Elliptical wars

Ever since I joined my gym in 1998 the elliptical trainer has been my choice for cardio exercise. In those days, there was a long row of these machines in the back of a room also lined with stair climbers and treadmills. They were plentiful enough so I usually didn’t have to wait in line to grab one, though then the club gave us a 30-minute exercise time limit if people were waiting. Fast forward nineteen years. Only two of those old, rusty, decrepit ellipticals are left; the others have been replaced by newer versions. However, there is a group of people like me who prefer working out on the old equipment, and a few of us prefer one over the other. I always prefer the one on the left because it goes faster. Here’s my competition: Two women who can’t wait. When they are ready to use the elliptical they come over and ask how long a time I have left. I hate that. I’m always in the middle of a The New Yorker article I’m reading and their question interrupts me. And if only … [Read more...]

Poetry lessons learned at Esalen, Big Sur, Part 2

As promised from my earlier post, here's Part 2 of the lessons I learned while attending Ellen Bass' Life of Poetry workshop at Esalen, in Big Sur, California, during the first week of December. Please click here to read Part 1. Long-armed poem: The third craft talk was about the "long-armed" poem, where we scoop a lot of disparate material into the poem, but all is related ultimately. To do this, Ellen suggests: Be as open as possible, allowing the world to intrude, allowing in things I don't know Start with disparate things Make a list of words, such as names of foods, books, movies, pieces of clothing. Or gather poems and take a word from each poem. Frank Gaspar, in his long-armed poems starts with a time and place and within that goes other places. But then he comes back to his starting point. Here's a long-armed poem I wrote a couple of years ago that was published In The Words of Womyn International 2016 Anthology. Stop and Go On the drive up the … [Read more...]

Poetry lessons learned at Esalen, Big Sur, Part 1

I just spent five days at The Life of Poetry workshop with Ellen Bass and Roxan McDonald at Esalen, in Big Sur California. The workshop structure is to hear a craft talk in the morning and then have about three hours of writing time, before we meet in the afternoons in smaller groups to share and discuss our new poems. Throughout the week I wrote four poems* in keeping with the four craft talks Ellen presented. I'll discuss the first two craft talks today, and continue on with the other two later in the week - so as not to bore you too much. Metaphor: Defined as similarity between things that are otherwise very different. Use of fresh vital images to jar us, to heighten the emotion and achieve intimacy. Through quality of the metaphors, the poet can grab the reader. Try to find metaphors in your junk drawer, your garage, your closet, your throw rug (look at the fibers in the rug rather than whole). Here is an example of a poem with great metaphors: My Father’s Tie Rack … [Read more...]

George H.W. Bush groped #MeToo

In May 2012, my husband, Bob, and I toured New England, Boston, New York City, and Washington, DC, as an anniversary treat. We stopped in Kennebunkport Maine for a night or two, and I joked with Bob that I hoped I’d get a chance to say hi to Barbara Bush – I called her Babs – at the local grocery store. Little did I know that I’d see her and her husband while we ate dinner at the recommended Italian spot, Grissini’s, that night. The couple sitting at the table to our left asked for a photo with them as the Bushes were leaving the restaurant, and we asked for a photo as well. Both the president and Barbara Bush were very gracious. When we said it was our anniversary, Barbara asked how many years, that triggered a little discussion about marriage longevity these days. That year we were celebrating forty-two years. We got one of the servers to take our picture – in fact, she took two shots. And during both, the former president rubbed my buttocks with the palm of his r … [Read more...]

Getting in balance

Balance is important especially as we age My mother fell all the time in her late eighties and early nineties. She wouldn’t use a cane either. Or if she took a cane with her, she’d wear the handle on her wrist like a bracelet. At first she did little damage, but her last fall resulted in a broken hip. She died a year and a half later at the age of 94. The fear of falling, which becomes more pronounced as we age, is very real. It’s not only undignified, it can cause serious fractures and internal injuries.  Therefore, our body’s ability to right itself and regain control against gravity depends on our muscles’ abilities to bring us back to the proper center of gravity. If you combine weak muscles with a lack of balancing practice, you have a perfect prescription for injury. The opposite of this equation is equally true. Practicing balancing poses and developing strong muscles that can pull you back to center after a stumble, misstep or accidental push. It can mean the di … [Read more...]

