Lessons from France (part 1)

Ah, France! The land of bread, cheese, wine, and amazing food. Not to mention a beautiful countryside and a lot of history. I’ve just returned from two weeks exploring the place, and have picked up a few lessons along the way that I thought I’d share. In fact, I picked up so many that this … Continue reading Lessons from France (part 1)


Stunted Radishes and Crooked Trees

This post is continued from If Plants Can’t Think, How Do They Develop Such Beautiful Habits? from last month. It’s a great time to be a plant, a hard time to be a gardener--or an elementary school teacher, as it happens. Both plants and children grow wild in the spring. Weedy, fast, invasive of places … Continue reading Stunted Radishes and Crooked Trees

Ask Ceil – You’ve Got Mail

Dear Ceil,Almost every day, the mail carrier brings me a pile of garbage mixed in with really, really important paperwork. Also, the important stuff looks JUST like the garbage. Also, I’m terrible at making decisions about what is garbage and what is important. Also, my mail now occupies four grocery bags. Make it stop. Overwhelmed … Continue reading Ask Ceil – You’ve Got Mail

Children and Creativity

I was recently asked if having kids has had any effect on my creativity. This is a question that’s been floating around my household quite a bit, actually. And it’s been especially relevant since about July 16th, 2012, when my husband and I welcomed our first child. See, I’m a writer and teacher with some … Continue reading Children and Creativity

The People’s MFA (“Werewolves in Their Youth” Edition)

I have deep respect for people who have completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Devoting two years of full-time study to producing acres of drafts and absorbing what can be painful critique, knowing all the while that there will be no “Help Wanted: MFA-Accredited Novelist” ad to answer at its conclusion, is … Continue reading The People’s MFA (“Werewolves in Their Youth” Edition)

Ask Ceil – Mustache and Beard Edition

Dear Ceil, I have a long, luxurious beard named “HR FluffNStuff”. I recently read that beards are almost past their “peak attractiveness”. Is there any way for me protect my face veil from shame? Signed, Hirsute in Hempfield Dear Hirsute, Ah, yes. The fashion peak of facial hair. The worry of the woolly woebegone. The … Continue reading Ask Ceil – Mustache and Beard Edition

The Joy of Burn-Out

“Burn-out has always been one of those things that happens to other people, not me.” As I read these words by fellow blogger Leanne Yong, I got to thinking, “Hey, I’m other people.” And on that note, let me tell you what’s been going on with me lately. At the start of this current year, … Continue reading The Joy of Burn-Out

Skip day

There won't be an update today; Magnificent Nose returns on Wednesday 16 April with a guest post from former regular columnist Sara Goas.

Ask Ceil – E.S.P.

Dear Ceil, Can I use ESP to send my friend a message about something? I’d rather not confront her. Bashful in Basking Ridge Dear Bashful, I hail from New Jersey where confrontation is practically a team sport, so I typically endorse a more direct approach. But if you have already ruled that out, then let’s … Continue reading Ask Ceil – E.S.P.


In the aftermath of the suicide of L'Wren Scott, I was not surprised to find the former NYTimes fashion critic writing of her confusion and anger. Successful, independent, teacher, fighter, grit, endurance, warmth; all were among the words used by Cathy Horyn to describe Ms. Scott. It's the same sort of disbelief that accompanies tragic … Continue reading Nightfall