Good-bye, Old House

by Barb, amid the boxes

The house

We’ve sold our Somerville, MA house. It closes (madly knocking wood) on August 3. There was a whirlwind one week period in which in went on the market, opened its doors for a broker’s lunch and three open houses and went under agreement. Now the real work begins.

People keep asking how I feel. I always answer, “This isn’t the house where I brought up my kids. It isn’t as emotional to leave it.” But even as I am saying the words, my chest tightens, my voice gets hoarse and tears spring to my eyes. Being a genius about my feelings, this gives me a clue that maybe I am lying.

But why should that be so? This house was a way station of middle age, neither the work-a-day family home, nor the retirement dream house. Then I realize that any place that forms the stage for more than a decade of our lives is going to burst with memories.

This is the house where we celebrated our first Christmas with our granddaughter and the last with Bill’s mother. It is the last house either of my parents will have ever visited me in.

Viola’s first visit

It’s the house where our son brought his daughter when she was two weeks old. The place he came when he returned from California before he left to hike the bottom half of the Appalachian Trail, and the place he returned from the trail before he left for New York.

It’s the place we collected all the bits and bobs and clothes and shoes for my daughter’s wedding. The place where we celebrated her graduation with her BA and then her MFA. The place she returned to after college, after New York, and after London, bringing stuff with her each time. (Hey Kate, come and get your stuff!)

It’s the place our cocker spaniel escaped from and we spent a night looking for him in a howling storm while he slept soundly at a kind neighbor’s house before going off to animal rescue in the morning, where he was chipped and returned, dry and rested, while we…

It is probably the last house where we will ever have owned a dog.

Christmas 2014, the happy chaos of the family Yankee book swap

It’s the place I moved into as a tech executive and left as a published author. The place my husband moved into as a political consultant and left as a photographer. The place we moved into as parents and left as grandparents. The place we moved into as someone’s child and left as orphans.

That’s a lot to pack into one little house.

Bill said yesterday, “Very few of our memories are tied to real estate.” He was right, of course. They’re tied to people. They’ll come with us when we go.

Readers: Tell me a moving story. Tell me it all turned out okay in the end.






Happy Allston Christmas, aka Don’t Come to Boston Today

By Julie, sweltering in Somerville (but holding fast to summer)

9-1 (1)For the first time in 24 years, I will not be working at a college this fall. I took the semester off from teaching to focus on the launch of Just Killing Time, the editing of Clock and Dagger (working title for Book #2) and the plotting of Book #3. While my plate is full, it feels odd not to be editing a syllabus, planning a lecture, putting aside blocks of time twice a week for class, and not worrying about finding class coverage for Bouchercon or the New England Crime Bake.

That said, I live right outside Boston, so there is no avoiding the change that takes place here every September 1. Most colleges (and there are dozens in the city) have already had freshmen orientation, or are in the middle of it. Many are starting classes this week. Late Labor Day means classes start a little early, which throws everyone off. Add to that the real changing of the guard comes today, when a ridiculous number of apartments turn over. We’re talking thousands of apartments, one day, people moving in and moving out. I was on that schedule for years, and still have nightmares about the upteenth trip in a friend’s brother’s pickup truck during a rainstorm. Don’t ask.

There are two “this will happen for sure” things about September 1. First, a rental truck will get stuck under a bridge on Storrow Drive. This will tie up traffic for hours. It hasn’t happened yet (as of this writing), but it will, despite the warnings, and the signage. Hopefully only once.

Second, some people will score great finds during Allston Christmas. Allston is a neighborhood in Boston with a large student population. Every year, huge piles of stuff are left out on the curb by folks who couldn’t fit it into a van, car, cab, or grocery cart. Sure, some of it is garbage. But a lot of it can be recycled for another home. Hence the name–the days when folks go picking trash for presents. (There is a great article, and poem, at this link.) I know someone who got a piano on September 1–the renter couldn’t get it up the stairs of his new apartment.

[Note, Allston Christmas would make a great Sarah Winston novel–what do you think Sherry?]

