Thanksgiving Playlist

So easy picking my playlist—song, actually—for this Thanksgiving. I’m counting my blessings ala Bing and Rosemary as I prepare our Thanksgiving Feast.

As I dice and slice and whip and bake, I am keenly aware of how blessed me and mine are to have all we have and live as we live.

That first Thanksgiving, a 3-day long feast which included fowl, 4 deer, shellfish, cranberries, maybe, but no mashed potatoes and definitely no pie as potatoes hadn’t been introduced to the New World yet, as the Pilgrims lacked butter and flour for crust, was a celebration of a successful 1621 harvest. It did not mean the end of hard times for the Pilgrims. Even as they feasted, I’m sure the Pilgrims were keenly aware, as am I, that one certainly of our uncertain futures is that there will be difficult times ahead. Knowing this makes me even more grateful to be able to celebrate our harvest today.

Happy Thanksgiving! And thank you.

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When Stars and/or Trains Align . . . or not

My baby takes the morning train. Don't know about yours, but this baby just missed her train--by 7 minutes.

So I'm sitting in the railway station, sipping a latte, waiting for the next train--which will depart in 145 minutes. I reached the station at 5:45, the train departed at 5:33. 12 measly minutes.

Google "Rail-Car" this pops up

Google "Rail-Car" this pops up

I'm formulating the story problems in my head:

Or Color Your Own Train...

Or Color Your Own Train...

If my flight landed at 4:30, and it took me forever to get through the viper of an immigration line, and even longer in the customs line only to arrive at the Airtrain Station just as one was pulling out, what should I have done in order to shave 12 or 15 minutes off my time?

  • Jumped the queue?
  • Sprinted up the escalator?
  • Not used the washroom?
  • None of the Above
  • All of the Above

There's a food court of sorts at Jamaica Station. It consists of 3 shops--one being the "Air Bar" (Opens at 11)--and a section with tables and chairs. I have jingle in my pockets, my IPad in my bag and the timer set on my phone. I'm one of the lucky ones. All around me, people surrounded by bags sleep with their heads on the "Customer Only" tables. Judging by the look of them--mouths open, slumped, if they were customers, it was hours ago. I wonder which train they're waiting for...or if they know? Or care? Or are?

While I sip my latte, I'm thinking of the hours this delay is costing me. If only I'd checked the train times sooner—last night in the departure lounge. If only I'd know the train left at 5:33...

Would knowing have made a difference?

Most definitely!

Would I have been able to catch that earlier train?                   Who knows . . .

 I do know is what I would have been doing if I had known the train’s departure time: 

Instead of stretching my legs, clicking through messages, and wondering about all the other people waiting with me in those lines, my insides would have been buzzing like a hot switchboard, I would have been feeling like the lady a few bends of the queue back who bellowed out, "Hey Number 15! 17! 22! Get to Work! You are on the clock! Stopping chatting and take care of business!”

In my case, ignorance was bliss and no busted brain vessels.

Noooo this is not my latte. Mine was in a paper cup. Good news, click the pic and it will take you to a site with more cool latte art and a How-To U-Tube. 

Noooo this is not my latte. Mine was in a paper cup. Good news, click the pic and it will take you to a site with more cool latte art and a How-To U-Tube. 

In the meantime I'll sip my latte, and be grateful the NY Deli only had everything bagels--with rye seeds--so I am not tempted to order one (with extra cream cheese) and do another story question:

If I were two people and one of me had managed to leap immigration & customs lines, my suitcase had rolled down the baggage carousel sooner than later, I hadn’t stopped to use the washroom, I had caught that earlier Airtrain in time to make the 5:33 train, that one would be seated at my computer sipping coffee and clicking on my computer, what would the other of me be doing?

The other of me that didn’t catch the 5:33 morning is sitting in the station, sipping a latte and clicking on my IPAD while waiting for the 8:03 train to Ronkonkoma. Coffee vs. Latte, Computer vs. IPAD, Coffee-Latte, Computer-IPAD...

When Stars and/or Trains Align Playlist:

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That Three Letter Loophole

“I try to…really I do… But…It’s just that…”

Almost every time I hear that word “try” (except when I use it, of course), the same memory springs to mind. I can’t recall where I was or when it happened:

"Try to lift it."

