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....

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Whatever Got Me Through the Night?


What I haven't done during this everlasting pandemic is write. Instead, I've Zoomed, Skyped and read.

However, this past August, I saw a callout for submissions for an anthology based on the 2020 pandemic. Obviously, at the time the editor posted that, he figured, as did most of us, that soon we were going to look back on the Covid 19 pandemic as a past experience. Consequently, he chose the title, "Hindsight." 

The topic intrigued me, so I wrote a piece, "Taco Tuesdays, 2020" and sent it in. I'd been inspired by John Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," from his album, Walls and Bridges. What I'd marked time with during the long months of 2020 and early 2021, when we were all hunkered down, was finding a way with a friend to grab a margarita and a taco on Tuesday.

I learned earlier this week that the editor has accepted my piece, with kind words indeed: "It is my pleasure to inform you that your story has been accepted for publication in Hindsight's print anthology. 'Taco Tuesdays 2020' is a moving story of friendship and resilience during an extremely challenging year."

This one small success hasn't yet inspired me to spend more time at my keyboard, crafting more stories about my life. Some days I think I've written every story I want to write. I do, however, encourage others who haven't yet written about their lives. 

When I asked if this print anthology would be published by early summer, in time for my 85th birthday, I found that it wouldn't come out until September. I plan to hold on that long to see this story in print.

Here's how I introduced my piece:

I ignited New Year’s Day in 2020 by dropping a match while lighting a pine-scented candle on the bookcase next to my old glider rocker. I scooped up the match and blew out the flicker. But when my ceiling alarm shrieked I noticed that a spark had landed on my chair’s foam cushion.  I quickly dragged the smoldering seat onto my balcony and smothered the flames eating the fabric.

I hoped it wasn’t an omen. I’d looked forward to a shiny new year.

An hour later, my new friend, Rob, phoned. I’d met him a few months earlier when we each were fresh from breakups of similarly toxic three-year relationships. Saying goodbye to romantic attachments is not an easy transition for two people in their early eighties.

Rob and I shared a mutual love of theater, jazz concerts, museums, art galleries and movies, so at the onset of our friendship, we’d visited these and began to commemorate Taco Tuesdays.

“Are you up to Happy Hour next Taco Tuesday?” he asked me now on New Year’s Day. “It’s my turn to treat.”

Stay tuned until September to see how the story plays out. A hint: I no longer celebrate those Taco Tuesdays with that friend. 

Last week, on the evening of New Year's Day, 2022, I didn't bother to light a candle. But I did finish reading a harrowing book about another pandemic, "Seven Days of Us," by Franesca Horniak. I recommend it!




Monday, June 14, 2021

Unsolicited Mail


I received this in my email today. I've pasted the message that accompanied it below. But I wonder how I get on some of the group emails I receive.

In a few days I'll write to the person who sent it and ask that I not be mailed such garbage again. Especially not with a prefatory note attached that said: "This is great! Please share it with your friends!!!!!" So, I'm sharing it. Even though it didn't say "Pretty please."

I know I've enjoyed White Privilege since birth. I have never been hassled walking toward my front doors in Maryland, Washington State or even California, simply because of the color of my skin. 
I have never been pulled over by the police and questioned because of the color of my skin.

I have never been stopped and searched when I lived in Arkansas, just because I was eating an ice cream cone outside a grocery store. But a lot of the Black adults and adolescents I worked with were.

I have never had graffiti sprayed on my house, with messages that said for me to go back where I came from, either. But the people who opened the first Mexican restaurant in Colville, WA, were when they moved to that little town.

After Pearl Harbor, nobody rounded up my family and sent them to Manzanar or another "relocation" camp.

I remember those who bought homes on the G.I. Bill all those decades ago post-WW II, when new housing communities built to accommodate those upwardly mobile families. And I remember those neighborhoods had CC&Rs that prohibited selling them to Jews and people of color who were veterans.

None of my ancestors were rounded up and sold as slaves. I've never been discriminated against as have friends of mine in South Africa who were not admitted to medical school because they had black skin.

