Ruth Doan MacDougall: "Ruth's Neighborhood"

Ruth Doan MacDougall's Neighborhood photo

Facebook: October - December, 2018

Current entries are HERE.


December 30, 2018

            Thank you so much for your holiday messages.
            After Don died, a friend gave me a little book by Martha W. Hickman, Healing after Loss: Daily Meditations for Working through Grief. Perhaps some of you have a copy of this? Each day has a quotation, and one of the December quotations is from May Sarton: “What is there to do when people die—people so dear and rare—but bring them back by remembering?”
            Penny, my sister, came here for our first Christmas without Don, and we remembered him. I once read a statistic that said people are thirty times more likely to laugh when they’re with other people than when alone. Thus there was a lot of laughter as well as tears and sometimes both combined—mopping of eyes and saying, “Damn, he was so funny!”
            We also remembered childhood Christmases as we opened presents together. She gave me a Nancy Drew and the Five Little Peppers!
            The day after Christmas I took Penny to the weekly senior lunch held every Wednesday, affectionately known as the Old Fogeys’ lunch; Don and I began attending last spring. When Penny and I entered, a cute and gregarious Cockapoo welcomed us like a Walmart greeter, and then friends gathered round to meet Penny. This Wednesday’s menu was chicken cordon bleu. Mashed potatoes. Gravy! And speaking of Walmart, one of the women at a neighboring table warned us all that if you buy a roast chicken at Walmart it’s going to have only one leg when you get home because it’s so good you’ll eat the other in the car. This was edifying to me; there isn’t a Walmart nearby so I’m not used to shopping at them and always forget they sell food too. (Penny, by the way, is skilled at eating a sticky bun while driving her car after buying a sticky-buns supply at the very good restaurant/bakery in her town, a skill Don admired, as do I.)
            Another December quote in the little book is from Marcel Proust: “ . . . memory nourishes the heart, and grief abates.”

©2018 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved 


December 16, 2018

            Like Snowy, in my sophomore year in high school I took a course called “Modern European History.” Since this was 1954-55, World War II (what we called the War) was fresh in people’s memories and our childhood memories, and the Korean War was barely over. But in this course we went back into the nineteenth century to see what had led up to World War I. Such a confusion of European countries! We finally reached Mussolini and then Hitler and then World War II. I think I’d heard the word “demagogue” around my folks’ house, but this was the first time in a classroom. I’d also heard at home my mother’s description of listening to the radio news and hearing Hitler’s rants with the crowds roaring, a description I’ve found myself remembering during the past couple of years.
            In my sophomore year at Bennington I took a course called U.S. Foreign Relations, which dealt with the history of diplomacy and how we were handling the aftermath of the War.             
            I’m recalling all this because recently I listened to one of the library’s new audiobooks, Fascism: A Warning, by Madeleine Albright and read by her. As the CD’s back cover explains, it’s a “personal and urgent examination of Fascism in the twentieth century and how its legacy shapes today’s world . . . ‘A Fascist,’ observes Madeleine Albright, ‘is someone who claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is utterly unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use violence and whatever means are necessary to achieve the goals he or she might have.’”
            Needless to say, it’s not bedtime-listening. But it’s important-listening. And reading.
            My other new audiobook from the library turned out to be a very interesting   companion-piece to Fascism: A Warning. It’s Rick Steves’s Travel as a Political Act: How to Leave Your Baggage Behind. Rick takes us to Europe, Central America, Asia, the Middle East and shows us that, as the CD’s back cover says, “one of the best ways to learn about our own country is by viewing it from afar” and that “thoughtful travel can give us a broader world view.”
Listening to Rick’s book drew me to our bookcases, unable to resist locating and dipping into our 1965-66 edition of Europe on $5 a Day. I turned to the Paris section, the Hotels section, the “Off and On the Boulevard St. Michel” section and I there saw my faded red-pencil underlining of the hotel Don and I had chosen to stay at during our 1965 Christmas vacation—when my high-school French came in handy and so did the history in those other two courses.
            And I’ve been hearing those two audiobooks in my mind while I watched on TV the recent scenes in Paris.