"Try to lift it."

A man, perhaps a teacher or dinner companion, placed his hand on top if mine and said, “Try to lift your hand.”
I lifted my hand.
Shaking his head, disapprovingly, the man pressed my hand back down onto the table. “I said, ‘try to lift it.’”
Puzzled, I lifted my hand again.
He pushed it down again.  “I didn’t say ‘lift your hand,’” he said. “I said ‘try to lift it.’”

Try. The three letter loophole.

Yes, this includes Mount Everest

I tried to climb Mount Everest once—well, up to the Base Camp anyway. The plans were set. We had our gear. We had been training. But, at the last minute, our VISA requests were denied. It was a good try, and at least I tried. Spit in one hand, try with another, what do you get? One either climbs the highest peak in the world, or one doesn’t. One might start climbing and not reach the top. But that is not trying, that is climbing—doing. And yes, it is semantics. Some might say I’m “splitting hairs” even. That three letter loophole.

I do things. Lots of things. Most importantly, for purposes of this essay, when I say I’ll do a thing, I do it.  For example, I said I would brush my teeth twice daily; floss; pay bills; babysit my grandson; eat leafy greens, and I do (except on rare occasion).

I try to do things, too: Return extra pounds to whomever owns them; exercise daily; stop using the word “cute”; call my mother . . . Try-schmy. Nobody ever does anything they “try” to do.  

We do what we do. (Sally Bowles singing Mein Herr popped into my head as I typed that. I tried to resist, but…)

Where is this leading? To a confession:  Since the beginning of the year I have been trying to finish several manuscripts. I’ve tried, really I have. And although I do spend several hours per day writing and/or on writing-related activities, despite all my trying, I have yet to succeed.  After 10 frustrating months I have finally come to a decision: I am going to stop trying!

As of today, I am doing. One hour each day I am going to write. No excuses. No hall passes.

Mom’s Three Day Rule:

If Mom’s three day rule worked to help her quit smoking, surely it will work to help me get back to creative writing.

My mother always says it takes three days to make or break a habit. “Three days to make & three days to do & three days to set” she says (which is actually nine days, but somehow breaking it into 3 parts makes it easier.) If Mom’s three day rule worked to help her quit smoking, surely it will work to help me get back to creative writing.

And if, like me, there’s something you’re ready to stop trying, and start doing--and yes, I am talking to YOU! Writers who might be gearing up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). And YOU, too! Everyone else who wants to stop trying. Why not join me? Let’s do it! 

To Do List:

First Gather Tools. We’re on a Hero’s Journey and heroes needs tools!

  1. Calendar: Hang it in a prominent place.
  2. Happy Jar: Choose a happy jar/vase/pail to serve as your “Reward Jar.” Keep it on the smallish side so the vast emptiness of the vessel won’t be discouraging.  (You can always upsize.)Decorate it, if desired.
  3. Reward Token: Decide on a reward token of choice. It might be money, chocolate, toffee, jewels, lotto tickets, marbles, shells (or a combo of several).
See my Happy Jar? It's smallish,  the 30 days of Doing size. I can upsize!

See my Happy Jar? It's smallish,  the 30 days of Doing size. I can upsize!

The Plan:

  • Set: “To Do” Goal.
  • Commit: I will Do It each day. (Fill in the Do IT with your Do)
  • Track Progress: None of this X stuff; mark progress with a smiley face (mine’s red) on the calendar each day you DO IT!
  • Reward! (No hard work should go unrewarded): Each day of Doing It earns one token
  • Accountability counts! Miss a day/Lose a token. Take one out of your Happy Jar (No, you may not eat it!) Most importantly, tell yourself: Tomorrow, I’m back! I will Do It!

Do It for 3 days, then 3 days more, and three days after that, just think what we will have accomplished!

Three Letter Loophole Playlist:

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Jumpstart's Read for the Record© Day 2015 is over, but does that mean we stop reading? NO WAY! Not me & NOT NORMAN!

Norman the Goldfish loves story time! And he definitely has his favorite books. How do I know? 

Definitely NOT Norman!

Definitely NOT Norman!

