1. Aches and pains.
  2. Memory recall.
  3. Slowing down.
  4. Ditto, the lovey-dovey.
  5. And the surviving strands are getting narrower and narrower, almost like spider-weave now.
  6. Realizing how often I have – and still do – misread social cues, unintentionally hurt others, blown opportunities. I’ll even admit to some serious regrets now.
  7. All the friendships I’ve lost along the way, moving from job to job and town to town.
  8. Too much sensitivity to hot and cold.
  9. Won’t ever hike the Appalachian Trail at this point. Or other similar heights.
  10. Realize what a gap exists between me and those 50 years younger. It’s not just the technology stuff, either.


What don’t you like about being the age you are?

Snowflake cookie cutter in a kitchen window catches the sunlight.




  1. I’m married to a most attractive and fascinating woman – even if she’s smarter than me.
  2. We’ve settled in a good place, with good friends. Survived to get here.
  3. Our two kids are way, way above average – and we’ve never had to post bail for either of them.
  4. I’m not trailing an oxygen tank or using a walker.
  5. I have a prodigious amount of literary writing to my credit. I’m actually proud of most of – I’ve written what I want.
  6. After a remarkable life journey, I have perspectives that sometimes feel like wisdom.
  7. My spiritual practice keeps deepening.
  8. I haven’t run out of great things to read.
  9. I’ve never sung better, and maybe the same can be said for my dancing – New England contras and traditional Greek. Never knew about either of them as a young man.
  10. Somehow, we’re able to pay our bills. Most of the time.


What do you like about being the age you are?


Uncover what’s new at THISTLE/FLINCH for yourself.


  1. Sitting in the dark in front of the lighted Christmas tree. And convincing my wife we don’t have to take it out at least until Presidents Day.
  2. Hard cider at the tasting room at the Rollinsford mill.
  3. Cross-country skiing. Assuming we get enough snow.
  4. My wife makes a big prime rib dinner, usually just before Great Lent begins.
  5. Oh, yes, that last martini before Lent.
  6. Crisp sunlight – and days as long as they were in October.
  7. Chuck’s sauna. Out by the farm pond.
  8. Maple syrup.
  9. Watching the birds at the feeder.
  10. Wondering about bob houses and how thick the ice is.


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

Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags in the icy air.



  1. Hardworking leaders. We’ve been blessed by people who want to get things done. The town’s made a huge turnaround in the past 20 years, from a time when the mill windows were boarded up to the vital business incubator it is today.
  2. In general, we tend to vote more to the left, in a working-class streak. In a small state like ours, you’ve probably met the governor and at least one of your U.S. senators. And our city counselor lives across the street.
  3. Family friendly. We actually have four high schools – the city’s (which is moving into a new building), St. Thomas Aquinas, Portsmouth Christian Academy, and the state-chartered Cocheco Academy of the Arts. The Rotary and Kiwanis clubs have been active influences in shaping this direction.
  4. The Greek Orthodox church, one of the oldest in North America. Outwardly, they’re at the opposite end of the Christian spectrum from my Quaker plainness – something I find challenging and refreshing. But they’re welcoming and wonderful and have provided great grounding for my upcoming novel. And, as I’m finding, they’re everywhere in this town. The interior of their house of worship, by the way, is visually gorgeous.
  5. Public transportation to Boston. C&J buses run hourly to Logan airport and South Station. They’re clean and quite comfortable. And Amtrak’s Downeaster heads to North Station five times a day – what a delight! – as well as the other way to Portland, Maine, or a little beyond.
  6. Yes, we neighbor Maine.
  7. Fresh food. Farmstands are just minutes from downtown, as well as two farmers markets. Sweet corn’s no problem. Pick-your-own strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and apples as well. And then there’s the seafood – not just lobster, either.
  8. Market Basket. Well, technically it’s across the line in Somersworth, but this legendary supermarket chain is significantly cheaper than its competition while being highly responsive to its local customers. (It has the best tofu around. The Asian restaurants all get theirs there.)
  9. Police and fire and rescue services. They respond instantly, as we found out back when we had a phone button on autodial. (And they were very friendly about it.) Just as telling, women aren’t afraid to walk home late at night downtown. And, from what we hear from immigrant communities, they’re sensitive and supporting.
  10. Garrison Hill observation tower. The walk from our house starts through our neighbors’ yard, twists up some side streets and then through the woods to the top of the hill and then up the flights of stairs to the crown of the tower where the panorama spreads out over the village -like setting of downtown or, the other way, clear to one flank of Mount Washington. And then it’s the reverse. Great for quick exercise or a jaunt with our guests. See where we live?


What don’t you like about the place you live?

