Debut Novel

Carolyn Kay Brancato greeting her guests prior to her reading.

I was 15-minutes early to an advertising and marketing function taking place elsewhere, when just down the road a ways stood The Bookstore & Get Lit Wine Bar . I love bookstores, especially these quaint shops containing new and pre-owned books. And here, it just so happened author, playwright and choreographer Carolyn Kay Brancato was on hand to talk about her first novel, “The Circus Pig and the Kaiser: A Novel Based on a Strange but True Event.”

When you walk into such functions wearing a suit, tie and smile, it’s easy to be taken as one of the guests. Perhaps acceptance was made easier because of the suit, even though I was the only person with one on. I wasn’t crashing the party per se; it was an open event. Besides, until I walked in, I just wanted to peruse the shelves to kill some time. Somehow being immersed in a bookstore accelerates the passage of time. Before I knew it, almost 20-minutes went by.

Ms. Brancato was attendant to familiar faces and a handful of new ones [like me]. She was a confident and comfortable raconteur equally adept in catching up with news of the comings and goings in The Berkshires. Friends and acquaintances arrived from near and far: Long Island, Boston, Hudson, NY, Manhattan in addition to other towns and hamlets here in the western most part of Massachusetts.

And of course there was a respectable spread of food, though what made it even more inviting was the “Lit Bar” which was part of the bookstore.  It was small and cozy, roughly the width of three folding chairs though it stretched from the front of the store to the very back it seemed.  Were it not for a standing room only crowd, I would’ve clicked a photo or two; besides I needed to make sure not to be late for the other event taking place.

Albeit short, I enjoyed the serendipity of stopping by. To listen to conversations about literature, books, life, travels and more, was refreshing. What this all means is I need to return with my better half to take a closer look at the books and to, of course, have a glass of wine with her…

However, I didn’t leave empty handed. I found a terrific book, “The Rain in Portugal” by Billy Collins. Yes, that is THE Billy Collins, a former U.S. Poet Laureate. It was his twelfth collection of poetry and judging from over a thousand reviews, it looks pretty inviting. Odd. It’s been decades since I picked up a book of poetry.

This is what happens when you walk into a really nice, cozy bookstore that has its own wine bar.





Ode to Imaginative Playing

Wherever and whenever possible, the grandsons engage body, mind and soul in imaginative play. And it’s good for them. We encourage such play and the possibilities that open up for their young selves.

If you watch them, listen to them, their imagination and enthusiasm bursts with a palpable vigor of discovery. We could learn a thing or two from such unbridled vigor.

An arm extended is a wing just as the rushing, whooshing sound from their mouth is that of fast-moving air giving lift to the aircraft. You can’t ignore their commentary for it further explains the depth of their imagination and understanding of how they play. “He’s way up in the sky…diving down then up again…he goes very far and very fast.”

I see in all their  imaginative play a power that exceeds that of any CPU. What they emotionally and physically feel, the how of what their mind’s eye offers, when they encounter a challenge [“He won’t share the glider!”]—or arrive at a compromise or solution—every bit of it adds to their development as communicators, problem-solvers, collaborators and empathetic beings.

Indeed seeing these two boys and all that they say and do remind me to nurture my own imagination.  At least not to ignore it. The why of such nurturing can liberate and acknowledge a sense of purpose and triumph.  Many of us are unlikely to realize our loftiest, most ambitious dreams and goals, but pause and think again.

Our imagination can fuel possibilities that can manifest into a journey that’s not only our own, but a story genuine to our sense of self .

Nothing but Blue Skies…

“Blue skies, smiling at me, nothing but blue skies, do I see.”  Irving Berlin

It just hit me. This color blue. It was electric, cheerful, optimistic, surreal and more. Not sure why, but it just was.

So, I took a  photo.

Ella Fitzgerald recorded a terrific rendition of this song. Perhaps we should cue it up and listen to it more often. The lyrics just might move you from a place you don’t like, to one that’s much more hospitable if just kinder.

Clearly Clear

The most fearless among the fearless are the workers that brave conditions which make our primal–often most private fears–come to surface.

The professionals who clean the windows of tall buildings are a good example of the breed.

To think they’re suspended in place with nothing but a saddle harness, a rope connected to that saddle, and the rope routed typically through a figure-8 or other type of belaying device. And where that rope is anchored on the roof is a mystery to me.

Not surprising, but always impressive, the windows are wonderfully clean and clear.

Off the grid

One of the spoils, the pleasures if you will, of being close to the ocean is that during the off-season, everything feels quieter….







Wandering towards warmth

It’s at this time of year when I hear longings for warmer weather. From workers in the office building–a lot while in the elevator–to family and friends, I hear wanting cries and wishes for winter to end. February is akin to that last push toward a finish line; it’s a test of emotional endurance because you’ve made it this far yet there’s still a distance to go. When will this end? Let’s finish winter and get on with spring. Polar vortex aside, I’m still enjoying winter. However with daylight piling on, it’s not difficult to think about spring.

In no uncertain terms, sunny, warmer weather puts people in a better mood, especially during those first few days. What’s not to like? You get more vitamin D. The air feels gentler. The sky appears friendlier. The pace of life is calmer. The sounds and sights of life are no longer insulated: laughter, more people outdoors, car windows open, music escapes from said windows, smiles appear from once stoic, resigned faces and of course, fashion turns lighter as puffy, padded, heavy and scratchy attire is relegated to dry cleaning, the cedar chest or some other domestic sarcophagus to be opened later in the year.

Many of us in New England are already wandering toward and wondering about the warmth. For now, we can still huddle in our coats, don an extra layer, warm ourselves with a mug of Hot Toddy and make the best of things next to the fireplace or wood stove.