There is a cricket in my dad’s house. Upstairs. I sleep upstairs. I had planned to sleep peacefully upstairs, but three or four times per night the critter tunes up: Eek-eek-eek.

My eyes fly open and my heart starts pounding. The noise isn’t scary, just unfamiliar – and unfamiliar sounds trigger the hyperarousal has been my companion ever since my daughter’s illness. It’s the one part of post-traumatic stress disorder that I haven’t been able to shake.

I’ll calm myself down, finally doze off and it happens again. Eek-eek-eek. My dad’s home has a nice big downstairs and a huge basement, but naturally Cri-Cri just had to choose the penthouse.

I’ve got nothing against crickets – outside.


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J. Money, my favorite wedding-gift giver, thinks that plenty of things should be rented, not bought.

Tools. Textbooks. Prom gowns. Coffins.


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It’s a little after 1 a.m. and I’m writing from my dad’s place in South Jersey. Already sweating, and boy, are those crickets loud. You forget.

Had to rewrite a paragraph for the next “Living With Less” column — didn’t want the editor to have to wait until tomorrow — so as long as I was up I thought I’d let people know what gives here in the land of tomatoes and prisons.

For starters, I had an excellent experience flying on United Airlines. Not a single flight attendant cursed or leaped out of the plane, beer in hand.

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The random number generator chose Deedee as the lucky recipient of the soap-and-germ package. Yes, she gets her very own stuffed cootie to go with all that laundry detergent and softener.

It occurred to me, belatedly, that the little guy’s picture might be available on the Internet somewhere. It was:

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A sad journey.

Less than two weeks after getting back from Alaska I learned that my Aunt Bea has an advanced, inoperable cancer. I’d planned to go to New Jersey to see my dad in the middle of September. After thinking this over for a few hours, I decided to move up the trip by a month.

The day after tomorrow I’ll be on a plane to Philadelphia. About an hour from there is my home town, Fairton, known mostly for truck farming but more recently for prisons — two have been built there since I left. I’ll visit with Bea and also with her sister, my Aunt Dot, whose deathbed I raced to in early April. Well, Dot made liars out of the doctors yet again.

Sure, I could wait until next month. But I’d rather go for a visit than a funeral, so I have been making arrangements:


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