Laundry on the line.



For the past 18 years I’ve lived in a small city. One of 30,000 men, women, and children in addition to dogs and seagulls. And it’s felt right. Way back in my past, many folks expected I’d wind up in New York City, and while I do hold a certificate in urban studies from my university, my career took me in another direction.

Well, here are 10 reasons I like where I am:

  1. Quaker Meeting. It’s my core community, my circle of kindred spirits, and we’re the fifth oldest congregation in the entire state. The four before us were all state-supported Colonial Puritan institutions. We were the renegades.
  2. Walking distance to whatever is usually essential. What a civilized way to live! We’re a mile from downtown, in one direction, and the hospital, in the other. (Oh, yes, we can stop somewhere nice for a drink and not worry about having to drive home.) It’s pedestrian-friendly place, really. Cars have to stop or, well, I’ve seen them halted by cops on big horses.
  3. I really like our mounted patrol. As do most of the kids.
  4. The Community Trail. As long as we’re walking, we have the option of a former railroad line that’s become a narrow woodsy park heading out from the train station (I often take that route to Meeting on Sunday morning) or a riverside meander heading upstream. Sometimes I think I’m much further north, in the mountains, especially when I’m on cross-country skis in deep winter.
  5. Centrally located. Within an hour’s drive we have Atlantic beaches one way, forested mountains in another, and the Hub of the Universe in a third. OK, Boston depends on the traffic, but I do rehearse weekly in a choir there.
  6. Waterfalls in the heart of downtown. The river falls to the tide and runs through an arch in the big brick mill. It used to power the mill, too. The scene’s quite charming and sometimes dramatic. And salmon are returning to the fish ladder.
  7. The city’s indoor pool. I swim a half-mile four or five times a week. Nice bunch of fellow swimmers and lifeguards. Not bad for a Christmas present!
  8. Our neighbors. They’re a story in their own right.
  9. Architectural diversity, as you might expect in the seventh oldest settlement in the continental U.S. We’re always seeing something unexpected when we stroll.
  10. We’ve become the downtown for the state university one town over. A third of its students live in apartments here, so we have a bit of that college town flavor. But not so much that we lose our blue-collar edge.


What do you like about the place you live?

And for a little sobering perspective. It’s wet and cold on the bough.




The sidewalks are buried in plowed snow, so you have to walk in the street. Gotta keep taking the ash out from the wood-fired stove. And it’s dark two-thirds of each day. But that’s not the worst. Just consider …

  1. Slipping on ice and shoveling snow, especially at the end of the driveway where the city snowplows pack us in.
  2. Driving in freezing rain.
  3. Comparing the weather reports to each other and to what actually happens. Rarely does anything match.
  4. Watching the woodpile shrink.
  5. Utility bills.
  6. The house is always cold – and stiff winds make it only worse.
  7. Things break.
  8. Frozen pipes or drains.
  9. Cabin fever.
  10. The rock-hard ground.


How do you feel about winter?

Sunset over the neighbors’.


You no doubt noticed a new look at my suite of blogs here at WordPress during the past year. In midsummer I converted to four quite different templates – or what WordPress calls themes – each one a sharp new presentation for the unique material of the blogs. The process also prompted a redefinition of their separate identities.

Much of my literary attention last year focused on my newest novel, which underwent two major revisions and a cleanup reading – along with a new title. You’ll hear a lot more about it through the coming year. In fact, the Red Barn will be engaged in conversations about the many themes running through the big book. Look for the new Cassia’s World category.

Doing that has me anticipating fewer postings here – typically three a week, rather than seven to 10. To be frank, there were weeks when I felt things were getting way too hectic. Sometimes less really is more.

One other refinement: My Tendrils category will be getting more playful. I hope you like it – more way than one.

On the other sites, Chicken Farmer, I Still Love You is settling more fully into its inland New England character. More photos, mostly of historic brick mills, will accompany the serialization of my Big Inca novel, before giving way later in the year to poetry that fits the region.

As Light Is Sown steps up its pace to two postings a week, mostly short entries drawn from my books Religion Turned Upside Down and Stillwater. Consider it provocative inspiration. I hope.

While I’m not anticipating any further big genealogical reports at Orphan George, I am looking forward to excerpting from helpful correspondents over the years as one way of acknowledging their generous assistance. Maybe I’ll throw in some more family photos, too. We’ll see.

Finally, my Thistle/Flinch imprint will explore fresh typographical concepts in six of the new releases – venturing somewhere between broadsides and chapbooks, I expect. This new lineup of free offerings is all poetry.


What are you looking forward to in the new year?


Here’s the latest at THISTLE/FLINCH.