read * hear * say * see * eat

Wil Wheaton is one of my favorite Tweeters, admittedly in part because I like to pretend he is still the character in Stand by Me and we are friends now.

I’m drafting a post about turning 36, which I am happy about sharing next week. For now, here’s some interwebs goodness for all your holiday gaming needs. Some notes on this list: I just viewed it on my phone for the first time, and ack! Horrible design aesthetic. As a result, I’m going to try not bulleting the list in case it reads easier that way.

In other post-improvement news, I’m doing my best to figure out which podcasts I love that I haven’t mentioned yet. In case you find it easier to get into one with a recommended episode, I try to pick an episode that stands out, but you can also just jump in with the most recent.


My Writing Education: A Timeline by George Saunders in The New Yorker, via Orangette

The case—please hear me out—against the em dash in Slate was shared among my editorial circle

A Test of Body Image, by Amanda Magee, including this lovely thought:

My nervousness crescendoed as she squeezed my skin together. Her fascination had nothing to do with anything related to body image or fat, it was entirely about creating something from nothing that entertained her. It felt almost as if I were a witness to it, rather than a participant and I saw it for what it was; love.


Fugitive Waves, by the Kitchen Sisters & Radiotopia—The Building Stewardesses: Construction Guides at the World Trade Center

Living While Dying by Minnesota Public Radio & NPR—“Embracing Loss” touched me deeply

EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey—How Conflict Can Help You Win with Les Parrott


Tomorrow I am giving a talk on conflict resolution at a university! That is all.


My good friend Caroline and her daughter Edie are in the National Journal! The article is called “Outdoor Preschools Take Children into Living Classroom.” I’m putting it under the “See” category because there’s a video that goes along with the article. Caroline makes some great points, my favorite of which is below, about the importance of giving kids an early introduction to nature.

“I think I’m really conscious of that in these years, that she can spend a lot of time outside and gain an ap­pre­ci­ation for it. When she does go to kinder­garten, I think she’ll have that sense in her body that she knows, ‘OK, when I go out­side, I feel bet­ter, I get ex­er­cise, I get fresh air, I can use my ima­gin­a­tion,’” Pet­tit said.


Curried Sweet Potato Soup with Goat Cheese Biscuits by Joy the Baker. I have made this soup many times, but I just finally tried the biscuits for the first time. OMG.

Have you tried a cocktail mixer called a “shrub” yet? A shrub is a drinking vinegar that I recall first reading about last year in Edible Boston. Why it took me a year and a half to try is beyond me because I was in fact one of those “closet vinegar drinkers” she refers to in the article. When I was a kid, I used to hide in the fridge and drink the pickle juice, ducking because I figured it was somehow a bad thing to do (I also used to eat sticks of butter and take swigs of maraschino cherry juice, but I’m still waiting for those odd childhood eating habits to be vindicated by the modern hipster culture scene. I can only assume I was also that baby who loved to suck lemons). Anywho, the shrub I purchased at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market came from a company—McClary Bros.—that just happened to have been featured on a recent Shark Tank, which I just happened to watch for the first and only time in a hotel room a few weeks ago. I mixed their signature apple pie flavor with a spicy ginger ale and whiskey, and the results were delightful. I declare it to be the perfect holiday cocktail, and I have no doubt it would be tasty in a warm beverage too. I’ve since tried a funky soda made of just shrub and sparkling water, and I LOVE it. What can I say, I’m a weirdo. For me, it can’t get sour enough.

read * hear * say * see * eat

read * hear * say * see * eat - heirloom mothering
Boston Globe recapped the writers & mothers event I attended, with great illustrations

Happy Friday! I’m recovering from a second gum graft today, but don’t pity me. A day spent relaxing with my girls, reading my book and introducing them to The Princess Bride, won’t be bad. Hope you’re weekend is grand. xoxo

Editor’s note: I finally figured out, thanks to editor friends at Literary Mama, that there’s a little box to check when adding links that will open them in a new tab. The wonders of WordPress!


  • I believe it should be a rule never to apologize for not posting to a blog, unless you can do it as well as Alice of Finslippy. Go for Bradley, FTW!
  • The 2015 Pulitzer prize winners, via NYT, including this great quote: “‘The research was so harrowing,’ said Mr. Doerr, 41, who lives in Boise, Idaho. ‘I thought I would never finish the book, and then I did and now a lot of people are reading it, and it’s so weird.'”
  • Lindsey republished her great list, “10 Things I Want My Daughter 10-Year-Old Daughter to Know” over at The Mid. I enjoyed reading it again.
  • Favorite tweet this week…



  • I’m in the way way back of the archives of some of my favorite podcasts, which is how I ended up listening to these episodes of Here’s the Thing with Debbie Reynolds and Kathleen Turner.
  • I’m a nagger, so I’ll ask again. Are you listening to Death, Sex, & Money yet? I loved “In Sickness & In Mental Health.”
  • I love to listen to bird sounds while I work, particularly if I’m in creative non-fiction mode. Is that weird? I used to listen to webcams of birds or to a Youtube of bird sounds, but this week I discovered “In a Quiet Park” by Songza, which is a fantastic music site to browse if you haven’t yet. It asks you what you’re doing to figure out what music to play.
  • My aunt sent me this duet from The Pearl Fishers, a lovely reminder of my first opera 20+ years ago (at which I learned I needed glasses because I had to use binoculars to see).


