Friday, January 31, 2014


Some writers write in slow motion. The plot, if there is a plot, crawls along. The characters move in a dead march. They measure their words with an eye dropper. Twenty pages later a conundrum forces its way onto the page. One character is stymied by the road block to his wishes. The conflict remains muted, buried deep within the character's psyche, yet there's a change—barely perceptible. Angst.

I have 100 pages to go to finish the book. The protagonist doesn't know what is happening to his life. I want to clue him in, explain the conflict, give him a few options. If I don't do so I fear that the ending will wilt on the page.

The character merges into the landscape and the reader remains staring at the final page.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Keep it Simple

Cooking is fine, clean-up seems too arduous
What is there about some tasks that tire you out before you even begin? I don't mind mindless tasks—sometimes. You cook, people eat and you start over again.

Recently I've taken to watching cooking shows while I walk on the treadmill. I now cut an onion properly. I've bought a long knife with a sharp edge — the better to slice and dice. I try and hold vegetables with the tips of my fingers as I slice.

Some shows are too convoluted for me. I don't want to see four pots on the stove, a blender filled with ingredients, and utensils strewn all over my cutting board. French cooking remains too complex, too buttery.

The vegan show is more my style. Today I discovered how to cook pecan pie with most of the usual ingredients left out. A crust was made out of ten dates mixed with rolled oats and assorted spices. Since dates also went into the filling I wondered if my stomach could tolerate that diet.

Perhaps I am enamored with the kitchen gadgets. Who knew that every task in the kitchen has a gadget that enables you to do the task faster—better—more professionally. Of course that means another item to wash.

Next week I'm going to learn how to create flowers out of vegetables. All I need is my knife. One item to wash. That's the right direction for my culinary future.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Suppose the world stops
mid-stream— and questions
end before answers
or waves reach their height
and turn into folded limestone
or a leaf hovers over a limb—
an aerialist on a high wire

Suppose the response
to the question lodges
like a fishbone in your throat

Then the world begins again—
the wave plunges into the sea
the leaf slumps to the ground
the response to the question
remains constricted

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Words and Pictures

This is the year of movies—at least for me. Is it a plethora of good movies or am I am in the mood to be transported visually?

There's something about a visual representation of a story that totally envelopes you, but there's something about a book that makes you an active participant.

Read a book and enter into the story—if the writer knows how to create those places of entrance. See a movie and be moved by the story, empathize with a character—hope for an ending that makes sense, not Hollywood sense.

Sometimes the way a landscape is portrayed in words makes me yearn for the place and I don't need or want to see it in anything but words. The words create such a visceral image that the reality may even blunt my picture.

Then there are scenes in a movie that portray a landscape so deeply that words would crowd out the scene.

It's good that it doesn't need to be an either or —

Monday, January 27, 2014

Listen to Me

This is totally frustrating. My keyboard refuses to link to my IPad. I have tried bribery, cajoling, -- even holding down the on button. Despite my niceties the IPad tells me that it is not paired with my keyboard.

Yesterday and the day before they were a couple. Now there appears to be a breakdown in communication, but I'm the last to know.

At least with people you can suggest couples counseling , but with a computer it's more complex. I believe that it's a quagmire I can't solve on my own.

What will happen when we become dependent on robots?

After hours on the phone with Apple Support my keyboard is working.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Two Words

Stunned—how can millions of people know about a particular item, a short video clip, an amusing clip?

I never know until it's being announced as the phenomenon of the week. I heard someone tell budding writers, "It's all in social media."
"You need to know how to work social media."

Is this akin to the lines in The Graduate:

I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Yes, sir.
Are you listening?
Yes, I am.
Exactly how do you mean?

Today the difference—
I just want to say two words
Social Media

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Read On

I want to read all the books mentioned in the Tournament of Books—but probably won't get to all of them before the Tournament ends— which coincides with college basketball's March Madness Tournament.

The list of tournament books is an introduction to several authors not on my radar.

Then there's the mystery maven who lists books that are written by authors who may or may not be household names—more books to read.

Today I read several reviews of books that look so fascinating that I immediately requesting them from my library consortium.

Of course a shelf in my bookcase contains the "to be read books" I own. Why then do I keep adding more books to the pile? How can I miss reading about the history of the crossword puzzle or any of the other books on my must read list?

I am in the process of creating a perfect reading day—up early and walk for two miles. Breakfast with the paper—shower, dress and sit down for an hour to read—walk for twenty minutes—read for another hour—and keep this pattern going. Meals of frozen left overs. More reading until bedtime.

