Never Ever Say Never

fall, New EnglandWhen my man and I left New England four years ago, I swallowed a huge lump in my throat – a lump of fear and relief, joy and dread, wonder and excitement. After ten years of incredible autumns, rejuvenating springs, god-awful winters and soul-satisfying summers, we were moving back to the land that I love – San Francisco Bay area.

And when our friends greeted us on the left coast, I blithely and ridiculously said, “I’ll never live on the East Coast again.” Continue reading

A Plant Well Loved

baby ficus, plant, mournIs it strange to mourn a plant?

Benji had been a mere babe when we brought him to our California home back in the ‘80s, a vibrant lush green Ficus, about 2 feet high and 1 foot wide. Then, for 16 years he savored his spot in the sunny corner of our dining room.

Until suddenly, we needed to move to the other coast, and Benji wasn’t invited. No moving company would guarantee the safety of a now almost 5 foot by 5 foot splendid plant.

“I won’t go without Benji,” I declared.

So we packed him in a wardrobe box for the move, and as we unfurled the plant two weeks later in the sunny spot made just for him in our new, New England home, I heard him sigh, long and happy.


He breathed in the oxygen and gave it out, growing in his big corner. The piano sat on one end, solid and staid, while Benji stretched and grew on his end, filling up the large ‘Great Room’ as the Yankees call it.

Great Room, Ficus, sunnny room, loveWhen guests walked into the spacious room with high ceilings, tall windows, a masculine brick fireplace highlighted by built-in bookcases, all they noticed at first was Benji. Not the wood floors or Oriental rug or ivory couches or glass-topped tables.

Just Benji.

For 10 more years Benji thrived, and at 6 foot tall, he owned the room like a king on his throne.

Until it was time for us to move again, and this time, the law dictated that no plant could be transported to the west coast.

No friends or relatives or even strangers would take Benji – he was too big. But the new residents of our New England home agreed to keep him.

I left instructions: water once a week, not too much and not too little. Let him soak in the light. Talk to him. Enjoy him.

Half a year later, I returned to our past, to the house in New England, and to Benji. I peeked into the Great Room, and saw the wood floors and the bookcases and the fireplace, but no Benji.

Ah, there he was, just a ghost of himself, down to 4 feet by 2, wispy, yellow.


And I cried for our beloved plant,

Who no longer owned the room.

Like a child not well loved, or a pet kept outdoors, or a spouse ignored, Benji gave up. I felt silly, feeling so sad about this dying plant, but really…

Wouldn’t you?


[Ficus benjamina, commonly known as the Weeping Fig, Benjamin’s Fig, or the Ficus Tree and often sold in stores as just a “Ficus”, is a species of fig tree, native to south and southeast Asia and Australia.]

Whistle While You Work

work, whistle, joy, movingI can’t whistle.

I used to try, when I was a young girl, attempting to imitate my dad. His light-hearted whistle always made my heart jump. I felt happy, joyful, like everything was right in our world.

But I finally gave up about the time I began wearing ‘training’ bras. Whistling was a part of childhood to discard, like my favorite stuffed dog and a 7 p.m. bedtime.

Then, as a mom, I tried to teach my progeny, pursing my lips together, blowing out spittle, never succeeding. My children were just as genetically disabled, so the entire family gave up whistling years ago.

Until the joy of whistling returned to me one early morning this summer, when the boxes had been packed and the furniture readied.  The clock struck eight times, and a large moving van arrived with four men to load and drive our possessions to a new place, two minutes away.movers, move, whistle

I liked the condo my man and I had lived in for two years (lease ended, owner putting it on market), so all the time and effort necessary to start anew at another place was disheartening.

Until the movers arrived.

Except for one wiry man in his 40s, the other well-muscled fellows were 25 and younger. They arrived fresh-faced and attentive, despite the morning hour and the heavy load ahead of them. They talked little, nary a grunt between them all, and worked in a synchronicity that looked balletic.

And then.

A whistle

The dark-haired kid with one earring, a small goatee, and legs thicker than tree trunks began to whistle. You know, like a dwarf in Snow White, whistling while he worked.




My spirit soared. This move would be just fine. We’d love our new place, my man and I, and we’d have fun unpacking everything and finding new ways to arrange the sofa and the tea kettle, the family photos and the hummingbird feeder, the computer table and the reading chair.

I smiled, pursed my lips, and ….. couldn’t conjure even the hint of a sound.

But that was okay. Jason the mover brought a whistle into my head, and that’s all I needed to sing happily all move long.

What about you? Do you whistle while you work, even if it’s soundlessly?

whistle, work