We drove to the end of the land, to a land where we don’t belong, yet we are welcomed. To a land where the view is sublime, yet the surroundings sobering. Where the flood robbed him of furniture, but not of spirit.

We entered the home of a genius – no furniture – but consumed in art. Stacks of paintings – boxes, closets, walls…full. Each as wonderful as the first, the last. Each an incredible discovery. Each one a blessing.

And he gave me three paintings…I wanted to pay. I wanted to give him something in return – yet he would accept nothing – saying that at nearly age 90 he had provided for himself, though I am unsure just how. And I worry.

I want to laugh. I want to cry. I want to let the world know that this….this…is why I do what I do.

This is why we all do what we do – and why my colleague Tom is a giant among men, and why we all need to continue…to continue.

And I feel so unworthy. And I feel so desperate to do something.

And I feel so lucky.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, sumi37 sent to me…

Twelve sigur ros drumming
Eleven museums piping
Ten pirates a-leaping
Nine solas dancing
Eight square-riggers a-milking
Seven ironclads a-swimming
Six rats a-sailing
Five ha-a-a-ackensaw boys
Four tres chicas
Three sea chanteys
Two stella artois
…and an absinthe in a civil war history.
Get your own Twelve Days:

I always liked Garfield…but I think that life minus Garfield might even be…better?

Thanks to Miss Violet for this one….


A fierce wind and 550 acres of trees has left me without power at Ye Olde Boat Museum today – and hence I am a curator in exile, forced to eke out a historical existence at Panera.

Things could definitely be worse.

It struck me the other day that I have lost all sense of time. Well – I should amend that. I have lost all sense of time unless said item appears on my Outlook calendar. Which apparently means I need to schedule updates to this and other online haunts along with my laundry and other important things. Luckily Jim and the kitties are all good at reminding me that they – and I – need to eat, though I must say that Scylla has them all beat for volume.

My new job started at the first of the year. Same Olde Boat Museum, but new office and more staff. The office is interesting in that it was cobbled into existence many years ago out of a hallway and a loading dock. It appears that my desk is situated exactly where the gentle slope into the loading dock began. The first few days I thought maybe I had labryinthitis or had accidentally imbibed some fermented diet Coke because I kept listing to port. To compound the issue, My chair would slowly – imperceptibly – roll back from the desk and I found myself attempting to rappel back to my computer. And don’t get me started on what happens if I lift my feet off the ground…..

Let’s just say that it is very difficult to maintain an air of authority when one’s chair is slowly spinning of its own accord. Of course – my decor could not be less dignified, with solar powered Hello Kittys, pirate paraphernalia, and Aleister Crowley quotations littered about.

So it’s been a bit busy then, it seems, and I’ve been playing with so many different web applications and 2.0 goodies for work that my own little corner of the blogosphere has gone to radio silence. I’m not happy about that, so perhaps though the world will little note, nor remember what I write here, I’ll pledge on this – the eve of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday – to do better.




Well then…. the days they do fly. So much has been going on that I can’t even begin to keep up. Perhaps things will slow down in …oh…March?

Anyway – I’m sitting in a hotel in Chinatown at the moment. The reason? Well – first and foremost – we flew up here to see the Sneakers show – the first one since 1979 – at the Bowery Ballroom this past Saturday. The bonus was that Mitch Easter played (with Shalini and Eric – doing some Let’s Active tunes) and the the dBs finished out the evening.

I’m not sure when was the last time I saw The dBs. Or Let’s Active – for that matter. (My band did open for them on July 15, 1984…I do remember that, and lest you think that’s too weird a thing to remember, let me point out that in the recording of the show Debbie wishes everyone a happy day after Bastille Day. Kinda burned on my memory, that one.) Of course – I’d never gotten to see the Sneakers, but played their little ep incessantly after Chris sent it to me when I was in junior high.

I’ll write more later on this, I’m sure – but right now I’m tired – and tomorrow’s going to be a long day (we’ll be filming some stuff in NYC with an actor who if I told you who it was I’d have to kill you. or me. or someone, I’m sure)

So anyway – Saturday was an awesome night – meeting new friends, seeing old ones and feeling kinda old – but kinda not.

And for a moment it was 1980 all over again.


There was an article in the paper today about the disappearance of the southern accent.

In fact, there are classes on how to rid oneself of the slow, honey-dripped drawl or the NASCAR twang.

It puts me in mind of my own love-hate relationship with my voice. I can turn on that middle-America broadcaster voice whenever I want (having tried to perfect it when I was broadcasting, back in the long-ago when I used my “radio voice” on my radio shows). But over the years I’ve come to love the way that certain words, phrases, and vowel sounds come out of my mouth – even when listeners look quizzical and wonder what language I was uttering. But it wasn’t that way for a long time.

It all goes back to fourth grade. My teacher – a wonderful lady, really – asked me to read the vocabulary words for the week. They were the Long-I words – you know – wine, fine, dine, mine?

Of course what came out was something on the order of wahn, dahn, fahn, mahn….

Her reaction was priceless. And yet, to me – was ultimately very costly. I set upon a mission to rid myself of this voice that seemed to make people laugh.

During my high school and college days, no one could tell where I was from. And when I turned on the broadcasting voice… well, people listened.

