Sunday, July 31, 2011


I'm a journalist, a reporter. When I am seeking information about a thing, I ask people about their experience of it. My husband says I interview them, implying I'm a little too intent, and maybe I am. People don't seem to mind, though. Mostly, they are surprised and then gratified that someone sincerely wants to know how it was for them. From the time I knew myself, I have wanted to know only this: What you experienced, how you felt, were you changed. It is why I decided to become a journalist in the first place.

This seemingly unquenchable thirst to know how life is processed in other bodies of consciousness arrived full blown, well beyond simple curiosity. As a child, I made up elaborate stories about people who passed by me in the street. Seizing on clues of gesture and expression, of dress and urgency and the company they kept, I surmised where they had been, what they might be feeling about it, where they were going next. I studied them surreptitiously, having been admonished by my mother and my older brother in sharp whispers, "Don't stare!" "You're staring!" "Stop staring!" from the time I was very young.

When I discovered there was such a pursuit as journalism, it seemed like a magnificent blank check, a license to ask people about their lives, to not have to make up their stories any more. I could finally learn the truth about what they thought, how they survived the moment-to-moment buffeting of emotion, the incessant unspooling of thought pictures like flickering home movies in their brains.

Lately, I have been interviewing women who are mothers about how it was for them when their children first left home. I get all sorts of answers. This is the one I got today from the wife of a man I grew up with, and whose children are both now grown.

"After they left," she said, "after the second one went to college, I had this core of loneliness inside me. I couldn't explain it to anyone but everything around me just felt so vast and empty. One evening I came home from work and realized I had forgotten my keys and Charles was still at work and there was no one inside to let me in, the house was dark and quiet and still and I just sat on the front steps and wept."

"But in time," she said, "you grow close to your husband in a new way. You've shared so much and it has bonded you. And now you get to go out and have adventures together. After a while you realize there is nothing stopping you, your time is your own, and you get giddy again. And then when the kids come home to visit it's a big celebration and a joy you share, but you're okay when they leave again. You really are okay."

I loved how she said all this, the way her eyes opened wide at some points, the way her shoulders slumped when she recalled sitting on that step and sobbing into the empty night, the way she clapped her hands a little, without even realizing she was doing so, when she talked about getting giddy.

I can feel the promise of what she describes. That tenderness I feel towards my husband, remembering how, when we were first married, I had the insistent sense that we were two giddy children playing in a sandbox, having the time of our lives. It's almost like synesthesia, that sandbox feeling tonight, after a terrifically busy weekend with my cousin who came to visit us from Maryland, and our friends who were visiting from Jamaica. Everyone has left now and it's just the two of us, puttering around the house, him reading, me here typing, brushing against each other and feeling as lighthearted and playful as children, and it seems to me that this is one sort of adventure.

As for the other sort, we lay in bed last night coming up with a list of places we want to go. On it were places he wants to see and places I want to see, and for the first time both lists were equally important, as I itemized the places I know he wants to go, and he itemized the places he knows I want to go, and wordlessly, we agreed to visit them together, and I'm thinking what is the world, really, but a map on which to carve new paths and scatter particles of dreams like so much play, hardly more complicated than when we first sank our eager fingers into the willing sand.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Is this normal?

I don't know how to post here anymore. I second guess everything. Have you ever felt this way? Is this a normal stage in every blogger's life?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

We never really leave high school

A woman I used to know back in the day posted a photo of me at age 16, eyebrows tweezed to the brink of oblivion, on Facebook. This woman was the friend of my older cousin, the one everyone said I looked like. Even when I was 13 and yearning over the supreme comfort and sophistication of older and beautiful teens like my cousin and her friend, knowing I would never be like them, even back then, this woman paid attention to me. She was 18 and she looked at me with her big kind brown eyes and pulled me into the fold of grown up camaraderie and bursts of laughter and I sat in their midst and pretended I belonged and I loved her with silent devotion.

We recently reconnected through Facebook. She has raised sons, and is newly a grandmother, and her eyes still hold that deep brown wistful sad sweet expression they always did, as if she understood the ones who didn't feel a part of things. I always suspected that even though she was simply stunning, with gleaming dark brown skin and a tremulous smile that always made me want to hug her, she didn't truly know she was a beauty. I can still see that in her photographs. There is something that flickers in her eyes, in her smile, that tells me she still doesn't know.

