I Am Writing a Book

As I wrote in my first post, one of the reasons for this blog is to keep myself accountable to projects that mean a lot to me. I think that many of us have those things that we care about, but that get neglected for a variety of excuses. For three years now, a project that has meant the world to me, is writing a book. By way of a series of circumstances, I came to know about a medical experiment that occurred in the 1940s. It involved a child with cancer. I came across the story in an old newspaper article and it intrigued me and stayed with me. When I decided to really embark on my lifelong goal to write a book, it was that story came to mind. My first thought was to fictionalize it. There were so many ways to go with the little information that I had. It would be easy to build a compelling story. But as I made some initial attempts to create a trajectory, it occurred to me that the real story was probably where the writer in my really wanted to go. That was a decision that has changed my life.

That single newspaper article has grown into a amalgam of stories centered around three families. I now know members of each of those families. Each family has shared memories with me that are weaving an American saga that continues to thrill me. The other piece of this work has been that I have been able to give each of those families memories that they didn’t know existed. I have pieced snippets of stories together. I have built histories and made connections. I even found a recording and got to share voices of family members now gone.

The whole book writing process is new to me. There are lots of guides out there that tell you how to go about it. One that I just finished reading is Betsy Lerner‘s The Forest for the Trees.

After working on this project for three years, I am now at a point that I know this can actually happen. What I don’t completely understand is how it all works. Betsy, who has worked in many areas of publishing, gives a good analysis of what it means to write, what it takes to find an agent, get a publisher, get edited, watch your book get built, see it delivered to your neighborhood bookseller, and how the work of promotion can be a make or break. There was something comforting about reading this. She made it clear that my publishing innocence brought challenges, but did not guarantee defeat.

When you write a non-fiction book, the process for publishing does not wait until the book is done. Once you know what you want, a proposal is created. The proposal gets sent out to agents who can decide if yours is a project in which they could get interested. The proposal is like a business plan with a couple sample chapters attached.

I do have a proposal for my book and last year I sent it out a few times. I have gotten as many rejections. Even though I knew rejections are part of the game, they are deflating. But now we have a new year and new promise. I am giving my proposal a new going over, before sending it out again.

What started out as my project is now a shared project. The gift from the families I have gotten to know is also my debt. This book will happen. I love telling it, and I owe it to so many to tell it. I will keep readers of the blog updated on my work.

Books of 2019 – Numbers 19, 20 and 21 – Hold Still by Sally Mann, Graphic Medicine Manifesto, and Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

After this group, I think I am due to take on something a little lighter for my next read. I do have volume 2 of Barnaby waiting for me…

My latest reads were all quite good. I have had the Sally Mann autobiography, Hold Still for a while now and had even started to read it once. I have no idea why I didn’t finish it since she is not only a beautiful writer, but the book is interspersed with photos and bits and pieces of her life as a person of the South and as a photographer. That kind of book format is hard for me to not love. If you know Sally Mann and her work, probably one thing that you will remember about her is the controversy about photographs that she took and published of her children – without clothes or partially clothed. She discusses that period quite a bit and she recounts how the photos and the reaction to them impacted her family. She also tells compelling stories of both hers and her husband’s families that make for page turning reading. 

Graphic Medicine Manifesto is a compilation by several writers (many healthcare professionals) who have been integral in the initiation of the graphic medicine movement. The focus of this effort is to bring graphic story telling into medicine to both help the professionals relate more to the personal narrative of those they care for, but also as an outlet for difficult conversations, events, and feelings. The book is a combination of academic discussion of the rationale and examples of the compelling works that are now being used in medical schools.

Say Nothing – A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe tells the story of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Keefe writes a history of the re-initiation of the IRA in the 1960s and 1970s. He introduces the reader to a group of young people initially wanting to follow the peaceful message of Martin Luther King to protest the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in British-ruled Northern Ireland. When attacked and seeing no other way, this peaceful movement morphed into a paramilitary organization that was ruthless in its mission to change history. The violence from all sides was horrifying and ever-present during the decades of the conflict. Keefe centers the book around the disappearing of a widowed mother of ten children who is taken from the family apartment and not seen alive again. Beginning in the 1960s and reporting up to a revelation made while writing the book, the story is compelling and chilling.

Books of 2019 – Number 10 – Eating Eternity: Food, Art and Literature in France by John Baxter

It has been a couple years since we went to Paris, but I still have a little moment when I unlock my phone and pay attention to the photo that lingers behind my screens of apps. It is the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. I took the picture while I stood under it and looked up. J’aime! Our last night in Paris, I made us go back to see it one more time.

