LEGOs as I’ve Never Seen Them

  • November 13, 2017
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The only thing I’ve ever been able to create with LEGOs are stairs and walls. Wheels? Poles? I’d stare at them while my friends blithely created wagons. What about you? Were you able to get creative with them? Do you now?

I visited the LEGO display at the Staten Island Mall in NY and got blown away by the detail and ingenuity displayed. Here’s some of what I saw.

And the back:

I couldn’t resist showing a closeup of one part–the detail astounds me:

A side view:

And finally:

There were more pieces, each one unique. They were pieces of art hidden inside a children’s toy. Should the exhibit come around to you, head for the mall. It’s worth it.

Up in the Adirondacks

  • November 06, 2017
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I spent a long weekend in the Central Adirondacks with a group of friends. It was exactly what I needed, the catching up, the laughter, and especially, those mountains surrounding me.

Day two began with a power outage that lasted most of the morning, and we fortified ourselves with cold cereal and muffins. By the afternoon, everyone was out, either hiking on trails, puttering along the lakes in a motor boat, or hanging out in their own cabins. I sat at the table in my cabin and began writing. The mountain facing me radiated absolute quiet but not silence. Peace steeped my bones, and my pen worked diligently across the page.

There wasn’t time to do a lot of writing, but that moment of solitude and clarity was the spark. At least it worked better than me trying to light the fireplace. For the record, what you’re seeing in the photo below is the newspaper burning. Alas, the logs were too damp to catch on. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

There isn’t much more to say except yes, it was hard to leave.

But here’s someone who was glad to see me when I returned home. And thankfully, the writing spark is still going strong.

On Vacation :)

  • October 30, 2017
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Real Ghosts for Halloween

  • October 23, 2017
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Along the narrow, twisty road of the Palisades Parkway in New York State lies a small, neat, spooky house.

Okay, not spooky. It’s the Visitor Center. But the one thing I adore about visitor centers is the selection of local or regional books. This year’s buy was Ghosts of Rockland County by Linda Zimmermann.

Rule number one: Don’t read it at night. Learn from my mistakes. While the book is filled with fascinating history about people and places of the area, never forget: It’s a book about ghosts.

From sightings of Benedict Arnold to a young woman named Lily who loved to socialize a decade after her passing to a ghost family annoyed at the current “intruders,” this book makes for a very good read, especially around this time of year.


Less factual in tone but no less interesting is Spooky New York: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore, retold by S. E. Schlosser. It reads like someone telling tales around a campfire and includes other creatures of the night along with ghosts.

So settle in with some hot chocolate, a warm blanket, and a circle of people to regale with stories of things that go bump in the night. Or read them alone—if you dare.


Fiction and Foreign Languages

  • October 16, 2017
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You know what happens. You’re reading a story and a character who doesn’t know your language says something in it. And you cringe, because the word is correct but the nuance is wrong.

Happy Autumn! Happy Writing!

  • October 09, 2017
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I owe a short story for an anthology so I’m leaving you this week with a touch of the season as I buckle down with pen and keyboard. Happy writing to all who write!

Walking in Rockefeller Preserve

  • October 02, 2017
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It had been too long since I walked in the woods so I grabbed a friend and we headed to something easy and quiet. Aside from the polite hellos of other hikers (and two on horses), there was a feeling of serenity. May we all have that in our lives.


Their website:


Country in NYC–The Queens County Fair

  • September 25, 2017
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Who says New York City doesn’t have some country in the mix? I attended the annual Queens Country Fair yesterday and had a blast. Although I really didn’t expect to see chickens (or goats or cows or rabbits).

A Writer’s Roots – Guest Post Arielle Prose

  • September 18, 2017
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writing background photo

Author Arielle Prose, a member of The Penheads and published in two anthologies, checks in:

A Writer’s Roots


I had the good fortune to be paid a ten-day visit from French relatives, my first cousin and her husband. My cousin and I knew each other in France when we were little, before my family emigrated to the United States. We both share a few memories from that time, and from when I visited her when we were adults with our own families. That was twenty-three years ago, so there was a lot of catching up to do.

I say good fortune not only because we got to renew our ties to each other, but also because, as a writer always on the lookout for new material, it afforded me the opportunity to use the experience for a new story or two.

Communicating with each other in broken French on my part and broken English on theirs was a challenge at first (good thing for translator apps), but with each passing day we became more and more fluent in each other’s language. It was amazing to me to recall French words and phrases I once owned but had forgotten. It was as if a part of my personality had long been dormant and was now waking up again.

Throughout their stay, I was doing everything to make their visit memorable: preparing meals, planning sightseeing trips, or just relaxing at home, conversing and reminiscing. But at the back of my mind, the part that lies in wait for a story inspiration, writing possibilities were humming. What would their visit mean in the overall scheme of things? Would I write about our interactions? How we sized each other up, or quirks of our personalities? What we mean to each other, or the kind of bond we formed?

In the meantime, I should write a detailed journal of the visit, so I can draw on it when the time comes that I have a story, a message I want to relate.

My takeaway from my guests’ visit, a day after their departure, is that it feels good to dig into one’s roots, one’s past, and bring it present again, especially from old friends and relatives. But a visit to your old school, old neighborhood, or simply looking at old photographs, can also do the trick.


You can read Arielle’s stories in Hunger: Stories of Desire, Discovery, and Dissatisfaction, and Smoke: Tales Between Dark and Light.



  • September 11, 2017
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peace photo

That is all.


J. M. Levinton

World Trade Center survivor

Ground Zero volunteer

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