So here's what happened today. She put up this picture of me that she found in one of her albums, and someone, a man who used to be a boy a couple years older than I was, who was the cousin of the woman who posted the picture, and who I have not seen since we were teens, made this comment: "I used to be hopelessly in puppy love with this girl."

This boy never said a word to me, ever! I had never once noticed him noticing me.

And then I realized he must mean my cousin, the one I resembled, except that my cousin was lean and athletic and charismatic and I was chubby and awkward and shy. Yes, of course he meant her. Even though the picture was of me, I figured he was mistaking me for my cousin and so I wrote under his comment, "I think he means Maureen."

And my friend, the woman who posted the picture wrote this underneath.

"No. I know he means you."

It kind of made my day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

London 2011

Two very cool dudes, one of whom calls me mom. 

In the Quarter

While daydreaming about being in New Orleans and browsing pictures of the place online, I ran across this photoblog by New Orleanian Glenn M., an unabashed lover of the Big Easy. His way of seeing the city occupied me for far too long on a workday. Just wanted to pass on the love.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Getting Hitched

Today is the day that New York's marriage equality act goes into effect. I am so proud of my state. These lovely women were the first same-gender couple to exchange vows at the Manhattan City Clerk's office this morning. Here, Phyllis Siegel, 76, kisses and then later embraces her wife Connie Kopelov, 84. The love and sense of moment in their faces bring me to my knees.

Heat Shimmer

It was 104 degrees in the city yesterday. The sidewalks were mostly empty, but in playground fountains and by water hydrants, those who had not decamped to air conditioned rooms or country houses were out in force, beating the heat in quintessential New York fashion.

The night I arrived in New York City was as hot as this. I was here to attend college, and would live for the first year with my aunt and uncle in their eighteenth floor apartment. My parents and I had flown from Jamaica to Miami to visit relatives. The plan was for Uncle Charlie and Aunt Winnie to meet us there and drive us from Florida to New York over the course of two days. We stayed overnight in a Howard Johnson motel in North Carolina, and ate meals exclusively at McDonalds, not sure of what the racial sentiment might be in the towns we were passing through. This was the seventies, and things were changing, but not everywhere. I made the trip crushed between my mother and aunt, daydreaming about my new life as I memorized the back of my father's head, concentrating on the road from the front seat. My mother, aunt and uncle talked continuously, but my father didn't say much. I think now he must have been wrestling with a kind of prideful sorrow at leaving his only daughter behind in New York. I surmise this because I am so like him emotionally. Now that I am a parent myself, I know this is how I would have been feeling.

We got to the city well after dark, turning off the highway onto a ramp into Harlem. It was still muggy with heat at that late hour, and the fire hydrants were all open. The wet graffitied streets glistened orange under the street lamps, and children were running  and jumping through the spray and laughing as if it were high noon. That became an indelible vision of the city that would become my home. I had known since I was five years old, the first time our family visited my Aunt Winnie in New York, that I would one day move here to stay. But I was two years into college before I broke the news to my parents that I wouldn't be coming back home. My father cried.

Sweltering New York days have reminded me of that first night ever since. I still get a particular flutter of scared excited possibility whenever I see the hydrants open, because that was the feeling that rose up in my throat that first night, leaving me speechless with the understanding that my future had arrived.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Counting Down

I can barely wait. I get all excited just thinking about it. Our time there will be too short, I can see that now, but it will be a taste, and then we can go back if we like. Already, I think we will like. I mean, dear God, just look at the colors. And catch how animated folks get when they hear we are going to New Orleans. People who have been there get a look in their eye, as if they remember a time when they were as close to magic as it gets. 

And this is the other thing I am learning, the anticipation is part of the journey. The planning and looking forward. The secret smiling dreaming that adds brightness to routine. Truly, the enjoyment begins before you ever arrive, and lives on after in the simple fact of having taken yourself to another place. I think travelers build a certain muscle, an openness to life as you find it, no energy wasted in resisting. Whatever is, is. 

What is true

"Since the beginning, we have asked 
the same questions: Am I safe? 
Am I important? Am I forgiven? 
Am I loved?" 