Paris is magical like that. I chose my book #10, John Baxter’s Eating Eternity – Food, Art and Literature in France, because of my affection for Paris. John Baxter is an Australian writer and filmmaker who has lived in Paris for decades. He has written other books about France, but this is his only one devoted to food.

This was a very fun book to read. There are twenty-nine short sections – all with either reproductions of artwork or period photographs. Baxter writes about the café life in France and what food in the home (or castle) would look like. His writing about the Occupation of Paris during World War II brought to life the efforts of the chic restaurants to still delight when the food of the city was scarce. Chefs filled in the gaps by offering up zoo animals which were being sold off and city rodents. Yuck!

There are vignettes of artists Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, Dali and Matisse and their relationships to food in their life and in their art. He writes of wine, champagne, chocolate, fruit, vegetables and the many ways ingredients are combined for pleasure and sustenance. I learned and I enjoyed.

The book made me want to pop into a boulangerie for a pain au chocolat, and then take a stroll to the Eiffel Tower.

On Writing

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Thursday we were hit by a crazy snow storm, so I had a day home from work. I spent part of the day reading a book that I started a few months ago: Stephen King’s On Writing. The fact that I had started it and then put it aside is somewhat metaphorical to my own writing. For too long now, I have put aside my book writing. Yesterday, I finished On Writing. Now…

Generally, Stephen King books are not my thing. But this is the guy who wrote The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. I’ve read some of his big books. They are page-turners that are hard to put down. So, while I can say that I don’t seek out his books, I could never say that I don’t enjoy them. He is a very good writer.

What I discovered in On Writing, however, is how much he loves to write. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be a writer, so he wrote. There were family and neighborhood newsletters, summaries of movies, knockoffs of pulp magazine thrillers, sports reporting. He sold his first stories to men’s magazines; purchased mainly for the pictures rather than the literature. He wrote Carrie in the laundry room of the trailer where he lived with his wife and two children. He wrote between shifts washing hospital sheets and restaurant linens. He never stopped.

He drank too much and took drugs to the extent that his family intervened and he got clean and sober. While he was working on On Writing, a man driving a blue van came over a hill and hit him as he took his daily walk. His body was pretty much shattered. He never stopped wanting to write or loving to write.

The other part I discovered was Tabitha. Stephen King met Tabitha when they were in college. She charmed him with her poetry and her smile. When he writes about her it is as if he is still falling in love. If you look for photos of the Kings, you see a middle-aged couple. They have grown up together and are growing older together. I adored reading of his love for her and his dependence on her as a first critic.

The beginning of the book is the story of his early life; the end of the book describes the accident and its aftermath. The middle of the book tackles the toolbox that writers should keep nearby (and he does use the toolbox as his metaphor). His advise is good – don’t try to be fancy with your words; use the words that you know, to say what you mean. He preaches strongly against passive sentences (something that I am too often guilty of). He discusses paragraphs and how to structure writing so it looks better and reads better. He warns against trying to put everything you know in your writing just because you know it and think its cool. Yea, that would be me too. He does not think that a bad writer can become a good writer, but he thinks a good writer can get better. He writes that writers get better by reading and writing. All of the time. You sit down at your desk to write everyday. You carry something to read everywhere you go.

None of it was a revelation to me, but the book was what I needed. I do love to write. I really love writing pieces for this blog. I really love my book and what it will become. But I have not practiced well. I need to get back to the desk. Before Stephen launches into his practical advice, he writes “ It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art, it’s the other way around.”

I worked on my book proposal yesterday. It is getting better. I will work on it some more today, and tomorrow.

The Phantom Tollbooth and Marriage

When I opened the newspaper one day this week, the front of the fluff section immediately had me. The author and the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth were coming to town. I needed to go.

There is recent buzz about The Phantom Tollbooth since it is celebrating its 50th year. The book, like many wonderful children’s books, is a quest and adventure story. The main character, Milo travels through a mysteriously appearing tollbooth into strange lands inhabited by strange characters. He emerges from the tollbooth a new boy. Where he was once bored and unconnected, he becomes interested and ready.

I haven’t read the book in many years, and it even occurred to me that this is not one that the kids and I read together. I am planning, however, to get back into it again.

