Category Archives: Maplewood New Jersey


I was one of the lucky New Jerseyites who did NOT lose her home or have a tree fall on her house. It fell in the backyard, instead, but, since it came from my neighbor’s yard, and he is handy with a chain saw, it has now been spirited away. The only signs of its having visited me is a broken fence and smashed dogwood tree. There are those who feel that this is nature’s way of saying to our political candidates, “Hey, what about global warming and the environment? Nobody seems to be talking about that any more and it’s just getting worse. So pay attention for a change!”

My beautiful backyard

The root of the problem

And this is nothing! Giant trees were uprooted all over town, and there are those who still have no electricity. I was only in the dark for five days. Fortunately, I had the foresight to install a backup to my sump pump after Hurricane Irene flooded my basement, so was spared last year’s misery. It’s actually heartwarming to see how people pull together during these near-tragic experiences. Churches, libraries, stores, and restaurants all welcomed those who had no heat or light. Free meals were served, phones were charged, children were tended, all in a loving, helpful spirit. The streets of Maplewood Village were teeming with families just walking together and enjoying community interaction. For the first time I encountered a long line outside our movie theater. And the two pizza parlors were bursting at the seams. It was almost like New York City on a Friday night…crowds everywhere.

All of this came days before I was to put my house on the market and head into the great unknown (which means that I really don’t know what the future will bring, but who does?). I returned in September from my usual mountain climbing in the Olympic mountains of Washington state (I’ll tell you about that in another blog), and decided that it was time to unclutter my life. Just trying to walk through the piles of “stuff” in my attic made me sick to my stomach. I bet many of you have felt the same way and come to the same conclusion…and others have just been putting it off, because it’s such a monumental task. I can understand why. It’s a horror! So while uncluttering my files and filling the dump with years of unnecessary memorabilia, I suddenly decided that I didn’t need a house and a yard, either, and had never found that maintenance was my forte. I’ve owned houses of varying sizes since 1958. Enough, already. Time to sell.

What I didn’t know is that nobody just sells a house these days. They style or stage it so that not one semblance of the owner’s personality is betrayed. God forbid that a human being once inhabited this domain. The goal is to get as near to Pottery Barn or a movie set as you can. Remove all rugs, all stair carpeting, and all photographs of family gatherings. And definitely remove books from bookcases like the floor to ceiling display of all my favorite authors past and present, and replace them with Roseville pottery and classy knick-knacks.  Dig out the crystal goblets you received as wedding gifts a hundred years ago, and put out a half-filled decanter of Scotch surrounded by shot glasses, and you show a family that doesn’t read, doesn’t cook (all counters are bare), doesn’t wash, but finds plenty of time to drink and look at candlesticks. Within a week you’re frantically searching for your tax forms, your toothbrush, and your aspirin. They’re all secreted away in the attic, the cellar, or miscellaneous bureau drawers. Living like this is like playing a constant game of Concentration. It may be good for the brain, but it’s murder on the nerves. 

I’m relating this to you, dear reader, because I want you to be forewarned. If you have had a similar experience trying to sell in the modern real estate market, do tell me. We can laugh and cry together!

The only good aspect of this rush to sell is that I shall leave for Nepal on November 14, three days after my Open House, and be lost in the Langtang region of the Himalayas for a month. By then I will have recuperated, the house may be sold (I have a wonderful daughter who will fend for me in my absence, while I shall be trekking with the other daughter), or I may have fallen off a cliff. At any rate I shall NEVER EVER  buy or sell another house!

Next post will be from Kathmandu.



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This is the time of year when I don’t want to leave my home state. It’s just too beautiful, and the breezes are gentle and temperate as if teasing me into believing that Jersey heat and humidity are not just around the corner. Live in the moment is my motto. And this moment is divine!

May also brought the cancellation of two of my favorite Friday night television shows—the incomparable Bill Moyers Journal and David Brancaccio’s NOW. I can understand that Moyers wants to retire after years of investigative journalism, but I cannot understand why NOW is not continuing. Its carefully-researched exposes went deep into uncharted waters and uncovered problems that were dealt with nowhere else on television. And it showed some very innovative solutions from concerned individuals around the world. This, of course, is not always popular, but, for me, has been eye-opening. I’ve often mentioned some of the unusual programs presented by NOW and here’s another—a recent discussion with Josh Fox, an ordinary citizen turned documentary filmmaker, who won a special jury prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival for his film, Gasland, inspired when the gas company came to his hometown in Pennsylvania and offered him an exorbitant amount of money for his land.

