About Me

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Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in English, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with MA from R.I. School of Design. Barking Cat Books published my first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. My humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. In 2018 Barking Cat Books published my SURVIVING YOUR DREAM VACATION: 75 RULES TO KEEP YOUR COMPANION TALKING TO YOU ON THE ROAD. See website By CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Our Summer So Far, 2023

May 18           -   We return to Massachusetts from Florida

June 2-3           - We attend husband Charley's college reunion 

June 4               - We attend granddaughter's graduation from high school

June 18            - We return rested and energized from a vacation to our favorite 

                           spot off the coast of Italy.

June 25             - Charley's brother passes away after a lengthy illness.

June 29-30        - Services for Charley's brother

July 1               -  I begin shopping for our July 4th cookout. The number attending

                            exploded from the usual twelve to forty-something, including 

                            those who said, "We'll just stop by for a drink." The kitchen

                            island transforms into a buffet table, and I rummage the

                            Christmas Tree Shop (which declared bankruptcy) for 

                            red-white-blue melamine plates. I find them for $1.00 each.

                            I hit BJ's for liquor, quantities of non-alcoholic drinks, and 

                            perishables. I begin cooking the freezables - cranberry/orange 

                            breads, strawberry/ rhubarb and apple pies, tomato tarts 

                            (tomatoes drained but tarts end up mushy. Will stick to the quiche

                            recipes in the future.)

July 2              -  The weather forecast turns ugly for July 4th, with thunderstorms 

                             predicted at 4:00 pm for the start of the party. We decide to 

                             forget the badminton and Corn Hole games and set up inside, 

                            where the a.c. can handle the humidity. Charley's sister Kathy 

                            and her husband Norm drop off three small tables and chairs 

                             and help remove our furniture. Frank, who watches our house

                             while we're in Florida, and his partner Tony drop off an 8' table, 

                             coolers, and more folding chairs. Our living room accommo-

                             dates the large table and our dining room transforms into a cafe, 

                             with the three small tables, coolers, and a table for drinks. 

                             We set up our drop-leaf and game tables in the family room and

                              cover all with July 4th tablecloths and centerpieces supplied 

                              by a friend who's attending.

July 3                -  I begin making devilled eggs, baked beans, salads, dips, carrot 

                             cake. All else (except the meats) donated by invitees. I go to 

                             bed reviewing mental lists. Not asleep at 11:00 p.m. and go to the


                             Toilet won't flush!  No water from the faucets!

                             I wake Charley who says, "It couldn't be the well with all the rain

                             we've had. Will call Frank early tomorrow. Don't flush the toilet!"

July 4                -  Frank appears by 8:00 a.m. with two appetizers and says he's

                             already called the well compnay who will install a new pump

                             (ours dead after almost 40 years) on the morning of the 5th.

                             Charley suggests we call all invited guests to cancel.

                             "Not neceessary!" Frank says. "Let's ask your neighbor 

                              across the street (invited to the party) if we can hook a hose up

                              to their well (no town water at this end of town). Charley and

                              Frank receive permission from our neighbors. Frank heads to 

                              Home Depot (open on the 4th) for a 400' hose, which he and 

                              Tony attach between the two houses. We have clear, plentiful

                              water by noon!!

                              Thunder and lightning start at 4:00 as guests are pouring in

                              through the garage and front hall. Son Todd, Charley, and Norm

                              cook dozens of hamburgers on the outdoor grill under 

                              umbrellas. I cook hot dogs on the cooktop grill in the kitchen.

                              Everyone gets to know each other really well without a 

                              clue we'd run out of water! The drinks are flowing.

July 5                 -  By noon we have a new pump in the well, the kitchen is clean, 

                              and donated items have been picked up. 

                              Charley and I head for bed.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Aging Gracefully (or Not)

My body has become a punching bag of late. It never used to be this way. I have never felt clumsy or unco-ordinated. 