Friends in stone

My darling niece, Dara, sent me this piece a while back. It needs re-sharing: TWO FRIENDS WERE WALKING THROUGH THE DESERT DURING SOME POINT OF THE JOURNEY, THEY HAD AN ARGUMENT; AND ONE FRIEND SLAPPED THE OTHER ONE IN THE FACE THE ONE WHO GOT SLAPPED WAS HURT, BUT WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING, WROTE IN THE SAND TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE THEY KEPT ON WALKING, UNTIL THEY FOUND AN OASIS, WHERE THEY DECIDED TO TAKE A BATH THE ONE WHO HAD BEEN SLAPPED GOT STUCK IN THE MIRE! AND STARTED DROWNING, BUT THE FRIEND SAVED HIM. AFTER HE RECOVERED FROM THE NEAR DROWNING, HE WROTE ON A STONE: 'TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE' THE FRIEND WHO HAD SLAPPED AND SAVED HIS BEST FRIEND ASKED HIM, 'AFTER I HURT YOU, YOU WROTE IN THE SAND AND NOW, YOU WRITE ON A STONE, WHY?' THE FRIEND REPLIED 'WHEN SOMEONE HURTS US WE SHOULD WRITE IT DOWN IN SAND, WHERE WINDS OF FORGIVENESS CAN ERASE IT AWAY. BUT, WHEN SOMEONE DOES SOMETHING GOOD FOR … [Read more...]

How to have a sober Halloween

Photo by Beth Teutschmann on Unsplash I'm so glad to have Caleb Anderson share his suggestions for a sober Halloween.  As a recovery addict he wants to share how one can live their life alcohol and drug free even during times when our society prefers to use harmful substances to celebrate. Thank you Caleb for offering to write this post for Choices. Your suggestions are spot on. How to Throw a Spooky, Sober Halloween Soiree by Caleb Anderson It's the witching season again and you're wondering how to celebrate the spookiest night of the year while sticking to your recovery plan. Well, have no fear. Halloween and sober living can go hand in hand. In fact, you may find that you enjoy the festivities more with a clear mind and a clean body. But having a party worthy of the holiday means paying attention to the details. In this post we'll share some terrifying tips for creating the right setting for your sober celebration. Some of these ideas require just a dash of crafting skill, … [Read more...]

The Me Too hashtag

Earlier this week the Me Too hashtag drew more than twelve million Facebook posts, comments, reactions in twenty-four hours. I was one of them. Thanks to social media, this response has gone viral around the world. Now women worldwide are using the hashtag, #metoo, against sexual harassment. Women are breaking out of their shells and telling their stories. Even one hundred forty female legislators, lobbyists, and political staffers in my state capitol, Sacramento, signed a letter saying sexual harassment is pervasive there. They said, “Each of us has endured, or witnessed or worked with women who have experienced some form of dehumanizing behavior by men with power in our workplaces.” My first job out of college was at a fashion trade magazine in downtown Los Angeles. I quit after three weeks because of the editor/owner’s constant sexual harassment and humiliation. Then I went into the aerospace industry, and though it was little subtler, men still thought they could say sug … [Read more...]

Come on over to the Sunscreen Film Festival West

Our son and daughter-in-law's film, "Gentlemen's Fury," will be shown at the Sunscreen Film Festival tomorrow, Saturday, October 7 at 5 pm in Hermosa Beach, CA.  Please come on over and become a part of all the excitement. The film is hilarious. Go to  http://ssffwest.com/ for more info and tickets. Gentlemen's Fury is about a professional tennis player, Aaron Faust, who goes on a desperate mission to prove that tennis is not a soft sport by punching an opponent and joining a cult. He had a promising career as a professional tennis player. But he also had a few issues. Suspended by the ATP for brawling with an opponent, his life has taken a turn for the worse. During a particularly dark period, he encounters Dwayne, an intense and charismatic zealot, who recruits Aaron for Gentlemen’s Fury, an underground tennis league that just might not be strictly about tennis. Gentlemen's Fury stars: Ben Sharples, Jake Head, Audrey Ellis Fox, Kyle Leibovitch, … [Read more...]

I loved the movie, Rebel in the Rye

I don’t care what the reviews say or what the rotten tomatoes score is, I loved the movie, "Rebel in the Rye." It kept me enthralled from beginning to end. Maybe it’s because I was and still am a huge fan of J.D. Salinger and his novel and short stories. And maybe it’s because I am a writer. My first thought as I left the theater yesterday is that I must tell my writer friends to see it. I think every budding writer should see it. The teaching of Salinger’s professor Whit Burnett, a lecturer at Columbia University, editor of Story magazine, and a mentor of young Salinger, played by Kevin Spacey, and the encouragement he got from Dorothy Olding, the loyal agent who supported the young Salinger throughout his career, played by Sarah Paulson, is something all writers should strive for. This movie also gave me a greater understanding of Salinger’s decision to become a recluse and never publish again. He suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome as a result of his Worl … [Read more...]

