Newest Blog Entries


Contractors: The Good, The Bad and Those You Haven’t Yet Called

September 28, 2018 Barbara Ballinger & Margaret Crane

A painter, plumber, carpenter, electrician, heating/cooling or HVAC guy and other skilled tradespeople… line them up like soldiers and there’s often a horror story or funny tidbit about each. Are you nodding your collective heads? Good. For this is the season (before winter comes) when everybody is trying to get outdoor projects done, so it’s a perfect time to address the rigors of hiring the right people to do the work. We’ve each tackled big and small projects, so we think we’re entitled to our opinions and advice.  We believe hiring contractors falls into three categories:   I. Those you...


This Old House

September 21, 2018 Margaret Crane

After my husband died and I sold our family home of 37 years, I fantasized about walking back into that home one more time. Would it be like walking back into the life I lost? For seven years, I couldn’t take this step. It was too painful. I wasn’t ready to go back to what used to be and who I was, a happily married wife and mom. That was lost to me much like my husband, our dog, and my father all within the same year. And it was all bundled into one foggy, sad memory.  “Why do you...


My Piano: A Companion & Keepsake for Life

September 14, 2018 Barbara Ballinger

Some people may view my 5’7”, 560-pound 1936 Steinway mahogany Medium Grand piano as a beautiful instrument—which it is, sort of like admiring a favorite painting. I see it as so much more.   It has long been the connection that keeps my late father’s memory alive. He is the one who bought it for my mother in May 1955, shortly before their 13th wedding anniversary. They went to Steinway’s famous Manhattan showroom on West 57th street, an iconic place for piano lovers to see dozens of possibilities and purchased it. Once it was ensconced in my childhood home and...


Friends: A Team of Emotional Experts

September 07, 2018 Barbara Ballinger & Margaret Crane

Experts. We all use them whether it’s to help with our taxes, diagnose our illnesses, prescribe our medications, landscape our lawns, remodel our homes or fix our teeth. We got to thinking whether we could use this logic when forming our friendships--a team of experts each of whom offers special skills, knowledge and emotional support.   We both know how important our friends were after we each lost a spouse. Friends circled the wagons, didn’t gossip about our losses, took us out, brought us food, wine, books and candy, and most of all held our hands and tended to our broken...


Cooking for Mom: Labor of Love or Chore for a Dutiful Daughter?

August 31, 2018 Barbara Ballinger

(Photo: Barbara with her mother and two daughters) It started as a labor of love, and evolved, gradually, into a weekly endeavor that made me wonder if I had bitten off too much.  As my mom aged and found it harder to bake the brownies, rugelach and chocolate chip cookies we adored, I took up the mantle and dropped off a good supply at her city apartment, two hours from my home in the country.  And then as she became more infirm and less able to stand and cook even the simplest meals, I took to doing most of her...