Staying warm.

December 31, 2010 § 10 Comments

We heat with wood, and watching the chalk lines of smoke waver up from nearby chimneys I’d guess that many of our neighbors do too.

Heat from a woodstove is nothing like the ubiquitous warmth that purred out of the registers in the house where I grew up. A woodstove is a point source, its heat diminishing with distance from the stove.

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The Blind-Faith Method.

December 24, 2010 § 12 Comments

There are plenty of tips on how to write good fiction, as if story were a kit waiting to be assembled.

Many of those tips are helpful, but they belong in the tool box of the critic/editor that resides in the brain of every writer.  Rational thought and time-tested technique come in handy when tinkering with a wobbly first draft.

At least for me, the first draft must be embarked upon with the faith of Icarus trusting a pair of wings made of feathers and wax.

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Mildred’s

December 17, 2010 § 13 Comments

The traditional Christmas pound cake in my family is called “Mildred’s.”

This simple, bullet-proof recipe came from Mildred Oakes, one of my grandmother’s best friends in Congers, New York.

I have a faint memory of Mrs. Oakes. I am peering through a screen door into a kitchen at a heavy woman with thick ankles and permed brown hair. I can tell the woman seated in a wooden chair has never been young and has always found getting out of a chair to answer the door an effort.

I also know she has been put on earth for a purpose. And that purpose was to create The Recipe.

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The best of times, the worst of times.

December 8, 2010 § 7 Comments

The recession grinds on and on.

We are beleaguered, and no one believes we will return to the kite-high days of three years ago when our houses were appreciating wildly and getting rich was as easy as playing a game of Monopoly.

We were shocked to learn that we’d been fooled into believing in the Emperor’s new clothes.  Now that the shock has worn off we are scared and angry.  Almost ten percent of us are unemployed and the other ninety percent on edge.

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A dancing animal.

December 2, 2010 § 4 Comments

My father was having a hard time sitting.  Although he usually toughed pain out, it finally got so bad he took his sore butt to the doctor.

A desk bound chemical engineer, my Dad was suffering from “Weaver’s Bottom,” a painful and embarrassing condition was named for workers who sat for hours on a hard bench tossing a shuttle back and forth.

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