Tag Archives: Darwin’s View


En route to Providence this past April—a mere six months ago—my cell phone rang. Carl, as ever, chauffeured and so I answered the call. It was our house sitter extraordinaire Katie. She has house sat for us, first at our East side home, and then our Park side home, on and off, for years. She apologized for being the bearer of bad news.

“I took a bath in your bathroom this morning and when I drained the tub, the toilet began to gurgle and . . . stuff started coming up into your shower.”

Stuff being a euphemism for shit.

For the record, when I think of a toilet backing up into the shower, I don’t think “oh, the perfect opportunity to begin our humanure project.” Surprisingly, Carl didn’t think that either, if only because the back-up happened at our home in the city of Providence, not in the country at Darwin’s View. No, I looked over at Carl and he at me and we agreed. The universe was trying to tell us something.

I called Roto-Rooter. As we rocketed along Route 146, heading to Providence now for an entirely different purpose than a few minutes before, Carl sang along with the Roto-Rooter’s theme song (Roto-Rooter, that’s the name, Away go troubles, down the drain) while I contemplated what it might be the universe was telling us. A few hours later, the Roto-Rooter guy pushed us over the edge to the answer: it would cost us thousands of dollars to repair the sewer pipes out to the street. They might be able to get to the job that weekend, given it was kind of an emergency. We shouldn’t use the water until then.

Adding salt to the wound, the Roto-Rooter guy’s boss sniffed at us through the phone.

“I told them they should replace those lines five years ago.”

Carl and I looked at each other. Neither remembered calling Roto-Rooter five years ago. I asked for the exact date, please. As it turned out, it was seven years ago, and—most tellingly—three days before we bought our “let’s face it. the house isn’t in Providence, it’s in Cranston” house.

I called the young couple then staying at the house to tell them about the back up and the water use restriction. Then Carl and I debated which realty company to call.

I am not bitter. It has been time to sell that house for a while. We became official residents of New Hampshire in 2016, in time for the November elections. And have spent less and less time in our Cranston/Providence home in the last couple of years. With the sewer issue, the balance tipped. It was time. We affirmed our decision to each other time and again. It made all the sense in the world.

Ever with my priorities straight and to celebrate the arrival at Darwin’s View of my mother for a three week visit, we adopted six chicks on April 8th. With their grating peeppeeppeeps emitting from the cardboard box next to the wood stove, we avoided any sign of change. A couple of day trips to Providence to interview realtors, yet we postponed packing until after my mother’s departure. Thus, it wasn’t until the first three weeks of May that we packed up all our stuff and more stuff. We toted it up to New Hampshire where the just finished addition to the house began to bulge even as we staged the Cranston/Providence house. Down to its simplest, sleekest form, it was just a house now, not a home. Right?

The Open House was May 21st, initiating the usual bumps and hiccups of house sales.

The closing was September 6th. The buyers’ lawyer took a minute to comment on how she had had to research the property boundaries, given the house was sited in both Providence and Cranston. And so she had seen the website with all the pretty pictures of our beautiful house. She loved it. She went on and on about how unique it is, what great work we did renovating it, how fabulous. . ..

I interrupted her. “Excuse me,” I said. “I am deeply ambivalent about selling this house? I would suggest you stop talking right now. I haven’t signed anything yet.”

Nervous giggles all around. The sale proceeded. Our realtor, perhaps to lighten things up, commented on how happy her son is with all the records we had given away. All Carl’s and my LPs. Mine that I haven’t listened to since Carl and I got married because we hadn’t set up the stereo system, relying on CDs instead. I didn’t tell her sh! Nor did I say, I want them back. They are a part of me and I have been out of touch with that me. Give them back. Instead, I signed the papers where I was supposed to sign. I was letting go. It wasn’t my fault if the house and the records were stuck to me in a Buster Keaton’s handkerchief kind of way.

I always swore I wouldn’t move to New Hampshire from Providence. I didn’t. I moved from Cranston, from our in-between the beach and the mountain house. Buying, renovating and moving into that house began the transition from Rhode Island to New Hampshire and ba-da-bing. When shit comes up in your shower, the universe is telling you something.

Did I misinterpret it? Was it telling us to move back?

Absolutely not. We have moved forward, and are, in typical us fashion, readying ourselves for the next project, whatever that might be.


Regeneration and Rejuvenation in Three Parts


Our lap pond no longer leaks. It hardly even evaporates. And I am determined to swim every day because this is not a four season pool and the season is fast coming to a close. The last two days, the water was 68 degrees and the air a bracing 47. Nippy. Almost too but still beareable. Delicious and there is a part of me that needs to be in that pool with the frogs and water bugs. When swimming between two mountains in that very cold water, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and convergence. As if all that has happened in my lifetime actually makes sense. That being here at Darwin’s View is exactly where I am meant to be. After these last seven years of bewilderment, that’s refreshing.