In  high school and college I was a varsity cheerleader, an activity I survived without injury. I participated in an amateur dance troupe, again without injury. My husband Charley and I skied the icy mountains of New England's Killington and Mad River Glen with no ill effects except tired muscles. Emboldened, we skied St. Anton, Austria, and despite windmill-like tumbles down a trail one day, we emerged unscathed.

Yet my forearms are now a patchwork of purple bruises, my legs a network of scars. Within the past year, I tripped on my own sneaker during a tennis match and rolled across the clay. Wiping myself off, I hid my embarassment by examining my left knee, where blood bubbled over the embedded clay granules. The scar healed in a gray half-dollar.

My right leg, not to be outdone, buckled against a low rusted metal fence hidden in the pachysandra, as I knelt to pull weeds. Fortunately, I'd had a tetanus shot within the prescribed ten years. The freebie I received was a two-inch jagged scar on my shin...which soon elongated into a snake-like five-inch scar, the additional three inches the result of a stubborn eliptical machine which refused to stop as I stepped off behind it.

I received my latest badge of dishonor during a shopping trip to a very large Macy's store. I was pushing some tops across a rack crammed with black, white, sunshine yellow, and lime green sitting on a table, when the entire rack began tilting in slow motion toward me. There was a clatter of metal on the floor as the upright stanchion of the display fell apart and the merchandise fell into my lap and against my forearm. The rep setting up the display rushed around the jumble toward me. "I filled it too full," she admitted. 

No kidding?!!? 

"Are you hurt?" she asked, examining my arm. "Let's go to the office, We can get medical help and file a report." 

I followed three steps behind, holding my right arm in the air as beads of blood bubbled up out of the rip where my skin lay backwards. The surrounding area of my forearm looked like eggplant peels, with bruises blossoming around the laceration. Both hands sported matching aubergine buds where I'd tried to prevent the rack from falling into me - nothing new, since the slightest knock to my limbs had been producing the same purple glow in my "golden" years.

After the Lagerfeld rep dropped me in a chair in the office, she explained what had happened to the manager and took off to clean up her mess. The manager requested medical help and followed the rep down the hallway. I didn't think to request a gift card as compensation, and none had been offered. 

I waited fifteen minutes for a very overweight man carrying a first-aid kit. He donned surgical gloves, tore open the wrapper of an astringent pad, and handed it to me. Then he helped apply two band-aids. "Please tell me what happened, miss, so I can write a report." I gave as concise a version as possible, blood still trickling down the arm I held in the air, the manager still in absentia. Several minutes later, I headed toward the elevator, wiping away the trickle with a Macy's paper towel. The tear healed within ten days with antibiotic cream and non-stick bandages.

I have begun adding Collagen to my juice to strengthen my hair, muscles, bones, and paper-thin skin. I have reduced my intake of Omega 3 fatty acids (blood thinners to reduce inflammation), since "bruising...is just an unfortunate side effect of a medication that is providing important protection from stroke." (My Mercy online technical support for non-medical questions)

I could stay home in my bubble. But an island vacation sounds more inviting.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

A New Year - New Expectations

The end of 2022 couldn't have come soon enough for Charley and me. After three healthy years during COVID mutations, five shots, hundreds of masks, and isolation from anyone suspected of carrying any virus, we succumbed between Christmas '22 and New Year's '23. The Christmas dinner we enjoyed resulted in three of us testing positive within days.

After hibernation in bed for several days,

with energy only to drag ourselves to the bathroom, a slow rise in our desire to eat or brush our teeth followed in succeeding days, during which we lost our fever, chills, swollen glands, sinus pains, and sore throats. We were among the fortunate who had no major respiratory issues and had doctors overseeing our care via teleconferences.

I love to make plans, to have a "to do" agenda each day. I thrive on goals and accomplishments, as small as they may be in retirement - experimenting with a new recipe, winning a tennis match, or outlining a new blog or book.

