Ten favorite restaurants in my experience

Some of these no longer exist, other than in my memory. And while some are expensive, others are quite the affordable but deserve kudos for skillful preparation and good ingredients.

  1. Big Night, Dover. Anything Chris and Linda did here or in their later incarnations in South Berwick, Maine, was always masterful, often with a French or Mediterranean base. Small-scale, as in a two-person operation, can truly be beautiful. They’re the standard by which we now measure all others.
  2. Fore Street, Portland, Maine. On a larger scale and an industrial style room, this is simply great food. We had a sauvignon blanc that was delivered with very little markup from retail simply because the owners thought this would be perfect for our meals – and we’re still searching for another bottle that comes close. My wife will rattle off the details of our meal and why we were so thoroughly impressed.
  3. North, Providence, Rhode Island. Another small setting – 18 seats, plus a small bar – this Asian fusion laboratory was a revelation with tastes I didn’t know even existed.
  4. Gasperetti’s, Yakima, Washington. A small setting – about 48 seats at the time – this was considered by many to be the best Italian restaurant in the Pacific Northwest when we lived there.
  5. A tiny Japanese restaurant near Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Four tables, as I recall on my first and only visit to the city. My introduction to raw fish (shashimi), sake, and plum wine. Heavenly.
  6. PB Boulangerie, Wellfleet, Cape Cod. Wonderful French with a chef proprietor from Lyons.
  7. Little Saigon, Worcester, Massachusetts. I love Vietnamese, and this one most of all.
  8. Lobster in the Rough, York, Maine. Many fine Sunday afternoons here with a cover duo and families playing bocce. They knew how to make fine onion rings and French fries, in addition to haddock and lobster. And don’t overlook the slaw. Straight-forward fare like this can be a tough test for many restaurants. We really admire the ones that pass with flying colors.
  9. Wonderland Café, Watertown, Massachusetts. Unpretentious Chinese cuisine that demonstrated the importance of fresh ingredients. This was takeout that was welcome a two-hour drive away a day later. ’Nuff said?
  10. Ta-boo, Palm Beach, Florida. My first truly upscale restaurant experience, thanks to my girlfriend’s parents. Had my first raw oysters and first orange flambe while being entertained by a Yale glee club. After that, everything’s a delirious swirl.

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So how about your favorites? And what makes them stand out?

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A Corinthian column on the exterior of the Bradford Congregational Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts, is a classic touch. The screening is to keep birds at bay.

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

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Seven acts of faith

Hopping in the shower (expecting hot water)

Assuming the food won’t be poisoned

Pumping what they say is gasoline

Sleeping . And dreaming

Banking

Putting an envelope in the mail

Traveling . In any direction

Ten things I do every evening

So much of my evening routine these days depends on the indoor pool swim schedule. Sometimes I get my laps in the midafternoon, which seems to define the beginning of my evening. And at other times of the year, I the pool’s open at 7 or 8 for my use. With that perspective, my late afternoons and evenings often look something like this:

  1. Swim a half-mile.
  2. Hang up wet swimsuit and towel.
  3. Afternoon nap, if I can. Likely in the guest room or on the floor of my studio.
  4. When I’m back up, some chore. I’m flexible.
  5. Dinner. I prefer my big meal of the day to come around closing time.
  6. Clean-up, wipe counters, start dishwasher.
  7. Feed the rabbit and change the water.
  8. Martini.
  9. Listen to a round of music.
  10. Slip into bed, reflecting on the day and the morrow.

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What tips or even secrets do you have for settling in for the evening?

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A pot of decorative red cabbage sits beside our front steps this time of year.

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

My 10 favorite characters (who aren’t my protagonists)

Yes, an author is supposed to like his protagonists – and maybe even some of the key villains, in their very devilishness – but lesser characters sometimes privately rise to the top.