Dream of the characters populating my landscape, solve enigmas posed, catch the criminals—and write a few reviews.

That's one way to make a dent in the pile.

Friday, January 24, 2014

An Oddity

I can't believe that I'm looking for a case for my case. I have a new Kindle and a case that seems to open when I toss the Kindle into my purple satchel. Actually it doesn't open—but has the potential of opening. Now if I placed the whole unit in a neoprene case that issue would be solved. It does look rather odd to be placing one case inside another case.

I don't encase other things within two cases —or do I. My Itouch is in a narrow case and , again because I throw it into my purple satchel, I then place it into a zippered case. —a flowered zippered case.

Is this similar to wearing layers?

Or does this reflect on my love for the Russian nesting eggs?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Here We Go

I love finding something new. An article in today's Globe sent me right off to the mentioned Blog—Manuscript Road Trip. Lisa Fagin Davis, along with a colleague, have " been traveling and corresponding with curators and librarians all around the country since 1996..." collecting stories and information on pre-1600 manuscripts.

Now she's taking her readers on a virtual road trip—replete with stories, science, history and the arduous task of "digitization and cataloguing" the material.

It's easy to become totally drawn into another world.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A New World Order

Today I read about 24/7 cameras. For less than $300.00 you can purchase a small camera that fastens to a pocket, shirt, or blouse and unobtrusively takes photos every thirty seconds. Whatever the camera sees it photos. The wearer does nothing, save provide itself as a carrier.

According to the article in The Wall Street Journal, at the end of the day you may have 2000 photos. Of course the camera may be put into a pause phase if you find yourself somewhere where privacy is appropriate.

Besides the overwhelming number of photographs I foresee problems for short people-- like myself. How many photos do I want of headless people?

And if you prefer video you can purchase a little round cam that that can be pinned to any garment or worn around your neck as a high tech necklace -- or stand it facing you for greater intimacy. If it's action you want-- shoot video, stills --shoot photos. When you're finished simply download to a computer.

Why do I find this all disheartening?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mounds and Mounds of Thin Strips

Today I bought a julienne peeler. I'm not a cook, but I've been watching cooking shows while I treadmill in the morning. I'd prefer to be outside walking at 7:00am, but the black ice makes me leery.

I recently discovered a Kitchen store and that's where I went today. Knowing how people desire to have a hands-on experience the owners set up a cutting board with real vegetables and kitchen gadgets. It's an invitation to try out different peelers, lemon squeezers, and items that defy my limited understanding of kitchen delights.

After peeling thin strips from a carrot with two different peelers I selected one of "professional" quality. It glides, rather than cuts. Standing at the cutting board I envisioned mounds of carrot strips and string beans in lean strips.

Soon I found myself searching out recipes that called for julienned expertise. I think the long winters do this to me—

I'll really frighten myself if I buy an apron.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Connecting to Connect

In the beginning God created the heaven and earth
—Genesis 1:1

Letter to Myself

Roget's International Thesaurus lists ten categories for the word connect. If you include connected, connecting and connection and connections the number of categories swells to thirty-seven.

When I tried to find the word connect in the King James Version of the Bible, it simply didn't appear; however, when I chose the NIV, a contemporary translation, I found several connects—or connections.

Exodus does tell of the rings of the breastplate connecting to the waistband so the breastplate doesn't swing out; Leviticus reminds people to include the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them when they bring an offering. In Numbers —Priests and Levites are responsible for any offenses connected with the sanctuary.

And the New Testament doesn't ignore connection—albeit the NIV only mentions it once.
They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
—Colossians 2:19

I rather preferred the KJV use of knit together rather than connect or connected.

Connect: be contiguous, neighbor.
Connect: to ascribe, set to the account of
Connect: to follow, join, belong to

Connection: blood relationship, kinship, ancestry

There is an "Only Connect" in this rambling. My word for last year—release. My word for this year—connect. Last year I used the word everyday in a blog post. This year I'll occasionally use connect in a blog post.

While the word connect rarely appears in bible translations, the Bible is replete with connections, with threads that start on the first page and weave throughout scripture.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth People connect with one another, or disconnect.

We connect to God, God connects with us.
God connects to us. We connect to God.

Because a word spawned in modernity doesn't appear doesn't mean that it isn't knitted into the fabric of the Bible.

Connecting to scripture through writing sounds right—and why not begin at the beginning.