How get into the water? Once decided to do it (no, yes, no, yes, no, yes), I ask leave of the resident leopard frog. He dives off into the darkness, to safety. I step onto the first step to follow him, and the next, and the next. I can’t spend time considering the chill of the water. I know that if I hesitate for too long, my toes will be numb before I am fully submerged, and the swim will be a euphemism for a mere wetting. Splash! I’m in and fully awake, swimming from a pinked-by-the-sunrise Mount Monandock toward Pac Monadnock. Clouds rest on its shoulder like a blanket of snow. As I come up for breath, I note the plants of the pool’s stone bed regeneration system. Below me, water bugs do the breast stroke. Snails on the side of the pool. A dragonfly birthed from its cocoon. Skin chilling, I feel the shape of my body, where it ends and the water begins. My awareness of my feet, legs, torso is vivid. The water livens me. It heals me. It is me. Being. I am in the moment, for once, because the moment, this one in the pool, is absolutely perfect.

Only three laps. Four. Five. I could swim forever, and want to, but the cold sinks into my blood. My toes cramp. Unlike the frogs, I am not cold-blooded. Yet, even as I step out of the pool, I regret that sensation of breathless cold against my skin. That feeling of aliveness. Of I exist. Of I am. And I know the ununtterable importance of that beingness. Has anyone else felt it? It is without boundaries. It is the sensation of oneness. That we are all bound up in a whorl of energy that has no beginning or end.


An example of a lack of boundaries: Our free-range, a.k.a. feral, chickens. They have no discretion as proven by the peeps, who are now adolescents. They have taken over the handicapped-accessible walkway to the porch. It is dotted with their poo. Mo, in particular, likes to hang out there as the enclosure gives echo to his crow.

Yes, once again, we have hims. Mo and Muff. Mo is the top dude and chasing the older hens who are, needless to say, pissed that their peace and quiet is once again being broken by some upstart trying to mount them in adolescent fashion: no foreplay whatsoever. Mo is more concerned with his own needs than the hens’ which, if you are paying attention at all, you will note is pervasive in the world today. Too few are willing to take the time to consider the other side.


Balance. Life requires balance. In our demo-n-capitalist society, balance has been gerrymandered away. Energy, in the form of money, has been used to upend democracy, creating an unnatural chaos, a seemingly bottomless vortex of anger and hate that masks a deep and unexplored fear. Unbearable sadness. The pain of rejected love and lost connection. We will have to face that pain, if we are to heal it. It is very ugly. Evil. As terrifying as it is terrified. But here we are at a confluence of tides: hate meeting compassion. Words meet action. Words are so much easier. After all, here I am on my little hill taking a dip in my piece of heaven, a regenerative lap pond. Easy for me to say march in peace, be. I am white. I’ve never known poverty. My present moment isn’t dangerous.

Granted, one never knows. There is a gun club near us here. People practicing their aim on human forms.

Would Jesus do that?



We know that Ghandhi didn’t shoot guns, and I have wondered: in real life, as opposed to fiction, does good win over evil? Compassion and love over hate. There does seem to be a shift going on. We are in the midst of a nightmare but look how many people now are involved and active  against intolerance and hate who would not have been otherwise. The question being, will it be enough? Like so many totalitarian regimes, our current head of government doesn’t listen. Doesn’t care. He rolls forward unheeding, like an army tank over living beings. Individuals sacrifice for something bigger than any one person. Life snuffed. Is there still hope?

Rather like the eclipse. It was only a partial eclipse at Darwin’s View. Even so, it was unsettling to watch. Through the welder glasses that friends of ours brought, the sun was green. Had I been a youth, I would have announced, “It’s not the moon that is made of blue cheese but the sun!”

A bite in the sun, getting bigger and bigger, and mini eclipses scattered on the ground through the dappled light of trees.

We know the science of it, the physics, but what of its magic? The energy of so many people coming together to watch the power of Mother Nature. The moon calmly, steadily, inevitably covering the sun. Only for two hours. And then the sun came back . . . perhaps changed. I like to think so. I like to think that maybe the patriarchal norms that have ruled this society shifted, influenced by the moon’s energy and all the women who have been galvanized by the current situation. I like to think that maybe, just maybe, instead of destruction, we will begin to rebuild, using our humanity, not our greed and fear, as the foundation. I have to believe this because the alternative is as dark as if the sun had not come back.

Last week the eclipse.  Next week, a full moon. The tides rise. Especially in Texas.

