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February 09, 2011

12 - Teenage Years

...We played on Cleadon Hill alongside South Shields and Whitburn golf courses. When it was windy, as it often was, we played airball not football...

Malcolm Scott continues his account of his sporting life.

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June 30, 2009

A Unique Opportunity To Join

...I’m a pushover for history. Oh yes, that estate must truly have its ha’s-ha’s put to rights, even though the livestock and fences are a distant memory. And certainly, that tower must have its stones clinked. After all, didn’t it survive William the Conqueror? The bones of the chateau’s garden are intact, but the pleached lindens are no more. What a pity. There’s so much to be done...

Dona Gibb's enthusiasm for the preservation of "history'' has prompted her to consider setting up a society tasked with raising funds for a very particular renovation and restoration project.

Do read more of Dona's appealing columns. Click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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June 23, 2009

Playing The Uke At Lincoln Center

…Many of the area’s uke greats took charge of program segments. Yes, there are contemporary uke greats. They mainly have nom de strums like Hilo Greg, Uncle Zac, Makalina and Jelvis, aka the Jewish Elvis

Yes, we did draw a crowd…

Irredeemably enthusiastic Dona Gibbs joined the uke players for a one-day gig on Sunday entitled Make Music New York.

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June 16, 2009


...I’ve never had a grasp of theological debate, and I especially lacked the understanding of nuances of language at age five. I was very literal...

Dona Gibbs says that though she can now quote scripture like any Southerner of her generation, she makes sure not to quote it to the young. "You never know what notions they’ll get.''

To read more of Dona's perceptive and entertaining columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

Continue reading "Huh?" »

May 26, 2009

Hot Dog!

…I hoisted myself up and looked at the menu of all the different kinds of hot dogs I could order. I went with the Leroy Brown Junkyard Dog with special sauce, chili, onions and melted cheese…

Dona Gibbs recalls the hot dogs of her childhood days as she munches her way through a Leroy Brown Junky.

To read more of Dona’s tasty columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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May 19, 2009

Unfinished Business

…I was eight years old and my mother thought cross-stitching an alphabet sampler would be a wonderful summer project. I thought otherwise. I couldn’t wait to finish the letter A and didn’t look forward to the other twenty-five, much less to the blue birds and posies that framed the piece…

Despite this off-putting experience, Dona Gibbs, a master craftsman with words, still desires to create with her hands.

To read more of Dona’s superb columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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February 24, 2009

Throwing A Party

…I admire people who can entertain graciously, seemingly without effort. I am not one of those people. I relish the descriptions of fetes, soirees, intimate dinner parties and little luncheons on the terrace, but no way do I ever expect to be that kind of hostess…

Invitations were e-mailed to 21 guests – but Dona Gibbs slept poorly after they had been sent out.

So was the party a success? Do read on…

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February 17, 2009

The Night Nurse

...“I’m Bill and I’m your night nurse.”

He was burley in his blue scrubs. There was hair on his chest peeking over the V neckline, hair on his arms, hair on his hands. Bring on the antiseptic scrub. Right now...

Fortunately for Open Writing readers, Dona Gibbs's recent stay in hospital left her sense of humour intact.

To read more of Dona's sparkling columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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February 10, 2009

A Visit To Dr Duck

…You can tell a questionable area in South Florida by the usual signs. Razor wire is a tip off. Gang graffiti on walls is another warning. Roll down gates over storefront signals blight as surely as broken windows. However, in South Florida there are other markers. Bus stops posters extolling criminal defense attorneys give me pause. Signs on sidewalk benches advertising bail bondmen also make the think this area is one I shouldn’t linger in…

The intrepid Dona Gibbs found herself in a very dicey area when she went in search of Dr Duck and a tenor guitar.

For more of Dona’s well-strung prose please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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February 03, 2009

The Wrinkling Of Facebook

…Oh, the pictures they post. They portray themselves as sitting in golf carts, steering sailboats and lounging in the back of sport fishing boats. Recreational vehicles are big with this crowd. So are pictures of vacations. The entire family posed with the Great Wall of China seems to be a favorite…

Dona Gibbs points out that an increasing number of older folk now post their details on Facebook.

For more of Dona’s revelatory columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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January 27, 2009

Should I Fire The Cleaning Lady?

…I’ve always figured that cleaning ladies could figure out what was dirty and clean it. I’ve always supplied top-notch tools. There’s a vacuum cleaner that was engineered to suck up dirt more efficiently than a jet engine could swallow an errant goose on the same flight path. And, unlike a jet engine, it can continue without a hiccup….

Ah, but the cleaning lady in the Gibbs household is perhaps…how to put this?...not quite as vigorous with those cloths as she ought to be. But what would happen if she was fired?

Welcome back to the inimitable Dona Gibbs. The light of good humour is once again shining brightly in Open Writing.

Continue reading "Should I Fire The Cleaning Lady?" »

November 11, 2008

I Flaked The Sails Years Ago

…Now it’s starting to drizzle. It’s one of those chilly autumn days that raise the annual question: Should boat owners coil the lines, take down sail and put away their beloved toys until next season? Or will there be one last glorious golden weekend when the Northeast skies are startlingly blue, the winds are fresh and nary a storm forecast?...

Dona Gibbs, an inland creature, would prefer not have a life on the ocean wave.

To read more of Dona’s delicious columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

Continue reading " I Flaked The Sails Years Ago" »

October 28, 2008

New York Ghosts

…I’ve come to a conclusion. Ghosts lack imagination. They seem to manifest themselves in the same way. If they’re friendly little girls, laughter is heard. If they’ve been brutally murdered, they scream. If they’ve been killed in a car crash, they wander along the highway. They like to swing lanterns. They like to stand backlit in windows. They have a fondness for rocking chairs. They love to turn lights on and off….

Dona Gibbs tells of ghostly goings-on in the big bold city of New York.

To read more of Dona’s hauntingly enjoyable columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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October 21, 2008


…Genealogy is an addiction, they say. Books, newspapers, magazines, census records and now even high school yearbooks are being digitized. It’s getting so our ancestors can’t lie around comfortably in their urns or graves. There are a lot of their above ground kin out there, armed with computers rather than shovels who want to dig them up and wrest history from them…

Though Dona Gibbs reveals that snobbish sniffs and angry snorts could be directed towards you when you go to the library to delve into family history.

Continue reading "Digging" »

October 14, 2008

A Festival For The Printed Word

…Theroux can be cranky. When he’s hot, he tells the reader. When he’s disgusted at the vagaries of bureaucracy, he lets us know – all in well-crafted prose. Theroux’s work is not about beautiful sunsets, drops of dew and clouds of butterflies. It’s about people and the unforgiving harsh condition of being human…

Dona Gibbs is transported into the Land of Bliss by America’s most famous travel writer, Paul Theroux.

To read more of Dona’s enchanting columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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October 07, 2008

Let's Meetup

…There are meetups on tarot card reading, yoga, computer programming languages, wine, gourmet dining, scrap booking, cake decorating. You name it and, chances are, somebody’s formed a meetup. Angels, astral projectionists, miracles…

Dona Gibbs explores a way of using the computer to get off the computer.

To read lots more of Dona’s friendly words please click on

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September 30, 2008

Close Encounters Of The Winged Kind

…Late one spring evening, while I was reading away in my dormitory room, I was startled by unearthly shrieks of terror. I though maybe a panty raid was on. Or, rather I hoped.

Instead of an invasion of frat boys whooping for undies, it was Bertha, the big momma of all us girls. A bat was flying from one end of the hall to the next…

The indomitable Dona Gibbs tells of encounters with Dracula look-alikes.

To read more of Dona’s spirited columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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September 23, 2008

Being A Tourist In My Own New York

...Even though I knew better, I’d always pictured Brooklyn filled with grey buildings that squatted under grey skies. I thought of hoods in the ‘hood, drug deals going down -- shooting up drugs and shooting down rival drug dealers.

