Russ Parsons (67) is a writer who moved to Waterford almost three years ago with his wife Kathy. They live on John’s Hill near their daughter, son-in-law and two grandbabies. Before that he had been the food editor and columnist for the Los Angeles Times for 25 years and has written two cookbooks. He now writes a monthly column for The Irish Times.
Life in a Day
After 40 years in newspapers, where every day, every minute practically, was scheduled full, one of the great pleasures of being retired is inventing each day as it comes along. There is no set pattern, other than fixing breakfast, cooking dinner and babysitting our grandchildren.
What school did you go to?
I was raised in the military, so I went to a different school almost every year. I am a lifelong blow-in. Most of my schooling was in the state of New Mexico, including college at the University of New Mexico.
What teacher do you remember most vividly?
Probably Thomas Whitworth, who was my journalism advisor in my junior and senior years of high school and who got me started freelancing sports scores for the local papers and eventually the Washington Post. Tony Hillerman, the well-known detective writer, was also one of my favorite professors in college at the University of New Mexico.
What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Nothing will go as you planned, but you will have a wonderful career and a life full of amazing friends and adventures and a loving family.
How do you relax?
Are you kidding? I’m retired! Seriously: cooking and walking the dog are the two best ways for me to unwind.
What is your favourite film and piece of music?
I’m not such a big film buff I’m afraid. And my popular music tastes stopped somewhere around 1985. I’d probably say my favorite music is songs from my dear friends when I lived in Texas: Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Joe Ely, Terry Allen and Lucinda Williams.
When was the last time you cried?
Oh, I’m a soppy fella. I tear up at movies – most recently, while watching ‘CODA’.
What has been your happiest moment of recent times?
I’m very lucky, I have many, many happy moments. And for me, the secret is appreciating the small ones as well as the major events. Watching the birds in the garden. Sunsets over the Comeraghs. A pint with friends. Hearing my grand babies unconsciously go “nyum, yum, yum” when they’re eating something I’ve cooked for them.
Do you pray?
That is a delicate question: I don’t but I have full respect for those who do. I do, however, try to be mindfully grateful on a regular basis.
What is your biggest fear?
Seriously, anything having to do with passwords or the workings of my computer or iPhone can make me break out in a cold, paralytic sweat.
What is your most treasured possession?
We moved to Ireland with only five suitcases, so I have learned to become unattached to possessions. I’d probably say my most treasured possession is my collection of signed first edition cookbooks by the people who have been most important to me, or my old acoustic guitar that has been played so well by so many of my more-talented friends. Both are in storage in California.
What is your favourite thing about Waterford?
There are so many things I love about Waterford, starting with the many friends we’ve made so quickly. We’ve found a really warm, welcoming community. I love my local pub – Phil Grimes’s – and shopping at Ardkeen Stores – with a stop at the library! I love walks on the Copper Coast beaches and woods. I love the way Waterford embraces and displays its history — show me another city of a similar size that has five really wonderful museums?
If you could change one thing about Waterford, what would it be?
Having lived here less than three years it would be presumptuous of me to answer this. However, if anyone on the City & County Council is listening, an escalator or people-mover going up John’s Hill would be a wonderful amenity.
In conversation with Dermot Keyes