  • We’ll be in Atlanta just in time to catch Anthony Bourdain’s tour (not sure why he’s not hitting up the NE corridor). Apparently it’s heavy on the Q&A, which should be interesting. Bourdain is Nate’s big-time man crush, and I’ve warmed up to him over the years, particularly since “Parts Unknown” began airing. Who knew CNN would ever be worth watching again?


  • We watched Wild last night On Demand. I thought the screenplay adaptation was excellent work by Nick Hornby; I can think of one or two nits to pick, but I will say it’s very good just as it is, definitely worth watching.
  • I apologize if you saw my link to Force Majeure on Netflix last week and decided to watch it because of me. We watched it after I posted the link, and all I can say is I will be screening films before putting them here from now on. Yikes.
  • Speaking of Netflix, I’m not sure why they haven’t figured out how to let us know properly when they have a new month’s offerings, but as this is the case, here’s a list via Thought Catalog.


  • Thank you, Molly, for sharing this recipe for half/whole wheat scones with dates. YUM. (Not to mention the fact that I TOO love to purge books and keep only one shelf of them. Okay, two shelves, but you know).

obstacles, or: well begun is half done

I was at the gym the other day, surveying the abundant types of equipment. The kids had ventured to the babysitting room, so I stood in the doorway feeling carefree. I must have looked helpful—the broad smile of a mother who relinquished care of her children for an hour—because an older woman walked right up to me.

“Where have all the Stairmasters gone?” she asked, puzzled.

“They retired in the ‘90s?” I offered, smiling. She did not smile. I don’t make a lot of friends at the gym. In fact, I probably usually give off a don’t-talk-to-me vibe. I insert my earbuds and listen to the newest podcasts I’ve downloaded to my old iPod shuffle.

(Now you twenty-somethings are going to tell me I could listen to podcasts on my iPhone. Hush now, baby steps. It wasn’t that long ago I ignored the podcast evangelists, but now I’m a born-again listener. If you’re not converted yet, I predict you will be among the faithful audience soon.)

The last time I exercised, I listened to a recent This American Life. The theme was “a front,” and stories were fascinating but frustrating—an apt TAL tagline, if there ever was. The first story, “WTF, ATF?,” was as alarming as it was informative. While I am a registered Democrat, I do not accept the label that I am overly trusting of the Federal government. I believe in a healthy dose of skepticism and transparency. Being on the level is not just a legal imperative but a moral one as well.

My favorite was Act 2, “The Border between America and America,” which delved into the troubles with border checkpoints. [Aside: On this topic, I am in agreement with the Democratic Party that “illegal immigration is tied to the broken legal immigration system, not necessarily security.” I question whether we should spend the BILLIONS of dollars we do on border security rather than fix that broken system, which is why I support President Obama’s attempt to make repairs.]

In any case, these complicated stories got me thinking about obstacles. I am experiencing one of my own obstacles at the moment. As I type this piece, I am stopping to put a bag of peas on my face to reduce swelling from the gum graft I had this morning. It was a scheduled standard procedure, nothing major and certainly not an emergency. But it rattled me to sit in that chair this morning, listening to all the scraping and cutting sounds (one thing’s for sure, I’ll be listening to a podcast next time). And the results have got me feeling worse than I expected, which always takes me by surprise.

When my activity level grinds to a halt, I am humbled to have to ask for help. But on the other hand, I am thankful to have a husband willing and able to step in and take over. If obstacles like my mouth surgery have an upside, it’s to remind me of how lucky I am to live most of my life impediment-free. Self-pity can make it difficult for me to see my own obstacles in this way, but I’m grateful for reminders—like the mine field of Christmas decorations in my foyer or the email from my aunt telling me my grandmother is back in the hospital again—to ground me in the awareness of my good fortune. Today as I step over the garland that’s waiting for me to wrap it around the banister on my way to replenish my frozen pea packs, I can’t help but smile (or rather, half-smile like Popeye).

On another positive note, we did lots of the decorating over the weekend, so it looks pretty good even in its current state of chaos. Well begun is half done, as Mary Poppins says. Speaking of Mary Poppins, I’ve been using her aphorisms (like Daniel Tiger) to help my first grader through some struggles; her maxims are fresh on our mind because we just saw the film again at a local sing-along screening. Violin and first grade are both tough, and Vivi also seems to be going through both a growth and developmental spurt as she approaches seven years old—“Life in a minor key,” as Ames refers to seven. It’s full of capital ESS Sulking, this age.

We talk about how Mary Poppins distinguishes between firm and unkind as a way to help her through her feeling of being picked on. There are so many great lessons to be learned from that story; what a character the dad is. As I said to Nate, I never thought I’d identify with that father character, but now I do! Ultimately, Vivi’s ability to overcome challenges, heaped on both outside the home and in, is admirable with or without the Poppins pep talks. She inspires me to challenge myself as I step out of my comfort zone in my writing. Writing requires a leap of faith that I have difficulty making, but Vivi takes that leap every day and gives me strength to do the same.

Nate bought the t-shirt version of this someecard. Some people just don’t get it, but I think it’s hilarious and great for tension relief! It’s become an inside joke for one of us to say to the other in an anxious moment, “Remember that you’re going to die some day!”


So how about you? Do you have a distractor like podcasts that gets you through the obstacles you face? And if you’re a podcast listener, tell me: what are your favorites?