—Mary Pipher

To my berry brown babies who have been away at camp so long:
Ask me any of these questions and the answer will be yes always.
This is true.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Everybody's President

The president was apparently passing by a daycare center, where he provoked a range of reactions. Who's the Democrat, who's the Republican and who's the Independent in this picture? It's not always the one you expect!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


My husband brought home a New Orleans visitor's guide book and left it on the pillow. That was my cue. The next day I quizzed my coworkers about places they had stayed in New Orleans, as many of them have been there. That night my love and I talked about the pro and cons of different dates, and settled on an upcoming weekend with a couple of vacation days tacked onto both sides of it. By the end of the next day, I had booked a hotel in the French Quarter and investigated flight details. I didn't book the flight, because just that week a travel writer had told me to always book flights between five and seven in the morning, because that's when airlines release cancelled bookings, and you can get those seats at cheaper prices. I wanted to try it out. So on Saturday morning, just as the light began to ease into the sky, I lay under the covers in the glow of my iPod Touch, prodding my still-groggy husband for agreement as I sleepily selected and booked the flights. The prices were the same as the day before; so much for that tip. But now we two are walking around with delicious anticipation of our upcoming trip, relishing the thought of slipping away from the city for some good food, good music and good revelry in celebration of our twenty-fifth anniversary in August. Everything feels downright cheerful to me right now. Maybe the secret is to plan regular little escapes like this together. This is my new plan.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Saturday at Camp

We drove up to camp to see our kids for visiting day, and had the most wonderful time with them. I had been missing them and worrying about the recent upset, and truly my chest had felt like there was a fist permanently around my heart, and I went through each day remembering to breathe and function and do my normal routine, but that little kernel of worry about whether things would ever be the same was there, located inside that fist. Well, yesterday, the fist opened, our family was together the way we always are, silly, affectionate, full of stories and laughing, and me looking at them all, drinking in the sight of them, misty with happiness. I won't try to explain, because that would require some rehashing, and there is no point, really. So I'll just put up some pictures, not many good ones, because I was more in the flow of the experience than trying to document it, and the exposure is kind of red, but then my kids really did look kind of red-brown from the sun, and the red tee shirts didn't help. But it's them. My deepest felt joy.

Our son came out to greet us first as our daughter was lifeguarding on the waterfront. He looked healthy and happy to see us. That's my son's best friend in the background, who's like our other son. His older brother Omar, below in the pink shirt, had asked if he could travel up with us to see him. He's a sweet personable guy, and chatting with him made the drive up and back pass very quickly for all of us. By the time we got to the waterfront, our girl's shift was up. Here she is with her dad, cracking up about something. He had most likely just said something wry, as he does.

Our son has been a camper and now a counselor at this camp for the past decade, and he is kind of a rock star there. People come up to us and tell us how much they appreciate him. Usually they say things like, "I love that kid." We hear it every year, always grateful that they bother to say it. Now we're hearing it about his sister as well. She's fairly new to the camp, having spent only one year as a camper there (she used to go to farm camp instead). She told us she enjoyed being on staff and felt more a part of things as a counselor assistant than she did as a camper. That was probably because her fellow campers had been coming there together for many years, and she felt a bit outside. But having worked last year and this, she's finally racked up enough time to feel like the place is truly hers as well. It certainly seemed to be hers. On the way to her tent, we were ran into two of her bunkmates, a couple of young men who gave us firm handshakes and made good eye contact, and several of the kids in her unit who she cheerfully introduced. "These are my girls," she said as they crowded round her. And to the girls, "These are my mom and dad."

The girls below are from Spain, and so had no parents visiting. There are a number of kids who come from abroad every year, mostly from Spain, Italy and France. The counselors took the kids whose parents couldn't visit to a movie. Before these two girls left, they hugged my daughter with such affection. I could see how good she is with the kids, and how comforted she makes them feel.

At the tents, our daughter expertly folded back the flaps to reveal four very neat bunks. "You cleaned up for us?" we asked, and she admitted it wasn't just for us. "We knew parents would be walking through the unit and we didn't want them to think the people caring for their kids were such a mess." After, we strolled the long way back to the lake, a steeply descending scenic path I had never been down before. She pointed out landmarks, and told us about her girls. She is assigned to the 10-11 year-olds and she is enjoying them, even the difficult ones and especially the scrappy ones. As she spoke, I realized she had everything a 17-year-old could want. Close friends, children who don't hesitate to wrap their arms around her, cute counselor boys who step up to meet the parents, no homework, activities round the clock, dances every Friday night, and the most idyllic natural setting anywhere. No wonder she wants to spend as much of her summer as she can in this place.