Eclipse – The Path to Totality

We saw the total eclipse of the sun in: Silverton, OR Silverton is in the path of totality for the Total Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017! Observers there will see (approximately) 1m 46s of totality! Here's what I've written about it so far. Eclipse – The Path to Totality We planned for months to travel to Oregon to see a total eclipse of the sun – the first time visible coast to coast in the US since 1918. My sister picked a gorgeous garden, the Oregon Garden, in Silverton for our viewing. She also invited friends and our nephew from Seattle and his family. Before we left LA people warned the crowds would be horrendous, the traffic bumper to bumper for miles, and it gave me pause. Should we still go on this trip to see a once in a lifetime occurrence that would last less than two minutes? Of course, we went. My husband, an amateur astronomer, would have it no other way. And we were not disappointed. We left Portland in the dark of the m … [Read more...]

Where I’ve been

I apologize for the scarcity of my blog posts lately. I've gotten very involved in a consulting job over at the aerospace company I used to work for and that has taken up most of my energy. And the problem  is, I don't see an end of the work in sight. Although I don't want to go on a complete vacation from blogging, I feel I have to cut back. I've already done that to my small stones writing regime, my work on my novel, and my attendance at  writing group meetings. Unfortunately, when I accept a consulting job, most everything else suffers. However, some interesting things have happened as well. I belong to a wonderful group called South Bay Cares that was founded as a source of education and to be an arbiter of positive action so that members can be the change that we want to see in the world. Our motto is: Educate. Empower. Engage. And a couple of weeks ago we hosted an event at our local independent bookstore: Pages: a bookstore with the cinematographer and two of the … [Read more...]

July Journeys – small stones yet again

In July we were asked to write small stones about our journeys. That put me in a bind, since I don't like to announce on social media when I'm traveling. It turns out we did travel in July - to Chicago, Green Lake WI, New York City, and Washington DC, but none of my July small stones refer to that trip at all. I must say it was a great trip - one for seeing friends and family. We also went to the Art Institute to see Gaugin, Millennium Park, the Yale art museum, the Morgan Library, the Modern Museum of Art, a couple of great New York plays, and a most special adventure - a visit to the new National Museum of African American Culture on Constitution Avenue in DC. Since I'm working part time this month and taking a writing class, I've decided to take a little break from small stone writing. I'm happy I was able to keep it up for eleven months. For sure I'll get back into it when the rest of my life relaxes a bit. In the meantime, here are my July small stones, called July J … [Read more...]

Reading at Vroman’s Bookstore on August 6

I'm so excited about being one of twelve authors picked to read at this IWOSC event on Sunday, August 6 I just had to share it with you. If you live in the Los Angeles or Pasadena, please come on over to Vroman's Bookstore. Come hear what other members are working on. "IWOSC Reads Its Own" is Sunday, August 6, from 2 - 4 p.m. View this email in your browser IWOSC Reads Its Own   Sunday, August 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. – Everyone is invited! Twice a year IWOSC presents a special FREE event, “IWOSC Reads Its Own,” a spellbinding afternoon of eclectic, eccentric, and exemplary works – from poems to true stores to hilarious monologues and beyond, read aloud by distinguished IWOSC scribes. A dozen of IWOSC’s talented member writers will read short excerpts from their work. Their selections may be published, unpubli … [Read more...]

Small stones in June

We wrote Jewels of June last month. It's always fun to have a little bling in our lives. And Happy Fourth of July, everyone! It’s June 1st and the sun is as bright as a jewel. What happened to our usual June gloom? I’m feeling so sad and embarrassed for my country – sad, angry, depressed, and hopeless. We have tickets to see Wonder Woman later this afternoon. I can’t wait. Lynda Carter in the TV version was one of my heroes growing up. And this new movie is said to be flawless and powerful, a good example for girls. Definitely see Wonder Woman. Take your daughters, nieces, moms, grandmas and/or granddaughters! Support women's films! The men you know might like it too. Please accept my condolences for those who died during the attack in London on Saturday, and I wish speedy recoveries for the many who were injured - physically and emotionally. I am embarrassed by my president’s attack at London’s mayor. Cool, dark, breezy. Nothing jewel-like about this day … [Read more...]

