Manda's Musings


I spent this past Monday morning in Salem District Court, at the suggestion of a police officer in October. His was not just a random suggestion to a passerby. I was given a ticket for blocking an intersection I had no indication it was unlawful to block. After I told the officer writing up my ticket that I saw no signs saying ‘Do Not Block Intersection’, he suggested I refute the charge in court – as he handed me the ticket. “It’s your civic right.”

I felt like saying, “Thank you so much for the $105 dollar lesson in civics.” But I didn’t! And this past Monday morning I refrained from telling the magistrate once again, after she told me, in her opinion, the intersection was sufficiently marked – that in my opinion it wasn’t – a nod to age and experience.

I came prepared with photographs illustrating how the signs hanging twenty feet up in the air were blocked that October Friday morning at 11am by my visor, protecting my view from the sun. I did finally see the signs going through the intersection again later, while looking up, down and all around.

Ultimately the magistrate downgraded my ticket to a warning.

As I was readying to leave, that same stern faced magistrate smiled ever so slightly and said to the presiding police officer, “It is refreshing to hear someone actually admit they were blocking the intersection. No one ever does.”

That intersection must provide lucrative income for the City of Salem.


I find myself feeling more and more pressed down by the actions of this present presidential administration. This wall is getting heavier and heavier. I feel like, for the next two years at least, I should strap myself up to one of those automatic air pumps, so I can feel some much needed buoyancy. My psyche feels starved for it.

I did not know how deeply I identified and relied on belonging to a country who said a resounding ‘yes’ to those in need. I mean, I’m not Polyannish. I’m well aware there are many citizens of our country who could thrive greatly from a devoted ‘yes’ from our country. Perhaps there is not enough ‘yes’ to go around.

But I take to heart those two young children of two hopeful families, who died in our care. And still those in our highest seats of power seem to give little note to that – and apparently bear no personal responsibility.

I am aching for our country. I ache for a country being led by a man whose policy decisions can be radically altered by opinions from talk show opportunists.

I must not write much in this vein for it feels too profoundly devastating.

I trust we have much to learn from our present circumstances and look forward to learning it and moving on.


There are several regulars who walk routes around Hopkinton. Runners too – running, that is – but this entry is about a particular walker.

I believe the woman walker is a bit younger than me. Perhaps by a decade or so. My husband mentioned seeing her many times picking up trash as she makes her way along her route. I noticed one time while out running but gave it no mind – until Peter shared observation, and – until yesterday.

I am one who, while out walking or running – loves saying ‘hi’ to people. Any and every one I pass. My greeting is not always reciprocated – but mostly it is. So I felt thrilled and energized when yesterday this particular woman, who I’ve only ever said ‘hi’ to in passing, saw me standing on my doorstep outside and came striding intently towards me.

“I helped my dad paint our house your same colors when I was growing up – avocado with cream.” “Really!” “Yes. I love those colors.” “Me too. Thanks.” 

“Have a good day,” she said, crossing back over. That’s when I learned she doesn’t just pick up trash. At our across the street neighbors’ front yard she abruptly stopped and bent over to pick up sticks strewn across their lawn, placing them in an already established pile by the trunk of the tree. Her simple gesture struck me.

She knows how to be a good neighbor.


Sometimes the powers-that-be choose for you.

I played a gig last Saturday night here in Hopkinton at Bill’s Pizza. It’s been a few decades since I’ve played a restaurant. In the 80s I was in a few Top 40 bands and played clubs/restaurants/bars from Connecticut to Maine. Robert Falcione, editor of HopNews & bookie for Bill’s got me the gig! It was lots of fun being there as well as preparing several cover tunes to bolster my collection of originals – which I would not have had the same concentrated time and energy to do if I hadn’t sliced my left middle finger open pitting an avocado.

I felt conflicted the day after Christmas, preparing to head up to ski at Waterville Valley with family. My responsible performer voice was murmuring I should stay home, research cover tunes and put together set lists. I was planning to take the keyboard up but I knew practice time would be a tad less productive up there amidst the hubbub, rather than down here, amidst the quiet.

So as I stood in my angst, holding said avocado in my left hand, while wedging a knife point into the pit to flick it out, the universe saw fit for me to slip and plunge the knife through the avocado into the base of my finger, separating the skin into two separate sides. I put the avocado down and looked on with curiosity as I flexed the finger and saw two sides of the cut separate. Chauffeured by my husband, three medical facilities later, I gained three stitches to my body mass, and an assured concentrated time and energy over the next three days to prepare for my gig, as the medical professional eyed me and chuckled when I asked if it would be okay to cross country ski.

Sometimes the powers-that-be choose for you.


My mother once said something quite curious to me. And the even more curious thing that occurs to me is that I believe she said it the summer I was out in Estes Park Colorado – the summer she was home struggling with advancing cancer to which she succumbed that following December.