When Norman likes a book he becomes so engrossed in the story, he shoves his stubby orange goldfish snout right up against the side of his fishbowl. Norman doesn’t budge, doesn’t even glug until the very last page—unless there’s a funny part, that is. (Norman blows bubbles during funny parts.)

But, you think he’ll stick around for a story he doesn’t like? Not Norman. If Norman doesn’t like a story, he spits sand, or goes behind his plant and hides until it’s finished.

Over the years, Norman and I have read scads of picture books. As our way of thanking  Jumpstart and everyone who Read for the Record© 10-22-2015, (and to make sure you have plenty of books to read until next year's campaign begins), we've compiled a list of Norman’s favorites. Surprise! Surprise! They all feature fish… go figure?

(BTW: Just because a book is about fish, or has the word “Goldfish” in the title, doesn’t mean it’s on the list. These are Norman Approved!)

Norman the Goldfish's List of Fish-Tastic Picture Books: 

  1. Louis the Fish by Arthur Yorinks, illus. by Richard Egielski (Like Mr. Limpet!)
  2. A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer, illus. by P.D. Eastman (Mrs. & Dr. Suess)
  3. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss(I Can Read It All by Myself)
  4. The Goldfish in the Chandelier by Casie Kesterson, illus. by Gary Hovland
  5. Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illus. by Tim Bowers
  6. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illus. by  Dan Hanna  
  7. Dear Fish by Chris Gall
  8. Ugly Fish by Kara LaReau, illus. by Scott Magoon
  9. Goldfish and Chrysanthemums by Andrea Cheng, illus. by Michelle Chang
  10. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
  11. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  12. Hooray for Fish by Lucy Cousins
  13. Sophie’s Fish by A.E. Cannon, illus. by Lee White
  14. 10 Friendly Fish by Debbie Tarbet
  15. The Birthday Fish by Dan Yaccarino
  16. Orangey the Goldfish by Eddie Bee, Illus. by Teri Lee
  17. My Goldfish by Stephanie Barroux
  18. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Dave McKean
  19. The Unhappy Goldfish by Paul Dallimore
  20. Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Bob Shea
  21. Nugget and Fang by Tammi Sauer, illus. by Michael Slack
  22. What About My Goldfish? by Pamela D. Greenwood, illus. by Jennifer Plecas (Early Chapter Book)
  23. Young Cam Jansen and the Goldfish Mystery by David A. Adler, illus. by Susanna Natti (Early Chapter Book)
  24. My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O'Hara, illus. by Marek Jagucki (Series for 7-10 year olds)               
  25. The Two-Thousand-Pound Goldfish by Betsy Byars (Chapter Book)
  26. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Fun Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath, illus. by Rob Bolster & Frank Mazzola (Goldfish crackers, not Norman!!!)

Norman says “Goldfish keepers needs How-To-Care for Goldfish Guides.” Here are 2 we like:


  • Goldie’s Guide to Caring for Your Goldfish by Anita Ganeri & Rick Peterson
  • 101 Facts About Goldfish by Julia Barnes  


Can't stop the reading! 

Next week, after a thorough scrubbing and a few laps around the bowl, it'll be back to life as usual & back with my usual posts (which focus on whatever might be swirling around). If you'd like to stay in touch, please click on SUBSCRIBE  to receive e-mail notification when entries are posted on Kelly's Fishbowl.


Yes! Norman!   Okay, if you've read the book, you know how brave Norman the Goldfish can be. Especially late at night. When it's super dark. And some strange, super creepy something is scratching at the window. But...

SCRITCH, SCREECH! What's that noise?

SCRITCH, SCREECH! What's that noise?

Everybody's afraid of something (Okay, maybe not everybody, but almost everybody) even Norman the Goldfish.

In fact, I can think of 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 things that really really creep Norman out. (And all of them begin with the same 3-letter word that we are never, ever, even in the most extraordinary cases allowed to say--or even think--around Norman's Fishbowl.)

However, because Not Norman is Jumpstart's 2015 Read for the Record© bookand frankly, Norman's been acting like he was a little too big for his fishbowl lately, I'm going to share that list with you. But only if you register to Read for the Record© 10-22-2015 !  Promise? I'll even give you a hint.

Hint: What animal has fur and pointy ears and 4 paws and purrs? 

