Our Verandah

Our Verandah

When previous trips have left you sick of packing and unpacking luggage, of dragging large bags over cobblestones, and of carrying them up staircases that never end, cruises can look good.  Suitcase weariness was why I decided to try another cruise this spring.  Shipboard closets are reliably large and come with drawers. I unpack once and that’s it. And after a few days of walking six to seven hours on land, I find that returning to my stateroom really does feel like going home. The plumbing is reliable and I don’t have to keep figuring out how to flush the toilet or operate the sink, and sometimes I might even get a bath tub. What luxury!  And then there’s the verandah—good for private moments with the ocean. Continue reading

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“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.” – Libba Bray

Compton High

I was bummed when “Straight Outta Compton” received only one Oscar nomination this year. I’d grown up in Compton, had attended Compton High School in the late 1950s, and I‘d also liked the film. Although the young men portrayed in the movie—the soon-to-be-famous rappers of the group, NWA—attended high school in the 1980s, long after the advent of Black Power and after drugs and gangs had begun to dominate the Compton scene, I’d often thought of them as the secretly angry voices of the boys I went to school with in the 1950s. And I’d felt a bond. Though I’m white and female, Compton left me with a rebel edge.

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Dear Friends,

Just in time for the holidays, my food memoir, Tasting Home: Coming of Age in the Kitchen, will be on sale for 99 cents on Dec 9 -10.

Consider giving copies to your friends. They’re cheaper than chocolates!  And they come with recipes.

Get the kindle edition, on Dec 9 and 10 only, at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

You don’t need a Kindle to download the book.  Here is an app that will let you use another device.

The paperback also makes a nice gift. Get it here.

Promo Banner Corrected

Feel free to share this page. And, if you’ve read and liked the book, please consider saying so on Amazon.

Happiest of Holidays to you!


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A Review of Mayhem by Elizabeth Harris

“A young woman climbing out of an old Essex in a cloche hat and a flowered maroon rummage-sale dress in front of the Prince Carl County courthouse, that’s what some observers will remember . . . part of her fascination, escorted and left waiting in the lemony light of the October morning, is that she seems almost in custody . . . she is the trial’s most intriguing spectacle, the origin of the crime, the modest, obedient, well-regarded woman taken in adultery.”


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Riding to the opera through the New Mexican landscape of twilight mountains and ever shifting clouds, I wondered why Jennifer Higdon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning female composer, had chosen the novel Cold Mountain as a basis for her first opera.

Photo: J.D. Scott

Photo: J.D. Scott

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I hadn’t come to Amsterdam for the food.  Although I meant to sample regional dishes—mainly Dutch apple pie and pancakes—what I’d really come for was the art, the seventeenth-century houses, and the canals. I‘d reserved a place on a food tour that would take place the day before I left. It was later in my stay than I had hoped, but in the end,  the very timing of my culinary excursion would reveal, as never before, the role that food tours can play in finding intimacy with a city—and, in this case, a city I hadn’t initially liked that much. Continue reading

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Young people, and especially our children, can revive our capacity for wonder at the world and a sense of intimate connection to it. I felt closer to the landscape because I saw my daughter come alive to it with an intensity that no longer comes so easily to me.

I stand on high ground looking out at the Vale of Evesham, a wide expanse of grass, rows of darker trees, and distant hills of patchwork green. Clouds cluster overhead, sometimes threatening rain, sometimes parting to admit slants of sun and patches of bright blue sky.  My daughter, who’s come with us on this trip to England, becomes part of the landscape, her scarf adding a splash of azure against the many shades of green, her face lit with a touch of light. I feel a rush of love for her and for the landscape as well.

Broadway Tower Anna Continue reading

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To read this novel is to feel the wonder of life anew and to become, however momentarily, a better person.

It’s been said that women’s novels have great characters but that they never do anything. That depends on what you mean by do. In Alice McDermott’s Someone, an unexceptional woman, Marie Commeford, is born into a lace-curtain Irish household in Brooklyn in the 1920s and undergoes  familiar rites of passages—childhood, sexual awakening, work, marriage, children, and growing old. Such family and neighborhood-centered experiences—as lived by women at least—are often construed as non-events in a culture dominated by action adventure plots about heroic—and usually male—risk, struggle, and ultimate victory or defeat. But in Someone these “non-events” are rendered with such emotional and sensuous fullness that they bring home, with new force, the existential conditions in which we all live. Continue reading

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“Even siblings we don’t see, who live differently from us, who move in their own world, may be shoring up our lives, our sense of family, our feeling of being at home in the world without our knowing it.”

Two years ago, in March, my younger brother died, quite unexpectedly. He’d been my only sibling and, both of our parents being gone, the only other person left from our original family. His daughter had asked my daughter to tell me the news. “Mom?” she said on the phone, and the sorrow in her voice stopped my breathing. Had something awful happened — to her? “Gary died.” Continue reading

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There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.  Jane Austen, private letters.

Dick Picnic Cropped


I met him in graduate school during the early sixties, the kind of smart, studious young man I‘d always been drawn to but never managed to date.  He said “oops” a lot and was so funny that being in his company felt like having childhood for the first time. He knew music, wrote poetry in a serious way, and was, in my eyes, the smartest person in our circle. We only saw each other in a group or in a threesome, but we began to rest in each other‘s company, to draw close without touching. Continue reading

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