We’re taking the show on the road

Last December, Chanel Brenner, Alexis Fancher, and I read poetry about the deaths of our sons at Beyond Baroque, a literary arts center in Venice California. See my blog post about this event here. We’re reading again this Sunday April 24 at 4 pm at Pages: a bookstore in Manhattan Beach California. We’ve modified the program a bit; however, we are carrying through the same theme: WRITING HEALING POETRY Turning Grief into Art We hope you’ll join us. Each of us will read thirteen to fourteen poems. Mine are mostly in my memoir in prose and poetry, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide. Chanel will read from her book of poetry, Vanilla Milk, and Alexis will read from her poetry chapbook, State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies. I can attest that the poetry is fabulous, and I know you’ll like the refreshments as well. … [Read more...]

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A belated Hanukkah celebration with recipes

Since I was at Esalen at Big Sur California during most of Hanukkah, I promised my son and daughter-in-law we'd have a belated Hanukkah celebration after I got home, complete with my home-made potato pancakes - Latkes - a recipe I've been making for years. So to get into the Hanukkah spirit I'm going to share tomorrow's menu with recipes for the chicken dish and the pancakes. I plan to serve cheese and crackers and an olive tapenade as appetizers, a spinach salad, and a broccolini side dish to go along with the chicken and Latkes. I don't yet know about dessert since my husband is in charge of that. Since I'm both lactose intolerant and gluten-free I can't eat the dessert anyway, so he'll choose something he likes. The following recipe for potato pancakes comes from a year's old issue of the now defunct Gourmet Magazine. Lacy Potato Pancakes 2 large eggs 1/3 cup beer ½ cup flour 1 teaspoon salt Fresh pepper to taste 1 onion halved lengthwise and sliced thin 2 large … [Read more...]

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Let’s not forget our friends in Nepal

Please let's all join together to remember the thousands of people lost since the huge earthquake and avalanche in Nepal. And let's all join together to help the survivors rebuild their lives and their country. I pledge right here and now that I will donate as much as I can afford to help our friends in Nepal. Will you join me?   … [Read more...]

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My stress meter

I have a built-in stress meter. I can tell how stressed I am by how loud my tinnitus sounds. When I feel relatively balanced, I hear very low wave-like sounds that seem to come from one ear. When I’m stressed the tinnitus sounds like crashing swells blowing through my head from both sides. So I was interested to read a recent New York Times article titled “How Exercise May Protect Against Depression,” given that “even mild, repeated stress can contribute to the development of depression and other mood disorders in animals and people.” Mood disorders, mania, and depression run in my family, so I need to actively make sure I lower my stress level. I’ve been exercising almost all my life, and I do it every day – first thing in the morning. Exercise was especially useful after my son Paul’s death fifteen years ago. That outlet kept me sane then, and it still does. That is, at least for a while. For example, I exercised this morning – sixty minutes of cardio followed by a little iro … [Read more...]

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New challenge: a blog post a day

I'm always willing to take the challenge. Joe Bunting over at The Write Practice says it's easy and a good way to get our names and books out there. So here I go. It's the first of the month. Let's see if I can come up with a post everyday - at least everyday this month. Anyone want to join me? I decided to leave my home computer and go over to our local bakery for lunch. I always find my muse here, even with the music blaring. It's fun to people watch, and besides the food is great. Unfortunately I can't eat the bakery anymore since I'm lactose intolerant and gluten free. No matter, the salads are great and very fresh. And speaking of muse, here's the poem I just wrote here: At the Bakery They come here in a steady stream and wait in long lines to order. There’s sandwiches listed on the board salads pre made in the cooler below the counter with baskets of fresh baked cookies and sweet rolls over to the left. I’ve been coming to this place for years. It’s where I … [Read more...]

