gentle warriors

This is my dad in Korea, one of my favorite pictures of him. It is so him. The way his hand is draped over his knee, that sweet crooked smile, the slightly turned-in foot, and best of all his ability to get down on the ground to hang out with a kid.

We never heard much about his time in Korea; he was not really a boastful guy. Back then he was a partier, and rumor is that this trait postponed many of his departures to the battle field. It seems the clerk in charge of the index cards (!) indicating who was shipping out was a drinking buddy, and didn’t want his pal to go. I have no clue if this is true or just a family myth. Either way, it’s a good story.

Today we honor our veterans. I am thankful for them, I am thankful for their parents and their loved ones who watched them walk out the door, not knowing if they will ever return. I am very thankful.

I stand here crying for a different gentle warrior…one that left this earth for her next journey way too young. Three different cancers over the past 15 years, she fought like no other. She was a warrior.

There are people who change your life with their gifts. Fran’s gifts were many, she was a master of color, a sculptor…an artist. Fran was our hairstylist. This sounds like a crazy exaggeration, I mean really, who mourns their hairstylist like this, but Fran was more than just someone who cut our hair. Fran was a friend.

My daughter, another warrior…fights the battle of trichotillomania. It started in 6th grade and it is a constant in her life. When you develop this kind of obstacle in middle school things can go two ways…your community can rally around you, or they can run. I am in awe of the communities that rally around kids in need. That did not happen here. One of the few people we could always count on, who addressed the issue, who was always supportive, who wanted to learn, was Fran. Fran gave me the gift of one of the best days with my girl, she gave Olivia her first pixie. After a year of hiding under hats and wraps, when Olivia was ready…she trusted Fran to cut what was left of her hair. Without judgement or drama, Fran created the most beautiful little cut…hello Mia Farrow, hello beautiful girl…welcome back my Olivia. When someone makes your kid feel beautiful that person is forever in your heart.

Why can’t I stop shaking…these last few years have been filled with loss, what is it about this death that is hitting me so hard? Fran was a hard working woman, a business owner, a mom. She loved to cook for her peeps, celebrate her kids, entertain, and take care of her extended family…13 years into her cancer battle, she still hosted Thanksgiving. Fran was a woman who never turned down a job, who loved to make people feel good about themselves, a woman who gave. I am so very sad because even though she lived every moment of the last 15 years to the fullest, she will not get to see her kids grow up, or experience the first night of having an empty nest with her husband. I mourn for her, her family, and everyone she connected with. I mourn because her death frightens me and reminds me to live each day, to appreciate time.

Fran, I wish you a gentle journey to your next adventure, I wish you peace. I hope your next go is pain-free and full of rainbows. I know you will, once again, appreciate every moment.

I am thankful for Fran.

A Higher Power

Today on FB someone asked the following question… Do atheists and agnostics have a “Higher Power”? For example, when your child is very sick and you say in your head “Please help her get well”, who are you talking to?

I love that question. I love it because it made me think about what I really believe. My response…

As one who was brought up in a wonderful caring church and who attends another to this day, I have faith. I believe in a higher power, an energy that is always around us. I believe in sending vibes, prayers, wishes, to that energy. I believe that energy focuses on the good in people and is not punitive or spiteful. I don’t believe a person who dies of cancer is less deserving to live than  a person who is cured… and I certainly don’t believe any higher power picks and chooses who lives. I believe kind and generous behavior feeds on itself…and creates a positive energy that all can feel. I don’t have a name for my higher power, I don’t think it’s male or female, has human form, or is something anyone can describe. It just is. I also have no issue with people who want to gain strength from the higher power of their choice…as long as it promotes love, acceptance, kindness, understanding, and non judgmental behaviors…all that stuff people are supposed to learn in their religious teachings. Thanks for making me think about this today…you might just end up a Swoon.

And so it did…I am thankful for people who make me think and I am happy there are so many ways of believing.


Rocketships and houses. Campers and boats. Magical props to cut friends in half. A big box was a blank canvas, a ticket to a fun-filled day. Opening our imaginations to ideas yet discovered.

When I was a kid boxes were kind of special…they did not just arrive on doorsteps everyday. We went to the supermarket, hardware store, or local variety store to save boxes before they were broken down for dumpsters. Nobody would ever think of buying a box to pack items for a move…we collected for weeks. A new refrigerator or stove box was like gold…they were painted, markered, cut, and taped. They lived in the living room for months, to finally be retired to the attic. Once in the attic they became sleds…carrying screaming kids down the steep attic stairs to the center hall. As I have mentioned before. It is a miracle we are alive.

This morning I noticed a huge box on our front steps. Steps we never use. Steps that have a sign on them saying “Please do not leave any boxes here, please deliver to the door up the driveway.” This sign is regularly ignored. I give this delivery person props for taking the sign and laying it face down on the steps. Sign? What sign? Anyway, I carried the box inside confused about what on earth could be so big and so light. Did I order thirty Thanksgiving boas? Ahhh canvases for a project my guy is doing with some students. Phew, we will not be molting fuchsia feathers over our turkey and stuffing.

