A writer’s home office

I firmly believe that a writer should have a special and private place to write. And in fact I've written about that subject many times - quoting Virginia Woolf and her adage that a writer have "a room of one's  own." See my previous post on this subject posted on February 4, 2018 here: A room of my own – revisited, which is heavy on the personal touches as described below. This post will walk you through what such a room needs in order to make your space usable, comfortable, and necessary to further your writing career. A Room of One’s Own: The Value of a Writer’s Home Office Writing is possibly the most flexible of professions. One only needs to tap into their creativity, and, of course, break out their writing toolkit — which in this day and age mostly consists of a computer. You can be anywhere in the world tapping away on your keyboard in the early hours of the morning. But if you’re serious about turning writing into a viable career, discipline is a must. What can re … [Read more...]

Remembering and honoring Ruth Bader Ginsberg

From The Daily KOS: "On Friday September 18, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a women's rights icon, died at 87. "Her storied 27-year tenure as the second woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court followed a lifelong dedicationto advancing the rights of women. In particular, her work to protect, defend, and advance abortion rights and access saved the lives of countless individuals who were previously forced to seek unsafe abortion care. "Days before her death, Justice Ginsburg told her granddaughter, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new President is installed.” "We must do everything we can to honor her wish, fight against a Trump nominee, and continue her legacy of fighting for women’s rights. "Justice Ginsburg leaves a lasting legacy for women's equality and reproductive rights. May her memory be a blessing and her trailblazing quest for justice a guiding light." RBG was my hero. Here are a few images I've collected of her. … [Read more...]

A September 11 story – redux

September is always a sad month for me - the anniversary of our son's death on September 23 and the anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy on September 11. How fitting that the Flight 93 National Memorial's Tower of Voices was just finished by Paul Murdoch and a team at his Los Angeles firm, Paul Murdoch Architects. It marks the site in Western Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 struck the earth on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, killing everyone aboard. An architectural rendering for “The Tower of Voices,” designed by Paul Murdoch Architects, in collaboration with a team of engineers, acousticians and one composer. (bioLINIA / Paul Murdoch Architects ) The tower is outfitted with 40 aluminum chimes, one in honor of each passenger and crew member. *** Flight 93 came into focus in our California community shortly after the crash when my friend and jeweler was asked to repair and clean jewelry recovered from the crash site. Here is the story I wrote several years ago ab … [Read more...]

A final report – hopefully!

The last time I reported on my husband, Bob’s, health was July 31. At that time he was still in hospital for the second time in less than a month. I finally brought him home on August fifth, but I must say I didn’t see much improvement until late last week. He was sleeping a lot during the day and night, not eating much, and finding it very hard to get around even with his walker. It was very discouraging - such that I kept telling him I didn’t know how to take care of him. I did, however, keep feeding him. I would make him a smoothie first thing in the morning using Boost with twenty grams of protein, fresh fruit, yogurt, and some sorbet - all flavor coordinated. At first that was enough breakfast, but after a few days he asked for more food - like a couple of fried eggs, a piece of toast with cream cheese and jam on it, or some cheese and crackers. That was the first good sign. As a matter of fact, he started talking about what foods he’d like to eat later in the day. I didn … [Read more...]

VOTE Biden/Harris on November 3

A dear friend sent me an email this morning with the following information. Though he says these points are strictly his, I am in total agreement and decided to share them with my Choices readers. Though I don't get too political here, there are times when it's important to do so. Now is one of those times. We must VOTE and vote Trump out of office. Our democracy depends on it. On November 3, please vote for the Biden/Harris ticket. Here are my friend's words: The Biden/Harris team has now received the Democratic nomination. Now we all must evaluate whether Trump is qualified to stay as president for another four years. Here is my personal analysis of his ability to continue as President. TOPIC: COVID-19 Pandemic Trump said "It is what it is" in a recent interview with Axios. Our President said the Pandemic is under control and the death toll “is what it is." From the beginning of the battle against the virus Trump has declared that the Pandemic is under control and is going a … [Read more...]