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Try Pilates: you might like it

This article was recently published on Aging Bodies. I decided to post it here, after reading the benefits of Pilates to people of all ages in the Los Angeles Times this morning. I’ve been practicing Pilates for at least ten years. I started with mat Pilates, by doing exercises on a mat on the floor. Next I took classes in Pilates on a large exercise ball, and for the last seven or eight years I’ve either taken group classes or private instruction on the Pilates reformer. This machine is a long wooden and leather bench-like affair that has a series of pulleys and springs that when used with my own body weight, creates resistance not very different from exercising with hand-held weights or weight machines. However, as I’ve aged I find using the resistance created by the reformer is a lot more forgiving on my body. Plus, the exercises I perform are all geared to keeping me flexible, well-balanced, toned, and strong. Another plus is that my posture has improved immensely. I don’t hav … [Read more...]

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Does a long trip take its toll on our bodies?

Since my husband and I are both in our seventies and the couple we traveled with are in their late sixties, I started thinking about how traveling to far away places – especially Africa – can take its toll on our aging bodies. Here’s the precautions and planning I did to counter any possible adverse affects on what would be the trip of a lifetime. First I needed to get a series of shots required for traveling to Africa – polio vaccine, hepatitis, tetanus, and yellow fever – the yellow fever injection was painful for quite a while. I also brought along a 25-day supply of malaria prevention pills that I started taking a few days before arriving in Africa and continued for seven days after we left. I brought along the original prescription bottle to avoid any questions at the airport. What to pack for Africa was another issue. We were told to bring crushable duffle-type bags to Africa with the admonition that that bag and any of our carry on pieces should weigh no more than a total o … [Read more...]

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Kindle Nation newsletter applauds my publisher, Dream of Things

Kindle Nation Bargain Book Alert: Four Best-Selling Memoirs for 99 Cents Each – Plus Three Bonus Books! August 15, 2013 By Kindle Nation Publisher Mike O’Mary Dream of Things is an indie publisher with a reputation for finding and publishing high-quality memoirs. Each of the memoirs offered today for 99 cents has 50+ reader reviews and ratings of 4+ stars. “We focus on memoirs and creative nonfiction,” says publisher Mike O’Mary. “Our goal is to provide readers with distinctive voices, meaningful books.” So far, it looks like Dream of Things is succeeding. Check out this great line-up of memoirs – all at ONLY 99 CENTS August 15-17. * * * Everything I Never Wanted to Be by Dina Kucera (159 Reviews, 4.6 Stars): “How come people who have experienced such trauma write so well? So raw and funny that it almost makes me want to have horrible things happen to me so my writing will improve.” Joel Stein, Time Magazine columnist   … [Read more...]

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Thinking young on my birthday

Every month I write an article about some aspect of aging for the Aging Bodies website. This month's article pertains to my recent preoccupation with age. Of course that makes sense. Today is my seventy-third birthday. Here's my article: Aging Bodies Think Young, Stay Young   Tuesday, 14 May 2013 19:11 I’ve been thinking about age for a while – especially now that I’m sure to live well beyond the age of my father and my maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather. But I think age is just relative. We really are just as young or old as we feel. My relatives who died at 72, the age I am now, looked and felt a lot older than they were. But they didn’t have the youth-prolonging advantages like healthy food and exercise opportunities that we have. We also have science on our side – better medical care and the miracles of skin care potions and plastic surgery. Don’t you bristle when someone tells you how good you look for your age? I do. Couldn’t they just say, “Y … [Read more...]

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The April Poem A Day Challenge is back

I'm participating in Robert Lee Brewer's* month-long Poem A Day Challenge, as I've done each November and April for the last several years. At this point my poems are just drafts, but it's fun just to get something down that I can tinker with once the challenge is over. Robert's prompts are always interesting. Here's a few poems I've written so far, following the days' prompts. 3. Write a tentative poem. The poem could be about a tentative date, a tentative person, a tentative situation. The narrator could be tentative. The subject could be tentative. She once said, I’ll pencil you in. I bristled. In fact, I erased her from my calendar and datebook entirely. I’ve also erased her from my mind. 4. Take the phrase “Hold That (Blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and write the poem. Possible titles include “Hold That Thought,” “Hold That Space,” “Hold That Poem,” or whatever else holds your attention. Hold T … [Read more...]

