The Year of Living Minimally – Week Three

I should have titled this series “The Year to Living Minimally.” (Can you tell I’m doing revisions on my seventh novel?!)

Last week I cleaned out some drawers. This week I cleaned out some more. Don’t worry, though, I have plenty more!

Utensil drawer and gadget drawer. What I tossed out from the top left photo is not really visible, but there were packets of salt, pepper, soy sauce, ketchup, etc. all in the back. Old. Ugh.

I used to love collecting kitchen gadgets. Some things I never even used – vegetable curlers and brown sugar softeners. A cheap little microplane and a spreader with a chipped handle. I’m keeping the Pampered Chef turkey lifters, even if I only cook one turkey a year. ūüėČ

I hate these drawers! Truly the junk drawers, filled with screws and tape and batteries and tools. They’re really my husband’s domain, but I fixed them up, and put a pile of operating manuals (for small appliances we no longer possess) into the recycle bin.

This next one was more emotional…

I donated my piano last year, and was happy to see it find a new home. It wasn’t the piano I’d grown up with, so I didn’t have an attachment to the instrument. And I hadn’t played in a very long time. But I still have an antique sheet music cabinet (my mom was so happy when she found it for me!), and it was filled with music. Look at the close-up at the bottom left of this collage – my sister and I took weekly piano lessons from Mrs. Bowser, and in April 1969 (I was 10), she rewarded us with the musical score to Oliver!

My sheet music collection includes pop favorites from my high school years, hardcover, spiral-bound books (Great Songs of the Sixties, Big Bands, Timeless Classics), as well as all the classical music I practiced so hard to get right. “Rhapsody in Blue” – I never mastered it. Now I’ll listen to it on CD or through my iPod or Pandora, and I’ll enjoy it.

My friend Lila is accepting the sheet music. She’s the Music Director at Providence College, so I’m glad it’s going somewhere good. There is one book of music I can’t part with, though.

I mean, I tattooed my name on his chest! ūüé∂ūüíôūüé∂


Sunday Bonus!


As you know, there are no A to Z posts on Sunday. But I’m on a roll – and I do hope you’ve been enjoying the posts so far. Tomorrow, Monday, we’ll be back with ‘H,’ and yes, it’s a good one (although the ‘F’ post, with Jerry Orbach and Elaine Stritch, has to be my favorite). However, like a mother with her children, they’re all my favorites!

Today is a special day – not only is it Palm Sunday for Christians, it’s my husband’s birthday. And it’s one of those milestone birthdays. If you know me, you can probably figure it out. If you don’t know me well enough, the internet can probably tell you. So as a gift to my Jim today, and as a special gift to all of you, I offer a special presentation by BBC Proms – weren’t they so good last week with “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” from Hello, Dolly!? Here they are, celebrating Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday in 2010 with “Sunday” from¬†Sunday in the Park with George. Such a beautiful song. Enjoy!


Blogging from A to Z – Theme Reveal

atoz-theme-reveal-2016 v2

As you may know, the Blogging from A to Z Challenge begins on April 1, and runs each day (except Sundays) through the month. This will be my 5th year participating! If you’re wondering about my previous themes, I wrote about Poets, Novelists, Essayists, and Lyricists in 2012; Oh! The Places I’ve Been in 2013, Smile and Say…(yes, cheese!) in 2014, and last year I posted an A to Z of musical instruments.






This year’s theme is entitled PARIS BETWEEN THE WARS, and was inspired by a book I found at the Innisfree Bookshop in Meredith, New Hampshire. I love Paris, and I love this time period, from 1919 at the end of World War I, to 1939, just before the start of World War II. According to the book, during this time, ‘Paris underwent a creative fever that brought artists and intellectuals from around the world to the City of Light. The bohemian charms of Montparnasse attracted artists such as Picasso, Chagall, and Giacometti, while a vibrant caf√© culture provided a forum for disputes between Dadaists and Surrealists and gave rise to a group of expa¬≠triate writers. The creative energy was all-encompassing, establishing Paris as the epicenter of new trends in the arts, a position it would occupy until World War II.’

I will showcase some of the people who contributed to the richness of culture in Paris at this time, and I hope you’ll follow along!

So Long, American Idol


It began as a summer replacement show on Fox in 2002 and became one of the most successful American TV shows. Although I stopped watching it a couple of years ago (when it seemed that the show was more about the judges than the contestants), I’m offering my Top Ten favorite Idol performances here:

10) “I Think I Love You” by Constantine Maroulis. He channeled David Cassidy and rocked it out.

9) “Whole Lotta Love” by Adam Lambert. Yes, he should have won Season 8! Lambert brought something edgy and exciting to an otherwise middle-of-the-road series.

8) “Baba O’Riley” by David Cook. Cook, like Chris Daughtry, took mainstream songs and turned them into unique, memorable performances.

7) “Weekend in New England” by Jennifer Hudson. She didn’t win Idol, but went on to garner an Academy Award (Dreamgirls), a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a SAG award, and a Grammy!

6) “A Change is Gonna Come” by Adam Lambert. Blue-eyed soul, certainly.

