Five Years Later…

The past is never where you think you left it.

Katherine Anne Porter
Desk View
February 26, 2023

One may think I have ghosted my own blog – more or less – during the past year. And for the better part of 6 + months I guess that’s been true. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts via email notifications, but that’s as far as I usually got. It’s been quite the year. I have not accomplished anything monumental or written the great American novel! Just enduring and getting through each day was the goal, but in the process the blogging spark disappeared.

I am sure many of you will understand the need to retreat and narrow one’s focus when overwhelmed by awfulness. Suffice it to say, my 2 year commitment to running a condo board is over and the nasty is finally in the rear view. I am inching my way back to whoever I was a year or so ago. No need to rehash details here as none of it deserves any oxygen or space on these pages. But…what a book I could write.

However, since I can’t resist marking an anniversary, here I am. It’s now been 5 years since I launched oneletterup.

And what else about the past year on a personal note?…There were some positives! Although covid is still here (funny how autocorrect no longer autocorrects the word covid), we were able to travel in October to Merida, Mexico for my son’s wedding part 2. A grand celebration put off (because, well, covid) from the very personal 2021 legal ceremony (in DC). We did celebrate Christmas with our daughter and her family in Washington, DC – there’s nothing like 2 little kids (my perfect grandchildren) to liven things up and take your mind off your troubles! Unfortunately our time with our son was limited to masks and porch visits (because, well, he caught covid). Extra frustrating since he lives only a few blocks away from our daughter.

Despite everything that crashed down on me this past year, I am so very grateful I have loving family and friends, a place to live, food to eat and – for the most part – my health. Whether it’s luck or planning or circumstance…I’ll never know for sure. Still thankful.

When I logged on here yesterday for the first time in a while, I noticed over 1000 comments…aka spam…waiting for approval. So obviously the “bloggers” marketing RVs/van conversion/collision shops and clever suggestions about various private body parts thought oneletterup was the place to be. One message offered this piece of advice: “Breathing in and out numerous times a day boosts your life immensely.” Mull that one over. Who knew?

Year #6 on WordPress is beginning. I’m looking forward to it. Baby steps. One topic of interest I may want to share here is my recent connection with newly discovered distant relatives on Ancestry! Any thoughts or advice would be most welcome.

Thanks, as always, for visiting!

Four years later…

If trying to find a way when you don’t even know you can get there isn’t a small miracle; then I don’t know what is.

Rachel Joyce
Desk View
February 26, 2022

Four years ago today I held my breath and tapped the Publish button on my newly launched blog. I had no idea what to expect, but thought…why not? And Oneletterup was born. It began as a safe place for exploring & sifting through memories…flipping through musty diaries and the creased pages of letters from loved ones. And not-so-loved ones.

Then I discovered blog “challenges” which encouraged me to go deep and push through to write my truth. I had been in various writing groups over the years so it wasn’t an entirely new type of experience, but this time was better. I was inspired by VJ and Heather and Martha and Sandy and Shelley and Ellen to name just a few. Photography took off for me because of the Tuesday Photo Challenge (Frank offered excellent advice for choosing my new camera!). I was again inspired by fellow bloggers like him and Becky and Cee and Manja and John and the Lens Artists.

Of course everything went off track once the pandemic hit 2 (!) years ago, but blogging reinforced that I was not alone. It was also a place to try to make some kind of sense of what the hell was happening. I have been one of many…sharing and commenting in common disbelief at how upside down everything was/is.

I’m the type of person who diligently (and joyfully) marks anniversaries and rites of passage with photos and journal entries. Tell those stories! Birthdays (must have cake & candles!). Graduations (cake!). Weddings (cake!). First Days of School. Last Days of School. The First Year of Life in weekly photos. I am not sure how to commemorate my 4th year blogging anniversary except to be glad I’m still at it…and grateful to those who have hung in there with me. We’ve had comforting conversations and thankfully sometimes a few laughs.

