, please. As pornography is to real-life nooky, Pinterest closets are to human closets. If I needed a closet to store all my coach bags and Christian Louboutin shoes, Pinterest is my girl. However, not owning any Coach bags or CL shoes, it’s not helpful. Ditto the four cashmere sweaters in various shades of white. Honestly, who are these people who own so few clothes and use closets and statement pieces? Where are the sweatshirts? The stained t-shirts you use while painting? Where are the jeans, the yoga pants, the mashup of colors? We don’t all wear tasteful neutrals all the time, Pinterest! Some of us have muck boots and actually use them!

Do not trust the person who lives here.

It’s the same with mud rooms. Every mud room they show contains a straw basket, a gardening hat, a bouquet of peonies and a pair of those tall red boots Martha Stewart wears. Perhaps a docile and immaculate Irish setter. Giant pink parka that keeps you warm in -20 degrees? Kristan! How tacky! Grubby dog bed with mutilated toys? Please. Don’t be so crude, Higgins! These dog beds were made by Ralph Lauren himself. Husband’s Carhartt overalls used for lumberjacking? Not in those mud rooms.

Also, Pinterest wants me to buy signs announcing where we are. “Welcome to my closet!” Er…whom am I welcoming, exactly? The cat? Another suggestion: “Laundry.” Why? Yes, I’ll be doing laundry for the rest of my life. No, I don’t need a sign announcing that. “Kitchen,” in case the stove, sink, countertops and fridge didn’t tip you off.

Neither do I want a sign that tells me I’m blessed. I am, and I know that, and I thank the dear Lord for that every day. I don’t need a sign hanging over my couch saying anything, really—thankful, grateful, blessed, family, love. Winter blessings, spring blessings, summer blessings, autumn blessings, pumpkin spice and everything nice. That being said, I do sometimes forget what season we’re in, but then I look out the window and remember. I recently saw a sign that said, harvest blessings. Harvest blessings? Sounds like something they’d say in The Handmaid’s Tale. Very Children of the Corn, very creepy, those harvest blessings. Also, did you really harvest anything? Did you? Are you an actual farmer? If so, you can have that sign.

We do have one sign. It says “Welcome,” and it will hang by the back door. Brief and to the point, like the Yankees we are.

Well, I have to go buy some neutral clothes and leopard print shoes so my closet is glamorous. My real stuff will have to live somewhere else, I guess.

 

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Sainted Mother v. Thanksgiving

Sure, it’s a neck.

Tragically, I will not be able to chase my mother around the house with a turkey neck this year. I know. I’m sad, too. After all, how many times have I convinced her that it’s not really a neck at all? There was the time I pretended the raw turkey was giving birth to the giblets, and she laughed (and screamed) till tears ran down her legs.

It’s not due to her age (40×2), because as we’ve often said, she should die as she lived, cackling inappropriately, being tormented at the hands of her middle child and/or grandchildren. It’s certainly not due to the fact that I’m cooking, because I stand by my solemn vow of never cooking a Thanksgiving dinner. It’s because my beloved and near-perfect sister is hosting this year, so we’re all heading north to her house for what is sure to be a gorgeous spread.

hilarious photo by Judy Olaufson

But back to raw turkey.

How I love watching my mother heave a 22-pound poultry corpse up from the cellar, or, in the olden days, from the trunk of my father’s little British sportscar, which we kept as a shrine/turkey storage unit for decades. I love how she could never quite thaw it out in time, either rolling the dice on all of us getting salmonella, or getting up at 2 a.m. to put the “Damn Bird”—its esteemed title— into the oven.

Also by Judy Olaufson

Those happy, happy memories of Sainted Mother dry-heaving as she rubbed cold butter into the skin of the raw bird, or tried to pry the frozen giblets from the tundra of the interior. I am quite sure that at least once, the bird was cooked with giblets inside, though whether that was Sainted Mother or one of her sisters, I cannot be sure. The annual panic inspired as the Damn Bird’s little done button would pop four hours before the guests were due, resulting in Mom turning off the oven, then turning it back on, then turning it off again. The bits of potato skin shooting into the air as Mom hand-peeled ten or fifteen pounds. The terrifying glare she’d give me if I offered to help, always putting me in mind of Samuel L. Jackson.

