Reading, Writing & Chocolate

June 23, 2022

Not quite daylight and those initial cheeps, trills, and warbles emerge from the trees and shrubs outside my home. I’m awakened by the outdoor chorus of birdsong. I listen for the call and response, the early bird conversations of the robins, cardinals, blue jays, mourning doves, sparrows, and ...

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A superhero can wear a cape or a sports jersey, turnout gear, or a camouflage uniform. A superhero can solve crimes or fight fires, combat enemies, or hit a home run. Kids learn about superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. Children also look up to athletes like Pete Alonso and Aaron ...

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Once there was a time when TV commercials were so cool that we did not even know what product the advertisement was supposed to be promoting. Was it hyping a luxury car or car insurance?  The majority of TV commercials are for medications and products to treat aches, pains, and illnesses.

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Avocados have MVP status (Most Valuable Produce) on my weekly grocery list. This tasty superfruit is rich in Vitamin C, B-6, E, A, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Avocados are a good source of protein and a great source of dietary fiber. I started buying avocados and including this amazing fruit ...

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It’s always a good idea to let children bring a few toys and books along on an airplane trip. Familiar distractions help to pass the time on the flight as well as in the airport. I remember bringing crayons and a coloring book on plane trips as a very young child. I recall one vacation to Canada ...

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Remember when people used to speak more eloquently? Books and plays and your average grandmother used descriptive phrases to paint a picture with words. Our basic language skills have been eroding over the last several years. Texting and email and social media have accelerated the deterioration ...

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In the not-so-distant past, children grew up helping out at the family-owned business. The business might be a small grocery store or a hardware store or a restaurant. Often started by an immigrant grandfather or grandmother, the family business also employed aunts, uncles, and cousins to help the ...

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I never bought my mom a car or rented her a villa in Tuscany. Grand gestures are not in my budget. I decided to write this column to celebrate Mother’s Day. My mom provided the opportunity for me to try new experiences as a child. I had ballet lessons, piano lessons, horseback riding, and ice ...

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Have you ever thought about an old friend and then that person calls you or sends you an email out of the blue? I love when that happens. Some people believe that the universe sends us what we need at different times in our lives. Timing is everything. The phrase everyone hears when they lose a ...

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The other afternoon, I was teaching a Creative Writing class for elementary-aged students over Zoom. Kids are very well trained to put their microphones on mute when it is not their turn to speak. I had just given the story writing topic to my young writers when a cacophony of sound from outside ...

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Do you remember the story about Rip Van Winkle? In the famous short story written by American author Washington Irving, a villager named Rip Van Winkle meets a mysterious group of men, drinks a questionable libation offered to him, and falls asleep in the Catskill Mountains for 20 years. When he ...

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When I was in first grade, my younger brother and I shared a new black and white children’s sized bicycle with training wheels. One Saturday morning while my parents were still asleep upstairs, my brother and I got dressed and walked out the side door into the backyard. There was no Captain ...

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When I was growing up, I remember wearing my Brownie and Girl Scout uniforms a few times. My mom was not a “joiner.” She didn’t belong to any groups or organizations. On a few occasions, Mom told me that Brownies was canceled or Girl Scouts was “closed” just because she didn’t want to drive in ...

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I read about a Massachusetts family determined to discover if rumors of money hidden somewhere in the family home since the 1950s were true. The family had hired carpenters to poke around the structure in years past. Deciding to give it one last try before putting the house on the market, they ...

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Remember that song, “Message in a bottle” by the Police? Sting’s voice and the catchy refrain, “Sending out an S.O.S., sending out an S.O.S.” made that tune a hit. No one sends messages in a bottle these days. Too slow and unpredictable. Plenty of plastic bottles wash up on even the most ...

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I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention but the sky is staying lighter in the evenings and daylight is brighter earlier in the mornings. Those are signs that spring is coming. Don’t tell anyone, but starting in early January, I look up at the sky as the sun sets each late afternoon and clap ...

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Did you hear about the 8-year-old Idaho boy who wrote and illustrated his own book and snuck it onto a shelf in the library? This kid’s bold initiative to get his book into the library has received worldwide publicity. Everywhere I look, there is another story about young Dillon Helbig and his ...

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Driving down Route 117 on a sunny, cold Wednesday morning, I noticed a man wearing yellow wings wiping down the hood of a car in front of the car wash. I could not stop in traffic to stare nor could I turn my head like the Exorcist to get a better view of this strange attire. As I continued ...

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Last week in one of my adult writing classes, Susan wrote about a childhood experience of going with her mother to buy new school shoes. To make sure that the shoes fit well, the shoe store clerk told Susan to put the shoes on and walk over to stand on the new wooden X-ray machine. When she looked ...

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House cleaning is not on the top of my list of fun activities. It is not even in the top ten of things I’d rather spend my time on. Organizing my lessons and paperwork, doing laundry, washing dishes, not a problem. But dusting? I buy all of the Swiffer sweeping cloths and dusting paraphernalia ...

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On Sunday morning, I was sitting at the kitchen table eating my breakfast crumb cakes and drinking my coffee while looking out of the windows at the snow covering the ground and the blue sky reflected on the icy surface of the pond. As I took a sip of coffee and placed the mug back on the coaster, ...

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January’s winter weather reminds cooks across the country to get out the chili pot and stir up a batch of warm, belly-filling chili! People sure are passionate about how they like their chili. You name it—there is a chili recipe out there for just about every taste and culinary level. The ...

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The holiday cookies have been eaten, not a piece of cake in sight. But these cold winter days and nights call for snack food while we hunker down and hibernate. Whether you consider yourself a “salty” type gravitating to chips, pretzels, and popcorn as your snacking choice or you are a “sweets” ...

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Before you glance quickly around to make sure that you are alone when you read this column, don’t let the title fool you—it’s about books. I discovered two quirky, super-interesting new books over the holiday vacation that I can’t wait to tell other readers about. While I enjoy reading novels ...

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In the first few months of 2022, we will most likely be dodging variants of Covid-19, the flu, the common cold, and strep throat. We will have the additional onslaught of snow and ice and below-zero temperatures to navigate. There are perils all around us including internet scams, identity theft, ...

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Guy Lombardo is no longer escorting us into the New Year but let me be the first to wish you much good luck for 2022! Try finding anyone who remembers the lyrics to that New Year’s Eve classic, “Auld Lang Syne.” This sad, nostalgic song reminds listeners to remember times long past. The literal ...

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When I was a kid, dining out options were limited. The closest sit-down restaurant was up at the shopping center in the next town. I recall dinners on Friday nights at this family-friendly Chinese restaurant. Spare ribs and fried rice were my favorites. At the end of the meal, the waiter would set ...

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Peppermint, the flavor of the holiday season, is all around us. Peppermint lattes, peppermint bark candy, and those ubiquitous red and white striped peppermint candy canes are featured in stores at this time of year. I searched the internet to learn the history of the candy cane. The earliest ...

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I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. Chocolate is one of my major food groups, but I do include fruits, vegetables, rice, pasta, eggs, and yogurt. I take a multivitamin once a day and drink plenty of water. Staying primarily at home since March 2020, I have not had a cold, sore throat, or cough.

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One of my favorite childhood stuffed animals was a green and yellow frog. Froggy was the perfect size to hold and cuddle at bedtime. He had black and white eyes, a large red smile and a yellow fabric crown attached to the top of his head. Froggy held the place of honor perched on top of my ...

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