The event was delightful. On the stage of the lovely theater at the Jewish Community Center, the two eighty-plus-year-old gentlemen charmed the packed house. Norton Juster talked about how the book came out of avoiding writing a book about architecture that he had been awarded a grant to create. The adventures of Milo came to him during strolls on the beach. He would write each down and work on it until he was satisfied with it. Into each he would bring in the clever wordplay that his father had instilled in him as a boy. The finished episodes would be handed off to his neighbor and friend, Jules Feiffer who gave birth to the images of Milo, Tock and the land beyond the tollbooth. They bantered like longtime friends will do, and those of us in the audience smiled uncontrollably. We were watching a piece of our childhood come to life again. When the talking was over, the crowd moved out to the lobby. Many of us had new or old books clutched in our hands as we waited for signatures. We were like groupies waiting for the rock star to acknowledge us.

But I titled this post The Phantom Tollbooth and marriage. The marriage part of this story is just as charming as the Misters Juster and Feiffer. When I saw that article in the paper, I sent it on to Dan. I asked if he wanted to spend our Saturday evening thusly. He responded with an enthusiastic, yes. Dan had not read the book as a kid, and he was not incredibly familiar with either man. He did, however, read my enthusiasm and got on board.

That night, he waited in line with me prior to the doors being opened. He chatted with a cute couple behind us who brought along their copy of the book that was given to the husband of the couple by an old girlfriend almost 50 years before. We both got to unexpectedly see some old friends. And, after the talk was over, he happily waited in line to get autographs. That is what marriage is all about.

We are not married because we are the same person. We are married because we have our differences and we make room in our own lives for those differences. When Dan wanted to go to a national conference of homebrewers a couple years ago, I did not know what to expect, but I was pretty sure that it would put him in hog heaven. Turns out, I had a great time too. It happens in our hobbies, the food we choose to cook, the restaurants we want to go to, the books we read, the organizations we belong to, the jokes that we like. Some we merely have patience for; others we learn to embrace.

By the time we left the event, it was close to 10. Our plan was to eat after the talk, so we were kind of hungry. We arrived at a local mecca of restaurants and found that each finished serving at 10 – except for one bar. That bar was not what we planned. The restaurants that we had in mind would have been more interesting. The closing of restaurants at 10:00 seemed early for a weekend night. It was cold as we walked from place to place only to find the same story. But, it ended up that we got to sit in a warm place, filled with the happy sounds of people enjoying the success of their basketball team on the tv, drink a good beer, and eat some decent bar food. We laughed at the silly drinking apparatus his beer came in. We talked about the talk. We decided it was nice that the employees of the other restaurants had a reasonable schedule. It was a good way to close a very good night.

Marriage is its own kind of tollbooth. Lucky for me, my traveling companion shares the journey well.

Past Weeks’ Good Things

week2This morning was the first one in recent memory that I went out to get the paper and I didn’t get rained on or had to deal with a water covered newspaper bag. The sun is shining and it is a wonderful time to review some of the good things that made their way into my days over the last few weeks.

ErasablePencils – This started with a podcast. The Erasable Podcast is a one hour plus conversation among three dudes who love pencils. The podcast starts out with them describing what they are drinking and what pencil they are writing with. One guy is in Baltimore, one in California, and one in North Carolina. Turns out that all of them have never met in person before, but the camaraderie among the three during the podcast would not suggest that they aren’t comfortable with each other. So, they really do kind of talk about pencils for an hour – and it is truly fun! I have learned that the little metal piece that holds onto the eraser is called ferrule. I have learned that all pencils are not created equal and that Target curates their pencil collection better than you might think. In fact, on Saturday, Dan and I went to Target and I picked up a box of Ticonderoga Renews which was the pencil of the week that they reviewed, and I also bought a box of Ticonderoga The World’s Best Pencil. Checking out, the cashier picked them up and said, “You know, these really are the world’s best pencil!” Pencil love is catching on and it can partially be traced to the friends who sit around with a beverage and talk over the Internet with each other about writing implements that they dig.

Mystery-LogoMystery Show – Two podcasts in a row, I know, but it is necessary. This one came to me from as a text from Sam “Download the Mystery Show podcast! You will love it!” I did and I do. Starlee Kine may be one of the most charming people hanging out on this earth. She is also an amateur detective of the Harriet the Spy ilk. She is going to use resources to solve your mystery – with one caveat. The mystery can’t be solved by just googling it. I am a couple mysteries in and they are candy. When she calls someone up on the phone that may be able to help her piece the truth together, she is as likely to start talking to them about their high school experience as she is about the case in hand. If I ever get to meet Starlee Kine, I wonder what I would share with her? I don’t know, but I would probably feel like I had been touched by an angel afterwards. She is like that. The last episode I listened to involved a picture of Britney Spears from several years ago. In it, she is holding a copy of a novel that was not very popular. The author of that novel wanted to know whether Britney read it, and whether she liked it. I am not going to give it all away, but I was listening to the end of the episode while I was driving the other day. I realized that I must have had the biggest, goofiest smile on my face. It’s like that. (and I really need a sticker of that logo!)