“Get out of my kitchen,” she’s been noted to snarl. The last time we had Thanksgiving there, she splattered me with boiling gravy as I attempted to clean up a little, something I’m quite sure was a calculated move. The time someone requested a vegetable other than green bean casserole, so Sainted Mother threw some broccoli in a baking pan, covered it in melted cheddar and topped it with Cheez-Its. Mmm.

Then, the dinner itself. Sainted Mother prefers to serve herself last, as she has to get down from the cross. “Don’t wait for me!” she snaps. This ensures that (A) her dinner will be cold, something she enjoys announcing, and (B), most of us are done by the time she sits down.

My mom’s twin, at least in attitude

Afterward, we attempt to help to clean up, which results in her pitbull-like reaction. “No! You don’t know where everything goes!” she tells me, her next-door neighbor who grew up in that very house where nothing has been reorganized since we moved in when I was seven. “Please! Get out! I like to do it.” Another Samuel L. Jackson look, and most guests skulk off, sufficiently terrified. I then sneak back into the kitchen to wrap up and scrape off and wipe down, only to be berated by Sainted Mother when caught. “Kristan! Really! Get out! I LIKE to DO it MYSELF.”

Oh, Mommy! I miss your Thanksgivings! I promise we’ll come to your house next year!

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Back from whence we came

Booey, my bear since I was two, remains with us. Of course he does!

Our house renovation has now started on the inside, so McIrish moved into my office, the little apartment over our neighbor’s garage. That’s where we lived when we were building the house, and when I was preggers with the Princess, and where she spent the first year and a half of her life. It’s 600 square feet. We were all over tiny houses way before they were a thing, people!

Anyway, I’ve been living at our cozy little place on Cape Cod, which dear old Dad bought way back in the 1970s. Long distance marriage is something at which McIrish and I excel…we coo at each other in the mornings and tell each other about our days at night, and sprinkle the long distance time with conjugal visits.

Photo courtesy of my sister.

Yesterday, though, the nor’easter on the Cape and the many downed wires in my neighborhood forced me to come home. Which was fine! I missed my honey, for one, and for two, was not mentally prepared to go four days without heat, running water, refrigeration, etc. After a wild morning clearing the road in 60 mph winds and getting soaked the skin trying to extract a stick from beneath my car, I drove home. The 3.5 hour drive took 4.5 hours, but hey. Also, shout-out to the Eastham firefighters, who gamely extracted that stick, getting drenched in the process. You guys are the best!

I brought the tub of chicken salad back from the Cape. Too good to waste!

At home, I went to my office, eager to see how McIrish had fixed it up. The TV was on the coffee table, and there was a queen sized mattress on the floor. Otherwise, it was pretty much the same. I looked in the little fridge. Wine, 3 half gallons of half-and-half, a half gallon of whole milk, cheese sticks, and a huge cabbage. The essentials, you see. (Cabbage? I didn’t have cabbage on my bingo card.)

So I got to work rearranging, and will continue that today, to make sure we have a pleasant spot for the next couple of months until our house is done. We may spend Christmas here, as we did so many years ago. Or at our daughter’s new house, because as we renovate ours, the Princess and the Firefighter have just bought their first home. I’ll be helping them pack and paint and all that good stuff. It’s really sweet, this strange parallel…them newlyweds, moving into their first place, McIrish and I back in our first place in Connecticut.

Those slanted ceilings present a challenge… i.e., concussion warning ahead!

Last night, as we spent our first night together in the Apartment Part II, Luther paced anxiously, then tried to get on the bed between the two of us. Huck scratched the walls, but eventually settled in a basket. McIrish was asleep in seconds. It was, I admit, very cozy.