When I started this blog 4 years ago, I was retired with more free time and now I’m not. Well…yes and no. My current full time volunteer “job” is running a condo board which usually chases out/squashes/silences the writer and photographer in me. Maybe someday that will be subject material for an essay (“I thought High School was over 50 years ago”) or even a memoir (“The Old and the Ornery”) but when you’re in the middle of you-know-what, it’s not the time to pick it apart and discuss.

I’m glad to be here…literally and on WP. Thanks for all your support.
Here’s to better days ahead!


November, 2021

Three years later…

We all hang by a thread, and there are many things we cannot choose about our lives. It’s how we react to the inevitable that counts.

Mary Higgins Clark

Desk View
February 26, 2021

Three years ago today I began posting on oneletterup. Up until about a year ago, it was a total deep dive into recording family history and stories. Sometimes also dipping my toes in the murky waters of difficult emotions. I tried my hand at poetry and flash fiction…while attempting all the while to silence that inner critic…which I’m happy to report… gradually quieted to a dull roar (well, most of the time).

Memoir is my go-to topic, but then I wondered…how long will this be interesting to others? Hopefully family will circle back to it someday when they get to be my age…curious about family history and who came before…back in the “old days.” I wish I had more family stories (from the “way old” days!).

Blogging became a solace during the early days of the pandemic as waves of fear and uncertainty crashed down around me. Huge knock-me-off-my-feet waves. A year of seasickness. Just when I thought “things” were calmer, something awful happened. Pandemic wise. Personal wise. Political wise. News wise. The unimaginable kept happening over and over…to me and everyone else. Some much worse than others. I’m not talking about the toilet paper emergency.

I read your stories and knew I was not alone. As isolation intensified, so did the need for connection. At first it was helpful to write about what was going on in my neck of the woods. Oh yeah Andrea, I understand…that’s happening here too...from around the blogging globe…a virtual hug.

However, after a while it started to feel…well, disingenuous…to share funny stories or otherwise mundane tales of my increasingly restricted (and mostly boring) daily life. While at the same time…strangely enough, I gravitated to – and enjoyed – those very same stories on other blogs.

“Normal” blogging in a surreal 2020 world eventually became less about writing and more about photography. Camera in hand, I recorded what I knew would be there no matter what. Mother Nature was dependable and I loved her all the more for it. Walking in “my” woods…always a comfort.

I only made it to the beach a few times, as pandemic parking restrictions curtailed more frequent visits. Watching the tide come in and out will have to wait for this summer.

June 25, 2020
Hampton Beach, NH

I ground to a halt in December and took a month off from blogging. Everything was just too much. I think many of you know what I mean. To those who checked in on me…I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that.

Let’s hope 2021 brings back some semblance of a new “normal”…soon. Whatever that may be.

As always, thanks for visiting! 🙂


V.J.’s Weekly Challenge: Waves


This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #45: Anniversary

…pick a date (not necessarily a date of traditional significance) and look back.


In some places the leaves were just starting to change colors.
The day my friend Becky died.
On September 18, 1999.

It will soon be the anniversary of that date.

Twenty years since the woman who was my close friend for over 20 years…and partner in crime at work…left this world.

After 6 years of fighting the fast growing cells that had already spread to her lymph nodes. Discovered after a radical mastectomy in 1993.
She refused a wig and a prosthesis…too much trouble, she said. I will beat this.
She was 40 years old.
Chemotherapy. Physical Therapy. Radiation. Repeat.
Intermittent remission.
Until there wasn’t.

I’ve watched friends die of breast cancer. I guess I can do it too. She announced one evening…looking at me over her half-eaten plate of scallops and mixed vegetables. As we sat together at our favorite Chinese restaurant.

I stared at her. Speechless. But Becky always got right to the point.
She continued…You know, life is hard if what you want is pure enjoyment.

It would be one of our last dinners out. Before we switched to meeting for breakfast. When she had a bit more energy and had shifted to part time work.