©2018 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved 


December 9, 2018

             Last week on Maine’s Channel 6 program “207” (the number is Maine’s telephone area code), there was a segment about the making of L.L.Bean boots. In 1911, L.L.Bean had come up with a solution to the problem of cold wet feet in regular boots: he put a leather upper on a waterproof rubber sole. Simplicity itself. One of the program’s hosts, Amanda Hill, went to the factory and participated in the procedure, following a boot from the “seven basic stitching steps” to the finished product.
             I grew up with L.L.Bean boots; that is, my father had a pair and wore them a lot, in the yard, in the garden, walking in the woods and hunting. The original name was Maine Hunting Shoe, but I think almost everyone called them L.L.Bean boots. Nowadays it’s been shortened to Bean Boots. 
             And when my father wore out the soles, he sent the boots back to the company in Freeport, Maine, and they returned them with new soles. He used to quote the catalog’s admonition, “Throwing away a pair of Maine Hunting Shoes is like throwing away a five-dollar bill.” 
             There are a couple of pairs of L.L.Bean boots in our household, Don’s and mine. We ordered our first pairs in the early 1960s, a careful purchase with savings from Don’s schoolteacher salary. My sister and are recalling that back then there weren’t women’s sizes so you bought smaller ones. The company asked all customers to send traced outlines of their feet with their orders, for accuracy. Needless to say, Don did meticulous outlines of his feet and mine. How delighted we were when our boots arrived! We were living up in the mountains in Lisbon, NH, and with L.L.Bean boots we felt we were settling properly into country life.
             We and my father were taken aback when, in 1980, The Official Preppy Handbook was published and L.L.Bean boots became “in.” But that didn’t stop us from wearing them.
             And lately I’ve been wearing mine in winter, instead of my snowboots, when snow is followed by rain.

             On another subject, but still something I saw on TV last week:
             Question: Which generation has moved less?  A reporter showed a chart and read off the list of generations: “Millennials,” he said, “Generation X, Baby Boomers, and”—pause—“the Silent Generation.” Another pause. He added in a puzzled tone, “I’m not familiar with that term.” You can imagine how I reacted to this comment. Hey, that’s my generation! (Not to mention my working title for The Cheerleader while I was writing it!) Well, I then told myself, I guess the Silent Generation is still silent.  But later I Googled “generations” and to my surprise I saw that one of the names for Generation Z, those born from 2000 to the present, is “the new Silent Generation.” 
             Oh, the answer to the question. The earlier generations moved more; the millennials have moved less.

© 2018 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved


December 2, 2018

             During last week’s snowstorm, we got more than a foot of heavy wet snow in Sandwich. As the snow kept coming down, I looked out windows at the lilac bushes bent over, at tree branches sunk into the snow drifts—and then I realized that the snow had also brought down the clothesline. It’s the reel type, hooked to the side of the house at one end and to a tree at the other. It still remained hooked to the house; the rest of the line had disappeared under the snow.
            And I was reminded of the last time the clothesline had come down. I wrote about this in 2006 for our website’s Ruth’s Neighborhood in a piece I couldn’t resist calling “The End of Our Rope.” Here it is. 

     I don’t usually leave clothes overnight on the clothesline, but one evening in late October after a hectic day I said the hell with them.  Early the next morning we saw a large beaver emerging from the pond out back and purposefully lumbering (I choose this verb with deliberation) under the clothesline into the woods behind the toolshed.
     Then through the trees we saw that the beaver was cutting down a sapling very near the shed. The woods around our lawn have been depleted since the beavers moved in, but Don has protected the trees we really want spared by wrapping wire mesh around their trunks.
     Mesmerized, we watched the beaver at work, fearing the sapling would hit the shed when it toppled. It didn’t. As the beaver began dragging it out, wrestling it through the underbrush, waddling back to snip off a couple of snagged branches, we worried next about the clothesline. Would the remaining branches reach up far enough to become entangled? If they did, would the pressure pull the hook out of the side of the house or maybe pull part of the house out?
     The beaver got the sapling safely under the clothesline and dragged the trunk into the pond, then swam with it to the outskirts of the lodge where the beaver family has been storing their winter food supply. This sapling joined the larder. The beaver lived up to its “busy” adjective by immediately swimming back, taking the same route under the clothesline, and harvesting another sapling. Then, at nine a.m., it retired for a well-earned good day’s rest.
     We retrieved the laundry. While I put everything in the dryer, Don pondered what might happen when the beaver returned again during the night or early the next morning. He decided that the trees that could do real harm if they fell on the shed or clothesline were those already protected by wire mesh. So he simply unhooked the clothesline from the house, leaving it lying on the grass, attached at the tree end, ready to be rehooked when I needed it.
     The next morning he looked out the kitchen-sink window and shouted (appropriately), “Damn!”
     I rushed to the window. The beaver wasn’t there but obviously had been. The clothesline was floating in the pond at the edge of the lawn.
     Don said, “I should have unhooked the whole thing and brought it indoors.”
     Outdoors we went. Near the shed were more beaver-cut stumps. The beaver had done another lumbering operation, but this time one of the saplings must have got tangled up in the clothesline.
     Don pulled the clothesline out of the pond. It had been bitten into three lengths.