White privilege? Yep. My card has saved me from enduring many of the indignities that others who hold these alleged valuable "Race Cards" face. 


I'm selling my white privilege card. It's over 70 years old but is in mint condition. It has never been used, not even one time. Reason for selling is that it hasn't done a damn thing for me! No free college, no free food, no free housing, no free anything, I actually had to go to work every day of my life while paying a boatload of taxes to carry those who chose not to work!  If you are interested, I prefer cash but would be willing to do and even trade for a Race Card which seems much more widely accepted and comes with countless benefits if you fit the profile!


Contact me on my Non-Obama, Non-Biden cell phone that I pay for every month..Serious buyers only.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Springing into Spring: Can I Go There NOW?

 Life slowly returns to semi-normality after our long hiatus. My AAUW (Anerican Association of University Women) Branch met this morning to discuss "Here, There and Everywhere," places we're looking forward to visiting. 

The Travel Discussion Group took the lead, addressing nearby places in Orange and Los Angeles County, then up and down the coast and finally...the whole wide world.

These are the useful websites we found to share with others:

Can I Go There NOW?


International Air Transport Association

Passport, Visa and Health Info

 Centers for Disease Control

International and Domestic Info

Cruise Planning

Me? I'd like to drive down the coast to Sherman Gardens in nearby Corona Del Mar before trying anything more adventurous.

Monday, April 5, 2021

I Must Admit It's Getting Better


I'm not sure what got you through this pandemic, but for me it's been Skype, Zoom, and Emails from friends all over the world. Though I hunkered inside most of the past year, I've been able to keep in contact with so many old friends. I didn't have to give up my book discussion groups or my Orange County Peace Corps connections. I even was able to reconnect with friends in my Colville, WA, branch of American Association of University Women and Colville library group and see their faces again, if only on my laptop screen.

But my heart still tells me I want to be in the real world, not the virtual world of this computer. It rang true again last night with I watched the Screen Actors Guild awards show, Facebook messaging with my actor friend in Miami, FL. We've been enjoying our ritual for years, during all the movie and television awards shows together. 

To see all our favorite actors sitting in their homes alone, no matter how elegantly some of them dressed, especially the women in their Easter-egg-colored gowns and of course, Dan Levy, changing his gorgeous outfits for every snippet, wasn't the same as seeing them all together at the Kodak Theater or other venue where awards ordinarily are distributed. It's not the same. Just as this field of wildflowers that I have on my Skype background isn't the same as being in the California desert and seeing them in person. 

One of my closest companions confided to me this morning that the venerable Dr. Fauci predicts that by next year we'll actually be able to go unmasked to movie theater again. Some museums have actually reopened to limited masked patrons. 

Though I've been dining with that companion and others at outdoor restaurants for months now, this coming weekend I'm even going to sit inside a steakhouse with my son and daughter-in=law.

I'm beginning to appreciate more and more the convenience of where I live, close to friends, to supermarkets, to the post office to mail packages, without having to drive on icy winter roads. Had I not been here in my tiny shoebox senior living apartment, the isolation and my increasing unsteadiness because of balance issues connected with spinal stenosis would have made life unbearable.

I've been managing, instead. Maybe not thriving, but managing. I've learned how to change the background on my Skype and Zoom, which showcases me in settings more exotic than my bedroom. It's been a diversion to find ones that represent places I wish I were or places I once loved. The photo on the left I took from a window at the Orangerie in Paris in November, 2019, the last overseas trip I took.

I haven't written anything new for a while, but I've been involved as a reviewer on several Federal grant funding opportunities for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and other Health and Human Services brances, getting paid to sit in front of my computer and update my LCSW knowledge about best practices.

The Rose Center Theater outdoor concerts, Uncle Pete's patio dining just a mile from me, my library system that's supplied me with DVDs and books via curbside or "grab and go" have made it better. Looking ahead to brighter days makes it better. Sitting in my old glider rocker in the evening, reading or streaming another episode of whatever old series I missed the first time around, makes it better.

