Monday, December 15, 2014

An Invitation to La Dolce Vita: The LOVE, LUCY Launch Party

With the release date of Love, Lucy a little over a month away, I've been making plans for a launch party--my very first.  Yesterday, Andre and I paid a visit to the venue--a cozy family-owned vineyard in quiet South Jersey.  Our friends Joe and Brenda O'Donald introduced us to Salem Oak Vineyards, and to Mandi Cassidy, the vineyard's cheery and energetic owner.  Then the five of us put our heads together to plan the event.  

Andre, Brenda, and Joe

Mandi Cassidy (on the right)
To celebrate Lucy's travels in Florence and Rome, we're going with--what else?--an Italian theme.  There will be light fare on offer--antipasti and dolci. And a playlist of Italian music to set the mood.

But of course, it wouldn't be a party without you.  So here's the what, when and where:

Love, Lucy launch party
Friday, January 30th from 7 to 9 p.m.
Salem Oak Vineyard
60 North Railroad Avenue
Pedricktown  NJ 
(About half an hour from Philadelphia and Wilmington, DE).

Please email me at by January 20 for directions and to let me know you're coming so we can be sure to have enough food for all.  

 I hope you'll save the date and join me for a little taste of sunny Italy and la dolce vita.

Tuscan Sunrise (photo lifted from

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bare Branches: A Mid-December Update

The other day on Twitter, #amwriting was trending.  This made me sad, because I #amnotwriting lately.  Nanowrimo happened without me.   Months have passed since the last time I put words on paper.  Insert excuses here.  As a friend of mine used to say, "Any excuse will do." 

And this long fallow season isn't about to end soon.  Final portfolios and exams have been flooding my desk, and as soon as the grading winds down, the holiday season preparation is destined to ramp up.  

2014 is likely to be history before I manage to get any writing done.  So I was heartened to read this post from the fabulous writer Beth Kephart. 

Branches in the Sky by Zanuardian
I have to believe, as Beth promises, that my next story is waiting for me.  And, after all,  there have been recent hopeful signs.  A new character has been taking shape in my head.  I can see her, and certain things about her have revealed themselves to me lately.  But I won't hear her voice until I can sit down at the computer and start trying to channel it onto the page.  In the meantime, I have to trust she'll be there when I'm finally ready.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dreaming of Firenze?

La Dolce Vita, Firenze-style
On Thanksgiving Eve, as I make cranberry relish, my grandmother's Italian-style stuffing, and Mississippi Mud Cake, I've been taking brief breaks between all the grating, mixing, and sauteeing to dip into The Stones of Florence by the inimitable Mary McCarthy.

See the underlining?  I made it in 1985, when I was just back from my first trip to Europe, a solo backpacking expedition that turned me into the rabid Italophile I've been ever since.  

Vespa showroom

Now I'm revisiting McCarthy's classic book as I choose texts for a travel-writing class I'm planning--a study tour to Italy that will run from June 28 to July 29.  We will be based in Rome, with excursions to Sorrento, Assisi, Pompeii, Orvieto, Capri, and, of course, Firenze!

Are you dreaming of Firenze too?  There's still space left in my class.  Any college student in a degree-granting program (graduate or undergraduate) is welcome to apply.  We'll be reading some wonderful travel memoirs, writing our own short travel pieces, workshopping, rewriting, and using Italy as our classroom.

For more information, visit the Saint Joseph's University Center for International Programs Summer Study Tour page. 

Study Tour faces from years past

Sunday, November 23, 2014

River Town Road Trip: St. Mary's College, Maryland

The Maryland Dove
My teaching and travels have taken up all my time lately, which is why it's been a while since I posted here.  I'm just back from my most recent trip, to St. Mary's College, Maryland's public honors college, in the gorgeous river town of St. Mary's City.

Leaving home is always the hardest part of any road trip. When Nico saw me packing my bags, he tried his darnedest to discourage me from going.

But once I got past my bodyguard, the trip was a breeze. What could be better than chatting about poetry and fiction with the spirited and bright students of St. Mary's?  I also gave an evening reading, and spent a lovely last morning with the College's Arts Alliance discussing poems inspired by fairy tales and myth.

And I was able to spend a little time exploring one of the prettiest campuses I've ever seen.  

In the distance, the sailing team practices maneuvers on the St. Mary's River

St. Mary's College is an especially hospitable place for poets and poetry.  In fact, the late, great Lucille Clifton taught there for many years, and her poems make welcome cameo appearances at every turn.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


A year a good today this handsome fellow became a part of our family.  In some ways it feels like we've only just adopted him, and in other ways it feels like he's been one of us forever.  Though he gets in his share of trouble, we can't imagine life without Nico.

Even Reuben, who was slow to warm to his new sibling, seems to like having him around 99.5% of the time.

Who, me?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Veterans Day Salute

Sound check on the Mall
No, I'm not in D.C.  I'm in bed, watching the Concert for Valor on t.v., thinking with gratitude of the veterans I've known.

First and foremost, my Dad, Edward Lindner, who served in World War II, at first in the Engineers' Corps, then in the big Red One, and finally as a sergeant in Company L, 16th Infantry Regiment, guarding prisoners in Hammelburg, Germany.  

Though he was a man of (very) few words, he did speak once or twice to me about his time in the army--of creamed chipped beef on toast (which he liked), of how much he enjoyed seeing Europe while on leave--Scotland, England, France, even Italy.  He never spoke about combat, though--not even to my mother.

I wish I'd asked him to tell me more about those days when I had the chance.

Thank you to all veterans for your service.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Still Precious: Chrissie Hynde at the Tower

At age 63, Chrissie Hynde is still a badass, still the reigning queen of cool.  So when our ticket taker at Upper Darby's Tower Theater informed us that Chrissie had requested we not take cell phone photos at her show, I wasn't about to risk pissing her off.

photo lifted from The Tower Theater Facebook page
Andre and I have been looking forward to seeing Chrissie and the Pretenders for a long time.  More years ago than I care to count, we saw them with a bunch of our college friends from the front few rows of the University of New Hampshire field house.

The band was incredible.  I was nineteen, surrounded by friends, seeing a band we all loved more or less from the front row.  The good vibes are basically all I remember.

Original lineup circa 1989 photo by Fin Costello

 Fast forward to 2014. The show began with new material--all of it top-notch--from Chrissie's Stockholm album.  

I'm happy to report that Chrissie Hynde still has one of the most distinctive and expressive voices in rock.  Not to mention her commanding stage presence.

But as great as the new material is, I'll confess my favorites were all the old punk standards I've loved since college: "Tattooed Love Boys," "My City Was Gone,"  "Talk of the Town," "Message of Love," and this gem:

Chrissie Hynde rocks as fiercely as ever.  That said, her performance and persona have gained a welcome dimension of warmth and humor I don't recall from the early years, though as we've already established, my  memory's not that sharp.  

I left the show determined to sign on for more concerts by Women of the Eighties Who Rock.  I hear Lena Lovich is staging a comeback tour.  

Who's in?