NOT AN EVERY DAY KIND OF BLOG

UPSTATE NEW YORK

September 3, 2013

Tags: Upstate New York

Upstate New York
After 34 days in a hot and crowded storage container hell, lifting heavy boxes and stressing out about how to divest myself of as much of it as I can, I am on my way to Upstate and hooray for that! All my life I've had a love affair with upstate New York. Born in Troy, NY and raised in Schenectady and Scotia, I spent most of my youth exploring the huge assortment of woods, creeks (pronounced 'cricks'), rivers (the Mohawk and Hudson among them), caves and lakes. At 17 I purchased my first car and went off to immerse myself in the history and mystery of the Adirondacks, the Catskills, the Hudson River Valley, and every village, town and sidestreet I could find.
I moved to San Francisco during the Summer of Love and never regretted it for a second, but I still find myself being drawn back to Upstate each year, certainly for the love of family and friends, and sometimes for work, but always for love for the place itself. Upstate does that to a person.

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

May 9, 2013

Tags: San Francisco, fisheye lens photos, Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco, California

TRANSAMERICA PYRAMID, SAN FRANCISCO
Ah, San Francisco, Planet California, home for the majority of my life and the place where I learned it was okay to color outside the lines and not be pilloried by the townsfolk. My trusty Canon fisheye lens caught this view of the Transamerica Pyramid one lovely day last August. I thought this one particularly nice...so much like the way I saw San Francisco back in the 60's.

CORNERED SHADOW

March 14, 2013

Tags: nursing homes, senility, confusion, sundowning, nightmares

CORNERED SHADOW
Must be because I worked as a nurse for so long, but I had a nightmare that I was senile and living in a nursing home. I thought the attendants were trying to steal my things and I couldn't remember where I lived. I kept calling for help. I was so upset, I woke my husband—the doctor with the twisted sense of humor that I married—and told him about my dream.
Half asleep, an evil grin crossed his face. . . and then, he yelled for someone to bring the Haldol.

PROCRASTINATION—A WRITER'S DRUG OF CHOICE

February 28, 2013

Tags: writing, procrastination, boob tube, distractions from work, sugar ants, Milton Berle, Downton Abbey, Cat videos, Schenectady, NY

STATIONS OF THE LOST
Okay, so I admit it: I do not own a television, and, at this writing, I doubt I ever will. The last time I owned a television was back in the early 80's, probably before many of you were even born.
This isn't to say that I have never watched t.v. As a matter of fact, by 1950 we owned the first television in the Stockade District of Schenectady, NY (Fun Fact:Schenectady is where the first regularly scheduled t.v. broadcast was generated on May 11, 1928). Every Tuesday after dinner my father would crowd our upstairs flat with homemade benches, carefully placing them in front of the t.v.—rather like an altar.
By 8 p.m., the benches were filled with families from surrounding neighborhoods—all there to watch Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle.
Later, I blamed this ritual for the incident that took place the first time I attended mass at St. Peter's. According to family legend, I looked to the altar for the customary screen and became confused when, instead of the comedian, I found a man hanging on a cross. Hysterical, I was carried out of the church screaming at the priest: "What have you done to Milton Berle?"
In any event, the reason a t.v. isn't part of my home decoration scheme is because as a typically obsessed writer, I often find myself searching for ways to procrastinate: like, jumping up to check whether or not my hair might look better parted on the other side, or, spending 45 minutes watching hundreds of sugar ants on my kitchen counter gather around drops of ant poison, looking like so many tiny cute mammals gathering at the ol' drinking hole at the end of a long, hot day.
Speaking as a writer, a t.v. would be my undoing. YouTube and all those fabulous cat videos have eaten whole days of my writing time. I mean, seriously, I shudder when I think of all the writing I wouldn't do while I spent days watching Downton Abbey and Doc Martin episodes over and over again. (more…)

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

February 1, 2013

Tags: Love, heart, near-death experience

OF ONE HEART
Some years ago I had one of those near-death experiences that everyone who has ever had one writes about. You've read the stories—they usually go something like this: "I was suddenly floating above my body..." or, "I was floating toward this very bright light and my dead Aunt Matilda and grandfather were there with beautiful angels and music was playing..."
Yeah, well, I may be from California Woo-Woo Land, but for me it wasn't anything even remotely like that. One minute I was lying on a gurney in the recovery room talking to a nurse, and the next I was in the blackest black nothingness I'd ever known. At some point I crawled out of that hole to find the code team (of which I was normally a member), staring at me, looking somewhat perplexed and horrified by my heart's irresponsible attempt to make an unscheduled stop.
A couple of days later while looking over my EKG strips from the event, I had an epiphany that made more sense than anything I'd learned thus far in my life. It's extremely simple—the thing that matters most in life is the giving and receiving of love and compassion, the two wisdoms that flow through the heart.

A NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION

January 9, 2013

Tags: New Year post 2013

SHADOW DIVING FOR FUN AND RELAXATION
As the new year begins to settle in, I find myself still working the wheel around that slow learning curve of marketing for NOON AT TIFFANY'S. I'm starting to feel some anxiety about getting back to writing. I want to finish MUSHU PORK WITH PANCAKES TO GO — adding the few missing chapters, then going through the process again: editing, copyeditng, book design, cover design, formatting for ebooks and treebooks and then. . . the dreaded process of marketing.
However, THIS year I have resolved (and assured my friends and family) that I will never again allow my life to be so consumed by my writing that I forget to live.
With NAT, I wrote 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year for five years and 6 months. It aged me and made me crazy . . . well, okay. . . crazier.
So, now, whenever the mood strikes, I close up shop, take my husband and my camera and go to the beach. (more…)

2012 TAIL END

December 28, 2012

Tags: Year End blog

TAIL END 2012
2012 was a milestone year for me for a lot of reasons: getting married, publishing a new book, attempting to learn social media and marketing—but mostly, this is the year that I came to the realization that I'm not immortal. It's not that I'm too terribly old, but youth is definitely outside my area code.
The notion of my mortality grows more real with the increasing number of friends and contemporaries who are vacating the bus so to speak. This is the first year that when I paid my once-a-year visit to my storage unit, the thought occurred to me that it was time to start getting rid of all the stuff I've managed to collect. I found this a little worrisome because the idea of getting rid of everything makes me euphoric. I must be getting old.

Thinking of answers . . .

December 9, 2012

Tags: Noon at Tiffany's cover photo, Clara Wolcott, book club questions, writing historical fiction

The Thinker, Vence, France 2009
Now that I've asked people for their questions about NOON AT TIFFANY'S, I'm having to come up with answers which, even though I wrote the book, is harder than you may think.
As it turns out, one of the more popular questions was what percentage of the book is factual and how much is based on 'informed assumption'. In my estimation approximately 85% is factual, and the remaining 15% is fiction that is based on intelligent/intuitive conjecture. For example:
Josephine Wolcott, the youngest of Clara's 3 sisters, and the sister who plays a key role in the first third of the book, rarely, if ever, wrote letters—if she did, I did not find them in my research. Thus, I had to fashion her character from what her sisters, mother and friends wrote about her, from public records and photographs.
I also drew conclusions from her death certificate on how the chronic illness that ended her life at the age of 24, may have affected her personality.
Another example of this is the photo of Clara on the front cover. Her weekly letters gave in-depth detail about her state of mind and mood. Thus I surmised that this photo was probably taken sometime in 1902. If you study the photo closely, you will see a pensive, melancholy woman—or, in the modern vernacular—she was depressed. As reflected in her letters, in 1902 Clara hit her emotional rock bottom after her favourite sister, Kate, died of peritonitis and, immediately following this great loss, the Tiffany Men's Department went against her and her Tiffany Girls demanding that the Women's Department be shut down for good.
Next most popular question was why I changed genres from True Medicine and Medical Fiction to Historical, Biographical Fiction. I'll save that for the next blog post.

For the Love of Books and Reading

November 24, 2012

Tags: Books, for the love of books, reading, writing

SHADOW READING -FOR THE LOVE OF BOOKS
Books and reading—feasts for the senses and the mind. Books provide one of the finest forms of escapism - I ought to know. Growing up as a junior insomniac in a highly dysfunctional family, reading was my drug of choice. Even in labor, I read from the first contraction until the moment I was wheeled into the delivery room and the nurse had to forceably remove the book from my hands.
I love books. I used to own 145 boxes of them which I kept in storage. Two years ago, I cleared out 50 of those boxes, categorized them, and put them out in my driveway for sale - 25 cents each. At the end of 8 hours, I'd sold one book - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The next day I loaded all 50 boxes into my husband's pickup and drove them to Goodwill—it was a lot like giving beloved pets to the SPCA.
Yeah, yeah....I know. Tree Books are becoming a thing of the past. . .but I can't help it—I still love the feel of the paper as I turn the pages, and the smell of the ink and the glue, and the thud they make after I've fallen asleep and they slip out of my hands to the floor.

NOON AT TIFFANY'S

September 22, 2012

Tags: Clara Wolcott Driscoll, Louis Tiffany, Tiffany Studios, Tiffany Lamps, American artists, American Women artists, New York City history, Women artists, stained glass lamps, stained glass windows, Tiffany's New York



NOON AT TIFFANY'S


IN THE SUMMER OF 1888, Clara Wolcott, a daring young artist from Ohio, walked into Louis Tiffany's Manhattan office to interview for a job as a designer. For the next 21 years, her pivotal role in his multi-million dollar empire remained one of Tiffany's most closely guarded (more…)
Shooting the Canon 2012

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