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Indelible Mark

Posted on February 23, 2017 at 3:11 PM Comments comments (127)
Indelible Mark
     It's been a while since I've done a blog post, but something happened today that just needs to be shared.
   Got my roots touched up and my hair trimmed this morning. After the goop was slathered onto my head and dabbed onto my ever-graying brows (I looked charming) I sat back with a back issue of Good Housekeeping and waited for the chemicals in my hair to do their job.
   A man around my age came into the salon and sat in the chair next to mine. The stylist asked the guy if he wanted "the usual," and he promptly told him that no, this time he wanted his head buzzed. Being a writer gives me license to eavesdrop (Okay, I made that up) so as I perused a page of recipes in my magazine I listened.
   I learned the man has been on dialysis for quite a while and has been waiting anxiously for a perfect match for a new kidney. What he hadn't known was that his daughter had been quietly looking into becoming his donor.  Turns out she was a perfect match and his surgery is scheduled for sometime next week. 
    Not caring that my gooey, spiky head of hair and product-filled eyebrows might have made me look kind of crazy, I leaned around the stylist buzzing away at the guy's head and started talking to him.  I can't help it.
    His name is Mark.  He told me about the thrill of his daughter's being his perfect match.  But, then he said, "You want to know the most amazing part?"
    Yes, of course I did.
    He hold me his daughter is adopted. So, the chances of them being a perfect match is kind of a miracle. And while I sat there with my eyes brimming, Mark, with a grin that spanned his face, told me the best part was that now he and his daughter would now officially be "blood related."
    I left the salon with a pretty nice looking coif, a renewed sense of awe in God's grace, and a prayer in my heart for the guy named Mark.   

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Posted on April 30, 2015 at 1:28 PM Comments comments (155)
     With my new book, Restless Spiritdue to release soon, I've been thinking about ghosts. As a true Scorpio, I've had a life-long fascination.  Do you  believe?  Have you ever had an unearthly visitor? 
     Back when I was a kid, my cousin, Donna, and I spent many a time with a Ouija Board planted between us with our pre-teen fingers pressed onto the triangular device that was supposed to move by some spooky energy to reveal cryptic messages.  We loved it even though, yeah all right, we were the ones moving the device.  The messages were poignant to the circumstances of our lives at the time.  (Yes, the Ouija said, the boy I liked did indeed like me back. Yes, it was true that Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders was lonely like Teen Beat Magazine had revealed, and yes, he did get my letter.) Innocent fun. 
     Donna and I constructed tents using blankets slung over a clothesline and secured with rocks onto the redwood picnic benches from Donna's backyard dining set.  Her younger brother, Ralphie, was not allowed inside our tent, nor was my annoying little sister, Bethy, despite their protestations. We waited until dark some summer nights and with flashlights we sat in our special, though makeshift, place and made up ghost stories that scared us silly.  Every little noise made us jump and screech, the sound of the wind messing with the leaves on trees in her yard, the crunch of tires when a car drove along the side road.  Even the sudden song of Mr. Softie's approaching ice cream truck made us scream, perhaps cementing true the old adage. 
     But, beyond those days, my impression of ghosts and their existence has changed.  The experiences I've had are not the made-up stuff of tween girls.  No.  What has happened to me in my adult life in regard to ghosts has been more like having a radio with its power button turned on.  Being open to the reception of such other worldly visits has manifested some things that even my skeptic husband can't refute.  Dreams of my father giving me messages, the sudden appearance of a cardinal outside my window, the television changing channels on its own and landing on a station where a little girl is asking her father if he's okay.  A memento turning up in a new place.  Things like that.  Coincidences?  Some might say yes.  I say, no way. How about you? 