This morning, McIrish helped me off the mattress on the floor. “We can do this,” said I, “because we’re still young, damn it.” We both pretended not to hear my various joints cracking. For now, I’m going to figure out what to do with that cabbage, and make a little more space on the shelves, and once again, make this tiny space a happy home.

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Demolition man

I may have mentioned that we’re renovating our house…the first home improvements we’ve done since we’ve moved in, back when we were young and poor. Now, nearly 25 years later, we’re upgrading a bit. McIrish will get to park in the garage. Our cracked, vinyl tiled kitchen floor will be replaced with wood. A second closet in our bedroom, and a tiled shower.

It’s surprisingly sentimental, even though our house will be mostly the same, in terms of layout. We had thought we’d expand, but we nixed that idea when the architect made the house too glam for our humble tastes. The renovation will definitely kick the house up a notch, but I’m going to miss some things. For more than two decades, I’ve joked with McIrish, telling him the problem with our closet isn’t that I have too many clothes, it’s that he insisted that he puts his stuff in with mine. Our little shower has been home to many dog baths, one very memorable cat bath, too many post-operative showers done with great care, and a hundreds of little cartoons and love notes drawn on special waterproof paper.

Yesterday, I cleaned out the baking cupboard, which is big enough that I could crawl into it and hide. There, I found many boxes of baking soda, three containers of cocoa, a few boxes of tea, origins unknown. When was the last time I used molasses? Best not to speculate. That cupboard, where the kids used to hide and eat chocolate chips and brown sugar, was a curse, but also so much fun. It’ll be replaced by something much more user-friendly, but I’ll never forget the cat and my son sitting in there so happily.

Tomorrow, when the demolition begins, my plan is to run back to our little house on the Cape and hide from the sight of sledgehammers taking out the island McIrish built, the broom closet where we kept the Scrabble game, the bedroom walls I painted red when McIrish was at the fire academy. That’s asking just a little too much.

I can’t wait for the new look and all the conveniences and beauty it will bring. But with apologies to our lovely and kind contractor, I don’t want to see the destruction live and in person.

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The Derma Sucker

I had a week off, gang. A week of real vacation time, which is unusual for us authorly folk. We usually have writing, editing, revisions, promotion—sometimes all at once. Then there’s social media, which is always delightful, but can be a rabbit hole, too, sucking up the hours.

This time, I took a real vacation. No social media, no new book to get started, appearances and interviews for PACK UP THE MOON officially finished. So what was a woman, alone for four days with her dog, to do?

Obviously, the answer is buy a weird skin care product. Yes, it is a skin care product, no matter what else it might remind you of (dirty minds, all of you). Derma Suction! It was in the As Seen on TV aisle of my local Walgreens, and its price had been cut from $20 to $1.99 (which should have told me something right there). I had to have it.

And so, I texted a photo of it to the Princess, who shares my love of weird skin care products. She said, “You have to get it!” and I responded with “Oh, I did.”

Clearly, this thing would work, because A) look at the woman in the photo. She has beautiful skin. And B), well…it would suck the gunk out of my pores! It was battery powered, so you knew it was legit. Also, C) look at the cartoon woman! She also has flawless skin.

Thus, I began my process with great joy and excitement, ready to suck the yuck out of my skin, as advertised. First step, open those pores with a warm face cloth. I dozed off and woke up to a cold face cloth, but hey. Then, onto the deep clean the brochure promised. See that plastic well? Soon, it would be filled with impurities, which I could then photograph and send to my children and sister as torture.

I began.

The Derma Suction did suck my skin. It was like having a tiny vampire clamp onto my face. Then I’d pull it off, and move it. I kept yelping in surprise, which made Luther come into the bathroom to check on my wellbeing.

I used as directed, waiting for the yuck holder to fill up with impurities. After a half hour or so, I checked the results. The plastic well was tragically empty.

Aside from looking like I’d been in a fight with a small octopus, my skin was—shocker—not noticeably different. I had no nasty chunks of…I don’t know…pine sap or salt from the ocean in the Derma Sucker. Just small rings of red dotting my face.

Totally worth those two dollars. I can’t wait to make the Princess give it a whirl.

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