It happened through a book

Over coffee I was reading Michael Rill’s post about noticing and revisiting books of advice that might take on new meaning with more life experience. One particular book came to mind immediately.

Mom loved If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules by Cherie Carter-Scott. She gave me a copy for Christmas back in 2003.

I already had the book and never thumbed past the inscription, filing it away in the good bookcase and eventually giving the other copy to someone else.

After reading Michael’s post I went to retrieve it and the most lovely thing happened…

Inscription on inside flap of book from mother to son

I leafed past the inscription and noticed a dollar bill tucked deep in the pages.

Quote in book underlined - "Be patient. You'll know when it's time for you to wake up and move ahead?" Ram Dass

And then another…

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." - Helen Keller

One. Then two. Three. Four. Five! They were all over!

Turns out they were bookmarks to places where mom left little notes…

As I pulled them out I noticed each had a single red sharpie letter along the edge.

A puzzle!

It was fairly easy, they spelled MERRY CHRISTMAS (missing one M). But I’m slow and it took me a while as tears were beginning to well up…

I was playing a game with mom again.

One she started 20 years ago.

And of course it happened through a book.

I love you Chris

What once was

The doorbell rang a few weeks back and I popped downstairs and greeted a woman standing outside. She began apologetically for the inconvenience and revealed this was the house she grew up in.

I held my breath as my heart leapt and stepped out on the porch.

She’d driven past the house over the years and wanted to stop by but never did until this moment.

We chatted more and eventually walked around to the back yard.

She had answers to questions about some of the peculiarities of the place.

It was a workday and we agreed to reconvene. She’d gather family photos of the home and we’d do a tour. Texting back and forth in the meantime I invited her to include other family members.

Today she and her cousin (who also spent part of her childhood here) came by with breakfast goods and stacks of photos and albums.

We spent hours going through their childhood in this house, matching photos of what has changed after several renovations, wall removals and shifting of rooms. But the bones are still there. The bookshelves her grandfather made. The crack in the front steps. The faint circle in the backyard that used to be a pond. The yellow basement walls she painted for a birthday party.

And all the Christmases — a favorite holiday of her grandparents where they decked the entire house and garage in lights and filled every corner with decorations.

She asked if we celebrated Christmas and I was able to quickly pull up this photo from the day we moved in (same living room as above… just a much smaller tree).

We parted ways with plans to reconnect and I’m one step closer to sending a letter to the owners of the house where I grew up, with hopes their hearts are as open.

A living room with a tall and skinny fake Christmas tree, some boxes and artwork leaning against the wall


The day started at the Apple Store, trading in my old phone for a new one — a spur of the moment notion that was supported by availability a day after the iPhone 15s launched.

I thought I’d get a box to ship the old phone back at leisure but nope… This meant either sitting in the Apple store for hours or just activating the phone, dealing with two factor authentication and starting fresh.

I did the latter. The most important bits live in the cloud (contacts, photos, bookmarks and whatnot), but all installed apps and tabs went away — which turned out to be a refreshing meditation and cleanse.

From there we sat on 100 couches at other department stores and went to pick up a new water filter pitcher. I avoided buying any of the Star Wars kitchen appliances, Nestlé Strawberry Nesquik and the Taylor Swift magazine.

Little Amal

The Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra hosted a traveling festival featuring a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl named Little Amal. Her journey across the US celebrates refugees, immigrants, displaced people and the communities that welcome them.

I tried to meet up with the Wave Pool contingency but the banks of the Ohio was a bit of a madhouse of folks with wagons lining up for free snack samples for a corporate event.

That aside, the weather was perfect and the vibe was extra good.

Little Amal, a 12 foot puppet representing refugees walks across the Roebling Bridge in Cincinnati

Little bits of projects

Drove up to Oxford to shake up the day and work alongside Tom. Even with all the gnats swirling around piles of trash we had an excellent and productive afternoon. It’s nice to work in a place with lots of light and humor, something I hope to do with more regularity.

Extra bonuses included a somewhat healthy lunch outside, seeing little bits of projects Tom’s been working on throughout the studio and enjoying the tree filled drive.


Just doing some chores around here… One of which is updating my now page (and creating an archive of previous updates.)

Tinkering with an X100V

I look at photos from everybody else and often think, my snapshots never look that good. Mine are always blurry, the color temperature is wrong, the lighting flat, the subject matter boring.

So every once in a while I get the itch and buy a new camera… This one will be the perfect size to inspire carrying around and finally bring everything into focus!

And I’ll research, hem and haw, and every once in a while pull the trigger and buy something. Things might seem better at first blush — pictures feel sharper or better exposed — but then my old tropes re-emerge quickly and I realize it’s not the camera.

Hello, my name is Chris and I’m a cameraholic

Pepsi Mango Zero Sugar 6.5/10

Kathryn and I share snack review texts all the time — with 1 through 10 ratings, sometimes with commentary. Eventually we’re going to collect them in a web page (or subdomain!)

In the meantime, here is a Pepsi Zero Sugar Mango. It tastes exactly like it sounds which can be good or bad, depending on how you feel about soda, Pepsi, and mango flavor.

It is something I would put on a continuum like White Castles… I would have one of these every 7 months and it would be good / fine / a’ight.

But I would not want White Castle to ever go away, and I would not defend this Mango Pepsi.

Soft serve season comes to a close

Sunday Sundae Sunday! I very much wanted Putz’s excellent banana shake, but I ended up with a little sundae and it was great except we had to run from the bees. It’s my own dang fault I didn’t get out there earlier to enjoy both during the summer.

Homecoming, day 2

Today I learned Weyes Blood is pronounced Wise Blood and her short set was excellent. Would like to experience an extended, dedicated show of her music.

Pavement followed with their last performance after a two year run and maybe ever? One can hope not.

The National closed things with a run through of Trouble Will Find Me which we listened to while enjoying dinner outside of the venue and it felt like the most luxurious thing ever… to hear the music, feel the vibe, and be seated comfortably with drinks.

We lumbered back to catch the second part of the set before calling it a night.

Mental note: Find good, super comfortable concert shoes.

Combined photos from both days

An Evening with CAKE

Oh my word another concert? Ayup! This one at the MegaCorp Pavilion in Kentucky for the band CAKE. (Typing the name of this venue elicits a chuckle every. single. time.)

It was an extra special show as family and friends converged with most cooperative weather.

Things I learnt:

  • CAKE is all caps. CAKE IS A SCREAM.
  • They had a no photos policy for this concert and I was shook… What was I to do?! As a stickler for rules, I honored their wishes. Folks generally kept glowing screens to a minimum and it all swirled together for an excellent time.
  • CAKE has an incredible fan base. Most everyone knows all the lyrics and the band weaves the choir into their show.
  • They give away a tree at each concert. On this night Denice received one of the peach variety.
  • You can see a map of all the trees they’ve given away at CAKE FOREST.

Aside: I feel a bit like disaster girl in this pic, that is if you replace a house on fire with happy folks.