Pasty Butts, the Stone Age Redux Blog & Feng Shui

I have decided to take it personally. Wouldn’t you? I very specifically said PULLETS ONLY. FEMALES. Right? AUTO SEXED FEMALES. Not a complicated request. To the question, what if not enough AUTO SEXED FEMALES are hatched? I said, I would take SEX-LINKED FEMALES.

Lower left chick is the definitive boy.

The chicks arrived. I opened the box, and gently removed them into the temporary brooder. I noted to Carl that three of the chicks looked alike, and one not. In fact, that one looked remarkably like Cordelia did two years ago when s/he hatched, whom later we dubbed Cornelius. . ..

Continue reading Pasty Butts, the Stone Age Redux Blog & Feng Shui

The Places a Broody Hen Takes Me; or Living Ones Values

IMG_2665I started this post almost two weeks ago. Panda, our mother hen, had gone broody. Again. I’m a sucker for a broody hen. Or at least this one. She’s one of the original six chicks we adopted four springs ago and this will be the third year I have gone through the debate of whether to let her have her stubborn way. Usually she waits until late July, just before we leave for an annual family reunion, and so I have not been around to think through the consequences of my decision. But almost a month ago, I heard the unmistakeable guttural kruk! of a mother hen, distinct in its relentless, anxious (to me) call: ATTENTION CHICKS!

Panda with her cheeps last
Panda with her cheeps last year.

Listen to me! Stay near me for safety or the other hens will peck you. Good food here. This is how to scratch. Did I not tell you to stay near? You deserved that peck. This is how to drink water. Here’s a delightful blade of grass. Get over here. You aren’t listening. Good food here. Now scratch. A tiny stone just for you to swallow for your gizzard. Etc..

I looked to the coop and sure enough there was Panda fluffing and stalking about, creating a DO NOT CROSS ME zone around her that rebuffed any sign of amorousness from Big Red, and kept the other hens—particularly her daughters Beatrice, from her first year’s clutch, and Brownie, Clownie and Downie from her second—in their places, too: away. Adding to the kerfuffle Continue reading The Places a Broody Hen Takes Me; or Living Ones Values

Mud Season 101


IMG_2633_2Saturday was a spectacular day. It was spring like they write about.

Our rosemary plants and Figgy out sunning themselves.
Our rosemary plants and Figgy out sunning themselves.

I had planned to go to the Monadnock Writers Meeting to hear the New Hampshire Poet Laureate but at home, I dawdled. By the time I left, I had missed the meet and greet part of the meeting but was determined to follow through with my plan-for-the-day: Attend the talk and discussion, then go off to buy organic shrubberies, wherever I might find them. A happy balance of intellectual stimulation and interaction with people, and gardening prep.

IMG_2610_2. . . Determined might be too strong a word. Ambivalent. Continue reading Mud Season 101

Blog Reset?

Did you know that Key West is an island? Well! I know that. And you (now) know that. But apparently too many who live on Key West—or is it those nasty Too Big to Fail companies again—don’t.


Are you lost? Then make this Exhibit One, proof of the road-to-hell-is-paved thang. I have every intention of writing a regular post . . . and then life happens. Or Continue reading Blog Reset?

A Dark Cloud in Search of a Silver Lining

I was in a dark mood yesterday. The winter solstice had come and gone, officiating the onset of winter, (even if it was raining) and the start of the days lengthening. The rotation of the seasons. Hope. Spring will, perhaps, arrive and spring brings to (my) mind chicks. A happy thought. Until, when caroling at the farm, I heard a story. Continue reading A Dark Cloud in Search of a Silver Lining

Independent Bookstores: Who needs them?

Do independent bookstores matter? Hmmm.

Have you seen the Monty Python skit in which a medieval monk is staring, with much frustration, at a book on his desk? A knock at the door. “Tech support!” With relief, the monk ushers in the tech support fellow. He points to the book, saying something to the effect of, “I can’t open this thing. Scrolls made so much more sense.”

I use this skit to show how far technology has come, and to point out that, what we consider old hat used to be new, and hard to understand and use. Regarding books (and clocks with hands, not digits) the upcoming generation might be reaching a point that they don’t know how to use such archaic technologies. But Continue reading Independent Bookstores: Who needs them?

Reposting my She Writes posts on cross-country, whistle-stop book tour with flash readings!

Home sweet home. I posted a few thoughts on the trip in three posts at She Writes. I’ll link them here for the record and so I have a record of them here.



During the trip (which I posted at this site as well.)


And the final post, back home.


I’ll leave it at this for this point. But will upload my thoughts on independent bookstores and public transportation in the next two posts.

See you then!

Toot!  Toot!

18th Flash Reading: Darwin’s View

We are home! It was cold and windy out there, as you will hear. It’s great to be back. Two cats and ten chickens and a final flash to introduce what’s next. We hope you’ve been as amused by these videos as we have been! Bloopers to come!
Tory & Carl