Category Archives: opinion



My brother and I had lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen in Town Triangle today. I’m wondering if I am way off base or do others agree with my thoughts. The Shredded Mushroom and Spinach Pizzas were good, sided with good Mediterrean Salads, but my chin was about 3” above the table. I asked for a bumper seat, knowing immediately how small children feel. Alas, they had none.

The music was very loud and of a nature that was definitely not conducive to pleasant dining or digestion. Where is the sense of dining room decorum to be found?

It was also annoying to have the wait person come to us, while our mouths were busy chewing our food, and pump us for donations in “supporting the troops.” Really, doesn’t anyone respect time and place for things?

I wonder how others feel about this. Am I out of step, expecting too much for the money paid? If it were McDonald’s or Wendy’s or like fast-food places, I would understand the mentality. What are your thoughts on this?

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Writing in Cookbooks

Here’s a question for those who love to spend time in the kitchen and there are still many of us out there, fortunately. How many times have you come across hand written notes in a used cook book you bought? Or one handed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter or thankfully, today to sons, etc.? Have you written adjustments to a recipe to suit your own tastes? I know I have. The first time I try it their way. After that, I’m doing it my way, altering their recipe and sometimes my own to accommodate a healthier recipe.
Think about the way our Moms cooked 40 years ago and how we cook today. Especially if you have changed Mom’s recipes for healthier ones. That is how tastes evolve, restaurants stay at the top of the list; by tasting, adding more of this, less of that, and changing this ingredient or seasoning for that one. It’s like exploring without leaving the kitchen!
We are lucky here in America where immigrants bringing their herbs and spices with them when they came, introduced us to new tastes; even their fish and meat unknown to us as children. I was 40 before I ever tasted goat and 60 before I tasted kale. We definitely have a melting pot of ethnic foods and I have definitely altered cookbook recipes to suit my own taste. Try it……

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DSCF3335Were you taught to not write or mark your books when you were growing up? Teachers especially stressed that the books loaned to us for class had to be reused the next year and the year after that. Strong words were spoken about the love and care of books.

That love and care of books remains with me today and the memories of those teachers. Yet after decades of keeping my books pristine has changed drastically.

In the 90s I came to appreciate and to buy mostly used books. Often I would open a book to see a personal note written on the flyleaf by someone gifting the book. This brought me into the scene of the giver and receiver. A privilege; almost like being invited to share a confidence.

Pictured here, the John Woolman, American Quaker by Janet Whitney book, a first edition published in May 1942, is inscribed, To Cousin Gertrude, a Direct Descendent of John Woolman, with love and best wishes, from H…. Hutchinson Cook. The dots replace the writing I could not read. The first initial could be an H or a TH. I wonder about the relationship between these two cousins. I imagine the delight she felt with receiving this gift. He sounds happy to have found this book for her to read.
The original price in the book is $3.75. It is listed online for $33.00 to $85.00. For serious book collectors the inscription would lower the value of the book. I think of it as adding value.

More on this subject in the near future.

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Looking for a Lost Relative


Looking for a Lost Relative
The trouble women face, not as often today as in the past, is the name thing. When we get married and take our husband’s name as our own, we lose our identity. This makes genealogy searches on women extremely difficult. And when we marry a second time, it makes it twice as difficult.
It also makes it hard when cleaning out old files and boxes full of photos that the next generation will know nothing about. Which brings me to my dilemma; I have photos of a first cousin, who I only remember meeting once or twice in a lifetime that spans two centuries. (The last one and this one-I’m not over 100 years old.)
The photo posted was Janet Bice at her Holy Communion, born in Trenton, New Jersey area, I think. in the late 1930s. Daughter of William Bice. Not sure, but I think her mother’s name was Helen. The last I heard, she lived to Texas. This would have been in the 1970s. If anyone has an idea of who she or her family is, please let me know. I know someone out there would love to have these pictures.


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Speaking of Good Writing-Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes

Downton Abbey is so refreshing to hear as well as to watch. It’s the writing! It’s good dialogue. The actors can hardly discharge good lines if they aren’t any good when written. Thanks to Julian Fellowes we hear good lines…..and thanks to Maggie Smith, of course.
The Dowager Countess character puts me in mind of an earlier writing extraordinaire of Fellowes’, Gosford Park . Countess Trentham, snobbish aunt of Lady McCordle, played superbly again, by Maggie Smith. She has the best lines in the movie. Well, among the best. Fellowes declares that he fashioned her after an aunt of his own. It is a movie I have watched many times because of the good writing; the subtle hints to dwell on, trying to figure it all out. After I did figure it out and I knew what was coming next, I still enjoyed it because good acting follows good writing.
If you want to search and enjoy more of Julian Fellowes, check out Monarch of the Glen. He acts resplendently as a delightful character in the series from 2000-2005.

No, that is not a picture of Downton Abbey. It is America’s Castle, the Biltmore, former home of George Washington Vanderbuilt in Asheville, North Carolina.

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What Is It About The Day Before….


Today is New Year’s Eve, at least it will be when night falls over us. So it is a big deal turning the calendar to 2013… WOW! 2013! But it is only one day later than the 2012 that we are washing away with a reflection then just letting it go.