In the beginning God created the heaven and earth.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Poor Loser

I'm disappointed. I know that the Patriots were decimated. I know that they lost another important player during the game. I know that the team they envisioned at the start of the season came apart before you could make any predictions for the season.

No other team lost an important player because he stands accused of murder. That should have been an indication that all might not go well. Was that an omen?

Yesterday my next door neighbor said, "Given all they have dealt with I never expected them to get this far. So even if they lose it's been a good season." I agreed, but my heart wasn't in it—

So when they lost, even though I kept hoping for a miracle even when minutes remained, I felt a let down, a keen disappointment.

Now I'm watching to see what team will win the NFL division game. And I'll root for that team in the Super Bowl.

Maybe by that time I'll not feel so vindictive—or maybe not.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

In Just Two Words

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon...
Live in fragments no longer.
Only connect...

E.M. Forester

I've often quoted the first two words. I could write pages, but in two words Forester said everything that's worthwhile saying on the subject.

Friday, January 17, 2014


The Oscar hype begins with a listing of those films receiving the most nominations. Of course they do not say for what. Movie theaters replay movies from a few months ago, if they received a number of nominations.

Movie aficionados reflect on the selections‚ agreeing, disagreeing.

This year a number of aging performers received nominations. What does this say? Is ageism not prevalent in California? Do these performers ask for their Dunkin Donut Senior discount?

I have a list of must see movies and I keep ticking them off—but many of the films mentioned aren't on my list.

Actually I keep a number of lists. There's a woman who writes a mystery blog and also belongs to a mystery book club which has met for thirty years. This group reads one mystery a week. I copied down her list for the months of January and February. But I'm already behind because I'm trying to read the books listed for the March Tournament of Books. The only thing one needs to know is that it coincides with March madness —the college basketball tournament.

Fortunately I'll be going to the movies tomorrow and we're seeing one of the movies on my list—which is also on the list of most nominated movies.

I'm compiling my own list of movies—and recipes gleaned while walking on the treadmill early in the morning.

The recipes spawned another list—spices and implements needed.

Lists never remain isolated. They tend to migrate and form new lists—a never ending cycle of connections.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What If?

Our mind conjures up all the possibilities. The diagnostic test might show, might not show and from that we weave all the permutations of what happens for each of the outcomes.

If I apply for that position and leave this position what may happen? People get stuck because they spend too much time worried about the what ifs.

The risk takers covet the place of not knowing. It is in that space that one comes face to face with fears and strengths.

The believers trust that their belief will encompass whatever uncertainties arise.

In the world of art the innovators moved ahead dragging behind them those who waited to see how the critics reacted to the new direction.

Some people take giant steps, others move a bit slower aware of the reactions of others—and then the rest stay back to see what emerges before they take a step.

I expect that those who chose the careful way miss out on some of the surprises—and pitfalls.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Days of the Week

Yesterday faded
into memory
yet it leaves
an imprint,
a ghost image

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Read the Headline

If you listen to people who love sports or to sports shows on the radio or television, it's impossible to avoid hearing someone's opinion about who will win what and how they will win. We love, along with Las Vegas, playing at selecting winners and losers or setting up odds.

Some people delight in taking the contrary opinion. They relish the improbable. They root for the underdog, the come from behind win, the good feel. They ignore the pundits, eschew group wisdom, and rely on intuition.

When the 2013 Red Sox rooster appeared for the first time in spring training the local sports media dubbed 2013 as a "corrective year", one to diminish the stain of the 2012 season. The local media accepted the foregone conclusion of no post season and a middling team. Yet—that bearded crew went all the way to win the World Series.

The same sports writer who spent most of the baseball season decreeing gloom and doom for the Sox, but applauded their good character, now says the Patriots' season will end before they reach the Super Bowl. Las Vegas agrees. The statisticians who labor over reams of statistics agree.

Yet, there are those who argue that fate always intervenes. Look at the story—a team decimated by key injuries, reliant on young rookies, unsure about their place kicker after a recent injury—against a quarterback having his best year.

Now write the ending—against the odds they win. That's a better story. Visualize the headlines sprawled across the front page, accept the apologies of the media.

I like that story. Count me with those who believe in fairy tale endings.

Monday, January 13, 2014


People walked past the bench. Some turned to look at the blankets and sleeping bag. It appeared as if someone had left a worn and dirty sleeping bag and blanket in disarray. Items to be thrown away.

But if you looked carefully you could see brown straggly hair. His head was buried deep into the sleeping bag--age undetermined. I say man, but it might have been a woman.

