Losing Track of Time by Noreen O’Brien

Work, for me, is a holy place—a place in which I can easily get lost and completely out of touch with the world. It’s important and valuable that I have this ability at times, because all too often I can be distracted so easily by any shiny object.

On this particular day, I was behaving as my typical efficient self. I had done my usual litany of “stuff.” I opened the windows to the morning, completed a few household chores, prepared and popped into the oven a broccoli-cheese quiche, before the outside temperature soared in the blistering heat of August’s dog days, and a fresh cup of tea was sitting at my elbow as I sat in front of the computer in my home office.

Off I go, into work mode, getting deeper and deeper into the tangles of the World Wide Web as I sought ways to market books for a new project I had begun with a new client, a publisher of spiritual books. After a while, I pulled out my folder on thoughts I’d been noting for creating a flyer for each book I was to market. As I mulled these things over in my mind, I tried to remain present and keep an eye on the big picture, knowing how easy it can be for me to get bogged down in that scenery, in the place where it’s easy to omit an author’s name or the date or location of a book signing.

Every once in a while I could almost see a chem trail of delicious aromas float across the room and into first my nose, then my line of vision, just as we see in cartoons. Mmmmm, I’d think, someone’s got something good in the oven! Then I’d fade back into work mode, while the flyer began to emerge on my computer screen as I navigated the page using the tools in the desktop publishing software. Several times, during a couple of hours of work, I’d had a hint of aromas tickling my nose and sending signals to my belly. At least once, I thought, hmmm, someone’s doing a fine job of burning something!

Eventually I dragged myself away from the computer and found my way into the kitchen to set the kettle to boil for a fresh pot of tea, evaluating in my mind the progress on the morning’s work. When I reached for the kettle to fill it with fresh water, I was brought a little closer still to the present, and then even closer to a conscious thought about that burning smell. As I turned on the burner, bringing me closer to the oven where I could feel the heat of it, I knew. I had done it. I burned my quiche. So thoroughly, it was fit only for the compost bin. And the heat thrown from the oven over the span of that couple of hours heated up the house long before the summer weather temperatures could.

Yes, I’m quite capable of losing track of time. As well as being the most productive among us. But I can also be the one to be so focused, all I can cope with is the view and awareness of what is inside the tunnel with me. Nothing else exists outside of that space—not the timer going off, not even the alarm clock I later tried because I thought it would pierce my focus and help to lead me out of my near stupor. I simply must learn to accept that I can’t do certain things at certain times.

Oh, and by the way, the quiche may’ve been burned into oblivion, but my flyer was a big hit with my publisher client.


Ten Years Old and Counting by Estelle Cade

When I was ten years old we were living in Whitman MA. I remember my parents driving us down the street to show my sister and me our new school. It was the Pleasant  Street  School, grades one through six ( I don’t think there was a kindergarten class there), and our house was at the other end of Pleasant Street. Up to this point a city kid, I looked at this new school in horror and exclaimed, “How can I learn anything in a wooden school?”

When I had a birthday and turned eleven, I saw a movie with Carmen Miranda singing and wearing one of her fanciful head-dresses and a marvelous pair of cork-soled shoes on a very high platform. I yearned for a pair of cork-soled shoes, exactly like hers, naturally, and for that eleventh birthday my very dear great aunt gave me a beautiful pair of cork-soled sandals: flat heeled, as naturally befitted my age and station in life, as they say. But, the edges and straps were bright red and the linen on the front part was embroidered with a bright red tropical bird. My sweet aunt did her best to fulfill my desires and I wore the sandals happily all summer, probably pretending that I was wearing those amazing Carmen Miranda platforms. (My love of shoes began when I was about three years old.)

When I was ten, going-on-eleven, I learned how to be the new girl on the playground, no longer having my Best Friend since Grade One, at my side. The girls looked me over, a couple of them came to speak with me, asked my name and so on, but at the end of the day my sister, a first grader, and I walked home from school together.

Another day—recess again—a girl came over to me, told me her name and said, “Let’s walk around together,” so we did. (No planned games here – the boys must have done something, but kept out of the girls way as they walked around or stood in groups, talking,) At afternoon recess this same girl joined me and asked, “Would you like to be my friend?”

Quite surprised I agreed that I would be her friend and she said, “Ask your mother when you get home, if you can come to my house after school tomorrow.” We lived on the same street, and as my mother said I could go to her house, we became Best friends for a long as I lived in Whitman.

So, when I was ten going-on-eleven, I learned that I could learn something in a wooden school—more than you’d think, perhaps. It was a double-graded classroom and as I’d already covered the fifth grade work in my city school, I readily absorbed the sixth grade material I heard all day.

I learned that loving relatives will try to capture just the gift you really hope for, and perhaps succeed a bit anyway, and you feel cared about in a special way.

And I learned that while lonely and a bit scared in a new setting, a quiet manner and some pleasant words can help you make a new place for yourself, and new friends to spend time with.

And then, when I was eleven going-on-twelve…oh, but that’s another story for another day.

