Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chicken Soup on Sale!

I have stories in two of these books: Inspiration for the Young at Heart, and Think Positive. Here's a chance to download some great stories at a great price!

Chicken Soup for the Soul is doing a special promotion for a limited time on 12 of its e-books! The e-books are available for half price, at $4.99, on all the major e-book platforms including Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Apple iTunes Store for iPad and other "i" devices, Kobo, Sony, etc.

This is your chance to try one of our books as an e-book, complete with the beautiful graphics and cartoons that are preserved in the e-book format.

Most of the e-book retailers also give you a button to click on to give e-books as gifts so this is a great way to send a Chicken Soup for the Soul book to a relative or a friend who has an e-book reader.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Book of Miracles
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for the Young at Heart
Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Cat's Life
Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk High School
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Middle School
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive
Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love

To see the list on Barnes & Noble's website, please click on:
To see the list at, please click on:
To download from Apple, please access the iTunes store through your iTunes account.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is Marriage Fun and Games?

The Wilson boys: Darren, Rick, Scott, Dad Ken at Scott's wedding, 2008

Not long ago somebody asked me what I missed most about Ken. Well, this gray March late afternoon I'd like to knock off working early, and play a game of gin. My late husband was a great one for games. And fun.

I’d just started junior high when some scowling soul first told me that marriage wasn’t all fun and games.I can’t remember who it was…it could have been Aunt Violet, whose husband rarely drew a sober breath, or my home economics teacher who claimed she'd never met a man worth wasting her time on.

 Mostly I remember the bitter tone of voice, the implication that marriage wasn’t all about happily-ever-after. It sounded grim indeed. At fourteen, I wondered why people kept officially pairing up if marriage were so burdensome.

In subsequent decades I bet I’ve heard this bad news at least a thousand times. It’s a dull mantra indeed, guaranteed to dampen enthusiasm for any anticipated connubial bliss. In fact, just now when I typed “marriage isn’t all fun and games” into Google, I got nearly three thousand “results.”  I scanned some of the references. Wow. It sure looks like lots of people believe that marriage can make you poorer, sadder…even fatter. If I click on some of these articles, I read that marriage is tough, hard work, chock full of painful choices, treacherous compromises, and heartbreaking disagreements.

My late husband, Ken, wouldn’t have bought it for one minute. A poker dealer and card room manager, Ken loved nothing more than sitting down to shuffle a deck. He made it clear at the onset of our relationship that he expected nothing less in our marriage than fun and games. Especially games.

“You’re going to have to learn to play some board games, and cards,” he’d said, showing me the shelf where he kept his dominoes, poker chips and a dozen board games, including Trivial Pursuit, Balderdash and Tripoly.

“I learned Chinese checkers as a kid,” I responded, “and I’m pretty good at hearts. I used to play cribbage. I don’t know how to play Texas Hold’em.”

“I’ll teach you,” he promised. Unfortunately, my lessons didn’t go well.  There was something about those community cards out in the middle of the table that felt alien to me. I wanted cards that I could clasp close to my chest. And I didn’t understand the terminology…all about flops, turns and rivers.

“Could we try something else?” I asked one evening. “I can’t get the hang of bluffing, and I’m no good at betting the odds.”

Ken believed flexibility added to the fun of life. “Well, let’s try gin. We’ll play for a penny a point and settle up at the end of each month.”

I learned the rules quickly. I loved everything about the game and appreciated even the words involved…runs, sequences and sets all sounded musical to me. So for years at least two or three nights a week we’d settle down for a gin game or two. Ken tolerated my poor shuffling skills. I pretended not to notice how he’d smirk as he toted up his monthly winnings.

Then things shifted. I began to win a few games. Ken had become accustomed to pocketing a few dollars at the close of each month. Now it was more like a few cents. 

Then one month I won, and it was my turn to smirk as I tucked away a couple of bills.

We continued to play, more evenly matched, until Ken’s final battle with cancer brought our evening games to a close.

In the nearly three years since my husband died, I frequently think of our decade together. Sure, there were difficult days, mostly related to his failing health. But even in his final weeks, Ken found something to joke about, something to enjoy. He maintained his sunny outlook nearly to the end.

Not fun and games? I don’t agree. Here’s some reasons why. For me, married life meant having somebody I loved who would:
  • Brag about me on the phone to his friends, no matter how minor my accomplishments.
  • Cook me special suppers of Swedish meatballs.
  • Escort me to weddings and parties, impeccably attired.
  • Leave love notes and teddy bears on the kitchen counter or the front seat of my car, and not just on Valentine’s Day or my birthday.
  • Inquire where we should go on vacation next summer and agree with whatever I suggested, so long as we could get there in fewer than a dozen hours.
  • Insist I put away the dust cloth and settle down to watch reruns of “Gunsmoke.”
  • Mix me a perfect Manhattan, garnished with two cherries.
  • Read me our daily horoscopes and lucky numbers.
  • Email me a joke each morning so I could start my day with a smile.
  • Wink at me across the table and chortle, “gin.” 
 “A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” ~Andre Maurois

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Remember That First Time?