The box, so big, so great…the first thing Greg said was “great box, maybe Dillon would like a rocket ship”. Dillon definitely wanted a rocket ship. And so we were back to that part of our lives…steak knife in and out…zip zip zip…that carving noise only made with cheap knives and cardboard. Anticipation. Greg, what are you doing, Greg what is a porthole, Greg can I get in, Greg, can you make another porthole, Greg can I bring Jasmine in? Swoon. There is nothing better than a kid and a box.

Today I am thankful for boxes…for the joy they brought me and my brother as kids…for the burst of flashbacks to our own kids I had while watching Greg play with the little guy today…for the supplies they bring me that make my life easier. Thankful.


Good morning world… this month has been an explosion of people from all over reading my Swoons. To say I am overwhelmed and humbled is an understatement. Shouts out to my new found friends in Romania, Austria, Bahrain, and Ecuador. Thank you for returning again and again to all the others. Seeing your countries fill in my map of readers is a joy. I treasure you.

Treasures. Are they the people in your life or the strangers who like to hear your random wacky thoughts? Are they objects from your past or a shiny new engagement ring? Are they moments spent with loved ones, or a peaceful walk by the river? Treasures.

One of my treasures is my PvilleLadies text thread. It explodes on a regular basis, a tidbit of information ends up with 342 replies, little hearts, exclamation points, and thumbs up emojis. The Carol of the Bells…ding ding ding…a visual and auditory hug reminding me I am a lucky lady.

Today a picture popped up. A cute little stool. I assumed it was from the queen of Etsy in our group…but I was wrong. My friend had just spent weeks helping her dad clean out her childhood home. A huge task, one that takes much patience, and as a former Kindergarten teacher who looks and speaks like Snow White, she was the perfect person for the job. Carefully emptying the attic of a lifetime of treasures, getting approval on the keeps or the gives...she was finally done. Ever the teacher at heart, she decided to check her work one more time and returned to the attic. She went into a cedar closet, and in the back was a door leading to another closet in the eaves. Growing up we used to call these “the closets in the closet” and they were the BEST hide-n-seek spots. Anyway, she opens the door…and there is her mommies vanity chair, which had become her vanity chair growing up…just waiting to be found. Her mom had re-covered it in a green and white gingham to match the curtains and bedspread that her mom also had sewn. What a treasure of love…and to add icing to this perfect cake…she was able to get a new gingham cushion at Target.


I am so thankful for stories like this that pop up and make my day brighter…and for the friends that know I cherish hearing them. Sharing bits of goodness is such a kind gesture. We all win.

Have a great day.

The Effort

Effort…the thing that makes or breaks you.

Having the most… whether it is talent, athletic ability, intelligence, social skills…means nothing…if you don’t nurture it. Having a ton of family or friends means nothing if you never take the time to be with them.

It was such a lovely day today…a gift. We had a visit from my cousin’s child…more like my cousin’s man, I am not sure you can still be called a child at 32. We had met maybe 3 times before, a stranger. He reached out when he heard my mom had moved in, wanting to introduce his wife and daughter to his grandpa’s little sister. All the connections so confusing, we are family. Today, after two years of pandemic delays…my mom was finally able to meet her great great grandniece.

There is something about little kids that brings out the best in people. We sat around eating delicious vegan delicacies and fruit salad, cup after cup of coffee and tea, we watched and enjoyed the KiKi show. She danced, jumped, rolled around on the floor doing yoga with my mom, drew, sang, built with Duplos, and she told jokes…she entertained 6 adults for hours. I remember being at Fire Island with baby Jacob, the first baby in the family. We used to sit and watch him discover the world…and there was nothing better.

I would like to think I would have reached out to my elderly relatives if I had ever been in the situation to do so. I am not sure I would have thought of it though. I am so impressed that my cousin’s son did…what do you call your cousin’s son anyway? I am realizing this thought sounds like I am calling my mom elderly…mom, you are not elderly, other people who are 84 definitely are…but not you.

Family. I watched the movie Spencer yesterday, talk about a cold bunch. The director called the royal family “the wallpaper”. Perfection, they were proper and flat, no emotion, no energy, and completely confused by Diana’s ability to feel her feels. Today, watching the little spark plug dance around the room, we cheered, we clapped, we appreciated her free spirit, it was joyful.

I am so so so thankful for my cousin who raised a beautiful and giving son, who with his wonderful wife is raising an amazing little girl. I am thankful for all of them…but especially for the effort that was made to get us all together when it is so much easier to put it off for another day.

Making an effort counts, and I am thankful they did.

