Why did I think this sad excuse for bad behavior died? Are we continuing to follow the fist pumping Bieberish outliers that are still using what could be a call to live life to the fullest in their antics? Are we? Are we still allowing the media to continue giving the Millennials a bad name by highlighting the “no regrets” madness of the few? Are we?

You only live once, YOLO, simply isn’t true. I’ve lived at least four lifetimes already in my sixty years and each life change was spurred on by a regret. As Joan Didion puts it, I’ve let go of several people I used to be. The thing about each regret is it wasn’t realized at the time of the occurrence. It is with hind sight, always 20/20, that I could see the regret clearly but somehow I made the life change at the time anyway. I find that fascinating.

How will people be able to realize these life changes if they assign the concept of YOLO in such extremes? I worry that a generation may be lost to not embracing the power of making a mistake and learning from it. That their quest for overindulgences and momentary rash decisions will bring them to an early grave. That there might not be any mindfulness to their decisions and that their only legacy will be their sudden demise. I’ve been thinking about this all week.

And then I realize the media is undeniably at work here. Portraits of the crazy younger generations sells advertising, God knows we did. But as I look around at the young people I know, my trust is restored. For instance a young man I know is just beginning to realize he needs an adventure, not the drive on the edge of a cliff kind of adventure but a change. He’s realizing, in advance, that if he doesn’t follow his heart and seek out those things that give him joy he might never have the opportunity again, he wants no regrets. So in some sense he’s planning but at the same time remaining open to possibility. He’s exploring but remaining cognizant of the effects his decision will have on his family. He’s not struggling with the fact that his family might be hurt or disappointed but mindful that it might happen and prepared to address it. He gets the carpe diem spirit of you only live once.

These are the members of the Millennial generation that need to be celebrated and highlighted. For all their faults and all their perceived entitlements we may have some culpability here; we left them quite a mess to contend with. For all we know most of them, are planning adventures and creating alternate lifestyles that will change the world just as we Boomers did. I think we just need to ask them.

The more I open my mind to them the more I see them as a generation of alternatives. These are the people foregoing the big fancy weddings and concentrating on the marriage, these are the people coming into and helping to revive the cities. Forcing changes to old housing standards like the McMansion. These are the minimalists. These are the people that might just put the automotive business in a tizzy.

I still believe that YOLO in its pop culture manifestation threatens to send life down the drain but my faith in those truly trying to live without regrets will continue to be restored by those simply living their lives the way they want their story told. My kind of people.



Stowe Lane Kitchen: Citrus in February

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There is a reason why citrus is in season in February.  We need it, it’s grey in February, and the snow mounds look as if they’ve turned to granite.  Citrus smells like sun light, when the aroma fills the house your spirits are lifted you feel lighter.  The taste of citrus cuts through all the delicious soups and stews you’ve been enjoying through the winter with a promise of fresh produce very soon. A squeeze of anything citrus will encourage you to put your boots on one more time because winter will be over eventually.  Dried citrus peel in the fireplace is one of the best ways to fill the room with delish.

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Another way to fill the house with warmth and light is to bake.  I sometimes turn to Aunt Millie’s recipe box for something old fashioned, something with legacy, go figure, something from her.  The problem is that many of these scribbled recipes aren’t all that legible any more.  Her Italian pound cake recipe is a mess but as luck would have it Dorie Greenspan posted a recipe for Valentine’s Day called Mediterranean Yogurt Cake.  It was an adaptation of a French cake that she updated with citrus, clementine to be exact.  Aunt Millie’s pound cake had ricotta but yogurt could easily take its place and the thought of citrus had me at the first click.  Here’s my version of Aunt Millie’s Pound cake via Dorie’s Mediterranean Yogurt Cake. Let’s call it Mediterranean Pound Cake.

Preheat oven to 350 8 ½ X 4 ½ loaf pan sprayed with baking spray
1 cup sugar 1 container (5.3oz) greek yogurt
Zest of one orange 3 large eggs
1 ½ cups flour. My flour canister has AP flour and white whole wheat. 2 tsp good real vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder ½ tsp Fiori di Sicilia the Italian secret weapon for baking.  Or orange oil/extract. Either of these are optional
Pinch of salt ½ cup mild olive oil


The thing I love about Dorie’s adaptation is infusing the sugar with the orange zest.  In a bowl large enough to mix your cake, you don’t need a mixer for this, mix the sugar and zest together with your fingers rubbing the zest into the sugar and distributing it throughout.  This first step sets the stage with anticipation, the aroma is glorious and you haven’t done a thing yet.

Whisk the yogurt into the sugar mixture. You can use the whisk for the entire recipe.

Now the eggs, one at a time. You’ll have to whisk more vigorously for the eggs.

Then the vanilla and Fiori di Sicilia or orange oil if you’re using those.

Your dry ingredients are next. I measure out the flour, baking powder and salt onto a paper plate and do a quick whisk to incorporate them together.  Then you can just add them into the batter and whisk easily just until they are incorporated.

Last slowly add the olive oil in, slowly. I did it in two additions. Slowly, did I mention slowly, until it is smoothed into the batter.

Pour your batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake on the middle rack of the preheated oven for about 50 minutes. Test with a cake tester, I don’t own a cake tester so I use a knife, when it comes out clean you’re there.  Rest the loaf pan on the stove for 5 minutes then turn your cake out onto a rack to cool.

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For the last 45 minutes your home has been filled, I mean your whole home, with the smell of citrus/vanilla and baked amazing.  I made this pound cake on Wednesday and it held up beautifully until today when we finished it at breakfast with Gramma.  She approved.  Nough said. I hope you try it, I hope you love it.

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Body of Work

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By definition a body of work is generally reserved for writers, artists, scientists; people who are producing tangible evidence of their efforts. Their existence is solidified by their body of work, it doesn’t have to be good it just has to exist. A body of work becomes a legacy for that person.

I’ve been pondering the term body of work, even though I’m a writer and have created a body of work, I wonder does it always have to be tangible. Can a body of work simply exist without one being able to touch it?

Now I’ve got you thinking because maybe you haven’t created anything tangible… My guess is your body of work exists in the same place I go to for inspiration. Your work may be kindness, teaching, listening, curiosity or just plain making your way in the world. You may not even know you’re doing it but you are, again good or bad, and you may never know the impact of your body of work.

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Unless of course someone brings that together for you. I had the rare opportunity to have dinner just recently with all the people who inspire me, challenge me, and love me. I was able to look around the table and know that what I do is important, I am making a difference to this small and wonderful group of people who I could not live without. And without exception they are making a body of work by being a body of work. They are raising children, spreading kindness, teaching, loving and making the world laugh. They are carrying on legacies handed down by fathers and mothers and teachers they’ve known and perpetuating good in the world.

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Just living is your work, we are all doing the work and we are all leaving something to show for it. Even if it can’t be touched.