Stories

Charlie Munger and the Art of Swearing

5 Min read EXPLICIT language, Ages 13 to 103 True Story, investing Toolbox Essay and book rec, Ursula Le Guin Patton's Speech AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * Charlie Munger was making the rounds with investors. A living icon in the investing world, he was some...

On Fighting and Writing: Blackwing and Bruce Lee

5 Min read Bookstore and Bakery rec, Augusta Blackwing limited edition Writing tips AVAILABLE ON PODCAST On Spotify on iTunes I'm back from Georgia. I visited The Book Tavern and the Boll Weevil Cafe and Sweetery. My daughter hosted me and loves the cake. She's a fan...

Thoughts on Music and the Brain

5 min read True story 2 Book recs Songbook Collection AVAILABLE ON PODCAST on Spotify on iTunes Each morning, Simba crosses the end of the driveway tail first, three feet above the invisible fence. He is set down in the grass across the road, then walks his porter on...

What Makes a Speech Great? An Admiral Tells 3 Stories

6 min read Writer’s Toolbox Public speaking AVAILABLE ON PODCAST HERE Admiral McRaven commemorates the 11th Anniversary of Operation Neptune's Spear What makes a speech great? There are a lot of good speeches and good speakers. But a great speech is one you remember....

1000 Push-ups? Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

6 min read Memoir rec Work-outs, push-ups and running AVAILABLE ON PODCAST CLICK HERE On Spotify On iTunes Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s the short take on Living with a SEAL*, 31 Days Training With the Toughest Man on the Planet. Jesse Itzler, the...

What I Learned Walking With a Friend

8 min read True Story Military service Road walking, trail notes AVAILABLE IN PODCAST - CLICK HERE Not 30 miles as the crow flies, that’s how far I was from my childhood home. It was gray and threatening rain, the time in spring that’s cool, tree buds just coming in,...

Firecracker and a Humble Queen

3 min read True story AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify Google Podcasts You know those moments in your life that you will never forget? your first dog, first kiss, when Princess Diana got in a car accident. She died on my husband's birthday and I can remember waking...

A Valentine Canine and the Circle of Life

3 Min read 2 Book Recs AVAILABLE  ON PODCAST Anchor.fm/emelle Spotify iTunes   Herz is a good name for a dog adopted on Valentine's Day, especially for a shepherd mix because Herz is the German word for heart. The dark face and fawn body resembles the Belgian...

Books as Trophies? the Bibliophile vs the Bibliophagist

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify anchor.fm/emelle I have a book problem. It's a good kind of problem because books teach me a lot and I get to hang out and learn with the best. The books don't break the bank. But the books might break my back, or my shelves, or my...

The Sexy Semicolon, Really?

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm Loved and loathed, sexy and sinister may not be modifiers that come to mind when you think of the semicolon. Cecelia Watson argues otherwise in her deep dive on this misunderstood mark, concluding a decade of research,...

Summer’s End

AVAILABLE IN PODCAST Spotify iTunes Anchor.fm Late August meant vacation. If in town it meant more parking, easy shopping and less traffic. As a child, the family business tethered me to an insular life, volatile at times in its routine and intimacies. At middle-age...

Alaska Mountains Will Spoil You for All the Rest

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm   Alaska mountains will spoil you for all the rest. Two weeks in Southeast Alaska re-shaped a life-long sense of this remote place, which earned its statehood over sixty years ago in 1959. The fjords and mountains...

Father and His Letters

AVAILABLE on PODCAST Anchor.fm Spotify iTunes     For all the fathers, grandfathers, with us and no longer with us. I wrote this to my children yesterday, Sunday June 20th.   Dear C, D, and N: I sat down and read my father's letters today, not all of...

April Dreams: a Story & Two Poems

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm   One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.  Goethe   The bleachers were full and folks were talking...

