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Letters From Rona (blog)

Taming the Christmas turkey

I am married to a man who would say of every bird I’d ever roasted, “It’s pretty good, but it’s not as good as your mother’s.” My late mother, bless her baster, was renowned for the crispy golden skin on her birds (when she died, we gave out her roast chicken recipe at the funeral). I thought I’d given up on roast poultry, but guests were coming for Christmas. Time to take another shot at crispy skin!

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My pal the produce vendor

She’s not just someone who sells me stuff. She’ll sell me half a bunch of cilantro, search the back for a fresher bunch of chard. And she always knocks a little off the price. I like to think I’m her favorite customer. But of course if you shop at her stall, you’d be quick to disagree.

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Behind every dangerously messed up man there’s a vulnerable woman

A woman I don’t know has been on my mind lately. I don’t know if her idea of a good book is Fifty Shades of Gray, The Joy of of Cooking or anything by Danielle Steel. I don’t know if there are any books on her shelves.

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Reconnecting with the girl I used to be

When I was a 19-year-old virgin, I sold an opinion piece to Seventeen magazine called “Virginity is an Outmoded Ideal.” I quickly forgot all about it, preoccupied with sexual follies. But one young reader saved my essay–and when she grew up, she shared it with her students. Thank you, Cheryl Kreiser, for making the effort to track me down.

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Swept away by the artistic rapture of Patti Smith

I’d known Patti Smith as a visual artist of rare delicacy and as a precise, truth-telling memoirist. Then I lucked into a front-row ticket to her concert at Massey Hall, which she transformed into the First Dionysian Church of the Imagination. Come back soon, Patti. I’m hooked.

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Sale shoppers deserve great service too

Just because you stick to the sale racks doesn’t mean your business doesn’t count. Jean gets that. And next time I’m in the market for a splurge at full price, you can bet I’ll be paying her a visit.

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My 50 years with Robert Frost

You couldn’t go through school in New Hampshire, my home state, without being steeped in Robert Frost. Our teachers cast him as a sage in overalls, a fantasy grandfather opening his pasture and his barn to kids like us. I always sensed there was a whole lot more to the elusive and sardonic Frost, which is why I read him to this day. If “Birches” is read at my funeral and the afterlife turns out to exist, you can bet that I’ll be looking down yelling, “Hey, I just had another insight on this poem!”

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Raising a ruckus at the Norton Simon Museum

Just because older women are not seen doesn’t mean we can’t be heard. That’s what I learned at the Norton Simon Museum, a justly renowned treasure house where a less-than-friendly welcome threatened to drain the joy from our visit.

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American road trips I have known and loved

Holding my breath on the hairpin turns of the Mount Washington Auto Road, eating pie at Flora and Ella’s, discovering architectural treasures in tiny Spring Green Wisconsin and other unforgettable moments in my life as a late-blooming road tripper.

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Coming up: the great American art road trip

When it became clear that my husband’s bum knee had irreversibly ended our hiking vacations, we began to cast about for alternatives. Now we’re planning an art road trip that gives us a shot at 30 museums in five weeks. First stop: the Detroit Institute of Arts, a favourite of ours for the spectacular mural cycle by Diego Rivera.

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