An Open Letter to My Blog Readers

How many times have you seen a business or organization write “an open letter?”  For instance, Starbucks might write an open letter to coffee drinkers, explaining why the “holiday” cups don’t have a Christmas-ey theme.  The letter ends with an appeal to the coffee connoisseur, reminding them Starbucks coffee is delicious even if it’s overtly political.

Or it might be something more innocuous; an open letter to a celebrity for a perceived wrong or gaffe.

Everyone is in the open letter writing business these days.  That’s the essence of the internet; big electronic clouds of open letters.

(Pause here, compose myself, and step away from a screed.)

Dear Blog Readers,

Please accept my apologies for the boring content of my blog these past weeks and months.  As I look over the content I’ve produced, I’m mostly dissatisfied.  In the allotted time, I’ve been doing more research and less writing.  The research is for a series of freelance articles in the local paper.  It’s time-consuming, it doesn’t pay very well, and yet it’s important to get the words exactly right.

Oddly enough, there was an article in the paper about a local historian.  The article’s author stated the historian found much of her information in that same paper.  Interspersed between the historian’s quotes was this sentence:

“All of the papers from 1866 to the 1930’s are archived on Google newspapers.”

I don’t think that’s true.  When I look at Google newspapers for January, 1920, I see there are 9 days where there are “no editions available.”  It’s the same thing for The Lewiston Daily Sun in the same time period.  A more accurate sentence would be:

“Many of the papers from 1866 to the 1930’s are archived on Google newspapers.”

But let’s not get too hung on some the difference between “all” and “many.”  That’s a different blog post for a different day.

The fact of the matter is Google newspapers can be very helpful…until they’re not.  It’s at that point in time when a diligent researcher will need to leave the virtual shelter and venture forth into the world of real people, places, and things.

an-open-letterThat’s a page of the wedding directory for a church in Lewiston.  I visited the Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society in Auburn for two hours, doing research.  It’s time consuming and not immediately gratifying.

There are only so many hours in a day, dear readers, and because we are currently trapped in a time and space continuum, I’ve been unable to write exciting content.

My blog has been boring.

Please accept my apologies for this lack of vibrant and vivid content.  Life is like that sometimes.

Thank you for visiting nevertheless.

Posted in Just Writing | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Talk of the Tile

I visited the Androscoggin Historical Society last week, located in the County Building in Auburn.  I had so much fun I ended up becoming a member.

I was tired when I left and found myself staring at the front entrance’s floor tiles.


I’m still in the fog of history this morning…so…must…keep…things..brief…

Posted in Talk of The Toile | Tagged

Along the Foundation

Jack and the Beanstalk.  I think that was name I heard in my dreams last night.  Or maybe it was Sasquatch, Godzilla, or King Kong.  It seemed so clear by the time the Sun Journal arrived in the front door.  This blog post was nearly dream-state complete when the alarm went off an hour later.

Poof…and it was gone.  I sat up in bed and I had nothing.

Yesterday was a beautiful spring-like day, so lovely I hung laundry outside on the clothes line.  The clothes smell fresh after a day in the sun and air.

Someday someone will probably try to tell you that running a clothes dryer that ultimately runs on petroleum is better for the planet than hanging your clothes out to dry; they’ll conjure up some pretzel logic to convince you to BUY BUY BUY a new appliance that will make you feel better and satisfy your neighbors who don’t like looking at your towels and dainties blowing in the wind.

I saw something similar on the Simple website yesterday.  I was using one of their recipes and I got a pop-up suggesting I could “reduce waste and save time cooking with these fresh, pre-cut and portioned ingredients delivered straight to your doorstep.”  There was a button I could click to “buy the meal-kit” for “Pasta with Turkey and Broccoli.”

How does that work?

The recipe called for ground turkey and broccoli.  Have they invented powdered turkey meat and broccoli?  If not, how do you ship fresh turkey meat and broccoli and deliver it straight to my doorstep?  How does that reduce waste?  Do the broccoli stalks magically disappear somewhere far away from my doorstep?

I’ll have to do some research; it’s possible they don’t deliver to my zip code even if I did want to buy a box of their twisted pretzels.