Two Truths and a Lie, a Fools Game

Available on Podcast iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm Happy Spring to you on April Fools’ Day! This popular game Two Truths and a Lie is often used as an icebreaker and has a simple object, to guess which is false. On April First each year, I live to make people laugh....

I Met a Man at the Top of Chimney Rock

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm   “Would you mind if I take off my shirt?” he said. He asked me to take a photo and didn’t want to offend. I said I wouldn’t be offended. He smiled, posing atop the 315-foot granite monolith, the Broad River flowing...

Family Travel in a Pandemic – By Air and By Land

NOW AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes Anchor.fm   Travel highlights for Key West in bold or with hyperlinks for reference Key West In December, my family flew to Key West direct from Newark Airport. The flight was cancelled because of snow, a foot dumped north...

Giving Thanks in 2020 and Simon’s List

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST ANCHOR.FM SPOTIFY iTUNES GIVING THANKS in 2020   Some might say that’s a tall order but I think the tough times define us. I’ve been so blessed that this is the first Thanksgiving in 21 years when I will not have all of my children home. I...

Spirits of the Fall: Episode (4) Toddler Vision

AVAILABLE IN PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm     Spirits of the Fall: True Stories of the Season This is the fourth in a series of True Stories for the season, of eerie occurrences, real-life horrors, visits from the beyond and haunted rooms.   Toddler Vision My...

Spirits of the Fall: Episode (3) Visits From Beyond

AVAILABLE IN PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm     This is the third episode in the series, Spirits of the Fall: True Stories of the Season, eerie occurrences, real-life horrors, ghosts and second sight.     Visits From Beyond   Last Night I...

Spirits of the Fall: Episode (2) Where the Driveway Ends

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify anchor.fm     This is the second episode in the series, Spirits of the Fall – True Stories of the season: eerie occurrences, real-life horrors, visits from beyond, ghosts, and second sight. For this episode, I want to...

Spirits of the Fall: Episode (1) In the House

AVAILABLE on PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm     This is the first in a series of True Stories for the season, of eerie occurrences, deathly visits, haunted rooms, and childhood visions.   EPISODE 1               In the House   Fall is the season when...

Learning to Run

* AVAILABLE on PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm   I can’t say it’s something I like to do. It is something I ought to do and when I’ve done it I feel better, though it wasn’t always that way. I learned how to run a lifetime ago, when I joined the military. Life in the...

Birthday and Death Day, Catholics and Customs

PODCAST AVAILABLE iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm     September 2 is a special day for me, the birthday of my daughter and the death day of my father. The cemetery is beautiful. I’ve always had a special regard for cemeteries in spite of the ghosts and the...

The Vulgar Parrot

Available on PODCAST ANCHOR.FM SPOTIFY iTUNES   I’ve gotten to know my son better now that he’s left. I’ve been looking after his fish and turtle and I’ve been noticing his absence. Connecticut’s mandate had prevented gathering for his graduation in May, so...

On Becoming Sheepdogs, a Modern Fable

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Anchor.fm Spotify iTunes In the wake of recent events regarding the tragic death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, this letter seems more relevant than ever. It has been updated to relate my own experience and the role of the brave men and...

Why Nursing Homes Suck

PODCAST AVAILABLE Spotify Anchor.fm iTunes   It was my first time visiting a nursing home and I don’t remember its name, but it was somewhere near Seal Beach. I was in California for spring training with the West Point track team and I spent my days working out...

This Bus is Empty – A COVID Photo Journey

    This Bus is Empty   My town opened park trails this week at April's end. Come walk with me on this photo journey, no mask and no worries. Let me show you what the COVID-19 Stay Home, Stay Safe mandate looks like in Connecticut, less than an hour...

Poetry Dinner Night – A Quarantine Scene

Does she or doesn’t she? Do you recognize this from the 1956 ad campaign? Does it elicit unsavory thoughts? This Hall-of-Fame advertising slogan was used for Clairol’s Hair Color and within six years seventy percent of women were dying their hair. Maybe you remember...

