April 20, 2014

Andrea Carlisle:

Rise and fly, everybody.

“Stephen Turner’s Exbury Egg is addressing the meaning of place at a time of great environmental change. In the guise of The Beaulieu Beadle, he will work on, in and around the Egg for twelve months from July 15th 2013 – July 14th 2014.”

Thank you, Dee Packard for this link to Stephen Turner’s blog.

For more about his work, you can go to his site and poke around.
Or look into more details about his egg project here:

Originally posted on The Exbury Egg:



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The Daughter Wars

April 15, 2014

It all started with Alice’s curiosity about the rare sightings of Nadine’s daughter, Priscilla, who shows up only at lunchtime when Nadine is in the dining room. Read the rest of this entry »

When I arrived shortly after the ambulance delivered Alice to ER, a doctor stood at her bedside. She was able to answer several of his questions about her symptoms—rapid heartbeat and palpitations, dizziness, weakness, nausea, sky-high blood pressure, clamminess, rushes of heat throughout her body, disorientation, shakiness and more—but when he asked which part of all that had been happening on this day was the worst, she answered, “The ride over here in that wagon.”


Read the rest of this entry »

Recently I had a dream about going behind enemy lines to retrieve something for Alice. It may have been her hearing, her sight, her ability to fix anything and everything under the sun in this or any other solar system, her lush black hair, her agility—something. Whatever it was, I managed to find it and bring it back to her.

If only.

Read the rest of this entry »

Last night Alice called to say she’s discovered the answer to dusty mirrors and oh, so much more.
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The Prune Thief

March 14, 2014

“One day,” Alice said, “Mama sent me over to Mrs. Altman’s to borrow something. Mrs. Altman wasn’t there, but there was something cooking on the stove.”
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Forget Me Not

March 8, 2014

Yesterday afternoon when I came to visit Alice, I found her sound asleep in her La-Z-Boy.

The heat in the room felt absolutely tropical. The blinds were closed, but sunlight came shining through anyway, so bright it made stars dance beneath my eyelids when I sat down on the sofa and shut my eyes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Alice Vs. The Machine

February 28, 2014

When Meg and I set up a new Microsoft touch-screen computer for Alice, everything worked, and we expected things to stay that way. After all, we two Mac people hardly knew how to change the settings on one of these things. Why would Alice? Read the rest of this entry »

Sorry there haven’t been any posts for a while. I haven’t been feeling well. (Please don’t ask what it is because I’m afraid if I name it I’ll have to keep it.) I’m a bit better now and wanted to send out a quick bulletin regarding the recent discovery that Hugh Hefner is hiding out at The Place. If you don’t read the Comments sections of the posts, you may have missed that an actual Playboy bunny left a message.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hugh Hefner Found!

February 15, 2014

Since Alice is no longer able to read for any extended period of time, she sits and thinks a lot. She often finds herself curious about whatever happened to various movie stars and other celebrities. She’s amazed that as soon as she thinks of someone she hasn’t seen in a while, they then appear in the news or on a TV program. She’s beginning to believe she’s psychic. (For details, see the last post, Where’s Hugh?).

Meg’s here for a few days, and we decided to fuel this belief Alice has in her own psychic abilities by finding Hugh Hefner in the form of a newspaper clipping, conveniently written in large print.

Hugh's latest escapades.

Hugh’s latest escapades, Page One.

We headed over to Alice’s.

Read the rest of this entry »

Where’s Hugh?

February 11, 2014

Alice called me early this morning. I was barely awake. “Where’s Hugh Hefner?” she wanted to know.

I mumbled sleepily into the phone. “I don’t know.”

Mumbling was a mistake. “Don’t talk so soft,” she said, and repeated the question. “Where’s Hugh Hefner?”

hugh hefner

Read the rest of this entry »

The Mormor Monologues

February 9, 2014

In Norwegian, the word “mormor” means grandmother. The stereotype is of an acquiescent Scandinavian female who enjoys quiet passivity, who gives advice to the children and grandchildren gently, and takes her place in the back seat of life without question.

