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...]

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...]