Parlor Games
Photo by Mink Mingle, Unsplash Photos

Parlor Games

At a party late last year with long-time friends from a walking group, the guests enjoyed playing parlor games.  This followed the usual drinking and chatting and eating, including a delicious cassoulet made by our hosts. Parlor games, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, are games suitable for adults to play indoors.  My personal lack of knowledge of pop culture has always led to poor performance in competitive parlor games such as Trivial Pursuit, but in these games, there were no losers, just people letting down their hair, acting silly, and having a good time. First…

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Diaries: Letters to Ourselves by Kay Roberts

A few months ago, I rediscovered a diary I kept when I was thirteen years old.  This find made me think that diaries might make good Christmas presents for my grandchildren, ages ten and thirteen. I cautioned them to avoid dumb entries such as my own: “Washed my hair, went to the show.”  I do like my entry about liking Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, except for being "stuck beside somebody who smelled like barn" (I grew up in a little farm community in Wisconsin).  I had hoped my old diary would give me a glimpse of who…

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The Reveal
Street level window for Local Edition

The Reveal

The word “reveal,” according to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, means “to make (something secret or hidden) publicly or generally known.”   Or, according to Merriam-Webster online, reveal means “to disclose, divulge, or tell.” In screenwriting, “the reveal” generally comes near the end of the script, when the viewers finally become privy to hidden information that explains all that came before. The most interesting stories written by professional journalists include a reveal. This can happen in a feature story or profile, but in investigative journalism, the reveal can make or break a story, not to mention the reporter’s…

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Love Letters
Valentine greeting card

Love Letters

Does anyone write love letters anymore? Last week, my husband and I attended the beautiful wedding of his great niece in Las Vegas.  There was so much joy, happiness, and tears going around that one could literally feel the love in the air. The young bride and groom met in a creative writing class at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  Their writing instructor served as the best man at their wedding. The couple bonded over their shared love of reading and writing.  I like to think that there will be many love letters in their future,…

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Frederick Douglass:  Gentleman of Letters
Frederick Douglass's private study

Frederick Douglass: Gentleman of Letters

  Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895), African American writer, orator, and social activist, was a gentleman of letters. Born into slavery, he was largely self-taught, learning to read and write prior to entering his teens. His eloquence and fiery oratory gave him great influence as an abolitionist, social activist, and diplomat throughout his adult lifetime. Last month, on a visit with my daughter in Washington, DC, we had the opportunity to tour Frederick Douglass’s final home, Cedar Hill, located in Anacostia. Douglass, who purchased Cedar Hill from the Freedmen’s Bank in 1877, lived there for seventeen…

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Favorite Books 2017

New enticing titles are on the horizon in 2018, but looking back, I would like to share some of my favorite books from 2017. Many “best books” of the year lists are compiled near the end of the year – check out New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, and Publishers Weekly, to name just a few. While some of my favorite books are crossovers from these lists, and/or appear on local and/or national bestsellers lists, my lists are by no means comprehensive or definitive. The following reading suggestions are merely those that I found most enjoyable…

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Postcards and Notes
Volkswagen buses meet on Old Route 66

Postcards and Notes

Summer and fall are excellent times for vacation, and there is no better way to share those experiences than by sending postcards and notes by mail. It’s quick, it’s easy, and there are beautiful options to represent those good times. But more to the point, postcards and notes are a great way to communicate, anytime and any place. “Having a great time in (fill in the blank). Wish you were here.” This is a standard cliché about messages on postcards, that they are rote and say very little. But nothing could be further from the truth.…

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Royal Mail Delivers Your Letters – and Packages, Too!
Letterbox pillar, St. Ives

Royal Mail Delivers Your Letters – and Packages, Too!

My recent visit to the United Kingdom would not have been complete without checking out the Royal Mail. Picturesque letterboxes led me to believe that a sweet, old-fashioned post office would be just around the corner, but that turned out not to be the case. The post office in St. Ives (Cambridgeshire) is co-located in the back of WHSmith, which is, in this location, a news and sundry store. One can purchase any one of three daily newspapers, a bottle of water, an umbrella, a Cadbury’s (now owned by Hershey) chocolate bar and various other snacks…

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The Epistolary Novel

Epistolary adj epis·to·lary \i-ˈpi-stə-ˌler-ē, ˌe-pi-ˈstȯ-lə-rē\  1 :  of, relating to, or suitable to a letter 2 :  contained in or carried on by letters 3 :  written in the form of a series of letters an epistolary novel – Merriam-Webster Dictionary What exactly is an epistolary novel? As Jenny Baum of the New York Public Library notes in a blog post, the word epistolary “is one of those words that are just fun to say or think about.” But not everyone knows what the term means. Readers, however, are familiar with the epistolary novel, even if…

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Endings: Finding a New Future
Dandelion, 55 Potrero Ave. closed Fall 2016

Endings: Finding a New Future

2016 was a year of endings. Mostly, we think of beginnings as we approach a new year, but it is equally important to examine those things that now lie only in the past. Often, they reflect our values, contribute to our history, and reflect our sense of personal self. Some endings are self-evident. Farewell to the integrity and quiet dignity of President Obama and his beautiful family. Farewell to the talented, too numerous to name, musicians, actors, artists, journalists, intellectuals and loved ones lost in 2016, who, through their extraordinary contributions, made our lives richer and…

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