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...]

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...]

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...]

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 Os … [Read more...]

Family photos

I was practically obsessive about taking family photos – especially toward the end of Paul’s life. Like I had some sort of premonition. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of early ones without my mother in them. She never wanted to be left out, and she always stood right up front and center. This first here was at the time of Paul’s graduation from grade school. The last was just a few months before he died. I am so fortunate to have this many. (Scroll down, there's a poem at the end.) First Trophy So after all the dishes are washed and put away and she checks her emails one last time before closing her computer down, she comes across an old photo, a little crumpled and faded of her boy at age five, her first-born son. His blonde hair cut like an upside-down cereal bowl around his face, his dark blue eyes twinkling, his wide smile showing a gap where his two front teeth should be, he proudly holds up his first soccer trophy to the camer … [Read more...]

New traditions for our 2011 holidays

Now that I’ve ordered our Thanksgiving turkey, I’ve started to think about the holidays. They are always hard for me since we don’t have Paul with us, but this year’s Thanksgiving will be different and I suspect very wonderful. We’re sharing it with our daughter-in-law Marissa’s family. Everyone will come to our house and bring their Thanksgiving specialty dish to share. I’m the turkey, gravy, stuffing, and cranberries person. The rest is up to our ten guests. I can’t wait to try some new foods, get to know my new family better, and perhaps start a new Thanksgiving tradition. A friend of mine recently sent me this piece about ways to change our holiday gift giving traditions. I think there are a lot of good ideas here. If you agree, please share them with your family and friends. Maybe we can show we care about each other in a whole new way this year. The Holidays 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking … [Read more...]

Family Ties

I'm looking forward to my sister's visit this weekend. She lives in the northwest, and we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like, but she does come once in while especially to visit her daughter who lives near me. Sheila and I are nine years apart in age. She always says, "I'm the baby." I expect I'll be hearing that when I'm 99 and she's 90. But, it's all good. When she was born I got to help take care of her. It was like playing with a real live baby doll. And of course as we grew up, she and I became closer and closer - except geographically - because our age difference didn't matter anymore. This weekend we're having a girl's night out to see "So You Think You Can Dance" with her daughter and our cousin. I've never seen the show but Sheila says it will be terrific. (I'll let you know what I think next week.) Here's Sheila. The Baby The Sibs, Madeline, Sheila, and Kenny - a couple years before Kenny died in 2008. … [Read more...]

My role model

Here is my Aunt Helen, age 94. Isn't she beautiful? She's always been my role model. I love her energy and her calm demeanor. And in her youth she looked like Hedy Lamar. Aunt Helen with two of her greats at the family wedding we attended last weekend in San Diego. … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, My Madison

Madison is seventeen years old today. We first met when she was eighteen months old. That day she took my hand and we bonded immediately. I think of Madison as my granddaughter I love her so much. We spend a lot of time going to lunch and the movies together. She is also known as the Sundance_Kidd, the writer of a wonderful movie review blog. During the last couple of years of Paul's life when he was living at home, he bonded with Madison too. She would sit beside him on the piano bench as he played for her, he put her up on his lap and showed her how to use the computer, and he played with her out in our yard. He was very sweet with her. She says she still remembers those days. Madison, I hope you're having a wonderful birthday. I'm so glad you are in my life. … [Read more...]

Two of my greats

I love the Jewish tradition of naming babies after loved ones who are deceased. After Paul died a niece and her husband and later on a nephew and his wife decided to each name one of their children for him. The little red-haired beautie (one of my great nieces) in the top photo has Paul as her middle name. And the cutie boy (my great nephew) in the bottom photo is named Ian -- Paul's middle name. I feel so honored that my niece and nephew felt so strongly about their cousin Paul to name their children after him. His memory now lives on through them. … [Read more...]

Paul and his grandpa

Paul and his grandpa (my father) loved each other. They hung out, they played, they took naps together - all before my father got sick with cancer and couldn't do those things anymore. Losing his grandpa was a big loss in Paul's life. I love this photo of the two of them together. My father, a mostly serious kind of guy, always smiled when Paul was around. Perhaps had his grandfather been alive, he would have been able to help Paul. Stop a Suicide Today Stop a Suicide Today is designed for family and friends - to teach them the warning signs and how to respond. Again, an organization that would have been tremendously useful to us. If you suspect a friend, family member or co-worker is considering suicide, do not wait and see. Act now: acknowledge, show you care, and help your loved one get the treatment he or she needs. For more information go to: … [Read more...]

Guest blog from The Sundance Kidd

My friend and fellow blogger posted the following on her blog. It's about my son, Ben, and his film project, Breaking Evans. So you see there's more than one writer in the family -- however, he's a producer, director, and actor as well. But, I'll let The Sundance Kidd do all the bragging. You can read The Sundance Kidd blog at: Breaking Evans I recently had the opportunity to interview actor turned writer/producer Ben Sharples about his new film Breaking Evans. Breaking Evans, the up and coming indie-drama, takes you into the life of struggling tennis player Aaron Evans. Aaron returns home, after years of avoidance, to visit his ailing father. Coming home forces Aaron to confront his past, which may be the only way to save his failing tennis career. But is it too late? While attending the University of California Berkeley, where Ben played on the tennis team, he took an acting class, a decision that forever changed Ben's life. He caught the … [Read more...]

Ben and Marissa’s Wedding

Just a little bragging before back to posts about writing.... Flower Girls Samantha and Anna Bob, Ben, and Madeline Ceremony in the Garden The Newlyweds, Ben and Marissa Susie Cakes and Tina's Flowers … [Read more...]