However, a new project called The Mormor Monologues has set out to “challenge the idea and cultural construction of the old woman.” Read the rest of this entry »

Goodbye, January

February 4, 2014

Happy to say good-bye to the worst month of the year for Alice and me, and probably for a lot of people. Over at last. We survived with way more than a little help from our friends. Read the rest of this entry »

A Close Call

January 27, 2014

On Sunday night Alice washed her sleeping cap and put it in the microwave to dry.

sleeping cap

Maybe you can guess what happened next.

Read the rest of this entry »

Olga Kitelko

January 27, 2014

At 94, Canadian Olga Kitelko holds twenty-seven world records for track and field in the 90-95 year old category. She started running at the age of 77.

I watched this video and was impressed by Olga’s straightforward way of talking about herself. She’s without pretense, a realist, and an athlete with boldness and vision.

A new book about Olga has just come out, What Makes Olga Run? Her publisher said he’d send me a review copy. If he comes through, I’ll let you know what I think.


Okay, now I’m going for a walk. A fast one.

The Man in the Hat

January 23, 2014

A new man recently arrived at The Place and has taken a fancy to Alice. She’s not sure how she feels about him.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Aunties Project

January 21, 2014

Aleah Chapin, a young artist in her twenties, has embarked on a painting project that focuses on a group of women who have been her mother’s friends for the past thirty to forty years. These women she calls “The Aunties” agreed to pose nude for the portraits, and the results are, in my opinion,  beautiful and touching.Chapin_Aleah_Laugh.crop_ Read the rest of this entry »

Walk On By

January 13, 2014

A few nights ago Alice called and went over her list for the day —what she ate, the contents of her mailbox, when and where she spotted Mr. Fickle, what aides came by her apartment or failed to appear when they should have appeared.

Finally she came to a question she’d been mulling over all day. “Where does weight go when you lose it?”

Read the rest of this entry »

January with a Difference

January 9, 2014

Every January is an emotional minefield for Alice and me with several family birthdays and death days, some of them coinciding. I wrote about this last year in a post called January. Read the rest of this entry »

On Girth and Gridlock

January 8, 2014

If you have been lounging around for the past few weeks eating bonbons with the customary holiday sense of impunity (i.e., being near twinkling lights = no consequences to your actions), you might sober up a little when your 98 year-old mother tells you that, because she’s allowing herself one chocolate from a box of Seroogy’s per day, she has added ten more sit-ups to her daily workout routine.

Seroogy's chocolates
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On Christmas morning I packed up Alice’s Christmas loot and took it to The Place.

Alice's Christmas Loot
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And Then There Were Two

December 27, 2013

On our way to the eye doctor last week, a toe-freezing day, I noticed that Alice had squeezed herself into the far corner of the passenger seat and was pressed against the door.

Read the rest of this entry »

Lights, Penguins, Alice!

December 24, 2013

Christmas lightsLights Read the rest of this entry »

Getting Clarity

December 13, 2013

I was looking for a whippet mix. The reason for that particular yearning was my absolutely crazy love for a dog of my long-ago life, Carson:

Carson and I on a rooftop in Charlestown, Mass., 1974. Photo by Michael Mathers.

Carson and I on a rooftop in Charlestown, Mass., 1974. Photo by Michael Mathers.

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s Happening Here

November 18, 2013

Brio is very sick. She’s only five years old, but she is dying of chronic kidney disease. Some days are better than others, though there are few really good ones any more. When the scales tip a bit more, which will probably be soon, she will be given a humane exit.

Right now she still guards the house, still thinks nothing is as fascinating as new traces of dog pee on the grasses alongside the trail since her last visit to the island across the river (though her journeys there are shorter and shorter), still likes turkey and chicken (but not so much today; no food pleases her today), and she continues to believe that giving her a full body massage is the best possible way for me to spend my time.

