#TBT Mayhem at the Kitchen Table 1948? Or a 2-year old has a bad hair day.


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These breakfast scenes are from my early years. I’m the wild-haired 2 or 3 year old standing up in the highchair. Susie and Jimmy hadn’t been born. I have a collection of stories I wrote from these and the next few years that read like they could have been the family in Cheaper by the Dozen. I think those were happier years for my parents. If I venture to write the story of the parents taking this picture I would say they were chuckling benevolently at us and with each other–maybe even kissing or giving each other quick hugs–something that in later years was a rarity. IMG_6651

Thanks for the Happy Birthday Greetings all you folks out there in the ether. I don’t think I knew what I was in for back in the day. Advice: (take it from Stanley Kunitz if not from me) “Live in the layers, not the litter.” AND: “I have walked through many lives, some of them my own, and I am not who I was, though some principle of being abides, from which I struggle not to stray.”


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And Wendell Berry taught me something else about being generous with our evolving selves. Happy day, all.

No Going Back
(Wendell Berry)

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.




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Kate and William recently left the Big Apple, a visit packed with one turbocharged event after another.

The head-turning couple were wined and dined by New York’s finest.  (I bet they didn’t miss the interminable scones with Devonshire cream or humble cucumber-and-smoked-salmon sandwiches.)

Well, I was ready just in case William and Kate stopped by. I imagined a selfie of the 3 of us ~ Kate eating ravioli, William meticulously swabbing out sauce from the pot with a bit of bread, me holding the flowers they brought. Yep, all of us just having a jolly time of it in my kitchen.

That didn’t happen, of course. Things almost never happen the way I imagine them. But the ravioli did, thanks to my favorite Italian food blogger, ChgoJohn, and his bellissima Zia.

Here’s what William and Kate missed ~ Porcini Mushroom, Leek, and Goat Cheese Ravioli.  Get the recipe from the Bartolini kitchens website. 

In my house, the subject of dinner (past, present, or future) is part of the breakfast chatter.  I’m not totally brilliant in the kitchen, but I am an authority on eating.  Ascoltami ~ make these ravioli. Believe me, you don’t have to be super-skilled or even the star of your own cookbook.

These ravioli are flaming beautiful.

They comfort.

 And satisfy.

♥ Thanks, Bartolinis. ♥

Toni 12/16/14

Carolina Wren and Family #4 (A 420 Character, 9-line poem by Patty, one of the Parents)


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A difference between you and the Carolina Wren

is YOU migrated & my CWs didn’t.

It’s not because you don’t love us, altho’ CW stays here out of love:

love for our window boxes and climate change.

I don’t see that climate change will effect you thusly.

If it did, we’d have to use said window boxes to fit you all in.

Just more rain in PDX, less in SoCal, berms for the Hudson in NYC,

& early sap runs in MA.



Carolina Wren and Family #3 (A 420 character 9-line poem)


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I listen

to the ringing, varied notes of the Carolina Wren.

CW’s songs & our speech come from the same genes. Deep stuff this.

Metaphorically for you because you speak in multi-layered ideas not decibels;

but for the CW–all 4 nickels of him–it’s literally deep:

he belts it out from an air-sac enclosed “syrinx” at the bottom of his windpipe,

each note thusly amplified & enhanced;

as I am when you talk &

I listen.



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