Norman’s Top 10 Scariest-Yuckiest-Grossest-Freakiest-Worst Things Ever List:

1.       Scariest Villian?      Catwoman

2.       Scariest Boat?     Catamaran

3.       Yuckiest Herb?      Catnip

4.       Scariest Sight in the Sky?      Catbird

5.       Scariest Plant?     Cattail

6.       Worst Thing to Find in the Mailbox?     Catalog

7.       Gunky-est Condiment?    Catsup

8.       Scariest Sound in the Whole World?   Caterwaul

9.       Freakiest Insect?   Caterpillar

10.   Scariest Fish (even scarier than sharks)?   Catfish


Just because Norman the Goldfish swims around and around and around...inside a fishbowl all day, you might think he's empty-headed. You'd be wrong!

Norman far from your average goldfish. In addition to pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, Norman loves music. Sure Tuba music is his favorite, but he likes all different kinds of music, especially if it's fishy. In preparation for Jumpstart's Read for the Record© 10-22-2015, we've compiled his music playlist. (Norman glugged them; I wrote them down.)

Norman the Goldfish’s Music Playlist:

Norman says, There are way too many fishing songs out, far too few fish songs. These are his favorite fishy songs in order of glugs recieved:

  1. Under the Sea from The Littlest Mermaid
  2. Octupus’s Garden by The Beatles
  3. Fish Gotta Swim from Showboat, sung by Ava Gardner
  4. Somewhere Beyond the Sea, sung by Bobbie Darin
  5. Three Little Fishies by Wake-Up Group
  6. There’s A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea by Katie Cutie Kids TV
  7. Swim by Jack Mannequin 
  8. Let’s Go Swimming by The Wiggles 
  9. If I Were a Fish by Katie Cutie Kids TV
  10. Barracuda by Heart
  11. Rock Lobster by the B52s

Bonus: Punniest Fish Song of all time (How could we not include this?):

If you aren't registered yet, whatcha waiting for? Here's the link to Jumpstart's Read for the Record© 10-22-2015:

If you aren't registered yet, whatcha waiting for? Here's the link to Jumpstart's Read for the Record© 10-22-2015


Confession time: I suffer from major book envy. Jen Kam's middle grade novel, Devin Rhodes is Dead (If it's not on your Must Read list, it should be.) is one of those that really makes me suffer with "I wish I could write like this" emerald green pangs. So when Jen invited me to guest post on "Write Now!" what I call Jen's version of the Algonquin Round Table (minus the Tinis), I was thrilled.

Rather than chatter on here, I invite you to click over to "Write On!" to find out how I keep my head in the game--and screwed on at all--in the midst of all the everything else but sitting "Butt In Chair" (As my friend The Book Doctor calls it).

As an extra incentive Jen's giving-away 3 signed copies of the special Jumpstart Read for the Record© edition of Not Norman, A Goldfish Story (Spanish or English version)--read all about it, sign-up and comment to win . . .

Write Now!

And when you're finished reading Jen's blog, check out her debut novel.  Here's the 4-1-1:

Devin Rhodes Is Dead by Jennifer Wolf Kam

Devin Rhodes.jpg

4.24 of 5 starsTold in alternating "Before" and "After" chapters, Kam's novel focuses on the events leading up to and just after Cass's best friend Devin's body is found at the bottom of a local ravine. Part realism, part ghost story, and part coming-of-age tale, this young adult novel will draw you in and keep you turning pages until the dramatic conclusion.

Seeking Perfection

Healthy or not, I am a perfectionist. It is not a trait of which I am particularly proud. Yes, perfectionism has its place. In the operating room, in space, in manufacturing plants, and the like, we hope and pray whomever is doing the work pays strict attention to details. However in this imperfect world, living as or with a perfectionist is far from easy. For all of my adult life I have been battling against the need to be perfect. “Easy does it,” “lighten up,” “does it really matter?” I am constantly reminding myself—some times it works.

Sometime back, I was at the Ubud Writer’s Festival with my friend Laura. We had an hour between sessions and as girls do, went shopping. Laura was tired of her clothes and hoping to find a couple new items to perk up her closet. I was along for the ride. And, as sometimes happens when one isn’t looking, I found a delightful new dress. It was fun, unusual, and felt like a dream. The armholes were a little too large—aside from that it was perfect. “Wrap it up and charge it!” I told the sales team, just as Barbara Streisand sang in Funny Lady. “How lucky can you get!”