           Thus the clothesline now under last week’s snow is the new clothesline with which he’d replaced the beaver-bitten one

ek’s snow is the new clothesline with which he’d replaced the beaver-bitten one.

© 2018 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.


November 25, 2018

             I hope that you’ve had happy Thanksgivings and that weather problems didn’t interfere too much.
             Around here we had a snowstorm on Tuesday and some Thanksgiving-Day record-breaking cold temperatures, but it’s November in the North so we were mostly philosophical, and my sister and niece and stepmother gathered at my house for our first Thanksgiving without Don.
             We’d decided not to cook from scratch and ordered a take-out Thanksgiving dinner from a restaurant. My niece and I brought it home Wednesday; on Thursday she reheated it on and in my stove that has replaced the old Magee, announcing that she was giving the new GE a maiden voyage. This very good meal concluded with a dessert that had been made from scratch; that is, an apple tatin that Penny, my sister, had made and brought. Much discussion ensued about where the recipe had come from. She hadn’t been able to find her old one so had Googled for a new one—had the original been a Silver Palate Cookbook recipe or ? You no doubt know this type of fascinating rambling food discussion.
             During it, I thought also of the culinary delight I’d been introduced to at supper the night before when, with the hamburgers she’d made, my niece served a chopped onion mixed with mayonnaise to go on or beside them. I’ve used mayo and a sliced onion on burgers, but this chopped mixture was a first.
             Firsts. The season’s early snowstorms have caused another first: cleaning snow off a vehicle without Don. This house doesn’t have a garage. Usually Don and I divvied up the post-snowstorm chores: He cleaned off the car and truck and used the snowblower on our two driveways and the main path, while I shoveled the other paths and the woodpile area and the bulkhead. Sometimes I cleaned off the truck for him. 
             Nearly six years ago we sold the truck, so there was only one vehicle to clean off. A friend began plowing the driveways. Now I clean the car off the best I can and do a prudent amount of shoveling, and the friend does the rest. And I remember the years when I could climb nimbly up into the bed of our Ford Ranger, shovel it out, and tell Don triumphantly, “The truck’s done!” 

©2018 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.


November 18, 2018

             I’ve mentioned Bayswater Books before, the enchanting bookstore in Center Harbor where I’ve done signings over the years. A while ago when a used book section was opened on its second floor, Michelle, the owner, and her staff made a fun discovery in these books: the items that people have used as bookmarks and left behind, forgotten.
            These items are written about entertainingly in “Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor” on the blog and in the Meredith News. A recent discovery in an autographed copy of Jim Lehrer’s No Certain Rest was a jotted note-to-self headed “What should I make for dinner?” and followed by a list of ideas that included “Mom’s couscous” and “Lara’s broccoli pasta.”
            All this got me thinking about our bookmarks. Don and I seemed to accumulate and collect them, keeping them stashed in our desks and beside reading chairs.
            There are bookmarks from the Sandwich and Laconia libraries. A faded one is from the Rochester, NH, library, which we went to in the early 1970s. From a Bayswater book-signing event a few years ago for friend and journalist Shirley Elder Lyons, I have a bookmark showing the cover of her book about our local hiking group, The Over the Hill Hikers and How They Grew . . . and Grew . . . and Grew.
            I’m fond of pretty plastic plant markers and can’t bear to throw some of them away when their original use is over. So I wash off the dirt and use them for bookmarks, Nonstop Pink Tuberous Begonia, Bruschetta Basil, etc.
Some bookmarks are presents. One is from Jefferson, NH, where my stepmother lives. My sister gave me a set of bookmarks of illustrated Emily Dickinson poems, including:

            It’s all I have to bring to-day,
            This, and my heart beside,
            This, and my heart, and all the fields,
            And all the meadows wide . . .

