Letter From Away — June 12, 2021

I’m a wandering Jew. I can say that, at least I think I can, for two reasons. First, the facts I assert can be proven by objective scrutiny. Second, because I live under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

At least for now.

I don’t know if kids today use the phrase, “It’s a free country,” to defend themselves from the taunts of playmates, as we did when I was a child. We also said things like, “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can never hurt me,” and…

Letter From Away — June 5, 2021

We are what we trash.

Last week I read an article by Vijay Kolinjivadi, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Antwerp, who describes himself as, “ … an academic, living in a ‘hip’ part of Montreal and engag(ing) in activities that follow a particular aesthetic ethos …”

Kolinjivadi described a new LEED-certified, so-called sustainable campus that was being built adjacent to what he called, “one of Canada’s poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods.” You and I know that probably means folks from away, originating outside of current North American borders, probably with skins of a darker hue.

Letter from Away — May 29, 2021

My mother loved Decoration Day.

According to Wikipedia, the holiday that we now call Memorial Day began, as a kind of ancestor worship, among people in Southern Appalachia and in the West African country of Liberia, sometime between the Civil War and the start of the 20th century. One of the earliest recorded Memorial Day commemorations was held by former slaves in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865.

In Liberia, The American Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color (ACS) supported the relocation of…

Letter From Away — May 22, 2021

The City Mouse came to visit last week.

After months of clumsy Zoom visits, long phone calls, and confusing texts, my life is filled with faces again. It was wonderful to invite one of my closest friends into my home, to set out bedding and towels, and stock up on his favorite treats. I enjoyed weeks of planning: the hikes would we take, the meals we would share.

Letter from Away — May 15, 2021

House prices, throughout the United States, fluctuate dramatically over time. For speculators it seems like a fun ride, but for humans seeking habitation, the wild swings can mean insecurity. (source: microtrends.net)

My mother bought the 1000 sq.ft. house I grew up in for $16,000 in 1959. In today’s dollars that was $130,000 for a three bedroom, two bathroom ranch, built on a slab and sitting on an acre of land 35 miles west of Boston.

In 2002 the land under the house was so valuable that Mom sold the property for $315,000 to someone who tore it down, put up a McMansion, and sold the result for almost a million dollars. …

Letter From Away — May 8, 2021

As long as there has been public education, there have been complaints about equity in delivery and methods of funding.

Let’s not argue about the value of an educated electorate. Whatever might be said about his record on slavery, I have always agreed with Thomas Jefferson’s assertions that, “An educated electorate is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” …

Letter From Away — May 1, 2021

Westminster, CO, has one of the highest shooting rates in the United States. (Photo: Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

On April 20, while a Minneapolis jury announced the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, not quite a year ago, the lives of at least two other citizens were taken by police guns. Within 24 hours of the verdict, that toll had risen to six. Some of the dead were armed; some were not.

In Columbus, Ohio, sixteen-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by four shots from an officer’s weapon as she ran close in to another young woman. The bodycam footage is all over the internet. The following Sunday…

Letter from Away — April 24, 2021

Although the path runs a few feet in from the edge of this bluff, trail users can’t seem to resist walking to the very brink of the land, where the roots of trees struggle to keep their hold on this fragile earth.

Like many modern Americans, I now own a device that tells me how much walking I’ve done. I scoffed at these when the first apple watches came out, TMI strapped to our arms.

I said I would not be a prisoner to the step count. Curiosity took over when I discovered the health app installed on my phone, a little heart-shaped icon too cute to ignore. That was two years ago. Now I have goals.

At first, I walked around town seeking as many ways as possible to transit the same exact set…

Letter from Away — April 16, 2020

I am the crazy old lady on the phone.

Last Tuesday was a day to accomplish nothing, and try as I might, nothing is exactly what I got done. With a little affirmation from Greg Brown, I embraced my inability to comply with my list of things to do and went to bed promising myself success in the morning.

I awoke Wednesday with three items to check off: figure out how to get my insurance to cover new lenses for my antique eyeglass frames, order Melaphafon’s favorite cat food, and complete the exchange…

Letter From Away — April 10, 2021

One difference between online news and print journalism is the collegial connection of the newsroom.

On average, I write one new column each week. In reality, I write two columns one week and ignore my responsibilities the next.

This is because of the difference between publishing online and being published, in print, by someone who owns, or pays someone else to own, the presses. A writer can donate services by submitting content without expectation of payment, or an arrangement can be made. In the case of online publication, for example, I post weekly at a site that charges me nothing and allows any user to view and search…

Shlomit Auciello

Shlomit Auciello is a writer, photographer, and human ecologist who lives in Midcoast Maine. Letter From Away has appeared online and in print since 1992.

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