What's changed since our COVID experience? Everything!  I now look forward to a "palate-cleansing" year (NY Times, "Realistic Expectations for the Year Ahead" by Alyson Krueger, Jan. 8, 2022, Sunday Styles) - that is, one of calm and simplicity, with expectations in check.  I want to move on, while calmly processing each day. Let's face it - we were bombarded by a lot at once: COVID, flu, RSV, mass violence, war in Ukraine, recession, loss of loved ones, etc. Perhaps if I lower the bar on my expectations - for writing a new book, for extensive foreign travel - the risk of disappointment will lower, too. It's a self-defense mechanism in an attempt to simply BE.

My college roommate, a widow compromised with multiple health issues, experienced eight weeks of COVID symptoms in the fall of '22. On Christmas Eve Day she welcomed her son from California, who that night had to undergo an emergency orthoscopic appendectomy. He flew back to California in pain two days later, after which my friend's dog ingested a pack of sugar-free gum, which necessitated a stomach pump and multiple shots over several days.
The good news...everyone is back to good health!

So she and I are processing 2023 together, one day at a time. I will take my time submerging myself in the writing of a new book, whose topic will be the calm and enrichment found in the walks Charley and I have taken around the world.

I'll face the reality that awaits me every day, correct what I can, and accept what comes.

Welcome, 2023!

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

An Imaginary Christmas Letter from a Florida Condo President

 Dear Association Members,

Happy Holidays from your President and the Board of Directors. We are hoping for a bright New Year!

As you know, we have had a difficult 2022.  The roof leaks that began in tropical storms this summer have been remedied with an entirely new roof which, fortunately, was completed before the storm of the century in November. Roof repair was not budgeted until 2025, but the emergency assessment covered most of the cost and our insurance policy covered the remainder.

The garage floor was painted over the summer. The result was squealing tires and skid marks, as some of your vehicles slid across the garage. The floor has been completely repainted and there have been no further incidents involving cars sliding into one another. The second emergency assessment covered the cost of repainting. However, two of you have sued the association.

The pavers on the driveway were cleaned and resealed under budget. However, the storm of the century in November dislodged some of them. The compay is so busy that they have yet to repair the holes. We've installed neon cones to prevent any damage to vehicles. Please practice making "S" turns in the garage, before proceeding up the driveway.

The air conditioning units on the roof, as many of you know, took direct hits in that storm. The one unit that blew off landed in our neighbor, the Sea Cove's, office, with a resulting lawsuit. Fortunately, no-one was injured. Insurance companies are "talking."

Some of you might have noticed a different "look" to our landscaping. It is the result of neglect for two months, during which our contractor did not show up and all attempts to locate the owner were futile. We have hired a new landscaper, Green Design. They will be slightly more expensive, with a resulting minimal increase in your quarterly fees. The Board will follow up with a letter of explanation to all homeowners. We have also hired a detective agency to find the previous contractor. The cost will be covered in the increased quarterly fees. 

Finally, I'd like to compliment our new manager, Mr. Howe, for the spirit in which he decorated the lobby for the holidays. There was a glow in the entry we've never had before, due to the multitude of colored lights. Some of you requested Mr. Howe remove half of the decorations, especially the gingerbread houses, which were attracting ants. I conveyed this wish to Mr. Howe, who removed almost everything and was despondent until the leak occurred from the plumbing fixtures in the apartment above the lobby. We could have had  gingerbread batter spreading across the floor, if the houses had remained. Mr. Howe will return half of the decorations for credit. The Board has vetoed all further expenditures, including the replacement of the wallpaper that was ruined in the lobby.

Effective immediately, I am resigning as your President. I will be out of the country imdefinitely and thank those of you who supported me. Peace be with you all!


Ann Beckwith, President

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

My "Do-Not" Lists


After age sixty, there were things I could still wear (but really shouldn't have):

 1. Skirts too tight or too short. Mini's were out. No-one's bumpy knees or calves knotted with varicose veins were attractive. Likewise, the rolls around my gut couldn't be hidden by anything tight-fitting unless it was a corset, which aren't produced anymore.