I thought of buildings left to rot and landlords walking away.

My mind filled with tragedies and clashes had not prepared me for the immaculate neighborhood of Crown Heights...

Dona Gibbs hikes her way into a greater knowledge of the city in which she has lived for forty-two years.

For more of Dona's adventerous columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

Continue reading "Being A Tourist In My Own New York" »

September 16, 2008

Practicing My Way To “Poo at the Zoo”

So you feel the urge to make music? Do you take lessons in how to play the sedate piano? Scrape away with bow on string?

Allow Dona Gibbs to explain her astonishing choice of instrument.

“I don’t want to play the ukulele while dancing the hula. Or even while wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

I want to play songs that will amuse my grandsons, aged almost two and almost four. I just came upon a nifty one that I think will be right up their alley. It’s called “Throwing Poo at the Zoo.” It has a nice moral that we’re not so different than our fellow creatures, or so I think.’’

To read more of Dona’s surprising columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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September 09, 2008

A Personal Phone Book, Almost Obsolete

Carbon paper, steel-nib pens, typewriter ribbons – and now it’s telephone books!

Dona Gibbs, keyboard and computer screen at the ready, muses on office supplies which are marching off into history.

For more of Dona’s well-organised words please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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September 02, 2008

Swinging On The gate

Dona Gibbs was swinging on the gate when down the road came a police car.

"Now that was out of the ordinary, indeed. We lived on a farm surrounded by other farms. Our nearest neighbor was a half-mile away...''

Young Dona suddenly found herself plunged into the sort of drama you only read about in newspapers.

For more of Dona's matchless columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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August 26, 2008

Nostalgia For A Shower

…I passed our old street. No, I didn’t turn in. I couldn’t pass our old house. That would be more than I could manage, especially after this little cruise down memory lane…

Dona Gibbs visits the small town in which she once lived, notes the changes, and realizes that you can’t go home again.

For more of Dona’s entertaining columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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August 19, 2008

Crime Stopping

...It wasn’t that theft and other crimes were unknown; it was that they were rare, and usually the juicy ones happened in another county.

So it was with great disappointment in the goodness of man when my father went out to crank up his tractor and found it wouldn’t start...

Dona Gibbs tells of crime-stopping, Carolina-style.

To read more of Dona's satisfying columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

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August 12, 2008

You’ll Find No Baskets At This Show Of Native American Art

…Dustinn Craig’s video shows us the Apache skateboarders. He writes, “Apache kids with skateboards live dreams so large they will never dare to tell anyone. Yet those dreams get a little smaller each year…” The video is entitled, “Four-wheel Warpony.” …

Dona Gibbs visits an exhibition of contemporary American Indian art which shatters preconceptions.

Continue reading "You’ll Find No Baskets At This Show Of Native American Art" »

August 05, 2008

Growing The Dirty Weed

…My father was a strong believer is what he called “character building experiences.” My character was the one he was fixated on. Therefore, he would teach me to farm. It’s not that he thought I’d become a farmer or a farmer’s wife; it’s that he saw a propensity in me to lie in a darkened room, fanning myself and summoning someone to fetch me a cool drink…

Dona Gibbs tells of her small role in the tobacco business. For more of Dona’s must-read columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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July 28, 2008

The Terrifying Sight Of A Ghost Bike

Ghost bikes are provocative reminders of the perils of motor vehicles and bicyclists sharing crowded city streets, who are forced to share the same crowded streets.

Dona Gibbs reports on a new city phenomenon.

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July 22, 2008

Tell Me About Your Travels, Not Your Vacation

…I don’t want to hear about vacations. And I really don’t want to tell you about mine. I’ve reached a conclusion: vacations are boring. And it takes a skillful storyteller to turn them into something more than the self-indulgent, pleasure-seeking respites that vacations usually are…

However, Dona Gibbs does proceed to tell us something of her recent holiday in France. And right glad we are that she does so, for Dona has a way with words which would make a description of the packing of a suitcase into the best read of the week.

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July 15, 2008

Bargains In New York

…Tourists to New York stand out, no matter where they hail from. Some walk three and four abreast. Whole groups seem to come to a halt all at once, causing little sidewalk collisions….

Because the US dollar is in the doldrums, bargain-hunting Europeans are flocking to the Big Apple, as Dona Gibbs reports.

Is it too much to hope that NY City could take the best leaf of all out of Paris's boo9k?

Continue reading "Bargains In New York" »

July 08, 2008

Falling Into a Bad Place

...Next week, no progress. Nor was there any in the weeks to come.

The workman didn’t answer his phone and as time dragged on, and she continued to call, there was a recorded announcement . Service had been discontinued…

Dona Gibbs tells of workmen who fell into a “bad place’’ where, to the frustration of home owners, hands become incapable of completing their allotted tasks.

For more of Dona’s finely-finished prose please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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June 10, 2008

Playing The Building

...Creative Time and David Byrne of Talking Heads fame have teamed up to turn this 99-year-old Beaux Arts building into a 9,000-square foot musical instrument. Motors are strapped to girders, clackers and clangers are affixed to columns and radiators and air is forced through old pipes.

Visitors are invited to sit down at an old retrofitted pump organ and play...

Wow! Who wouldn't want a go?

The imperturbable Dona Gibbs goes where few musicians have ever trodden (blown? plucked? bowed?) before.

For more of Dona's adventerous columns please click on after work in the menu on this page.

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June 03, 2008

Yikes, I'm Old

Big handbags. A bacon cheeseburger instead of salad with balsamic dressing... Dona Gibbs would have us believe that old age is setting in.

Don't you believe it! Dona's words sizzle with ever-youthful enthusiasm. To read more of them please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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May 27, 2008

Slogging Through The Florida Swamp In 1883 With Captain Pierce

Dona Gibbs tells of a fifth generation Floridian who has turned himself into a living, breathing history lesson on Florida’s early settlers. Marty Baum spins a story that in its short version is 40 minutes long and in its fuller version runs about an hour.

To read more of Dona's journalism please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "Slogging Through The Florida Swamp In 1883 With Captain Pierce" »

May 20, 2008

Hello! Hola!

It seems that plenty of people are offended that linguistic allowances are made for Spanish-speaking migrants to the United Sates.

Dona Gibbs writes compassionately about an issue that serves as a litmus paper detecting tolerance and bigotry.

Continue reading "Hello! Hola!" »

May 13, 2008

Hurray, Another Butterfly House Is To Open

...The lifespan of a butterfly is about fourteen days. In the wild it would be far shorter.

They have to be replenished constantly. Some are imported and can cost as much as $15; others are $2 to $3 a piece. That’s six to nine thousand dollars a week worth of ephemeral beauty, not counting the cost of the care of the thousand butterflies and moths raised on the premises...

Lucky Dona Gibbs delights in a visit to a Florida butterfly house.

For more of Dona's colourful columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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May 06, 2008

The Grandmother I Almost Had

...I’ve always been somewhat of a history buff. No, that’s not quite accurate. Let me put it another way. I’ve always been a sponge for trivia and the trivial. Digging up dead relatives’ stories is right up my alley...

Dona Gibbs digs into her family history and finds a link to the infamous Dalton Gang who robbed banks and trains throughout Kansas and Indian Territory in the 1890s.

To read more of Dona's wonderfully entertaining cvolumns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "The Grandmother I Almost Had" »

April 29, 2008

No Wine Before Its Time

…“I think you’ll find this amusing,” Ever-Enthusiastic Husband commented as he uncorked a bottle of Old Penny Red….

Dona Gibb’s have-a-go husband tried his hand at making wine, hoping to be able to deliver the ultimate put-down to a snob: “I made it in our basement.’’

The results? Ah, you have to sip this story for the answer to that question.

