_DSC0279It is rare that I find myself bored; perhaps it’s a function of my age, how I grew up or my natural curiosity.  I’m always doing something and more often than not it’s usually devoid of technology.  Technology and I have come to an understanding. I think.  I get it, I use it, it doesn’t use me.  I have a baseline that I continue to come back to and that comes from really knowing myself.

York University professor John Eastwood explains that boredom is just “wanting to, but being unable to engage in satisfying activity.”  He goes on to distinguish boredom from apathy.  “The [bored] person is not engaged but wants to be.  With apathy, he said, there is no urge to do something.”

Richard Ralley, a lecturer in psychology at Edge Hill University in England who studied boredom, said it came to make a kind of sense: If people are slogging away at an activity with little reward, they get annoyed and find themselves feeling bored. If something more engaging comes along, they move on. If nothing does, they may be motivated enough to think of something new themselves. The most creative people, he said, are known to have the greatest toleration for long periods of uncertainty and boredom.

I think it’s important to realize that boredom isn’t necessarily a negative thing states Richard Louv, Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, there’s a big difference between a negatively numbed brain and a constructively bored mind. Constructive boredom stimulates creativity.  Constructively bored kids eventually turn to a book, or build a fort, or pull out the paints (or the computer art program) and create, or come home sweaty from a game of neighborhood basketball.  I feel like I’m still there, still self-directed, and inventive as Louv calls it.

It’s not impossible to achieve even if you don’t feel you’ve ever been there.  It doesn’t mean you’re boring if you’re bored, give it a twist and make it to your advantage.

If you find yourself in a meeting that just willll nottt endddd and you’re sure you will die of boredom, try doodling.  “I can’t tell you how important it is to draw,” says Sunni Brown. “It gets the neurons to fire and expands the mind.” Just why and how this happens is the topic of Brown’s recent book, The Doodle Revolution.

Studies have shown that doodling can free up short- and long-term memory, improve content retention and increase attention span. It can also produce creative insight, because “when the mind starts to engage with visual language, you get neurological access that you don’t have when you’re in a linguistic mode,” says Brown.  You could turn that meeting into a win for yourself. Just sayin.

Leave your phone behind for certain things.  When I walk the dog each morning I don’t take my phone or any technology, I simply walk.  I pay attention to where I’m going and what’s around me and I am engaged.  Here’s what I would have missed just this morning if I was looking at my phone or had ear buds in:

A whistle from the Aunt M’s deck that led to an invitation to breakfast.

Toto face first in the snow, several times, on purpose and a huge belly laugh and sigh of relief that she was playing (after losing Lina).

Hearing the scraping of a shovel stop abruptly to look over and see a worker looking up to the sky.  There were two Blue Jays in “dog fight” mode above us.  To me that’s a sure sign of spring.


Boredom is a self-reflective emotion you can get lost in and use to your advantage.  John Lennon understood it’s not just watching shadows on the wall you’re about to create.  Boredom teaches the brain to create if given the chance.

“I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.” ― Louis C.K.

Some of my most memorable legacy moments sprung from boredom, a ride with my father, a belly laugh with Cookie on a slow afternoon, new places to explore with camera in hand.  Boredom is the equivalent of “if life gives you lemons…” Try making some creative lemonade.

Too Damn Cold Bests

There are days when it’s too damn cold to do anything but stay in your pajamas and hang out. Best one to hang out with? Toto

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Best way to relax? Read and catch up on Tivo.

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Best way to keep warm in my house is to cook.

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Best one to cook with? My sister on speaker phone. Since you’re cutting? May as well cut up enough to cook and freeze.

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Too damn cold must have for dinner? Beef stew.

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We took advantage of all the sunny spots in our house and that’s about all we did.

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Ida’s Ravioli

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When two friends are passionate about their heritage and their love of cooking and their recipes ultimately one thing will lead to another.  My dear friend Tonine and I have been talking culinary for years and after comparing and competing we have finally come to a showdown, of sorts.  By the way, she wins or rather her mom, Ida, wins, big time.

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I was thrilled to be invited recently to Sunday dinner at Ida’s where she would be making the now famous ravioli on the even more famous (better be included in the will to Tonine) board she uses for everything pasta.  I came with camera and curiosity and neither was disappointed.  I made myself as invisible as is possible for a round girl like me and clicked away.

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Ida is formidable in her eighties, she has been cooking her entire life and she continues to this day to go to work in a local school cafeteria.  To watch her work with food is to watch a story being told.  There are so many stories being told on this day not the least of which is love of family, pride of heritage and legacy in the making.

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Tonine’s brother Paul, his wife Amy and their two boys, Beau and Bryce came for the “photo shoot” and soon the tiny little apartment was abuzz with chatter and laughter and loudness and teasing and pure love.  Ida loves her family and shows them in completely different ways.  She is still vigilant with her children though they are grown and her grandchildren can do no wrong…because that’s what a Momma and a Nonna does.

The ingredients are ready and the process begins.  Everyone is involved either hands on or with a comment here or there until it comes to the pasta dough, to this day only Ida is kneading and rolling the dough, only her hands know the right consistency and have the right touch.  My guess is that these children make their own pasta in their own homes using the lessons they’ve learned from Ida but in Ida’s house Ida rolls the dough.