She enjoys greeting friends. She sleeps a lot. Really a lot. She forgets to drink water so I give her subcutaneous fluids to flush out her kidneys.

My apologies for letting the blog posts slip. Alice worries all the time about Brio, but she continues to have adventures and I really want to write them. I’ve just been so preoccupied. Thank you for your patience.

Brio shortly after adoption and her move from California to Oregon.

Brio in 2009, shortly after adoption and her move from California to Oregon.

More information on chronic canine renal failure here, if you’re interested.

Yesterday, at the request of my old friend, Mark Alter, I gave a talk about Alice and me at Wy’east, a Unitarian congregation that meets in northeast Portland.

Later in the day, at a poetry reading, two regular Alice followers (thank you, Nikki and Jerene) suggested it might be a good idea to share a copy of that talk on this blog because the piece provides some context for my lifelong relationship with Alice. By going back into our history, it answers questions even regular readers may have. I hope this piece of writing will provide some perspective on our relationship today. I decided to do it as an “About” page.

If interested, you can find “A Busy Child is a Happy Child” here, or click “About My Relationship with Alice” on the right hand navigation bar any time.

Thanks, as always, for your interest in Alice, and thank you Wy’east congregants for your warm reception yesterday.

Zombie Soup

October 31, 2013

Alice called early this afternoon to report on the Hallowe’en lunch menu at The Place.

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Comcast is the devil. The amount of time I’ve spent on hold with them in the past two weeks and then deep in conversation about technical glitches in Alice’s new phone/wi-fi/cable “bundle” (so she can finally have e-mail again) only to be disconnected (on purpose, I think) and then embark again on the twisted, halting path into their evil world in order to find a wizard in a faraway land who might be generous enough to part with some vital kilobyte of information that I need in order to make the whole damn bundle work, and stay working, equals, or maybe surpasses, the time it took me to get a college degree, and that was a very long time (7.5 years) because I had to keep stopping classes to get jobs to save up for more classes, not to mention the fact that I had to pay my parents rent to live in their basement while attending college, payments I resent to this very day, all because my father didn’t think girls needed to be educated, but I showed him!

Amazing, the things one meets while traveling a single neural trail. Read the rest of this entry »

“Well, now they’ve gone and put a farmer between me and the elevator,” Alice called to tell me yesterday.

She tried briefly to explain how this happened but grew frustrated when I couldn’t quite get the picture. I decided to take a trip over to The Place to have a look.

Read the rest of this entry »

Verse and Chapters

October 9, 2013

Alice so loveth her wig that she is willing to give up her quite expensively begotten hearing aids because she cannot wear them and the wig at the same time.

And so ensues a struggle with her daughter, who succeedeth not in understanding how anyone, and in particular her own mother, could feel this way.
Read the rest of this entry »


October 7, 2013

We seem to be having a spell of scads of medical visits (Alice’s and mine), Comcast troubles involving many  800 # calls and much time on hold listening to terrible music (me on behalf of Alice’s new wireless service and so-called phone service), a root canal (mine), unwell doggie (mine) who is, happily, crazy in love with her new puppy neighbor, eye troubles (Alice’s), hearing aid/wig problems (Alice’s), houseboat winterizing (mine), messed up catalog orders (Alice’s) requiring even more time on hold, and a whole lot of other things burning up way too much time for not such fun results.

Alice will return to these web pages soon.

In the meantime, here’s a quite funny BBC parody of Downton Abbey for those of us who are addicted. This will either make you more impatient for the new season or ridiculously glad that it’s still a bit of a way off.