To read more of Dona’s bubbly words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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April 22, 2008

The Long Bloody War

…“People say Florida has no history. They’re wrong. This place has been a site of human habitation for at least 5,000 years,''…

The speaker is Richard Procyk, a retired Miami detective who now writes, and lectures on the long and turbulent history of Florida.

Dona Gibbs introduces us to a man who can make a 5,000-year human drama come alive.

Continue reading "The Long Bloody War" »

April 15, 2008

Look Carefully To Find Spring In South Florida

...On the southern part of Palm Beach Island, many of the mansions are already shut for the summer. With their shuttered windows, they are blind to the beauties of the sea. There seems to be some weird kind of inverse correlation between the size of the house and the time the owner spends in it...

Now is the time for folk to leave Florida, heading northwards to places where the season still happen. And Dona Gibbs will soon be joining the exodus.

Continue reading "Look Carefully To Find Spring In South Florida" »

April 08, 2008

Sound The Trumpets. Lower The Drawbridge.

…Two fresh bars of soap are necessary. Imagine the embarrassment of a stray hair embedded in the guest soap. I recently read that germs really don’t hang around on used soap bars but I’m not taking a chance…

Dona Gibbs gets a little nervous prior to the arrival of a house guest.

Dona's words add brightness to a day - even a Florida day. To sample more of her good-humoured columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "Sound The Trumpets. Lower The Drawbridge." »

April 01, 2008

We Can Use A ~Rainy Day, Now And Again

…Dear readers, those of you who live where the winter months grow tedious with rainy days will have to stretch your imaginations to understand that one sunny day after the next can be boring too. Such is human nature…

A grateful Dona Gibbs brings us this report from soggy (temporarily) Florida.

To read more of Dona’s ever-sunny words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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March 25, 2008

Road Trip: North Or South?

…There’s nothing like being lost if you haven’t yet realized that you are…

Dona Gibbs loses her bearings on Florida highways but finds joy in an unplanned detour.

To read more of Dona’s well-directed words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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March 18, 2008

Vintage Fashion Brings Back Memories

…Over there was a jump suit. Oh, I had one of those. O.K. I have to fess up; I had two of them, one more unflattering than the next. Actually one looked like I was ready to crawl under a car and check out the oil pan…

Fashion-lover Dona Gibbs pops into a Palm Beach re-sale shop and sees clothes which remind her of heydays.

Continue reading "Vintage Fashion Brings Back Memories" »

March 11, 2008

The Wrong Plant, The Wrong Place

…Some invasive plants have sneaked into the US landscape on bales, in cartons and even in the ballast water of old sailing ships. Some have been deliberately introduced as garden ornamentals. If you ignore the consequences, invasive plants usually have a lot going for them...

Yet, as Dona Gibbs points out, invasive plants which ruin the landscape, create fire hazards and rob wildlife of a natural habitat are still being offered for sale by nurseries.

Read more of Dona’s words by clicking on After Work in the menu on this page.

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March 04, 2008

Seeing The Everglades Without Wet Feet

…Conservationists gaze out over the sawgrass prairies of Florida’s Everglades, the pessimists wince; so much has been lost. The optimists smile; so much has been saved…

In this brilliant piece of journalism Dona Gibbs muses upon a visit to Florida’s Everglades, one of the Earth’s unique regions, constantly under threat from those who would exploit its resources.

Continue reading "Seeing The Everglades Without Wet Feet" »

February 26, 2008

Dog Days At The Green Market

The absolute best way to visit the Green Market in West Palm Beach, Florida, is at one end of a leash, says Dona Gibbs.

"To say that the Market is dog friendly is an understatement. It’s dog welcoming. Two vendors sell fresh, home made dog treats and there are two handy doggy watering stations handy.''

To read more of Dona's supremely reader-friendly columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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February 19, 2008

The Perfect Chicken Salad Sandwich

...An old joke goes about a man complaining about his meal, “The food was bad and there was not much of it.”

What I’d say about coffee shop chicken salad sandwiches has slightly different twist: There is too much of it. To my taste, sandwiches shouldn’t be overstuffed...

Dona Gibbs's mission is to find the perfect chicken salad sandwich.

To read more of Dona's mouth-watering columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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February 12, 2008

Longing For A Taste Of Tanzania

...We were armed with cameras, going here and there looking at wildlife that looked back at us. The elephants chewed and flapped their ears. The lions squinted and yawned. The hippos twirled their ears and ducked under the water. The wildebeest wheeled and galumphed away, kicking up red clouds of dust. The giraffes were beguiling – long necks, long legs, long eyelashes and long attention spans, which is why most of our best shots are of giraffes. They pose so well....

Dona Gibbs recalls game watching in Tanzania, and dreams of eating African food in New York.

Continue reading "Longing For A Taste Of Tanzania" »

February 05, 2008

A Pat On The Head

...Women make up more than half of the enrollment at the top journalism schools. Women have gained admission to the business school I was denied entrance to.

Today, women are no strangers to boardrooms, pressrooms, court rooms or locker rooms. And the pay margin between men and women is narrowing. At the speed of a glacier before global warming but narrowing, nonetheless...

Yet there is still head patting, says Dona Gibbs. Neanderthal male bosses still patronise their female colleagues.

Continue reading "A Pat On The Head" »

January 29, 2008

On The Red Carpet In San Francisco

...Once the curtain went up on this gala all eyes were on the stage for an eclectic program that ranged from the romantic to the robust. I’m always amazed by the athleticism of dancers. The leaps and pirouettes are astounding; the abstract pictures that human bodies in motion form are beautiful; the exact placement of feet, arms and torsos done in unison with grace and in perfect tempo amaze me. The only thing that reveals that this is not all pixel animation but real live human being is the soft thump of landing feet....

Dona Gibbs tells of a shimmering gala to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the USA's first ballet company.

Continue reading "On The Red Carpet In San Francisco" »

January 22, 2008

A Writing Routine vs. A Procrastination Scheme

Famous and super-talented authors are often willing to talk about their writing routines.

But Dona Gibbs would really like to know the little painful details of the writing process too. “How many times do the famous look up from the computer and stare into the middle distance? How many times do they pause mid-paragraph and berate themselves for forgetting to pick up lettuce for the night’s salad?’’

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January 19, 2008

Favourite Films

Hazel Dracup tells of the films which have enchanted her down the years.

Continue reading "Favourite Films" »

January 15, 2008

My Little Treasures

…We knew a family whose kids had knocked out a supporting pillar in a basement rec room and had attempted to shove it back in place so their parents wouldn’t know they were rough housing. The parents didn’t notice a thing until the first floor breakfast nook toppled into the basement…

Dona Gibbs, enchanted by the antics of her three-year-old grandson Tucker, recalls some of those experiments and investigations which "little treasures'' undertake.

Continue reading "My Little Treasures" »

January 08, 2008

Whar A Swell Scene

…I joined a dozen or so women in the charity foundation’s board room. Many pairs of be-ringed, manicured hands make light work so much lighter. There were differing opinions of how the task should be set up. These were women used to being in charge…

Dona Gibbs realises she is probably not cut out for the glitzy life when she joins the highly-polished "charity'' ladies in Palm Beach, Florida.

Continue reading "Whar A Swell Scene" »

January 01, 2008

How To Catch A Frog - No Hands

A large turtle is still doing laps in Dona Gibb’s swimming pool. “There’s a pre-sun-up parade of armadillos. A cardinal once hopped in an open door and added unexpected entertainment for a cocktail party. A grey fox and her kits dance in the dusk on the adjoining golf course. Two sand cranes often stop off at the local supermarket parking lot…’’

Be prepared for close encounters of the wildlife kind when you go to Florida. And keep a sharp eye out for those toilet-trained frogs!