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It’s a wonderful back and forth between them all, one jumping in when the other jumps out to keep the boys engaged in a way that keeps them out of trouble but in the mix.  When brother and sister stand side by side the quips and the teasing and the love go back and forth and back and forth, it’s a joy to watch something I’m sure they don’t even know they are doing.  All the while Ida is at work, she pauses to get everyone’s attention and keep their wonderful assembly line going.  Finally the ravioli are ready to cook and enjoy.

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But first the board must be cleaned and the table cleared.  Tonine volunteer’s to clean the board but Ida declines as she brushes the flour from its surface the look on her face reminisces the many times she’s used it and every story that it might tell.  It is held in reverence as a cherished link to times gone by.

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Roused from the reverie Ida finds her way into the kitchen to “cook”, everything she can think of because Italian people can’t help themselves.  The cutlets are fried the pasta water is boiling, the sauce and the vegetables are readied the bread is baked and the wine is poured.

Ida Ravioli (121)While Ida is in the kitchen the drinks are made, Tonine’s husband Mark joins us and the laughter increases a few more decibels.  This is what Sundays are made of in large families, even when they get a bit smaller there is still an easy flow that settles in on a home for Sunday dinner.

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The table is set and the camera and phones are put away.  The TV is off and the eating begins.  The ravioli are large like the opening of the glass they were made with and round and light and flavorful.  They taste of heritage and love and I eat at least three, OK maybe four.  And, of course, a taste of everything else on that table because I certainly don’t want to insult Ida….

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We eat, we talk, we laugh, Tonine and I sit side by side, shoulder to shoulder and pass a look that says this is what life is all about. We can’t look for long or the tears might come. Neighbors come and go with ice and cookies and drinks flow and time passes and then I go home.  But I smile all that night and the next day having been welcomed and trusted with the recipe for Ida’s ravioli.  I won’t make them her way, I could never do them justice but I will look forward to the day, hopefully many many years from now, when the board is passed to Tonine and she asks me to come and help her make ravioli.  It will be my privilege to join her to tell this story again, and again, and again.

Thank you Ida, for trusting me with your story.

Wasting Your Breath


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It’s been an interesting week, one filled with quotes and quips about arguing of all things.  I’m no longer an arguer; I actually think I may have learned a thing or two about NOT arguing.  As tempted as I may be to insert my wisdom, you know the kind that comes from having screwed up so many times and made so many mistakes you can call yourself wise just by virtue of having tipped the experience scale in the not much left to screw up category, I’m trying not to.

For a while now I’ve been using the word, O-K said in the most upbeat bordering on sing songy way to get out of an argument but this week I noticed:


Come on, this is brilliant.  Of course you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to you can actually NOT TAKE THE BAIT.  It’s true.  Even if it’s your hot button issue you can choose not to argue.


I’ve given up arguing with both children, cats and dogs.  I pretty much treat them the same way, catch them doing something good, don’t reward bad behavior and be the pack leader.  Toto and I have been figuring out life without Lina and I will say something like, come on Toti let’s go.  Nothing.  She doesn’t move, she gives me the raised eyebrows, which are adorable and incredibly tempting to fall for, but doesn’t move.  O-K and I walk away, to the kitchen, get the leash and wait.  Well look who it is; ready to go for a walk. Yep, sitting right in front of me waiting for the signal.  Just sayin.

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Several weeks ago my mother asked if I would pick her up a bottle of Amaretto.  O-K not a problem.  I brought it to her one Sunday when we all got together for breakfast; you see where this is going… We had coffee and breakfast and up she went to get a particular cordial glass and poured herself a glass of Amaretto.  My sister and I looked at each other and thought the same thing.  We’re not going to argue the merits of this, at 84 years old you can do whatever the hell you want.  I plan on it myself. By the way, the bottle and the glass remain on the table.


I have a friend who gets so frustrated by not getting the assistance around the house she craves from her family.  We have the same discussion every single time; it’s no longer an argument because it’s crossed over into something else.  The definition of insanity and we laugh about it now.  The discussion goes something like; there are over three hundred ways to do the dishes why does it have to be your way?  They are helping, who the hell cares if they stack them different, they’re not breaking them and they are clean. Just sayin you either let them do it their way or shut the hell up, no?

I was there, I did that, I have a system (for almost everything) so when I’m in the zone no one will ask if they can help but I don’t want them to ask.  I don’t lament that they don’t ask because I know I’m a pain in the ass.  I’ve learned not to argue with reality.


Last but not least if I want someone’s opinion I will definitely ask for it.  I will ask my most trusted, the people who care for me and know me better than anyone else.  I will not trust my vulnerability to just anyone.  It keeps me out of arguments with others, and myself because I can chat it up in my head pretty good, based on your “shoulds”.  Yeah, no thanks.  So if you’re offering and I’m respectfully declining, you should take the hint.  O-K.  I tend to agree with Keshia Knight Pulliam when she says, “I’d rather laugh – not fuss and fight…you just need to say, “you’re real cool but you’re not for me”