watermelonWatermelon Salad Recipe – I came across this recipe a couple weeks ago, and this week I made it twice for two separate dinner get-togethers. I really like watermelon and to pair it with fresh herbs, toasted nuts, mozzarella, salt and a smattering of olive oil seems to be a combination that speaks summer salad. It is delicious!

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Cleaning my office
– A couple weeks ago, I left work on a Friday afternoon and I felt horrible. It was late and I needed to get home, but what I was leaving behind was chaos. There were piles everywhere. My to-do list was a joke. The plan for my next week wasn’t to be found. I made the decision to go in over the weekend to get some order to what was left behind. I also spent some time rereading the wonderful David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Between the plan that the book lays out for putting order to your life, and a few hours of diligent order-making in my office, my work life is now in such a better place. All last week, I kind of perused my new system and felt so much better about things.

Funny sight on the way home – Driving home from work one night, I was stopped at the corner of Rockhill and Cleaver. There was a skinny little lady with a fat bulldog (I think) who started walking across the street on the red light. At a point when she was almost to the median, the dog decided it needed a rest. It laid down in the middle of the crosswalk and would not budge for several seconds. The visual of that big old dog stubbornly laying there while his owner tried to coax him on was very amusing and made me laugh.

That is five, but there have been many others since the last time I posted one of these. There were dinners with friends with good food and conversations, picture of Banjo with her new KC Royals collar and Ali’s craft pictures,positive responses to some of the things going on at work, Negroni week, babysitting Birdie and Dan’s extraordinary baby calming skills, a thoughtful and fun invitation, and a bunch of other stuff. Once again, as I look over things, I know that I am lucky. I hope your week ahead has lots of good things to capture.

Tracker by Mark Knopfler (Album of the Week)

tracker_coverAlbum: Tracker

Artist: Mark Knopfler

Year: 2015

About: 15 songs; 1 hour and 15 minutes

Choice: DJR blogging

Appropriately, the liner notes of Mark Knopfler’s new album, Tracker, contains a mini-essay by the novelist, Richard Ford. Ford is known for the beauty of the language of his stories, and the precision of his words. In the essay, he recounts that he pridefully told Knopfler about an offer he had to co-write some songs with a well-known musician. He asked Knopfler if he had any advice. Knopfler tells him to stick to his novel writing. The ability to pare down a story to a few verses and choruses was not, he advised, as easy as it may seem.

It appears to come abundantly easy to the seasoned song-writer who for many years headed the band, Dire Straits. Over a long one hour and 15 minutes, Knopfler tell fifteen stories. There are poets and boxers and truckers and lovers. This is an album full of the workers and oftentimes what the toll of that work bequeaths. None of this album is Sultans of Swing or Money for Nothing. This is more Mark Knopfler as Van Morrison or any other of the Celtic singers who bring a cultural sound to their craft that is unmistakable.

The album’s opening track is a kick. It starts with the familiar Brubeck Take Five line and then Celtic fiddles and then whistles come in. It works brilliantly. And here comes  Knopfler’s familiar voice, and you can picture yourself swaying and singing along to this in an pub as you lift your mug of Guinness. “Oh, laughs and jokes and drinks and smokes and no  light on the stairs. We were so young, so young, and always broke, not that we ever cared.” He nails it on that one.

The rest is a mixed bag for me. I think part of it is its length. I like to get the album as a whole in, but I don’t really have over an hour to spend listening to a single album (unless of course we have had a dinner with guests and multiple forms of beverage in multiple types of glassware are consumed. Then, my dishwashing/music listening time can certainly accommodate such a task). Many of the songs sounded so similar to me, and when they both sound similar and there are multiple, that can get a little tedious. I can’t say anything bad about his musicianship (so wonderful still is his guitar work), or his singing and harmonizing which are really great too. I just would have liked a shorter album with the strongest of these songs.