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Visits to our "Family Home"

It’s been busy at our house lately. In the last several weeks we’ve had friends and family come over and visit and make use of our downstairs guest bedroom and bath. And that brings us great joy. My sister arrived on Friday from Oregon two days after our cousins returned to their home in the Midwest, and they arrived just three weeks after our friend visited from Massachusetts. With each set of visitors we showed parts of the Los Angeles area in keeping with their interests: the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the gardens at the Getty, Palos Verdes Peninsula and lunch at the gorgeous Terranea resort, the famous shopping street in Venice - Abbot Kinney Road, and a movie theater where we can get reserved seats in advance. And of course we are always proud to show them our little beach town complete with surfers, the pier, beach volleyball, long walks on the Strand, non-chain-store shopping, and hordes of restaurants. I’m beginning to sound lik … [Read more...]

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A couple of stories from Storylane

I’m sorry to say Jonathan Gheller has closed down his Storylane site. It was a good place to post and share stories and to get a little feedback. Plus there were always a lot of great prompts to choose from. However, upon its demise, Jonathan generously sent me back the several stories I’ve posted, and now I can share them here. I’ll start with a couple. Please let me know if you like them, and if so, I’ll share a few more. I’ll also share my latest Buddha picture. I love it. How I Got My First Job Out of College I graduated from UCLA with a degree in English and had no idea what I would do professionally with it. I had wanted to work as a journalist and actually completed all the course work for a degree in journalism at the University of Wisconsin. But family illness caused me to transfer to UCLA for my senior year, and UCLA didn’t offer a BA degree in journalism.So I was stuck in a city I didn’t know and where I hardly knew anyone. I tried valiantly and unsuccessfully early o … [Read more...]

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Favorite books and what I’m reading now

Now that I work as an author people ask me what books I’m reading and would recommend. That is a tall order. I think our reading choices are very personal. Besides I’m not a very good person to ask. I seem to fall in love with the book and author I am currently reading. Right now I’m reading two books chosen by my two book groups: A Regular Guy by Mona Simpson, the sister of Steve Jobs, and Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948, by Madeleine Albright. I’m not sure if I’ll finish A Regular Guy – it is a poor excuse for a story about her brother. I liked his biography (see below) much better. Prague Winter, crammed with historical details, is definitely a must read. My real interest in it is how her Jewish family survived the holocaust. My three favorite books in 2013 were: 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I never thought a Stephen King novel would top my list. I read his wonderful book On Writing, but steered clear of his gruesome novels. This book is not … [Read more...]

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The importance of books

These say it all. … [Read more...]

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A formula for good health and happy spirits in 2013

My lovely daughter-in-law, Marissa Hall Sharples is a very spiritual woman. And she is a certified Reiki healer. I had a Reiki session with her yesterday and came upon the following hanging in the bathroom of her studio. I felt I had to share it with you. It's another way to change your life in this New Year. By the way, the session was so relaxing and healing. I recommend you try Reiki out sometime. You’ll definitely get hooked. FORMULA FOR GOOD HEALTH AND HAPPY SPIRITS Practice these three at all times: Be Positive Be Present Be Grateful Add these practices to your daily schedule: Eat lots of fresh food Open and air-out residence Take lots of relaxing walks amongst nature Play uplifting music Wear comfortable clothes at home Take relaxing baths (herbal is great) Read uplifting literature Practice deep breathing three times a day Do some exercise daily (walk, bike, hike, yoga, dance aerobics, Pilates, etc.) Be creative (the arts, music, c … [Read more...]