This started Fox on a search throughout rural America to explore the effects of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) thousands of feet underground that, he discovered, endangers the purity of our water supply. Shockingly, there are plans underway which, if implemented, could severely compromise one of the purest of our water systems, that of New York City.

During his travels, documented in the film, Fox discovered these results of fracking: toxic streams, ruined aquifers, dying livestock, brutal illnesses, disastrous explosions, and kitchen sinks where water from the spigot burst into flames. Go to and see for yourself how the oil and gas companies are causing the irreversible pollution of our drinking water.

The season ended for the Plainfield Symphony with a stunning performance of Verdi’s Requiem, conducted by Charles Prince, in conjunction with the Crescent Choral Society led by Ron Thayer. This will be my 50th season playing violin with the orchestra, but it takes a lot more practice these days to keep up with the demanding schedule. Thus, such activities as blogging are put on hold during the intense build up to each concert.

It has also been a great month for theater and opera. Some of the highlights are Shaw’s Candida at the Irish Repertory, Enron with the talented Norbert Leo Butz, Next Fall, a marvelously acted tragicomedy on Broadway, Strindberg’s searing drama, Creditors, directed by Alan Rickman at BAM, and Martin McDonagh’s wickedly funny Behanding in Spokane with the deadpan, super-funny, and brilliant Christopher Walken. I have to be honest and say that I was disappointed in Family Week by Beth Henley.


Opera included Rossini’s Armida with the flawless Renee Fleming, Der Fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman) with the powerful Deborah Voigt, and a concert by the incomparable Shanghai Quartet in residence at Montclair State University.

Now, I’ve used up all my superlatives, except to say that I wish you all a glorious spring and a not-too-hot summer.



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One day after saying goodbye to winter at Harriman State Park, I awoke to a paradise of flowering trees and bushes. And this is just the beginning! The maples, dogwood, and azaleas are right behind. Too bad there were so many telephone and electric wires spoiling some of these views, but we’re still lucky to have so much beauty lining our city streets.

Forsythia flanking the golf course

Lush today, gone tomorrow

Those gorgeous magnolias! Here today, gone tomorrow….

As we move into a new season, here is a theater update for all my like-minded addicts around the world.

To celebrate this season of renewal, I enjoyed a stunning production of Hamlet at the Met, an opera by Ambroise Thomas, the 19th century French composer. Outstanding performances were given by the English baritone, Simon Keenlyside, and the Canadian soprano, Jane Archibald.

At the end of February I played in an all-Russian concert with The Plainfield Symphony, featuring music by Prokofiev and Shostakovich, playing his 5th symphony, my favorite.

Yes, I was able to get tickets for the last two segments of Horton Foote’s The Orphans’ Cycle at the Signature Theater. This was theater at its very best and I hated to see it end. After the first segment I had an interesting exchange with the actress, Sarah Jessica Parker, who stopped me as I was leaving, having mistaken me for one of the actors (surely not the ingénue, I quipped).

Another fine play by Susan -Lori Parks was The Book of Grace at  the Public Theater. We were treated to an hour-long discussion with her and several cast members after the performance.  I had been lucky enough to see her Pulitzer price winning hit, Topdog/ Underdog several years ago.

The Pearl Theater at the City Center presented a fabulous adaptation of Hard Times by Charles Dickens. It always amazes me when six people can play a plethora of characters, changing on a dime right in front of you.

Another excellelnt production at the Minetta Lane Theatre was 4Play, The Flying Karamazov Brothers, doing their usual hilarious, off-the-wall juggling, dancing, miming, and singing. I don’t know when I’ve laughed so much.


And finally, I was blown away by the richness and versatility of the Broadway musical, Fela!, conceived and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, and based on the life of the Nigerian singer from the late ‘70’s, Fela Kuti.

Keep tuned. There’s more just around the corner and yes, there are those travel rules. I haven’t forgotten. They’re compounding!

One final note: People ask me how I keep climbing and traveling without the usual aches and pains of age. I’ll tell you how. First of all, it’s that three-mile walk everyday, but more than that, I do Hanna Somatic exercises, taught to me by several practitioners, including my daughter, Martha Peterson. I’m so lucky to have her close by for sessions and classes. For those who are having knee, back, neck, or shoulder problems (too much computer?), I suggest that you visit her blog, which is full of great tips, videos, and photos to help keep you strong, playful, and on-the-go. What more can you ask? Just go to the website and see for yourself.

And while you’re at it, do sign up for my RSS feed at the top of the page. Then you’ll automatically get my blog.


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