            Penny also gave me a set of cookbook bookmarks with quotes from chefs, gourmets, and gourmands, including Miss Piggy, who is quoted thus: “Never Eat More Than You Can Lift.”
            Then there are the souvenir bookmarks I bought when Penny and I visited England twenty-eight years ago, lovely leather bookmarks from places such as the Forest of Dean, Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold, Bibury, Moreton-in-Marsh. Oh, the memories! One of the bookmarks is too precious to use in case it might get lost (and end up in a used book section of a bookstore?). It’s from the gift shop in Jane Austen’s Chawton house. 

©2018 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved.


November 11, 2018

              When dealing with mice in the house, Don was usually swearing at them, but occasionally he’d break into verse, quoting from Robert Burns’s “To a Mouse: On Turning Up Her Nest With the Plough, November 1785”:

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!


              Recently the panic was in my breastie when I realized I was faced with another of the little first-time milestones I’ve been encountering. This one was the first dead mouse I had to cope with on my own.
              At the Old Fogeys’ Lunch last Wednesday, a popular topic was the invasion of our homes by mice at this time of year. Over shepherd’s pie, people discussed different methods of trapping. The method in our household changed a year or so ago from regular traps to, upon the suggestion of a friend, “bait stations.” Squeamish, I hadn’t paid close attention to Don’s details. I listened more closely to the Wednesday discussion.
              And I wished that throughout the years I hadn’t been Blondie standing on a chair shrieking for Dagwood to come tend to a mouse.
              Don had really got serious about invasions of the car. At one time it was so full of set traps that, if he forgot to fix them before we left the driveway, the car would resound with SNAP SNAP SNAP as we went around a corner. Nonetheless, mice did manage to chew up some of the car’s wiring. Costly!
              So: back to me one morning discovering a dead mouse on the dining-room floor. Blondie without Dagwood. I told myself that I had climbed Mount Washington, New Hampshire’s highest mountain. I could dispose of a poor wee mouse. But it wasn’t the same!
              I fetched a dustpan and a whiskbroom. I did it.
              When I reported this milestone to Penny, she said, “I yell during the process. That helps.”
               I’ll try that next time.

© 2018 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved 


November 4, 2018

             Last week I bade farewell to our kitchen range. It was a Magee, a cooking stove and a space heater; it was old when we got it and it has given us hot food and a warm ell for thirty-three years. But recently a propane leak was discovered in it, so, alas, it was condemned. During Penny’s visit the previous week, one of our errands was shopping for a new stove.
Back in January 2012, I wrote a piece for “Ruth’s Neighborhood” titled “Neighborhood Stoves.” It was about the Magee, and here’s an excerpt:

The house we moved into in Sandwich in 1976 consisted of a small shack built in the 1920s (judging by the newspapers we found for insulation in the ceiling), onto which in the 1960s a Cape had been built by new owners . . . The shack, which had become an ell after the addition of the Cape, contained the house’s plumbing, and for heat as well as for cooking there was a big cast-iron range that had been converted to oil from wood . . . 

            Other houses in our neighborhood had normal kitchen stoves, but three of our neighbors—the Jacksons, Marcia Farley, and Lib Kennedy—had a white enamel gas range that served as a space heater in their kitchens. The lettering on the stoves said that they were made by Magee. The first time we saw one of these stoves, which happened to be the Jacksons’, we were seized by Magee-stove envy.
            In 1985 the Jacksons sold their house and moved to a retirement home. The new owners moved in, and we all introduced ourselves. It didn’t occur to Don and me to ask what they were going to do with the Magee, because we assumed they would want to keep such a treasure. Then one day Don happened to notice while driving past that they had lugged the Magee out of the house to the barn as if they were going to get rid of it. He overcame the Yankee diffidence in his soul and swung into their driveway, jumped out of his pickup, and banged on their door to inquire. Yes, they said, they were redoing the kitchen and replacing the stove with a modern one. No, we couldn’t buy it from them; they would give it to us for taking it away and saving them a trip to the dump!
            So, with help from friends, we loaded it into the pickup and brought it down to the road to its new home. Don took it all apart, cleaned every single inch, and reassembled it in the kitchen.

