Notes From All Over

Autumn in New England
Autumn in New England

The calendars of my Midwestern childhood, handed out by the local bank or grain elevator, depicted scenes that bore little resemblance to the seasons as we knew them in the upper Great Plains. Winter didn't show any howling blizzards. Spring seemed to arrive in March, a month when the prairies were still sullen and shivering. And autumn-well, we had no frame of reference for the autumn scenes depicted in those calendars, aswirl in piles of brilliant leaves. Trees aren't a major feature of the prairie, unless you plant them and then commit to watering them...for about a decade.

Indie Movie Wines
Sinskey Pinot Noir

My daughter was talking about her Entertainment Marketing course, where the instructor was discussing how you make and market a blockbuster (and to be clear, this instructor has done exactly that, many many times over). His advice boiled down to a kind of recipe: X quantity of attractive leads mixed with Y quantity of conflict, Z suspenseful moments, Q amount of contemporary issues, and a plot twist or two to keep you get the picture. You've probably seen the picture. I have, and often I'll like that blockbuster well enough.

Turning Back Time

'Hi, Sam! Could I get a Turkey and Swiss with mustard on rye, please?'
'Yes. Turkey, you want Swiss or Muenster?'
'Swiss, please.'
'Ok, then. Mustard or mayo?'
'Mustard, Sam.'
'On rye or on a roll?'
'Rye, please.'

The (Wine) Road Less Traveled

The first duty of wine is to be delicious.

I might even say that the first through tenth duties of wine are to be delicious. Wine geeks like me will wax rhapsodic over this rare grape or that star winemaker. Others might get excited over a particularly pretty label or unusual bottle. But if it doesn't taste good, what's the point?

BI Ferry Sunset

Sometimes, balance is everything.

In yoga, you can be the most flexible and/or the strongest person in the room, but if you don't have balance, you'll still topple over in half moon pose. In photography, balance is also paramount. Although I know this, I almost never manage to achieve it; I am a truly terrible photographer.

Keeping the Peace
Beach Pic

The first time I visited the beach with my then-boyfriend now-husband and his family, I was astonished at the sheer amount of STUFF they brought along. A canopy tent, grill, Coleman stove, equipment to cook pasta and meatballs for lunch and later, sausage and peppers. Coolers, plural, crammed with food. His dad would have the car in line 45+ minutes before the parking lot opened. Those not tasked with the important work of driving in the supplies (aka the females) were dispatched to 'claim' 2 picnic tables for our use.

Late Summer: Sweet Corn & Tomatoes
Tomatoes in Hand

In the depths of winter, when I'm fantasizing about summer, those fantasies break down into 2 broad categories: the beach and late-summer vegetables. The beach because that's where I wish I was, the vegetables because I wish that's what I was eating. August is when gardens and farm stands explode with deliciousness faster than you can consume it. If you've never had cause to appreciate your 5 senses, August at a farmer's market will change all that, with sights, sounds, and-especially-smells certain to have you drooling in anticipation. Zucchini, fresh herbs, garlic, eggplant. Beans.


Scanning the paper over coffee one morning, I saw this headline: 'Customer chases liquor store owner with machete.' Um, what?! Apparently, the store owner asked the customer to watch his language, and the customer reacted by pulling a machete out of his trunk. This incident happened in Providence. And while I adore Providence, I could do without machetes, thanks! My Midwest childhood didn't prepare me for that sort of thing.


On May 16th, my family and I were climbing up Sicily's Mt Etna, in the midst of a freak snow squall. Our guide for the day, a local geologist named Stefano, had a Sicilian accent so thick that it could easily have been the inspiration for Guido Sarducci. 'Stefano, when did that crater last erupt?' 'It erupted-a in eighteen-a seventy-five-a.' And for more recent eruptions: 'In nineteen-a eighty-seven-a, I see it (pointing to his face) with my own eyes-a*!

Dog Days
Flat Dog

As a small child, I thought the Dog Days of Summer referred to hot summer days when our dogs would lie flat and still in the shade, untempted by barn cats, scampering gophers, or mischievous children. Later, I read accounts that the name stems from weather so hot it drove dogs mad. But the true derivation of Dog Days is Greek, from Sirius aka the Dog Star, and its position in the morning sky.