No Price Tag

Posted on January 31, 2015 at 11:48 AM Comments comments (11)

      With my fifth book in the hands of my publisher as we speak, I've learned many things along this writer's path and one of the most important is that being an author is never about the money. 
        A book is diligence and creativity and business all wrapped up in a neat 300-page package.  But, most of all, writing a novel is about connection.  My greatest hope is to touch others, evoke something in my readers, make them laugh and make them think, hope, reminisce, dream. 
       Today I received an email from a woman who read my most recent book, Letters and Lace.  She enjoyed the story and told me that the book gave her "hope that there's still a chance that she'll find true love."
       The thing is, once upon a time I had the same feeling of hope as this woman that wrote to me.  My husband and I (second marriage for each of us) are our own testament to a happily ever after.  But, before he and I met there were some genuine frogs that had hopped onto my path.  There were online-dating disasters and guys who lied about who they were and, God help me, what they looked like.  There was one guy who thought he was Fred Flintstone, I kid you not.  When he asked me if he could contact me again I replied in his own vernacular--"Yabba Dabba DON'T." 
       Yet, all the while a spark of hope flickered in my heart.  It is one of the pieces of myself that I try to pour into my stories and the characters in them.  I dig deep and do my best to put it all  on the page, the ups and the downs.   It's tough sometimes when dredging up pain of loss or disappointment or fear.  But, what abounding reward  there is when those emotions touch someone, connect with them.  And, for this there is no price tag.  
      Thanks, all.  


Boomer Humor

Posted on June 27, 2014 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (128)
Boomer Humor
            A Free Donut

There's a card in my wallet with my name on it.  It sits among my credit cards and my Wegman's courtesy card as well as my Barnes & Noble membership. Yet, this little red-as-a-STOP-sign rectangle of plastic bears four mocking letters: AARP.

When I first received it, questions zoomed around in my head. Is this just another example of this Boomer's steady saunter away from the girl I used to be?  Does it just compound the fact that nobody seems to be shocked anymore to hear I'm a grandma?   Or that clerks in stores the age of my shoes call me ma'am? Or that the fastest thing about me these days is the way my roots need a touch up?

Like everything else that accompanies this aging game, I tend to ponder.  And, in regard to this blasted red rectangle I've decided that, no, this doesn't mean I'm ready for my picture to appear on a jar of Smuckers jelly. Nothing against jelly.  I'm a fan. Better, I'm at a place in life when I'm smart enough to know that life's magic is in the sweetness of today. 

I belong to today.  And that AARP card should be green-for-GO and today it got me a free donut with my coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  Too many carbs, indeed, and way too much fat. But, oh, just the right amount of jelly.

Gem #2 - Tea

Posted on November 7, 2013 at 4:17 PM Comments comments (637)
About a year ago I started making myself a nightly cup of tea. Well after dinner when it's time to settle on the sofa with my husband and watch a favorite show or two, I don my pj's and put the kettle on
The second gem in my "Sixty for Sixty" plan of incorporating sixty things into my daily life to honor this crazy ago of 60, is, simply, to embrace the ritual of making that daily cup of tea.
Tea is ancient,.  Buddhism, a religion based on the beliefs and practices of Buddha,  "the awakened one," embraces tea drinking as a ritualistic practice.  And, this, I've decided, is my plan.  There's something almost holy about the preparation, the earthen bounty of the leaves and the abundance it provides, and the steeping aroma that meets your nose, fills your senses. 
Again tonight, like every night, I will make a cup of tea, but this cup will begin a new practice, a mindful experience like a prayer.

Sixty for Sixty

Posted on November 6, 2013 at 2:01 PM Comments comments (158)
I've dreaded turning sixty.Yet, just two days in at this new number  I've thought, wait a minute.  I'm a sexagenarian and that's quite a group to be among. And when your title begins with "sex" I've decided you don't mourn lost youth, you don't drown yourself in expensive creams and lotions until you look like you're coated in Miracle Whip, and you don't run out and get a tattoo. No.  When you turn sixty, you make it count.
I've decided to honor this sexy number of 60 by coming up with 60 things I intend to do, sixty little gems for sixty years.  Not a "Bucket List" by any means, although I've got one of those hovering around in my head with things like going to Ireland someday and eventually trying horseback riding.  This isn't that.  This is not about seeking other places and things to enrich my life, it's about me enriching my every day life.
For starters, I've decided that each day I will do something physical even if it is just performing ten reps with my little aqua colored hand weights or giving a dozen good tugs to my lavender colored stretchy band. Not training for a marathon, not going spelunking, not expecting a Barbie body to arrive in the mail. Just something.
Stay tuned, and better yet, won't you fellow sexagenarians join me? Sixty gems for these sixty years.  What are yours?

