One Tomb; Two Teens; the Lottery of Location; and the Rest of Us

We always have so much to be grateful for. Brigid will be fine and hopefully home soon! Thank you to my dear wise friend Judy for this post.

We Are All Carpenter's Kids

A blog entitled “We Are All Carpenter’s Kids” should surely have an Easter post, and I am sorry it didn’t. Wherever you woke up Easter morning, the tomb was empty. Whether you celebrated in one of the world’s richer countries or one of the world’s poorer countries, the tomb was empty.

Last week Brigid, the 15 year old daughter of my best friend Maggie, was in a car hit by a drunk driver. She sustained some fairly serious injuries and was taken immediately to a nearby hospital in Portland, Oregon. She received excellent medical care, has had successful surgery, and though her recovery will be long and painful, she should be heading home today.

Last week, Carpenter’s Kid Aidan Chitawo, also 15, sought treatment for an intestinal blockage that has plagued him for at least a year. I can’t describe the tremendous efforts of his caretakers, including my ever-pastoral, tireless…

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I Got that Call

I’m typing this from Brigid’s hospital room. Early Sunday morning, she was in a car going back to her friend’s house from a run to McDonalds. A drunk driver blew through a 4 way stop and t-boned the car. Brigid was in the back seat on the driver’s side and took the bulk of the impact. She has a fractured pelvis which we still don’t know if she will need surgery to stabilize it. In the big picture, she is fine.

She had on her seat belt and because of that, we are in the hospital and not the morgue.

The drunk driver went to jail. I don’t know much other than that. There are no skid marks on the road so he never even thought to stop. Brigid’s friend’s (the driver of the car) mom has pictures of the car that Brigid was in as well as the drunk’s car. I don’t want to see them but I have heard they aren’t pretty.

Please make sure you and everyone you know and love wears a seat belt at all times, front seat or back. Every damn time you are in the car.


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Mag’s Wheels

My parents bought me my first car ever when I was a sophomore or junior in high school, I’d say 1981/82. They spent $750 on a ’75 Monte Carlo. It was dark brown with an off-white vinyl hardtop. It was a two door model, each door being approximately 6 feet long and weighing 500 pounds. I had to sit on a couch cushion to see over the steering wheel and needed binoculars to see to the end of the hood. It was a giant pimp car, which I told my mother and she said if I kept whining I would never drive any car again. I used to leave the keys in the car wherever I went hoping against hope that it would be stolen. Of course, it wasn’t because who the hell would want that car?

This is not my actual car, that I know of, but it is identical.

This is not my actual car, that I know of, but it is identical.

When I went away to college my parents sold that car. They were punishing me for some reason.

I didn’t have a car in college because my school was in a village and I didn’t need one. I didn’t have one for the three years I lived in Boston after college. Boston has the T and nowhere to park so I didn’t need a car there either.

When I moved back to Portland in 1990, I got the first car that I had to pay for, a 1989 Honda Accord.

Again, not my car but close enough.

Again, not my car but close enough.

I loved my little gold Honda Accord. The headlights flipped up when turned on so that was pretty spiffy. I had that car when I got married the first time. I remember filling it up with wedding gifts to be returned, eventually winding up with a trunk full of stuff that I couldn’t figure out where it had been purchased. One lovely spring day, I played hooky from work and went garden shopping with my mom. I realized as we were pulling our wagon up to the car to put all the plants in the trunk that it was full of wedding gifts. Oh dang! I opened the trunk and Voila! Someone had gone into my car, which was never locked, and had taken all the gifts so I could put the plants in! Win. WIN!

After having two kids, I realized in 2000 that I needed a bigger car to hold all the gear. I got a 1998 Ford Explorer.

Still not my actual car but make model color, my car.

Still not my actual car but make model color, my car.

It was more like a truck but got me where I wanted to go. No real good stories from this car (and I understand that you may not have considered the other car stories “real good”). This car had a key pad to open the car so I didn’t need to bring my keys into the gym with me (that tells you how long ago I had this car….the “gym” …..riiiigghhtt). One day I went out to open the car and the combination wouldn’t work and I was stuck at the gym! I called Mitch and told him about this fiasco and he said he would come get me and then I looked up and realized, I was trying to get into the wrong car.

In 2006, I went out to lunch with my pal Danni who wanted to look at an Acura MDX. I went along for the ride and wound up buying a 2003 Volvo XC 70 wagon. I loved that car. I had the old Volvo until March 6, the day we left for Nevis. That day the transmission light came on, the car gasped its way into the driveway and I said, “I’ll deal with that when I get home.”

