Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Twain

Today is November 30, 2011 and we celebrate Mark Twain's 176th. birthday. He was named Samuel Langhorne Clemens, when he entered the world as the sixth child of a judge, John Marshall, and his wife, Jane Lampton Clemens. When Twain was four, the family moved to Hannibal, Mo., a port city where steam boats arrived from St. Louis and New Orleans. I imagine the port and the steam boats influenced Twain and encouraged him to become a river pilot's apprentice when he was in his teens. By 1858, he had become a licensed river pilot and acquired the name, "Mark Twain"--a term which means the depth of the water is being sounded and is safe to navigate. He began writing as a newspaper reporter in 1861 and in 1865, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County, was published in the New York Saturday Press. Roughing It stemmed from his adventures out West and every child and adult reads and rereads Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Happy, Happy birthday Mr. Twain.



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Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The first Thanksgiving celebrations I can remember took place at my grandmother’s apartment. I’m not sure why we called their home grandma’s as grandpa lived there too along with the two youngest of my mom’s siblings who weren’t married yet. May be it’s because grandma did the cooking.

The celebration later moved to either my mom and dad’s apartment or one of my aunts. The afternoon was spent telling jokes, trying to top each other with puns, and having political discussions with everyone including the children offering their sometimes heated opinions in addition to eating, and enjoying the warmth of being with those we loved.

I became the Thanksgiving cook as a newlywed and the tradition continued with my in-laws and my parents, relatives and friends who were visiting New York.

After our parents passed on, the thought of Thanksgiving without them was hard to contemplate and we decided to take a trip to Italy. On Thanksgiving we were in Sorrento and the staff of the hotel prepared a special dinner for their American guests. All the appetizers were delicious and we anticipated the turkey as the lights in the dining room were lowered, a recorded fanfare sounded and the waiters paraded around the room each holding a large platter with a paper Mache turkey on top. We could hardly wait.

We raised our knives and forks and tried to cut a bite. The knives dug deeper and deeper—we sawed and sawed but finally, defeated, ate the side dishes knowing it’s really the thought that counts.

We returned to our rooms and heard fireworks, ran to the window and watched the sparkling patterns light up the sky. Fireworks, we thought, in honor of our holiday. The next day we learned the fireworks were in honor of a wedding. A very special occasion for the newlyweds and our Thanksgiving.

Have a happy Thanksgiving,


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Friday, November 18, 2011

A Roman Brigadoon

A day of rain in New York. Windshield wipers are busy. Umbrellas try to fly and sometimes make a crash landing leaving their hapless owners wet and grouchy. Not a bit like "Singing in the Rain." The day and now the evening remind me of the first night we spent on a vacation in Rome. I stepped off the plane sniffling, sneezing and coughing--no way to begin a trip in Italy. When my hubby and I got to the hotel on the outskirts of Vatican City, all I wanted to do was stretch out on the bed and feel sorry for myself. Hubby was hungry.
"You go eat and bring me back something," I said.
Hubby reminded me there were no fast food places in the area and not many restaurants. I bundled up and we walked through the streets. Suddenly a warmly lit Trattoria appeared in front of us. No one was sitting at the tables but we were greeted by a welcoming owner. I ordered Minestrone--hot and delicious--it was the best minestrone I had ever eaten and I suspect ever will eat. The next morning I awoke fully recovered and knew it would be one of the best trips we would ever have. We searched for the restaurant, planning to eat there again before we moved on to the next leg of the trip but though we walked all over the area, we never found the place again. I firmly believe it was a Roman Brigadoon--a magical, mystical place that welcomed a poor, undernourished American to that wonderful city.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Not a Good Tech Day and I'm Venting

1. Have had and loved my Nook (the first edition) for over a year then last Friday, I bought a copy of John Lithgow's Biography and downloaded three free classic mysteries at the same time. When I tried to read the bio., I got a message telling me I needed to use WiFi. Since I never needed to do that before even though I have WiFi on the Nook, I called tech support. The tech I spoke too couldn't correct it and told me it was the telephone even blaming a specific company that has nothing to do with my phone service. Went to Starbucks and used their WiFi but before I buy anything more, I'd like to find out what happened and wrote to customer service. Waiting for an answer.
2. Tried to play a DVD, turned on the TV and the screen read No Signal. Called the company last night and after many things were tried, the tech said she would leave notes and I should call back this morning. the new tech had no notes and told me to use the television remote,then tried to blame the TV set. Asked her to send a live Tech and she said I might have to pay for the visit.

What's going on? Thanks for listening. Feel better now.

My cozy mystery eBook is available at B&N, Amazon, Carina Press and wherever eBooks are sold. an audio version has been produced by

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Friday, November 4, 2011


This year is the 125th anniversary of The Statue of Liberty. Given to our country by France in honor of the friendship between out two nations, the lady means much more to the immigrants that longed to reach America's shores and become a part of our democracy. Emma Lazarus wrote the words, that most of us learned by heart, "Give us your tired, your poor..." On my mother's side, my forefathers came to America from Russia. They were grateful to escape the pogroms (hidden by a neighbor until the Cossacks passed) that swept that country whenever the Tsar needed a distraction. I have a photo of the ship they arrived on and the manifest with their names. It's framed and on the wall of my bedroom. Their name is engraved on the wall at Ellis Island with all the others who endured harsh voyages, bad food, crowded conditions and the need to learn a new language, new customs and face the prejudices of those who came before them and wanted to shut the door to our land. They loved this country and passed that love to their children and their children's children and on and on and on to each succeeding generation. From shoemakers and hat cutters in dismal factories came teachers and social workers, doctors and lawyers, performers and a writer. G-- bless America.


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