, Newburyport, MA

May 7, 2014

Taking on 'The Mother Load'

Longtime columnist turns favorite pieces into book

By Ann Reily
Features Editor

---- — While most families chronicle their lives through photo albums, Nancy Crochiere has taken that a step further: She has everything written down.

As a columnist for The Daily News from 1997 to 2011, the Amesbury resident shared countless memorable moments and anecdotes about her husband, Paul, and two daughters, Danielle and Rebecca.

Now, she has compiled 66 of her favorite columns for a book, “The Mother Load,” published in December by Nevertheless Press.

“One of the big reasons for doing this book was to collect everything and have it be there for my children,” said Crochiere, 55.

One morning back when her children were 5 and 9, Crochiere was unsuccessfully trying to get them into the car to go to school.

“They were doing what they always did on trash day — checking out the barrels at end of our driveway to see which of their treasures I might secretly be trying to throw away,” she said.

This particular week, they fixated on a broken plastic laundry basket, insisting they could still use it to build forts or to make hats. The experience led Crochiere to pen “Let’s Talk Trash,” her first piece for The Daily News.

“If the waste basket contains a ratty, one-eyed, stuffed dog hidden in a Sears bag shoved inside a shoe box and covered with three layers of dryer fuzz, my children will excavate it with more determination than archeologists digging for the lost city of Pompeii,” she writes in “Let’s Talk Trash,” which also appears in the book.

Although the column has fun with her children’s trash-picking, it was also “about how we tend to value things most when we’re in danger of losing them,” Crochiere said.

“Over the years, my columns basically followed that same model,” she said. “They were written to be amusing but often had a sort of larger point, too.”

From there, Crochiere went on to write about relatable topics such as family vacations, holiday struggles, pets, technology, fitness and multitasking, such as the time she was late for a potluck and tossed a salad while in the drive-through at Dunkin’ Donuts.

“Some of my favorite ones were about my daughters going to the prom, or being a soccer mom and sitting on the sidelines freezing your tail off,” she said.

She continued to write about the humorous occurrences in everyday life until just after her youngest daughter started college.

“I thought it was time to move on to some other types of writing,” said Crochiere, who next month will leave her longtime job in college textbook publishing to devote herself full time to writing. “I’m starting work on a novel, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m excited about being able to devote substantial time to it.”

Danielle Crochiere is now 26 and completing a nurse practitioner’s program at Columbia University, while Rebecca is 22 and will graduate later this month from Vermont’s Middlebury College, the alma mater of both her parents. She will join her sister in New York, where she has accepted a job at a financial services firm.

While there was the occasional protest — Danielle insisted that while on her first driving lesson, “I did not brake for a fuzzy caterpillar in the road” — her family was mostly good sports about serving as fodder for the columns, Crochiere said.

“My younger daughter really grew up with the column,” Crochiere said, adding that Rebecca thought it was normal that people in the supermarket knew all about where they went on vacation or how their pet rabbit, Bun-Bun, was faring.

With “literally hundreds of columns to choose from,” Crochiere spent two years picking out pieces for the book, working during weekends and other moments of free time.

“It took a while to read through the whole collection,” she said.

She also had to edit some of them to remove outdated cultural references. But she really enjoyed the look back.

“It was fun reading them,” she said. “I think my husband enjoyed going back, too. There were great memories involved.”

“The Mother Load” was honored last month as a finalist in the narrative nonfiction category for the Independent Publishers of New England Book Award. It is also currently a finalist in the humor category for Foreword Reviews’ Book of the Year Award, which will be presented June 27 in Las Vegas.


Mother’s Day giveaway

Anyone who purchases “The Mother Load” this week at either The Book Rack or Jabberwocky Bookshop, both in Newburyport, will be entered into a drawing for a free Mother’s Day gift basket. The winner will be drawn this Saturday, and items include a bottle of Mad Housewife chardonnay, Starbucks coffee, a travel mug, shower gel, refrigerator magnets and another copy of the book.


Upcoming appearances

On TV this week

An interview taped with Nancy Crochiere for Danvers Community Access Television’s “Off the Shelf: Books on Tour” will air locally this weekend.

Friday: PortMedia, Channel 8, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Amesbury Community Television, Channel 12, 11:30 a.m.

In person

What: “Memoirs, Family Tree & Family History Authors,” part of Buttonwoods Museum Author’s Lecture Series

When: Friday, May 16, 6-8 p.m.

Where: Buttonwoods Museum, 240 Water St., Haverhill

How much: Free

Save the date

What: Author Series reading and Q&A

When: Thursday, Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Emma L. Andrews Library, 77 Purchase St., Newburyport

How much: Free