Commentaries

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The Game of Life's signature spinner.
John Liu / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/8047705@N02

That’s life. Reuben Klamer has reached the end of his road.

The creator of the six-decade-old The Game of Life died recently at the age of 99.

One of Maine's many rocky beaches.
Max Pixels Contributors / Creative Commons

Skimming — or skipping — stones (poetically called "jumping frogs" in Africa; "waddling ducks" in Hungary or "bouncing fish" in Norway) has a long and glorious history among the under-12 set who seem to know almost by instinct the sheer joy that comes from watching a smooth stone jump across flat water until it sinks like, well, a stone.

Singer Tinky Weisblat with pianist and composer Jerry Noble, after their July 31, 2021, concert in Charlemont, Massachusetts.
Submitted

I agree with the creator and star of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda, who said performers are “like Tinker Bell in the play ‘Peter Pan.’ We need applause to live.”

Wally Funk (second from left) with six of the other first women astronaut trainees, in 1995.
Creative Commons / NASA

When nearly everyone else believed Wally Funk would never get a shot at space, she persisted. For years, Funk has pursued commercial space flight – but every opportunity fizzled.

The Pandemic May Have Presented An Opportunity For Churches

Jun 22, 2021
The Rev. Christopher Carlisle, an Episcopal priest, ministers outside in western Massachusetts.
Courtesy / Visionaries Inc.

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically affected the institutional church, which overnight watched its communities exiled from their buildings.

Oceanites oceanicus (Wilson's storm petrels), can sound spooky calling out from their underground nests at night.
James St. John / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/jsjgeology

Updated at 9:06 a.m. on April 28  

During this pandemic, some cities have been said to be turning into ghost towns. I  wonder if they — and we — are instead being transformed into something else. 

Commentator Lauren Ostberg has thrown "full moon parties" over Zoom since the pandemic began.
quincowper / Creative Commons

I have been living with the pandemic for about a year, and the tempered hope of a vaccine for a few months. I’m extremely low-priority in the vaccine line, and I ought to be. I’m a 35-year-old woman, with no risk factors, who can — but doesn’t have to — work from home.

Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at a Boston-area vaccine site.
Suzanne Kreiter / Boston Globe / Pool / State House News Service

Updated at 4:44 p.m. on April 8 

I am not an anti-vaxxer by any means, but to deny that I don’t have my reservations about taking the COVID-19 vaccine would not be truthful.

This year's version of Tinky Weisblat's matzo ball soup, recipe courtesy of her grandmother, who is alleged to have been either a spy or a smuggler in her youth.
Tinky Weisblat / Courtesy of the author

My father’s mother wasn’t what I’d call kitchen-oriented. As a young woman in Poland, she lived a busy life outside the home. We were told she’d been a spy in her youth. Or maybe a smuggler. The tales were murky.

Author Grace Lin has been writing and illustrating books with Asian characters for 22 years. She says parents must do more than expose their kids to diverse books.
Grace Lin / Courtesy of the author

For 22 years, I’ve been publishing books with Asian or Asian American characters. That means for 22 years I have been trying to show Asians as people. Not as caricatures, not as sidekicks, not as jokes.

A Dolly Parton mural in Asheville, North Carolina. Parton gave $1 million toward vaccine research this past year.
daveynin / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/daveynin

You might have seen the video of Dolly Parton receiving a COVID vaccine, developed with the help of her $1 million donation to research.

Before getting the shot, she sang new lyrics to her country hit "Jolene."

Contagion In This Family's Past And Present

Jan 26, 2021
Michael Carolan's great-great-grandfather and namesake, Michael Carolan, came to New York from Liverpool, England, on the three-masted packet ship Patrick Henry with his parents, two sisters and a cousin, arriving July 27, 1847.
Ann Marie Carolan Moerk / Courtesy Michael Carolan

In 1845, a pathogen infected the first potato in Ireland. The monocrop, upon which so many depended, failed. And an Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger, began.

Henry Aaron speaking at the LBJ Library in 2015.
LBJ Library / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/lbjlibrarynow

Baseball legend Henry Aaron died last week at age 86. He broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974, and became the target of white supremacists, threatened by his accomplishment. But long before the Milwaukee Brewers and the Atlanta Braves, Aaron played in the Negro League.

If God's Not In Charge, It's Up To Us

Jan 12, 2021
Vice President Mike Pence received a COVID-19 vaccine shot on December 18, 2020.
Screen shot / C-SPAN

Last June, Vice President Mike Pence wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, "There Isn’t A Coronavirus Second Wave." The day it was published, 779 people died from the virus in America.

White-tailed deer tracks in snow.
Connecticutbirder / creativecommons.org

When the five deer first appeared — pausing at a neighbor’s, then coming into our yard — it was like a visitation from beyond. They seemed otherworldly with their stature and poise, warm brown against the awfully white snow.

