Christkindl Market


Christkindl Market

Christkindl Market 

Shopping wooden angel chimes

lunch bowl of goulash

two different strudels

a cone of cinnamon nuts

German culture stroll 

Connoisseurs of Fine Writing

Aidan with his new Moleskine journal
Connoisseurs of Fine Writing 

On a recent visit, I learned that my 11-year old grandson Aidan likes a particular pencil – a Bic disposable 0.5, whereas all of his classmates only like 0.7 and no friend ever has the right-sized lead for him to bum a spike if his runs out. I asked him why he likes this kind specifically. 

“Because my handwriting is better with this size lead, Nana, when I don’t have to press down so hard on the paper,” he passionately replied about his writing utensil, with the same fervor that a connoisseur of desserts knows that eggs and butter at room temperature make a richer cake.  
There’s something in our genes.  I like a blue ink Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen (more than any of my non-disposable variety with replaceable cartridges), and had given him one on his last visit, teaching him how to carefully position the silver shield at a slightly less than 45 degree angle – and making a forever fan out of him. My high-powered resort real estate salesman brother writes with a Tul mechanical pencil with 0.7 lead. Our father has had a lifelong affinity for boxed metal fountain pens and matching mechanical pencils – Cross, Stafford, you name it – if it has a little weight and flash, he wields it like a pro. Just yesterday, I learned that I’ve converted a locally famous musician to the Pilot! It’s a thing. Check out the articles linked below to learn more about the pen preferences of famous authors. 
On this visit with Aidan, we moved to paper preferences. “You get it, Nana,” he told me. “No one else gets it that the paper has to absorb the lead or the ink,” he shared, emphasizing his words and throwing in his energetic hand gestures to show that getting it buys me membership into an exclusive club.  I introduced him to my favorite Moleskine papers and gave him a stack of journals to encourage him to keep writing. I also gave him the story of the Moleskine journal insert because it’s as fascinating to read as the ads in a J. Peterman catalog. You know when you open a journal and there’s a quality control sticker that you have arrived at the pinnacle of paper snobdom
– and to be there is to savor a grand view of the journey looking back! We wrote Jenga poems and he narrated our day in journals “for different purposes,” he explained (spoken like a true writer). Ours is a family heritage of people particular about paper, pen, and pencil preferences. People who love to write – who feel the importance of capturing the stories of our lives in words using the best tools to enrich the honor and experience! 

More Love of Pens

My brother’s Tul 

Aidan’s Bic with 0.5 

My Pilot Varsity Disposable Fountain Pen

Moleskine Journals with the Legend of the Moleskine 

Quality Control – the pinnacle of paper snobbery seal



Unfocused Haiku

Microsoft, please stop!

How am I supposed to stay

focused on my work? 

Frames: A Family Portrait Pantoum

Frames: A Family Portrait Pantoum

frames on our parents’ bookshelf

not portraits of their children

we were replaced 

by their dogs 

not portraits of their children 

in matching silver frames

but their dogs 

much easier creatures to love 

in matching silver frames 

Mulligan and Georgia Girl

easier creatures to love

these two spoiled dogs 

their dogs – not portraits of us

we were replaced

by easier creatures to love 

frames on our parents’ bookshelf




Newish baby names

like tattoos on old people

aren’t so cute with age 

Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting


Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting

They say it’s home for Christmas,

this 85 year old spruce from Maryland

sacrificed from its snug spot

in the northeastern woods

murdered with a saw blade and 

hauled to Manhattan 

for one single festive month 

of Christmas celebration

I’m no Scrooge, 

yet I silently weep for this tree – 

rooted in its homeground 

a great grandfather 

in its circle among younger trees

in a peaceful thicket 

where birds nest 

woodland critters seek refuge

and snow falls 

gently blanketing the night 

“Most heralded tree of all at Christmas” announcers of the

Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting say

and in the same breath

“all trees should be celebrated – 

the Arbor Day Foundation and NBC will partner to plant 25,000 trees. 

Text TREES to 707070

to be part of the Global Climate

change” they urge. 

And this is how we celebrate a tree?

We slaughter it and 

dress it up in lights 

and put its carcass on display 

in New York City 

for shopping-bag armed revelers 

to stop 

and rearrange their Coach purses 

and take selfies 

and lower their designer shades 

and gawk at it?

And next, here came an original legend 

to sing with off-key chump backups

They butchered Feliz

Navidad, Jose Feliciano in his nighttime sunglasses and this 

little boy band of his did, 

and in their misery an image

came vividly to mind: 

boys going into a forest 

(calling it tradition) 

with chain saws, coming out carrying a legendary “live tree” 

like a hog-tied pig, 

strapping it down and lighting it up 

as it stands there all sunglassless 

and squinting-

not used to all this city glare-

in the name of Christmas 

while past-their-prime musicians 

try to sing at its feet 

(calling it music)

as it finally fully appreciates the 

solitude of its


deeply wishing it were

home for Christmas


Coming to My Senses


Coming to My Senses

When it’s time for the Schnoodles 

to go to the groomers for the day, 

we leave before the sun comes up – and it’s breathtaking because 

in the early morning I see

the predawn Christmas lights still shining a fantasy of dazzling brilliance 

festive wreaths hung from red velvet ribbons on rural hometown bank windows

jetliners drawing Etch-a-Sketch pictures on a daybreak sky

steam vapors swirling up off the ponds, summer fishing days a half-Earth rotation away

a heavenly greeting hawk on a wire in the median – from Mom, checking to be sure my doors are locked, I’m not speeding, and I’m wearing my seatbelt 

a flurry of other more excited dogs arriving for grooming and daycare 

in the early morning I smell

a cup of fresh-brewed coffee, flavoring the car with high-octane energy for the day ahead

diesel fumes from school buses,

like the red double decker buses of London – bringing flashback memories 

still-lingering mineral soap scent inspired by the coast of Ireland, according to the box

in the early morning I hear

the silence of my car prayer chamber and God’s voice reminding me that there is both work to be done and life to be lived 

in the early morning I feel

the comforting heat flooding my feet and hands as I drive 

a frequent paw nudging my hand to turn the Rav around: “no grooming needed today, Mom….we’re good”

and in the early morning I taste 

the frozen air, awakening my lungs with the chill of newness as I walk the boys before taking them in for their early-morning groomings because yes, grooming is happening today!