For Kafka


He was no bigger than her hand and just four weeks old, too young to be properly weaned. She chose him for his rambunctiousness – and for his pink nose that was entirely too big for his face and made her smile. She swaddled him in an old towel, flipped him unwillingly on his back and coaxed the bottle between his tiny, razor-sharp kitten teeth. “How could anyone be so heartless as to drown a litter of helpless kittens,” she thought as her new companion settled into slurping the milky formula. She had wanted a kitten for months, but her boyfriend had convinced her to wait until he moved in. Well, that wasn’t going to happen now, but at least she had the kitten – more dependable than any long-distance romance. They would save each other.

March 4, 2001 – December 8, 2014


You seemed so happy!

“You seemed so happy!”

“Well, I WAS happy.”

“So why aren’t you dating him anymore?”


I’m having this conversation with my 10-year old niece.  She’s asking me about my Ex.  How do you explain to a child that just because one person is blissfully happy doesn’t mean the other is feeling the same – or even if both people are happy, it still doesn’t mean there’s a happy ending to the story?  How do you break it to them that life’s not a fairy tale?

I have a new guy in my world right now.  We’ve been dating about two months now.  I like him, but sadly, I don’t LIKE him.   Always respectful,  I would never lead him on or toy with him, but I’m also aware of this relationship’s limitations.

Coffee Break

My childhood memories that I show you are usually horrific ones of an abused and scared little girl.  I remembered this contradictory morning and wanted to share it with you.  Not every hour and every minute was bad and perhaps that type of childhood is even more challenging – never knowing where on the spectrum of love and hate a moment is going to land.

It’s Saturday morning, not too early because even as a little kid, I was never a super-early riser.  Perhaps it’s 8 or 9 o’clock.  I’m watching Saturday morning cartoons from my spot  on the floor at the end of the coffee table.  In front of me is a half-finished Libby  juice glass of “coffee” made especially for me by dad – three heaping tablespoons of sugar, probably filling 1/3 of the glass, 1/3 whole milk and the final third of coffee.  Tasting more like dessert than bitter coffee, it’s delicious. Dad is sitting behind me at the dining table, reading the paper with his mug of black coffee in his hand.  The rest of the family is still asleep.  All is well.

No matter who tries to get in my way…

The following is now posted on my refrigerator, reminding me to listen only to those opinions I solicit and to tune out the rest of the chatter.  I hope The Gelato Fiasco doesn’t mind my sharing this story.  You can visit them at

Building The Gelato Fiasco From Scratch

Sure, selling frozen desserts year-round in Maine may sound a little crazy. After all, it is snowing as I write this, and today, like every day, our store will be open for 12 hours. But when we set out to find financing for our authentic gelato company two years ago, we knew that we had a great product. Most gelato in the United States is made from dry mixes – and the taste of these products pales in comparison to gelato made from scratch using Italian methods. Our market research indicated that we found a community that would be supportive.

After obtaining more than $250,000 in bank loans, we were ready to start construction of our store. We had one last meeting – a request for a loan from a local small business development authority. The small request was intended to help with just a few initial expenses. We fit the criteria perfectly.

During the first minutes of our meeting, the committee seemed receptive. But our fate changed when a committee member showed up late. He thought he knew everything (except, apparently, the time).

He had all the answers.

He thought people would take the word “fiasco” in our name literally, and he suggested we tie customers’ tongues with a new name: “A Taste of Italy in Your Hometown.” He didn’t like our late night-hours, even though Brunswick is a college town with students who study late. Perhaps most troubling, he told us to change the focus of the business. Gelato could never stand on its own, and we should focus on panini sandwiches. In addition to making our servers say “ciao” to customers, we should hang sausages and meats in the windows.

We chuckled and politely said “no.” (Perhaps we should have said “ciao” to him!) He had convinced the rest of the committee that he had the answers. No loan.

Two years later, sales consistently rise each month. We’ve established a loyal customer base, and we add wholesale purchasers of our products each week. We credit our success to the quality of our gelato and the values of our company. Customers like our playful image – folks always ask what “The Gelato Fiasco” means – and they make good use of our late-night hours. We make do in the Maine winters by admitting the irony of selling desserts in the snow – all season, customers receive discounts based on the temperature outside. The colder it gets, the more they save.

In short, our company is all about serving an exceptionally great product and doing it well. No matter what – or who – tries to get in our way.

Food Swap

source:  Utne Reader

source: Utne Reader

Next month, I’m participating in my first food swap.  What the heck is that, you ask?  I didn’t know either – after a little research, I discovered it’s the new “cottage food” thing to do.  Food swapping provides urban gardeners and home canners with a platform for sharing their wares.  Local “food crafters” share homemade, homegrown, or foraged foods with each other through one of these swaps. Trades of goods take place between attendees – my canned peaches for your homemade lemoncello.

Why do it?  It’s a challenge for me.  I like the idea of getting my food crafts out in the public – and it’s a nice way to meet people in the local foodie community (for an unsocial butterfly).  I asked my sister if she wanted to participate – and I received the typical sisterly response:

“What if I don’t like anything that others brought?  What if my food it better?  What if I just want to swap with you?  Why would I want to do it?  What if I don’t want to trade?  I remember when mom made baked goods for the bake sales that hers were always better than the other moms’ treats…

Ugh…never mind.

I’m not sure what I’m going to bring yet.  I just checked the canned jellies and jam pantry from my recent jamming sessions and there’s not much available – two nectarine-vanilla, three strawberry-black pepper and four Moroccan kumquat.  I’m considering baking a few batches of my walnut orange cookies that I created during culinary school. I’ve also thought about canning my preserved lemons (picked from my garden, of course) and salted caramel sauce.  I made a chutney for lunch after my mom’s service that I’ve always wanted to recreate.  I also want to play around with chocolates and fresh pasta (I just got a pasta roller attachment for my Kitchenaid – and chocolate molds when I was in Italy).

It’s a little nerve wracking (what if no one likes my stuff) and a little exciting at the same time.