 Really, the day before I turned 60, I was 59, of course. Now the fifties are great but facing 60…WOW! That was a big step. People look at you and listen to you differently when you say you are 60. It is like they put you into a serious age category so they can listen to you without taking what you have to say seriously. But I was only one day older than yesterday. What’s up with that?

 Christmas Eve was very different when I was a child. It was something anticipated, creating more anticipation for Christmas Day. It was an evening of singing Christmas Carols in the neighborhood or to whoever would consent to listen. That wasn’t always an easy thing to do with a bunch of kids without the choral guidance of someone who knew about real music. But today it is about opening your gifts so you can spend Christmas Day opening gifts with the absent parent & the new family that you had no part in seeing it blossom. It is a day extended but so different from the day before.

 Happy New Year……Remember yesterday……Enjoy today……Treasure tomorrow.

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Remembering the Odd Ones…..


At the end of December the media often reflects back and notes the public figures that have passed away over the last year. Fortunately our favorite actors can still be seen on DVDs so after a few years we’ll not remember if or when they left us. We still have the pleasure of their company.

Naturally loved ones always leave a hole in us that cannot be filled by anyone else. But also there are the teachers, casual friends and folks who have impacted our lives giving us direction and the wealth of their experience to help us down that road. Sometimes it is a person we have met only briefly who made a comment that tweaked its way into the back of our mind and stuck there.

Whenever I ask a group of writers to make a list of those who have given them sage words; mother, father, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are often the only ones mentioned on that list. But I know if given a bit of time and lots of thought digging into memory, teachers, the lady at the corner store, a clerk, an auto mechanic, even someone met at a party, i.e. the odd ones as opposed to the usual list, will pop up.

There is a long list in my pocket of people who come to mind at the oddest times and from places I thought I had long ago forgotten.

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Fun At The YMCA

This is primarily for the ladies but you guys are welcome to read my words, too. We all have corners in our lives that turn us into a new direction. Yes, mine was heart valve replacement surgery but three months after that I went to the YMCA in Henderson NC for rehab therapy.

I admit my tongue was in my cheek. I was only there because my cardiologist encouraged it and friends kept urging me to go. So I did. And found much more than strength (after only 3 weeks I dug and planted a 3’ X 30’ herb/flower garden I’ve been wanting for six years but didn’t have the strength to do) and building new exercise habits.

I talked to just about everybody (approximately 40 guys & 5 gals) because everyone made me feel so at ease from the first moment I walked into the gym with wariness, all bug-eyed with –what-do-I-do-next-look in my eyes. I wondered how they knew I was a first-timer. Duh. There is a wide range of age from maybe 30 years and up and up and…..

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday that I went, beaming smiles and hearty ‘good mornings’ greeted me. On leaving for the day, ‘see ya Wednesday’, or ‘enjoy the weekend’ and sincere comments were called out. From the staff, too. I think they probably set the pace for the rest of us to follow.  There was a genuine bond between the team that took prodigious good care of us all.

The chance to make others chuckle came as quickly as I found who I could tease. It was easy to know who liked to do what by just reading the tee shirts worn. Some were obviously fishermen, some walkers for charity, some were into music. You get the picture. Walking laps in a gym gave me the opportunity to read tee shirts and talk. What’s so hard about that?

Many of us wore red shirts on Fridays to honor those who gave the ultimate on past battlefields. One gentleman started the trend and talked to me about it on one of the laps around the gym. I thought perhaps he came from a military family. But no, he began reading WWII novels by W.E.B. Griffin while spending a lot of time in the waiting room of a hospital. That was an author I’d never read but have since he recommended him.

I often notice colors. Must have to do with the artist in me. It just so happened that one Monday I came in and saw nearly half the group were wearing yellow shirts and the other half were in various shades of blue. How does that happen? It was all by chance. Another day I remarked at the number of green shirts worn. Wow.

It tickled me to listen in on the camaraderie when I wasn’t a part of it. Here were people from different socio-economic backgrounds, raised in various places so obviously coming from adverse upbringings that were joyful in coming together to exercise and walk together. How delightful is that.


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A Female Writer’s Query

I recently read an interview of Jeanette Walls, author of her memoir The Glass Castle. She revealed a great deal of interesting instances about her childhood that makes me want to read this book. She certainly had an unusual set of parents. At the end of the article it mentions her contributions to MSNBC, that she lives in New York and Long Island and is wed to the writer John Taylor.

Now, as I often do, I Google ‘writer John Taylor, NYC’ and come up with a senior writer for Esquire, his latest book and that’s it. No mention of a wife or who she is if he has one. On another site Jeanette Walls also pops up under the quest for John Taylor (?)  It says they are a power couple.

An article written by John Taylor about  Deconstructing a Peace to End All Peace comes up along with a list of other items he has written. No mention of a wife. Is this the same John Taylor? Don’t know. I doubt if he is the John Taylor of Duran, Duran…….but.

But my comment is this: Why during an interview with a female writer is there a mention of a husband and what he does, but during articles about male writers, there is not?

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