If you’re getting toward the finish line with NaNoWriMo, just remember

The first draft is for yourself, as a writer. You want to see where this idea goes. And a  book-length manuscript in just a month is a mental marathon, often through uncharted terrain.

The revisions are more for the reader. You really have to lead them through what had been  tangles.

Sometimes that includes you. Just in case you were wondering what to do with your next 11 months.

Our first significant snow of the season

Since the ground isn’t frozen, this will melt off quickly. But it’s what greeted us when we woke up this morning.

Someone had already been out walking the dog.


Our neighbor doesn’t pick her semi-wild apples but leaves them for the deer. At the moment, they look like ornaments.

My first exposure to a winter of heavy snowfall started off the day after Thanksgiving and continued, with one melting around Groundhog Day, until nearly Palm Sunday. That was Upstate New York, with around 130 inches of snow total.

The stories I could tell since!

Holy granola, honey

the summer I thought we’d vacation out West we instead moved there to a new workplace just as I’ve dreamed the parking brake won’t hold the car in place some things don’t change that much and once again, there goes our hard-earned cushion, this time, six steps later, it’s New England and a more faithful spouse, all the same, just as we paid off the barn-repair loan, I was mistaken to think I saw the end coming


Also worthy of note

School teachers in the classroom aren’t the only instructors I’ve had in life. Some have definitely been mentors, others more guides, even in passing, and then there were crucial colleagues.

Here’s a sampling:

  1. Scoutmaster Bob: He loved nature with a childlike awe while insisting on the Old Way when it came to camping and hiking. The lessons made me far more independent in the coming years.
  2. Joel: An ambitious youth pastor who made room for a lost adolescent. I learned a lot about politics from him.
  3. Gene and Doris: A girlfriend’s parents who raised my vision beyond my side of town and its status in life.
  4. Marcy: Ace photojournalist who heightened my appreciation of masterful image and its graphic arts presentation. Her photos had a distinct style. And eventually she won a Pulitzer.
  5. Kurt: Two Buckeyes discovering the wonders of the Cascades at the same time. He had his own way with a camera, too, as well as an editor.
  6. Howard and Myrtle: Opened the Bible to me in a personal way.
  7. Bill and Fran: They helped me bridge my intellectual world with the Wilburite Quaker tradition.
  8. Bob and Ruby: The central Mennonites in my theological and choral music expansion in my Baltimore years.
  9. Jack and Sarah: Originals in more ways than one, in their leap from tenured university positions to Old Order dairy farmers. Her gentle touch as an elder touch was a blessing in a difficult personal time.
  10. Paul: The other Quaker in my mostly Mennonite circle and a fine musician, to boot. We were two bachelors trying to navigate a social scene safely.

In praise of instant pudding

I’d give you a photo, but it would look too bland, unless topped with whipped cream and maybe a cheery cherry.

But the packs are cheap and a stir to make.

Even the cooking-required varieties are simple.

It’s a dish dumb guys really need to have up their sleeves.

We can’t live solely on frozen pizza, can we?


Actually, I’ve been pretty pizza-free. Grilled cheese sandwiches fill the void nicely, yum-yum, smothered in sliced pickles. Or humus, if I’m observing Orthodox Advent.


So much for my image as a snob. Please pass that turkey and mashed  potatoes and gravy and save me a couple of slices of the pumpkin pie.

And don’t forget to say grace or take a moment of grateful silence.