Memoir: An Older Man

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 3:28 PM Comments comments (485)
     This Friday I will be attending a meeting here in my neighborhood where a group of ladies will gather to share their quest to write their memoirs.  I've been invited to speak on the topic of writing and perhaps motivate the group toward their memoir goals.
     I've decided to bring a list of writing prompts, words and ideas that can spark putting pen to paper.  Trust me, I've had to do this for myself from time to time.  I've sat at many a blank screen watching that pulsing cursor all but laughing at me while I conjure nothing. 
     If you will, I'd like to share my own experience with one of these prompts and I give it to you here:
An Older Man
     His hair was raven, black and shiny,  as was his car.  His name was Pat, short for Pasquale, and he was too old for me, but at fifteen, I was agog.
    Pat drove a sleek Ford Fairlane with the elongated lines of the Batmobile and he kept his hand at twelve on the wheel, elbow locked, wrist flexed.  Just the sight of him cruising along Cedar Road, the cross street that intersected the avenues of my little neighborhood, made my heart flip.  It was dangerous to like him, three years my senior, he was forbidden.  That, I think now, is what really quickened my heartbeats..     
      He smoked Marlboro's and the smell of tobacco clung to the grey leather interior of his car.  I'd climb in and sit so close to the passenger door that the chrome handle would dig in my side.  He'd snake an arm along the top of the bench seat, his fingers reaching to touch my shoulder.  His eyes, like black olives, danced with amusement.  A simple "How are you today?" rendered me speechless.  How was I?  Scared, exhilarated, daring heart thumping, mind zooming with the what-if of getting caught by my father.  My response to Pat,  though was a one-shoulder accented "Good."
     He gave me my first real kiss and I remember now how I opened my eyes during that first one.  I stared out the window of that Fairlaine incredulous that I actually knew how to do it, how to tilt my head, how to not asphyxiate.  He gave me his silver ID bracelet to wear on my wrist, which I ceremoniously slipped from my arm and tucked into my purse when I went home.  But, alone in my room, I donned it, loved the cool heaviness of the chain, was enrapt with the way it dwarfed my wrist, how it gave me a diminutive feeling, a sense of femininity.  I was sure I was in love and I would be forever.
     Two months later, it was done.  The obstacles were many, those three little years between us a chasm of lifestyle.  I couldn't go on dates yet, he had no interest in going to Florham Park Skating Rink on Friday night with all my other freshmen-aged friends.  Sneaking around was tedious for me, frustrating for him. 
     I was the one to actually end it.  I practiced what to say in my room, talked it out to the mirror above my dresser.  Then, standing outside the driver's side door of that Ford Fairlane, the ID bracelet sat heavy in my palm.  I recited what I had rehearsed and returned his silver chain. 
     There was such beauty in retelling the  sweet agony to my friends. And, as I look back now, I see with certainty that it was then that a hopeless romantic was born.