We've all been novices once. And it's never too late to try something new. Though a kiss is still a kiss, and a sigh is still a sigh, there's other first memorable experiences, as well.

I'm "cocreating" a book for the new anthology series, Not Your Mother's Book, on "My First Time." I'd really love to see your stories...but the book isn't quite what you might think. As publisher Dahlynn McKowen describes it, "There’s a first time for everything, from a first date to a first car to a first job. Embarrassing, silly, entertaining and funny stories will fill this book about everything 'first.' What’s your first? Please, no sexually-explicit stories, even though first kiss stories are welcomed!"

So far I'm loving the first kiss stories that have already come in...but I'm looking forward to seeing other kinds of  "firsts."

To get your brain abuzzing, here's some possible chapter titles:

First Encounters of the Close Kind (First kiss, first crush, first date)
A Leap of Faith (First bike ride, first sky diving, first mountain climbing, first tattoo, first communion)
Culinary Adventures (First gourmet cooking attempt, first barbecue, first time baking a cake)
Coming of Age (First driver's test, first college dorm, first apartment, first home, first job)
Spectacular Spectacles (First movie, first ballet, first opera, first concert, first romantic sunset)
Trial and Error (First needlework, first garden, first oil painting, first essay, first piano concert, first sonnet)
And the Winner Is...(First jackpot, first lottery, first Texas hold-'em, first prize, first horserace)

Sit right down, read the guidelines and write yourself a story....and send it to:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Itchy Twitchy Feet

For the past few days I've been reviewing submissions for the new anthology series, Not Your Mother's Book. Though I'll also be a co-creator for "Sharing Secrets" and "My First Time," I began with the stories in the database for "On Travel." Why? Because as spring nears I get itchy twitchy feet. Those faraway places with strange sounding names begin to beckon once again.

I remember again how my life became enriched when I ran away from home at the age of 50 to join the Peace Corps. And how I got to recount some of those adventures in 2003 at UCLA's School of Public Policy and Social Affairs.

It's not as if I've been cocooning. I've recently returned from a dream trip to Philadelphia for the Dickens Bicentennial celebrations, after all. But it's the same old siren song of the overseas venues that I hear every spring that have started up once again. I'm going to England in June for a peek at the Isle of Wight...yes, the one from the Lennon-McCartney hit, "When I'm 64," and then on to London for a Road Scholar tribute to The Inimitable Charles Dickens, "The Best of Times." England's always my favorite country to visit...that will never change.

But as I'm reading the "On Travel" submissions, I'm remembering more exotic experiences..hearing the wolves howl in Mongolia with Peace Corps Volunteers, firewalking in Bulgaria with a San Diego folk dance troup, thrilling to a spontaneous four-part-harmony a capella tribute to suicide victims and their families from Samoan chieftains and missionaries in Apia.

I've never seen the pyramids along the Nile nor the Greek I'm visiting them vicariously through reviewing these stories, and am grateful I've been selected to be a co-creator for "On Travel."

Please consider sending your traveler's tales to Publishing Syndicate soon!

Here's the link to the guidelines....remember, we're looking for stories about both domestic and overseas travel, and the stories can be previously published if you retain the copyright:

Here's some more information about possible chapter headings:

Send in your stories, and keep my feet itching and twitching!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Another Message from Heaven

What could be a better way to escape the gloom of a March Saturday than to join a table of friends at the 3rd Annual Friends of the Kettle Falls Library Book Lovers Tea? My friend, Nancy Folkestad, as a table hostess, prepared cucumber, chicken salad and egg salad finger sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, and a variety of cakes and nibbles, including fresh blueberries and strawberries. We sipped a delicious oolong and I treated myself to a couple of servings of Lady Grey, as well.

I'd been invited to be the guest local author, and since Chicken Soup for the Soul published Messages from Heaven last week, I chose my story, "The Unforgotten," to read to the assemblage. This was my first time as a presenter at such a function, and I enjoyed listening to the stories of others' experiences with psychics as I signed copies of the book.

Our table of six coincidentally were all members of the Colville Branch AAUW board, so we could do some planning for future events during the interludes between readings from a book by a local historian, Ines Helmstetter, and the music provided by wonderful young piano students from Pancoast School of Music.

Most surprisingly, I finally found out what the stone is in the ring Ken gave me for Christmas several years ago, not long after we moved to Washington State. One of my AAUW friends asked me if it's Ellensburg Blue Agate...I looked online last night, and apparently it is. Ken and I stayed in Ellensburg once, and he hadn't time to shop. I think he may have bought the ring at the same jewelry store in Colville where he got my gold unicorn lapel pin. But how great at last knowing what the stone is.

Since I allude in "The Unforgotten" to Ken's belief in the paranormal, I'm guessing somehow he arranged for me to receive this information on a day when I publicly remembered his cheerfulness during his final days. Another message from heaven!