Our Kwaj kids

We lived on Kwajalein, a Marshall Island, for 19 months in 1977 and 1978 where life was slow, easy, and filled to the brim with all kinds of beach and water activities. In those days I liked to get up early and after Bob left for work and while the boys were still sleeping I began keeping a journal. That writing resulted in my first published piece – an article about our life on the island for my company magazine. I’ve been thinking a lot about our Kwaj Kids lately. Five of the children we knew on the island are now no longer with us. Bob asked last night if there could have been something in the water, something in the air, something about that life style. Who knows? None of them died very soon after leaving the island – each was well on their way in adulthood. Perhaps the deaths of Mark, our son Paul, and Danielle were the most curious. I believe Mark’s death was drug related, Paul’s was a suicide, and Danielle’s was a suicide of sorts – she was a homeless alcoholi … [Read more...]

One day in Chicago

I left my house the morning of July 2 at 4:30 to arrive at the airport for a 6 am flight to Chicago for Rhoda Gordon’s funeral, and I returned home at 11 that same night. Call that crazy, but it worked for me. I just didn’t want to call this a trip. I didn’t want to bother with a suitcase or sleep in another strange bed after our recent five-week trip, so going to Chicago and coming back the same day made sense to me. And, I’m glad I did it. My cousin Mike was visibly moved to have my sister and me there. He is very bereft of family. And when he told me how much it meant to him as we kissed goodbye, I reminded him that he needed to have his family there with him at a time like this. And of course the highlights of the trip were being with my sister and her husband and having lunch with my other cousins who live nearby. I even had the delight in reading an interesting account of a murder trial in "The New Yorker," something I might have passed up had I not had the long stre … [Read more...]

Another message from the universe

I just received a call from one of my first cousins to tell me that his wife, Rhoda, died this morning. What a shock. I saw her a few weeks ago while we were in Chicago -- we celebrated our 70th birthdays together at McCormick and Schmick's at the Old Orchard Mall. Her birthday was four days before mine. And now she is gone. Just like that. Like how my husband and I felt after his brother died last January, this is message from the universe reminding us that we don't have an infinite number of days left. We need to use the ones that remain fully and wisely. And what is more, we need to visit family and friends every chance we have. I am so glad I saw her last month. And, now, I'll be going to her funeral on Friday. At least I can be there for my cousin during this hard time for him. … [Read more...]

Retirement countdown

In less that a week I'll be unemployed. Scary but at the same time envigorating. I was in a nail shop at noon getting a quickie walk-in manicure, and I marveled at the women relaxing in those big chairs with the tubs with two people working on them -- one on their hands and one on their feet. And I thought that by this time next week I could relax in one of those chairs as long as I want. But, of course I won't. I've already created so many projects for myself that I wouldn't know how to fit in free time if I had to. My sister says I'll be foot loose and fancy free (now where did that term come from?), and I had to laugh. Moi? No that would never describe me. So, with less than one work week to go I've almost completed my office demolition. I've filled up almost four barrel-size trash bags, I carted another huge amount of papers to our library, I've taken home four cartons of stuff, and I've thrown out mercilessly. So, what's left ? My paintings and my person toiletry items and … [Read more...]

Forty-three years

Today is the 43rd anniversary of the day Bob and I fell in love. And tonight we will wine and dine to celebrate. My husband is still a romantic, and I definitely love him for that -- and for so many more things for that matter. But, lately I've been very preoccupied with things work related -- actually not about actual work but reminiscing about my long work history, probably brought on by the goodbye speech I have to make when I retire. I know that’s several weeks from now, but I’ve been working on it anyway. What I’ve come up with is a list of things that I’ve experienced in the company since I’ve been involved with it – that is not to say that I’ve worked here all that time. I started in 1963 and I’m retiring in 2010, but I did not work in this place straight through for 46 years. There were long patches of time when I was gone from the company. What's so is that I hired in five times and will have left voluntarily four times. The first time I had to leave because … [Read more...]

Four Birthdays

I just spent this past weekend in Santa Barbara with side trips to Los Olivos and Ojai with my sister, sister-in-law, and my sister-in-law's cousin celebrating each of our milestone birthdays. The weather was gorgeous, the accommodations right on the Santa Barbara coast were comfortable and luxurious, and of course the food and wine very plentiful. And, as with most of my activities, here's my commemorative poem. Four Birthdays Four aging women gather together to celebrate their special birthdays. One is 60 (the baby), one 65, and two reach 70 within this calendar year. Welcomed for the weekend at Susie’s beach house along Shoreline Drive in Santa Barbara, they eat Argentinean empanadas, Greek tzatziki and feta, and southwestern chili and taste wine in the hills above Los Olivos, along the famed Sideways route. As Chris with the gray beard and long blonde hair who poured in the film pours for them they critique pinots, sauvignon blancs, char … [Read more...]

Thoughts about Richard

We're going to New York to visit my ailing brother-in-law tomorrow. In keeping with my poem a week theme of writing about people I don't know, here's one about him. I Won’t Know Him Even though I know him I won’t know him. I hear he’s shrunk in size down 20 pounds from his usual husky physique in just a few weeks. I hear his speech is fuzzy, like he’s high on drugs, but perhaps that’s a good thing. He was jovial and upbeat when I saw him last, contemplating knee surgery and spending the last years of his life in Florida with his grandkids. Instead , his years of smoking sometimes four or five packs a day left his body rampant with cancer. When I see him next he’ll be in a hospital bed placed conveniently in his living room in Queens, New York. The taut white sheets light cream coverlet and stack of extra-thick pillows support and comfort his every move. Alongside his bedpost hangs the morphine drip that he can tweak ever so slightly himself … [Read more...]