Upon returning from Nevis, I had to figure out what to do with the dead Volvo in the driveway and figure out a new car. Salesman Derwood was working on the new car deal and what sort of trade in, etc. I went on Craigslist to see what Volvo XC70s were going for and saw an ad:

Looking for a Volvo XC 70. Must have clear title, less than 170,000 miles, and be broken, preferably the transmission or timing belt. Prefer a car owned by anyone named Maggie.

It didn’t say the Maggie part but other than that, that was the ad and I sold the damn thing for $1500.

FINALLY, yesterday I got my first ever NEW car! It’s a 2015 Ford Escape just like my pal Janet’s in SF!

My actual car. My actual new car.

My actual car. My actual new car.

My Ford Escape has Bluetooth in it and all my phone contacts are in the little whatever thing in the car and I can just say, “Call Katie Denver” and it calls her! I can ask for directions and it will give them to me. And and and….it has Sirius satellite radio free for 6 months. Sure, they are just getting me hooked knowing that I will pay for it after six months. This means that I never need listen to anything other than 70’s, 80’s and Frank Sinatra music for the rest of my days.

Which, as it turns out, is very similar to what I listened to in that ’75 Monte Carlo.



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A senseless death…

From Officer Don, more brilliance.

don of all trades

We arrived at the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room at the same time.

He and his partner parked and I pulled up to their left and did the same.

I got out of my car and watched as the officer hurried from his seat and opened the back, driver’s side door.

When the officer grabbed the boy from the back seat of his police Tahoe, I knew almost instantly.

There was a split second though, before instantly I guess, where I didn’t know. For that split second, the officer looked like any dad grabbing his sleeping boy from the car and putting the boy’s head on his shoulder to carry him inside to sleep comfortably in his own bed.

For that split second, it was a sweet moment.

The officer, an around fifty year old white guy, clutched the little boy over his left shoulder gently, but with a clear purpose. The boy was small, a…

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Golf at Cat Ghaut

I need to write some Nevis stories before I leave on my next vacation tomorrow morning. Nevis is a very small island. It’s NOT a big place.

There is a guy on Nevis who knows everything anyone would ever need to know about Nevis. How do I get an international driver’s license? Where is the Diet Coke? Which cash machines have US currency? I need a fishing pole. Where can I play golf? This guy knows it all, and all the Nevisians know to ask him. His number was on the note pad next to the phone in our villa. He is the GO TO GUY on Nevis.

And his name is Marlon Brando.

Yep. Marlon Brando.

Here is a picture of him that I found from a Google search. This is Marlon Brando:



Marlon Brando told us where to find a golf course on Nevis because the two we knew of wouldn’t work for us. The Four Seasons Resort course charges $350 per person to play 18 holes which includes the cart, you don’t have to use the cart but they are going to charge you for it whether you do or not. The Four Seasons was cost prohibitive for us. Across the road from where we were staying was the Nevis Golf Association course. It’s 2 holes and is only open to members so again, we were out of luck.

Derwood and I visited Marlon Brando’s (no one calls him just Marlon) garage/pharmacy/quick mart one day to find out where to buy fresh fish and where the rumored 3rd Nevis golf course is located. Happily the fresh fish and the golf course are near each other.

This is what he told us, “Go down this road until you see a bus stop before the airport runway. Make a left and the fish guy is on the corner. Go up to the top of that hill and that is where the golf course is. It’s in someone’s yard.” Then he said he would stop by sometime because we had never done any paperwork on our car rental. He also rents cars.

It took us four attempts to find the course because we weren’t sure what a Nevisian bus stop looked like and while the road is Charlestown Road, there are no street signs.

Cat Ghaut Golf sign on the driveway gate of the owner's home.

Cat Ghaut Golf sign on the driveway gate of the owner’s home.

As promised it was in someone’s yard. We parked and got out of the car. Looking up the road we saw a large monkey crossing into the forest and that is freaking weird. When you have only seen a certain type of animal in the zoo and then you see them just wandering around, it’s kinda scary.

big monkey

We didn’t take this picture. We didn’t get any monkey pictures because they don’t hold still for very long. See how this monkey looms like Big Foot? That’s what the big monkey looked like… approximately the size of an 8-year-old child but looming, like Big Foot. Later when we got back to the villa, there were some monkeys down the path from us as we walked to our front door. It’s just weird. I don’t know what monkeys do, what if they just ripped my face off?

Back to the golf, when the four of us finally went to play Cat Ghaut’s 12-hole course we found it to be unlike any golf course we’d ever seen. No one works in the pro shop hut and it took us a bit to find the sign telling us how the Cat Ghaut Golf system works. In the hut are five or six old golf bags full of rusted golf clubs, a bucket of balls and a basket of tees, some of which were not broken. All we had to do was select our clubs, grab some balls and tees, and pay our $10 US into the little slot cut into the wooden counter.