Part One:

Part Two:


September 24, 2013

Behind the story told in this old news clipping lies the attempted murder of my grandmother:

Akron (Iowa) Register (August, 1905):
Next to death, the saddest thing to record is the breaking up of a 
family. Dr. Mereness, who located here several years ago, closed his
 office and gave up his practice and left last Thursday. He was a very
 bright young man and could have had a large practice had he not been
 addicted to drink.
Read the rest of this entry »

Speaking of Animals…

September 18, 2013

Alice has been having a tough week – battles between her wig and her new hearing aids (one of the hearing aids broke, in fact), the perils of dining with Nadine, the death of her sister-in-law back in North Dakota, my sweet Aunt Roberta, who died last week at ninety-seven, and soon the end of Web TV, which is how she sends and receives e-mail to friends and family. Loss, changes, and difficulties. Read the rest of this entry »

The Chewers

September 14, 2013

The other day Alice told me about the Chewers. We were on our way to the eye doctor. Being in motion often brings to her mind characters and events from the distant past, as if we’re moving back toward the little prairie town where she grew up and she’s preparing me for the people we’re about to meet.

But before I introduce you to the Chewers, let me say that it took all I had to get her to go to the eye doctor at all. I thought she was being difficult because of the visit itself. (If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you probably know what I mean; if not, just think about “eye doctor” and the word “injection” and you’ll be all caught up.) But no. This resistance had to do with the wig that has come to dominate our lives.

Alice at the wig store

Alice at the wig store – love at first sight.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Wig Mistresses

September 8, 2013

A few days ago Alice urgently declared that the wig must be washed. “I’ve been wearing it every day,” she said. “It’s time. Come over tonight close to my bedtime so that nobody sees me without it.” Read the rest of this entry »


September 6, 2013

When I take Brio to The Place, we often meet people in the Fireside room or the hall who want us to stop so they can say hello and pet her and scratch vigorously along her back or behind her ears. If they haven’t met her before, they want to know my dog’s name, age, and pedigree. They love hearing the story of her rescue while she looks up at them attentively. All true, all true, she might be thinking. Lucky me.Brio_what's in it for me?

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And now this…

September 1, 2013

Alice called to tell me that her birthday flowers from Ketzel were missing.

Ketzel's flowers

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Alice’s Wild Time

August 26, 2013

“I’m having a wild time today,” Alice said, as Meg and I entered her apartment to join her on her 98th birthday. She held an envelope on which she’d written her notes about the wildness so far. First she talked about all the waving that had gone on in the dining room.

Alice wavingThen she consulted her list to tell us who had wished her a happy day.

Alice checks her birthday list

Read the rest of this entry »

The Pixel Painter

August 19, 2013

Hal Lasko, a one-time graphic artist, is ninety-eight. He started painting with Microsoft Paint a couple of years ago, despite the fact that he has macular degeneration and his central vision is gone. He’s so inspired by this new avenue into his artistic vision that he sometimes gets out of bed at night to work on a new piece.

He has real passion and is surrounded by love and affirmation. I think it’s the combination of these things that makes what he does possible. If you watch this inspiring video, let me know what you think.

And here is Hal Lasko’s web site, which I forgot to add to an earlier version of this post.

The White House Checks In

August 14, 2013

Alice called to tell me she’d received something from the White House in the mail. She said it was all blurry and she couldn’t read it, but described it as a card that “looked official.” It was signed by somebody named Michelle.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wig Woes

August 11, 2013

Alice carried her wig in a black Fred Meyer shopping bag so that anyone who passed us in the hall wouldn’t suspect we were on our way to meet Marveen in the beauty salon at The Place.

I was her escort because Marveen has had a tendency to cut Alice’s hair too short and in a style that makes her look like everybody else at The Place. That mustn’t happen with the wig. “Once it’s cut it won’t grow back, you know,” Alice reminded me.

My job was to be the bad cop, the one who says things the other is too nice to say, such as, “Now is a good time to stop cutting.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The Summer Book

August 7, 2013

A friend reminded me recently of The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson, a Finnish writer.