Continue reading "How To Catch A Frog - No Hands" »

December 25, 2007

All Part Of The Christmas Package

...And it’s one of those facts of life that much like the saying, “You can’t make a cake without breaking a few eggs”, you can’t decorate a tree without breaking a few ornaments...

Dona Gibbs tells of the stresses and strains of preparing for this BIG DAY.

Let's hope that Dona is now cool, calm and relaxed, that her tree is well-decorated, and her turkey and mince pies are tasty.

Continue reading "All Part Of The Christmas Package" »

December 18, 2007

The Perfect Christmas Tree

...My mother and father rose to the occasion when it came to our Christmas tree. No supermarket trees for them. They even turned their noses up at the Lions Club selection. They weren’t even enticed by the batch of pines, firs and cedars offered up by the Future Farmers of America.

No, no tree would do except one cut from our own woods by my father wielding a freshly sharpened axe...

Muscle power, engineering know-how, skilled carpentry - all required in abundance for the selection and placement of the Christmas tree in Dona Gibbs's family home. No wonder sustaining beakers of hot chocolate were required while THE PROJECT was under way.

Continue reading "The Perfect Christmas Tree" »

December 11, 2007

Where's Mary Poppins When You Need Her?

...Thus came a parade of babysitters for our precious son. Each time I thought I might return to an open door, a missing pram and an empty crib. I always had a fertile imagination...

No missing pram. No empty crib. But Dona Gibbs tells of the worrisome night of the missing goldfish!

To read more of Dona's gloriously entertaining columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "Where's Mary Poppins When You Need Her?" »

December 04, 2007

It's 84 Degrees. Christmas Is Right Around The Corner

It's Christmas time in Florida. Lights are twinkling in the palm trees.

Palm trees?

"Most of our Christmas traditions, such as decorated evergreen trees, yule logs, reindeer, sleighs, snow and other grist for greeting cards, came from Europe,'' says Dona Gibbs. "Come to think about it, palm trees are part of the flora of the Biblical land where the event we’re celebrating took place....''

Continue reading "It's 84 Degrees. Christmas Is Right Around The Corner" »

November 27, 2007

Walking The Walk

...It doesn’t take much to brighten a writer’s day you see. Just a little recognition. And a little more compensation...

Dona Gibbs talks to writers on the picket line in New York on a cold, bone-chilling November day.

US writers are on strike, demanding a fairer cash share for their work in creating motion pictures and TV shows.

"Writers just gotta write,'' says Dona. "How to get fairly paid is the rub.''

Continue reading "Walking The Walk" »

November 20, 2007

One Surprise After Another In NYC

…I’ve lived in, or just outside New York City, for over forty years and practically every week, if not every day, I discover something new…

After such an inviting opening sentence how can you keep yourself from reading on to discover the latest surprises Dona Gibbs has found in the Big Apple?

For more of Dona’s unforeseen words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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November 13, 2007

Ole Times There Are Not Forgotten

...It’s been over a decade since I visited North Carolina and a couple of years since I was in Georgia, yet I was whisked back to the South of my childhood in the space of a few hours.

The soft cadences of their voices, the knowing nods, the little sidelong glances drew me back. Once again I was a little girl tucked into a corner, past my bedtime, hearing the stories, but this time I understood the nuances...

Dona Gibbs pays a return visit to North Carolina. But did novelist Thomas Wolfe, who was also born in that southern state, get it right in a book title - You Can't Go Home Again?

Continue reading "Ole Times There Are Not Forgotten" »

November 06, 2007

A Sterling Occasion

...My mother adhered to some unwritten Southern rule that the only times to bring out the sterling silver was for dinner parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. The rest of the time it was lovingly tucked in burgundy flannel bags except for the years when the price of silver skyrocketed. Then my mother hid the silver in brown paper lunch bags behind the turkey-roasting pan on the top shelf in the pantry...

Dona Gibbs cannot bring herself to accept that sterling silver is for everyday use.

For lots more of Dona's gleaming words please click on After Work in the menu on his page.

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October 30, 2007

Getting Ready For The Goblins

…In New York City we do things in a big way. Halloween is no exception. New York City is the site of one of the largest celebrations in the country. The Village Halloween Parade entertains two million sidewalk spectators and an estimated four million television viewers.

This event has grown from a fairly low-key parent child stroll through the West Village of a couple of decades ago, one that was lovingly described by New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin, to a spectacle with professional polish. There are larger-than-life size puppets, troupes of well-rehearsed dancers and costumes both over-the-top and barely there. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get in touch with your inner drag queen…

Dona Gibbs is ready and waiting for an “invasion’’ of excited young witches, fairies, princesses and pirates tomorrow as the USA happily goes Halloween crazy.

Continue reading "Getting Ready For The Goblins" »

October 23, 2007

What Hit The Ceiling?

...Anything that required buying a carload of equipment to produce something that could purchased simply, easily and for less money was right up my dad’s alley. And beer making provided an extra kick...

Dona Gibbs tells of unnatural disasters on the home front.

For more of Dona's fizz-bang-pop words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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October 16, 2007

Inspiration Found

…There it was, a silver evening sandal in the median near the northbound entrance ramp to Manhattan’s FDR Drive.

The forlorn shoe gave off little glitters in the morning sun. Only one sandal with a story to tell..

And Dona Gibbs tells that story with such style that even if things didn’t work out as she describes, you wish that they had.

For more of Dona’s zestful words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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October 09, 2007

Saturday In The Park

...He smears these delicacies with chili and garlic paste and then fills them with spiced potatoes, onions and fresh carrots, lettuce and chopped red and green peppers. He deftly flips the crisp dosa, slices it and a lifts it into a waiting Styrofoam container along with spicy sambal soup and coconut chutney....

Dona Gibbs serves up the tastiest Open Writing column of the year.

For more of her delicious words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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October 02, 2007

The Perfect Day For A Pickle

…This was International Pickle Day VII, New York City style. Local pickles were the theme. It was learning as well as an eating experience. I learned that you could pickle almost anything. While cucumbers are king, tomatoes, okra, beets, green beans, watermelon rind, peaches, grapes, eggs and even turnips were proudly displayed and were there for the sampling and buying. Pickling has been around since Mesopotamia was a super power so people have had plenty of practice with water, sugar, salt and spices…

But would you expect speed dating while waiting for a pickle?

Dona Gibbs is not the least bit sour-faced on pickle day. For more of Dona’s savory words click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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September 25, 2007

Visit To The Big City - Population 1,600

…Roads are rare in Greenland. This island, which encompasses over 836,000 square miles, has only 90 miles of roads, 40 miles of which are paved. Sheet ice covers about 677,000 miles of Greenland and steep mountain ridges make any thought of a road system impossibility..

Dona Gibbs spins out some entertaining thoughts while trying to wrap her mind around the island within the Arctic Circle.

For more of Dona’s dazzling columns please click on After Work in the menu on his page.

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September 18, 2007

Above The Arctic Circle

…It was in the grocery store that I saw a picture perfect moment: an Inuit girl dressed in pink parka, pink pants and wearing pink sneakers. She was taking dainty little bites of a chocolate covered ice cream bar –the kind I grew up calling “Eskimo Pie.”

I could have whipped out my camera but it would have been intrusive to interrupt her pure enjoyment….

Dona Gibbs brings a colourful account of life in the frozen North.

To read two preceding accounts of Dona’s voyage into Arctic waters please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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September 11, 2007

A Late Summer's Day In Iceberg City

…On we went at the engine’s slowest speed. Around one turn, there were ohhs. Around the next, there were ahhs.

While many these icebergs were the size of New York City blocks, the vastness of the sky and the landscape diminished the dimensions.

Then we saw it. It was a perfect ice arch, a bridge between two enormous parts of an iceberg…

Dona Gibbs sees wonders in the North.

