Remembering Mom and Dad

This Mother's Day weekend I remember both my mother and my dad. My dad was born on May 7, 1903 in Poland (the first location in my historical fiction work). He died at age 72 from cancer of the bile duct system. My mother, born on February 12, 2008 in Lithuania, died at age 94 from old age.  Lucky for me, they met and married in Chicago Illinois, making me and my brother and sister first generation Americans. Here are a few photos of them.     … [Read more...]

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Bragging time!

My son Ben Sharples is a long-time actor, writer, producer, and tennis player (he started playing tournament tennis at age seven). Ben has created a screenplay about an aging tennis star, which he plans to start filming next month. And he needs your help. He has set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise production funds. Please consider becoming a part of this movie by joining his campaign. There are some great opportunities depending on what level of contribution you choose to make. Here’s the link to his campaign. Please click on the video and listen to Ben tell you about this film called “Gentleman’s Fury” – a tennis movie written by and starring a real tennis star. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bensharples/gentlemens-fury-movie Really how can you blame a proud mom  from wanting to help out her son? Especially since the campaign has less than three days to go. Thanks so much. … [Read more...]

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The beauty of flowers

This past week I've been surrounded by the beauty of flowers. I took the challenge to flood Facebook with flowers to break the saturation of negative images and videos, and promised my friends who liked this post that I'd choose a flower for them. As a result, for the last three days I've been posting some wonderful flower photos on my page. Please take a look here. Also last weekend while we visited family in Seattle, we attended the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. His glass flowers and sculptures are sensational. He says his glass subject matter was greatly influenced by his mother's flower garden while he was growing up. This museum reminds me so much of a greenhouse, as can be seen in the photo below. So if you're a Chihuly fan as I am, here are a few photos of my favorites at the museum. Note that the exhibit is both inside the greenhouse-like building and outside in the garden. I highly recommend you see them in person if you get the chance. … [Read more...]

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I’m so pleased to reintroduce memoirist Kathleen Pooler

Kathleen (Kathy) Pooler and I met virtually a couple of years ago while hanging out on Google+, talking about - you guessed it - memoirs. And we've been buddies ever since sharing our books, sharing about memoir writing techniques and dos and don'ts, and forever wishing we'd someday meet in person. Alas, that hasn't happened yet. However, I'm pleased to be in her company any way I can. Today I'm reintroducing Kathy on Choices (see her other guest appearances here and here) during her WOW! Women on Writing book tour, and I congratulate her on her powerful and brave memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead : My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, a true life, tears-to-triumph story of self-defeating detours and dreams lost and found. About Ever Faithful to His Lead: A young woman who loses sight of the faith she has been brought up with attempts to find her way in the world, rejecting her stable roots in lieu of finding adventure and romance. Despite periods of spiritual renewal in w … [Read more...]

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Happy Birthday, Kenny

My brother, Kenny, would have been seventy-seven today. I miss him always. He was the guy I grew up with. Here are a couple of photos: one taken near the beginning of his life when he was three, the other taken near the end with yours truly.   He will always be in my heart. … [Read more...]

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Drumroll please for my WOW guest Sue Silverman

Please give Sue Silverman a huge welcome. I'm so glad she agreed to stop at Choices while on her WOW - Women on Writing blog book tour. I can relate to Sue Silverman author of The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew. I too was a nice little Jewish girl looking over at my WASP grade school classmates and wishing for their long blond waves, blue eyes, clear skin and willowy bodies instead of my frizzy dark hair, short and stocky frame, and my best feature, my hazel eyes, always hidden behind thick glasses. Unlike Sue, I did not experience an abusive upbringing. However, I write about the other taboo subjects that darkened my history: mental illness and suicide. I feel our frank and raw writing goes a long way to erasing the stigma associated with such topics. Plus, writing these hard stories can be healing. Putting your pain on the page can be very liberating. That said,  I’m excited for you to read Sue's thoughts about writing about taboo subjects. Writing Tab … [Read more...]