From good to bad overnight

I’m glad to say this month is over. It’s been an awful one. Of course this summer has been hard for all of us now that the coronavirus is reattacking us, but we’ve had other health issues in our home. Yesterday I had to call the paramedics to take my husband Bob to the hospital. His second time there this month. And yesterday’s episode was such a shock. Just the day before he was feeling pretty good. He was eating again, able to walk fine with his walker and go up and down the stairs all right, using his cane. And he even had an online conversation with his doctor who said he looked so well, he didn’t have to see him again until October. When I tried to get him up yesterday and get ready for an in-person doctor’s appointment, he lay there in bed for another hour dozing. I finally had to force him out of bed, and he did manage to get out and use his walker to get to the bathroom. He even gave himself a sponge bath. But afterward it was hard to get him to get dressed. I brought … [Read more...]

More ten-minute poems

I'm still writing a poem every day and actually spending only ten minutes on them. My favorite subject these days is the seemingly coming downfall of our current president - Number 45. The polls, if they are right, sure show Joe Biden way ahead. And you'll see if you read my poems, I'll do everything possible to avoid using his name in them. Here are three: 1.He pulled another fast one. In the middle of the night, Asking the Supreme Court To cancel the Affordable Care Act And take away health insurance From 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and total health coverage from 23 million Americans. It’s a mean, amoral, and insensitive act Smack in the midst of New COVID-19 cases and deaths Breaking all-time records in the U.S. in a single day. Notice how I refuse To even write down his name? 2. Last night our so-called president Held a rally at the Mt. Rushmore site In South Dakota, without adhering To social distancing and Mask wearing p … [Read more...]

Important stuff these days

Here are a few things that are happening these days in the form of little poems. I usually write a poem a day  about what's going on in my life at home and what's going on with my most unfavorite subject: POTUS. I never spend more than ten minutes on this exercise. Gofer Girl My new name is Gofer. I’m now assisting my husband Starting first thing in the morning Until he stretches his body Out on our bed at night. He’s injured. He has ruptured And very painful tendons In his left ankle and can barely walk. This thing is, this injury didn’t happen From a fall or a missed step Or a turned ankle. His doctor says It was caused by an antibiotic Called Fluoroquinolone, which when prescribed Should have come with a black box warning. Well, my husband wasn’t warned. The prescribing doctors just gave him This antibiotic willy-nilly, seemingly not caring How everything would turn out. Just Perfect His chances of reelection Are getting worse and worse With each pa … [Read more...]

How safe is the oncoming reopening?

My small beach city is beginning to open retail stores, restaurants, businesses, and indoor and outdoor recreation areas. My main question is which ones of these venues should I walk into, where would I be the safest? So many people congregate together now, without the mandatory face masks that I feel almost any place is still unsafe – especially since the virus cases and death numbers are rising steadily every day. And the funny thing is when I walk about my town wearing a mask, trying to keep my distance, others look at me as if I were nuts. This morning, for example, I took my usual big long walk and passed many people without masks and without making any attempt to move away from on-coming me. Should I then continue walking or just take my chances? Since I started these walks the day after my gym closed on March 23, I don't see why I would give up that risky activity now. Although truth be told, I stay away from the Strand, my former favorite place to walk.  Way too many pe … [Read more...]

Could it get any worse?

In my writing group yesterday our prompts were to write a gorgeous poem or something from our everyday live during the coronavirus tumult. I picked the later. Here goes: To make matters worse than they already are, my husband had a mishap last week that was very worrisome. Last Monday he decided to sweep up some leaves on our front walkway and he fell against the brick wall, scraping his right arm so badly that the skin was hanging off it. He came upstairs to tell me he fell and showed me his injury with blood dripping all over the place. I took him to urgent care with a plastic bag over his arm and after a short wait, they cleaned it and wrapped it in gauze and sent us on our way with a prescription for Tylenol with a bit of codeine in it. They also took x-rays since not only did his arm hurt, he had a bump on his knee and sore ribs. Thankfully nothing was broken. Wish I could say that was the end of it. But by the time we got home blood was already seeping through the bandages. … [Read more...]

