(Well, almost every morning – and waking up doesn’t count.)

  1. Shuffle down the stairs to the kitchen. Get a big mug of thick coffee laced with milk and sugar.
  2. Climb to my third-floor studio, boot up, check up on WordPress activity.
  3. And then emails and other social media.
  4. Get a round of Duolingo Spanish in. Muy bien.
  5. Return to the second floor. Dental hygiene. Good boy!
  6. Down to the ground floor. Be briefed on the overnight news by my wife. This can’t be happening. Glance at the day’s front-page headlines. Consider the weather forecasts.
  7. Regard the birds at the feeder. The squirrels, too.
  8. Get a second big mug of coffee, perhaps accompanied by toast and jam or homemade yogurt.
  9. Return to my studio to focus on a round of writing and revision. Butt time, as Charles Bukowski so aptly put it.
  10. Back to the bedroom. Dress properly for the rest of the day … and shift gears for whatever’s at the top of my to-do list.


So how do you jump start your day?


Baskets of all sizes and shapes hang from the beams in our kitchen.Of course, this is totally unrelated to the theme. Just another thing on my mind.




How many items are supposed to be on a bucket list, anyway? Twenty is what I’d heard, but now I come across 101. Since this is a Tendril, we start out with 1o.

  1. The Grand Canyon. A mile down? Like an upside-down mountain? How incredible!
  2. Greece and Istanbul. Well, it would fit right in with the roots of my latest novel.
  3. Holguin, Cuba. I love the Quakers I know there. I think January would be perfecto.
  4. Alaska, taking the ferry from Seattle or Vancouver. We’re talking summer, remember.
  5. For the other nine months? Hawaii. I hear it’s about much more than colorful shirts.
  6. Nantucket. So close to home.
  7. The Adirondack mountains, from the top. Again, so close to home.
  8. Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony. Is there no excuse I haven’t done it?
  9. Carnegie Hall, from the inside. I used to know somebody who lived in the tower at the back.
  10. The Metropolitan Opera. Standing outside doesn’t count.


What places would top yours?


See what’s new at THISTLE/FLINCH.



  1. Easter this year was April 1 — except for the Eastern Orthodox, who will observe it on April 8.
  2. White chocolate and malt balls. The Easter Bunny or somebody brings them.
  3. Ferns and flowers. Daffodils and irises, especially when they come indoors as cut flowers.
  4. The quality of daylight changes.
  5. Hot dandelion greens with fried eggs.
  6. The last of the snow melts despite a few spring snowstorms.
  7. Goldfinches discard their gray “duster jackets” and turn brilliantly yellow again.
  8. Bagging seaweed at the end of the road and filling the car trunk gives me an excuse to hit the beach early. Remember, the stuff makes a perfect mulch in the garden.
  9. Sitting in the loft of the barn again, catching up on some reading, now that the weather’s warmed.
  10. So many birds are actually singing in the morning. Quite rowdy, actually, at times.


What do you like about April?

Two antique forks and two paperweights on a shelf in my studio,

Of course, this is totally unrelated to the theme. Just another thing on my mind.



I’ve never been a clothes horse, in part because I could rarely get anything that really fit. Let’s say the awareness has come long after childhood. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Wool socks.
  2. My big green terrycloth robe.
  3. My stack of sweaters.
  4. Hawaiian shirts.
  5. Banded collar shirts.
  6. My three custom-cut Jos. Banks suits, back when I was with the newspaper syndicate. Not that they would fit me anymore.
  7. Bell bottoms, back in the day.
  8. And Levi’s, which actually came in my size. Though now I’ve moved on into slacks having more pockets.
  9. Converse sneakers, at least until the fascia plantar kicked in.
  10. Turtlenecks, now that I’ve retired.


So what’s your own favorite attire?

Pussy willows … harbingers of spring.

Of course, this is totally unrelated to the theme. Just another thing on my mind.



Being born in Aquarius, maybe it’s all too natural:

  1. Rogue scout troop (with all of our hiking, backpacking, and primitive camping – plus all the scoutmaster’s strictness).
  2. Rogue education, a patchwork of political science, literature, economics, sides of philosophy while aiming for the field of daily journalism.
  3. Rogue hippie.
  4. Rogue lover.
  5. Rogue ashram, with its decision to quit the world I’d known up till then.
  6. Rogue worship (this alternative Christianity).
  7. Rogue Quaker, too?
  8. Rogue career, mostly in out-of-the-way settings before abandoning the executive ladder to return to the ranks and a real life.
  9. Rogue poet, rogue novelist.
  10. Rogue blogger.

Maybe it makes sense.


Just how don’t you fit into expectations?

In open water on the Piscataqua River, Newington, New Hampshire.

Not that this fits into the theme, it’s just one more thing on my mind.


  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.


  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.