Back on the beach, my son had finished his lifeguarding stint, and we all sat around catching up. It was a perfect day, just warm enough with not a trace of humidity. Our son told us he found himself doing some of things his dad used to do, like putting his hand on top of a kid's head and (gently) steering him where he wanted him to go. "Did it ever bother you?" I asked him. "No," he said, "I liked when he did that, otherwise I wouldn't do it with my kids."

Of course our son's iPhone was ever in his hand, and he was periodically texting his girlfriend, who was off campus for the day since she works in day camp and the day camp counselors had the day off. Apparently, things are going well there. Then one of my daughter's friends challenged my son to a game of mancala, and several of the counselors sat around bantering cheerfully and watching them play, until one joked that mancala would never be a spectator sport

Later, the six of us trooped to car and drove into town for lunch and for a stop at Walmart so that the kids could resupply. I think the Walmart resupply stop is the real purpose of parent visiting day, as we ran into campers and their parents in every aisle. One mother of a boy in my son's unit came up to my son and told him that her 11-year-old, who had been coming to camp for four years by then, told her that my son was the best counselor he had ever had. My son had earlier described this kid as an "all star," talking about how helpful he was with another kid who was homesick. I wanted to tell the boy's mother what my son had said that about her child, but I thought back to when my own child was a camper, and I was seeking feedback from the counselors, and I realized that my intrusion would have been weird and would even have undermined my son. Besides, my son told the mother how great her son was. "Neatest one in the tent," he said at one point. The mother said, "Well, that is not an accident! I worked on that!" And my son laughed and said, "Well then I'm sending all the others to live with you for a while!" He was so easy and comfortable in the exchange. It was one of those moments when you get to stand aside and watch who your children are in the world. And seeing them that way, you sigh deeply with gratitude.

And then you exhale. 


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Independence Day

Practically everything I do is for them. This has been true for 20 years now, ever since my son made me a mother. People wrestle with their purpose in life, but I don't, really. As soon as I had children, I understood that they were my purpose, and my supreme goal is to help them launch their lives in the best way possible, to help them grow to be good and caring people, able to take care of business and of themselves, even as I labor to craft a net under them that makes them unafraid to soar. I always felt that my parents did that for me. I was an emotional sort, full of internal storms, but somehow, I always knew they were there, a port I could go to if all else failed. Just knowing that meant that all else never failed, a beautiful irony. But now, as my children get ready to fly, I am beginning to understand my purpose and devotion to them in a new way. The best thing I can do for them now is to fill my own life with interesting pursuits, to keep growing and doing and being, not through them or for them, but for myself. This is what they need from me now, from my husband and me. This will be the source of the freedom they need to navigate the next stage. My own next act will be born in that freedom, too.


Photo by Imogen Cunningham
I'm thinking a lot about Frida Kahlo today, about her survival as a woman and an artist. I'm reading The Diary of Frida Kahlo for the first time. Ms. Radish King mentioned it in a recent post and I realized I had never read it. It was published right around the time my daughter was born, and my attention was elsewhere, and then I didn't think of Frida for a while, this courageous woman who had made my own loneliness during the decade of my twenties bearable.

Frida poured out oils in many colors onto roiling emotional seas. I'm ashamed to admit that I romanticized her pain when I was in my twenties. I thought to be a true artist, you had to be tortured in body and soul, the more tortured, the more inspired, the more true. I devoured every book I could find on Frida, and stood before her paintings with their pulsing hearts floating disembodied, on display at the Museum of Furniture Design, of all places. As I stood there I even scolded the love of her life, the painter Diego Rivera, for the way he sometimes neglected her astonishing gifts, more than equal to his, pursuing his own enormous ambition. But she let him do that. She never painted for fame and adulation. Other demons drove her.

"The Broken Column," 1944
The pain in her work was never metaphorical. It was excruciatingly real, bequeathed to her for life by a freak accident. The bus 18-year-old Frida was riding on collided with a trolley car in Mexico City in 1925. Frida was impaled on an iron handrail that tore off her clothes and pierced her through from stern to stem, breaking her spine, crushing her pelvis, doing its worst. They found her naked and sprinkled with gold dust that an artisan had been carrying, which scattered everywhere in the accident, settling on young Frida's broken and bloodied body. I have never been able to get that image out of my mind. Now that I am the age I am, I know that emotional and physical pain such as Frida endured her entire life either forges one or destroys one utterly. In Frida, it forged an artist whose anguish became her great subject. That she didn't flinch in setting it down, every surgery, every loss, every defiance of what was, it gave me the courage to face whatever came in my life, too. She endured so much. How could I crumble when my challenges were so much less?