            And then last week, it left the kitchen, lugged out to their van by the two young men from a Laconia appliance store who’d brought and installed the gleaming new GE stove. Because the new stove doesn’t have the dual purpose of the old one, I also had to buy a small space heater for the ell.
            Farewell, Magee.

© 2018 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved 


October 28, 2018

             Sistering. I’ve written before about first hearing Don use “sister” as a verb while talking with a carpenter about something-or-other. When I asked him if I’d heard correctly, he explained that it means putting one board beside another for support.
             What a great term! And what a great title it would be! I made a note, and eventually I used it for the title of a murder mystery involving two sisters as amateur detectives. I sent a partial first draft to my agent, who liked the draft but not enough to encourage me to continue. However, the term has continued to be special to me.
             Penny, my sister, was here last week, a very therapeutic visit. I had been feeling daunted by too many household repairs, decisions, etc., things going wrong. When such things accumulate and one more problem strikes, Penny calls that final one “And then the cat threw up on the rug.”
             So we did many errands and made decisions. We took breaks, such as lunch at Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant in Meredith, which we’ve known since it was still a farm, with live turkeys to be seen as well as roasted ones. And of course we went to the Village Kitchen. There, our waitress sat down in our booth to talk about Laconia High School and how Penny was a classmate of the restaurant’s owner.
             And Penny introduced me to Netflix! On her iPad, we watched Very British Problems, laughing, laughing.
             My favorite of all our adventures: As we drove past Aubuchon Hardware Store in Moultonborough, Penny spotted their sign advertising a sixty-percent-off sale on shrubs and plants. She didn’t screech to a halt, but I knew we’d be returning after our errands. We did. While I roamed around looking at rosebushes and remembering my caretaking years tending gardens, Penny—a landscape designer—zeroed in on just what she wanted for her yard: a lilac bush about four feet high (so far). Then she couldn’t resist a pink English Daisy and a Lamb’s Ear whose tag said that it produces “plump wands of candy pink flowers.” A clerk helped her wedge her purchases into her little car, where they stayed during the rest of her visit.
             When she did leave for home, as she drove off I waved and waved, loving the sight of Penny with a carful of the lilac bush and the plants for passengers.

© 2018 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved


October 21, 2018

             Sears Roebuck, we always used to call it in earlier days, not simply Sears. Sometimes people called it Sears and Roebuck, but we were told that the “and” was incorrect. Either way, or later as Sears, it seemed permanent. Until recent years.
             Nonetheless, although I’d expected the worst, the news of the bankruptcy was an unsettling surprise to me. Hearing this news, did we all experience a rush of memories?
             I did, and I know Don would have. He vividly remembered how his grandmother, his father’s mother, visited the family before Christmas and sat down with the Sears Roebuck catalog on her lap, young Don and his brother on either side of her. She would go through the pages asking her grandsons what they saw that they liked. Oh, temptation! For Don, it was such an exercise in controlled greed that he didn’t recall asking for anything at all. But Sears Roebuck Christmas presents resulted.
             What also impressed him was hearing grown-ups talk about how you could actually buy a house from Sears. A real house!
             I remember being agog over the pages of dolls and their accoutrements. I remember in bewilderment the fascination with Betsy-Wetsy dolls. Then after I studied those pages I’d go on to look at all the other pages. What an education the Sears catalog provided!
             Clothes were bought there too, but by the time we were in high school we girls were looking at Lana Lobell catalogs as well.
             Eventually Don and I stopped using the catalog and went to Sears stores. During the bankruptcy news on TV, I heard that the Sears store in Concord, NH, would remain open. That was where I’d made my last Sears purchase some years ago, in the optician section.
             From dolls to my first bifocals, I’d shopped at Sears.

©2018 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved 


October 14, 2018

             Last week I went to the fiction section of our bookcases, looking for a copy of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, remembering how I’d written in The Cheerleader

  • At Christmas, Snowy gave Tom a hardback copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls, trying to educate him, and Tom gave her a heart-shaped gold charm engraved “I Love You.”