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Everybody is talking about sisterhood

Everybody at Women on Writing is talking about Sisterhood today. And so am I. But first I want to tell you about Therese Walsh’s new novel The Moon Sisters so you can join our celebration. In The Moon Sisters, her second novel, Therese Walsh wanted to write about one sister’s quest to find will-o’-the-wisp light, which was her mother’s unfulfilled dream. Also called “foolish fires”, these lights are sometimes seen over wetlands and are thought to lead those who follow them to treasure. Despite the promise, they are never captured and sometimes lead to injury or even death for adventurers who follow them. The metaphor of that fire – that some dreams and goals are impossible to reach, and that hope itself may not be innately good – eventually rooted its way into deeper meaning as the Moon sisters tried to come to terms with real-world dreams and hopes, and with each other, in their strange new world.  Olivia and Jazz Moon are polar opposites: one a dreamy synesthete, able to see sou … [Read more...]

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Aunt Helen – always in our hearts

My beautiful and  glamorous Aunt Helen died peacefully last evening at age ninety-seven. She had a wonderful life with dynamic Uncle Charlie (unfortunately he left us many years ago and way too soon), her five children, and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. I always loved her calm elegance and looked to her as a role model. We will miss this woman who was fabulous in every way, and we are thrilled to have had her in our lives for so long. Here she is at age eighteen - when everyone thought she looked like the movie star, Hedy LaMar. And since she was a part of my life for all of my life, I remember that she looked this way well into her 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. And a more recent photo. As you can see, she was still beautiful in her old age.   … [Read more...]

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Renewed hope for 2014

For our belated holiday lunch our writing group leader asked us to provide each other with the  "GIFT OF WORDS!!! - give everyone a gift of a short essay less than 1000 words that reads to the theme of New - as in Newness, New Year, new promises, memories of new years past, debauchery of new years past, hopes for the new year, new cars, new loves, anything that evokes the freshness & hope of something new!" Here's mine. About how my hope was renewed even in the face of deep sorrow. 2013 was a year with too much traveling, too many surgeries for my husband, and the deaths of two long-time cherished friends. Because those deaths happened in December  – one funeral was on New Year’s Eve day, and Shiva took place in the first few days of the New Year – I haven’t had much enthusiasm for writing about “newness” and “the freshness and hope of something new.” However, while thinking about writing this piece I’ve realized how much children – babies all the way up to adult children – have … [Read more...]

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2013 reflections

I like to reflect a bit at the beginning of a new year, so here goes. 2013 for me and my family was a mixed bag. My husband Bob and I traveled a lot – I think more than any other year in our lives together (to Denver three times to visit family; to London, Kenya, Tanzania, Dubai and Paris with dear friends; to Oakland to spend a weekend with another friend, and this month to Savannah, Charleston, Miami Beach on our own, and then on a Caribbean cruise – again with our family – all sixteen of us). We also hosted several rounds of visitors – cousins and friends – who stayed in the guest room of our home. Bob had two surgeries in 2013 – a complete hip replacement in early January (that made the bells and whistles go off every time he went through an airline security check) and carpel tunnel in late November. And even though the timing was very soon before we left on our Africa plus trip, I drove up to Big Sur California on my own to take a poetry workshop at the Esalen Institut … [Read more...]

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To Denver and back

It's always wonderful to visit with our great nieces and nephew in Denver. We now have six: five girls - one born just six weeks ago - and one boy. We were there for Anna's eighth birthday, and since they all have birthdays coming up in the next couple of months, we brought birthday presents for all - including new baby Ella Joy. What was special was making the birthday cake with our oldest great niece, Alyssa. But as usual, I find I can't wait to get home - no matter where I travel to. Instead of walking on the loud busy streets in Denver, I took my big long walk this morning along the beach. Although it was teeming with runners and walkers, I could comfortably hear my music and take a few shots of the ubiquitous Strand gardens along the way. I must be like Dorothy. "There's no place like home."                             … [Read more...]

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Thoughts about age and my folks

Today would be my dad’s birthday. He was born 110 years ago. And he’s been gone thirty-eight years. Happy Birthday, Dad. Taken on Dad's last birthday, May 1975 (my sister is at his left shoulder) Age has been on my mind lately. My father died at age 72 and so did my father’s father and my mother’s mother. But, even though I’m in the last days of my 72ndyear, I’m not worried about dying any time soon – at least not from ill health. Mom and Dad with little Paul My mother thought she’d go at 72 just like the others in our family. She actually started planning for it by giving away a lot of her things. From the day my dad died when she was 68, she kept saying she was ready to die too. But she was tricked. No matter how much she wanted to follow in her husband’s footsteps, she lived to be 94. So whose genes do I have – my dad’s short-life or my mother’s long-life genes? Only time will tell. … [Read more...]

