Day at the museum

As you may know, Princess and I are terribly cultured. We demonstrated this by going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Snippets from our conversation include:

armourIn the Arms & Armory Wing: “I love that sword! Think of all the people I could smite with that!”

Also, “That armor is so pretty! Now I want armor, too.”

In the Impressionist area: “I like how everything is so swirly and smeary.”

In the sculpture garden: “Want me to take a picture of you in front of that naked boy statue?”

UnknownIn the furniture wing: “Oooh! Narnia!”

In front of the lamppost in the American Wing courtyard: “Oooh! Narnia!”

In the Egypt wing: “That mummy case looks like Kim Kardashian.”

“There’s your sarcophagus. Time for bed! In you go!”

In the modern stuff, in front of a painting of large blue square: “Ah. Art,” and also “I could do that in about five minutes.”

We went out for dinner, pleased that the restaurant had us sitting next to each other, instead of facing so we could see the same patrons and speculate about them. We both had IMG_0878cappucinos, which proved to be a bad choice when we got the super-caffeinated giggles on the train ride back to Connecticut, annoying everyone around us (which, unfortunately, only made us laugh harder).

The nicest part of the day was this, though…we still hold hands. She’s in college now, becoming a wonderful adult, but she still holds my hand. Maybe to look out for me as I try to jaywalk, or maybe just to make sure I know she’s still my little girl.

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Blood sport

UnknownMy sainted mother loves to hate shopping.

The last time the Princess was home from college, my mom called me. “I need some clothes,” she said. “Will you—”

“Absolutely not,” I said. Because yes, she was about to ask me to go shopping with her. Years of experience have taught me that without a flask and some powerful narcotics, I should not go shopping with my mother. Let’s put it this way. There’s a store in the mall where we’re greeted with, “Oh, God, you two again.” Maybe more than one, now that I think of it.


Not my mother

“Do you think the Princess will go with me?” Mom asked.

“Sure!” I answered, blithely throwing my daughter under the bus. After all, Princess has a pretty easy life. Time for her to tote that barge. Also, there was the faint possibility that my daughter, who is lovely and sweet and kind and has great taste in clothes, could help my mother more than I could.

So off Princess went, naive and happy. Several hours later, she returned. “That was horrible,” she said, tossing back a few Motrin. “I’ll never do that again.”

“What happened?” I asked mother. “You’ve crushed my child’s spirit.”

“Nothing!” Mom said, gleefully feigning ignorance. Turned out that Mom did the old I hate all clothing ever made, sack cloth and ashes will do just fine routine for which is rightfully famous.

wineMy mom’s friend Jill sometimes takes her shopping. God bless Jill, I always say. She can usually convince my mother to buy something. Sometimes, I’ll see her after such an outing, and Jill will give me a grim look, widening her eyes at me in the universal I need a drink look that we all have after going shopping with my mother.

I know what you’re thinking. My poor mother. Don’t be fooled. She loves doing this. It’s a blood sport—Go ahead. Find me an outfit. I dare you. And listen, if you feel so bad, you can go with her next time.


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Like fine wine…


Dear Lord, thank You for making Idris.

Sure, sure, I’m madly in love with Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hardy and that hottie who plays Thor.

But I’m also a woman of a certain age, in the last throes of her 40s, and so I give you my age-appropriate crushes. There’s just something about a man with staying power.


54c83278b0a366cdd543e875fa882f5bTopping the list, of course, is RDJ, who often appears in my dreams (thanks, Bobby.) I call this picture “the ovary destroyer.” I loved him when we were both young. I felt so bad when he went through his bad days. I feel so proud of him now. Those eyes don’t hurt my adoration.


1johnAnd here’s John Stamos. Who knew, right? I mean, really, the mullet from the 80s, the bad movies, the saccharine TV show…and then we get this. Those yogurt commercials? Thank you! More please!