The Three Gifts – So what have you learned in 50 years?

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm   ** A child's note, three gifts from a parent, and Tolstoy's famous story **   I stumbled upon a note recently from my ten-year-old son, written in print with a pencil, the scrawl tending slightly downward. To...

On Presidents, Politics and War, and Poetry

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm You ever have that moment when something you’ve believed for some time begins to shift and slip, leaving you a bit off-balance? I had that happen in a foundational way. Flipping to the date of a page-a-day calendar, I came...

A Book for Everyone, Even Nonreaders and Grinches

PODCAST INTERVIEW Anchor.fm Spotify iTunes   PODCAST SUMMARY  (please click on links above for full interview)   I talked with editor, writer, and friend, Hayley Swinson, about books and how they help us get into the spirit of the holidays.  She shared a...

Giving Thanks in 2019 – Looking Back on Life’s Big Questions

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify AnchorFM iTunes   Each year at this time I give thanks for my blessings. Some years the mire and muck in life make that harder than others. This year, a blessing came as a surprise. I had a chance to talk to a friend’s mother who was...

TikTok Connect the Dots – the United States and China

AVAILABLE on PODCAST Anchor.fm Spotify iTunes   My friend’s daughter Sue left to attend the University of Rochester this fall and had shared a story. The school website lists international students as twenty percent of the undergraduate population but Sue said...

A View from Above: an Army Commander in Afghanistan

 Hear Colonel Mintz on PODCAST Anchor.fm Spotify iTunes   *** Please listen to Podcast to hear full unedited and unscripted interview: Colonel Mintz shares the story and reflects on Afghanistan and the broader context of the war today ***     What is...

On Poetry and Mondegreens and Teenagers

 Listen to PODCAST iTunes Spotify I had a teacher in eighth grade named Miss Michaelson. She was a bit long in the tooth and had a jagged helmet of black hair. A big boned woman, she wore dresses which wrapped about her like robes on a Greek statue, the overall...

Whales, Migrations, & Back-to-School

APPLE PODCAST SPOTIFY PODCAST The sperm whale takes 40 years before it masters the global oceans, traveling with its mother for years and then joining a pod of wandering bulls. I heard this on National Geographic’s Great Migrations. These massive animals weigh up to...

In These Walls

NOW ON PODCAST at iTunes, Spotify, Anchor.fm/emelle Click Link below iTunes Apple Podcast - In These Walls Listen to Podcast on Spotify It was the middle of July and the middle of the week. I’d been hearing it for a few days, a faint sound, the kind you weren’t sure...

Kili at 50 – Hiking Kilimanjaro on the Machame Route in Six Days

NOW AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify  AnchorFM   View of Kibo from atop the Barranco Wall “Did you train much?” my guide Evans Erick asked, the man with two first names, the grandson of a Maasai tribal chief. It was on the descent when he inquired in his...

Work Hard & Do the Right Thing – A Tribute to an Old Sailor

“Work hard and do the right thing,” was Ted Varga’s mantra.  His son Stephen Varga shared this in his eulogy at the Hoyt Funeral Home.  I had come to know Ted these past years through Meals on Wheels, when I delivered his Monday food. He was an old sailor with a brass...

Walking With Homer – A Connecticut Odyssey

Today I was in for a surprise, an unlikely and timely gift. It was a sunny Sunday in January, just breaking into the 30s after a cold spell.  I put on yoga pants and dressed in layers, a puffy vest, a sweatshirt with black date stamps printed on the front, like the...

Little Free Library – One Year Anniversary

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Joseph Addison   One year ago my children and a couple of West Point cadets helped install our little road-side library, digging a two foot hole, steadying the large bird feeder shaped box and its post with...