Meanwhile, along the foundation of my old house, the “ditch lilies” are popping up.

along-the-foundationThat part of the house gets the sun almost all day long.  My garlic is still under snow, but I’d say things are on schedule for its arrival at about the same time I saw it last year.

Posted in Just Writing, Weather and Seasons | Tagged , | 3 Comments


I love the notion of terrestrial radio.  It is dying, of course, as more and more radio stations are bought by media conglomerates.  Like almost everything else in our daily lives, consolidation eliminates options.

On Sunday, February 19, 2017 at around noon, the Maine classical music station known as WBACH changed to a “classic rock” format. Prior to this, WBACH broadcast classical music at two frequencies on the FM band, one serving Portland and the other the Midcoast area.

I listened to WBACH on the latter station, usually in the morning and late afternoon.  It brought a focus to my thoughts that only composed and orderly music can.  I loved the calm voice of Scott Hooper, the WBACH program director.  It helped me to go serenely up the stairs to my office and face the challenges of my professional day.

I first began listening to the station when I lived in Portland in 1991.  The strength of its signal and its weekly jazz program, hosted by Arnold Olean, expanded my musical horizons and taught me things about music I had not considered.

Moving back to Maine, I was delighted to find it again.  I even enjoyed the commercials, which were tastefully produced and often for eclectic businesses along that interesting corridor of Maine north of Bath.  More than one trip to the Farnsworth Art Museum was instigated by something I heard following a Handel concerto.

I know I can stream hundreds of classical music stations from around the world.  London’s BBC  Radio 3, with their erudite and clever announcers , is quite nice.  I could invest in a new piece of equipment to do this in stereophonic high fidelity.  On one of my WBACH-inspired trips to Rockland, I almost bought such an item at Black Parrot.  A Tivoli Audio Model One BT.

There are men and women in our world who associate classical (ancient) music with dead white men in powdered wigs, promoting patriarchy.  I do not.  I hear the balance of geometry, the rhythm of nature, mathematical accuracy, scientific curiosity, and the history of humanity.

I hear the beauty of creation.


That’s my mourning wreath.  It’s hideous and ugly.  I made it with things I found here at my house after death arrived in our family.  I never hung it on the door; the solitary creative act soothed me regardless of the aesthetically inferior product.

WBACH was another soothing component of household peace and tranquility in a world flipped upside down.

Today, I mourn for the loss of beauty among the many other things I am mourning.

Posted in Experiments and Challenges | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Half a Donut Day

As I look over my blog and read mid-February posts past, I see my themes have been generally the same.  There are posts about snow and shoveling.  There are posts about shoveling and beef roasts.  There are posts about snow anxiety and dreaming about shoveling beef roasts.  Or something like that.  Many of these same posts contain quick and almost-quiet mocking swipes at a holiday I don’t celebrate.

Galentine’s Day or “ovaries before brovaries, you know?”  (And if you would like to know where that quote came from, you are welcome to do your own Google search.  I’m gently mocking it, remember?)

Here’s a post I wrote in 2013.  I was hoping Mr. Right would show up with a heart-shaped pizza.

Sad, but I was hopeful.

This Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, Handy stopped by around 10:00 a.m.  He hardly ever stops by that early.  But he did and he gave me half a chocolate frosted donut from a favorite bakery, wrapped in a napkin.  I had to hide a little tear from the corner of my eye.  It was sweet on several levels, but mostly because it was Handy’s own way of sweetness which he does not often show.  And that’s ok.  The donut touched me and I remembered that I have not been alone so much since Handy came into my life and started fixing things.

I used to be alone a lot, even when I was surrounded by others.  Would it be too saccharine to say how much Handy means to me?

The donut was delicious and as I had planned, I made Budget Beef Bourguignon.  I burned it a little in the beginning steps, but Handy said it was delicious.  And we didn’t have Ginger Tea over Silken Tofu for dessert.  We split a heart-shaped Bismark from a favorite bakery.


There goes the plow.  On to more shoveling…after all, it’s February.

