Some remarkable teachers I’ve had

No, the philosophy prof who wore the same suit to every class the first semester and another one for the second – he doesn’t count. These are ones who really shaped my thinking.

  1. Ethel McLennan, high school English teacher. She instilled a love of grammar I’ve relied on religiously the rest of my life.
  2. Vincent Ostrom, political science professor. He was keen on nurturing independent scholars who could critically assess a proposition and articulate their own position.
  3. Lavern Berry, high school student teaching summer workshops at the Dayton Museum of Natural History. He was a star who then vanished from sight. Still, his two-week chemistry course got me through a semester in college, and his advice about learning in general was something a kid like me needed.
  4. Professora Hughes, high school Spanish. The best.
  5. Jane Meyer, high school visual art. Much of what I learned in four years with her got applied throughout my career as a journalist when I designed pages and cropped photos.
  6. Harold Weiner, middle school visual art. Opened my eyes to modernism.
  7. Helen Rayner, third grade. I’m still fond of jack-in-the-pulpits.
  8. Miss Gillespie, sixth-grade English. She broke our hearts when she moved to a high school across town and again a bit later when we heard of her engagement. Did I mention she was beautiful and fresh out of college?
  9. Swami Lakshmy, Poconos ashram.
  10. Dick Allen, college creative writing.


Any great teachers in your past?

At John Locke’s mill site on the Isinglass River

The stream looks tranquil now, but when swollen by spring rains and melting snowpack, the rush shoots out horizontally from the ledge above. Maybe someday I’ll get of photo of that for comparison.
Another trickle meanders from the other side of the falls when the river runs low in late summer and early autumn.
The mill sat here. The last of it was washed away by flooding in 1898.
Stonework just upstream is all that remains of a bridge that also washed away in 1898, a reminder of how dramatically the river can rise and gather force.
On a pleasant fall day, the pool allows for curious exploration.

Words or phrases I overuse

All those years in the newsroom, I still tend to conditionalize everything, rather than strike for a bold statement.

  1. I think.
  2. I guess.
  3. Maybe.
  4. Would. (Example: It would seem that …)
  5. I hope.
  6. I fear. (Or worry.)
  7. I realize.
  8. That sucks.
  9. Are you sure?
  10. Martini. As in, Quitting Time.


What I find difficult to say is “I need” or “I want.” At least directly. I usually beat around the bush with soft questions.

How ’bout you?

Care to boogie?

In my novel What’s Left, Cassia’s family turns an old church into a hot music center. It seemed like a natural extension from their restaurant.

Where do you go to hear live music?


Well, when an old church something like this came up for sale next door to their home, how could Cassia’s family resist? They weren’t about to turn it into a parking lot, either.