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I know. It's been a while. I should rename my blog "Not an Every YEAR Kind of Blog," right?  All I can say about that is..."I've been really busy" To quickly bring you up to speed, in short order I got married, then my son got married and I was soon presented with a grandson and then another in rather quick succession. Then I had lots of garage sales and moved across the country to be with them.

     Fast forward to late December, 2019, my husband came into my office and said, "I just read about a virus that I think is going to be "the" one to take its toll on the human race." Even though he's a physician and does medical research, I rolled my eyes and kept on writing. By the end of January, we had turned one of the bedrooms into a supply closet...N-95 masks, gloves, food, medical equipment, prescriptions, etc. Then we hunkered down and isolated. That's when my husband said, "Put aside the book you're working on and finish your Mooshie book. A cat memoir that is an action-packed adventure and a love story between a crazy cat and his flawed human is the book people want to read."

     This time I didn't roll my eyes. I recalled that twenty-three years ago, my editor at Random House, the late Leona Nevler, suggested I write a book about my travels with my zany cat, Mooshie. I started it, but shelved it when another offer came in for a different book.

     I figured that two great minds couldn't be wrong. Over the next 18 months I finished MOOSHIE. I had a "sensitivity reader" read it,  and at the same time, I attended webinars at Author's Guild about how not to get sued by litigious people. Thus I was duly advised to rewrite several sections to insure I would not be sued. I then donned my publisher's hat and dealt with the craziness of getting a book into printed and electronic form. On November 26, 2021, my cat memoir,  MOOSHIE: Life With an Unconventional Cat, went live. 

     When I've made my feeble attempts at marketing, I will once again pick up the pen and revise INTENSIVE CARE: The Story of a Nurse. That done and reissued, I will finish writing a novel that has been in the works since 1968—BLUE NOTES: Life in the Time of the Counterculture Revolution. Bear with me.

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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.  Read More 

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      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. Read More 

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      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—a physician with a twisted sense of humor—and told him about my dream.
      Half asleep, an evil grin crossed his face. . . and then, he yelled for someone to bring the Haldol. Read More 

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      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 a drop of orange juice, 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.  Read More 

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      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 down 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.  Read More 

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     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 NOON AT TIFFANY'S, 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.  Read More 

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      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.
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Thinking of answers . . .

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 is — 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.
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For the Love of Books and Reading


      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.
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