Wonderfalls was meant to be a TV series but was canned in 2004 after just four episodes were aired on two different nights. Fortunately, all 13 episodes can be found on DVD; I got mine via Netflix but there are many renting and buying options. The setting is Niagara Falls; the actors are fabulous; the stories revolve around a young woman who is urged by talking animals to do good things that run counter to her nature. The show is magnificent from 1 to 13, but if you love cheese, you must see episode 4 about the runaway nun. But I’ve said too much already.

Not Alone

“A man who writes a story is forced to put into it the best of his knowledge and the best of his feeling. The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty. A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you…

“A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn’t telling or teaching or ordering. Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all life trying to be less lonesome. One of ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say, and to feel, ‘Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought…'”

— John Steinbeck

Big Fish


Clair Winship holds a muskellunge he caught in Chautauqua Lake, sometime in the 1950’s. I recall seeing photos of larger muskies, but this one will give you an idea of what my grandfather could do with a bamboo fishing pole from a rowboat. One of my favorite things about this picture is the bandage on the index finger of his left hand, probably from a fish hook, although it could have been from the teeth of the fish itself. Grandpa used to cut off the fish heads and mount them above the garage doors he’s standing in front of in this photo; he painted the heads silver and the teeth red. They were some amazing pieces of folk art; I wish I had one.

The picture may have been taken by the photographer from the newspaper in Bemis Point; they once hung one of Grandpa’s fish in the front window for several summer days. Grandpa then brought it home, dropped in across the kitchen table and said to his wife, “Abbie, clean this.” She replied, “No, Clair, you bury it.” Which he did.

On Hiring

“The north-eastern tower was appropriated to the domestics, whom Mr. Glowry always chose by one of two criterions — a long face, or a dismal name. His butler was Raven; his steward was Crow; his valet was Skellet… His grooms were Mattocks and Graves. On one occasion, being in want of a footman, he received a letter from a person signing himself Diggory Deathshead, and lost no time in securing this acquisition; but on Diggory’s arrival, Mr. Glowry was horror-struck by the sight of a round, ruddy face, and a pair of laughing eyes. Deathshead was always grinning — not a ghastly smile, but the grin of a comic mask; and disturbed the echoes of the hall with so much unhallowed laughter, that Mr. Glowry gave him his discharge. Diggory, however, had stayed long enough to make conquests of all the old gentleman’s maids, and left him with a flourishing colony of young Deathsheads to join chorus with the owls, that had before been the exclusive choristers of Nightmare Abbey.”

— From Nightmare Abbey (1818) by Thomas Love Peacock, a work and author cited with pleasure in Virginia Woolf’s diary