             I found the book but hesitated about opening it. I thought I remembered the first lines. Should I reread them and should I reread the entire book or should I let it all remain part of the past?
             What made me curious about it is Paula McLain’s Love and Ruin, a novel about Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife. I’ve been listening to the library’s audiobook. I’ve never read Martha Gellhorn’s books or a biography of her and I’ve mainly only known of her as part of Hemingway’s biographies, although in my younger years I had wanted to be like her, a foreign correspondent.
             Me, an intrepid reporter on the frontlines?! As I’ve written about before, that ambition dawned when I was babysitting my Girl Scout leader’s children one evening and began reading a book of my parents’ I’d brought with me, foreign correspondent William Shirer’s Berlin Diary. (Well, later when I tried some journalism I learned I did not have the temperament for domestic—much less foreign—reporting.)
             Martha Gellhorn’s romance with Hemingway began when they were both in Spain to report on the Spanish Civil War. At Bennington, for a paper for a U.S. Foreign Relations course, I decided to write about this war, a prelude to World War II. But did I choose the subject just to have an excuse to reread For Whom the Bell Tolls?
             So that was the second time I read it, and if I decide to reread it now I’ll actually be re-re-reading. I think I may just dip in.
             I liked Love and Ruin. The audiobook’s narrator is January LaVoy, who always does a splendid job. The library’s other recent audiobooks I’ve enjoyed are The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel; The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce, a novel whose protagonist can match music to your needs; and On Brassard’s Farm by Daniel Hecht, a novel set in Vermont that shows how complicated the simple life can be.

©2018 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved


October 7, 2018

             There was a lot of hubbub in the house last week. This spring Don and I decided that we finally had to go ahead with a long-overdue project, replacing our old furnace. Then Don’s illness postponed things. Until now.
             We have two driveways, one of which leads to our ell door on the right of the front lawn, the other to the bulkhead on the left. Come Monday morning, I saw a pickup truck pull into the bulkhead driveway. Then a van and a truck arrived to fill up the ell driveway. Wow, I thought, the troops are here. But then I heard a heavier noise approaching, and what arrived next but a lengthy flatbed truck with a crane and a propane tank the size of a blimp. (Oh, I forgot to mention that we’d been advised to replace our oil furnace with a propane.) The pickup guy moved his vehicle onto the road, and the flatbed truck filled the bulkhead driveway. Wow, indeed!
             Soon there were five guys conferring. The guy with the pickup left, and the rest stayed to do the crane maneuver, replacing our smaller tank with the new one, and then the two crane guys left and the two remaining ones set to work.
And thus the project proceeded the following days, with lots of clanging and banging and very polite explanations to me about what was being done. I kept closing my laptop and moving from room to room out of their way. Throughout, I was remembering the only other time I’ve experienced a furnace installation. Without digging back into diaries, I’m recalling that it too happened in October.
When Don took the English-teaching job in the small town of Lisbon, NH, in 1962, we rented a little farmhouse Cape that had no heat except a potbellied woodstove. The woman who lived in the house had died, and her son had inherited it. He’d intended to put a furnace in before he rented it, but we wanted to move in at once, so he let us. By the time he got around to the furnace, school had started and we had settled in.
             And we had acquired a puppy, our border collie we named Heathcliff (ah, English majors!). Heathcliff was six weeks old and brimming with curiosity and vim. So my main memory of that furnace project is keeping him from falling down holes cut in the floor. 
             Last week as I shifted my laptop from my office to the dining-room table and then into Don’s office and back again, I was also remembering my office in the Lisbon house, in the room that usually would have been a dining room. Don built the bookcases and my desk, one of those door-on-legs tables. I wrote The Lilting House on my Royal portable typewriter on that desk.

© 2018 Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved

RDM titles collage

Current entries are HERE.



Audiobooks (March 26)
The Cheeleader's 50th Anniversary (Mch 19)
The Lot, Revisited (March 12)
Parking and Other Subjects (February 26)
Concord (February 19)
Bird Food & Superbowl Food (February 12)
The Cold Snap (February 5)
Laughter and Lorna (January 29)
Tea and Digestive Biscuits (January 22)
Ducks, Mornings, & Wonders (January 15)
Snowflakes (January 8)
A New Year's Resolution  (January 1)


Jingle Bells    (December 25)
Fruitcake, Ribbon Candy &Snowball
.(Dec. 18)
Christmas Pudding (December 11)
Amusements (December 4)
Weather and Woods  (November 27)
Gravy (November 20)
Brass Rubbing (November 13)
Moving Day (November 6)
Sandwiches and Beer (October 23)
Edna, Celia, and Charlotte (Octobert 16)
Sandwich Fair Weekend (October 9)
More Reuntions (October 2)