For more of Dona’s wondrous words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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September 04, 2007

No Bears Today

…Slowly, slowly we are inching our way on the Professor Molchanov, an old Russian research ship, headed toward the east coast of Greenland. We left Longyearbyten, a coal-mining town of some 1,700 hardy souls on the high Arctic Island of Svalbard, Norway three days ago…

Dona Gibbs takes herself and her irrepressible sense of humour on an expiditon to Arctic waters.

Dona is still “up there’’, dodging the icebergs, but has promised at least two more articles about her chilly adventures.

Continue reading "No Bears Today" »

August 28, 2007

Steal My Watch. Don't Steal My Time.

Dona Gibbs is the victim of a crime in Provence – and the loss of a watch brings thoughts of real treasures.

For more of Dona’s valuable words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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August 21, 2007

Good Old-Fashioned Fun

…The lake is about as far away from what you’d imagine the Riviera to be in high season. There are no swarthy men with gold chains and no parboiled tourists with fanny packs. I didn’t see a single Lucite sandal or oversized sun hat.

I did see a black lab chasing a ball, a man standing thigh deep in the shadows casting for fish, a lone man expertly rowing a single scull and lots of families and groups of teenagers paddling and swimming around. Everyone was enjoying a glorious day…

Dona Gibbs has exquiste fun in the real France.

For more of Dona’s sunny, shimmering words please click on After Work in the menu on his page.

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August 14, 2007

Urban Tales Told On A Summer Night

Dona Gibbs’s account of a New York story group will make you long to stand up and tell your own tale.

For more of Dona’s joyous columns please click on After Work in the menu on his page.

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August 07, 2007

Looking For The Hipsters

…I had a little city walk card in my hand, ready for an urban adventure. I stopped at all the “hip” places. The bookstore featured lots of graphic design magazines. The Tibetan boutique was a flurry of silk scarves. A tiny boutique displayed a froth of summer things. A jewelry store celebrated tiny, tiny pieces in gold…

Dona Gibbs goes in search of Hipsterville, NY, only to realize that it is probably to be found right back where she started from.

For more of Dona’s cool words click on After Work in our menu.

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July 31, 2007

Group Dynamics

Dona Gibbs muses on group behaviour after attending a conference in Seoul sponsored the the leading on-line citizen newspaper OhMyNews International.

For more of Dona’s columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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July 24, 2007

The Famous Are Among Us

…Way back, I did lose what little I have that passes for cool when I saw Truman Capote pacing up and down the sidewalk in front of the restaurant where ladies who lunched pushed poached salmon and baby lettuce around their plates…

New Yorkers, says Dona Gibbs, aren’t supposed to intrude on famous people. “Truth is, I rarely see anybody that I recognize from supermarket magazines or the tabloids. I know they’re out there…’’

For more of Dona’s superlative columns please click on After Work in the menu on his page.

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July 17, 2007

Summer Of Love Revisited

…The Summer of Love wasn’t bound by San Francisco’s city limits. The music, the colorful clothes, even more colorful characters, and the pervasive herbal aroma of pot were as close as New York’s Central Park. The scene wasn’t so much of a “happening”-- it just happened – a spontaneous combustion of sunshine, youth and music. Frolics around Bethesda Fountain. Blankets on Sheep’s Meadow. Wrap a bandanna around your fulsome head of hair. Take off your shirt. And be. Sweet times to be a hippie…

Dona Gibbs looks back 40 years to the Summer of Love, seeing sobering similarities between then and now.

Continue reading "Summer Of Love Revisited" »

July 10, 2007

Return To The Island

...But we’re back. Ever-Enthusiastic Husband and I. We’re in a tiny rental cottage near the island’s one hardware store. It’s fine if you need to pick up half a pound of roofing nails.

It’s a small island, only twelve miles long and about a mile and a half wide. It often wears a grey cloak of fog but when the sun blasts through, the water sparkles and the grass is almost phosphorescent...

Dona Gibbs has loved the island for years and years... But can such a love last for a lifetime?

For more of Dona's glorious words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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July 03, 2007

Hats On For The Garden Club Meeting

In the United States hat wearing isn’t much done these days, says Dona Gibbs.

But Dona needed a new hat to wear at the Little Garden Club of Rye Annual Meeting. Traditions must be maintained. Off she went to a very special shop in New York City. The result: a broad-brimmed sunshine-yellow panama, trimmed with an over-blown yellow silk rose and a pale green band.

And an added bonus: a delectably readable column for Open Writing.

Continue reading "Hats On For The Garden Club Meeting" »

June 26, 2007

Stuff And Junk

…I also wondered about other families’ hoarding habits. I passed a space crammed with old toys and firewood. Here was another with coils of cable and electrical piping. Old window frames cozied up to bags of old clothes. Almost everybody seemed to be storing a baby’s highchair. There were skis that probably hadn’t touched the snow in decades. Here a half-deflated basketball…

Dona Gibbs reveals what came into view when the residents of a New York apartment building were asked to move their stored stuff from the basement.

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June 19, 2007

Feet To The Fire

If ever you are in the unfortunate position of having to fire someone, be preapred to suffer.

“The misery reaches inside you, grabs most of your vital organs and then stomps on them, leaving you hyperventilating and heaving in disgust,’’ says Dona Gibbs.

To read more of Dona's real-life columns please click on Afet Work in the menu on this page.

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June 12, 2007

Words Unsuitable For The Prim

Try dropping a two-liter bottle of cola on the many tiny bones of your foot and then dig into your brain for a fit interjection.

Dona Gibbs muses on the uses and abuses of cuss words.

For more of Dona’s delectable expletive-free columns please click on After Work in the menu on his page.

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June 05, 2007

The Big Book Ballyhoo

…Books, books, books. Aisles of them. As a reader, it’s easy to forget that book publishing is an intense, serious business. This year’s big draw was Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman. Not exactly whom you’d expect, but certainly indicative of the current economic interests of publishers and booksellers. And he himself had his own book to push.

Me, I wandered around with my tongue hanging out, flipping through books I could buy only if I were willing to commit to a dozen or so. I eagerly accepted catalogues of the fall lineup, first chapters, bookmarks, posters and shopping bags…

Dona Gibbs enters book heaven at BookExpo America.

For more of Dona’s joyous words please click on After Work in the menu on his page.

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May 30, 2007

A One-Dog Night

…Then came a frantic scratching at the back door followed by a piteous whimper.

I dashed to the door and cautiously opened it.

A whir of brown rushed in propelled by four scurrying paws. It was a dog. A medium-sized spaniel with tongue lolling and ears flopping….

While fireworks go fizz, pop and bang on a summer beach, Dona Gibbs welcomes in a surprise visitor.

For more of Dona’s wonderful all-season words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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May 29, 2007

The Write Stuff

Dona Gibbs recently read two grammar books that had her giggling, snickering, guffawing and generally having a frolicking great time.

The first rule of good writing is: Don’t bore the reader. Fortunately for the many readers of Open Writing, Dona has not learned how to do that.

For more of her engaging columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page..

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May 22, 2007

As Seen On TV

…P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

So there must be many, many, but no one I’ve met will admit to being one.

Well, I’m one.

I’m a pushover for cooking gadgets. And miracle cleaning products…

Dona Gibbs spent most of her life working in advertising. So she’s not going to fall victim to a clever advertising come-on, is she? Do read on…

For more of Dona’s deliciously entertaining and confessional words click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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May 15, 2007

Coming Clean About Cleaning The Fridge

…A couple of teaspoons of mustard can be tossed. A half-empty jar of mayo can join it in the garbage. A brownish head of lettuce doesn’t even merit a pang of guilt. But what do you do with two frozen pork loin roasts and half a beef tenderloin? You can’t throw them away in good conscience…

The “snowbirds’’ who have wintered in Florida are packing up and heading north. But what to do with a fridge full of food? Dona Gibbs highlights a tasty problem.