I now own a copy of her reproduced diary, and I am lost in its extraordinary pages, the flowing cursive in colored pens, the surreal colors and themes of the art she did only for herself, working out elements of her paintings, or journaling through startlingly beautiful and horrifying images of suffering and trauma and revolution and love and loneliness and irony and infatuation and always the pain. The French writer Andre Breton described her art as "a ribbon tied around a bombshell." I think that says it as well as anything. And yet she staved off the bomb's full detonation through art and maybe also through love.

From The Diary of Frida Kahlo

"Feet what do I need you for
when I have wings to fly. 1953"

Frida had many lovers, male and female, but it was Diego Rivera she loved best. And it is his description of her work that I find most haunting. "I recommend her to you, not as a husband but as an enthusiastic admirer of her work," he is reported to have said to Picasso. "Acid and tender, hard as steel and delicate and fine as a butterfly's wing, lovable as a beautiful smile, and profound and cruel as the bitterness of life." I like to think that in the end Frida's strength and stubborn perseverance in the face of her life's trauma came from some memory of grace. I'm still romanticizing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Taking Notes

At dinner Sunday night, my friend was talking about her brother closing his business in the midst of the recession and moving south. Selling his house in the suburbs of New York and buying a bigger one in the suburbs of Atlanta for a quarter of the price. Why, another friend asked. Why did he decide to uproot his life like that?

Apparently, he had been riddled with anxiety as a young man, and had learned that the way to handle it was to simplify his life. It was all about finding a less demanding way to live. It was one of those notes I heard loud and clear. Simplify.

Two other notes I put in the hopper this weekend, as part of a movement toward simplicity, which in some way I equate with finding peace. Begin to paint again, stir the restlessness within, let color and movement take over. I have been playing with this thought for a while now, and on Sunday night, at dinner with my friends, including two seventeen year olds who are taking art classes for the summer, it crystallized. Paint. Do art. Be in the flow of creating something.

The other note, which I took from the example of my cousin and her husband, was do something for someone else. It felt good this weekend to contribute in some small way to the effort to send four young people to college. The lesson I took from it was, be of service. Do some good.


"[He] caught a strange sad feeling of 
happiness and longing and regret 
to be where everything was familiar 
and owned and no world to rush at." 

—Deirdre Dore

I lifted that exquisite sentence above from Deirdre's blog. She captures so much in such a few words. As soon as I read them, I quit trying to understand what I had been feeling because, my God, there it was, said for me.

The photograph of the overgrown house on the Langley Property in Jamaica is by my cousin Ian, who posts a single image taken somewhere on the island for his "Good Morning" series each day. He posts these pictures for family and friends who reside overseas, to give us a taste of home. I looked at this house and I could imagine at once wresting it back to habitation, the loving work of making its rooms look again as they once were. It felt like a metaphor, really, for the internal work of making our lives, overgrown with the flora of years, a place where air and light and peace can once again reside within the comfort of a well-tended place.

As I do in Deirdre's words, I see beauty in that waiting house, and in the verdant green that encroaches against its walls. All it needs is quiet patience and a loving hand to clear and plant and paint and spruce and restore. I imagine the interior looking much as the red-and-white room at right, with paintings by Jamaican artist Judy Ann McMillan, the whole scene so vibrant, alive and tropical, inviting one to sit, pause, share sustenance. It is a great work, this imagined undertaking, especially when applied to a life. 


Monday, July 11, 2011


This showed up in the camp photo gallery today, along with numerous other photos of my boy, leading the green team in the camp olympics, which they call Color Wars. The photo gallery is for parents of campers who want to see that their children are fine and busy and happy, but it works just as well for parents of full grown counselors. I still subscribe, just as I did when my boy was a camper himself. Pictures of your babies never get old.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Montana in the House

We have a full house this morning. My cousin and her family from Virginia, along with four kids from a reservation in Montana that we visited back in the summer of 2003, are in sleeping bags all over the apartment. Back in 2003, we were a group of approximately 20 travelers in a maroon colored van, most of us Jamaican or first generation Americans of Jamaican descent, visiting the Fort Peck Sioux and Assinboine reservation that my cousin's husband grew up on. Here he was, a full blooded Sioux, bringing the hoards of his Black family and a handful of close friends home to visit. We were a very conspicuous sight on that quiet rez in northern Montana. Everyone knew we were there. There were ten children among us, with my son the oldest at age 11, and my daughter one of only two girls holding their own among the boys.