Here we are on the golf course.

Derwood, Maggie, Kitty, Geoff

Derwood, Maggie, Kitty, Geoff

$40 total to play this funny little course on a hill above the Caribbean Sea. On the advice of Jefferson, the greens keeper, we tried to follow the map on the score card to find the 1st green; but by the time we were looking for the 2nd green, Jefferson said the map was no good.

It was so much fun we played Cat Ghaut twice. It was one of my most favorite parts of our trip.

Guess who holds the course record?

Marlon Brando.

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The Madness

I know I said I would post about my vacation to Nevis, but it’s March Madness time here in the U.S. and I wanted to get my picks in for those of you who may need help with your brackets.  I’ve been doing this for years and so far have a perfect record of never having picked the winner or enough wins to cover my $5 entry into the office pool. Watch and learn.

The March Madness is a basketball tournament played at venues throughout the U.S. by teams of basketball players. The tournament bracket (literally: broken in fours, which is where the phrase Final Four comes from) is divided into four sections for different directions that players travel to get to the tournament. I have selected my winners for the 3rd Round which will then inform how the rest of the tournament plays (meaning “play”) out.

Here are my prognostications (NSFW).


  • Kentucky is going to beat Hampton to advance because they are a #1 seed and the only reason I would even think of choosing Hampton is because my first fiance was from North Hampton, NH.
  • Purdue will beat Cincinnati because I can’t think of why they wouldn’t.
  • Even though Buffalo is a #12 seed they will win out over #5 W. Virginia because I have never been to WV.
  • Maryland will move on over Valparaiso because I had a Terps Lacrosse tshirt in college.
  • Butler over Texas because while I love many Texans, I don’t care for Texas.
  • The Notre Dame v. Northeastern game is a tough call for me because I’m Catholic and once lived in Boston. Notre Dame. God wins.
  • Indiana over Wichita because I saw “Hoosiers”.
  • Kansas over New Mexico because I’ve never been to NM and spent the Bicentennial in Kansas with my aunt and her family.


  • I have picked Coastal Carolina over Wisconsin because my first husband had a friend who coached soccer at C.Carolina. This was a tough call picking between two popular Western states.
  • Oregon will beat OK St. (they probably won’t but I have to pick Oregon, total bullshit).
  • Arkansas over Wofford because Wofford? What?
  • I am going with a Harvard upset over N. Carolina because I lived in Boston across the river from Cambridge.
  • I have to go with Ole Miss over Xavier because I like the sound of Ole Miss.
  • Baylor (who by the way will make it into the Final Four) is going to beat Georgia St. because my pal Amy from high school went to Baylor.
  • Close call between #7 seed VCU and #10 seed Ohio St. but my best pal Lucy lives in Columbus, so Ohio St.
  • Arizona will win out over Texas So. because Arizona is actually a Western state and again, Texas.


  • Duke will beat Robert Morris because they have a whole team and he is just one guy. I don’t even know why that game is being played.
  • San Diego St. goes down to St. John’s because St. John’s has a college affiliate program with American Academy of Dramatic Arts where my daughter, Annie, will start school in September.
  • Utah over SF Austin because Fletch goes to Utah in the movie of the same name and my siblings and I say, “You go to Utah, you STAY in Utah” a lot.
  • Georgetown over Eastern Washington because Georgetown always seems to beat other teams, unless they lose.
  • UCLA is going to beat SMU because my best pal Kitty’s daughter is a freshman there.
  • Iowa St. over UAB because I think the UAB is actually a small country in the middle east and they should never have been allowed in the tournament anyway.
  • Iowa will advance past Davidson to make matchies with Iowa St.
  • Gonzaga will not only beat North Dakota State but advance to the Final Four, all because the guy in my office who organizes this bracket went to Gonzaga.


  • Lafayette over Villanova because Lafayette is a similar small liberal arts school to my alma mater Colgate.
  • LSU beats NC State simply because it seems like something they would do.
  • Wyoming moves on past N. Iowa because Iowa was getting a little greedy.
  • Louisville will beat UC Irvine because they are Louisville, and they use bats which many people think isn’t fair but teams are allowed to use any equipment with their team name on it.
  • Boise St. will win a close one over Providence even though I have been to both cities.
  • I’m going with the numbers on the Oklahoma/Albany game. Oklahoma, a #3 seed, will show up in the Final Four.
  • Georgia beats Michigan St. for no good reason at all.
  • Huge upset….Belmont over Virginia because Annie likes a boy who got into Belmont.