Here’s the other thing about September 1. It is my new year’s day. Living here, you can;t help but be influenced by academic calendars, so I gave in a long time ago. My planner is an academic year. I set new goals and they kick in September 1. Much as I hate to see summer go, September 1 is a reboot. But the one thing I don’t do on September 1?

I don’t try to drive anywhere in Boston, Cambridge, or Somerville.

Happy New Year! Does anyone else consider September 1 their new year, or is it just me?

Spring Clean-Health Tip

Even if there is still a wicked lot of snow on the ground all through the month of March we’ve decided spring is in the air. On Fridays this month the Wickeds are celebrating spring by talking spring cleaning, for the home, for the body, and for the mind.

glassofwaterJessie: I know everyone knows this but it bears repeating: drink more water. Being well hydrated is the fastest, cheapest, most readily available way to feel vibrant and energetic. I struggle with this daily but when I bother to make drinking water a priority I feel fantastic.

Liz: I’m a smoothie fanatic – and with a Vitamix, it’s easy to serve up all your fruits and veggies in one shot. Even if you don’t have a Vitamix or something like it, you can easily use a regular blender to get a cold, delicious, healthy treat. I love to make my own creations by experimenting with nuts, seeds, veggies and fruit, but if you’re just getting started, check out Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr for some awesome smoothies and juices.

Julie: I am trying to get my health in order. I try with the water (why is that so hard?), and my Vitamix is killing the kale. I have also started wearing my FitBit every day, with a 10,000 step a day goal. I am quite convinced that layers of clothing is not registering all my steps, but I am mindfully trying to walk more, and I come pretty close most days. One goal would be to get more sleep, but since I write at night, this isn’t happening right now.


Walking on the beach, even! La Promenade by Theo van Rysselsberghe

Edith: Totally agree about the water. For me, an hour of exercise every day is critical. I either walk outside or go to the gym. It clears mental cobwebs, shakes off my hours of sitting, and lets ideas percoloate. I don’t run any more, and I might not walk quite as briskly as I used to, but I still get out there and do it. I don’t wear earbuds, either. I sometimes see quirky characters or hear snippets of conversation that could easily end up in my WIP or next short story.

lilySherry: I’ve been working on moving more. It’s easy to sit at the computer for long periods of time. Since the New Year I’ve been making a concentrated effort to get up and move. I walk our dog, Lily, two or three times a day. Since we don’t have a fenced-in yard I am out in all sorts of weather. It’s good for her and better for me.

So dear readers, do you have a tip for starting spring on a healthy note?

Home Is Where Your Stuff Is

By Sherry Harris

Davenport, Iowa

Davenport, Iowa

As you read this I will be flying to Davenport, Iowa to attend my fortieth high school reunion (as you may have guessed from my youthful appearance I graduated when I was five). I haven’t been back to Davenport in fifteen years and the concept of home is complicated for me. As many a military spouse will tell you—and some even have a plaque with the saying—home is where your stuff is. And my stuff has been in a lot of places! My concept of home is even more complex because my entire family moved away from Iowa years ago.

IMG_2952When I moved to New England it felt like home. I have no idea why, I’d never been there and certainly never wanted to move there. The things I heard before moving included: people are cold, the weather is horrible, don’t make eye contact with other drivers. The last one really puzzled me, who was driving people or piranhas?


Bedford_Town_CommonBut I fell in love with New England and found the first two things I’d heard weren’t true—an Iowa girl knows friendly and bad weather. Eventually I managed to learn to avoid eye contact with other drivers. So when I was offered a chance to write a proposal for a book I set it in the fictional town of Ellington, Massachusetts right outside the gates of the very real Hanscom Air Force Base.

In my first novel, Tagged for Death, Sarah Winston moves to New England with her husband who is in the Air Force. Through Sarah I get to share what I find magical about the area. Fortunately, unlike Sarah, our assignment at Hanscom was a lot less exciting!

The view from our house on Hanscom AFB

The view from our house on Hanscom AFB

Have you made a new place home? Has your concept of home changed since your childhood?