A Pie and a Sandwich (September 25)
Evesham (September 18)
Chawton (September 11)
Winter's Wisdom? (September 4)
Vanity Plates (August 28)
2022 Golden Circle Luncheon
(August 21)
Agatha and Annie (August 14)
National Dog Month (August 7)
The Chef's Triangle (July 31)
Librarians and Libraries (July 24)
Clothes and Cakes (July 17)
Porch Reading (July 10)
Cheesy! (July 3)

The Summer Book (June 23)
Bears & Goats & Motorcycles ...(June 19)
Tuna Fish (June 12)
Laconia (June 5)
More Publishers Weekly Reviews (May 22)
Shopping, Small and Big  (May 15)
Ponds  (May 8)
The Lakes Region (May 1)
TV for Early Birds; An April Poem    (April 24)
Family; Food; Fold-out Sofas (April 17)
Solitary Eaters (April 9)
National Poetry Month (April 3)
Special Places—Popular Cakes(March 27) Neighborhood Parks ( (March 20)
More About Potatoes—and Maine (March 13)
Potatoes (March 6)
Spring Tease (February 27)
Pillows (February 20)
Our Song (February 13)
Undies (February 6)
Laughter  (January 28/30)
A Burns Night  (January 23)
From Keats to Spaghetta Sauce (January 16)
Chowder Recipes  (January 9)
Cheeses and Chowders  (January 2)


The Roaring Twenties (December 26
Christmas Traditions (December 19)
Trail Cameras (December 12)
Cars and Trucks(December 5)
Return? (November 28)
Lipstick (November 20)
Tricks of the Trade (November 12)
A New Dictionary Word (November 7)
A 50th Reunion (October 31) "
Sides to Middle" Again
(October 23)
Pantries and Anchovies (October 1i7)
Fairs and Festivals (October 10)
Reunions  (October 3) A Lull  (September 26)
The Queen and Others (
Sept. 19)
Scones and Gardens (Sept.12)
Best Maine Diner (September 5)
Neighborhood Grocery Store; Neighborhood Café (August 28)
PW Picks of the Week (August 21)
A Goldilocks Morning_and More (August 15)
Desks (August 8)
Sports Bras and Pseudonyms (August 1)
Storybook Foods (July 25)
Rachel Field(July 18)
The Bliss Point  (July 11)
Items of Interest  (July 4)
Motorcycle Week 2021 (June 27)
Seafood, Inland and Seaside  (June 20)
Thrillers to Doughnuts (June 13)
National Trails Day  (June 6)
New Hampshire Language (May 30 )
Books and Squares(May 23)
Gardening in May (May16)
The Familiar (May 9)
Synonyms (May 2)
"Bear!" (April 25)
Blossoms  (April 18)
Lost Kitchen and Found Poetry (April 11)
More About Mud (April 4)
Gilbert and Sullivan (March 28)
St. Patrick's Day 2021 (March 21)
Spring Forward (March 14)
A Blank Page (March 7)
No-Recipe Recipes (February 28)
Libraries and Publishers Weekly (February 21)
Party; Also, Pizza (February 13)
Groundhog Day (February 6)
Jeeps (January 31) Poems and Paper-Whites (January 24) Peanut Butter (January 17)
Last Wednesday  (January 10)
Hoodsies and Animal Crackers  (January 3)


Welcome, 2021December 27
Cornwall at Christmastime( December 20)
 Mount Tripyramid ( December 13) 
New Hampshire Pie ( December 6)   
Frost, Longfellow, and Larkin ( November 29)
Rocking Chairs ( November 22)
Thanksgiving Side Dishes ( November 15)
Election 2000 ( November 8)
Jell-O and Pollyanna ( November 1)
Peyton Place in Maine  (October 25)
Remember the Reader  (October 18)
Sandwich Fairs In Our Past  (October11)
Drought and Doughnuts  (October 4)
Snacks (September 27)
Support Systems, Continuing (September 20)
The 85 Best Things to Do in New England (Sept
Dessert Salads?! (September 6)
Agatha Christie's 100th Anniversary (August 3
Poutine and A Postscript(August 23)
Pandemic Listening and Reading (August 16)
Mobile Businesses (August 9)
Backyard Wildlife (August 2)
Maine Books (July 26)
Garlic (July 19)
Birthday Cakes (July 12)
A Collection of Quotations  (July 5)
Best of New Hampshire (June 28)
Hair (June 21)
Learning (June 14)
Riding and "Broading" Around (June 7)
Sunday Drives, Again (May 31)
The Passion Pit (May 24)
Schedules & Sustenance (May 17)
Doan Sisters Go to a British Supermarket (April
National Poetry Month 2020 (April 12)
Laconia (May 10)
Results (May 3)
Singing (April 26 )
Dining Out (April 19 )
Red Hill (March 29)
An Island Kitchen (March 22)
Pandemic and Poetry (March 15)
Food for Hikes (March 8)
Social Whirl in February (March 1)
Two Audiobooks and a Magazine(February 23)
Books Sandwiched In   (February 9)
Mailboxes February 2)
Ironing (January 26)
The Cup & Crumb  (January 19)
Catalogs  (January 12)
Audiobook Travels  (January 5)