Our kids bonded with the Indian kids at once. That week, seventeen of them were all over the rez, playing soccer, climbing hills, jumping on neighbor trampolines, fishing down by the river (someone called us in for that, as only members of the tribe are allowed to fish in that river, but the ranger who came merely chatted with us and let us stay). My daughter was the queen of the fishers, the one who caught the most and the largest fish.

My husband, the ichthyologist, whipped out his trusty Freshwater Fishes and did everyone the favor of definitively identifying the fish they had caught, which meant we knew exactly what we were eating at dinner that night.

The kids rode everywhere in the back of an old pick up, bumping along without restraints, and no one worried particularly about safety, not even me.

And at the end of the week, we attended the reservation's annual Pow Wow, and my cousin's husband made sure he got an authentic teepee for us to sleep in during the days and nights of dancing and drumming and swirling costumes and lights and vendors selling all manner of trinkets, every one of which was a fascination to our children.

I remember one of our number said, "What is wrong with this picture? The Jamaicans are sleeping in a teepee and the Indians are sleeping in tents from China." It was funny at the time. We were so visually different from everyone else and yet we felt so comfortable.

And now the kids who made our children feel at home, all of them now young men, are here with us. My cousin, a government lawyer and former teacher with an education masters from Harvard (can you tell she impresses me?), and her husband, a social worker with an addiction treatment inpatient facility (he impresses me, too), run a college readiness program in the summer for kids from the rez. The kids spend two weeks with them in Virginia, and they take them to visit colleges, arrange interviews with folks in different careers to expose them to the options, organize test prep classes for them, and they also pray with them each morning, because my cousin, who is really my sister, and her husband are born again. But my cousin doesn't proselytize. She just leads by example and if everyone who was born again did it the way she does, we would surely all be born again. She is a force of love and her boys are growing into the sweetest of men.

My husband put out breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausages and fruit and bagels and cream cheese and juice for everyone. After we ate, I went with my cousin and Aunt Winnie's grandson (who lives with my cousin and family in Virginia), across the courtyard to visit with Aunt Winnie. She was thrilled to see her grandbaby, and he was very sweet to her, although he couldn't understand anything she said. I could see his brain ticking away as she spoke, and I wondered what he was thinking, feeling. This was the woman who raised him till he was seven, because his own mother wasn't able to. He loves her so much, and I could feel his sense of being adrift, because she, his first center of security, was adrift in her memories, unable to communicate them.

When we came back, my husband had found the pictures we took that summer of 2003, and everyone was crowded around the computer being amazed at how young all the kids looked, and we laughed and pointed and remembered. And my cousin said, "You know, we did that trip at the exact right time. The kids were still young enough to fully embrace and appreciate every part of the experience."

That's one of my nephews below, half Jamaican, half Sioux, all American grown boy. He recently got himself a mohawk, which really suits him, I think. He is such a sweetheart, this boy, and I love him dearly. He's a monster on his school's varsity crew team, don't be surprised if you hear his name. But off the water, he's a gentle guitar-playing Bob Marley-loving seventies-inspired soul. 

And this is the same kid back in 2003, taken that same day when we went fishing in the river on the rez. How they grow.

As long as we're doing comparisons, below is my son and his best friend since before they could say each other's names. He came with us to Montana and South Dakota that year. He was 10 and my son was 11 and they were climbing near our campground in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Here are those same boys earlier this month. Still outdoors. A lot taller. Still brothers.

Well, that wraps up the broadcast from our house this Sunday. The Virginia-Montana crew is back on the road in their big white van, headed back to the D.C. area after exploring New York in sunglasses, pretending to be celebs, and interviewing my husband and me about careers in Icythology (my husband) and journalism (me). A wonderful time was had by all, certainly by me. So here's one more then-and-now pairing—there my girl, who's 9 years old here and 17 now, but you know what she looks like.

She's with another one of my beloved nephews, who made sure he turned his cap to just the right angle before I snapped this picture. Peace out, y'all.