January 2nd, 2020 — 2:05pm

I love New Year’s Resolutions. At this point in life, I’m also leery of them. Chary, almost. Should I resolve once again? But–why not? At least they show what I’m thinking about and what I intend, in what realms I mean well.

This year, this rounded and mirrored, balanced–what is the word?!–symmeterical!–2020, among other things, I mean to blog more. But about what? Maybe a structure would help me keep to it?

What about “What I’m reading”? What I’m reading & baking & photographing. Something short and not in so many words as this, because words I edit and consider, & then it takes time I don’t have, time & writing energy that must be so carefully budgeted, or at least I believe that.



(Too much? But at least there’s always something to do, see, think about.)


There never seems to be enough of it. A conundrum I’ve pondered for years. Who hasn’t?


I get caught up in playing. Time disappears, I disappear, there’s only the movement of your fingers and the music. And you have to practice music, have to keep your calluses, your stretchy fingers, your muscle memory. Writing also requires that. Everything does. So…. (casts a longing glance upward to loft where guitar sits quiet in case)….

At any rate, for today, What I’m Reading.

*Hunter’s Moon, A Novel in Stories, by Philip Caputo.

*Life Without a Recipe, a Memoir, by Diana Abu-Jabar.

It dawns on me as I fiddle with this post, re-learning how to create a link, that maybe I’d better set a time limit when I write a blog. i.e., When the kitchen timer dings, I’m done, go, POST already, no matter how unfinished. I’m not sure I could adhere to that intention, but there’s promise in it. And what I would tell you as the minutes wind down–I like both of these books a lot.

Caputo’s metaphors make me grab my pen to copy them into my journal. Golden leaves tremble like candle flames, the sun chops a pine’s shadow into lengths. Also I admire his insight. “Adolescence is a condition no one recovers from completely.” Yes, I nod. And his characters are alive on the page: real, sympathetic, being honest with themselves and you, the reader, even if not always with others.

Abu-Jabar is balletic with language. I admire her creative way of using words, especially verbs.  I love her involvement with food, with family, with memory. As with Caputo, I like her thoughtfulness, insight, and honesty. Here’s a quote that made me grin: “Advice is offered like food from the hand- a loving, unwanted gift.”

The kitchen timer dings–so, okay, I’m posting.

12 comments » | Books, Words

Stayin’ Alive

May 29th, 2018 — 3:28am

This afternoon a man comes in to split a triple decker BLT with his wife. Before long Candice comes to the bakery with the interesting information that he’ll be a hundred years old soon. I tell myself to leave him time to eat but within minutes I can’t resist him. I stop at their table as he’s just beginning to pull the top layer off his sandwich and confess I have questions. He is tall and lean and bright-eyed, neatly dressed and wearing a cap with a military insignia on it. He waves me into the booth beside him, slings an arm over my shoulder and pulls me close. Ask away, he says. What do you want to know?

I want to know his name and where he was born and when and where he lives now and how long he’s lived there and whether there’s a lot of longevity in his family. He tells me: Menzo Caswell, born downstate near Levering on October 22, 1918, lives in Newberry, right behind the school on Avenue B–you stop by any time–came north in the 1930s, and no, not particularly–mostly his kin only lived into their 80s.

I give him a look–is that all?–then ask as I always ask people over ninety, What is your secret?

Menzo’s grin is big and quick. Be an S.O.B.

I write it down on a napkin.

Meanwhile his wife of fourteen years, Sandy, twenty four years his junior and his equal in good humor grins her own grin and points at her chest. Me.

I write that down too.

He studies what I’ve got scrawled in purple ink, snuggles me closer. They always ask, how do you live so long and so well and I tell them, Who can say? Who knows? You can’t put a tag on it. All you can do–don’t worry. Take one day at a time. Take every day as it comes and be thankful for each one.

He tugs another chunk of bacon from the sandwich and takes a bite. I’m blessed, he says. That’s all there is to it, really. I’m one of the lucky ones.

We talk of his name–unusual now, but in his youth there were Almonzo’s and Allanzo’s and his mother did her own variation and burdened me with this, but at least when they call out Menzo you know who they’re talking to–and then I ask the other question I always ask the oldest people: what’s the biggest change in the world you’ve seen in your life, the worst one?

Menzo grimaces. I guess I have to say it’s all these damned little phones. He makes a motion like someone punching a number into a cell phone, then holds the invisible device up to his ear. Everyone has one, they’re always on them. Who’d have ever thought of such a thing happening?

My nod is avid; I write down all these damned little phones inside quote marks.

I have one, he admits. Out in the car. A little Tracfone. I use it when I’m traveling.

Me too, me too, I tell him. I use mine for traveling too.

Our talk drifts to general things. Their bill is paid by an adjoining table, Sandy gets up to stretch her legs, I ask if we can get our picture taken together, and Menzo, laughing, hugs me closer yet, talks low in my ear, shields me with his ball cap from time to time to impart some special piece of wisdom.

Later as I sweep the floor the Bee Gees come on Sirrius radio singing Stayin’ Alive. I turn it up loud and dance a little with the broom and Taylor goes out the bakery slider grinning in a forgiving way.

Menzo and me

6 comments » | Today's Special

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