Archive for July, 2020

What’s your alibi?

Here’s a photo of me taken in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal, in a rare moment when I actually posed for whoever was the persuasive photographer.

Oh no, you’re saying, is this another of those “I Miss New York” stories? (Where’s the “Miss” emoticon, by the way?)

Well, I do love GCT, even though it has been decades since I’ve been there to ride a train, as opposed to buy postcards and eat a lobster roll at the Oyster Bar.

This time I’m admitting that I often study backgrounds, wondering, e.g., who the guy in the pink shirt is, and what those kids on the right are doing now. Were they tourists at the time with their father (?) standing next to them in the plaid shirt? Or maybe they rode the subway from the Bronx for a day in Manhattan. And what’s Daddy looking at? “Information” is all the way to the left, under the famous set of clocks.

It’s hard to identify too many other people in this shot, unless we could send it “to the lab,” that magic place in televisionland where they’d be able to zoom in on that guy in the khaki shorts and black shirt, all the way in the back, past Denim Skirt, and match him with someone in their “system.”

This activity is on my mind at the moment since I’m writing a scene where a candid taken at a Fair shows a guy in the background who . . . never mind, I’m not sure yet how I’ll use it.

BUT, if you ever need an alibi, let me know. I might have your photo in one of my backgrounds.



BOOK 2 of the series will be released in November. It’s ready for preorder. BOOK 1, Mousse and Murder was released in May 2020.

I’m in the middle of my 3-book series set in an Alaskan diner, currently reviewing the galleys for Book 2, FISHING FOR TROUBLE.

How did diners get started? The best I can do is go back to 1872 and credit Walter Scott, a horse-drawn wagon in Providence, Rhode Island, and a menu designed to feed night owls, whether workers finishing the late shift, or revelers looking for an off-hours meal.

The wagon evolved into “rolling restaurants,” with a few seats added inside, and then dining cars and finally, around 1924, permanently located “diners,” most maintaining the train-car look.

With a new style of restaurant came a new set of phrases, or “diner lingo,” the way a short order cook might communicate with her staff. Some call it shorthand, but diner lingo is often longer than the regular term for the menu item.

“A side of bad breath,” for example is not as succinct as “with onions.”  And “a stack of Vermont” is longer than “pancakes.”

My guess: it’s more for adding fun to a job. Who doesn’t want to do that?

Probably among the best known call-outs are “Adam and Eve on a raft” (two eggs on toast), and “Battle Creek in a bowl” (corn flakes).

Other favorites of mine are:

“Burn the British” (toast an English muffin).

 “Cowboy” (western omelet).

“Cops and robbers” (coffee and donuts).

“In the alley” (on the side).

“Butcher’s revenge” (meatloaf).

A few phrases have been assimilated into our language, no longer recognized as diner-related, like sunny side up, BLT, OJ, and 86 it.

Post your favorites. But whatever you do, don’t be a camper*!

*One who stays at the table or counter for a long time, depriving the server of new tips.

NYC–Looking Back

The sun setting on 42nd Street

It’s a crazy time to be a writer. At least, for this writer.

I “should” be in New York right now, at a conference that I’ve attended every year. Not this year, of course. The conference was cancelled, like all the conferences and events of 2020. Cancelled. Like me, lucky to be NOT sick, not jobless. Just cancelled.

Here’s a blog from the past. New York City as I remember it, written after a trip earlier this century.

I’m just back from a trip to Manhattan with three friends. It was very relaxing – for five days we were out the door of our Times Square hotel by eight in morning, and home by two the next morning, 18 hours later.

In between: the Metropolitan Museum, the Neue Gallery, the Guggenheim, cheesecake at the Roxy deli, the NY Philharmonic (Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff);  Angela Lansbury (!) in Blythe Spirit; afternoon tea at the Ritz on Central Park South; the magnificent NYPL; Little Italy; Bloomies; the Iridium jazz club; and, oh yes, Borders at Columbus Circle where (while I lurked behind a bookcase) my friends suggested that they reorder all my books. We ended the week with a late night show in the Lincoln Center theater: Woody Allen’s new “Whatever Works.” Not brilliant, we decided, but so much fun to see it in Manhattan, where the audience claps when his name appears!

At one point as we waited to cross a busy street, one of my friends cupped her ears. It turned out she’d been bothered all week by the noise.  

“What noise?” I asked.

She meant the soothing sounds of taxis; buses; industrial motors, generators, and fans; crowds of people; alarms. All music to my ears. As opposed to the quiet suburbs where silence is broken only by the occasional ear-splitting pickup truck stereo system.

What’s noise and what’s soothing background?

It goes back to childhood, I believe. My bedroom window growing up was about 3 feet from a bar/pizza parlor. I fell asleep to the sounds of the jukebox. Later, I had a nearly 2-hour commute to college in Boston. For 4 years, I did my calculus homework on the famous MTA, often with one arm slung around a pole.

For me, noise provides stimulus to write and a reassuring background to sleep. If it’s too quiet, I can’t relax, neither to write nor to rest. Where is everyone? I wonder. Maybe I should get up and look around.

New York City is the perfect place to relax.

July 4 past and present

Here’s a link to Boston Pops past.

This year, enjoy the Pops or your favorite July 4 music from the safety of your home and keep well!


And one more bit of news: Volume 2 of Low Down Dirty Vote will be out July 4, 2020. More on that on the day!