So if you review all of that information and carry the 3, you will see that the 2015 NCAA Champion Basketball team winner will be Gonzaga.

You can take this to Vegas.

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Welcome to PDX, Your Winds Will Gust to 58 MPH

Sorry it has taken me so long to check in upon my return from one of my most favorite vacations ever. I haven’t known how to blog about it. So I will write it as I have been telling it.

I will start at the end. We had such a fabulous vacation. Nevis is a wonderful place with traffic patterns decided by wandering goats, donkeys and cows.

What? Do you need this road?

What? Do you need this road?

It’s a very long trip from the West Coast of the U.S. down there but definitely worth it. Nevis is a third world country, tiny, poor and also friendly and well-educated. I could live there as long as I was living in the ocean front villa that we stayed in. I was feeling quite proud of my new found attitude toward less than thoroughly western comfort, ass-in-butter conditions and then we got to our hotel for our lay over in Charlotte NC.


I still need luxury and the $85/night airport hotel that I found in Charlotte? In an effort to prove how frugal I can be? No, that didn’t work at all and I wasn’t comfortable going barefoot in the room.

I’m still me.

We flew from St. Kitts (the island federation is formally known as St. Kitts – Nevis) to Charlotte, spent the night and then on to DFW and then to Portland. While sitting in the Dallas airport waiting for our next flight, the thought “this isn’t going to go well” popped into my head.

I was right and I was wrong.

We had a smooth flight, as all of our flights had been, going and returning. It got really bumpy closer to the Portland airport, which is surprising because Portland doesn’t have one of those airports where you think there will be issues. I was reading my book and noticed the bumpiness but thought nothing of it, we were almost on the ground. Wait. I looked at Derwood, “he’s going back up?”

Yep, we couldn’t make it down and then we spent what I think was another 30 minutes circling around and trying to get to the ground but the wind was tossing a rather large plane around like it was made of paper. The plane was completely silent except for the woman barfing in our row, poor thing.

I asked Deren “why isn’t he saying something?” He figured the pilot was busy flying the plane. Finally the pilot came on and said, “I guess you all noticed, we didn’t land. I’m going to go around again and land this time.”

Oh are you? It was the 2nd scariest experience of my life after the beach incident with the girls. The more we circled and tried to get below the clouds and then being thrown back up, the more freaked out I got. I was clinging to Deren and praying my Catholic ass off. I really don’t care if I die, I’m not scared to die but I can’t die because I can’t leave my girls. And that’s all I could think of as I spoke to my parents, this is NOT the time for me to check out.

Deren doesn’t often get strict with me but he said, “Maggie, you have to sit up straight.” And I thought, well shit, we are going down and I have to be ready for that. It was horrible, absolutely terrifying.

As you know, because I am typing this, we made it down.

Everyone cheered when the plane hit the runway. The pilot came on the PA and said, “I have landed on an aircraft carrier in winds of 50 knots and this landing was worse than that.”

Glad to hear that, once we got down.

So tomorrow, I’ll tell you more about this place:


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A Family of Names

My parents names are John and Joan. Their siblings names are Anita, Agnes Marie, Catherine, Dennis, Gerard, John, Maryann.

All of the children of those families are: Maggie, John, Katie, Molly, Michael, Randy, John, David, Jennifer, Mary, Tricia, Michael, Bill, Jane, and I think I’m missing 3 others from that family, Michael, Patrick, Tom, Yvonne, Louise, Anita, and I’m missing one from that family, John, Jane, Sean, Patrick, Tim, Peggy, Kathleen.

awesome irish

I have a cousin Michael who has a son named Tim, not my first cousin Tim…a different Tim.

My full name is Margaret Mary and my cousin Mary’s full name is Mary Margaret. We also have a Meg and a Peggy.

One of my other cousin’s Michael has a daughter named Cailin. My sister Katie is Catherine as is my aunt who goes by Kitty. And there’s Kathleen.

My cousin Tricia is married to a guy named Matt and their son is named John Matthew. My sister Molly’s son is Matthew John.

So we have four Johns, five if you count Sean (and I believe there’s an argument for being Gaelic-ly inclusive.)


My maternal grandfather’s name is Walter Michael. I have a cousin named John Walter and then a few Michaels on both sides of the family because Irish.

My paternal grandfather’s name is John Joseph, as is my dad’s, as is my brother’s. My Uncle Gerry named his son John Joseph and tried to call him John Joseph III which caused a battle and resulted in my dad and uncle not speaking to each other because Irish. (As a matter of fact, I think that uncle was dead for months before I even heard about it, “Gerry? He died months ago.” Ahhh, thanks.)

irish calmThis is all apropos of nothing except that I was trying to name all my cousins the other night. I do that instead of counting sheep when trying to go to sleep.