To savour more of Dona’s delicious words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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May 08, 2007

House For Sale

“If there are readers out there who’ve never put a house up for sale, you’ve missed out on a lot of self-examination, some of it painful,’’ says Dona Gibbs.

She and her husband face a time of trauma. They are selling their sand pink Florida home on the fringes of town and moving into Palm Beach.

To read more of Dona’s delicious columns which are filled to the brim with a zest for life please click on After Work in the menu on this page..

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May 01, 2007

The Little Boy And The Baby Penguin

…I got a call from Melissa (name changed.) She almost never calls me and she said that her sister-in-law had taken their four-year-old to the aquarium. Somehow he ran around the corner and she lost him. Just couldn’t find him.

“She told the guards and they locked the place down. No one could get in or out. She was panicked.”

Everyone at the table had put down knives and forks. We were all waiting for the outcome, which ,we desperately hoped, was a happy one of boy and mom reuniting with hugs all around…

Donna Gibbs tells a delightful tale. But is it true? Oh is it true…?

Continue reading "The Little Boy And The Baby Penguin" »

April 24, 2007

Looking For The Past

Drive out past Florida’s condos and the super-size oceanfront mansions. Past the beaches. Past the water parks. Past the strip malls’ neon. The pawnshops. The tattoo parlors. The franchise fast food restaurants. You’ll have to go beyond the gated communities where one entrance has more fountains, more waterfalls and just plain more than the next…

Then you’re in cattle country.

Dona Gibbs tells us what goes on in the heartland of the Sunshine State.

For more of Dona’s sunny columns please visit After Work in the menu on this page.

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April 17, 2007


…Wearing a bib and eating with your hands is a quick way to break down any formality of dining no matter how starchy the white tablecloths are and how gleaming the crystal…

A Lobster Night at the club brings back many memories for Dona Gibbs, and also makes her consider the merits of…would you believe butter and lemon?

For lots more of Dona’s richly satisfying words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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April 10, 2007

Lunch With Jeremy

…We were a group of women, passionate about gardens and exotic travel. These were interests not so enthusiastically shared by our husbands, so we were being safely chaperoned by an affable scholarly type.

Our transport for this trip was a lumbering air-conditioned bus piloted by an indefatigable driver who had quite possibly seen it all. He just managed to avoid plowing into ox carts, bicycles, sputtering cars and small children by fractions of an inch…

Following a nerve-twanging bus journey up a mountain in Kerala, India, Dona Gibbs met and chatted to Jeremy, a character even more spectacular and memorable than the scenery amid which he lived.

Here are royally satisfying words about an amazing man.

Continue reading "Lunch With Jeremy" »

April 03, 2007

Crazy For Orchids

…Here in South Florida it’s easy to catch what the Victorians called orchidelerium, a madness - an obsession - with orchids. Orchids especially Phalaenopsis, Palm Beach matrons’ favorite house plants; Dendrobiams that often resemble a whirl of dancing butterflies and Cattleyas, the long ago corsage favorite are increasingly common….

Dona Gibbs confesses to a demanding floral obsession.

For lots more of Dona’s gloriously colourful words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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March 27, 2007

Locked Out

…All it took was one little slip as I was checking off items on a mental to-do list. I was at the item labeled “Pick up mail”. Whoosh, the wind caught the door. Click, the door locked…

After Dona Gibbs locked herself out of her house an unanticipated Open Writing column tumbled into her lap.

For more of Dona’s polished words please click on After Work in the menu on this page..

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March 20, 2007

Life In The Wild West - Continued

…Light is creeping into the sky. I peer into the thick shrubbery, waiting for rustling branches. The quick, nervous herky-jerky movements of foliage.

Those are the advance signs that one of my favorite denizens of South Florida is about to appear. No, not the Florida panther. Those are rarely seen these days…

After reading such a classy intro to a column you’ve simply got to know what Dona Gibbs saw emerging from those bushes.

For more of Dona’s enticing words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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March 13, 2007

Life In The Wild West

…One afternoon I came home to find a turtle the size of an old-fashioned washtub doing laps in the swimming pool.

Well, I thought, it found its way in and it can find its way out…

Dona Gibbs tells of the day a turtle came a-calling at her Florida home.

For lots more of Dona’s breezy columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page..

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March 06, 2007

Is That You, Jack?

…This visual technological advance reveals acting’s subtle nuances, but it also brings faces so up close and personal that we could count nose hairs if we chose..

Dona Gibbs takes a close look at the aging stars as they assemble on Academy Awards night.

For more of Dona’s ever-youthful words please click on After Work in the menu on this page..

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February 27, 2007

The Delicious Edge

…Many of these hard-working, earnest people come from even further south, Mexico, San Salvador, Guatemala and other places that have sun, sand, and palm trees, but limited prospects.

Their presence, once you leave the paved roads, gives South Florida a distinct, other country aspect. Rain leaves ruts in the roads. Poverty leaves rusted-out pickups on cement blocks in the yards. Look closely and you’ll see the skinny dogs and heart-breaking wide-eyed children. The dogs yapping, the kids giggling.

But poverty can’t crush pride, not all of it. Which is why you’ll see Central American men in ones or twos, strolling up the main roads toward bright lights on Saturday. They’re in freshly washed and starched jeans; so starched that kneeling probably wouldn’t be an option. Their shirts have the rakish arrow piping at the pockets and pearl snaps. The hats, oh the hats, gleam. The crease is just so. The width of the brim flatters the faces…

In this generous, welcoming – and most welcomed – column, Dona Gibbs tells of the migrants from south of the border who help to keep a clean smile on the face of Florida's rich quarter.

Continue reading "The Delicious Edge" »

February 20, 2007

Pot Luck

…I left the South long ago for the Big Pot Luck of Life. But I didn’t leave my love of Southern cooking behind…

Dona Gibbs tells of delicious delights. Of baked ham, sweet potato casserole, barbecued baked beans, green beans with ham hocks – and Chocolate Pudding Cake. But there’s a risk of food poisoning along this tasty highway.

To read more of Dona’s satisfying words please click on After Work in the menu on his page.

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February 13, 2007

The Permanent Record

…“The scores will go on your permanent record,” the fourth grade teacher said ominously as she peered over her half glasses. Her grey hair, usually curly, seemed even more ready to spring from her head as she passed out the pulp paper booklets. The fourth grade standardized test.

Permanent record. These were fear-inducing words to nine and recent ten-year-olds…

Dona Gibbs has been dogged through life by the fear of this or that going on her permanent record. And now there’s the Internet which makes her permanent record, which contains intriguing information, available for the whole world to see.

Continue reading "The Permanent Record" »

February 06, 2007

A Winter Saga

... It was estimated that 90 million people saw the Colts triumph over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. And I think there’s some deep and primal urge that drives us to gather and watch. Not unlike folks gathering in the cave, gorging the bounty of the hunt and telling heroic, lengthy tales…

Dona Gibbs brings us her own special take on America’s greatest annual sporting occasion.

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January 30, 2007

Getting The Works At The Spa

…Should it be lavender? Nope, I’ve got a whole bunch of household cleaning products scented with lavender. It would remind me of what I’ve left undone back home. Should it be cypress? Too masculine. Should it be rosemary? No, I’d prepared lamb just two nights ago and the kitchen still smelled like the rosemary branches I stuck in with it.

I finally went with a combination of geranium and rose, which is now why I smell like the bottom of an old lady’s handbag…

Dona Gibbs, luxuriously funny words matching the champagne cosseting which she received, tells of a birthday gift that took her to a Manhattan day spa.

For more of Dona’s invigorating columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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January 23, 2007

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

…Once, way way back, when my soon-to-be husband and I had formed ourselves into a cozy couple, we looked upon the world with a blurred around the edges vision. It was the myopic vision of the newly in love. And we decided all our friends should experience this most blissful state of affairs….