Tove (pronounced Tovah) Jansson wrote many books for children, most of them about this gang (and friends), known as the Moomins:


But The Summer Book is for adults. I’ve had it for years on my bookshelf but had never read it until now. Read the rest of this entry »

To the Attic

August 5, 2013

In the ceiling of my grandmother’s closet, a roughly cut rectangular opening led to the attic. A swatch of flowered oil cloth covered this dark hole, held in place by thumbtacks at the farthest point of each corner in hopes of preventing any wisps of frozen Dakota air from traveling down into the rooms below.
Read the rest of this entry »

At seven o’clock one recent morning, Alice called to report that her wig had been stolen, the very wig she’d just told Nadine she was considering buying, but which she actually already had in her possession.

I hardly knew where to find the phone to answer it, let alone how to think about theft in my mother’s apartment. My first thought was the incredibly long drive we would have to take to replace this wig she insisted on purchasing but never wears. (See Wigging It.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Perils of the Outhouse

July 30, 2013

The editor for the newsletter at The Place, Laundry Edie, has been pushing Alice for a new story for some time. Alice has been hard pressed to satisfy this request, but she finally dug deep and came up with something. She had second thoughts after writing it. What will people think?

It turns out they liked it and shared some experiences of their own with her. Maybe you’ll like it too.

(Pictures added; they’re not in the newsletter version.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Royal Mix-Up

July 24, 2013

Last night Alice called to tell me that she’s happy the new royal baby finally has a name.

royal baby Read the rest of this entry »

While eating meals in the dining room at The Place, Nadine leans as far to the left as she can in order to eavesdrop on the conversation at the next table. She writes notes about what the four women have to say, none of which is of any interest to Alice.
eavesdropping Read the rest of this entry »

“I’m sick and tired of watching half-naked people dancing around pretending they’re exercising,” Alice told me when I visited a few days ago.
fitness dancers Read the rest of this entry »


July 6, 2013

Leslie died on Wednesday evening.

She didn’t want to die, of course, but she didn’t hold herself above death or see any reason she should be out of its reach. Bill, her husband, quoted Les to a group of us in a letter he wrote shortly after she died:

While she was in the hospital, she was visited by a chaplain and this is what Les had to say about her dying:

“I’ve had a good life. I’m ready. I trust in the process, the flow. Little fishes die, big trees die, who am I not to die too? Abraham Lincoln did it, my mother did it, my neighbor did it, I can do it too.”

I can imagine a small lift of one shoulder to dismiss her own importance as she said this. How like her to combine Abraham Lincoln, the old trees, her neighbor, her mother, the fish – the great and the so-called ordinary. She was extraordinary, a great soul, but also as ordinary and real a person as you’d ever want to know.

The day after Leslie died, I took my iPad over to Alice’s apartment and played her song, The River. Alice pressed the iPad against her good ear and listened intently. She could make out the melody and some, though not all, of the lyrics. When she put the iPad down, she turned to me and said, “How wonderful that you all have this.” And when I showed her the photograph of all of us around our friend in her hospital bed, Alice zeroed in on Leslie. Her finger touched just below Les’s face, and she said, “So brave. So brave.”


From Leslie’s song, Stars:

I’ve seen too many mornings to be doubtful of the light

I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night

- Leslie Robinson Sharp (1951-2013)

Thank you for your kind, sensitive, and touching comments and e-mail responses to the post, What to Take to a Dying Friend, and thank you for sharing it with so many people through re-blogging, through Facebook, and privately with people you love, as well as with support groups for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

NOTE: The copyright for all of Leslie’s music and lyrics belongs to her family. Please do not reproduce without permission. If you want to know how to get permission, feel free to contact me and I’ll direct you. Write to: andrea AT andreacarlisle DOT com.)

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Leslie Robinson Sharp, is very ill. She’s at home and in hospice care, family members close by. Though fully present in mind, her body grows weaker each day.

I’ve gone to see Leslie, as have numbers of her many friends. We are all trying to work out how to say good-bye to this wise woman who has loved, influenced, and embraced us all. Leslie is one of those people whose powers in the realms of friendship and family seem to be sourced by something beyond mere humanity.

While thinking of her, loving her, and trying to say good-bye to her these past couple of weeks, I wrote this piece.

Read the rest of this entry »


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