When I was packing to come on this trip, that dress caught my eye. Until that moment I had absolutely no intention of taking it with me. The dress is sleeveless and linen, definitely not an easy-to-wear item. But there it was swaying, fluttering at me from the closet rod calling “Take me! I’m fun! Think leggings and loafers. Think how trendy and cute you and I could be together!”

Easy does it,” “lighten up,” “does it really matter?” I am constantly reminding myself—some times it works.”

I really really wanted to appear hot and trendy and cute. There was just one slight problem—those too big armholes. Trendy is not possible in too big armholes.

This is how I usually roll...

This is how I usually roll...

One fabulous thing you learn from living long enough is that you can get anything done if you know the right person to ask. A few days before leaving, I speed dialed my seamstress and told her about my fashion emergency. She nodded. “Ah, yes, those armholes are much too big.” Clucking around the pins in her teeth, she pinched the fabric in just so; assuring me she could quickly take in the sleeves and have it ready for me to tuck it into my suitcase.

I’m trying something new for me this trip. Something called “Packing Light.” I was going to be traveling for almost 3 weeks, but only planned to take five—no six—outfits, including what I wore on the plane. 

This is my idea of "Packing Light" delightful!

This is my idea of "Packing Light" delightful!

And best, for once the weather was cooperating—everywhere was hot!. I managed to pack everything I needed into one suitcase and one carry on—and stayed within the weight restrictions.

First thing I did after arriving in NYC, was head to Macy’s. I’d been so busy packing light I had forgotten to pack the most important thing—my pillow. I don’t travel any place without my squishy pillow.

Along with a new pillow, and set of pillowcases—watermelon colored since I was buying them I decided to go for the gusto—I bought a pair of gray leggings to wear with my jaunty new dress. 

I was so excited to try on my new outfit, I pulled it out that first night, to wear the next day.

My new dress, the one that has fallen so nicely and felt so good in the store . . . 

the same dress that, aside from the too big armholes, had been fab when I tried it on for the seamstress . . . 


 . . . was so TIGHT, I could barely zip it.

My slip wasn't that thick, was it? (I always get puffy when I fly and gain a few pounds when I fly….but this much?) How many calories could 24 hours of airplane food have? I looked hot all right—like a boiled hot dog; grey, puckered and about to burst.

I ripped it right of. But...

Several times during the day--maybe more, my thoughts returned to that dress. (And yes, it stopped me from having gelato.)

It bugged me so much, about 3:00 am, I woke thinking about that dress. How could it have looked so great one day and so bad the next? Can a dress shrink in flight the way bottles expand and contract with the change in cabin pressure? Can people expand from the changes in cabin pressure? Or….Could this somehow connected to those armholes?

Shortly before 6, I finally gave up pretending to sleep. The suspense was killing me.  I slipped out of bed, tiptoed to the closet, pulled out my dress and carried it into the bathroom.  I turned on the lights and turned the dress inside out.

Yes, my lovely, speedy seamstress had indeed made the armholes smaller. And in the process, had taken in both side seams. Ah hah! So it wasn’t all me!  The dress had shrunk!  Feeling decidedly less puffy, I removed my handy-dandy sewing kit from my toiletry bag, took out my seam ripper and scissors and set to work. My thought was to simply remove the new stitching and the dress would be fine. So maybe the armholes would be back to the former, too big selves. I could deal with it for this trip.

Having learned another lesson about leaving well enough alone, the perfectionist in my may well have been able to cope with the too big armholes in exchange for hot, trendy dress, or not. We will never know. For, as it turns out, my seamstress is quite the perfectionist herself. Not content to do a quickie job, while making the armholes smaller, she had not simply stitched seams down the side, she had re-sewn the seams from the outside in and from the inside out, so rather than having a raw edge on the inside, the seam, from both sides looked finished—and used about an extra inch of fabric.

After at least an hour seated on the edge of the bathtub, picking out stitches I pulled the last thread, opened the seam and gasped—she had cut the seam allowance. Both side seams of the dress are now completely open, from the hip to the armpit. So much for hot, trendy, and cute…  or perfect!

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