1. We could ride in the open-air bed of a pickup. And stand up looking out over the top of the cab, the wind in our face.
  2. Nobody made us wear helmets when riding our bicycles. None of us had helmets, for that matter. We were lucky enough to have bikes. Helmets were for football players or soldiers.
  3. We didn’t spend half of the day on a school bus.
  4. We didn’t have armed guards at school or even a palsy-walsy policeman.
  5. Dental braces weren’t cool.
  6. Boys owned a suit or sports coat and neckties, which some of us could actually knot properly.
  7. Girls had to wear skirts that covered their knees.
  8. Older kids might have a manual typewriter. Or even electric. Forget smart phones or laptops or social media. Thumbs were for sucking during particularly tough tests.
  9. There were three television networks – plus an educational station in some cities. And network news wasn’t rightwing propaganda.
  10. We all went to Sunday School. And said our bedtime prayers faithfully.


What other differences do you see?


Open up the latest release at THISTLE/FLINCH.



In my new novel, What’s Left, her aunt Nita embodies a rare quality I’ve come to appreciate. She’s someone who seems to know everyone. She takes an interest in their lives and families. Remembers details. Asks questions. Suggests social connections, job opportunities, resources.

She’s also someone people trust. You can confide in her, find consolation, comfort, compassion.

In the bigger picture, she’s a kind of person who makes community function. I can make a list of people I’ve known who do that.

Read More »


A large Queen Anne-style house with a distinctive witch’s hat tower something like this is the headquarters for Cassia’s extended family in my new novel, What’s Left. If only this one were pink, like hers.

In my new novel, What’s Left, the family’s nest egg was built by living on one income – in a single household – while everyone worked at the restaurant. The surplus went into savings and investments. Once the kids come along, their earnings also go in the pooled income, to be drawn out for college or marriage. Over time, as the family grows, the house has parents, grandparents, kids, aunts, uncles, and cousins. What a circus!

As for pocket money? Take it from the till? Some places, yes. And some places, no.

They’re about to start over, in a way, when Cassia’s father-to-be shows up.

Read More »


  1. Grow lights over shelves of seedling trays in our bay window. The 24-hour lights themselves, even before all the green shoots appear and flourish.
  2. The dramatic possibility of the biggest snows (though I could do without the digging out that follows).
  3. Arts & Letters afternoon in the Quaker meetinghouse. We have some fine painters and writers and quilters and weavers and sculptors and even musicians. Think of it as a salon without a piano.
  4. As I’ve already mentioned, a salon of Friends.
  5. Cutting pussy willows. A first harbinger of spring. Many of our friends welcome the gift.
  6. The realization we just might make it through another winter.
  7. First bulbs in bloom. Sometimes surrounded by melting snow.
  8. Bird migration. Especially the geese overhead.
  9. Flying kites at the beach.
  10. Those new wool socks from Christmas, now that they’re in regular rotation.


What do you find personally meaningful in the month of March?

Yes, an icicle. Our neighborhood can be full of these long daggers.



In my new novel, What’s Left, her parents’ generation recognizes their family business will need to make big changes for survival. For her uncle Dimitri, that includes corporate planning and big investment, once the dust settles.

But first, he has to see exactly what they’ve inherited.


No matter how much I like the details that shape the events, some just had to be cut from the final story:

Read More »


It’s prime time for hot soup. We’re not talking about anything out of a can or a package dropped into boiling water. These are the ones made with fresh ingredients – or things you froze in season for use later. Probably with a good homemade stock, too.

  1. Tomato. Seriously, my wife’s is always a hit – and the glutten-free, lactose-intolerant, or vegans aren’t left out of the pleasure. Our secret ingredient is the tomatoes we cook down and stick in the big freezer in high summer in anticipation of this.
  2. Potato-leek. Simply comforting. Again, with our own leeks. Storing them through winter is a special challenge – so far, we find peat moss works best in buckets placed at the back of the cellar.
  3. Split pea and/or lentils. I imagine there are whole cookbooks devoted to the possibilities.
  4. Ramen. Remember, Japan created restaurants purely for this. Forget that cheap stuff in the plastic bag – though if you do, add tofu, the way we do.
  5. Pho. A hearty Vietnamese dinner in a wondrously big bowl.
  6. Seafood, meaning clam chowder or lobster bisque. (OK, that’s two. I just love both.)
  7. Hot and sour. Fresh Chinese bamboo shoots can make a world of difference.
  8. White bean. Last one I had was an Iranian version with lamb’s neck and another eight or nine ingredients. It was heavenly. Or you can stick to a hambone. Just don’t disparage good beans, OK? (Well, let’s add a footnote for turtle black beans, especially as a great Cuban bowl.)
  9. Ravioli. Yes, as a soup. Slurp ’em up!
  10. Asparagus. We put those stems we cut off to work later.

Well, India’s Mulligatawany belongs on the list, too. I doubt we’re done here yet.


What would you add to the list?

They’re a threat.