Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Visit from Saint Nicholas

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the November 30, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

One December in the late 50s my mother sat me down with piles of construction paper, scissors and stacks of old Christmas cards. She gave up these treasures from our family and friends so that I could create my own illustrated versions of The Night Before Christmas. The holiday cards, artfully trimmed with pinking shears, created delightful scenes - flocked reindeer and glittered snow-covered landscapes. Embossed and colorful santas rested next to crayoned fireplaces and doorways of my creation. I was occupied for days and hours and it seems my mother knew exactly what she was doing.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Read Brian Samek's column in the November 23, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
Remember your high school foreign language class with its endless grammar exercises? In a study in 1998, Spanish professor Jeffrey Stokes and his colleagues tried to determine which factors best predicted a student’s ability to correctly use the Spanish subjunctive, a notoriously difficult form for Americans. They found a long list of things that were not significant predictors: time spent in the Spanish classroom, time spent on the subjunctive, and time spent in Spanish-speaking countries. The only factor that predicted competence in the subjunctive was the amount of free reading in Spanish done by the student.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chicks with Sticks

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the November 16, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

My mother began to teach me to sew about the same time I learned to type – at age eight. I learned on a Singer Featherweight 221with its wonderful gold on black paint and fold-up extension platform. I still own that machine, made sometime in the early 1950s, and cherish to this day. It weighs a mere 11 pounds and fits into a wonderfully compact case with compartments for all the necessities.

I began my lesson in sewing on tiny clothes for my cherished Barbie doll. For Christmas and birthdays my mother would create the more elaborate wardrobe items like wedding dresses and swimsuits. I made simple sheaths and capes that closed with tiny snaps and buttons. In junior high and high school I sewed my complete wardrobe each year on that Singer Featherweight.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Food, Comforting Food

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the November 9, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Last week when Hurricane Sandy pounded Norwood and the rest of the Eastern seaboard, I spent the day at home cooking comfort food. I was tempting fate but I also knew that I had a gas range and oven to fall back on. In any event, I started preparing early in the day: a braid of bread, macaroni and cheese, and a potato-leek soup.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dogs That Know ... A Lot More Than Mine

April Cushing is the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin November 2, 2012.

While browsing through my bookshelves recently I came across “Dogs That Know When Their Masters are Coming Home, and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals” by Rupert Sheldrake. Seriously? It sounds like a canine version of “Ripley’s Believe it or Not.” I was, I admit, more than a little skeptical.

I love all my kids, of course, but if I relied on them for daily demonstrations of devotion I might be barking up the wrong tree. That’s where Duffy, my true and constant companion for the past 13 years, comes in. I own an embarrassingly large assortment of Dandie Dinmont Terrier collectibles: artwork, figurines, kitchenware, coasters, jewelry, pottery, return address labels. Can you say “obsessive?” Duffy, for his part, showers me with love--and way too much saliva. I’m pretty sure I’ll be more devastated when Duffy enters doggie heaven than when certain blood relations go to the great beyond.