Reading, Writing & Chocolate

December 13, 2018

Americans love to receive packages. We actually buy presents for ourselves all the time. We order everything to be shipped in boxes and packages straight to our doorsteps. Groceries, light bulbs, electronics, and of course, books. My daily mail delivery arrives two hours later than it did last ...

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When I hear the terms “animals” and “art” in the same sentence, I think of that famous kitschy painting of dogs playing poker. But apparently there is an entire genre of art actually painted by real live animals! If you search online for animals making art or paintings by animals, wild colorful ...

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I’ve been thinking about the people who have lost their homes in the fire zones in California. How unimaginable to have minutes to gather your family and flee. The terror of driving through dense smoke, surrounded by flames on all sides, must feel like a nightmare. Incinerated cars, home ...

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When the telephone rings at odd hours—late at night or very early in the morning—my heart stops as I reach for the phone. Sometimes it is a wrong number. But sometimes it is a nurse or the police. I have elderly parents living in two different states. I try to focus on the words the caller is ...

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Did you know that the kitchen and bathroom are the two most dangerous rooms in your house? According to safety experts, millions of people injure themselves each year doing everyday activities and chores around the house. The Top 10 at-home injury categories include trips and falls (on the ...

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This morning, I opened the kitchen cabinet and burst out laughing. Two entire shelves are filled with six packages of chocolate chip cookies (two different brands), two boxes of mini crumb cakes, dark chocolate bars, three boxes of granola bars (different flavors), packets of hot chocolate, and two ...

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I spend a lot of time in libraries. I teach classes at the Bedford, Pound Ridge, Lewisboro, Ridgefield and Norwalk libraries. In addition to leading classes for adults and children, I do research for the freelance articles I write, reserve books through the inter-library loan system, and attend ...

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I like a good squirrel story. Last week on board a Frontier Airlines flight from Orlando to Cleveland, the passengers went nuts when it was announced that the plane would not be departing. Everyone on board was required to leave the airplane and return to the gate because a woman had brought her ...

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I always try to watch the last five minutes of the evening news. Unusual, “feel-good” stories are featured during the last segment on all three network news programs. The other night, the segment revealed that the U.S. government monitors nuclear testing activity around the world from an ...

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Driving west on Route 35, the colorful fall leaves reminded me of a road trip I took with my mom to Eastern Tennessee. In the mid-1990s, I made several trips to Eastern Tennessee to explore the possibility of relocating there. The topography is similar to Northern Westchester: rolling hills, trees, ...

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Last week, I asked my adult writing students to think back to the very first car they owned. I asked them to describe the car and write about the emotions surrounding that important milestone. For most people, that first vehicle represents freedom, adventure and responsibility. My first car was ...

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I like old movies. I especially enjoy old movies from the 1920s and 1930s. Those black and white films stand the test of time with good storylines and acting. I have dozens of old movies saved over the years on VHS tapes. I no longer have a VCR to play them on and can only gaze at the carefully ...

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I remember a few times from my childhood when I stayed home from school because I was sick. I rested under the covers of my canopy bed waiting for the doctor to arrive. Back then, doctors made house calls. My parents did not have to bundle up their feverish child to drive miles away from home in ...

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It’s happened again. No warning signs. I wake up after a cozy night’s sleep and the room is spinning. My own internal poltergeist. Vertigo. I used to look forward to the beginning of autumn—new classes to teach, warm cider donuts, pumpkin cake, and colorful leaves on the trees. But for the past ...

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The other day I had a hankering for a tomato. Not a mushy, red orb that tastes like cardboard from the grocery store. A real tomato. I did not grow tomatoes this year but I fondly recall the bounty of red ripe juicy tomatoes I used to pick every August from my garden. There is a farm stand on ...

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I like the natural environmentally friendly approach to gardening. No need for pesticides or exhaust-spewing machines when a spritz of cayenne pepper or the sweep of a broom will do. So, I was very interested to hear that Montpelier, Vt., was using goats to remove poison ivy. The noxious weeds ...

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As I was driving north on Route 123 toward the traffic light, my peripheral vision caught an unexpected sight on my right. A set of freshly constructed wooden stairs and handrails had magically appeared, seemingly overnight, leading into the woods. How delightful! My imagination conjured up a ...

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I am enjoying my summer so far. Walking every morning with my neighbor, reading a ton of new books, teaching summer writing classes, and eating chocolate ice cream has been very relaxing. But now that August is here, I’m thinking about planning a mini-vacation to a destination that sounds fun. I ...

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In a perfect world, I would like to know what will happen in the future. I could be prepared and make plans accordingly. But since I do not read my daily horoscope or visit psychics, I have decided to predict my future according to the activities of the chipmunks in my backyard. Why not? Every ...

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As a young child, I was quite the outgoing chatterbox. On an airplane trip to visit grandma in Florida, I asked a man across the aisle if I could have his chocolate cupcake. He was in a tough spot, how do you say no to a cute curly haired little girl? He graciously handed over his cupcake, as my ...

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I have a short name. One syllable, three letters. Easy to pronounce. My mother chose my name specifically because she did not like names that can be shortened into nicknames. My mother’s name is Sandra. And she was mightily offended whenever anyone called her Sandy. My mom associated the name Sandy ...

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Recently, I enjoyed teaching a one-week creative writing camp for teens at Katonah Art Center. For three hours each afternoon, six middle and high school students joined me to learn new ways to discover story inspiration, create unique characters, and explore writing in different genres of fiction.

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I watched a segment on the evening news about “stretchy” ice cream being made in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Based on an ancient Middle Eastern ice cream, the dense, creamy taffy-like texture is the result of adding ground orchid root and mastic (a tree resin) to the ingredients. It’s fun to try new ...

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Three times a week at 9 p.m. I take a trip to eastern North Carolina. Actually, I watch the TV cooking show, “A Chef’s Life,” on Create TV. The half-hour program chronicles the life of chef Vivian Howard at her farm-to-table restaurant, Chef and the Farmer, in Kinston, N.C. According to the ...

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Walking is my favorite mode of transportation. It is also my preferred form of exercise, meditation, stress reduction and idea generation. In middle school and high school, I walked and talked with my friends, Irene, Alexandra and Charles. We covered miles and miles around our neighborhood and ...

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We always want to inherit the best traits from our parents. I inherited the gardening gene from my dad. We both like to cook and watch cooking shows. He is very patient and can find humor in even the most difficult situations. My dad taught me how to ride a bicycle and drive a car (“Don’t use ...

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As the end of the school year approaches, we think of graduations and moving up ceremonies. We think of parties and summer vacation plans. Take a few minutes and think about the teachers in your life. I can remember the names of all of my elementary school teachers. My second-grade teacher, Miss ...

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The other morning I was having trouble sending an email from my laptop so I called my email provider’s tech support. After repeating all of my security words and listening to five minutes of recorded music, a tech support guy named Alex offered assistance. As we went through the steps of installing ...

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I love a challenge. I like to challenge myself to try new experiences. Bungee jumping from a hot air balloon? Check! Parasailing in Mexico? Check! Walking across the Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina? Check! You get the idea. My introduction to vegetable ...

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I save my old concert T-shirts. They are clean and folded in the bottom drawer of my dresser. I don’t wear them anymore. They’re thin and faded now. I’m not sure what kind of a fashion statement it would make to wear those washed-out U2 or INXS T-shirts displaying the cities the bands played in ...

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