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...]

Thinking about Kobe

It seems like the whole world is in shock since Kobe Bryant and his thirteen-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash this past Sunday. I certainly am. He was an inspiration on and off the court for many people around the globe. And we are left devastated after his sudden and tragic death. But not only that, it has brought so much sadness up for me since I experienced firsthand the loss of my son, Paul. Of course, that’s not the same as Kobe’s wife Vanessa’s loss. She lost her husband and her daughter – they always say it can be worse, something I’ve never wanted to believe. It seems like I gravitate to those who have suffered horrible losses – like Chris Erskine, a LA Times columnist who lost his wife and his son in the past couple of years. And today I read an article by another LA Times staff writer, Sandy Banks, whose column this week is about the loss of her husband twenty-six years ago, leaving her and their three little girls. One thing that popped out … [Read more...]

Happy New Year Everyone

It's almost the end of a very stressful year. Let's all rejoice in the new year 2020. Let's look forward, not back! Here's some good words to keep in mind during the new year as well. Much love to all. … [Read more...]

Writing in the Dominican Republic revisited

Instead of just referring to my post about Lindsay de Feliz, I've decided to copy and paste it here. That is because I learned yesterday that Lindsay was brutally attacked and murdered in her home country, the Dominican Republic. I am so saddened and shocked by this news, I just feel I have to share about the wonderful work she was doing when she was alive. I loved her memoir, What About Your Saucepans? and recommend you all read it. Plus she was such a great supporter of the work of her fellow memoir writers. Rest in peace, Lindsay. I will miss you very much. I send much love and condolences to your family. Writing in the Dominican Republic MARCH 25, 2018 BY MADELINE SHARPLES 6 COMMENTS (EDIT) I met Lindsay de Feliz, author of What About Your Saucepans? and Life After My Saucepans, through a wonderful Facebook group called We Love Memoirs, and it was instant admiration. Her story is gutsy, heroic, and so, so different from my own that I had to share it with you. When I asked … [Read more...]

Will I be able to exercise until I die?

  Today a man at the gym got on the treadmill next to mine and told me I had never answered his question of a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t remember him asking me a question or ever even speaking to me before, so I asked him to repeat it. What he wanted to know was how long are we going to keep up on all this exercise, and without missing a beat, I said until we die. He made a face, so I suspect he didn’t like my answer, but that’s the way I feel. I’ll certainly do it as long as I can. I ended the conversation by saying we can support each other as when we see each other at the gym since we’re both there every day. I asked him his age – seventy-six – and when he told me I exclaimed that I was older much to his surprise. And then we introduced ourselves. He’s the second Mike I’ve seen and said hello to for years at the gym. It's nice to know their names after all this time. Even though I say I plan to exercise for the rest of my life, I have to admit it's getting harder an … [Read more...]

Why Trump needs to be defeated in 2020

I don't normally post such blatant political writing, but this one is so spot on, I wanted to share it with you. It's no secret I'm all for defeating Mr. Trump in 2020. This piece convinces me even more as to why. Thank you Nate White for writing it. Posted by ANGELO GOODE | PHILIPPINES VICE-CHAIR AND DATABASE MANAGER June 24, 2019 Article shared by Democrats Abroad Philippines Member Frank Holz, “sent to [him] by a friend, that encapsulates the man we must beat in 2020 (June 24, 2019). Someone asked "Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?" NATE WHITE, an articulate and witty writer from England, wrote this magnificent response: "A few things spring to mind. Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem. For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace - all qualities, fun … [Read more...]

A Happy Truth by Daisy A. Hickman

Daisy asked me to read an author's review copy of her lasted book, A Happy Truth: Last Dogs Aren't Always Last, and I'm delighted I did - even though I told her in advance that I'm not a dog person. Just last week our next door neighbors lost their dog who had been their family member for the last eleven years. They are truly grieving over their beautiful Annabelle, but have decided not to replace her. Maybe when they read Daisy's book they will change their minds. About A Happy Truth: Last Dogs Aren't Always Last (in Daisy's words): Do beloved pets hold the key to unlocking the human spirit? Have you ever lost a dog, a cat, but vowed never to get another one? Too sad. Too complicated--is it the right time, the right dog, the right season? But as Daisy Hickman's inspiring memoir reveals, the real story is MUCH bigger than a simple yes or no. Getting from one beloved pet to the next can be an awkward and emotional transition, however. Never "just a dog," "just a cat," after fin … [Read more...]

My website is back on the air

After five days of being off-line, my website, Choices, is back on the air. And with the promise that it will never go down again. Thank you to my server and maintenance managers, Francisco Artes and Tom McGuire! These guys have my back. Starting tomorrow, I will resume my normal posts. Hopefully, you my devoted readers, will give let me know what kinds of things you'd like me to write about. Until then, please remember I'm the author of these great books - a historical fiction novel and a memoir, and I'm always looking for more people to read them: and … [Read more...]

Joan Baez’ new song is going viral

As a teen ager and young adult, Joan Baez' songs were my fave. I even got to hear/see her in person at the University of California at Berkeley  when I went up there to visit my sister. I still listen to her on my iPhone. I have several of her songs uploaded there. So, it is with great pleasure to share the latest song that she recently published. Here's the article that was published on Thursday, April 06, 2017 by Common Dreams. Joan Baez Goes Viral With 'Nasty Man,' a Protest Song for the Trump Era "Here's a little song/about a man gone wrong/while building up his evil empire" by Nika Knight, staff writer Joan Baez performing in 2015. (Photo: Getty) Joan Baez, protest singer of the peace and civil rights movements of the 1960s, has gone viral with a protest song for today's Trump era, called "Nasty Man." The song features roses in the Rose Garden telling President Donald Trump … [Read more...]