ON WALKING – Sedaris, Gornick, Cadogan, & Thoreau

  I've come across the topic of walking in my reading, especially lately, as well as over the years.  Writers walk and maybe the converse, while not logically true, is true on occasion. Walkers write. I need to walk, I must walk, but like my need to run, I am...

An Inaugural Weekend – Hats, Cats, & Spittin’ Mad in D.C.

We stayed in Old Town Alexandria this past weekend for a very different reason than the multitudes heading south from New York for the inauguration and protest march.  We went to a volleyball tournament at the National Harbor Gaylord Convention Center.  Even though we...

Veterans Day Sketches and a West Point Reunion

“It wasn’t a cold war for us,” Billy said. “They caught us in their nets, the Russians. Usually 200, 250 feet below.” The pub smelled of Buffalo wings. Dart boards and arcade games flanked the walls. “What’d you do?” “Sent a guy to cut us out. Had to come up to 75...

BitterSweet Dreams – The Tea Ceremony & Life’s Rituals

Woke from my dream at 4:00 AM with the word 'bittersweet' in my mouth, the accompanying silence and absence of flavor, a dark room, the image of my father's grave. The day before was the seven year anniversary of his death and the sun was shining, the hydrangea blooms...

The Nordic Chronicles – The Norwegian, the Doctor, & the Terrier

How can you tell the difference between a Norwegian introvert and a Norwegian extrovert? When she's talking to you a Norwegian introvert looks at her feet. A Norwegian extrovert looks at yours. I read this years ago, though the joke was about the Finnish. The...

Alan Rickman & Kate Winslet on Women & Beauty

  Today is International Women's Day. If you're like me, you saw it on Google's search page, and by holding your mouse cursor over the Google logo, you can watch the video and proceed to the link to learn more. So it's a good time to share this exchange between...

David Foster Wallace on Kafka’s “A Little Fable”

  David Foster Wallace is my latest literary obsession: a state of consumption and immersion in his essays, conversations, speeches, and thoughts. DFW was an influential writer and professor, who had an assignment to review Bryan Garner's A Dictionary of Modern...

Thinking Inside of the Box – A Merry Birthday

  My mother was worried my gift would not arrive on time. I checked later that day. The mailman put the well taped package with nine priority mail labels and tracking sticker in my mailbox. Just narrower and taller than a shoe box, the Amazon prime tape showing...

Blooms in Winter – Faith Amid the Darkness

My mother’s plant has not bloomed for a long time, years she thinks. She gave it to us when she moved and it sits in the front window which faces south. The sun is lower in the southern sky during the winter since we live in the northern hemisphere. The light is weak...

A Gift for Readers – Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl Buck

Last night my twelve year old was tired from homework and nervous about two quizzes and a test today. She changed into her pajamas and came downstairs, her plush toy seal tightly in her arms, her brow wrinkled with worry. We sat by the Christmas tree and I read her...

“Do you feel lucky?” – The Luck Factor by Dr. Richard Wiseman

Here’s a story I shared with my teen-aged daughter when things weren't going so well in class. Martin and Brenda Martin stopped by the coffee shop one morning before his meeting. On his way in, he noticed a five pound sterling note by the door and he picked it up. He...

Three Tales from Dubrovnik

 A Story Fit for a King Long ago, two royal suitors proposed marriage to the daughter of the King of Epidaurum who decided that whoever performed the better deed would win her hand. One man set out to sea and brought back the finest cloth in the world and the means to...

Do You Feel the Love? Thich Nhat Hanh – How to Love

Do you feel the love? Keeping Elton John out of this, when the emotional bank account is low, drained from winter and children and parents and life, I find consolation from the Vietnamese teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh.  In his book How to Love, the Buddhist monk and author...

A Year of Reading

If you could see a summary of the food you digested in 2014, you might find some surprises:  17 pounds of chocolate, 47 of bottles of wine, 5.7 servings of red meat a week, 1.3 fast food visits per week, the venial sin in this quarter is fried chicken or Five...