Peach Ping

Last night at the end of our Father’s Day dinner, our son asked me if I had my mom’s recipe for Peach Ping. And he wanted to know if I would give it to him – or better yet – make it for him. I told him not only did I have the recipe; I would gladly make it. And that simple question brought up a very sad memory. The last time I made it was in August 2013, a few months before our dear friend Cynthia died. I made dinner for our group of friends, including Cynthia and her husband, and baked my mom's peach ping for dessert. That was the last time all eight of us were together. I found the recipe in my mother’s recipe box. One of these days I will copy the recipes – each one meticulously typed on now-yellowed four by six cards – and publish them in a book to share with my family. Here’s the recipe for Peach Ping: 10 to 12           peaches ½ cup             butter or margarine 1-1/2 cups      brown sugar, packed 1 tsp             … [Read more...]

#Resist March/LA! Pride – what an event

Sunday June 11, I participated in the #Resist March with my South Bay Cares group. We took a bus from Manhattan Beach to Hollywood and Highland. We arrived at eight and started walking at ten in the morning, ending up in West Hollywood at Melrose and San Vincente. Although the march website said we would walk a little over three miles, my Fitbit said I walked over five. And I must say it was a great people watching and sign watching event. A highlight of the day was meeting and taking a group photo with  Ted Lieu, who is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing California's 33rd congressional district since 2015 (our district). And that's me with the pink hat standing right next to him. Also note our new South Bay Cares banner and logo and our great event T-shirts. Here are some of the photos I took.   … [Read more...]

May flowers and memories (small stones)

I just finished my tenth month writing small stones. The only break was during  my husband's Grand Canyon accident and recovery in November - December 2016. Here are my May small stones, including a couple of photos I posted with the words. By the way, the admin of the small stones  Facebook page, Ger O Neill, creates a new name for our group every month. Last month the name was May flowers and memories. This month we're writing Jewels of June. May flowers and memories May Day and the beginning of mental health month. A great day for people watching and writing at a little café. Congress is trying to decimate mental health care. If they pass the amended American Health Care Act (AHCA), millions of Americans will lose their mental health coverage. Please tell your congress representatives to vote No on AHCA. How can so many things in my house go wrong at the same time? My stove cooktop, a water heater, and dryer are all dead. And service people are nowhere in sight. … [Read more...]

We celebrate in May

With Mother's Day and my birthday and our anniversary in the month of May, we had a lot of celebrating to do. We also celebrated the online release of our son's new movie, Gentlemen's Fury, now streaming on Vimeo On Demand. Believe me, in the old days when I first started going to movies I never would have dreamed we could see new releases from our television sets. So here are a few photos from this May and one from our wedding day, May 28, forty-seven years ago. And yes, they all said it would never last. May 28, 1970 May 28, 2017 May 23, 2017, release of Gentlemen's Fury on Vimeo On Demand One more thing. My memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On was released on Mother's Day, 2011. It now has 218 reviews on Amazon and is ranked 4.3 out of five stars. Plus last month it was on a list compiled by Erin Burba of BookRiot of the 100 Must-Read Biographies and Memoirs of Remarkable Women. So I celebrate the anniversary of that event too. … [Read more...]

Introducing Gentlemen’s Fury – a hilarious new film

WATCH IT TODAY! GENTLEMEN’S FURY TENNIS MOVIE PREMIERES MAY 23RD Gentlemen’s Fury, a comedy feature film about an ATP player whose Johnny Mac–like temper lands him in a league that might not be strictly about tennis, premieres today, May 23, 2017 on Vimeo On Demand. Starring Ben Sharples (Flight 7500), Jake Head (Ted) and Audrey Ellis Fox (Law & Order: SVU), Gentlemen’s Fury is a cross between Fight Club and Dodgeball that makes a raucous commentary on the plight of the male tennis player, as well as tennis itself. (And in case you didn't already guess, Ben is my son.) For more information and to watch the trailer, please click here. To contact Ben Sharples, please email:  ben@golddoorfilms.com *** Here's a wonderful interview with Ben and his wife, Marissa, who also played a key role in the making of the film. Tennis Gets Its Ace by Neil Feineman It was, as dinner parties go, your pleasant, basic good time -- until a guest, fully aware of B … [Read more...]