EB7BDA08A8BNorman Reedus, or Daryl of the Amazing Arms from The Walking Dead. The first time I saw him, I thought, “Oh, dear Lord, take a shower, honey.” Then I heard him speak. Oooh. Very nice! That growly, sullen, bad-boy thang…yaas, bae! Stay dirty, Daryl! (My children cringe when I talk like that. So what? Let them cringe!)


Unknown-1Hugh “Perfection” Jackman. I’m gonna be honest here and tell you something shocking. His looks…not my type. Yeah, yeah, he’s perfect, but were I in a bar with Idris and RDJ and Norman Reedus and Hugh (ehrmagerd, yes, let’s run with this!), Hugh would be last on the list of men I found attractive. Until I realized it’s St. Hugh of Perfect, married for more than two decades to the same woman, father of two adopted kids, and by all accounts, the nicest man on the planet. So it’s his heart that makes me love him. I’m not always shallow.

Well, that’s all the eye-candy I have today. Enjoy! Back to work for me.


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The height of dorkiness

color_nimoy_headshot(This blog first appeared in May 2009 when I saw the first in the rebooted Star Trek series.  I’m rerunning it in honor of Leonard Nimoy, who always seemed like such a decent man.)

The height of dorkiness is me, actually. Sure, I may have a slightly better haircut than when I was a kid, and my clothes are stylish, thanks to my daughter, but in my heart of hearts, I’m a dork. This point was driven home last night as McIrish and I went to see “Star Trek.” Um…I loved it. And I have a crush on Mr. Spock. And when (teensy plot spoiler here) Leonard Nimoy made his cameo, I…er…got all choked up.

Star Trek reruns played on Saturday nights when I was a kid. Saturday nights in our family home meant my parents were going out. Mom had hot rollers in her hair and was redoing her makeup, Dad was shaving and whistling, and the three little Higgins kiddies were, in the great American tradition, glued to the TV set, watching Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise kicking Klingon butt.

Leonard-NimoyI went to see all of the big screen movies. I remember when the words “In memory of Gene Roddenbury” flashed during the credits just after the creator of the show died, and I burst into applause. Someone in the audience shouted, “Get a life!” (it was New York, so there you go), but I didn’t care. I was grateful for the man who’d invented the Saturday evening entertainment of my youth. And last night, I once again felt the old ticker thumping away, even though I was quite sure Captain Kirk would prevail yet again. Space. The final frontier. Dorky? Absolutely. I embrace it. Live long and prosper!

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Maria the CNA

Image3_LonelySixteen years ago and change, I was in the hospital having my son, and I was wicked, wicked sick. Sick enough to be rushed into the OR in the middle of the night, sick enough to have an out-of-body experience where I watched myself having seizures from above. Sick enough that a nurse, who’d seen me on a Monday and came back on Friday, was surprised that I was still alive. I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks. Bedbound, too, unable to stand without fainting. Quite a mess, I was! All sorts of drama.

But who cares about that? I want to tell you about Maria.

Maria was my CNA, my certified nursing assistant. You know. The ones who do the dirty work. She’d get me from one johnny coat into another. She’d change the sheets without me needing to get out of bed, and on at least one occasion, she fed me. She didn’t speak much English, and probably didn’t know why I cried every time she gave me an efficient sponge bath. She used Dove soap, the same brand my grandmother used.

Maria took care of me like I was her daughter. I was alone in the hospital, McIrish taking care of our not-quite three-year-old and working fulltime, our one-and-a-half pound son upstairs in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. My mom would visit, but she was terrified, as any mother would be, seeing her formerly strapping child unable even to lift her head. But Maria had seen worse, no doubt. She’d sing to me, and tsk over my tears. “You okay, you okay,” she’d say as she did her job.