But one matchmaking success does not a business make, as Dona Gibbs ruefully reveals.

For many more of Dona’s exuberant words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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January 16, 2007

Lift A Glass To The Bar Car

…A noisy crowd gathered in the bar cars, shifting their weight, taking the slight turns in the track with a beer in hand, laughing about the day’s bond trades, the ad sales, the upward turn (or downward turn) in the market - with a beer in hand. Or a vodka and tonic. A gin and tonic. Nothing too complex. Like a Sea Breeze. Or Harvey Wallbanger…

Dona Gibbs is disturbed by the news that New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority may ban bar cars on the its commuter rail lines.

Here’s some good advice. Pour yourself a gin and tonic (or anything else that takes your fancy), read Lift A Glass To The Bar Car, then click on After Work in the menu on this page and continue “sipping’’ Dona’s refreshing words.

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January 09, 2007

A Hippy New Year

“Who was this woman? A woman alone on New Year’s Eve? Why wasn’t she home with a cat on her lap, a cup of tea on the table and reading Emily Dickinson?”

While her husband was in hospital, getting a new hip, Dona Gibbs raised eyebrows and temporarily halted the movement of knives, forks and spoons in an Italian restaurant in New York as the final hours of 2006 ticked away.

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January 02, 2007

Never Sporty But A Sport

Dona Gibbs recalls facing up to one of the toughest questions a son could ask his mom. “Why can’t you throw like Mrs. Williams?“

If you are a person of the non-sporting kind, read, chuckle, sympathize – and appreciate the gift of a new hate figure.

For more of Dona’s diamond-sharp prose please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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December 26, 2006

The Truth Magnified

Dona Gibbs thinks that magnification mirrors should be outlawed. “They’re scary.. You get the effect of Dorian Grey in reverse. You see all kinds of weird stuff going on. Wrinkles and botches. Creepiness.

You suddenly understand the truth of that embroidered pillow. You know the one that reads, 'Mirror, mirror on the wall. I am my mother after all.' The horror of it all.’’

For more of Dona’s sparkling words which reflect an ever-youthful mind please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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December 19, 2006

A License To Express Yourself

…If I chose to turn in my standard issue plates which feature Florida oranges, I could proclaim my love for manatees. Or bigmouth bass. There are about 60,000 Floridians driving around with those plates. And that’s in comparison with 20,000 drivers sporting golf-themed plates…

Dona Gibbs highlights the astonishing variety and individuality of vehicle license plates in the USA. But there is one plate which would raise many a million eyebrows, and prompt an abudance of chuckles, if it was displayed in Britain.

For lots more of Dona’s gloriously individualistic words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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December 12, 2006

The Question

So there you are at another party, chatting to someone you are meeting for the first time, and out comes the inevitable question: What do you do?

Should you answer in detail? Career outline? Future plans?

If you want to be really popular you will follow Dona Gibbs's wise advice and ask a simple question by way of reply.

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December 05, 2006

Don't Let The Bed Bugs Bite

Would you believe it! The thought of bedbugs gets this guy dreaming of dollars by the million...

Dona Gibbs is tickled by an urge to write a Mamet-style drama after overhearing a conversation in the local diner.

For more of Dona's columns, which are guaranteed to satisfy an urgent itch for good reading, please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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November 28, 2006

A Whole Lot Of Learning Goin' On

"Tucker, nearing his second birthday, is quite the linguist. I’m his grandmother so I know first hand just how superior his skills are. So there...''

Dona Gibbs, on holiday in London, recently attended Le Petit Club Pierrot, a French language club for UK children ages 8 months to 9 years. "For me, the most impressive thing was that everyone seemed to be having fun,'' she says.

To unearth a treasure trove of Dona's columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "A Whole Lot Of Learning Goin' On" »

November 21, 2006

It's The Thought That Counts. I Hope.

...I am bad at wrapping. Really bad. It begins with the cutting of the paper, which always starts out straight but wavers off course about eight inches or so in. Then there’s the tape, which somehow always breaks off on its little spindle and sticks to itself. This year, I got fancy and bought a gift tape dispenser. I should have looked on the back of the pack. There were three or four steps involved to load it. If a tape dispenser isn’t intuitive, I shouldn’t be handling the thing...

As Dona Gibbs wraps the last of the Christmas presents she ruefully reflects on the art of making presents - and other things - presentable.

"My father bribed me to wrap his presents for my mother,'' Dona recalls "He was a desperate, desperate man. Once he even resorted to having my mother wrap her own gifts. Kind of took the surprise away.''

For more of Dona's delicious columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "It's The Thought That Counts. I Hope." »

November 14, 2006

Hamburger Heaven, Palm Beach

...Everybody gets a Hamburger Heaven craving now and again. I spotted a thin man with any equally scrawny ponytail sitting at the counter beside a Palm Beach matron with a face no longer capable of registering subtle emotion. Both were enjoying their burgers. He was wearing a tee shirt that read, “I’m violating my parole.” She was wearing Chanel. I doubt that they knew each other...

Dona Gibbs enjoys eating and people watching at Hamburger Heaven in classy Palm Beach, Fla. Their burgers are delicious, their shakes whipped and served in the old fashioned way, their clientele a fascinating all-sorts mix...

And Dona has the tasty words to describe both food and folk.

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November 07, 2006

Is Golf Fun?

An article in Wikipedia describes errant golf shots. There are more than forty lines of colorful terms which include duck hooks, worm burners, banana balls, chili dips and the ever-feared yips.

“I know and can execute these shots well,’’ declares Dona Gibbs in a column which is hilarious enough to make a wooden tiger laugh.. “That’s my kind of golf.’’

For more of Dona’s sparkling words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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October 31, 2006

New York Is For The Dogs

…New York is a dog’s kind of town. Right out my window is a park that boasts of having one of the ten best dog runs in the nation. I honestly don’t know how the list was formulated. I can imagine people with dogs in cars crisscrossing the country asking locals, “Any good dog runs around here?”…

When a catalog devoted to dogs dropped out of the Sunday New York Times Dona Gibbs was launched into contemplation of canine comforts.

For more of Dona’s delicious columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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October 24, 2006

The Red Hat Society And Me

“I bought a purple faux suede pantsuit and jaunty red hat for the daytime events, a purple tiered flapper number for the evening and a purple not-revealing nightgown for the pajamas breakfast…’’

Dona Gibbs plunged enthusiastically into the Red Hat Society, but when she found herself gazing through a window at not-in-operation candy making machinery she realized it was time to permanently doff the purple and red.

For more of Dona’s delicious columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "The Red Hat Society And Me" »

October 17, 2006

A Ramadan Encounter

As Dona Gibbs heads downtown for a haircut she chats to a New York cab driver who has every reason to be thinking longingly about food.

For more of Dona's engaging columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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October 10, 2006

What I Miss About Work

…Advertising agencies don’t attract the most stable people in the world. The business is fast on its feet, somewhat shallow and glib. There is often a strong smell of snake oil. It swallows its young whole and puts elders out on ice floes….

Dona Gibbs pulls back the curtain to reveal the workings of the folk who make the ads which make us buy. For good measure she tells the tasty – er, no – the messy – come on, let’s get this right – the tastily messy tale of what happened to a huge cheesecake.

After reading Dona’s revelations you will inevitably want to sample more of her words. You are welcomed to do so. Please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "What I Miss About Work" »

October 03, 2006

Saturday Night At The Bathtub Gin Ball

…Was the burlesque show naughty? Only a little. The performers stripped down to what would these day be modest beach attire but they bumped and twirled away with over-the-top come hither looks and giggles….

The bumps and twirls were, amazingly, in honour of one of America’s finest writers, the acerbic Dorothy Parker, who died in 1967. The Pinchbottom Burlesque was the highlight of the annual Dorothy Parker Bathtub Gin Ball sponsored by the Dorothy Parker Society, of which Dona Gibbs is a member.