Walking – one step at a time for change

Every morning I leave home at seven to take a ninety-minute walk. I’ve been doing that since March 23 the day after my gym closed because of the coronavirus  quarantine. My goal is to walk at least eleven thousand steps a day, and so far I’ve been doing that. But every day I ask myself isn’t time to quit already? My upper left leg hurts and still I walk on, my right big toe hurts and still I keep going, and I getting bored with it. Frankly, what I’d like to do is get back to the gym – and that’s not possible yet. Gyms will open up again during the last stage of Governor Newsom’s reopening plan and even when it does, I’m not sure if I’d want to go over there and get too close to everyone else working out. That’s the way I am about venturing out anywhere these days. And the latest George Floyd protests and riots and looting have only made me more scared. The crowds assembling all over the country will be sure to infect each other, and we’ll be left with coronavirus case and deat … [Read more...]

What I think about these days

A friend recently asked me what I think about during the many hours a day when I’m not very busy with my writing or cooking chores. And surprise, surprise, I said: Donald Trump, a person I have no nice thoughts about whatsoever. He is a bad man and a bad president. I don’t want my life to end before we have gotten rid of him. I also think about death. I equate my death with two things: keeping safe from the coronavirus and keeping safe from Donald Trump. In my mind, they go hand in hand. In fact Donald Trump is the reason the people of our country have been so affected by the virus – Donald Trump lied that it was a problem when it first came to the forefront. He didn’t want a nasty thing like a virus pandemic to wreck his chances of getting reelected. So he pushed questions and information about it away. Even now when we have had over one hundred thousand deaths in the United States, he still won’t talk about it. He says and does anything he can to divert our attention away from … [Read more...]

My coronavirus life redux

I'm in a writing group that usually meets once a month. Except now during the corona virus stay at home orders, we're meeting twice a month - what else do we have to do - in one of those ubiquitous Zoom meetings. By the way, that is working out very well. So mostly we write about how we're doing during this pandemic. And some of our writing has turned out to be pretty grim - and very honest about how we're feeling. That's how people in writing groups should behave, right? The piece I wrote at yesterday's meeting, using the prompt to write a lost or found poem, went like this: Today has probably been the worst of all days since we were told to stay home. I’ve lost my enthusiasm – even for sitting down and writing here this afternoon. No, don’t worry. I’m not sick. I’m just down in the dumps. And even though I’m still walking every morning and writing my April poem a day and journaling, I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything. Shouldn’t we use this at home time to write, co … [Read more...]

Kindness matters – especially now

During these trying times, when safety and health are foremost, we know that kindness matters. I go for a walk every morning and pay close attention to keeping my six-foot distance from other people around me. Some practice the distance rule, while others pay no attention at all. Especially those wearing masks. They must feel that their mask takes the place of social distancing. I would say they are just rude and irresponsible. How hard would it be to do that little side step maneuver to get out of someone’s way on the sidewalk or walking trail? I found this quote a while ago: “Being rude is easy. It does not take any effort and is a sign of weakness and insecurity. Kindness shows great self-discipline and strong self-esteem. Being kind is not always easy when dealing with rude people. Kindness is a sign of a person who has done a lot of person work and come to a great self-understanding wisdom. Choose to be kind over being right, and you’ll be right every time because kindness is … [Read more...]

Socializing during the COVID-19 quarantine is fun

One of the things that I find encouraging even as we are in the COVID-19 quarantine at home mode, is that we’re reaching out socially more. We’re doing FaceTime and Zoom and contacting family and friends by text and telephone. In the last couple of weeks our dinner party group has been sending each other fun video clips and quotes that are keeping all our spirits up. And tomorrow night – the night our dinner party was to occur, we’re getting together on Zoom for happy hour. It will be great to see each and chat for an hour or so. Here's a fun one: Socializing more has been on my list for some time. I wrote about it in one of my new memoir’s chapters. Here is what I wrote: Another thing that is important to my mental well-being is to get more social. I need to make more lunch dates for me and dinner dates and for Bob and me. We need to get out more instead of plopping ourselves down in front of the television screen every night at six to watch two hours of news. And while we’re … [Read more...]