No police woke him up and told him to move along. Not too far away The Charles Hotel charges several hundred dollars for a room.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

There's Still Time

Corinthians 1:18-19 NIV
[18] For the message of the cross is foolishness
to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
[19] For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

To One Who is Perishing

don't look for answers
in stacks of books
or the words shared
over coffee, forget trying
to map it all out, it's not
a blueprint you buy
or something a guru offers

the cross
confounds some folks
seems like a mirage,
an illusion

listen up
forget oracles
seers sprouting
five syllable words
God's got a message

got a moment
listen up
there's still time

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Home Grown Talent

Perhaps I'm just not in the right place at the right time, but I've never heard people take part in a karaoke competition.Today the Wall Street Journal devoted a full page to the equipment required for an individual to have a living room set-up.

According to the writer the cost of a set-up has now dipped into the affordable range. Imagine the boost to confidence and the broadening of singing prowess.

Of course I am tone deaf and even when standing next to someone who sings properly, I rarely hit all the correct notes. So, even if I wanted to get up there and belt out a song along with my favorite singer I am at a disadvantage.

Technology comes to the rescue.Somewhere an engineer suffering from an inability to carry a tune bemoaned fate and set out to right a wrong.

Ergo a company and its astute engineers recognized a market and jumped in to remedy the situation. They created a microphone that, according to the article, "automatically transforms out-of-tune singing into pitch-perfect melodies..."

I imagine myself singing ballads, love songs—perhaps even an aria or two. Anything is possible. One problem, I'll still need a backing track. I can't sing on my own.

But in my own home I can be a diva.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Anyone who rummages about in the past and also writes, knows that it is impossible to capture an entire experience within the confines of a sentence or a book of sentences. When I read a memoir written by a talented writer, I am aware that despite how articulate, moving, and true something seems there is always a part that can't be captured.

In Patricia Hampl's book, I Could Tell You Stories she writes, "A story, we sense, is the only possible habitation for the burden of our witnessing."

Even the best of writers when telling a story from their own life cannot capture the entire story. We may be moved to tears, to laughter, to anger, to even feel as if we experience the story —but not in its entirety.

I love two words Hampl uses—burden and witnessing. Something about the juxtaposition, the connection between those words, makes me think of how some stories have a weight that we carry. And some stories need to be told or written down for our soul, or for those hearing or reading the story.

Thursday, January 09, 2014


When I read I underline, if it is my book. I take notes, write down sentences and sometimes even copy whole paragraphs. Today while reading My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, I visually underlined part of a sentence and then copied the words into my moleskin notebook.

" She was gripped by a frenzy of absolute disclosure."

Imagine the intensity of such an experience. Gripped. In the clutches-- such tenacity. And frenzy-- mania. Held with a stubbornness, a madness with sharpened talons.

Absolute. Perfect. Unconditional disclosure. And what is disclosure, but revelation.

To reveal all.

How devastating to exist within that frenzy—akin to being caught up in the vortex of a tornado.

Appreciate for a moment the disaster of such a state. Unvarnished criticism. Opinions given even when not requested. Secrets let out with abandon. Words spilled out without regard for the nuances, for their baggage. Rapier at the ready.

Connect with anyone or anything—

Authors do have a way of taking me on flights of imagination.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A Book Club

Today the writer of a mystery blog I read listed her book club's selection for the month of January.For the past thirty years her book club meets once a week and discusses a mystery book. That's quite a committment.

According to a story in The Washington Post, fifty years ago a group three women began meeting to discuss books -- " after they got their children down for naps." Their first book-- The Feminine Mystique.

They quickly established a time and some iron clad rules.No discussion of children was permitted and their meeting time established their name--The Third Tuesday Book Club. More women joined the group. In time twenty- three women joined.

Recently meetings changed from Tuesday evening to Saturday afternoon.

Over fifty years they read 600 books and this June they celebrated their fiftieth anniversary. (Thinking of connections)

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


After thinking about connect, connecting, and connection I found myself thinking about scripture.

   Suppose I , along with others, read through the Bible and we met every two weeks to share our writing. And this writing would be a conversation with some part of the scripture we had read the previous two weeks.

I like the idea.   

Monday, January 06, 2014

To Connect

To connect to scripture, to literature, to movies, to news, to the past—
To connect to family, to friends, to people I know and those I don't know—

I'll visit scripture, or discuss a book, or talk about connects and the disconnects—

To connect to emotions, speech, silence—

To relate to each on a deeper level—

I'll not set out with a predetermined number of times I'll visit each theme. Some weeks I may connect with scripture every day, or with books, or with people.