One of those for me was one of the album’s simplest. Beryl is a song tribute to the celebrated British writer, Beryl Bainbridge, who only received a Booker Prize for literature after she was dead. The sum of the song is:

Beryl was on another level / when she won a Booker medal / She was dead in her grave / after all that she gave

Beryl, everytime they overlook her / When they gave her a Booker / she was dead in her grave / after all that she gave

Beryl, the tobacco overtook her / When they gave her a Booker / she was dead in her grave / after all that she gave

It’s all too late now

This is one of the songs on the album that lets Knopfler’s familiar Dire Straits guitar work shines. 

Dan got much more out of this than I did, and I can possibly attribute it to the fact that I did not spend as much time with it. He finds a soul here that the early Dire Straights certainly did not have. He writes that what he finds is “warm, generous and comfortable.” I do not disagree with that. I am glad that Dan brought this one into my library, and if only for that first song, I would recommend it for a listen.

Next up: Ivy Tripp by Waxahatchee

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Tangier Sessions by Sir Richard Bishop (Album of the Week)

tangierAlbum: Tangier Sessions

Artist: Sir Richard Bishop

About: 7 songs; 40 Minutes

Released: 2015

Choice: DJR Blogging

First, some housekeeping. Last week’s artist, Father John Misty is in no way, shape, or form a religious leader. This week’s artist, Sir Richard Bishop has not, at this writing, ever been knighted. 

This review will be brief as there are no lyrics to parse or multiple elements to explain. Tangiers Session is a man and his guitar. Albeit, it is a special guitar – a small, antique traveling guitar found in a shop in Geneva. A guitar that, although too expensive, would not leave the guitarist’s mind. A guitar that Sir Richard Bishop bought and  took with him to Morocco. Over the week of his stay in that country, the songs of this album fell out of that instrument.

My advice is that if you enjoy music; if you appreciate the guitar; if you ever are seeking music that will let your mind wander to another place, spend some time with Sir Richard Bishop’s Tangier Sessions. In his review, Dan praises the transporting quality of this album as well. He writes that it makes me want to go to Tangier and write in a notebook with a fountain pen.” Me, I want to sit on the rooftop atop that building in Tangiers and hear that special guitar play. I imagine closing my eyes to try to create that world and then opening them to take it in the reality. Listen to this, and I think that you will want that too. In the songs, you can almost see the colors and the movement. You can appreciate the mood. There is excitement and calm. All of this is accomplished with one instrument that he seems to be master of.

There are talents that I don’t really understand, and Bishop’s is one of those. I don’t know how you get into your head the sound of a country or the sound of a culture and then put it into play. Going over to his website, I listened to clips of a bunch of his other albums. There are a myriad of sounds that he creates ranging from techno fluttering to blue-grassy wholesomeness. This man is obviously not a one trick pony. My other question is, how do you replicate these songs? Does he write them down or is the major melody memorized and then played around each time he goes to perform it? I really don’t know. I do know that this album is beauty.

This is not a record that I would have come to without our marriage music challenge. Again, it makes me happy that we do this. Maybe because of this of this album, we will one day take that trip to Tangiers – Dan with his fountain pen, me with my felt tips and glue sticks. We will sit in a coffee shop and hear this music in our memory.

Next Up: Then Came the Morning by The Lone Bellow

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Ryan Adams by Ryan Adams (Album of the Week)

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Album: Ryan Adams

Title: Ryan Adams

Year: 2014

About: 11 songs; 43 minutes

Choice: Dan

I found it hard to believe that Ryan Adams had never released an eponymous album before his newest release, which is the album that Dan and I listened to this week. When you think of a self-reflecting musician, Ryan Adams might be a list leader. But the choice of title seems to more reflect a freedom of production, than anything else. It is the first album created in his own PaxAm studio in Hollywood.

On first listens, I couldn’t get over that first song. Gimme Something Good made me think of Don Henley and The Eagles. I do not like Don Henley and the Eagles. When you start out immediately put-off, there is some work to be done if you’re trying to give a fair and balanced review. Did that happen over the next ten songs? Kind of.

This is an undeniable fact about this album. The guitar work is masterful. Whether it is simple acoustic, surfer strings, rocker electric lines – the guitars nail it. It made me picture Ryan working around the studio with a lot of other people who love guitars and words and how you make them go together. In the song Shadows, he  moves from simple electric chords to a drop dead dirty mashup of electric wails half-way through and then back again to quiet. That sound has a dark spookiness that I liked very much. Each song brings its own guitar signature.

As for the words, the little booklet that comes with the cd shows a picture of a notebook with a couple of the songs written in it. The lyrics are written like poems – not really paying attention to the lines on the page – big black pen letters – cross-outs – a little messy. Song after song reflects its own bit of life messiness.