I’ve read a couple of great books lately

I'm sure you've heard me say from time-to-time that I am very compulsive. Once I set my mind to do something, I have to go all the way. Reading is one of those somethings. I signed up on Goodreads to read at least twenty-five books this year. That's really not a lot, but with my writing regimen, it's not easy. I did it in 2018, and so far this year, I've read eleven book - two ahead of schedule according to Goodreads. Right now I'm reading Jane Fonda's autobiography, My Life So Far. Please don't give me a hard time about Jane. Since she became my exercise guru way back in the day, she's been my hero. And she writes about and apologizes a lot about her visit to Vietnam during the war. Besides she's a great actor. So here's a bit about two books I've recently read. The Boston stories in Don’t Mess with Tanya, by Ken Tangvik, are beautifully and expertly portrayed. I liked every one – especially the story about Tanya, the young black woman, who gets back at a store keeper f … [Read more...]

Mindful Dementia Care is an important book

It is so nice to share Mindful Dementia Care: Lost and Found in the Alzheimer’s Forest, a very important book by Ruth Dennis, Velma Arellano, and Luke Nachtrab, with my Choices readers while it's on WOW! Women on Writing's virtual book tour. I've written a review, shown below. But first I'll post a little information about the book, which we all should know about no matter what stage of life we're in. Mindful Dementia Care is a book of stories and a book of love. It is a book without denial, without any papering over of the challenges that can be involved with being a caregiver, and the sadness, anger, and frustration they may bring. It is also a life-changing source of information that can revolutionize relationships with one of the most vulnerable populations in our midst. In her decades as a caregiver, Ruth Dennis witnessed the tragic results of the medicalized and institutionalized way of caring for people with dementia. And equally clearly, she saw a better way. Mindful D … [Read more...]

Al Badre shares his modern immigration narrative

I'm so pleased to host Albert Nasib Badre during his WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. I'm also pleased that his coming of age story, in his memoir, Looking West: The Journey of a Lebanese-American Immigrant, is about immigration. The immigration topic - the one I chose for my soon-to-be published novel, Papa's Shoes, is as Dr. Badre says - "has become front and center in the national discourse." Please welcome Dr. Badre and enjoy his words about why he decided to write a memoir about his immigration experience. The Back Story by Albert Nasib Badre People have been asking me, “How did you decide to write the memoirs? What motivated you?” Well, it all started after my father passed away in 2010. As I mentioned in the book, my father, Albert Youssef Badre, could not come with us to Albany the first three years of our immigration. He had work commitments in Lebanon the first year; the next two years, he lived in the (Belgian) Congo where he was the economic advisor on Cong … [Read more...]

Quotes from some of my faves

I think you've read before that I like quotes. I collect them and I share them. Here are a few from some powerful women I admire - in no particular order. "I really want women to know their power, to value their experience. To understand that nothing has been more wholesome in the political process than the increased involvement of women." ~Nancy Pelosi   "Remember this in the darkest moments, when the work doesn’t seem worth it, and change seems just out of reach: out of our willingness to push through comes a tremendous power… Use it." ~Stacey Abrams     "I just hope that more people will ignore the fatalism of the argument that we are beyond repair. We are not beyond repair. We are never beyond repair." ~ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez   "What's important for my daughter to know is that... if you are fortunate to have opportunity, it is your duty to make sure other people have those opportunities as well." ~Kamela Harris   "The problem that I th … [Read more...]

Ojai love

We spent this last weekend with our friends in Ojai. She and I met way back in 1961 when I first moved to Los Angeles. Ironically we were introduced by my ex-husband and his family. Though my first marriage broke apart, our friendship has lived on with increasing love all these years. I always say she was my first friend in LA. We drove up during the rain on Saturday and I was overwhelmed by the brilliant shades of greens in the landscape around us. Usually the land is dry and brown. But not this year because of all the rain we've had. We spent our time together eating and talking and talking and eating, walking around downtown Ojai, shopping for orchids at the Farmers' Market, and finally hugging and kissing goodbye Sunday afternoon. We are so fortunate to have long-time friends who we stay in touch with and who we have loved all these years. I also took a four-mile walk on Sunday morning on my own. You know me by now. I find a way to exercise every chance I get. Here are a … [Read more...]

Yes, seventy is fabulous!

I’ve been seeing in the news that “seventy is the new fabulous.” For example this article in the Los Angeles Times on February 5, names so many over seventy women who are still with it and productive and in a word, fabulous. Nancy Pelosi, Glenn Close, Judi Dench, Betty Buckley, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Bette Midler to name a few. And we mustn’t leave out eighty-five-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsberg who is still on the Supreme Court bench even after recent cancer surgery. She is my all-time hero. That gets me to my success after the age of seventy. I had lunch with a cousin yesterday who congratulated me on writing a novel Papa's Shoes that will come out this spring by Aberdeen Bay publishers. Look what you did and at your age, she commented. Yes, that’s right. Though I don’t work a full-time job anymore I still work every day in my home office,  beginning to market my novel and writing my new memoir (coincidentally about healthy aging), blog posts, poems, and jou … [Read more...]