Posted in Weather and Seasons | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Ginger Tea

On Sunday, the Sun Journal ran my “Chinese New Year Dim Sum” article.  You can read it here if it’s not behind their pay wall.  When I interviewed the restaurant owner and her foodie “friend like a sister,” we had a fun time chatting about the things food lovers talk about.  It was an animated two hours and before we knew it, it was time to go.  I hadn’t even gotten a recipe for my article.

“What about the ‘ginger tea’ you passed out during the brunch?”

“Oh, it’s just simple syrup steeped with ginger over silken tofu!”

Sometimes, due to layout limitations, stories get shortened.  This Sunday, my version of “Ginger Tea” didn’t make the cut.  It’s a pleasant way to eat bean curds.

Ginger Tea over Silken Tofu Dessert


3 cups of water
3 cups of sugar (you can use white or brown or a combination of both)
3 inches of whole fresh ginger (more or less depending on your taste)
1 pound of Silken Tofu (such as Chang Shing Tofu found in Asian specialty stores)


Clean the ginger root and remove any dirt.  Peel the ginger and cut the root into thick slices.

Place sliced ginger, sugar, and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  When boiling, reduce heat to simmer.  Let simmer for approximately one hour.

Pass the finished “ginger tea” through a sieve to remove the ginger bits.

In small dishes or tea cups, scoop thin layers of silken tofu.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of ginger tea over the tofu.  Serve and enjoy immediately!


This is what Handy will be having for his Valentine’s dessert.

Posted in Cooking and Food | Tagged

The Chemo Drip

One of my friends has cancer.

Finally, I said it “out loud.”

She’s a very good friend, one of my best.  I have been overwhelmed by her illness and her amazing strength in the midst of her own fear.  She keeps telling me she is doing it “one day at a time” and that she is very afraid.  But I don’t see it.

When she was first diagnosed, I wondered how I could help.  Naturally, I prayed.  But my faith seems so paltry and brittle; the phone rings or a text message arrives and I’m interrupted like a squirrel searching for a nut.

I just keep pushing bad news and unpleasantness to the back of my brain.

She has an amazing family and many friends.  She had family meals and her children’s after school transportation covered.  So I wrote her a letter every week; four handwritten pages.  I told her about books I was reading, food articles I was contemplating, and the sad state of bed linens in the United States.  I harpooned Moby Dick-sized local food writers from time to time and outlined the dreams I had for new draperies.  I indulged in gossip.

I wrote almost anything and everything except “how sick does the treatment make you feel?”

Now, the doctors have recommended a more aggressive treatment regimen.  A more sickening approach.  She has to have three consecutive days of chemotherapy infusions.  She sits in a cancer treatment center for 8 hours during those days.  Then she is sick.

My schedule was crazy during her first cycle and I wasn’t able to “sit” with her for any of it.  Instead, I offered up sacrificial fasting in solidarity with her three-day chemotherapy regimen.  In retrospect, it was “stoopid.”  I was struck by my own weakness in the middle of my third day of fasting while stuffing cheese and crackers in my mouth.

This Tuesday, I had the good fortune of four free hours and I spent it with my beautiful friend at the cancer treatment center.  I warned her I’d be wearing yoga pants and an ancient turtleneck and she cautioned me as well.

“I will be wearing a cap as I lost about 1/3 of my hair yesterday.  If I touch it at all, it drops out like the needles on an old Christmas tree.”

I know this might sound odd, but the four hours we sat together were four of the best hours I’ve had in a long time.  There are no Tee Vees at the center; it’s peaceful and cozy in an odd, institutional way.  We just sat and talked and then didn’t talk.  We ate snacks and Tootsie Rolls.  I colored from her “adult coloring calendar.”

the-chemo-dripWe gossiped and then we Googled a man we knew in college who is a “rock star” now.

“Do you think he has hair plugs,” she asked?

“I don’t know.  But he definitely has veneers” I replied.

“He looks so small standing next to Steve Lillywhite.  Was he that short in college?”

We laughed.  We cried.  We contemplated the cosmos.  I didn’t want to leave.

Today is her third day of chemotherapy.

Two down, one to go, my friend.

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