Magical Memoir Moments

Lydia and Grandma ready to explore the front yard as we walk down the street to the EMU front yard on Homecoming weekend.

Little Mystic, Great Mind: Splendor in the Grass

“[To the mystic] grass is really a forest and the grasshopper a dragon. Little things please great minds.” —G. K. Chesterton When little Lydia, almost two and a half, visited our house recently, she spent the first few minutes walking from room to room, noticing things she remembered from her last visit nearly a year…

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Owen, Lydia, and Julia with their grandparents. June 22, 2019

Grandparent Camp: Like Baking a Cake

Grandparent week at our house started out at the Showalter Reunion. Owen and Julia’s parents drove 8.5 hours to Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, Virginia, to participate in the festivities. At the end of the reunion, Owen and Julia jumped into Grandma and Granddad’s car, and their parents drove back to Philadelphia and Montclair so…

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Lydia is wearing a Hess family heirloom dress at least 100 years old.

The Celestial Openness of the Child’s Mind: Lydia’s Breakthrough, Our Goodbye

Those Romantic poets, especially Wordsworth, got it right. We do arrive on this earth trailing clouds of glory! For the last eleven months, Stuart and I have had a front-row seat as Lydia exuberantly shared with us the trailing clouds of glory she brought with her from birth. Today neuroscientists are using the term “celestial…

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Magnavox-Collaro-Blonde-Mid-Century-Record-Player

Baby Songs: “You’re Gonna Thank Me Everyday”

Did you have a record player in your house long ago? This record player came from an estate sale, the first one Nik and Kate went to several years ago. The price was $150. That number seemed high. It’s probably about as much as the original cost in the late 1950s or early 60s. They…

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Tina, Mary, and Gloria traveled to Pittsburgh and made Lydia and me very happy.

Living in a Almost Tiny House: Creative Grandparenting Spaces

When we decided to move to Pittsburgh for a year, to help take care of granddaughter Lydia, we thought it would be important to have a place of our own. The more intimate the work, the greater the need for two-family-privacy, was the idea. So we moved into one apartment and later into another. But…

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Prince Charles, Pittsburgh, and People Turning Seventy

I remember how pleased I was to read, in My Weekly Reader, in 1957, that Prince Charles was born in 1948. He was my age! I would later learn that Al Gore, James Taylor, Kathy Bates, Stevie Nicks, Samuel L. Jackson, Alice Cooper, and Andrew Lloyd Weber, all share the same birth year, which means. ….

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My mother on her 91st birthday on February 27, 2018. Photo by Doris Dagen.

The 200-Year Present: A Way to Lengthen Your Days

Last week I spoke at a gathering of educators at Berry College. The subject was “Called to Tell Our Stories.” As I prepared my speech, reviewing my own life for stories that might connect with the audience, I remembered the visit of Elise Boulding to Goshen College in the 1980s. Boulding had a great impact…

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Showing signs of wear, my copy of the book, along with journal and iPad, which allow me to digest and research material as I read.

Learning to Be, From a Baby, with Help from Annie Dillard

I’ve learned a lot from babies. Apparently, I am not alone. Babies are now becoming teachers in some schools. Meet Baby Naomi in this short video. She’s exactly the same age as our Baby Lydia. The school children in this video are learning empathy. Persistence. And the value of vulnerability. Older children learn by gently…

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Little Golden Book: Martha's House

Moving Across the Bridge: From Dream to Reality, Christmas to New Year, and Part I and Part II of Our Pittsburgh Adventure

The end of December is like Monet’s Japanese footbridge, says writer Philip Martin. For us, this time has been a moving experience, bridging Christmas and New Year, dreams with reality, and the first half of our “grannynanny” sojourn with the last half. Christmas Kate and Nik hosted our whole family in Pittsburgh, the city of…

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Lydia and me enjoying a visit to the lovely Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh.

Feeling Useful: A Place Where Age and Love Meet

In my twenties and thirties and forties, I was a professor. In my fifties I was a college president. In my sixties I was a foundation executive. Now that I am six months away from age seventy, I’ve been promoted to “granny nanny.” But what, exactly, does that mean? Obviously, it means helping to keep…

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