Being fully vaccinataed now and able to hug a few friends who also have been, gives me hope. As has escaping coming down ill with the Covid-19 virus. At my advanced age, I may have had a very low possibility of surviving that. 

The increasing availability of vaccines, no constant election campaigning, not planning my day around how to find toilet paper or hand sanitizer? Yep. It's getting better!

Here's how the Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band first told us all those years ago that it's getting better:

Monday, December 21, 2020

What are You Watching New Year's?

This is probably not the year to be crowding into public places to ring in the New Year. It was a bad year for meeting under the mistletoe. But not a bad year for reading and watching a lot of well-made movies, if even in my rocker instead of a theater.

So New Year's Eve? I am betting I'll be curled up on my rocker with a book. I may set aside a few hours to binge watch the final season of "Scott and Bailey." 

Thanks to Skype and Zoom, I'm not totally out of touch with friends. But I don't recall ever spending so much time inside alone during the holidays. At least I have the luxury of electricity, even though the three-way reading lamp I bought online last March finally defaulted on its first two settings last night. I also have my local library system which still allows curbside pickup for books. And I finally added Netflix Streaming so I can watch a lot of movies and TV series, such as past Masterpiece series on my computers. (I don't have a smart TV nor the expertise to figure out how to transfer to my "dumb" TV.) 

So here's what I've binged watched this year, having made a pact with my Emmy/SAG/Oscars watching partner, actress, playright, writer Joyce Ann Newman Scott. I've finished "The Crown," am on the final season of "Schitt's Creek," and just started season 4 of "Scott and Bailey." I'm going to begin the Ken Burns "Jazz" series this new year, thanks to moving it up in my old-fashioned Netflix DVD queue. 

Christmas night I plan to tune in to see the 2020 Christsmas special of "Call the Midwife," a series I've watched from the start. And I may want to be reminded of what's good in life, so will read another chapter of Universal Table's new essay collection, Goodness. My story, "Grandma Fang's Clowder of Kittens," is in this anthology.

My library book group is reading Never Let Me Go, by Nobel Prize winner, Kazuo Ishigiro and my AAUW book group is reading Marla Jo Fisher's Frumpy Mid-Life Mom. She's a local humor columnist for the Orange County Register.

On my bedside stand: 

Sisters, Daisy Johnson 

This Time Next Year, Jacqueline Winspear

The Great Pretender, Susana Cahalan
I wish you the happiest of New Year's! I think most everybody I know is eager to see Baby New Year kick out Year 2020.


Here's Kacey Musgraves to ask you the question, "What Are You Doing New Year's?"

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Three's a Charm


Three's a charm...and three anthologies that include my stories all showed up in my mail this past month. Though Friends had appeared on Kindle earlier, it now is out in paperback. It includes "Gail and the Special Sears Sale," which recounts my brush with the law when I had just started 10th grade.

A little earlier I'd received my copies of Impact, with the story of why I joined the US Peace Corps at the age of 50, followed by Goodness, with a remembrance of Fang, the kindest cat I've ever known.

Curiosity drove me to research where the expression "three's a charm" originated. I learned that the idiom is rooted in the ancient belief that the number three is magical, but the phrase dates back only to the early 1800s. A companion phrase is third time lucky, generally considered a British term. I'd heard before of lucky seven, but hadn't been certain of the magic of the three. Apparently, that doesn't hold up for clovers, where the 4-leaf ones are what you sesek.

Nonetheless, I'm delighted to have three new books to add to my anthology bookcase. Also, do you wanna guess what my friends will be getting this year for Christmas? If you guessed it's a book, you'd be fact, you can book on it!

What they won't get, and I won't either, is the charm bracelet you see below. I'd longed for one when I was in junior high, just about the time I met Gail, who went with me a couple of years later to that fateful Sears sale. I remember I finally bought an inexpenive dime store bracelet and collected two or three charms...but it wasn't ever what I'd envisisoned. Apparently, not worth keeping, either. I still have the jewelry from those days that was, my Quill and Scroll pin from junior high journalism and my Scian sorority medallion from high school.

