A Movie Lover’s Favorites to help you through the pandemic #13: Babette’s Feast (1987). This movie won the 1987 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. If you like cooking shows you’ll love this lyrical movie. It contains one of my favorite cinematic lines: “An Artist is never poor. “ Slowly sip a good glass of wine and enjoy.image-25-e1476259222357



A Movie Lover’s Favorites to get you through the pandemic #12: Annie Hall (1977). Say what you will about Woody Allen, but Annie Hall remains a hilarious and touching film. It won four well deserved Academy Awards, and made Diane Keaton a super star. The film also inspired a major fashion trend. It’s hard to separate art from the artist, but Annie Hall was made over a decade prior to the accusations against Allen. If you disagree don’t watch this movie, but you’ll miss out on a wonderful experience.c80a1dbdc38bae7985a66f1011399175

Brotherly Wisdom Part 5: Big Red Umbrella

It’s hard for me to imagine being as young and stupid as I was in college. But at least I had an older brother, Charlie, to help me with the profound as well as the mundane. I went to school in Olympia, Washington, a place well known for near constant drizzle. Before I began my freshman year, Charlie helped me buy a small umbrella. So when I opened his gift for my twentieth birthday, sophomore year, and saw he’d given me a huge red stadium umbrella, I was confused. I thought, doesn’t he remember I already have an umbrella? He was there when I bought it!


At the time, I didn’t understand that umbrellas are not usually possessions that last a lifetime. They wear out and break easily. Less than two years older than me, Charlie seemed to know this fact. I don’t remember what happened to either of my college umbrellas, but they’re long gone. Thank goodness for my smart big brother, who knew I’d need at least two to see me through my college years.


I found this quote in the first chapter of A Moveable Feast, by Earnest Hemingway. It’s Hemingway’s advice to himself. This is truly great writing and excellent guidance for any author.

Hemingway 1

‘ ” Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. ” ‘



For Unlce Jon, with much love.

My uncle Jon moved to Spain in 2016 and asked me to visit him there. At the top of the list of sights he planned to show me was the Alhambra in Grenada. It rarely rains there, but on the day of our visit to this historic fortress, it poured. We never considered canceling our plans. Nor did we complain about the rain. Jon held a huge umbrella over us, and we trekked through the ruins, the palace, and the gardens as if we were experiencing a lovely spring day. Even after I fell on a slippery step, we continued to enjoy our visit. We could have skipped the adventure or abbreviated it, only seeing the indoor portions of the Alhambra, but neither of us considered those options.e-grx1_motril_the-alhambra-palace_alhambra_2500x1250

Not everything in life goes as planned. We can either whine about things or carry on in the best way possible. Although I didn’t enjoy being soaked to the skin, the light had a magical quality that day, no doubt caused by the downpour.

When we live with illness, things go wrong all the time. We simply cannot be in the world and control all the circumstances with which we’re faced. Sometimes we have to make changes to our plans, and other times the best option is to carry on. I focus on being flexible and open. That’s how I was able to see the wonders of the Alhambra on a wet but enchanting day.


I try to be a nice person. I do. But sometimes I just can’t help being snarky. I attended a small dinner party in the early 2010s where I failed completely at civility. The other guests droned on and on about the wines they tasted, the travels they enjoyed, and the other parties they’d gone to. They seemed superficial and snobbish.

Novelist Norman Mailer
1987: Novelist Norman Mailer 1987 in New York.

Someone mentioned Norman Mailer. “He hasn’t published in several years,” one dinner guests observed. “Yes, because he’s dead,” I quipped. The other guest didn’t seem to hear me and commented again about the writer’s lack of new releases. “He hasn’t published because he died,” I replied. Maybe she had been off tasting wine in a foreign locale, I thought, and missed all the news about his passing as well as the annual memorials in the media. The woman looked taken aback. I knew I’d been rude, but I could no longer stand those people trying so hard to appear cultured yet being completely unaware that one of the greatest post-war writers of the twentiethcentury had died. 12467

What can I say? I’m not perfect, and it’s okay.