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Quinn’s Cookie Exchange

To celebrate the soon to be released Chaste by my friend, author and poet Angela Felsted, I’m participating in Quinn’s Cookie Exchange, named after the main character in the book, a teenage boy who knows how to cook. Even though Hanukkah is over for this year, I think you’ll find this recipe delicious any time. All the grease spots on my original recipe card attest to that. Hanukkah Cookie Pinwheels (Draidle or spinning top cookies) Bake at 350 deg for 15 minutes Makes about 5 dozen Pastry: 1 cup (2 sticks) butter 1 8-oz pack cream cheese ¼ cup dairy sour cream 2-1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour ½ teas salt Filling: 2 cups finely ground walnuts ½ cup sugar 1 teas ground cinnamon 1 egg 1 teas grated orange rind Prepare pastry: Beat butter and cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until creamy. Beat in sour cream. Stir in flour and salt until a firm dough forms, adding more flour if necessary. Form into a ball, wrap. Chill overnight. Prepare fill … [Read more...]

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Introducing my new writing friend, Deborah Kalan

Deborah and I met in Pilates class. We never said more than hello for about six months until one day I mentioned I had to rush away after class because I had a lot of work to do. She asked what I did, and when I said I am a writer, her eyes lit up. She said, “I’m a writer too.” And our friendship was off and running. I’ve read a lot of her stories, and I totally agree. She is a writer. I’m so happy to introduce her work to you. My Writing Life By Deborah Kalan I have been writing seriously since my eleventh birthday when I received a leatherette diary the color of blue Irises. The diary was secured with a little strap that had a gold lock and two gold keys. On the front of it were the words “Dear Diary.” Each page was divided into five sections of about five lines, which in my 11-year-old mind, restricted me to extremely brief entries. In those days, I mostly wrote about boys. The cute ones, the creepy ones, the ones that liked me, the ones that I liked who didn’t like me. … [Read more...]

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A mitzvah is a good deed

We just came back from Scottsdale AZ where we attended the double Bat Mitzvah of my cousin’s twin granddaughters. I must say they did a terrific job reciting their assigned prayers, Torah readings, and what-being a-Bat Mitzvah-means-to-me-speeches, and they were definitely deserving of the dinner and dance carnival party in their honor at the end of the day. However, what impressed me the most was their dedication to good work with animals. One of the girls who has already declared that she wants to be a veterinarian, raises funds for poorly treated dogs on the island of Puerto Rico. Since her father comes from Puerto Rico she was able to witness this first hand while visiting family there. She says, “I’m donating medicine to a fund for an organization called Island Dog. It’s a program in Puerto Rico for neglected or abandoned animals. They help them survive…I’m trying to help them so that dogs and cats and animals can stay alive.” Stray dogs at Dead Dog Beach Her sister wants t … [Read more...]

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Get ready for the November PAD with Robert Lee Brewer

During the month of November I’ll be again participating in Robert Lee Brewer’s November Poem A Day (PAD) challenge. He’s changed it up a bit this year. He’s asked us to submit a 10 to 20-page chapbook contest in January with poems culled from those created during the November challenge. I’m going enter. And I encourage my poetry-writing readers to follow suit. Robert also sends a great poetry prompt every week on Wednesday (except during November and April PAD challenges). To rev up some interest, here are some of my prompt responses (and the link to his latest prompt.) Remember the poems below are mostly unedited. Write a box poem.This poem is either about a box or includes a box somewhere in the poem (or title). Don’t be afraid to poem outside the box this week (sorry, I had to say it). Things in Boxes He left a black canvas box filled with his music recordings next to his bed, the cassette tapes neatly packed in order of performance. And on his closet shelf we … [Read more...]

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The Look Challenge

Linda Hoye, author of Two Hearts, invited me to take part in The Look Challenge for writers. According to Linda, “The premise is simple: find a passage in your manuscript or book that contains the word “look,” post it on your blog, and tag five other blogging writers to do the same. Seems to me like a great way to introduce readers to other writers, so I’m all in.” And I’m all in too. Here is a one of the poems included in my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On – it even has the right title for this challenge. The Look (inspired by the movie “Revolutionary Road”) She looked toward him from the counter and offered him a glass of orange juice freshly squeezed. She was fully dressed in blouse and skirt and little wedgie shoes, Her makeup was perfect. Her long blonde hair just so. She then invited him to sit down at the table. “Scrambled or fried eggs?” she asked. He said whatever is easier, scrambled probably, and unbuttoning his suit jacket sat down, looking at … [Read more...]

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