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Betsy Block

Stories without recipes

Once (Upon a Time)

Coming in July 2008 from Algonquin Books:
The Dinner Diaries: Raising Whole Wheat Kids in a White Bread World

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And for a link to a little piece I wrote for my publisher, go here. The type is small and kind of hard to read, but frankly, I don't know how to fix that. Sorry!

Thought for the Day: I've spent months getting our names off junk mail and catalog lists, and it seems to be working. We're getting far less mail than ever before! We're cutting down on waste and doing our part for the environment! But now when I go to pick up the two measly envelopes, both of them bills, I find myself feeling kind of - I don't know - let down. When there's a pile of mail to pick through, there's always the hope that the next piece will hold something shiny and fun, even though it almost never does.

Once (upon a time)
       Andy and I aren't usually movie soundtrack fans, but the music from the film Once has changed that. We were listening to this incredibly powerful CD Sunday morning as I baked cupcakes and he prepped vegetables for the Superbowl party we were having that night.

In fact, the music was so open that it made me wonder about Glen Hansard, of the Irish band The Frames, who stars in the film. What compels him to sing songs that are this intimate and raw? And what does it cost him? I wonder if it's a hard road. It seems like it would be.

And so as Andy and I moved around each other in the kitchen the other morning, chopping and stirring, CD playing in the background, I asked, "Do you think you have to be crazy to be an artist?"

"No," Andy said pointedly. "I don't."

"Not even a little bit crazy?"

"Don't go down that road," he warned, alarm in his eyes.

"No, no," I answered carefully. "I'm not looking for an excuse for bad behavior in the future. I'm just trying to find an explanation for the past." We laughed. I thought about it some more then went on, "How about intense? Does an artist have to be intense?"

"Intense? Yes. But not crazy." Then my gray-haired husband of all these years looked up from his cutting board and saw the tears running down my face. (The music from Once always does this to me.) He came over and pulled me in close for a slow dance.

A little while later he went out with the kids, and when he got home he came over to me with eyebrows raised and asked, "All done with the crazies yet?" I cocked my head and grimaced sarcastically in reply, but secretly I was thinking, Not even close, brother. Not even close.