Christmas Weather  (Dec. 29 )
Christmas in the Village  (Dec. 22)
Marion's Christmas Snowball, Again  (Dec. 15)
Phyliss McGinley and Mrs. York  (December 8)
Portsmouth Thanksgiving.  (December 1)
In the Dentist's Waiting Room, Again.  (Nov. 24
Louisa and P.G.  (November 17)
The First Snow  (November 10)
Joy of Cooking  (November 3)
Over-the-Hill Celebration  (October 27)
Pumpkin Regatta  (October 20)
Houseplants, New and Old(October 13)
Pumpkin Spice  (October 6)
Wildlife  (Sept 29)
Shakespeare and George  (Sept 22)
Castles and Country Houses  (Sept 15)
New Hampshire Apple Day  (Sept 8)
Maine Woods and Matchmaking  (Sept 1)
Reunions  (August 25)
Sawyer's Dairy Bar  (August 18)
Old Home Week  (August 11)
Summer Scenes  (August 4)
Maine Foods (July 28)
Out of Reach  (July 21)
This and That, Again  (July 14)
The Lot  (July 7)
Pizza, Past and Present (June 30)
Setting Up Housekeeping (June 23)
Latest Listening and Reading (June 16)
Pinkham Notch (June 9)
A Boyhood in the Weirs (June 2)
The Big Bear (May 26)
It's Radio! (May 19)
Archie (May 12)
Department Stores  (May 5)
Spring Is Here!  (April 28)
Dorothy Parker Poem  (April 21)
National Library Week, 2019  (April 14)
National Poetry Month, 2019  (April 7)
Signs of Spring, 2019 (March 31)
Frost Heaves, Again (March 24)
Latest Reading & Listening (March 17)
Car Inspection (March 10)
Snowy Owls & Chicadees (March 3)
Sandwiches Past and Present (February 23)
Our First Date (February 17) 
Ice Fishing Remembered (February 10)
Home Ec (February 3)
A Rockland Restaurant (January 27)
Kingfisher (January 19)
Mills & Factories (January 13)
Squirrels (January 6)


Clothesline Collapse   (December 2)
Thanksgiving 2018
(November 25)  
(November 18)
A Mouse Milestone (November 11)
Farewell to Our Magee   (November 4)
Sistering (October 28)
Sears (October 21)
Love and Ruin (October 14)
A New Furnace (October 7)
Keene Cuisine September 30)
A Mini-Mini Reunion (September 23)
Support System  (September 16)
Five & Ten  (September 9)
Dining Out Again  (September 2)
Summer Listening (August 26)
Donald K. MacDougall 1936-2018  (August 19)
Update--Don (August 12)
Telling Don (August 5)
Don's Health (July 29)
Seen and Overheard (July 22)
Donald Hall  (July 15)
Fireworks (July 8)
Off Season (July 1)
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (June 24)
2018 Motorcycle Week (June 17)
Springtime Sights (June 10)
Seafood at the Seacoast? (June 3)
Lilacs (May 27)
Going Up Brook, revisited  (May 20)
The Weirs Drive-In Theater  (May 13)
The Green and Yellow Time, (May 6 )
Recipe Box and Notebook (April 29)
Henrietta Snow, Second Printing (April 21)
Miniskirts and Bell-Bottoms (April 14)
The Poor Man's Fertilizer (April 7)
The Galloping Gourmet (April 1)
The Old Country Store (March 25; First  FB entry)

Earlier: :Ruth's Neighborhood
(multiple entries, 2011 - 2017)