Saturday, January 2, 2016


scenes from room 301 of america's best inn
 portsmouth, nh

New Year's Day--
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.


Outliving them,
Outliving them all,
Ah, the cold!

--both by Kobayashi Issa


The carols have ended.
Toss out the tree
Let it grieve in the gutter
for lost splendor.

Dismantle the withering wreaths—
Glitter cones and shiny balls
too gaudy in January light.

We stack boxes
For another year,
Forgetting who gave what.
Take down the unused mistletoe
And throw out the cards
While fruitcakes grow stale
And poinsettia leaves curl yellow.

Even the stable is in disarray.
Balthazar has toppled
Shepherds ignore their sheep
And an angel has fallen
behind the radiator.

The Holy Infant is nowhere
to be found.

--Kathleen Du Haime, from the January 2012 St. Anthony Messenger


Well that is all kind of depressing. I myself am in splendid humor despite near constant suffering, and though I identify with all three of the above poems, deep in my heart I believe the Holy Infant is always to be found somewhere or other:

A cigarette butt tn the dirty snow, friendly sign of a fellow human being. The clearly hungover guy who barked "Mawnin" at me as we passed, huddled in our respective outerwear, on a frigid side street New Year's Day.

I flew from LA into Boston Dec. 31, "smooth fly on time" as my cousin Richard once described a flight of his own. Richard lives in a house on Rye Beach with a stunning view of the ocean formerly owned by our grandparents (a spot immortalized in my first book Parched which feel free to buy so I can make at least one sale in 2016, thereby topping 2015).

Richard has been suffering from cancer of the cartilage so I thought this would be as good a time as any to make an appearance. The weather is and promises through Monday, when I'm flying back, to be clear (always a concern this time of year esp as I am terrified of driving in snow, sleet or any kind of ice). My brother Joe has turned out to be a no-show (sad emoticon) but I have other siblings in the immediate vicinity! Namely Tim, Meredith and Geordie plus nephew Rick. Plus my dear old friend Ellen, who lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine and is coming through Portsmouth today and we will have lunch.Then on to the vigil Mass at Immaculate Conception and a family dinner at Petey's.

I don't want to brag but it seems my parents chose the most beautiful spot in creation to bear and raise their eight children. Ocean Boulevard has remained basically unchanged for 60 years and if you were lucky enough to be raised in a small town you're familiar with the feeling of knowing every bend, dip, curve and rise of the landscape. It is absolutely pitch black on the back roads, Ocean Boulevard (colloquially "the beach road") being one of them, and I never tire of making the long drive from Portsmouth past Prescott Park, the old Navy Yard, through New Castle, past Wentoworth by the Sea, the marshes, then the ocean proper: Odiorne's Point, Wallis Sands, the old Pirate's Cove, and on to Richard's.

By night, by day (different delights for each), with the graceful old Colonial homes, the smell of salt air, and as you near the Atlantic, the gentle roar of the waves, it is inch for inch my favorite drive on earth.

I listen to Bach and Mozart and Couperin and watch the light.

wentworth by the sea
deluxe grand old hotel
new castle, nh


  1. A very blessed new year to you Heather!

  2. I wish you a very special 2016. Thanks for sharing your inspired reflection with us and capturing those photos. All the best.

  3. Aw, Heath, welcome home and Happy 2016 xox

    1. Bonnie!! I got to have lunch with my friend Ellen of Cape Elizabeth so there's a Portland connection for you! We are so overdue for a visit. I do hope to spend a bit more time on the NE seacoast sometime soon. I hope you and your beautiful family are thriving. Keep the home fires burning and lots of love--Heath

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  5. You went to Mass at Immaculate Conception? Then you got to hear Fr. Gary. My best friend and I call him "The Hammer" (not to his face.) He is a GREAT priest. Such a gift to our diocese.So glad you back in our neck of the woods even for a few days. Makes the world seem a little smaller.
    Dana Laviano

    1. Yes I went to the 4:00 Vigil Epiphany Mass and I'm quite sure the priest was Fr. Gary as I took the bulletin home and read his reflection for the week and the "voice" sounded the same. Also he did a little thing on the blessed chalk and the blessing to write over your door (apparently some old-school Catholic tradition; one more ritual that as a convert, I'd never heard of). So I stood in line to get my piece of chalk, ferried it and the blessing back to LA, and at a dinner/birthday party for a Catholic Worker friend the next week, we did it up! Very meaningful, to unite the place of my birth and the place I live now, and all the people I love in both places. Thank you, Dana, yes, being back in NH made the world seem a little smaller, and a little warmer.


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