I want to allow the word to lead me on a path and I'll follow. Whereas release appeared in each blog post, connect may or may not appear. It will, however, act as the propelling force for each post.

Starting anew reminds me of when September meant new school notebooks. The anticipation and possibilities of the new year seemed endless.

That first page, first post on a fresh theme —exhilarating.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Not a Random Selection

On January 6, 2013 I wrote:

I am the recipient of a silver star. Not just a plain star, but one with a word on the back. On Epiphany Sunday the minister placed silver stars on the floor in the front of the church-- small ones for adults and large stars for children.

" You'll find a word on the back of each star. Don't peek under a number of stars to find the one— just pick a star. Place the star where you'll see it throughout the year. Mediate on the word, look it up, see where it appears in scripture, see how it applies to you."

Today I walked up to the front of the church, looked down and picked a star. Before I turned it over I thought about my 2013 word—release. Over the year I felt that the word picked me rather than that I selected the word. Nothing seemed random.

When I arrived back in the pew I turned my star over and read my word for 2014—connect.

This isn't chance or a coincidence—release one year and then connect.

It's looking at two sides, a duality. I'm not certain what I'll do with connect—save let it lead me.

Connect: relation, association, belong to, joining, reunion.

Perhaps 2014 will be the year of reunions, reconnections.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Seeking a Narrative Arc

Release is in the air—a release from the frigid temperatures of yesterday. How, I wonder, do people live in areas with a winter's worth of sub-zero temperatures?

Several memoirs released this week seem to hover on the precipice between interesting and being invasive.

How does someone know when they cross that line? How does an author manage the wreckage by divulging another's story?

Release is in the air—

Friday, January 03, 2014

Memory Lane

He put a penny in a gum
machine bolted to an iron pillar.
—Peter Quinn Hour of the Cat

That line in the Hour of the Cat propelled me back in time. Gum machines on the platform stations in the New York City subways belong to a different era.

Put a penny in the machine, select a flavor, turn a metal lever and the vending machine released a small box containing two Chiclets.

Another vending machine held miniature chocolate bars—each bar cost one penny, or was it two pennies? I recall selecting either a dark Hersey Bar or a Nestle Crunch. Occasionally the vending machine refused to release the gum or candy and an irate person throttled the machine—to no avail.

Once on my way down to the Art Student's League where I took art lessons Saturday mornings, I splurged on every possible chocolate selection —five. I was in the seventh grade and wanted to attend Music and Art High School so, along with a friend, we traveled two different subway lines to Manhattan for our lessons.

After class we usually went to the Horn and Hardart automat for lunch. I loved walking back and forth in front of the huge horizontal vending machine made up of shelves of glass compartments holding sandwiches and pies. Put a coin in a slot, turn the handle and remove the plate of food. As quickly as you removed your plate someone behind the display replaced the dish.

And that memory sent me down a culinary memory lane: hot steaming sweet potatoes sold on the Lower East Side, pickles from a barrel, hot potato knishes on a cold winter day, a brown bag of hot chestnuts in front of the Museum of Modern Art, and my grandmother's honey cake with cream cheese.

Later on other dishes overtake those culinary treats of the past. The Friendship Fruit starter contained brandy. You made it and passed on a portion to a friend who added more fruit and followed the directions to create their own salad and then passed on a portion to another friend.

Memories, one links to another and before you know it you're remembering things that you thought you forgot.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Waiting For Answers

Wait on the Lord
--Psalm 27:14 KJV

we wait for a release
from this cold winter spell

how granular the snow looks
as it wraps the bushes

you can't hurry some things
sit down and wait

breathe, loosen up

the Lord's got his own timetable

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

To Redeem

Either memory freezes us or it prods us into a search for meaning. That meaning may be light and fanciful, loving, or range over the landscape of emotions. Sometimes memory urges us toward forgiveness—for ourselves, for others.

A memory may act as a place-mark, as a turning point, as a chronology. Memory is imprecise, varies with time.

My memories are not unique, although the particulars may be unique. Writing about release this year took me on a journey—and a quest for understanding.

I didn't select "release"—it selected me. The word allowed me the time to look at how we all hide things not only from others, but from ourselves.

Earlier I said that release was about love. We all have the chance to release, to fling love into the universe.

To release also means to unfreeze, to unblock.

Steven Birkerts says that the memoirist "writes to redeem experience, to reawaken the past, and to find its pattern..."

While I didn't intend to write a memoir—much of where I ended up was memoir.