Rain wakes me at 7 a.m., the day before Christmas. I decide to read Joan Didion with coffee. She died yesterday. Later I will read Slouching Toward Bethlehem . This morning I choose her essay on Ernest Hemingway, Last Words. There will be fried potatoes and green chile for breakfast. Cowboy ate his kibble and …

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Fame did not come as I wanted. Jim Belshaw, retired Albuquerque Journal columnist, early riser and waste-no-time emailer, dinged me at 6:09 a.m. Sunday after seeing my name attached to a comment in the New York Times. “Is this you?” he demanded,  ever the no-nonsense newsman. In my waking haze, I realized he was grilling …

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