When I was in Maine earlier this week, my friends Dan and Lucia came for dinner. I like having company for dinner when I'm there alone (okay, with Alfie, but he only eats from a bowl on the floor) because otherwise I don't eat, or eat junk. But Dan and Lucia came over and I made a beef stew and an apple pie...from my own apples! ...and a salad with roasted beets and Brie. Okay, enough about food. My point is that Dan told me about something called Pandora.com

If you go to that website you can see this for yourself. But basically, Pandora creates a radio station on your computer and plays the music of your choice, which is why right now, as I answer email and do my morning computer stuff, I am listening (with no commercial interruptions) to Eva Cassidy and Norah Jones and KD Lang. Pandora, using its computer skills, will go on to to sleect other singers who sing in the STYLE of Cassidy, Jones, and Lang and play them as well (but if I dislike any, I have only to tell Pandora: don't play HER again) and she obeys.

So I have now created five different personal radio stations and can go back and forth, genre to genre, artist to artist, and it is quite an amazing and wonderful thing. And free.

It's also yet one more time-waster.

A note from a blog reader says: I remember jumping in piles of leaves. Probably because of that fun, and the fascination of watching the leaves burn, autumn has remained my favorite season. Is the rustle of fallen leaves one of your favorite sounds?

Yes, right up there with heavy rain.

It is one of the reasons writers pay so much attention to sensory details, actually. If, for example, I am reading a novel in which there is a brief mention of the smell of burning leaves...I will go on reading, probably not even noticing that phrase. But my subconscious has. And while I continue reading, my subconscious is now wandering into my childhood, into the chilliness of a Pennsylvania October, feeling the scratchiness of my plaid wool jacket on my child arms, and the exhiliration of watching the fire burning in the gutter...all of that goes into my perception of whatever I'm reading, so that the next paragraphs become me and my memories, though I'm not even aware of it. And it is cumulative. That's why every book is different for each reader.

And if the writer had neglected to include sensory details, my reading would be deprived of that layer of subjectivity and my enjoyment would be diminished. I would not even, really, be aware of why.

(Pandora has just played an Alison Krauss song, and I gave it a thumbs-up, meaning that they'll play it again sometime for me). Now they're back to Eva Cassidy, and if you don't know Eva Cassidy....who died young, so never received adequate recognition during her brief life....do run, don't walk, to iTunes or Pandora or Amazon or whatever, and discover her. Shortly before her death...at age only 33....the last song she sang in public was "What a Wonderful World".....to hear her version will both break your heart and make your spirit soar.