The first "meal" I learned to cook was cinnamon toast. It was the late 1960s and I was five or six years old. I loved to watch a PBS program called "Zoom". I wasn't much of a "Sesame Street" kid, I liked "Electric Company", but I grooved with "Zoom". I don't recall much about the show except I enjoyed the how-to demonstrations. I would become mesmerized, intent on whatever was being taught--how-to fold clothes, how-to make your bed, how-to brush your dog... Of course, I'm making all of these how-tos up now because I have scant memory of "Zoom" other than I liked it and learned how to make cinnamon toast while watching it. 

I used to pretend I was on the show. I started each "episode" singing the theme song. "C'mon and zooma-zooma-zooma-zoom, we know you want to give it a try, yadda-yadda-yadda-that's why...". Okay, I don't recall the words, but the melody is clear in my head. I think.

Perhaps "Zoom" was the start of my fantasy life. Not that kind of fantasy, but the one where I make a difference in people's lives. As I would do things around the house I would pretend to be on "Zoom". I would look at an imaginary camera and instruct pretend viewers on how-to tie shoelaces with a double bow (I hadn't mastered the single bow yet), how-to (poorly) do a cartwheel, how-to jump a curb on your bike (I was good at that one). Recreating my cherished episode on how to make cinnamon toast was-in my mind-the fan favorite. I would take out two slices of bread from the refrigerator, put them in the toaster, get out the butter... Well, you know the rest. 

To this day I keep cinnamon and sugar in my cabinet. Two-parts sugar, one-part cinnamon, mix until it's tawny in color. Perhaps that is where I got my middle name. I rarely use the cinnamon and sugar except around the Jewish holidays when I sprinkle it on matzoh brie or potato pancakes. I cannot think of the last time I had cinnamon toast but I always have the ingredients (bread, butter, cinnamon and sugar) in case of emergency.

Now, amid stay-at-home orders and social distancing, there is a new Zoom that has become a comfort. It's not a gastronomical one but an emotional one all the same. A short-term panacea to our lock down. The converse of social distancing. Call it social joining or social gathering. I've joined my sister and nephew in Maine at their Sunday family dinners, now happening via Zoom. My other nephews in New Zealand and North Carolina were there, along with my brother and sister-in-law. Mom Zooms. We're having a weekly cousins Zoom get-together. My writing group meets via Zoom too.

When I started writing this blog I was tempted to go on-line and google "Zoom", the TV show I remember so fondly from the 1960s. I'm sure there's a ton of stuff on the Internet about it, probably You Tube videos, definitely the theme song I cannot recall today. But I decided against it. I like the memory I have of the show and how it taught me to make my first "meal". I remember going back to my high school decades after graduating. It was much smaller than I had recalled, dingy and gray. I remember thinking these were not the same hallways I would run through to get to my next class, and not the same lockers where I kept my books and winter coat. For sure that wasn't the gym where I played kick ball and was never able to dunk a basketball. No way was that the same football field where I would do donuts on my moped. No, I won't be searching the Internet to reminisce over "Zoom". Why ruin a perfectly good memory?

The present day social joining Zoom cannot replace the memories of my childhood "Zoom" but it offers much of the same comfort. A place to gather, a place to learn, a place of respite. Perhaps this will be one good memory of this time, how we continued to connect via Zoom despite the Beast that has beset upon us. In the meantime, and until this is over, I'm going to make some cinnamon toast. I suggest you do the same. Let me know if you need an instructional video.

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Joanne Lewis Blog



joanne lewis

When Joanne Lewis is not practicing law, she is writing. She pens murder mysteries, historical fiction and historical fantasy books and is the author of several award-winning novels. As an author, she hopes to entertain, to educate, and perhaps to enlighten. As an attorney, she is most proud of her work as an assistant state attorney and as a guardian ad litem representing the best interests of children.

Her books are available on Kindle, as paperbacks, and as audio books.

Her latest release is Bee King, a historical novel that is about the first person in the United States diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and takes place from the start of the Civil War until 1910. Just like the people who inhabited Five Points in lower Manhattan during the 1800s and the turn of the century, Bee King traverses the pentagonal streets where abolitionists battled copperheads, immigrants clashed among social, religious and political strife, and doctors and psychologists strained to help patients. Told in Five Points (sections), Bee King is dramatized through conventional literary devices as well as through newspaper articles, a manifesto, and other non-traditional tools.

The Forbidden trilogy consists of the novels: Forbidden Room, Forbidden Night, and Forbidden Horses. Forbidden Room is her best-selling novel.

In Forbidden Room, the first book in the Forbidden trilogy, new attorney Michael Tucker has few clients, yearns to be like his famous grandmother and cannot afford to move out of his parents' home. Sara Goldstein is an heiress accused of killing her uncle. When Sara hires Michael, he gets the chance to defend an innocent person, a beautiful lover and notoriety like his grandmother. But is it more than he asked for? Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer?

Forbidden Night, the second book in the Forbidden trilogy, delves further into Michael and Sara’s complicated relationship, as well as into Soldier Boy’s psyche, into their family histories, and into the creation of the carousel horses. The question posed in Forbidden Room, the first book of the Forbidden trilogy—Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer—is answered.

Forbidden Horses, the final book in the Forbidden trilogy, travels to the eighteenth century and takes place in Austria to reveal the troubled history of the creation of the carousel horses.

Michelangelo & Me is a series of five novellas in the genre of historical fantasy.

In the first book of the series, Michelangelo & the Morgue, seventeen-year-old Michelangelo defies religious and political powers in order to capture a serial killer who is murdering the artists of Florence. In Sleeping Cupid, the second book, Michelangelo’s believed-to-be lost statue narrates his journey from fifteenth century Florence, Italy until the present day where he lives in an attic in a sleepy Florida town. Future books in the anthology include Space Between, School of the World and Michelangelo & Me.

The Lantern is a historical novel about a modern-day woman's search to find a girl from 15th century Florence, Italy who dared to enter the competition to build the lantern on top of Brunelleschi's dome. Across time and space, three lives collide as they battle abuse, disease, fear and prejudice in pursuit of their dreams. Along the way, they intersect with some of the most famous figures of the Renaissance including members of the Medici, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and a young Michelangelo.

Wicked Good, a different kind of love story, begins in Bangor, Maine. Fifteen-year-old Rory is not defined by his diagnoses of Asperger's syndrome and Bipolar Disorder and lives life to the fullest. Archer, his adoptive mother, is Rory's biggest fan. Rory searches for his birth parents to find out why he is the way he is. He discovers his roots in Salem, Massachusetts where the Salem Witch Trials had occurred, and in Gloucester, Massachusetts where fishermen went down with the Andrea Gail during the Perfect Storm. He also learns his true roots are closest to his home in Bangor. As Rory discovers truths about himself, Archer learns about herself too.

Make Your Own Luck is the unforgettable and moving novel of Remy Summer Woods, a young attorney who refuses to believe thirteen-year-old Bonita Pickney killed her father, Patrick Pickney. Remy risks her relationship with her own father as well as her life to prove Bonita's innocence. Along with learning what happened the night Patrick was murdered, Remy discovers hard truths about her family and herself.

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