Crisis of Faith? Read What a Nurse Says

A friend wrote on Facebook that her son found out the truth about Santa Claus.  The post generated a few comments, my own included which I will share here. MyLinh:  Dear Laurie - please read this and maybe your son should too, the most reprinted editorial in history....

Beauty & the Buddha: the Royal Courtesan Visits Siddhartha

A woman of exceptional beauty came to see the Buddha. He was not there when she arrived, so the monks invited her and her son to wait for his return.  A monk named Kaludayi had never seen a more lovely woman in his life.  Having taken his vows as a monk not long...

Taken for Dead – Edgar Allan Poe in Minnesota – a True Tale

I visited Rochester, Minnesota last week and stayed at the Ivy Lodge where the brothers William and Charles Mayo once resided.  Often confused with the Mayowood Mansion, today the lodge is the home of good friends who suffer an endless parade of visitors mistaking...

Two Monks and a Woman – A Zen Story not a Bar Joke

One day, two monks set out on a journey to a temple in a distant village. Along the way, they came to a shallow and fast moving river where a young woman waited, full of despair for fear of falling in. The monks looked at each other because the rules of their order...

High School Sports: Vulgarity vs. Virtue

Exhausted and losing, the Viking girls huddled on the court and referring to their opponents, team captain Idalis Figueroa said, “That’s not who we are. At King we believe in the virtues: kindness, integrity, respect, perseverance. This is how we play.” (This may...

The Woodcutter’s Tale – a Back-to-School Parable

Once upon a time, there lived a woodcutter who went into the forest to chop down wood.  He felled 18 trees that day and brought them to the timber merchant. "You are the best woodcutter around," the merchant said and gave him his pay. The second day, the woodcutter...

The Age of Insolence & Politically Correct Nursery Rhymes

The stair and attic lights were on when I went upstairs.  I whispered goodnight to my daughter, then reminded her she left the lights on. "David and Laura left them on," she said. I walked to David's room and told him to turn off the lights. "Why me?" he said. "I...

Message From an Iroquois Guide

The Iroquois guide sat quietly in the pine bark room, filled to the rafters with artifacts, out of place ones like the bison head and longhorn skull and recent ones like a dug out canoe discovered at  lake bottom.  Hand designed historical posters lined the walls...

Not in the Car! Not in the Street! Case of the Missing Wallet

It's easy to be a cynic. Police Officer Callinan met me in less than five minutes after I called yesterday.  Together we reviewed the video footage from four different cameras in the town's burger joint.  From the register to the table, we could see the exchange of...

More Than a Vietnamese Folktale – the Goddess of Compassion

“To my mind, Kuan Yin’s gentle form is a worthier symbol than the figure of a tortured being hanging from a cross or of an awesome father god.” John Blofeld I’ve known Kuan Yin for some years now as Quan Am, her Vietnamese name.  My Vietnamese mother is Buddhist and...

Amy Sedaris on Dogs and Humans

Friends have been supportive about the loss of our dog because many have been there themselves.  K sent along a quote which you might find insightful.   Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human, because in the case of a pet, you were not...

Number One Deterrent for Burglars or Anyone Else Visiting Your House

  Ten years ago our lives changed.  A lot.  We don’t do things by halves in our family, so we moved into a new home, I gave birth to my third child, and if that was not enough, we bought the biggest, baddest dog we could find.  A third pet.  I’ll share more about...

The Sybil – Par Lagerkvist – Summary & Review

The Oracle of Delphi and the Divine in All of Us The Swedish author Par Lagerkvist won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1951 and this story is worth your time;  it’s just 154 pages and readable in a day.   Some readers get upset because he combines Greek paganism and...

White Wolf Black Wolf, A Cherokee Folktale

  Here’s a folktale that had a lasting and profound influence on a close friend. It’s also one I shared with my children. A group of Cherokee children gathered around their grandfather, filled with excitement and curiosity. That day there had been a tumultuous...