“Manda, sometimes reuniting with family is done in twenty minutes.” I remember as a twenty-something thinking that sounded cold, cruel and callous and couldn’t be. With experience, I appreciate my mom’s courage saying that – especially because, if my memory serves me right, she shared that at a time when she must have had an inkling of her waning time on earth. 

I see the sacrifice of loving parent to child = giving permission for guilt-free agitation in the midst of family they’ve outgrown. In a funny way she let me know I was greatly loved – and that I could greatly love – in the midst of all my feelings.

Thanks, Mom, for sharing your sage ‘family in twenty’. 


We participated in a three-person meditation last night, putting together a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle. I love the movement of working a jigsaw puzzle with others. At times it feels like a dance. I found the 500-piece movement markedly different from that of a 1000-piece – more flow – less ponder. 

The puzzle was called ‘Muchos Autos’ and was laid out in a grid of mostly VERY colorful Volkswagen Bugs. I deemed myself the ‘signage’ person, collecting all pieces with writing and assembling them as able.

I love the reach of another’s hand over to abscond with one of your well-worked pieces to place it where it belongs. 

Of course it helps to be working with one more expertly inclined, as my stepdaughter is, who acts as the main generating engine and keeps things moving.

I find great fellowship puzzling. 


I don’t know why this one is hitting me so hard. 38 years ago tomorrow my mom died. It was the first day of winter – her least favorite season. I remember it snowed – big, heavy flakes the next morning. I smiled big at the irony. Mom always enjoyed pulling a fast one.

Maybe it takes whatever it takes to feel what I couldn’t feel in 1980, one month from turning twenty-one, to now. Maybe it’s of riding of my emotional waves learning to relate with my adult daughter as adult mom and friend, having never been there or done that before – from either angle.

And maybe it’s seeing that damn counselor who, for these few short sessions, has just GOT to keep touching on raw subjects!

The nerve! Thanks be.


Went to the best ever holiday show yesterday – at Center School in Mattapoissett. December Nights! December Lights! 3rdgrade was on stage. 1stand 2ndgraders flanked them on ground floor bleachers.

Whenever a loved one is in a show my eyes are riveted. Oh! Right! There’s other stuff going on up there. Then I have to forcibly peel my sights away to take in the show surroundings until my vision comes to rest comfortably once again on the one I know and love. I watched a comfortably social kid participating happily, singing, moving and speaking (a couple solo lines!) with strength and confidence. Pretty cool!

Oh! And the show…it covered four December celebrations. It’s funny – I always associate December across the world as being the emergence out of darkness toward light – but of course that’s only in one hemisphere.

Through song, spoken word, and dance the Center School Cast told us about Latin America and Spain’s Las Posadas; the Jewish festival of lights, Hanukkah; Kwanzaa, a celebration honoring African heritage in African-American culture; and Christmas, celebrating the birth of Christian love.

We had the best seats in the house!


Prepping for holiday performances I came across a song by Justin Wilde and Doug Konecky called Happy Hanukkah, My Friend. Best Hanukkah song I’ve come across to date. (Please enlighten me to any others!)

So, in prepping for another holiday gig at Dean College, I purchased The Ultimate Christmas Fake Book. I was flipping through the charts loosening my fingers up and came across a song I hadn’t heard before. I fell in love with It Must Have Been the MistletoeCurious that I’d never heard it and, wondering who the composer was (noting that Johnny Marks was prolific in Christmas songs), I broad smiling awareness came to face – Justin Wilde and Doug Konecky!

Grateful for our first Christmas, Love.


My grand niece came to play on Monday. When dropping Millie off, Mom said, “Millie agreed to be a good listener today.” To which I said I would too.

We read ‘Is Your Mama A Llama’; cleared invisible fuzz off metal rods; fixed broken bones; flew to India, which ended up being Norwood; among other things. But by far Millie’s favorite was playing, “Let’s Go Fishing.” We played side by side on the blue couch.

I’ll admit, catching tiny snapping sharp-toothed piranhas swirling on a motorized turntable can be exasperating business. After a couple rounds Millie explored alternatives. She pressed her finger on the disc to slow it down. I suggested that might hurt the motor. She stopped. Foregoing the rod, she stuck her finger directly in the mini carnivores’ mouths. She pinched together thumb and fingers but those little devils slipped out. Eventually Millie stopped the whole thing all together by flipping off the switch.“

“Can’t do that! Cheating!” I said, and flipped it on again. Millie flipped it off. With a mock frown, I complained, “Makes it too easy!” And flipped it on. Millie eyed me then flipped it off. “Aunt Amanda – you’re not being a good listener.” We took a moment. “You’re right, Millie. And I said I would be. I’m sorry.” Disappointedly shaking, Millie looked down and up again. She raised a gently closed fist to her chest, “That hurts my heart.”

I guess we’re never too young..I mean old…I mean…to learn.