The Santa Guarantee

Dec 22, 2020
The red felt stocking Elizabeth Vozzola has been hanging by the chimney with care since she was five, over 60 years ago.
Elizabeth Vozzola / Submitted

One deep and dark Christmas Eve in the mid 1950s, the door to my bedroom opened slightly and Santa himself peeked in, said not a word, "and went straight to his work." But, unfortunately, there couldn't be any "laying a finger aside of his nose and giving a nod" before rising up the chimney.

A warmly-lit Frosty the Snowman decoration.
Martha Ackmann / NEPM

I’m not much for holiday decorating, but I do have a soft spot for a three-foot tall Frosty the Snowman.

An Ode To A Landmark Copper Beech, Recently Felled

Nov 26, 2020
St. John's Episcopal Church, which is located on the Hartford and West Hartford border, recently cut down a huge copper beech tree the church had been advised could no longer be saved.
Dwight Latif / Courtesy of St John's Episcopal Church, West Hartford, CT.

The town I call home, West Hartford, has lost a dear old friend.

The turkey hat Martha Ackmann wore to the Nantucket Cold Turkey Plunge both she and Vice President Joe Biden participated in on Thanksgiving a decade ago.
Martha Ackmann

For some reason, I enjoy diving into frigid water in winter.

A file photo of the town office in Hawley, Massachusetts.
Paul Franz / Greenfield Recorder / recorder.com

On Tuesday I worked the afternoon and evening shift — from 2 p.m. until 10:45, when all of the votes had been counted and recounted and checked once more.

A historical marker in Philadelphia commemorating the Free African Society, founded by Absalom Jones and Richard Allen.
N-gio / Creative commons / commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:N-gio

I should have learned in elementary school what I only learned decades later — what I learned about racism, that is.

We've Got Mail: Thanks, U.S. Postal Service

Sep 9, 2020
Mules from Supai, Arizona, carrying containers for the U.S. Postal Service.
Elf / Creative Commons

Deep in the Grand Canyon, six days a week, the U.S. mail arrives. Letters, junk mail, milk, vegetables, and packages from Amazon — all are delivered — to Supai Village, Arizona — by mule. Now that’s service.

 Chadwick Boseman died of colorectal cancer in late August at the age of 43.
Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons / Flickr.com/people/22007612@N05

I was exhausted and could not figure out why. Plans for a socially distanced meet-up were canceled, blamed on the passing storms. The following day, even with the sun shining, I couldn’t manage to motivate myself.

A crowd of people on V-J Day, August 14, 1945, in New York City's Times Square as Japan formally surrendered to the Allies in World War II.
Dick DeMarsico / World-Telegram / U.S. Library of Congress

Two million revelers gathered in downtown Manhattan on the evening of V-J Day, 75 years ago this week. They filled Times Square — waving flags, dancing, and shrieking with joy.

Rep. John Lewis And The Sisters Who Nursed Him In Selma

Aug 7, 2020
On March 7, 1965, 600 civil rights protesters attempted a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, the state capital, to draw attention to the voting rights issue. Led by Hosea Williams and John Lewis (at right in light raincoat).
Spider Martin, National Archives photo / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/iip-photo-archive/

As I watched the cart carrying the body of John Lewis across the Pettus Bridge, I was reminded that in 1965, brutally beaten, Lewis was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, run by Sisters of St. Joseph — the only one in nine counties that received Black patients.

Alan Pearsall's mural in Ipswich, Massachusetts, depicts aspects of the town's history. At lower left, Masconomet is depicted with John Winthrop.
Bill Nelson / State of Massachusetts

I still remember Friday night football games when we, the Masconomet Regional High School Chieftains, ran onto the field as the band and spectators cheered along to the “tomahawk chop.”

A statue of Christopher Columbus in New Haven's Wooster Square, which was recently removed.
Carmen Baskauf / Connecticut Public Radio

On Father’s Day, my family took my dad somewhere I'd never been: the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Its highlight is an outdoor landscape populated by dozens of sculpted works.

Searching For Grace While Black And Blue

Jul 5, 2020
Andréa Comer, with her husband Bradford Comer, a lieutenant at Virginia Union University who has served in law enforcement for more than a decade.
Devon Fagan / Courtesy of the author

Twenty-two. That’s how old I was when Yusef Hawkins was killed by a bat-wielding, gun-toting mob of white men in New York. Eleven years later, it would be Amadou Diallo, who reached for his wallet and was met with 41 bullets.

New Haven author Tochi Onyebuchi.
Christina Orlando / Courtesy of the author

June 1: Penguin Random House tweeted from their verified account, “We stand against racism and violence toward the black community. And we commit to listening—to our readers, to our authors, and to our teams—as we work toward becoming part of the change.”

A protester in Boston Common throws back a tear gas canister tossed by police.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

I've been a good little Negro, working on a painting in silence. 

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