DVR - The New Frontier

Posted on July 3, 2013 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (132)
     My husband and I record our favorite television shows using the DVR feature from our cable hookup.  It happens to be a great way to keep current with your favorite programs, as well as allowing you to watch one while recording another.  A bonus, of course, is the fact that you can zip past commercials.  You can view an hour prime time program in about forty minutes, a half-hour show in seventeen.  Handy, yes?  Here's the new issue at our house:
     My husband is trigger happy.  He's so anxious to zip past those commercials that he winds up zipping way beyond the next startup of the program.  So he has to rewind, zip again, go too fast again, rewind again until he gets it just right.  By the time he's done outsmarting the manufacturers' plugs for the most absorbent diapers, the best smell-resistant deodorant or the most effective dish washing liquid to make your dinnerware sparkle, we could have watched the damned commercials. 
     When we're watching a recorded show that we know will have a surprise ending, like American Idol or the dreaded Bachelorette (yes I watch it, don't condemn me) I ask him to use the zip feature lightly.  Instead of his usual fast-lane four green arrows we negotiate the speed down to two.  There have been those times when he'll zip to the very crucial end of a show causing him to mutter an expletive then hit pause while telling me to close my eyes.
     So, there we'd be in our living room, Harvey with the remote pointed at the screen, me with my hands over my eyes until he tells me the coast is clear.  If he knows who won the sing-off or who got the rose he keeps it to himself so as not to spoil it for me.  And, it's that chivalrous act that makes me not bop him one with the remote.

My Big Fat Scooter Outing

Posted on June 15, 2013 at 2:26 PM Comments comments (109)
      On our recent trip to Lancaster, PA, with great friends the six of us made a plan to take a thirty-mile motorbike tour of covered bridges.  Fun, right?  Well, the three of us women started chickening out at the last minute. 
       It started when we saw the scooters.  I don't know what images the other ladies had in their heads about what this scooter would look like, but I can tell you my image was made by Mattel. And, oh how wrong I was!
     It was a Harley.  Okay, it wasn't, but it may as well have been.  It was big and black and loud and fast. 
     I was determined, though.  I had made a promise to myself that I would leave my usual scaredy-cat self home and I would face this fear like my sister has had to face her recent health trauma.  It was important that I prove to myself that I can be strong and fearless.  It was my way of confirming that I can fulfill the promise I made to my father on the day he died. I vowed to assume his role in taking care of our family. A lot of pressure was riding on that scooter, huh?
     Well, I fell off the damn thing, skinned my knee ,and decimated my pride .  Let's just say I wasn't great at navigating turns. 
     Did I fail in my promise to myself?  Did I let down the vow I made to Dad?  No.  That's not how I see it.  Here's why:
     I actually donned the heavy helmet, strapped it on tight.  I sat on the big black seat and followed the tour guide's instructions.  I practiced, I crossed a busy street, I made a left, I did it.  So, I was strong and fearless in a way, but I was also wise.  I was wise enough not to get back on the stupid thing and risk breaking a limb because what good would I be to my sister and my mother and the rest of my family if I was in a cast?
     The story has an even happier ending.  The three of us ladies let our menfolk go off on the motorbikes and we went to a winery. I excelled there, my friends.

Sandwich on a Spnning Plate

Posted on June 3, 2013 at 12:05 PM Comments comments (160)
That's what they call us, you know, The Sandwich Generation.  We care for our kids and we care for our parents. Sometimes it means caring for a sister or a friend, as well.  Right now my sandwich is a triple-decker and I realize it's what's on the menu for me at this stage of my life.
There's a bunch of stuff going on in my family's world right now and we're all a bit off our axis. I've been feeling like the guy on Ed Sullivan with the plates on sticks.  Remember him?  He had a row of tall thin poles each balancing a white ceramic dish that he spun like a top.  His goal was to have all the plates whirling around at the same time.  It was intriguing to watch him scurry along the poles making sure each plate was still in its orbit.  When one would get wobbly, he'd give it the attention it needed to spin again, this all to the tune of some frenzied background music. He was as frenzied as his trick.
Being the Ed Sullivan Plate Guy is not easy and the crucial part of this role is remembering to keep my own plate from losing its rhythm and crashing to the floor and cracking into bits and pieces.
The best way I know to do that is to savor routine as much as possible.  Whether it means making dinner for the hubby and myself or showing up for my Zumba class. I continue my guilty indulgence of watching two ridiculous soap operas even when it means zipping through an episode I've recorded late at night. I'm back to meditating a few minutes in the morning.  I'm trying to remember that there is no solution to be found at the bottom of a bag of peanut M & M's. 
To all my fellow members of The Sandwich Generation, I applaud you for keeping your plates whole, even if a little cracked.  Spin well, my friends.