 2.  Plunging necklines. Wrinkled or leathery cleavage wasn't an asset.

 3.  Red dresses. I looked like a male cardinal on steroids.

 4.  Anything that had "pouf" in its name. Why did I want to look as though I had additional cellulite around my thighs or hips?

 5. Sleeveless tops, unless exercising. The flaccid "angel wings" hanging below my arms were hideous.

 6.  Pants with pleats around the waist - added ten pounds!

 7. Pencil-thin jeans. My muscular calves were bound so tight they cramped.

 8. Pants with wide cuffs. Heels got caught in them (who wants to tumble?) and they got filthy as soon as I sat down.

 9.  Heels that were pointy or over three inches high. My bunions screamed and the formerly dislocated disc in my back warned me, "You'll be in therapy again!"

10. Anything that didn't have an underwire in the bra (as in swimsuits). No such thing as perky, pointy boobs anymore!

After age seventy, there are things I THINK I'm ok with (but really am not):

 1.  Making an introduction. I may have no clue what my best friend's name is, even if I'm staring at her!

 2. Walking into a room without having written down why I'm entering. I may have to leave and re-enter to remember what I'm there for.

 3. Spending all morning looking for my glasses. They're usually on the top of my head.

 4. Eating anything with garlic. The reek lasts well beyond several applications of toothpaste and mouthwash.

 5. Removing my shoes for any reason in front of anyone but my husband. The bunions are grotesque! At least at the beach I can bury them in sand.

 6. Getting out on the dance floor to join twenty-somethings in their latest groove. Especially true for limbo contests! My body refuses to become a pretzel.

 7. Eating any food in any quantity. Ditto for liquor.

 8. Skipping the flu or Covid shots or forgetting to take my eight vitamins and cholesterol pill each night.

 9. Travelling alone. I'm not looking for any kind of adventure without a guide to rescue me.

10 . Signing up as a chaperone for a teenage grandchild's class trip. Child will never speak to me again.

11. Applying make-up that will cover blemishes and bruises. Must be scraped with a putty knife!

12. Applying mascara that looks like cat's whiskers except they've relocated around my eyes. Or wearing those old cat's-eye glasses!

13. Going through a buffet line more than once. There wouldn't be enough Tums in my nightstand to get me through the night.

14. Wearing stockings. They eventually sag around the ankles and they're sooo 70's.

15. Trying to copy Jennifer Aniston's waist-skimming or feathered hair styles. Ear-length is the asolute max that won't blow into my eyes (or glasses) and make me look like a wanna-be 60's hippie.

16. Attempting to set up anything electronic unless my grandchildren have already pre-programmed it.

17. Attending a grandchild's sporting event and cheering so loudly the opposite team turns to stare at the old lady, while my grandchild's team whispers behind their hands, "Is that your grandma?"

18. Trying to sleep through the night (unless you're a man). Herbal and green teas, sleep aids, reading till midnight, bathtub jets, bath oils, and sleep masks do not perform as advertised! 

Monday, September 19, 2022

From Black-and-White to Split Screen


I rushed home from grammar school along a dirt path behind the parking lot, through the ravine we called the “snake pit,” up the other side, to the road in front of our house. The thought of a long slithery black snake lying in wait got me to the macadam in no time. 

Our gravel driveway curved in an “S” around the evergreens my dad had planted and back over the brook where he’d built the bridge. Mom had already tuned into the Yankees’ first game of the World Series when I barged through the door, breathless. “Hi, honey! It’s just started,” she said. “Take off your sweater and give me your lunch box.” She wasn’t really a fan, but she knew that I, like all my friends in southern Connecticut, was a true believer in the miraculousness of the Yankees.

Our  picture was black and white and a little fuzzy. Rabbit ears reached toward the ceiling, but I was grateful to get anything on the screen. I was in charge of my sister, a toddler who played on the floor at my feet while Mom started supper. Dad soon appeared from the NYC commuter train, and while he prepared a Manhattan cocktail for my Mom and himself, I gave him a rundown of the game.

The Yankees won the Series, as they always did - one of the reasons I became a Yankee hater after I married a Red Sox fan from Massachusetts.

