Christmas Candle

This post was originally released at Midnight on Christmas Day. As we observe the Twelve Days of Christmas, this post–here re-released under a new title: “The Silent Partner”–takes the place of the regularly scheduled Thursday post. Our regularly scheduled Thursday posts will resume on Thursday, January 10, 2013.

To open, this except from Andy William’s “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year“:

“There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago”

I’m with the “parties for hosting”, the toasting of marshmallows, and the caroling out in the snow–those resonate as ways we celebrate the Christmas Season–but “scary ghost stories”? Here, a bit of background would be helpful. The ways that we celebrate the Christmas Season in America are, relatively speaking, fairly recent. We owe no small debt to the “Dickensian” Christmas as captured by Charles Dickens in his A Christmas Carol. And what A Christmas Carol is, is a ghost story. Written for a Victorian audience this was only natural: the Victorians loved ghost stories. Read more

Heublein Tower

This past Fall, on a trip to visit friends in Connecticut, I was afforded  some time to catch up on my hobby reading whereupon I discovered (and this is really cool) that there are two schools of thought for describing how something tastes (to think that humans think about how we think about taste is what’s so interesting). One originates in Europe and the other in America. In the older, European school of thought, food and drink–wine, for example–is given such descriptors as “bold, distinguished, robust, refined, brash, delicate”. In this mode of thinking, food and drink are personified. In the newer, American school of thought, efforts are made to describe the flavors that present themselves to the palate: “This white wine has hints of orange-blossom, lavender, and raspberry.” This, I understand, is a fairly recent way of talking about food and drink, a fact confirmed during our assent of the Heublein Tower in Avon, Connecticut. Read more

Bilbo and Gandalf

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (New Line Cinemas, 2001)

There’s a scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring that haunts me. Bilbo and Gandalf, both very old friends (those are the best kind, aren’t they: those that have lived life together, have shared adventures, and have endured even a few scars along the way), sit in an evening twilight overlooking a scene of festivity: the illuminated tents pitched in the lush countryside, which are setting the stage for the celebration of Bilbo’s 111th birthday. These two souls, in complete repose, smoke a pipe together. And what this scene reminds me of, among other things, is this: similar such nights with a good friend: Scotch and cigars on the back deck of a home in Columbus, Ohio; and of a similar moment in time in Denver, Colorado, on the second story patio one Memorial Day weekend while all the world was hushed. They are moments of unlooked for, unexpected, and undeserved contentedness: a reaching back, as it were, to the beginning of all things. Read more

December 8 marks the day on which, in 2003, Edward Duba Sr. passed. As a way of observing the day, posted here is the profile of Edward Duba Sr. as it appeared in the Grand Rapids Press on May 12, 1988. The piece is written by Cathie Bloom.

Edward Duba Sr. 2

Seated in a small banquet room with its subdued lighting, snowy white linens and artfully folded large blue napkins, Edward Duba Sr. is the perfect host. Although the running of the family restaurant has largely been turned over to three of his sons and a daughter, Ed Duba is as much an institution as the restaurant which bears his name—Duba’s. Read more


The freezer in our home kitchen is filled to the gills (so to speak) with beef right now to the point where you’re dogging bullets of frozen ground beef whenever you open the freezer door. These arctic scuds have all the precision of a heat-seeking missile whose target is the bare foot (either foot will do: it makes no matter), and when you start taking battle wounds in the form of bruises to the feet, you know it’s time to start cooking the stuff. Read more