I got better, obviously. Once I got out of the hospital, I went back every day to see Dearest Son, who was a scrappy little thing. And then, one day on the elevator, I saw her. “Maria!” I said, my eyes filling with tears. “Maria, it’s me.” Then, realizing she took care of hundreds and hundreds of people, I clarified. “You took care of me.” She just smiled and nodded. Patted my back as I hugged her. I don’t think she recognized me.

The nurses and doctors at Yale were great. But they didn’t wash me. They didn’t feed me. They didn’t wipe my eyes when I was too weak to lift my arm. Maria did that.

huggingI don’t know that I’d recognize her again. She was a short Hispanic ladies in her 50s or so, and she worked in a big-city hospital filled with many women matching that description. It was sixteen years ago. But maybe, someday—maybe even when I die, because I’m schmaltzy and like to believe in any version of heaven that lets me thank people—I’ll see her again, and there will be no language barrier, and I’ll say, “Maria, I never forgot you.”


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Plotmonkeying around

10636949_1004543849575774_6940690192034434482_oI didn’t blog this weekend. I’m sorry! I was too busy rolling around on a floor, laughing till my teeth chattered. A plotting weekend with the women I call the Plot Monkeys, minus one of us, who was unfortunately unable to come at the last minute.

What does such a weekend entail, you ask? I’ll tell you!

Wine. Pajamas. Food. Comfortable seating. Ice packs (we all seemed to be sporting some kind of injury this weekend. It might’ve been wise to bring a very strong, non-English-speaking massage therapist along.)

There is nothing that can’t get the Plotmonkeys laughing. This weekend, conversations devolved thanks to bizzare acronyms (FASF…I will never tell you what that stands for); inadvertently pornographic word combinations; drum circles; body parts that were never meant to look like mushrooms; super-long toenails and the people who sport them; and hot flashes. As always, the word moist destroyed any sensible conversation we attempted to have.

And oh, yes, we worked! We worked a lot, and we had the most fun doing it. Times like this, I’m so glad I’m not an electrical engineer. Being a writer is the best! So thank you, readers, for giving me that.

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And good morning to you, too!

0181f75d35a7b9a230ac85c847233dbfI’m a vivid dreamer. Sometimes, that’s a blessing—Robert Downey Jr. and I have had several very romantic dates in the ether world, and Derek Jeter and I have gotten married not once, but twice. I’ve dreamt of my darling grandparents and my dad, who come to visit me from the afterlife. I usually dream between 5 and 5:30, when I wake up, so I remember a lot of my dreams.

But I also have weird, inexplicable dreams. And I’m a talker, so I tend to narrate them to my poor husband. And so…

Things Kristan Has Said to McIrish Upon Awakening:
(Note: I rarely mumble. I use my outside voice.)

“I’m being paralyzed. Why won’t you help me? I can’t move my arms!”

“There’s a tick in my back and it’s spurting Lyme disease into my spine!”

“I found the baby! Why aren’t you more excited?”

Unknown“You fix it.” (I hand him my iPhone, which serves as our alarm clock.) “It’s your damn cathedral.”

“Why did you divorce me? Don’t you love me anymore?”

“I dreamed James Franco and I were married and we were really happy!”

jackfrozen-thumb-500x374“My head is frozen.”

You may be shaking your head and thinking, “That poor McIrish is a saint.” But hey! At least we have interesting things to talk about over coffee.

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Weekend wanderings

DSCN7908One of the very best parts of writing books is visiting the location where my stories are set. The Blue Heron series is set in a fictionalized version of Hammondsport, New York, as you may already know. I feel like I know the area pretty well, and I haven’t been up for more than a year now.

McIrish and I decided to go again this weekend, a spur-of-the-moment trip, which is something we never do. We’re planners, generally speaking. But now that the kids are older, we can do this. So we booked a room for two nights and threw some things in a suitcase, and off we went. We listened to a call-in advice show on the way DSCN7900up, which always gives me ideas for future books. Then we just bopped around for the rest of the weekend, learning about microbreweries and eating great food. We went to a pub that reminded us a lot of O’Rourke’s (Flowers Café in Watkins Glen) and revisited Fulkerson’s Winery, which is the basis for Blue Heron. Bought a case of wine there; they’re my favorite. We saw a lot of beautiful deer, including several pure white deer, which was something right out of Narnia.

