The Dream Believer

The drapes are blocking the sun, but the darkness doesn’t dim Charlene Lite‘s optimism. Yes, she’s had good times and bad times just like the rest of us, but she’s made it her mantra to see the bright side of everything. She wears her positive view not on her sleeve but around her neck on a round, silver charm the size of a quarter that is inscribed with the motto “Never give up on your dreams.” Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Charlene wants to be a pop singer. Ah, her dreams, they are big ones, the …

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The Recipe Sleuth

“I’ve got a lot of stuff cooking.” As Mark Rinaldi says this, he places a plate of pão de queijo on the rustic wooden dining table, long as a church pew, that dominates his apartment. He baked the Brazilian cheese bread, which is shaped like billiard balls, this morning. He says the recipe’s a cinch — cheese, oil, milk and yuca flour. Next he brings out the tripe, the foul-smelling fillet whose innards look like an air conditioner filter. He’s fixing to fix it up as soup. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Mark pens the blog Cooked …

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The Puppy and the Pepper

It’s the dog days of summer, and Zora is sitting on the front porch watching the people pass by. She’s a puppy — my puppy — and she thinks the world is her bone and that every person is dying to pet and play with her. That’s why her bobbed tail snakes back and forth at every footfall. A new immigrant, Zora is seeing everything in Astoria for the first time. She’s lived here half her life — three of her six months — but she knows she’s sure not in Midland, Virginia any more. For one thing, there …

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