5) “I Walk the Line” by Chris Daughtry. Doing a cover of Live’s version of the Johnny Cash classic. Another non-winner of AI who has found success.

4) “A House is not a Home” by Tamyra Gray. It was Bachrach week on Idol (Season 1), and this performance was stellar (even if the video is not).

3) “It’s a Man’s World” by Joshua Ledet. This preacher’s son was so good, he made it into my Top Three twice.

2) “Walk On By” by Kelly Clarkson. She was Idol’s first winner, and this performance sealed it for me.

And my all-time favorite performance by an American Idol contestant

1) “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Joshua Ledet. Goosebumps!


If you watched, who was your favorite?



Theme Reveal – Blogging from A to Z

Today is the day for bloggers (1,152 participants as of this writing!) to reveal their chosen theme for the 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge. A theme isn’t required, and many bloggers choose not to have a theme, which is perfectly acceptable.

I’ve always picked a theme – it helps me maintain focus for the month of blog posts. And I have deliberately kept my posts short, as the idea of this event is to visit as many new blogs as possible.

This year I’ve titled my theme Listen Up! If you know me, you know I love travel, food, music, and literature. In 2012, I blogged about writers, essayists, lyricists, and poets. In 2013, it was Oh! The Places I’ve Been! And last year’s theme was Smile and Say…. (an alphabetical blog about cheese). This year we’ll visit musical instruments from A to Z, with a post each day except Sundays in April.

So I hope you’ll tune in! If you don’t already follow my blog, you can sign up right on the main page.



Twerking: A New Word I Didn’t Need to Learn

The definition:¬†“Twerk, v.: dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.”

I could have lived the rest of my life not knowing this.

But excuse me, Oxford Dictionary, I take issue with the word “dance.” Call me old (please don’t call me old), call me old-fashioned. Dance? Puh-lease. This is dance:

This is dance:

And this:

And, of course, this (arguably the most imitated dance move ever):

Dance evolves. Some of it is timeless, like Fred and Ginger. But twerking? That not evolving, it’s devolving.¬†Look it up.

Three Days of Peace and Music



From August 15 –¬†18 in 1969, on a 600-acre dairy farm in the Catskills, there was a little music festival called Woodstock¬†(“3 days of Peace & Music”). Around 400,000 people attended¬†(talk about an event going viral). Tickets for the three-day event cost $18 in advance and $24 at the gate.

[this from Wikipedia]: “Although the festival was remarkably peaceful given the number of people and the conditions involved, there were two recorded fatalities: one from what was believed¬†to be a heroin overdose and another caused in an accident when a tractor ran over an attendee sleeping in a nearby hayfield. There also were two births recorded at the event (one in a car caught in traffic and another in a hospital after an airlift by helicopter) and four miscarriages. Oral testimony in the¬†film supports the overdose and run-over deaths and at least one birth, along with many logistical headaches.

Yet, in tune with the idealistic hopes of the 1960s, Woodstock satisfied most attendees. There was a sense of social harmony, which, with the quality of music, and the overwhelming mass of people, many sporting bohemian dress, behavior, and attitudes helped to make it one of the enduring events of the century.”

This is where Kellie Blunt was conceived. Kellie is the central character in my new novel, “Bits of Broken Glass.” Her mother, Barbara¬†Campbell, then a sophomore in college,¬†defied her parents and hitched a ride with some classmates to Bethel, New York, where she met Arthur Blunt. They were together for the entire weekend, stoned and wet and muddy. When the concert ended, Arthur decided to stay in Bethel, working on Max Yasgur’s¬†dairy farm. Barbara returned home, to face her parents’ anger, and, weeks later, the discovery that she was carrying Arthur’s child.¬†Barbara was forever stuck in a time warp, never wanting to let go of 1969, and Kellie learned she was conceived in a mud puddle, but she knew nothing about the man whose name she carried.

Here’s a clip from the concert:

Music Monday – Vote for your Favorite!


It’s the last Music Monday this month, and what better way to end than with a summer song. There are plenty of them out there, but I’ve chosen three. And you can vote for the one you like best!

First up, from 1964

Second song, from 1963 (hey, I’m nostalgic):

And finally, a cover of 1969 hit by Sly and the Family Stone Рfrom 1985:

It’s summer! It’s hot! Hope you make the most of it, because the days are getting shorter already ūüėČ

Music Monday – Ebene Quartet

photo by Herve Martin - photo from

photo by Herve Martin – photo from

I only recently discovered the “Ebony Quartet,” through¬†National Public Radio music. And what better way to kick off¬†Music Monday than with this energetic quartet?

These four Frenchman epitomize energy, enthusiasm, √©clat! Lucky were the ones present for this concert, but we’re the fortunate ones to be able to relive it here.

Thanks, NPR!

Music Monday

“Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

I first listened to Quadron on NPR radio’s¬†weekend music segment. According to NPR, “Quadron’s members, Coco O. and Robin Hannibal, grew up with a love of 1970s soul music that wasn’t widely shared in their hometown of Copenhagen.” I fell in love with this¬†song the first time I heard it. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Listen to Quadron