Our friend Veronica whom we love dearly and vice versa has always been a city chick. Even though she enjoys the change of pace of staying with us out here in the middle of nowhere, when pressed, I think she’d admit that the life of a Country Mouse is boring. Ditto for Jim’s sister, my lovely, sociable sister-in-law, Nan, who bought her own apartment in town rather than stay out here with us in the sticks.  All that is a prelude to what would’ve been a far more dramatic story if I had had my camera handy at the right time.😕 But these photos will have to do.  Here goes. Last night after I should’ve been in bed, I remembered that my freshly-washed clothes were still in the kitchen. As I was about to head back upstairs, laundry in hand, I noticed a very large creature on the floor that should not have been there. At first it looked like a wounded bird. But, no.  I looked for a workaround and decided to try to cover it with just the right size piece of Tupperware. Success! But now w


    “The Yale Daily News” wanted to do a report on faculty offices that had interesting decor or collections. Someone suggested mine. The poor reporter thought she’d just breeze in, take a quick photo, and move on. Ha!   Well, I wish I had a camera to capture the look on her face when she stepped into my office. Her jaw dropped. There were touchstones everywhere!   I’m sure I’ve mentioned that my family is missing the throwaway gene. When I told a psychologist friend who knew about my collections of stuff that “I see the poetry in everything,” he chuckled and replied, “That’s a hunk of bunk, Diane. You’re a hoarder!”   Above are some of the photos of my beloved Yale office that I posted on Facebook, but there are many more including the two panoramas. I would have liked to take you on a full tour, and Jim made three videos that we hoped would allow me to do a version of that. Remember the old tv show, "You Are There"? Well, that's what I was going for in trying to give a


Having already admitted that I’m no fan of holidays or birthdays, I have another embarrassing confession that puts right me up there with Scrooge McDuck and the Grinch: For most of my life I have not liked to receive gifts. Further, I only like to give them when something strikes me as just right for the person, regardless of the date. But this year I may be changing my tune, because I received some gifts that felt just right.     One was opening “The London Review of Books” and seeing the elegant ad for “Letters to Men of Letters.”      Another was my deadly-looking hori-hori, the Japanese garden tool that no weed wants to see coming. I’ve written about it previously.   The third which was the subject of a recent three-part post: realizing my long-held wish to get to my mysterious Dream House across the valley.


The reading lasts about 9 minutes.   If you're a technodunce like me, the instructions that follow may be helpful. They were written by my clever husband who is NOT a technodunce.  Click the Play arrow below to start.  If you want to Pause, you can, by clicking the Pause sign in the same place as the Play button. If you do, the first time you may see a new heading from SoundCloud.  To remove that heading, Close it by clicking on the X in the right-hand corner. That will remove the heading and return you to the recording.    If you Pause again, you may see at the bottom some recommended other recordings. You can ignore those and just click Play to resume. Diane Charney · Dear Reader Diane's Letters Audiobook 2 - 1:15:22, 10.42 PM

ONLY IN ITALY? Tools of the Trade: Who's into manual? (Part one of two)

In Italy, when they haven't got the garden tool you want, sometimes they will offer to make it for you! Let me explain.    Cape Cod weeder? Nah, never heard of it. This is the land of MACHO power tools. Manual ones, the only kind I like, are scorned by most Italians as being "for sissies like the English.” I remember the howls that greeted my question about where to buy a manual lawn mower. Go back to England, lady! Never mind that I'm not from there. According to these dudes with their giant gas-guzzling weed whackers, I might as well be.    YAY! I finally got this beauty from Germany, which works great in small spaces, via the internet And now, back to that explanation I mentioned in my first paragraph about the offer to make me a tool that didn’t exist. You have weeds in your Italian garden. Do you know where your estirpatore is? When I first heard that word, I had a FLASH to when I was singing Mendelssohn's "Elijah," the most thrilling moment of which was


While appearing to write about garden tools, I’m reminded of a post I wrote years ago:  REVIVAL (OR, HOW TO MOW LIKE THE QUEEN!)  Although I was not grieving the loss of a dear one at the time, I think I was anticipating the losses to come. As I re-read this piece, I’m struck by how it is speaking to me now, eight years later when I have lost an old friend. I see that Queen Elizabeth who is featured in this old piece is now well into her ninety-fifth year and is as wrinkle free as my nonagenarian mom was when she died as her ninety-fourth birthday approached.    The last lines of my piece feel prescient:  When you are the Queen, you can probably carry on longer. Impermanence reigns more easily further down the line.   Even so, there are limits. The Buddhists have got it right: Remove attachment.  Everything is going to change.   But memory?  Maybe not. * Update with my scary new tool, a 2021 birthday gift from my husband.  My Finnish friend who is one of the best gardeners I know swear

DREAM HOUSE “CODA” (part three)

  Here comes a Coda—the first of many? This one comes on the heels of the Day of the Epiphany, and it feels like one: Although we do not get sunsets at our house, we do get stunning winter sunrises.  I was reminded of this when from the cozy vantage of bed, I looked up and saw a most beautiful blend of colors illuminating for me my Dream House!  But rather than spotlighting the front of the house as it does at sunset, the striking light show was emerging from behind it, leaving the part of the house that faces mine in shadow.         After the first lights of the sunrise, it will take the rest of the day for the Dream House to reveal itself in its full glory.  But I’ll be waiting.