Here are 10 of mine, some in upcoming volumes:

  1. Nita: In What’s Left and the full Freakin’ Free Spirits cycle. She’s really evolved along the way.
  2. Merry Sherry: Hometown News. I’m so glad the real-life Sherry who showed up later, with many of the same endearing qualities, didn’t have the same penchant for creating nicknames. We would have all been doomed.
  3. Wendy: In the upcoming Nearly Canaan. This pastor’s wife has qualities that really play off Jaya well. She began to write herself.
  4. Pastor Bob: Nearly Canaan. Changing the Roman Catholic priest in the early drafts to a flashier Fundamentalist/Evangelical preacher created someone much more, well, surprising. He has a good heart – and a great wife.
  5. Fran: Big Inca. Just what Bill needs.
  6. Rusty: Pit-a-Pat High Jinks. As he demonstrates, some in the movement had practical skills and insights. I wonder what happened in the rest of his life – and whether he ever married his lovely companion.
  7. Judith (rather than Tara!): Pit-a-Pat High Jinks. She’s grown much more interesting and intriguing than the young woman who inspired her, way back when. There’s even a novel you’ll probably never see, at least not under my name.
  8. Satyabama: Yoga Bootcamp. She has all of the wonder that embodied yoga for us.
  9. Surfer Girl: Hometown News. In real life, she never gave me the time of day.
  10. Alexandros: What’s Left. In the later revisions of the manuscript, Alex came fully into his own. Cassia was already “talking to me” and essentially writing herself, and then Alex stepped up to match. Oh, I wish my cousins had been something like him.

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In the books you’ve read, who’s your favorite character?

 

Ten sets of wheels in my life

  1. My 2002 Camry. Coming up on 300,000 miles on the odometer.
  2. My wife’s 2013 Prius.
  3. Her Saturn before that.
  4. My Plymouth Neon.
  5. My VW Fox, a two-door wagon.
  6. My 1600 model BMW coupe. Oh, the memories!
  7. The company car, a Chevy Impala. Burgundy.
  8. My Subaru, when they were first being imported into the States.
  9. VW Bug. Classic memories. Anyone else ever pop the clutch to get started?
  10. A ’66 Buick Skylark, purchased from my dad.

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So what are you driving. And what’s been your favorite?

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Nothing I’ve ever owned. This Pontiac convertible got a lot of attention in mid-coast Maine. Look at this as inspiration.

TEN THINGS I LIKE ABOUT DECEMBER

  1. The Metropolitan Opera broadcast season begins.
  2. Asteroid showers. Some of the year’s best, and the night sky can be intensely sharp.
  3. Bundling up … including sweaters.
  4. Advent … seriously … and its end.
  5. Candlelight.
  6. Brussels sprouts.
  7. Christmas cards and letters.
  8. Christmas Eve … the tree comes in, gets decorated, then we hit the ‘nog and cookies. They’ve been off-limits till now.
  9. Christmas morning … where gifting is an art.
  10. Boston Revels’ production at Harvard’s historic Sanders Theatre.

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What do you like about December?

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Wrapping doesn’t always have to involve ribbon.

 

TEN THINGS I’D DO IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS

Admittedly, a million ain’t what it used to be, and at this point in my life, I’m looking at it quite differently than I might have a while back. For one thing, I’m more cognizant of the security of my wife and family, now that they’re part of my life. That said, here goes.

  1. Invest the initial sum and live off the income. Just a 5% return would be an additional $50,000 a year income. That would be a huge change in our lives. (A prudent strategy would also require ways of protecting the capital, should I be afflicted with a long-term illness.)
  2. Can some of this be applied as angel investing for startups without involving great risk? Or low-interest loans to worthy individuals? This could be fun and satisfying.
  3. Increase our charitable donations. We do have many causes we passionately endorse.
  4. Contribute to political candidates. Relatively small amounts still add up, especially at a local level.
  5. Travel. Even getting away for a few days can be great fun and refreshment.
  6. Home renovations and repairs. A three-season porch with hot tub would be at the top of our list, but there’s plenty of upkeep needed in an old house like ours – energy-efficient windows on the second and third floors, painting inside and out, tree-trimming … oh, it’s a very long list, believe me.
  7. New wheels. Nothing fancy, mind you. But I’m really pushing the limits on my Camry.
  8. Attend more concerts and theater. We really enjoy going when we can.
  9. Quality of life gifts for others. These don’t have to be big or splashy – just little things that can make a difference. A class for a child, for instance, or a pound of good coffee.
  10. Support for my own writing. It would be wonderful to hire an editor for the revisions, artists for new covers, or move into paper editions for my lifetime of creative output. (Oh, dream on!)

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Things would get really interesting if we raised the amount to $10 million. So what would you do with that first million? Or the next nine?

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Brussels sprouts get sweeter after they’re hit with frost. We harvest ours for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners the day the cook’s ready. The biggest, tastiest ones are no doubt buried in the snow.

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