What’s my coronavirus lockdown life like

The coronavirus, COVID-19, has indeed affected my life, as I’m sure it has affected yours. We’re all in it together to try to survive - helping ourselves and others to stay safe and healthy. I live with my eighty-three year old husband of almost fifty years, so his health and safety are on my mind much more than mine. He has had, over the last few years, mild pulmonary problems and is under a doctor’s care for high blood pressure. Fortunately, I don’t have any of the usual old folks’ ailments. I may be turning eighty in two months, but my body has never acted like it. So what’s my usual lockdown day like? First of all, I get up early. In the normal past I would get up before daylight and go to the gym every day. These days I wait until sunrise and then take a morning walk every day. I had until four days ago the perfect route. I would walk from my house to the beach and walk along the full length of the beach Strand. Unfortunately, the Strand and the beach are now closed, and … [Read more...]

Quarantini, anyone?

I first heard of the quarantini from Jane Fonda a couple of days ago. She’s stuck at home just like the rest of us in California (the governor’s orders) and suggested we try one. Derek Brown, author of “Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters: How the Cocktail Conquered the World” and owner of the Washington, DC, cocktail bar Columbia Room, says, “It’s the drink you make with what you’ve got in your cabinets or freezer, and is best enjoyed with whomever you’re cooped up with — or perhaps a neighbor in need.” And  if you do have the ingredients, here’s Brown’s recipe: A Quarantini that can be made with common at-home drink ingredients. 1½ to 2 ounces of a not-necessarily-sweet base spirit, like vodka or gin — or another of your choice ¾ ounce of citrus (such as lemon or lime juice), whose vitamin C is great for immunity ½ to ¾ ounce of simple syrup to sweeten things up. (Simple syrup, as its name suggests, is simple to make. Just boil equal parts sugar and water until they … [Read more...]

Assembling a Life by Martha Clark Scala

I met Martha Clark Scala at an Esalen Institute poetry workshop in January 2000 about four months after my son Paul took his life. The workshop was instrumental in bringing poetry writing into my life. I wrote one that weekend that Martha added to her piece, "I'm Not Contagious, published in a The Compassionate Friends newsletter. We have been friends ever since. I was particularly intrigued by her latest writing work - a biography about her father, Geoff Clark - called Assembling A Life, Choosing the Artist in My father (and Myself). The way she put it together reminds me of the sculpture discipline called Assemblage, where bits and pieces of found items make up the sculpture piece. I have one hanging on my office wall made up of a piano's hammers, pieces necessary to determine the voice of a piano. It is special to me because our son was an accomplished jazz pianist. About the book If you have any desire to honor a departed loved one by … [Read more...]

Our beloved high school friend had a stroke

Ten of us met for lunch last Saturday at El Cholo in La Habra. It was to be a reunion of sorts with high school friends and to welcome Ann and Jack who drove in from Tucson. Unfortunately, what we all hoped would be a happy reunion turned out very sad. There were tears immediately when Wendy and her husband Doug arrived. For some this was the first time to see her since her massive stroke in the fall of 2018. Bob and I and Lee and Chris had seen her six months earlier. In my mind she had not improved. Actually, she seemed much worse. But she insisted on coming out to see us all for what we learned later would be her last outing. In four days’ time she was going to be moved to a home that specialized in caring for stroke victims like her. The night her stroke happened she was giving a talk about her newly published book - one of many she has written throughout her life. Wendy, a professed Wiccan, had a Ph.D., and had been the head of women’s studies at the California State University … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday Bob!

My husband Bob is bright and shiny this morning on this his eighty-third birthday. Since just two weeks ago he had a bad bought of coughing as a result of bronchitis, I am very pleased he is doing so well now. Eighty-three WOW! So all I've got to say today is: Happy Birthday Bob - and I wish you many many more happy and healthy days - just like today.         … [Read more...]