We’d been married a year in 1966 when Charley was assigned to Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, Viet Nam, during the War. When he returned in ‘67, we landed in Warner Robins, Georgia. It could have been the moon – we didn’t care, as long as we were together. For me, it was the moon, landing there directly from graduate school in NYC, where I'd spent my time while he was away. In Macon County, Georgia, no liquor was served in public establishments; my junior-high students crossed the street if a black classmate approached on the same sidewalk; wooden paddles were used by the assistant principal for discipline; and the laundromat’s window declared, “Whites Only.”  

The antenna on our T.V. could only pick up three stations. “The Beverly Hillbillies” was on every single night in living color. We attached tinfoil to the rabbit ears to get a picture and separated the two, turning them in different directions till we could make out human figures. “Damn it! The Red Sox have a chance to win the Series!” Charley yelled. “Get more tinfoil, honey. I’ll keep turning the ears.” We were able to watch the Red Sox lose in seven games to the Cardinals.

In 1975, we'd settled in Rhode Island and still used rabbit ears with tinfoil, but the channels were many. The Sox were in game six of the World Series, down 2-3 to the Reds. Eventually Carlton Fisk hit a ball that his body language nudged fair, as he left home plate.

“It’s curving, it’s curving,” the announcer yelled. “It hit the foul pole! It’s a home run! The Red Sox have tied the Series!” Thanks to the tinfoil, we’d bent our bodies to the right side of the foul pole along with Fisk. Participating in his homer made the upcoming loss to the Reds easier to swallow.

Now we have a cable box, a 70” flat-screen television, splt screens, two remotes, and a device to record so we can watch later. “You have to press the top left white button first,” Charley tells me, demonstrating. “That will bring in the cable, too. But if it doesn’t, I’ll get the cable company to give us a boost.” Once the wad in the pitcher's mouth and the drool on his beard pop in with living color, we are sitting in the box seats behind home plate.

After the game, I hit the “Guide” button again to select a movie. “We don’t get Netflix here in Massachusetts,” Charley said. “We only subscribe in Florida.”

“Well, what channels do we get?”

He hands me the list of channels with stars next to the ones we subscribe to. There are only three for movies. “Why don’t we look into getting more movies here? These three never seem to have anything we’re interested in or we've watched them already.”

Charley responds that since we’re only in Massachusetts four-and-a-half months a year, it would be a waste of money to add more subscriptions. “All that’s really important are the Sox and Pats,” he says.

 I choose “Pretty Woman” for the third time.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

My First Year Teaching 1968

"Please sit down!" I raised my voice, using my most authoritative "teacher" volume without frightening the rest of the kids seated in front of me. One of my 12-year-olds had gotten up from his desk, refusing to read aloud the paragraph we were dissecting from Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea

"Where are you going?" I demanded, heading down the aisle toward him. Fortunately, he didn't have anything metallic pointed at  me.

"Toby, please sit down so we can go on!" By this time, Toby had one of his legs dangling out the awning window cranked open in the sweltering heat of Warner Robins, Georgia. I headed for the phone on the wall.

"Please send the Vice Principal to my room immediately! One of my students is climbing out the window."

By the time I finished the second sentence, Toby had managed to flatten his body plank-link through the  pane of glass that extended outward and had disengaged himself from our study of Ernest. I heard a thud and crack of branches in the lantana, planted just six feet below and ran to the windows. The orange, yellow, and purple blossoms lay crushed amid the splintered branches on the ground. The back of Toby's blue-jean jacket and pants were visible, running through the parking lot toward the street in front of the school.

The Vice Principal threw open the door to my classroom. "Toby Mulcahy climbed through the window and is heading across the parking lot!" I shouted.

The back of his jacket was the last I ever saw of Toby Mulcahy. 

Later that year, my students gathered around a black-and-white television projecting downward from the ceiling. Together we watched coverage of  the shooting of Martin Luther King, Jr., in April, 1968, and in June that year, the assasination of Bobby Kennedy. My student reactions were mixed.