The songs that I like most are the more broody ones in their combination of those guitars and the lyrics. My Wrecking Ball could be taken straight from Heartbreaker. It is beautiful and he has that little bit of quiver in his voice that breaks a heart. Ryan Adams sings internal struggles as well as anyone I listen to.

Driving through the streets tonight

It’s hot, I’ve got the windows down

I wish I could call you, I wish you were still around

Nothing much left in the tank

Somehow this thing still drives

Think I forgot what it needed but somehow still survive

And all the walls we built they must come down

As a whole, the album is uneven for me, the listener. I think that is my own prejudice (aka sounds like the Eagles) and not a fault of the album. I do like the freedom that the album seems to have. I like that the expanded sound of a song like Trouble, that still gives you incredibly poetic lines like:

Hey, there’s a year and a day for every line
on my face
Like a map of my sins

That right there is some good song writing, and it is found throughout the album. Sometimes it just gets delivered in a style that is not my favorite. I think that if you go over to read what Dan has written about this album, you will find a more clear eyed and eared review that very nicely walks through this album. 

Next up: Alvvays by Alvvays

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Last Week’s Good Things

weekHoliday weekends bring free time to catch up on things that didn’t get done in the lead up to said holiday. This is a little outdated, but what can be wrong with reflecting on good things that came my way in the recent past?

fantastic-mr-fox-20100322013810854-000The Morning Fox – Nope. This does not refer to anything that has to do with the Fox network. What happened is that I stepped out my front door last week at about 5 AM. It was dark and cold and still. While I walked down the steps to fetch my papers, a beautiful full-grown fox came running down the middle of my street. It was so swift and pretty. The memory of it still is a thing of beauty. Wildlife in the middle of the city happens.

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Anne Lamott talkAnne Lamott was in town last week, talking about her new book, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. Hearing her talk was a wonderful thing! I got to know Anne Lamott first via her book Bird by Bird. It is a wonderful book about being a writer, and writing, and life. Hearing her talk is just like reading her words. She exudes a comfort with herself that makes the space comfortable. She speaks off the cuff and with humor and grace. I love the life that the words she writes and she speaks hold. My favorite essay from Bird by Bird is the title one. In it she remembers her brother whining over a school project that he had to do about birds. He could see no way that he could possibly tackle such a project. Her dad gave him the how to lesson that always sticks with me when I have a big project that looks overwhelming in front of me. How can it get done? Bird by bird.

chrissieChrissie Hynde at the Uptown – This seems like forever ago, but it was officially last week. Dan won tickets to go see Chrissie Hynde perform at the Uptown. She is on a solo tour, but she is backed up by a super band. While I like the Pretenders, they aren’t among the bands I would put among my all time favorites, so seeing Chrissie was something I looked forward to, but I wasn’t over the moon excited about. Dan and I listened to her new album in our listening blog series this year, so I was ready for those songs. She did lots of those along with several Pretenders songs. I gotta say that I really loved this concert. Chrissie was charming in her banter with the audience and band, and her voice is amazing. I don’t know what it would sound like if you did a side by side of her singing thirty years ago, but I don’t think that she has lost anything. One interesting thing about the concert was a big warning that she did not want cell phone pictures taken during the concert. She explained later that the screens really mess with her eyes and she doesn’t like it. When the last number was about to start, she told people that they could use them. A sea of cell phone rose in the air. It was a fine example of give and take! She also writes charming and sweet Facebook tour updates (photo above from that).

Lunch with Friends – Some friends from out-of-town were here visiting other friends last weekend and we got to meet up with them for lunch. We met at BB’s Lawnside BBQ. Man! If you want to hang out on a Saturday afternoon, catch up with friends over a couple good beers and some smokey good meat, BB’s is hard to beat. We have been going there since it first opened in 1990. It has always been a place with good food, friendly staff, and great music. Lucky us!

A new tracker App – I have been trying to pay more attention to some lifestyle things and I found an App this week that I think may be an easy, manageable way to do this, and I can 86 my homemade Excel sheet. TrackNShare comes with some items built in for daily tracking – Happiness, stress, weather, sleep. You can then add other things you want to track and decide on what kind of scale you want to track them. For example, you can choose yes/no, severity scale, a number, a volume scale. It is easy and having it on my IPad and IPhone make it convenient to an extent that makes me not have too much of an excuse not to do it.

That’s some of my story from last week. This week – one in which thankfulness was the dominant theme – is filling up my pages. Thanks for reading and I hope that your good things are many.