It was Samuel Goldwyn who once said that “a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” He had a point.

Almost everything is done online these days from legal papers to mortgages. Job offers, book deals, major purchases (like cars) are all done online, without people meeting face-to-face. I’m still not willing to make major commitments without a personal meeting, but I’m old-school. Maybe you should be, too.

Computers, or not, get it in writing. Without the handwritten signature of a live human with a name, address, and phone numbers, you ain’t got nothin’.

Credit: CC0 Public Domain from pixabay

Credit: CC0 Public Domain from pixabay

When I was working my first jobs out of college, I would take anything with some connection — no matter how vague — to professional writing or editing.

It was the 1960s. Those days, before home computers and the Internet, getting a job was pretty simple, at least at entry levels.

72-Alien Computer-B_06

You saw a listing in the paper for something you figured you could do. You phoned them (if they gave a number to call) or wrote a letter. On paper. Put it in an envelope with a stamp and dropped in a mailbox. You included a résumé or brought one with you for the interview.

You went to the meeting in person. A day or two later, that person (or his/her secretary) called back to say “Yes, you’re hired,” or “No, thank you.” An entry-level job didn’t require 30 hours of interviewing, or meeting everyone from the company president to the IT crew, and the overnight backup guy.

marilyn office desk computer

There was a job. You were qualified to do it, or not. The person who interviewed you had authority to hire — which was why he or she was conducting interviews. Unlike today where you can be sure the first person you talk to at an interview is someone from HR trying to ascertain you aren’t a serial killer or corporate espionage agent.

Contracts? Those were for important jobs. Getting in the door was easy. Getting an office with a window might never happen.

BW Worcester Tower

The company made me an offer. I took it. I was optimistic back then. Any job might lead to the coveted and elusive “something better.” I was already working, so I gave my current employer two weeks notice.

On the appointed day, I showed up for work.

The guy who had offered me the job was gone. Quit? Fired? No one seemed to know … or no one was talking. Worse, no one had heard of me, or my so-called job.

I had nothing in writing. Without proof, I had a hard time even getting unemployment. I had learned the most important professional lesson of my life:


Whatever it is. If it’s not on a piece of paper, dated, and signed, it’s a verbal contract. Which, in the immortal words of Samuel Goldwyn, is not worth the paper it’s written on.


LANDSCAPE is this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme. Since I’m a landscape photographer, though I also do other kinds of pictures, this leaves me in the awkward position of trying to pick a few favorites out of thousands of favorites.

So I’m going to pick one from each of my favorite photo venues.

From the Arizona desert:


From the mountains of Maine:


From Vermont in autumn:


Along the Blackstone River:


Sunrise and moon-set from my bedroom window:


An urban landscape, Brookline (Boston):


The Blackstone Canal:


And our town by night near Christmas:


I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016


We are not a shopping Mecca. We aren’t an education center, lacking even a community college of our own. We have no public transportation, not even a taxi. But I am thrilled to announce that after a long baked goods drought … Uxbridge has cupcakes!

cupcake girl header

Driving home from our first doctor’s appointment of the day, we were stuck behind one of the many slow drivers who delight in tormenting us … and when I looked to my right, I caught my breath. What to my wondering eyes should appear, but a cupcake bakery!

“Pull over,” I yelled to Garry.

What?” he said.

“Pull over. Here. Now!”

And he did. Puzzled, but figuring there must be an emergency of which he was unaware. I leapt from the car and hustled into the bakery. Glancing at the price list (wow, not cheap … but hey, a great cupcake is worth it), I bravely announced: “I’ll take six.”


Two carrot. Two key lime. Two strawberry shortcake.

I brought them back to the car. “What was that about?” asked Garry.

“Cupcakes, my darling. Beautiful, elegant cupcakes.”

He didn’t understand and I didn’t explain. Until we got home. Then, I showed him the cupcakes.

“Aha,” he said. Selecting a carrot cupcake, he bit into it. “Oh,” he said. And sighed.

I ate one of the key limes. Later, I devoured a strawberry shortcake. This morning, I had the remaining carrot, and Garry ate the second key lime.


One strawberry shortcake remains.

Cupcakes. They aren’t just for elementary school parties anymore.