But thinking about charms and bracelets to dangle them on, I led me to explore to see if they are still popular. I'm not certain I've seen anybody wearing one in a long while. 

Oh, yes. This bracelet certainly resembles the one I'd imagined owning all those decades ago when I was a tweener. Do you like it? Really love it the way my 12-year-old heart did? Well, you're in luck because  now it's on cybersale. Somebody who put a lot of effort into collecting those charms half a century ago no longer is so charmed...or her heirs aren't. I still am.

As much as I admire this bracelet though, these days I rarely wander out of my senior living apartment to go much of anyplace other than the grocery store. So I doubt I'd ever have much opportunity to wear it. Besides, I still love wearing the gold tennis bracelet that my late husband gave me. I wear only one bracelet at a time...I've never felt the need to be entirely covered in baubles, bangles and beads.

But if you're charmed, you could snap it up. The seller lists it as "a vintage circa 1970s 14kt yellow gold bracelet, originally priced at $4,995.00." During this cybersale, it's offered for $3,496.50, including free, that's right, free shipping.

Or, alternatively, you could buy a book. Maybe one with a story by me! They're all available now on Amazon.

Let me know what you decide. And I hope it makes you happy.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Here Kitty, Kitty, Good Kitty!

"Grandma Fang's Clowder of Kittens" has just been published in a new Wising Up Press anthology, Goodness. The anthology is edited by Charles D. Brockett and Heather Tosteson. It will be available for purchase on December 1 from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and from the publisher,

Per Wising Up Press:   Goodness is hard to define, but we know it when we see it. In action or inaction, that pause that isn't uncertain, that is more like a deep, steady breath, an existential embrace. It is easier to see goodness in others than in ourselves. But do we experience it as a choice or part of their essential nature? If a choice, what is the nature of the choice?  What other adjectives constellate around it? Strong? Independent? Loving? Astute? Generous? Sui generis? Trusting? Confident? Firm? Unequivocal? Kind?

Where have you seen goodness in play? How has it changed your own life, the actual choices you make or how you evaluate your choices? Is there a cascade effect? Or is it, in its specificity, always a one-off? What happens to us when we think about it, try to describe it, share our experiences of it with others?

 We hope you will find personal inspiration and resonance in this thoughtful and moving collection that discovers goodness in such difficult social realities as homelessness, imprisonment, and more intimate ones like illness, families, marriage, aging. We also hope these meditations on the often unexpected good in us and those around us can help us develop larger, much needed social conversations about our common good.

This year, 2020, has been filled with much misfortune, but goodness is still around, if you know where to look I found goodness in an aging cat! 

Here are the opening paragraphs from my story:

Fang appeared shortly after Thanksgiving in l965. My eight-year-old son, Steve, found her curled up in the patio, blanketed with purple jacaranda blossoms. He’d gone out with his telescope to look for Pisces, his favorite autumn constellation.

“Look, Mom. I nearly stepped on this cat on my way to the gate,” Steve said, cradling the calico tabby. “I saw its little white paw sticking out of the flowers. Then I heard it meow. It looks so tired.”

Our last feline guest disappeared several months earlier, so I agreed we could keep this latest stray. That’s how it was back then. Except for one neighbor with a purebred Siamese, people didn’t actually

More from the publishers: "Universal Table/Wising Up Press is an organization dedicated to exploring the complex challenges and lasting rewards of living up close and personal with pluralism in social, family, religious, and civic life, or, more simply, Finding the "We" in "Them," the "Us" in "You." Wising Up anthologies use literature by contemporary writers to approach various dimensions of pluralism because of the power of narrative to help us identify safely with others who may at first seem, by appearance or circumstances or culture, very different from us. The anthologies serve as an invitation to stand in that richer relation—empathic, musing, open to new meaning—with ourselves and with our neighbors."