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.

~*~

What do you like about December?

~*~

Wrapping doesn’t always have to involve ribbon.

 

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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!)

~*~

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?

~*~

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.

TEN SIGNS IT MIGHT BE LOVE

You’re dressing better than usual, paying attention to the personal hygiene, even cleaning the car or apartment. My guess is this could be serious, especially if you’re coming down with any of these symptoms.

  1. It’s ALL magic when you’re together. Everything else becomes secondary.
  2. You glow in your darling’s presence. Yes, lightness.
  3. Make that giddiness. And fumbling.
  4. You’re convinced this is fresh history. The past is just that. Life’s beginning anew or maybe for the first time, ever. You’re even talking funny. To match your emotions and wit.
  5. You like their car or dog even though you’ve always been an ardent cat-hater or dog-kicker.
  6. You agree to go places or do things you’ve never ever imagined yourself venturing.
  7. You feel joined at the hips and shoulders … and not just the lips.
  8. You’re Superman and Wonder Woman at last.
  9. When you’re apart, you’re falling through space … without a parachute.
  10. You get knowing looks … from strangers.

~*~

The obvious signs must be endless. Which ones can you add?

~*~

Continuing the poetry parade, see what’s new at THISTLE/FLINCH.

TEN THINGS I LIKE ABOUT OCTOBER

  1. Foliage. This is New England, after all.
  2. Cool evenings. You snuggle under the blankets, sleeping with the windows cracked slightly open.
  3. Apple Harvest Day outreach. Meet a Quaker’s our pitch.
  4. Mums in pots everywhere.
  5. Butternut squash soup.
  6. My annual survey of Charles Ives symphonies and then George Whitefield Chadwick’s.
  7. Pumpkins as décor … and as crisps and pies. Although we’re rather appalled by its spread into coffee and beer.
  8. Fresh unpasteurized apple cider.
  9. Sitting in the loft of the barn again, reading.
  10. Intense full moonlight.

~*~

What do you like about October?

~*~

Historic company housing for mill workers in Manchester, New Hampshire. I used to enjoy walking through the millyard this time of year.

 

TEN TASTY FISH

Living a few miles inland from the Atlantic, I’ve learned a few things when it comes to fresh fish. Just be sure to stock up on lemons and melted butter and maybe a few spices and fresh parsley.

  1. Cod. Once available in unbelievable quantities, it’s become scarcer and costlier. Still, it’s classic – especially as scrod.
  2. Haddock. Makes a great sandwich or flaky fish ’n’ chips.
  3. Monkfish. Like lobster tail.
  4. Dayboat dogfish shark. It’s a favorite in England for fish and chips. A different texture than haddock. Nothing like a little variety, right?
  5. Trout. You don’t have to be near an ocean.
  6. Salmon. Now we’re talking.
  7. Striper, so I’ve heard. This one’s purely for sport fishermen and their friends and family. Or the cormorants and osprey and bald eagles that follow them upriver.
  8. Flounder. We have some good species at hand.
  9. Dabs or American Plaice. Now we’re into a cooperative program to protect the local marine resources through more responsible practices. These less popular but more populous alternatives make for fine fresh eating.
  10. Hake, flounder, pollock, or king whiting. Ditto, ditto, ditto, and, yes, ditto. Depending on the week they come in.

For details on some of these, check out the New Hampshire Community Seafood site. The cooperative’s introduced us to some delicious but largely unknown species that are abundant in our own waters, and it’s devoted to sustainable community.

~*~

When it comes to fish and shellfish, what are your favorites? Any special way of preparing them, too?

~*~

Continuing the poetry parade, see what’s new at THISTLE/FLINCH.

TEN MORE FAVORITE FLOWERS

Well, I’ve been mentioning some of my favorite flowers in seasonal lists. My wife has really opened my eyes to the range before us. And that means we have enough others to generate a list of their own.

  1. Flax or cornflower. The intense blue.
  2. Echinacea.
  3. Tulips. Memories of Camden, Maine.
  4. Coreopsis. Calendula.
  5. Sunflowers.
  6. Bee balm.
  7. Tithonium. Its intense color is a magnet for pollen-seekers.
  8. Sweet woodruff.
  9. Strawberry blossoms.
  10. Day lilies. Trout lilies.

~*~

What would you add to the list?

~*~

Day lilies behind our asparagus bed.

REGARDING ANCIENT HISTORY SOME OF THE LIVING MAY REMEMBER

Carmichael’s, the restaurant her family owns in my new novel, has me looking more closely at others.

What happened to the hippies? (That is: Where did they go?)

That question seeded my newest novel, What’s Left. The book, to be candid, has grown into something much bigger, and I hope more relevant to more readers. It’s about what’s happened to Cassia, born a decade after the hippies faded into, well, wherever.

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