Second Sleep

I bet you think I am going to swoon about second sleeps… which I am, but it is not what I am thankful for today.

I do love me a good second sleep. I am all in on the concept and the benefits. After living much of my life waking up at 3am to finish what needs to be done for the next morning, I looked into the concept of two sleeps…or second sleep. It is a real thing. Back in the day, people would go to bed earlier, no electricity, Netfix, or cell phone solitaire…then wake up in the middle of the night for a bit. They would stoke the fire, knead the morning bread, maybe do a little stoking and kneading with their bedmate…then a quick second sleep before starting the official day. Seems pretty efficient to me!

I took a second sleep today after much middle of the night catching up with the NYT and Washington Post, and woke up to the sound of the recycling truck. Oh no. Not only did I assume I would put out the recycling this morning…I also assumed I would have done all of my morning chores an hour ago. I over slept. Able to quickly get dressed and open the door for my little man (while brushing my teeth) it all worked out. We walked the dog, threw our neighbors newspaper on their porch, and fed the cats together. It was nice to have a little partner in my morning routine.

To the point. I completely adore the very loud recycling truck that saved my butt this morning. I also applaud the weekly garbage, bulk, yard clippings, cardboard, and recycling pick ups provided…they are a privilege and a gift. We leave stuff on the curb at night, it is gone in the morning. Big strong DPW elves make it happen…hanging off trucks, jumping to the curb, dumping, then throwing the containers as they take off to the next spot. No matter how rushed they are, always taking the time to smile and chat up my little morning guys. Swoon.

I am thankful for the Pleasantville Department of Public Works team…they are the salt of the earth…and a great alarm clock!

I took this picture yesterday because I was thankful they took my absurd amount of boxes…who knew they would be an alarm clock today

Gentle Reminders

When my kids were in their late teens, I used to send them memes to start their day. Little bits of goodness reminding them to blah blah blah and not for forget to blah blah blah. Since crisp and clear words leaving my mouth entered their brains as Peanuts gang adult gibberish, why not send pictures?

Completely coming clean here…I had no idea they had a name, I called them my happy pictures, my morning goodness, my captures. One day Jacob mentioned a meme and I asked what he was talking about, in a completely exhausted tone he said, Mom, you send them to us a few times a day? Ahhh, so I did. I thought giving my visual oriented people pictures instead of words might break through that wall of annoyance that surrounded them…and sometimes it did. A little heart might appear on the upper corner of the text, or a cute, or a Ha...and on really really good days I might get an I love you Mama. If I am to be honest, 95% went with no response or acknowledgment. Crickets.

I rarely send memes to my people anymore but I still love them. I am not interested in Pam and Jim from The Office dancing, or David from Schitt’s Creek telling me to fold in the cheese. I like “nice memes” ones reminding me to be a better person, to appreciate my day, or reminding me to like myself. I am always open for some good advice and some growth, so when I saw this image on my FB feed…I knew that today, I would be thankful for memes.

A Regular Day

I love love love holidays.

The before, the planning, and the decorating. The day of and the doing. The clean up and organize for the next year. I love it all. I am not just talking the biggies…the showstoppers. I am talking my dead father’s birthday which usually coincides with Labor Day. You name it, I want to celebrate it. Fun stuff.

My little man arrived for our time together before school to witness the removal of Halloween. We usually play with Alpha-Bots while he eats his French toast sticks and “dip dip”, today he watched things get packed up. Much chatter ensued, many questions asked. Why are the Halloween decorations in boxes, where are they going…the BASEMENT? THEY GO IN THE BASEMENT? Clearly this was disturbing until his little eyes got very wide...Kat? What is today? My answer of Wednesday was not what he wanted. Kat, what holiday is today? Ahhhh, today was just a day, nothing special, just a regular day. He thought about it. Kat, you are so excited for Valentine’s Day, right?

Actually, not yet…right now I am planning Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I am thrilled to be doing it. But today, today I am just going to enjoy today.

I am thankful for regular days…enjoy yours.


I am thankful for my first breath each morning.

I was just on the phone with my girlfriend discussing the pesky things that make our days long. Then, as we always do, we interrupted ourselves to be grateful. If these minor annoyances were the worst part of our lives… we should probably suck it up.

I told her a story about my grandma Haigoohi (second from left on top row, my mom is the one with the doll). One day, sitting at the breakfast room table my grandma said, Katharine, I am happy today…I woke up breathing. My snarky teenage self thought, hmmm, those are some low goals. Did I even think about her life…that while hiding in a basement during a genocide…waking up to another day was the only goal.

The gift of breathing. Lately it seems that every text, phone call, or post has the potential of being that update. The one with bad news. Cancer, death, surgery, job loss. Daily occurrences…no longer surprising…sigh.

I am thankful to breathe.

PSA: VOTE…if you live in the United States…please vote today. Do you, vote for what betters your life, vote for the right reasons. Vote.