I suppose any season is good for “time travel.”  Case in point: The Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Throughout New England and other parts of the country, living museums provide a chance to feel what we could only imagine.

Such places serve to remind us of what we have. Or what we’ve lost.

On a particular Saturday evening, I was reminded of the power of conversation. The Shakers traditionally have family dinners, meaning you sit at a table–often a rather long one–and enjoy supper together.  This particular night came via the Food for Thought series, a HSV summer event whereby one sits and enjoys a gourmet farm-to-table dinner and conversation. From June thru August, an author is invited to dine, discuss and engage about a recent book that she/he has published.

Traveler, award winning writer, bestselling author, Mr. Simon Winchester.

The narratives can be compelling. Unsurprisingly, there’s the conversation of getting-to-know a bit more about a person, not the least being the author who’s about to recount a journey of research, writing, editing and more.

Like the author, the guests had their own experiences to share. Most were familiar [snippets of life’s journey from a father-mother-engineer-lawyer-financial manager-medical doctor, e.g.], and others were fascinating to hear and talk about. In attendance was a young student of epidemiology, and I should have talked with him beyond his academic CV [Princeton, then John Hopkins].  It would’ve been fascinating to hear more about the rise of diseases and other ailments that can quickly wreak havoc on populations around the world.

The beauty of talking face-to-face is that beyond the words you hear, you’re also emotionally involved. Expressions, gestures and tone each hint at nuances that can be missed when engrossed with email and text messages.

I enjoy the various digital communication platforms and they can be timely if not helpful. However, there’s still something to be said about connecting with people face-to-face. And that kind of connection can make such a difference in your comings and goings day in, day out.



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.





Many artists come to mind when the genre of surrealism becomes a topic for discussion–or bone of contention–but Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali y Domenech is one that occupies a notable position in the annals of imaginative imagery and surrealistic interpretation.

The Slave Market & Disappearing Voltaire

If your preferences lean toward realism, then Dali can and will, leave you wondering why such creations are in a museum, indeed, an eponymous one at that. Art is Art and its value depends on so many areas of technical and aesthetic measures. For the rest of us mortals, subjective interpretation is all we can muster. I overheard someone trying to understand one of his paintings and his somber remark was, “Salvador Deviant.”

Portrait of deceased brother if he lived to be an adult.

Art is what you make of it. It means you can be apathetic, sympathetic, curious, appreciative, angry, happy, bewildered, uncertain, confident, disappointed, insulted, overwhelmed, inspired or even validated.

You have to appreciate his creative genius when you’re pulled into one of his canvases only to be taken aback  when the image changes. In one moment you see 2 nuns, then a blink later, you suddenly see a face made in part by the same 2 nuns [cf first image above for Voltaire].

Interactive self-portrait.

My self-portrait is an interesting take on a photo booth, but one more entertaining if not interesting.  In a way I’m borrowing a slice of time from Dali’s world. A simple souvenir for me,  though I suspect Dali would’ve seen a leitmotif kindred to the impertinence and sarcasm of his painting, Persistence of Memory.

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….







Same Time Zone-Alternate Realities

New York City.  A fantastic place that involves all your senses.

Fort Myers, FL. This second image is taken further south, about 1,250 miles [2,012 km] away. Here’s a destination where the senses aren’t always engaged. Let’s just say “relaxed” is a more fitting adjective. Finally, both photos were taken approximately around the same time of day: late afternoon.

Rooms and a view [Contentment vs Depression]

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Freedom. Choices in travel and direction. Sunlight and open air. Architectural beauty.

Al Capone’s prison cell.

Incarceration. Small living space. A single window. Concrete walls. Iron bars.