To read more of Dona’s sparkling columns click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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September 26, 2006

Samuel Beckett's Demented Typewriter

Happy Days? Could dramatist Samuel Beckett have written such a piece? Or was it produced without human intervention by a berserk typewriter? Dona Gibbs is driven to desperate musings during a Food for Thought production in New York City.

Continue reading "Samuel Beckett's Demented Typewriter" »

September 19, 2006

Corporate Bands Rock, Really

...Corporate bands are big now. Seems that inside many of those striped suits beat rock and roll hearts. The Wall Street Journal reported on this phenomenon recently in an article “ CEOs That Rock”. Seems there are rock bands of lawyers, buyout big dogs, and real estate executives sprouting up all over...

Dona Gibbs rocks with the Rolling Bones, a Rolling Stones tribute band made up of Wall Streeters and the like.

Continue reading "Corporate Bands Rock, Really" »

September 12, 2006

The Automat Is Back

…Tiny delicious hamburgers doused in teriyaki sauce, fabulous roast pork buns, melted cheese sandwiches oozing goodness, hot dogs, Japanese doughnuts, mac and cheese croquets (a Dutch addition), pizza dumplings…

Dona Gibbs hails the return of a New York institution – the automat. And what a tasty help-yourself menu!

Continue reading "The Automat Is Back" »

September 05, 2006

I'll Read Anything

When a compulsive reader of labels on bottles and packets visits the supermarket he/she can find themselves imaginatively whisked away to distant Zanzibar, as Dona Gibbs reveals in this sparkling column.

To read more of Dona's delectable words click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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August 29, 2006

There's Nothing Like Good Barbecue

…Barbecue is slow cooking and smoking meat in a pit or over some outlandish contraption cobbled together in some ‘cue fanatic’s garage from big oil cans by a buddy who knows a little bit about welding. The fuel of choice is wood. Apple, hickory or mesquite-- each has its fans…

Dona Gibbs brings you the delicious open-air smell of hickory smoke and slow-cooking meat in the tastiest column you are likely to read this side of any dinner time.

For more of Dona's flavoursome words click on After Work in the menu on this page.

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August 22, 2006

Houseguests In The Villa

…The villa is extraordinary. Some twelve kilometers away we see the Mediterranean another five or so kilometers away is an azure blue lake. The scent of lavender is in the air along with sage and rosemary. We are awakened by the bleating of goats down the hill. Church bells though out the valley peal the hours…

Friends came to stay with Dona Gibbs and her husband in the paradise that is the south of France. Then the mosquitoes came a-bombing…

For more of Dona's delicious articles click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "Houseguests In The Villa" »

August 15, 2006

The Buzz In Corsica

…Since my French is far from fluent, I think I asked her where the mayor could get his horse struck or alternately where my mother could get her goat cheese cut. Anyway puzzled amusement ensued…

Finding out where one can get a haircut in Corsica can present problems, as Dona Gibbs reveals in this hilarious column.

Continue reading "The Buzz In Corsica" »

August 01, 2006

On The Road With The Optimist

"It’s wonderful being married to a resilient, optimistic man. Even one who sings happily off-key at 7 a.m.'' says Dona Gibbs, as she and her husband go sight-seeing in Istanbul and the remoter parts of Turkey.

...St. Sophia, check.
The Blue Mosque, check.
Smoozing with the slick rug merchants, check.
Lunching in a hilltop restaurant, check.
Seeing the moonrise over the Bosporus, check.
Noting families enjoying nighttime picnics, check...

Continue reading "On The Road With The Optimist" »

July 25, 2006

Somewhere On The Croatian Coast There Must Be A Party

… The 20 -somethings tolerated our tagging along to this waterfront lounge. Besides a bartender tilting eight glasses on his forearm and sloshing meager shots of rum in each glass, I’ve seen more excitement at a church youth night. Tight little groups were clumped here and there. The music pounded away. And no one danced. Just like youth group. Not an A-lister was in sight. Not one that we recognized anyway. At least, youth group had Clyde Sorrell who sported a perfect Elvis pompadour….

Dona Gibbs and her husband, holidaying with friends on the Croatian Coast, sample the night life at Carpe Diem, Hvar’s new chic nightspot.

Dona found lots to enjoy in Croatia, though the nightlife was tame compared to her twenty-something party-going, when furniture was pushed back against the walls of a Manhattan apartment and the volume was turned up on the latest Stones’ album.

Continue reading "Somewhere On The Croatian Coast There Must Be A Party" »

July 18, 2006

French Class

…Walking into the classroom and sliding into one of the desks with the impossibly tiny writing space brought back all kinds of memories, some delightful ones of the six-year-old me, some not so happy, such as the awkwardness of the bespectacled bookish girl who was my fourteen-year-old self…

Dona Gibbs signs up for a 10-day French course and discovers that learning can be huge fun, and New Yorkers really are prepared to talk to one another - in a foreign language.

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July 11, 2006

The Wrong Seat

…And then you discover that had you taken that vacant seat you would have had the opportunity to talk to the most interesting person in the room.

Dona Gibbs tells a choice story.

For further delight read more of Dona’s words by clicking on After Work in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "The Wrong Seat" »

July 04, 2006

The Book Expert And His Dog Killer

…At that moment a mildew-y, sour stench stole into the room. The smell was doggy and then some, and around the shelves came an 80-pound string mop. It was canine to be sure but it looked like a sheepskin rug that an unfortunate homeless guy had dragged out of the trash, through the streets and under a bridge…

The very last thing you would expect to find in a second-hand book store is a Komondor dog called Killer.

Dona Gibbs tells a tale of new New York.

Continue reading "The Book Expert And His Dog Killer" »

June 27, 2006

The Rabbi And The Latin King

‘’’ Now in Manhattan you don’t find a lot of glatt kosher restaurants, not even in the old neighborhood of the Lower East side. The best ones have all disappeared: the ones with the Romanian steak, the stuffed derma, the pitchers of chicken fat, but now that I think about it the customers for that kind of food probably died-- from coronary disease…

On the day the rabbi meets the Latin King there are muttered words concerning a huge fish.

Dona Gibbs’s flavourful short story is one of the tastiest you will encounter this month – or year.

Continue reading "The Rabbi And The Latin King" »

June 20, 2006

Tough Boss

Dona Gibbs introduces us to the rough, gruff world of advertising - and a very tough boss who fired people over lunch.

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June 13, 2006

The Day The Walls Talked

“Hey,” said Votek, the electronic whiz who was installing cables and wires to turn a back bedroom into a TV room. “What’s this?” He reached in the sizeable hole and pulled out a handful of yellowed newspaper.

“This’’ was part of the February 7, 1936, edition of the New York American, and Dona Gibbs went time-travelling as she perused the 70-year-old newsprint.

Continue reading "The Day The Walls Talked" »

June 06, 2006

The Horse Whisperer Of Loxahatchee

“…And so I came to meet the Horse Whisperer of Loxahatchee. The Horse Whisper is a slender woman who appears to be in her seventies. She wears her white hair in a single braid down her back and favors old Disney World tee shirts, well-worn jeans and aged boots...''

Dona Gibbs paints a graphic literary portrait of a lady who loves horses.

Continue reading "The Horse Whisperer Of Loxahatchee" »

May 23, 2006

A Whiff Of The Past

…That was my first encounter with Mr. Shelley of Shelley-Marks. I never really knew if his last name was Shelley or if it were his first. His perfumery was one of those small treasures of Manhattan, one when you discovered it felt special, very special, as if it had just sprung up for your delight and yours alone…

Writing with appropriate grace and style, Dona Gibbs tells of a tiny jewel box of a perfume shop tucked just off the lobby of an office block midst New York’s towers.

Continue reading "A Whiff Of The Past" »


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