The Grim Reaper’s writing team will gather in Chicago

ObitCon 2017

Oh yes, I will be attending ObitCon 2017.

Fellow writers on the death beat, come hang out in Chicago this fall. From Oct. 13-15, obituary writers from all over the world will participate in the fifth conference of The Society of Professional Obituary Writers.

Here’s the schedule of events:

On Friday night, ObitCon participants will attend a meet and greet at Bookends and Beginnings in Evanston, Ill. Afterwards, interested society members will walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner.

On Saturday, participants will gather at the offices in Evanston, Ill. to engage in talks about obits and obituary writing. There will also be a screening of the documentary, “Obit,” followed by a discussion of the film with director Vanessa Gould.

On Sunday morning, Grimmys will be awarded in the following categories: best short form obit (under 800 words), best long form obit (over 800 words), best obit of an ordinary Joe/Jane, obituary writer of the year and lifetime achievement in obituary writing.

If you’d like to attend this three-day weekend of professional development and camaraderie, be sure to submit your vacation requests now. Tickets for the conference cost just $25 per person.

To register, click here.

Deadline to register is September 25, 2017.

Can’t attend? All events will be tweeted using the hashtag #obitcon.

Quote of the week

spiral stairs going down

“I miss what I had in terms of the speed of memory access. If I needed a word or a fact it was already at my fingertips and now it’s like an arthritic and elderly gentleman has to sit up and go down many, many flights of stairs very slowly and go and rummage in dusty drawers. Eventually he will return four days later, normally at about 1:30 in the morning, and I will sit up and go, ‘Oh yes! ‘Crepuscular.’ That was the word I was looking for.” —Neil Gaiman

You know… clouds!


Cascading water
A waterfall
Lots of them
Light and puffy
You know…clouds!
And flowers, covered with dew
And trees hanging over
And you and me
…naked on a rock.

This poem was once featured on a TV sitcom with a fabulous ensemble cast. Can you name the program? First person to click on the contact link and send the correct answer will receive a prize.

[Update: The answer was “Taxi.”

Congratulations to Kay P. for coming up with the correct answer. Your prize is on the way.]

Donut mess with our Sunday morning treats


During my 43 years on this planet, I’ve lived all over the United States. Moving around has exposed me to different people, cultures, music and food.

And living in New England has given me an appreciation for the humble pastry known as the doughnut.

Yes, there are literally hundreds of Dunkin Donut shops here, and at least two within a 5-mile radius of my house. But there are also local donut shoppes, run by family bakers who eke out a living by making these delicious pastries from scratch. To honor their efforts, M and I scour the web for lists of the best examples. Then we put ’em to the test.

Green Mountain Orchards has the best apple cider doughnut I’ve ever tasted. In the fall, we pick buckets of apples from the trees and haul up piles of pumpkins from the patch. Once our wagon is full, we hit the barn, attack the doughnut display and pay for our haul. The still-warm doughnuts are always gone by the time we reach home.

At Klemm’s Bakery, we discovered the joys of the simple cinnamon cake doughnut. It’s a surprising light confection, not too sweet and just enough fried crispness to highlight the spice.

Recently I drove north to check out Brothers Donuts. Although their treats are fresh and tasty, you have to get there early to snag some (they go fast). These doughnuts are particularly notable for their height and breadth. Even a simple glazed doughnut was no less than 2 inches tall. And the apple doughnut was so jam-packed with filling that it ballooned to the size of a softball.

There are many more bakeries to visit, and we’ll be sure to do so in the coming months and years. In the meantime, Sunday is here. There’s a white bakery box on the dining room table. Time to end the weekend with some doughnuts, tea/coffee and a good book.

Summer is nearly over. Thank goodness!

calendar date

Some women mark their menstrual cycles on a calendar, circling the days in bright red ink. I do something similar on the days I have migraines. I highlight each headache and note the ones that last for more than 24 hours (the doozies, I call ’em).

Based on this tracking system, I’ve discovered that for nine months of the year, I tend to suffer from two or three migraines a month. In the summer, however, I endure two or three migraines a week.

People’s migraine triggers vary, but mine are well established. I get these vicious headaches when it’s hot and humid, when the barometric pressure drops, during at least one day of my period and when I alter my altitude (by flying or spending time in the mountains). Knowing this, I do what I can to avoid such triggers. During the summer, I mostly just suffer.

Which is basically why you haven’t seen any postings here. Although I’ve had a lot to say, much has prevented me from doing so. This month alone, according to my calendar, I’ve had more days with migraines than without. I had a week off for vacation and spent three days of it with nausea, head-pounding pain and exhaustion. Then there was the 9-day stretch of migraines, where a new one popped up every day. I worked through nearly all of them, but had to call out one night because the invisible ice pick stabbing my eyeball left me both dizzy and blind.

That series of headaches abated on Sunday, around the time the heat wave we’ve been enduring ended. Yet I was still left weakened by the experience. Connections in my brain were severed by the prolonged pain and so I spent much of the day sleeping, trying to recuperate enough to be a productive part of society again.

On the days without migraines, my spirit lightens and I have more energy to tackle the rest of my life. I spend much of that time playing catch-up for lost time: finishing chores, paying bills, running errands and simply taking notice. The dog has contracted a cold. Laundry awaits proper folding. The bird feeder needs fresh seed. My novel has not progressed enough. The herbs on the back deck all died.

Despite this, I can already sense relief on the horizon. I just gotta survive August (my least favorite month of the year). Until then, I beg for your patience and understanding.

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