Tuesday, August 22, 2017


When I was little, my Nana called them “sewing needles” for their long body shape. As kids we heard “needles” and thought “sting” so we splashed water to scare them away any time we saw them hovering around the pool.

But dragonflies don’t sting.

When my girls were little we had Judy Allen’s book Are You a Dragonfly? In our collection. I think it was with that book that my distrust of the flying sewing needles turned to love. By then I had a garden of my own that taught me to enjoy the buzz of bees and delight in the sight of worms in the dirt. Dragonflies became my late summer friends, more abundant than butterflies and, when you stopped splashing them so you could see, just as beautiful.

In my garden now, I leave the stalks of spent lilies because they turn into dragonfly flowers in August. Some afternoons you can see ten or more dragonflies perched on the top of the stalks, waiting for the hunt or basking in the sun or meeting up with a friend. The slow dance of wings as they sit could be a signal to another, or perhaps they are just stretching. They rest, fly up, then rest on another stalk. At the end of the summer, when thoughts are focused on the start of the new school year and the butterflies start fluttering through my stomach, the dragonflies are calming. Despite my neglected yet ever-growing to do list, I can sit for long stretches watching them play around the dead lilies.

This year, it seems there are not as many dragonflies. I’m worried that the same carelessness that is harming the bees in our world is getting to them. They do not appear on the endangered list for my state, but still, it’s different.

I miss them.

My Nana has been gone for 35 years but every time I see a dragonfly I think of her. And then I think of Judy Allen’s book and sitting in the garden with my little girls. They never called them sewing needles, never splashed water at them to scare them away. But when I leave the lily stalks in the garden I feel like I am connecting the thread between us all: grandmother, author, growing girls, dragonfly.

This is my Slice of Life.
It's blurry, but there is a dragonfly on top of the lily stalk. There were 3 others in the garden.

Friday, August 11, 2017

same face through generations

Pauline, Albert, and Florence
I've been browsing through old photographs and am struck once again by how the same faces keep popping up through the generations. 

This black and white photo is my Mom with her brother Albert and sister Florence (my Mom called her "Sister"  or "Sis" for her whole life, and we called her "Aunt Sister" - it never seemed weird until I had to explain it to someone). 

It is so easy to see my siblings and I in all of those faces. 

That high forehead on my Mom, the littlest one on the left, she gave to me. I spent much of my life pushing my hair over that forehead, trying to deny it. As I approach 50 I'm finally willing to push my hair back, but you can see my bangs in the photo below (center). 

Wanda, Laura, and Wayne with Dad
That little boy in maroon pants, my brother Wayne, looks a lot like my Uncle Albert. 
And, depending on when I look at the photograph, in Aunt Sis I see my sister Wanda, my sister Brenda or my brother Lenny.

 And then there are my own little girls. Their round faces and high foreheads are certainly from my Mom, from me. In different pictures when you look fast you might think a photo is any number of cousins only to find out it's a photo of an aunt or uncle, a generation or more apart. 

My childhood was remarkably different from my Mom's, and my girls' quite different from my own, but we share these faces. 
Anya and Thea