Bubble Gum Explosions by Noreen O’Brien

Bubble gum—Bazooka Bubble Gum. The hours and hours of practice put into blowing giant, head-sized bubbles; the gum would be long past the point of being pink, much less containing flavor.

Kathy, Mary, Louise and I, sitting out on the front stoop, usually mine or Kathy’s, chewing, snapping—disgusting noises, really—poking our individual tongues through our individually chewed gum, blowing into the gum, rather than through an open mouth. Sometimes the bubble would pop early on, small, worthless; but sometimes, I swear it took long minutes of carefully calculated huffs and puffs around our tongues and into that gum. Bigger, bigger, bigger, then POP!, a bubble big enough to cover the entire front of our head, across nose, eyes, forehead and into our hair, ultimately exploding into a mass of sticky mess and guffaws of silly giggling and laughter. Continue reading

Opening Day Thoughts by Marty Glaser

I woke up at one thirty in the morning, and rather than bother Lenore, I went into David’s old room and started writing. I wrote three poems that would be read for me at the TOPS meeting at the Mill House on Wednesday morning. I would honor three TOPS members who lost weight and qualified for State Division weight loss recognition. Continue reading

Time Was Not Our Friend by Janet Keyes

I tried to think of an occasion when time got away from us. Maybe we are the only people who never experienced that, or perhaps we never felt embarrassed enough to remember it. Or maybe we had such an experience and found it so traumatizing that our minds have completely blocked the memory.
I do, however, recall an incident when time was not our friend. We were young, with two small children. We liked to go out square dancing a couple Saturday nights a month. We also did western style round dancing a couple Tuesdays each month. These recreations gave us a break from our routine, and gave Allan’s mom and my mom some quality time with the little ones. As responsible parents, we always left a phone number where we could be reached in an emergency.
On one such evening we were going down to the square dance at the Westover Air Base in Chicopee. We had called ahead to make sure this was a phone that would be answered throughout the evening. You just never know with a government agency. We were reassured, and Continue reading

Toby the Beast! by Marty Glaser


I used to walk between two houses on my way to school. The house on the left was the Williams house and the house on the right was the Shaidas’s house. There was an alley way between the two that I had to walk down to reach Anna Avenue and Lenox Street to get to Silver Lake School.

The Williams family had a huge beast of a dog they called Toby. Toby would sit out on the front porch behind a plate glass window.  Every time I walked past Toby, I would talk to myself and say,” Nice Toby!  Be a good dog to me!”  I swear he could sense that I was petrified by his presence on his porch. I was afraid to even look at him so I never made eye contact with the beast.

Continue reading

It’s Coming!

Where I Come From, the new collection by members of The Well Done Writers Group will be available soon. Here’s a sneak peek at the cover:

Cover of Where I Come From by The Well Done Writers

Back Cover Text:

The question of where one comes from is not answered simply with the town where we were born or the region where we grew up but by a myriad of places, experiences, and people who conspired to make us who we are.

The original “Where I Come From” poem was written by George Ella Lyon, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2015-2016. The poem and the writing prompt that grew out of it has traveled around the world and has been used in schools and jails and at family reunions – and also in writing groups.

Lori Thatcher brought the prompt to the members of The Well Done Writers, a Greenfield Senior Center Writing Group. This book contains some of the writers’ responses.

Glaser’s Laws of Economics  by Marty Glaser

My mother and father taught me Glaser’s Laws of Economics.  They drummed them into my head and my brother’s head thoroughly.

My folks got married during the Depression and scraped and saved. They never let anything be considered junk; everything was used. When my dad started his dental practice in Athol it took him many years to establish himself and make any money. But they had faith in
G-d’s plan for them, faith in the goodness and honesty of most people, and faith that things would get better.
Continue reading

Some Lines Witten while Sitting in the Atrium at Dartmouth (NH) Medical Center By Estelle Cade

I bought a hat the other day.
It was so cute, it fit so well;
It’s definitely you,
my friends all say. 

I bought some shoes the other day;
bright red, and so in style that
just to look at them
makes me smile.

Dressed up now,
from toes to head –
look at what’s next,
Old Age said.
There is a magic cloak for you
It comes in many colors.
Some will wear it gracefully –
(and then there are the others..) Continue reading

Toe Tapping by Dolly Arsenault

When I was about eight years old, my mother strongly suggested that my sister Terry and I take dancing lessons. A woman in our parish, Miss Sylvia, gave weekly classes in tap and toe. Toe dancing held no interest for me. It looked painful and those pointy pink satin shoes couldn’t be worn for anything other than flitting about in a tutu. Tap shoes, however, could beat out rhythms on wooden floors and also on cement sidewalks. Tap dancing was definitely the one I wanted. Terry shrugged and said she’d take whichever I chose.

And so it was decided that my sister and I would sign up. The beginners tap dance class was held on Mondays after school. Before we left for school the following Monday, our mother gave us each a quarter to pay for the lesson. Continue reading