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Denver visit

While spending the weekend in Denver visiting family, we got caught in a blizzard. We're now happily back in Southern California. I love my great nieces View out the window … [Read more...]

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Here’s what’s been going on

As soon as I finished my four-week consulting job, I had to get ready for my husband’s hip replacement surgery. That is get my head in gear for the stress of waiting for results, the driving back and forth to the hospital, and then caring for him once he got home. We’re at the third stage now. The surgery went very well – it only lasted one hour – and he was released from the hospital after a two-night stay. I not only brought him home, I also brought a cold and compression machine to aid in his healing process. Plus we are proud owners of a brand-new walker. The first day he was feeling pretty puny, but once he started to take his prescription strength ibuprofen, he was back to his feisty self. So feisty that he abandoned his walker sometime during his first night home – while I was sleeping – and began hobbling around on his own two feet. Needless to say I had to insist on the walker the next morning. It enables him to walk straight and tall at a regular clip, and I don’t ha … [Read more...]

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Happy Birthday, Kenny

It's my brother Kenny’s birthday today. He would have been 75. I can’t believe he is gone over four years already. I miss him more and more. Here are a few photos with him and my sister and mom. Madeline, Kenny, Mom, and Sheila - 1993  Madeline, Sheila, and Kenny - 2006   Sheila, Madeline, and Kenny - 2007 … [Read more...]

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Poetry Pact Blogfest – About family feuds

I’ve been surrounded by family feuds almost all my life. My father never spoke to two of his brother-in-laws, and he refused to talk about it or respond to my mother’s pleas to make amends with his enemies. There were reasons, there were always reasons, mostly having to do with money and business. These family feuds caused a lot of strain and crying in our family. My mother had to see her brothers and their families on her own, and that wasn’t easy in the 1950s and 1960s when she couldn’t even drive a car. Sometimes my dad would drive her to see them and sit outside with a tightly shut mouth and his arms tightly folded across his chest until she was through visiting. Later on in my generation, my brother’s wife decided she didn’t want to speak to me for while. I never knew why, and thankfully we’ve kissed and made up. She also stopped speaking to her sister for a time as well. My brother didn’t speak to his brother-in-law either. I never could understand that kind of behavior. We’ … [Read more...]

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My darling great niece and nephew

While we were traveling the past three weeks we visited our darling great niece and nephew in Virginia. I cannot help myself from bragging. Anna with her new book Ian listening to his bedtime story Clowning around With their mom And with great Uncle Bob … [Read more...]

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It’s my birthday and I’m having a party

Today is my birthday and I love celebrating with you. Here are some of the beautiful gifts I've received. Even the pups are throwing me a party … [Read more...]

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A great family visit

Our great niece, Khloe, was here from Denver with her mom and dad this past weekend. She really liked putting her feet into the Pacific Ocean and playing at our local park. And now it's time to get back to my writing work. … [Read more...]

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The eve of New Year’s Eve

I think this is a perfect day for looking back. Usually we go to an eve, eve party where we always share about our events of the year. Since it was cancelled this year, I'll share our major happenings of 2011 here. Major Happenings of 2011: 1. My husband, Bob, and I traveled to Amador County and Sutter Creek, CA with Manhattan Beach friends to taste some native zinfandel wines in January. On our first night there Bob fell and broke the three metatarsal bones in his right foot. Bob had foot surgery to repair and pin his broken bones together in February and had to be off his foot for eight weeks. He got around on a knee scooter (Rolleraid) or crutches. I was his driver. Bob on his knee scooter (Rolleraid) 2. On May 8 (Mother’s Day) my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On was released by Lucky Press. My successful book launch reading and signing at our local independent bookstore, Pages, was held on May 12. A couple of weeks later we celebrated my birthday in Lake O … [Read more...]

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