By early September 1999, she was admitted to a local hospital for the last time. Coincidentally I had started working there again the year before. Where we had worked as side-by-side dietitians 20 years earlier. Before our first children were born within weeks of each other. And we began sharing the joys, fears and trials of motherhood and marriage. No subject off limits.

I slipped into her hospital room. Becky it’s me.
With her eyes closed, she asked about my 17 year old daughter thinking she was still 12. Her husband stood nearby…looked at me and shook his head.

There is nothing they can do, he said. It’s in her liver. She’s in kidney failure. Too late for the new drug study.

He may move her to a rehab place for pain management.

What about hospice? In your home? I asked.
I hadn’t thought of that, he answered.

That was where I spent my last hours with Becky. Beside the hospital bed set up in her living room. Between two bright windows…the September early morning sun peeking in at us.
No coffee. No muffins. No Chinese food or wine this time.

I pulled up a chair. Reached in between the metal rails and held her left hand in mine. The head of the bed up. Her face turned in my direction…eyes shut. Corners of her mouth turned down.

Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Out. Her mouth opened slightly with each breath.
Her hair was just starting to grow back again. Wispy buzz cut style.

Her hand was cool and smooth as I laced her fingers between mine. We were alone. It was quiet. A slight breeze blew in through the open windows.
Her leg twitched. Her arms jerked upward a bit.
I whispered in her ear…Are you cold?
Turning slightly toward me she murmured…No
I leaned closer and whispered back…You always were a hot number.
I saw a tiny crooked smile.

Her eyes opened slightly. Looked at me for an instant, their blueness in stark contrast to her colorless skin.
What is it? I ask.
But she can’t tell me.
I picked her hand up again and held it between both of mine.

Her large gray cat stepped over my feet. I felt its softness brush against my leg. I don’t like cats much. Never have. She had always teased me about it. I leaned close and whispered…Somehow this big cat got in here.
A hint of a smile…and she mumbled Be nice to the kitty. It’s a nice kitty.

It was late morning. I was still holding her hand. She shifted in bed. Sighed. Sighed again.
Breathe in. Breathe out. I stopped counting.
Becky do you remember that time when we tried to get a picture of the kids sitting on your couch? They were about 6 months old. We’d get them settled and then by the time we’d step back to snap the picture they would both slide sideways on top of each other? And they’d start to cry? And we’d prop them back up again?

A faint smile came and went. I squeezed her hand.
The front door opened and closed.
The hospice nurse had arrived.
To care for my friend Becky. Wash her. Make her comfortable. Ease her pain.

I bent down to kiss Becky on the cheek, feeling the soft coolness of her skin.
I love you Becky. I hope she heard me. But even if she didn’t, I knew she knew.

The next morning I picked up the ringing phone.
Her husband’s shaky voice… Becky died this morning.
She was 47 years old.

Even now – years later – I catch myself thinking I have spotted her in the grocery story parking lot. But of course I didn’t.

Becky’s place in my heart is rooted deep.
The epitome of strength and love and loyalty.
And what a fighter.
She loved her family and her friends and her God.
I am privileged and grateful to have known her.
I’m a stronger person for it.
And a better friend.

She will soar into my conscious thought at random times…cheering me with her signature humor. Triggering a memory of times past.
And our life adventures together.
Cut far too short.

Reminding me…of the precious gift that friendship truly is.

Becky 1984
Becky, her son & my daughter



One year later…

How hard it is to escape from places! However carefully one goes, they hold you — you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences, little rags and shreds of your very life.

Katherine Mansfield


office window
Desk View
February 26, 2019


And so it goes.

The places that define you.
House you. Comfort you.
Where you play. Where you learn.
Where you work. Where you love.
Climb. Fall. Get up. Explore.
Ones that remain
Ones you enjoy
All add up.
To the next.


One year ago today I published my first post on this blog.

I had recently moved to a new home. For the first time, I had a small room of my own. Complete with windows to let the sun shine in.

A new place to write. Reflect. Remember. Read. Share. Plan. Challenge.

And the best part?
…meeting other writers across the world in blogging land.


diaries line up