For some reason I can add sidebars, but not new posts. Please check back later. I have been working on a variety of things including switching my blog soon from this one, which was set up with my now-defunct West Wisconsin Telcom account. I hope to have my new blog through Gmail up soon. I will provide a link and announcement when I've got everything straight. 7/2/11

Monday, December 27, 2010

Recently read: John Harvey’s Rough Treatment

I’m working my way through Harvey’s books and enjoying them very much. In this, two bumbling burglars discover a kilo of cocaine in the rented house of a TV director who is filming in Nottingham. Not only did they discover the kilo, but the director’s wife was unexpectedly home. Detective Inspector Resnick has to root around in the seedy world of British TV as well as city crime to find out who has done what to whom.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend! Yesterday Carl and I prepared by stocking up on goodies from Lonardo's Italian Meat Market & Deli, La Dolce Sicilia Italian Bakery, Scandinavian herring and cheeses at Gold's Market, an apple strudel and doggie milk bone from the Rhinelander Bakery, and of course, buying everything else essential to Christmas at our house from Whole Foods. We even have cookies and the traditional Yulekaka baked by our friend Leslie, which arrived in the mail yesterday. We'll worry about calories in 2011. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

National History Day

Image from Dover Publications (see

At the end of November, I was contacted by Taylor Radford, a student at Swansboro High School in North Carolina. She had read my book, A Cultural History of the United States: The 1920s, and wanted to interview me for her National History Day project on women’s fashions during the decade. I was so delighted to help. I provided her with some other references as well as my “take” on the historical significance of clothing in the 1920s. To see the web site she created, go to For more information on the National History Day, see Lots of luck, Taylor!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Recently read: Christi Phillips’ The Rossetti Letter

I love mysteries that bounce between the past and the present, weaving clues and facts and characters. In this one, Phillips provides us with a compelling story of a beautiful (fictional) courtesan whose role in the Spanish plot to overthrow the Republic of Venice in 1618 (fact) has intrigued a PhD candidate, Claire Donovan, whose dissertation attempts to clarify the role of the elusive Alessandra Rossetti. Donovan, meanwhile, has to fight her way through jealous academics and romance in contemporary Venice. Fun to read and well-done.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Western Wisconsin’s Year in Review

My friend Barb, the editor of the Dunn County News, is one of the featured guests on today’s “The West Side,” a call-in radio program on Ideas 88.3, WHWC public radio out of Menomonie-Eau Claire. Dean Kallenbach hosts. Click on this link at 5:00 this afternoon to listen to the show here:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Recently read: Peggy Wynne Borgman’s Four Seasons of Inner and Outer Beauty

Written by the owner of a California spa, Borgman’s book provides exactly what its subtitle states: Rituals and Recipes for Well-Being Throughout the Year. She includes much more than the typical “mash an avocado for a facial” advice; instead drawing on modern and ancient healing arts, including aromatherapy, the ancient traditions of Ayurveda from India, detoxifying baths, massage, and even good old fashioned advice such as walking in the sand during the summer months. I’ve enjoyed picking out some of the seasonal rituals to do for spring (eating arugula, exfoliating) and summer (eating red foods like watermelon and doing the sun salutation), welcomed fall with soups made from root vegetables, and dry brushing and detoxifying for winter.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Leslie Norris—the Foodie Chronicles

Four generations: Marge, Leslie, Heather and Lynne

For a number of years while I lived in Wisconsin, I wrote a variety of articles for the Dunn County News, whose editor is my dear friend Barb. Leslie, another dear friend, has been writing the newspaper’s food column for a while. I was so touched by her Thanksgiving article that I wanted to share it:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Recently read: Louise Penny’s A Rule Against Murder

I’m working my way through these wonderful books sent in the rural countryside in Quebec. The detective, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, reminds me (other than their mutual “Frenchness”) of one of the most compelling detectives of the 20th century: Georges Simeon’s Inspector Maigret. As are all the books in Gamache’s series, this one is takes him to the picturesque village of Three Pines, where a dead body turns up at a family reunion.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Watercolors by Stephen Coates

One of my favorites: Veiled Sunset

My cousin-in-law, Stephen Coates, lives in Chicago, where he has been creating splendid watercolors of peaceful nature scene for years. Now, in addition to public and private showings of his art, he has opened an online gallery. Browse the gallery at I always feel rested and calm after looking at Steve’s paintings. Another one of my favorites is Rising Moon at Sunset.

Friday, December 3, 2010

King Tut Exhibit—a Must See

Today we went to the King Tut exhibit at the Denver Art Museum—an event we have been looking forward to for months. If you can either get to Denver or have the exhibit coming to a city near you, you should see it. Awe-inspiring, informative, and just plain beautiful, you can get a sense of the show at And if you come to the Denver exhibit, have lunch afterwards at the museum’s restaurant: Pallette.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Recently read: Leonardo Padura’s Havana Gold

This is the fourth in Padura’s Havan Quartet series with Lieutenant Mario Conde. I am fascinated with Padura’s descriptions of life in modern Cuba. In this a school teacher is brutally murdered, drugs seem to be involved, as do some of her students. It was interesting how Padura describes the use of marijuana as rare and extremely scandalous among high schoolers—not what we would expect here where even grade school kids seem to have access to a buffet of drugs. Worth reading, yet I wish the translator would not sprinkle the text with outdated British slang words.