I leave for vacation tomorrow night. I think I may schedule some greatest hits posts because who out there isn’t going to feel a bit less fulfilled, a little emptier in my absence?


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Last Thursday the 26th was Jackie Gleason’s birthday so we all know what that means.

Last Thursday was my birthday. Fiddy. Five Oh. Half a hundred. I am 50 years old.

Fifty. Years. Old.

It’s not bad at all. I was caught by surprise at how much I missed my mother. I wish she were here, there are times you want to share big events with your mom.

I started the morning with a good long walk with my boyfriend, Mudd.

I have binge watched “Scandal”.

I'm not kidding.

I’m not kidding.

I went tanning because we leave for Nevis on the 6th and I want to have a base. Nice thing about being 50: when the young man, who wasn’t even born the last time I went tanning, told me he likes to tour new customers around so he can charge them more money see which bed is the best for the customer’s skin type; I had no problem saying “I really don’t want to do that.” Done. Six minutes of tanning and I’m on my way to my tropic skin cancer bronze beauty.

Another being 50 bonus: I readily give myself a break. I have already broken my vow not to eat bread during Lent. Duh, Lent is hard, I wouldn’t have lasted 20 minutes in the desert.

I will be celebrating my birthday for a couple of weeks. I was in San Francisco this past weekend with my other spouse, Lisa.

Someday we are going to have to send out our own Christmas card.

Someday we are going to have to send out our own Christmas card.

We had a really great time. I got to meet some of Lisa’s friends and we spent time with Jane T. my Colgate pal.


Golden Gate Bridge in the background


I went out to dinner with two of my oldest, longest…how do you say that? I have known Julie since 1972 and Gretchen since 1977. We go back a ways and that was hilarious as our monthly dinners are.

I had lunch at Danni’s yesterday and got to snuggle her 6 OUNCE foster kitten and play with her two roly poly foster puppies and eat bread.

Magnolia Kitty

Magnolia Kitty

I got cards and flowers and lovely gifts and it was a happy, happy day. And then I watched more Scandal. And then I realized I have no idea what the hell is going on on Scandal.

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A Middle Aged Woman’s Shopping Miracle

Saturday was a beautiful day in Portland. It was one of those days that if someone asked, “Hey, where’s Portland?” Someone else would answer, “Oh, they went outside.” If you knew anyone that would even care to have that sort of discussion. Saturday was also the day I set aside to go to Popina. Popina is a bathing suit store. I had lined up my pal AVC to come with me but she messaged that she was under the weather and might have pink eye. (Feel better Ame!) While I am very sorry that my friend who I haven’t seen in too long, is under the weather; her condition also had a serious impact on me.

It meant I would have to go try on bathing suits by myself.

notreadyspring break

I often cry when I have to try on bathing suits. Or I steel myself, knowing it will be awful and I will have to try on the most giant top to fit the girls in. BUT! a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do and me and my girls are goin’ to the Caribbean on the 6th so I am getting a goddam swimsuit!

I have gone tanning twice in preparation for the trip and in keeping with a tenet: tan fat is better than white fat. Now I had to take my tan fat to Popina ALONE and try on bathing suits. Hopefully without crying.

Upon entering Popina, a very young, tall, and very thin, very Portlandia girl asked if I needed help finding anything. I marched right up to her and said “Yes I do. I need a bathing suit that fits these” and pointed at my chest. She took me to the big boob section and told me to try on whatever I liked and let her know.  I picked out a half dozen tops and went to the dressing room.

Aside: they serve beer at Popina. Free, for while you are shopping. Who in their right mind wants beer when trying on bathing suits? Add to that gut while voluntarily humiliating yourself? At any rate, I said No thank you.

First top: Nope and it looks like we are heading for a grueling bathing suit experience. Wait! Next one is too big! The one after that is super cute and quite a boobalanche. The next one is DAR — LING!


Portlandia Girl brings me the three different bottoms that go with the top. I find one that I really like and stand there looking in the mirror at my self in a bathing suit. In a 2-piece bathing suit. It’s not RihannaWear but it’s cute! I’m not going to make the cover of a magazine but not bad. NOT. BAD. And comfy!

I did a happy dance in the Popina bathing suit shop dressing room and THAT folks is a Middle Aged Woman Shopping Miracle.

A most miraculous bathing suit.

A most miraculous bathing suit.

I’m not going to make any promises but I might allow a photo of me to be taken in the Miracle suit and I might show it to you but I’d probably have to have some beer first.

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