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05 Apr Easter Bonnets

Easter Bonnets

Happy Easter! Christos Anesti, for the Greek side of the family!


I suppose this picture belongs on a #TBT Throwback Thursday post, but I found myself thinking of it today, and so dug it out of one of my scrapbooks. It is, of course, my sister Barb and me one Easter morning when we were girls. I remember that cotton shirtwaist dress—it was pale pink. Note the correct (!) white gloves and crescent-shaped flower hat, which was almost more like a headband. I don’t remember Barb’s outfit, so perhaps she will have to chime in to tell us what color it was.


I was probably twelve or thirteen here, which means Barb would have been nine or ten. (We’re now pretty much exactly the same height.) We’re standing in our little side yard along Logan Street. Yes, I think it’s quite all right to have #TBT pictures whether it’s Thursday or not!

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11 May Mother’s Day 2014

Mother's Day 1947

It was Mother’s Day 1947. In those days (gulp) taking pictures was a rarer and more formal thing. Someone (my father? My grandfather?) lined up the women of the family for a snapshot with fourteen-month-old me in my beautiful young mother’s arms. I don’t remember it, of course–not even the enormous sunbonnet. Can you imagine putting something like that on a toddler today?


Left to right, my paternal grandmother Elizabeth Schroeder Gross (I’m named for her, although that’s a story in itself), my aunt Margaret Gross Paugh, me, my dear dear mother Margaret Fleming Gross (to whom The Flower Reader is dedicated), and my maternal grandmother Bonnie Otto Fleming. Bonnie’s real name was “Bonnalynn”–one has to wonder where that came from, as she was born in 1887. But her mother’s name was Margaret Roxanne Landers, so perhaps a penchant for fanciful names ran in the family. In any case, she herself hated “Bonnalynn” and called herself “Bonnie.” but I loved it and always thought that if I were ever fortunate enough to have a daughter of my own (which I’m not, alas) I’d name her “Bonnalynn.”


Perhaps one day there will be a “Bonnalynn” in a book….


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10 Jan Barefoot Again

Our trip to Nashville was wonderful, but oh, what a delight it is to be barefoot again after four whole days of wearing shoes. I am so not a shoe person.

Of course I have to post a picture of our Bella. Beauty and the Beast was wonderful, Bella as Belle was simply spectacular, her brother Isaiah was fall-off-the-chair funny as Le Fou, and the rest of the cast was terrific.

Give me a day to catch my breath and then I have something lovely to share.

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13 Jul Back to the Hermitage

Two wonderful things happened today.

First, son, daughter-in-law, their two babies (who aren’t babies any more, oh my!) and their two chihuahuas arrived for a nice long visit.

Second, copyedits for The Second Duchess landed in my mailbox. So amazing and awe-inspiring to see it all laid out so officially!

Anyway, lots of work and zero online time for me, for the next couple of weeks at least. You-all play nice, now.

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26 Nov Happy Thanksgiving!

A Puritan Mother. Long before the invention of baby monitors, pop-up wipes and Pampers.My ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but they were not far behind on one of the voyages of the Abigail, which sailed from London April to July 1635, arriving in Massachusetts Bay. Henry Collins, my ninth great-grandfather, a starchmaker (all those ruffs and caps had to be starched by someone, you know) from Stepney, Middlesex, brought his wife Ann and his three young children Henry, John and Margery. I’m descended from John (who was only three at the time of the voyage), through the Motts, Rhodeses, Sarjents, McConnells and Flemings.

So although they weren’t Pilgrims but ordinary Puritan tradesmen, here’s to the Collins family, who sailed to the New World and settled in Lynn, Massachusetts. Here’s to Ann Collins, who undertook a two-month-plus voyage across the Atlantic in cramped shipboard quarters with three children, ages five, three and two! Men may have gotten all the credit for bravery in those days, but a woman who could manage that is a woman I’m proud to be descended from.

Happy Thanksgiving wishes to everyone—because even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving Day as a holiday, it’s always good to be thankful.

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01 Oct Off to the Hermitage

My imaginary hermitage, full of silence, solitude, and good writing mojoI’m going to be out of touch for a while—I have some family matters to attend to and I want to do some deep writing.

At left, see my imaginary hermitage. Where else would I squirrel myself away but in an ancient stone cottage with a thatched roof? Can’t you just feel the delicious solitude and the silence, but for leaves rustling and an occasional bird singing? Fortunately it is also equipped with high-speed fiberoptic broadband internet.

See you in a few weeks!