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Random Thoughts About Whatever Comes to Mind

Christmas Ornaments Are Like Books

The most unusual Christmas ornament anyone ever gave me was a little wreath carved from coal. The giver was June, a cousin of my mother's. Her much-older sister Helen had died, leaving everything to her, and one of the things that turned up was a large stash of Christmas ornaments neatly stored in the attic, ready for the next year's tree.  Read More 
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Successful Patient Website Is Up!

It's the time of year for Christmas trees, and two are up and decorated. Light garlands are strung on the fence out front. Snake Mountain, whose top forms our across-the-valley view, is frosting up in the mornings. It's going down to 15°F tonight, and all the cats are tucked up against the cold.  Read More 
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Oh No! Vine Is Closing! Download Your Videos ASAP!

On October 27, in the midst of all the current craziness - everybody get out and VOTE! - Twitter announced that it was closing Vine. If you don't know what Vine is, then at this point it doesn't matter to you. If you do, then you''ll share the pain being felt by many of us.

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The Mystery of the Missing Majorette

Art Dodger, survivor of personal tragedy turned amateur cold-case sleuth, tried to keep an open mind. So teenager Danielle Standridge disappeared twenty years ago? That didn't necessarily mean anything other than that she'd gone. 15-year-old girls did all sorts of odd and unexplained things, then and now. Even so, in his experience, which was considerable, when a girl as good-looking as Danielle managed to stay disappeared for two decades, it usually didn't bode well.  Read More 
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Talking Tea with Ken Cohen

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of "talking tea" with Ken Cohen, Philadelphia tea connoisseur, voice talent, and lawyer. I got to know Ken when he narrated the audiobook of my study "The Japanese Tea Ceremony and the Shoguns."

Ken is incredibly knowledgable about tea, and it was quite flattering to be asked to participate in the inaugural podcast  Read More 
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No Mangum for the Griffiths

Followup to blog of the 15th, "A Researcher's Dream": After taking another look at the Griffith photographs and exchanging emails with Sarah Stacke, author and co-editor of an upcoming book on Hugh Mangum, and Margaret Sartor, co-editor of the book, I have concluded that Hugh Mangum, the North Carolina photographer working circa 1890-1922, is most likely not the professional who photographed the  Read More 
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Mindfulness and Tea Drinking

It's always interesting to find a new perspective on an old topic, and for me there are few topics older than tea. Being Southern, I grew up in a culture where iced tea was the go-to beverage, the colder the better. My mother, however, was a lover of hot tea, and she introduced me  Read More 
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A Researcher's Dream

Haven't posted for months, but there's a reason. It's been a busy summer, writing-wise. I finished Maggie and Me: A Granddaughter's Memoir, to be published on 12/15; ARCs are going out even as I write this - there's a link to the title's website in the QUICK LINKS column of this page if you'd like to hear me talk about the book (the site also incorporates a Readers' Guide and an Online Press Kit). I edited my new mystery in the Art Dodger Series, The Mystery of the Missing Majorette, which is also supposed to be published in the coming quarter. I began a new series of short fiction under the Antiques Are Us name, and have so far finished three segments: The Quilt Hater; Tempest in a Teapot; and Best When Ripe.

The above, however, satisfying as it may be to me as a list of activities explaining why I've rarely seen sunshine in the last three months, isn't the point of this post. Today, I had one of those fun moments known only to those of us blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with the researcher's mindset. Read More 
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Memoirs: Truth vs. truthiness?

Writers and readers face a conundrum when it comes to memoirs. Should they reflect truth or, as S. Colbert would have it, "truthiness?" Should we write and/or read them with our heads or our hearts? In a way, it comes down to the old divide between art and experience.

The issue acquires special resonance when you're not talking about a memoir per se but rather a fictional account of a life's true events.

Ian Parker's penetrating article 'Inheritance' in the June 2 issue of The New Yorker (pp. 43-55) addresses this indirectly by putting Edward St. Aubyn under much the same sort of microscope through which St. Aubyn examines the characters in his unsettling Melrose novels. While claiming not to be a memoirist, St. Aubyn views the contents of the Melrose novels as memories "treated novelistically," and Parker dedicates much of the article to pinpointing the relationship between truth, creative integrity, and narrative necessity in the novels. Just how much, in other words, is reportage and how much is not?  Read More 
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The Awesomeness of Subject Matter Experts!

As a consultant who's been privileged to work on many major projects for Fortune 50 companies, I'm always impressed by what SMEs bring to the table in addition to their primary field of expertise.

I've just had another example of that little miracle in the person of Ken Cohen, professional voiceover talent who narrated and  Read More 
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