Vital Signs

Morticia of the Homestead

Eagle Forum, the national political organization headed by Phyllis Schlafly, once selected me Massachusetts Homemaker of the Year. My husband nominated me by filling out an application form. I was touched. Hubby, I assumed, wanted to highlight my attempts to homemake, homestead, and homeschool. Sort of. Wid was proud of my domestic endeavors, but he made me a contestant, in part, because he wanted to participate in the prize: an all-expenses paid weekend at a posh Washington, D.C., hotel for each state's winner. What a guy.

When I actually became the honoree, and Eagle Forum dispatched press releases to the local media of my impending coronation, a reporter from the Springfield-Union News phoned. "I'd like to come to your home with a photographer," he said. The gleam in his voice gave it away: he thought he was going to meet a Martha Stewart wannabe.

I could visualize this reporter's fantasy. He'd encounter me sporting diamond studs and spackling. After I cleaned up, I'd offer him lunch: saucisson chaud with steamed kale, artistically arranged on pressed glass plates. During a dessert of kiwi flamboyancy, served in my perfectly fertilized rosebush garden, the neighborhood's beautiful people would join us for lattes.

"Sure, come on over," I said.

When the newsie arrived, I was hospitable. "Do you drink instant coffee?"

He looked...

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