DSCN7903We did new things, too…went to Geneva and wandered into the Smith Theater, where a very cool drum circle was in progress. (I opted not to play, as my sense of rhythm is legendary, and not for the good reasons). Asked for restaurant recommendations, drove around some more, admiring the mansions and discussing why mansions were just not for us. J Had a fantastic dinner (Ports Café in Geneva, FYI, highly recommend!).

Today, we drove to Hammondsport, where I spend so much time in my imagination. Every time, I half-expect to see one of the Hollands, or Gerard from the firehouse, or one of the book club ladies. We went to the really lovely Brewery of Broken Dreams (great story behind the name) and had a great time talking about beer, how it’s made, and sure, we tasted some. Bought a couple of growlers for home.

On the way home, despite a state-of-the-art GPS system, I managed to get lost, so we saw parts of New York State that perhaps no human has seen before. It was snowing a little, and our son called to say that school had already been canceled for tomorrow (sigh).

By the time we got home, it was dark, and Dearest had made dinner for us. The dog was so happy to see us; the cat was so happy to see McIrish. Tonight the snow will fall, and we’re safe and home, and there’s no better feeling than that.

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A language all our own

Like most families, we have words that aren’t officially recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary. Most of them came from the kids’ delightful misnomers when they were younger, or from my fertile imagination. Thought I’d share a few.

Wenis: technically, the loose skin on your elbow. In our house, a stupid or irritating person. “Get out of my room, wenis!” one of my kids might say.


Snuzzle: The act of sticking your nose in someone’s ear unexpectedly. Meant to torture under the guise of affection.

Motherboy: any event in which Kristan and her Dearest Son are alone together. “We have Motherboy tonight! Are you so excited, honey? Honey? Where’d you go?”

Scobetty: spaghetti.

Food baby: The expanded tummy after a large meal.

Crink: The hybrid of a cramp and a kink. “I have a crink in my neck.”

UnknownBumoley: a bad thing to be.

Down comfortable: A down comforter.

The language of families…it always makes me happy to hear one of “our” words. Even if the kids are being bumoleys.

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Car Talk

As an American, I love driving. I don’t like the five minute-trips to and from Dearest’s school, but I love going somewhere far. Today, for example, we drove to New Jersey—a two hour trip that took three and a half hours, thanks to Mother Nature and Massholes and a 20-car pileup (definition of Masshole: a driver from the Bay State who goes at least 15 mph over the speed limit in icy conditions and causes a 20-car pileup).

But it did give us the opportunity to talk, McIrish and me, our Princess (Dearest Son had to stay home to study for midterms). Subjects covered today were: Massholes; would there be an opportunity for Kristan to save someone’s life today (it seemed so close, but no…every accident we saw, and we saw at least 25, was being handled by professionals, dang it all); which restaurants we would like to eat at; how hungry talking about restaurants made us; Great Snowstorms We Have Driven In; where we plan to move to avoid crappy winter driving; and tips for crappy winter driving so Princess can be in the snow-know.

On the way home, we talked about the niceness of my brother- and sister-in-law, my MIL, and our niece and two nephews, who were utterly charming and wonderful. Baby Nephew has learned how to give kisses and hugs and isn’t shy about doling them out. Princess-in-Training Niece and I talked about books vs. movies and spirit animals (hers is a jaguar; we determined that mine is a house cat). Impish Nephew allowed my Princess to make him into a unicorn and took a dozen selfies with her. We felt rather smug, having braved the roads and earning such a lovely reward as a great day with our family.

And it was cozy, driving home in the dark and rain (well…being a passenger as McIrish drove). Sometimes spending six hours in a car is totally worth it.

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