But I missed what I once was. And my husband helped me find that little 9 year old girl again. He loved the fact that I came from ‘near Mayberry’ and that some particular turns of phrase I used were old – and were a nod to the old Scots dialects of the diaspora of the ’45.

I now love how my voice takes on the characteristics of the old homeplace. You can certainly hear it whenever I’m back home – or just talking to someone on the phone. But it also comes out when I’m happy or relaxed.

I still have my ‘broadcaster voice’ – and that’s ingrained in me now – and has become a part of me that I can’t deny. But even that voice has softened and has regained that lilt from the past

I love what I hear now. Because I no longer try to hide it. And I find it sad that I ever felt that I needed to.

And I find it sadder that people are taking classes to make themselves sound less Southern – as though it will make them sound smarter.

I tell you what – some of the wisest people I know say ‘y’all’ and ‘ain’t’ and ‘cain’t.’

And I hope that never changes.


Last week flew by faster than any week I can remember of late.

Perhaps it was the intensity of work over the last bit. I’ve been on the road doing lectures and presentations and at the museum giving hardhat tours and suchlike that 7 whole days went by before I could say boo to any one of them.

I have found that it is possible to walk through a construction site in high heels – as well as climb 20 foot ladders in a short skirt. And that a hard hat looks rather fetching when worn at a rakish angle.

I’ve never let fashion get in the way of anything if I wanted to do it badly enough.

(Except for climbing in the rigging. I am extremely superstitious about that and insist on wearing exactly the right shoes and simply must have my lucky-won’t-fall-out-of-the-rigging ring on. One has to have standards…)

So it’s been a wild ride and I’m sure that all of you who normally see me or talk to me are thinking that I’ve been abducted by small dancing voles or the ghost of Chatterton or something.

While either prospect might be not altogether unpleasant, the reality is that I haven’t had two minutes to put together in weeks.

Until last night. Last night, right before I left work, Jim called and said that we had been invited to have dinner at the Duke of York‘s new restaurant with his brother, sister-in-law and nephew.

So we met them at the River Room and had a blast. We then walked around Yorktown, ran into lots of friends and went home, tired and happy.

We got up at – for us – an ungodly weekend hour – to meet Bill and Kim and Jack for breakfast and then they came by to see our new house. It’s the mirror image of their old house from a few years back and we had a great time playing with Jackson and the three ‘meows’ – as he called them.

Today has been that kind of day that one needs. It flows by like honey and gives you exactly the kind of mental and physical break that is too often lacking in everyone’s lives these days.

I have done exactly nothing today.

And that has made all the difference.


There was another funeral today.

I didn’t go – though I thought long and hard about going. It’s not that he was any less important than anyone else – just that I knew that there would be others there, and that somehow he knew I was thinking about him all this week.

The thing about him is that he made a difference.

I don’t mean to any one person in particular, though I know that was the case with his family, his friends, his fellow soldiers…

I think everyone makes a difference to those who are closest to them.

No – he made a difference to people he didn’t know, had only seen once ever, and would likely never see again. And he did it while standing on the deck of a replica ship in a 17th century living history museum.

He did it by finding that one thing that some small frightened child wasn’t so frightened of.

He did it by joking and laughing.

He did it by tying ‘magic bracelets’ on tiny wrists so those tiny people wouldn’t be intimidated.

He made a difference without ever asking for validation. He made a difference without ever knowing a name.

He did it because that’s what he wanted to do. After a long distinguished career he followed his muse – to graduate school, to a second career, to a world where teaching the difference between starboard and larboard went far beyond etymology.

It was about that spark – that elusive lightbulb over the head that he wanted to see in all those small charges who trooped onto the sanded, well-caulked decks.

It’s what kept him going for a long time.

Hell – it’s what keeps me going.

Fair winds old soldier.

You made a real difference.


So I’m sitting on the front porch tonight petting spiders and arguing with my husband about the efficacy of the Walkers in ‘Empire Strikes Back.’

I maintain that the walkers are cool and are not, in fact, ridiculous examples of technology gone dreadfully wrong. I think they look like my friend Sara’s turtles and should be celebrated, not derided. Jim counters with the argument that while they do look like Sara’s turtles, they are pointless in a universe where people can fly and thus trip said walkers with grappling hooks and long bits of line.

This is one of the many reasons why we are married.

In fact – tomorrow marks the ninth anniversary of when we *thought* we were married (as opposed to the day some three weeks later when it was officially legal – but that’s a story for perhaps another time…)

We argue over things like the efficacy of walkers on ice planets, the fact that infinity is one thing, but infinity plus two has to be more (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), and whether or not clowns truly do inhabit the walls of our house (I would say that they don’t, except for the random bits of greasepaint I find from time to time…).

Anyway – I’m extremely fortunate to have found someone who claims to be mean, but makes up for it by being real healthy… – which of course means that he understands the cultural milieu of Mayberry – which is just up the road a piece from my childhood home.

He dances with cats, he understands why one should never kill a spider and knows a hawk from a handsaw.

He can stand on the front porch during a rip-snorter, appreciate my need for Jim Cantore during hurricane season, and attend a concert in NYC of a band he doesn’t like simply because I’m totally obsessed.

I can’t believe my luck.

But the walkers still rule.

Oh yeah.