Friday, October 20, 2017


 "Eat Chili Peppers & Live Longer" was recently headlined in articles published by CBS News, New York Times, Daily News, and Time Magazine.


All these articles quoted a new study in PLOS.COM., an authoritative public library science journal that only publishes scientifically rigorous research. About 16,000 adults who were surveyed on their background, eating habits, and current health from 1988 to 1994, were followed up on for a period of 18 years. The  mortality rates for adults who consumed chili peppers were 21.6% compared to 33.6% for those who didn’t -- i.e. chili pepper eaters have a 13 percent reduced risk of dying. The Capsaicin in various chili peppers is, perhaps, the key to longer life.

...hmm... I sinfully, frequently snack on spicy hot Jalapeno chips. 
Capsaicin (pronounced 'cap see sin') metabolizes fat breakdown, stores energy in different organs, protects against high cholesterol and obesity, therefore reduces hypertension and type 2 diabetes, as well as deactivate certain regulators of cellular growth, which could stop tumors.

The reliable journal refers to another study in 1997, which suggests that Capsaicin in hot peppers may prevent cancer, and hinder the growth of prostate tumors. Scientists introduced tobacco to hamsters to induce cancerous lung tumors. They gave one group Capsaicin and the other group a placebo. The Capsaicin group experienced less tumor growth in the lungs than the placebo group, indicating that hot peppers may also help prevent lung cancer in those who smoke or live in polluted areas. The journal also refers to two other studies about hot peppers being the key to longevity: A 2009 study in India concluded peppers were was not the key; a 2015 study in China however concluded chili pepper reduced mortality from all causes, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.


New York Times reporter, Nicholas Bakalar, quoted another very recent study by Dr. Benjamin Littenberg, professor of medicine at the University of Vermont, who said "The evidence isn’t strong enough to make me change my diet. Don’t smoke, limit calories, don’t drink to excess, get a flu shot every year -- those are things we have very convincing evidence will help you live longer. I don’t know how much chili pepper to tell you to eat.”

Guys, I'm hooked on Jalapeno chips. I blame it on my husband who habitually spices up everything I cook, more or less insulting me as a cook.  He adds tons of garlic powder, pepper, Indian curry, and cayenne.

Maybe there's something a little masochistic in eating spicy food, but it's a great way to stave off the most brutal elements of winter. The fact is, having indoctrinated my throat with spicy hot Jalapeno chips, I'm going to give chili peppers a try. Take a look at my not necessarily healthy doings.

Monday, October 16, 2017


Emily Frankel insists her husband, John Cullum, explain why he gets confused, often seriously pissed off when he's using his computer.
Mile a minute, he mentions things that most people do easily online.  Suddenly, paranoically, John claims the Internet was designed to make him feel stupid.

Emily, discussing specifics with John, can't eliminate his frustration, but it comforts him.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Each year around this time, I remind you to stand tall. I have not been standing tall, probably ever since the 2016 election -- discouragement about what's happening in the country and the world. I figure you, for similar reasons aren't standing tall either.
If you are slumped over, or dumpy looking, you can read what I've said about this in some of my older blogs  --"SSS"  (Sit, Stand, Straight), or "Promenade." (I'm not encouraging you to click the links; read if you've got lousy posture.)

My current routine: every morning around 6:50 A.M. I carry my tall cup of coffee and bagel downstairs and march into my office-dance-studio-theater, striding with long, strong bold steps. Looking straight ahead and beyond so that my head is high, I cross the 40 foot floor, hear my sneakers squeak, dismissing my do-this- do-that morning thoughts.

If "stand up straight" worked like a mantra, I'd be fine -- perky, zesty, attractive looking. Alas, commanding myself like a boss, director, choreographer, doesn't work as well as it used to -- because I'm getting older as well as wiser.

Guys, when you stand tall, you like yourself. It's more important than how young you look, and vanity concerns such as weight, diction, hair style, makeup, and what you're wearing. Liking yourself is an inner thing of pride and confidence. When you LIKE yourself, you think more clearly and accomplish more -- you do whatever you are doing better, more efficiently, more skillfully, accurately, thoroughly.

If you don't like yourself for whatever reasons -- poor sleep, bad personal or world news -- standing tall you will get you liking yourself.

How to stand tall:

Be a toothpaste tube.  

Squeeze yourself in the middle -- front, back, sides, all around. While you're squeezing count ten chimpanzees -- "one chimpanzee -- two, three," etc.

That's it. If you want to do more, toothpaste tube yourself three times a day.

And three times a day, go to a wall.

 Stand against it...

...your heels...

...back of legs...

...your waist,

...your upper back,

...your shoulders,

And count ten chimpanzees. Articulate the word; if you check it on your watch, saying the 'chimpanzee' takes about a second.

What gets in the way of standing tall is the fact that most of the day, you are sitting. Therefore, try doing this three times a day. 

Perhaps, each time you are thinking of getting a snack, you could go stand against the wall and do this exercise. Doing the wall four to six times a day will make a difference, or counting twenty chimpanzees, but guys, it gets boring.

I say don't do your exercise more-so, bigger, or better. I say don't discuss this with your loved ones. Excessive loving encouragement can wear down the private, secret, wonderful inner-winner thing of standing tall.

Just STAND TALL and enjoy the way you feel.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


The big guys who control what most of us use everyday, are telling/selling, compelling us "do not attempt to repair your device." They say: "If you try to fix it yourself, you're inviting hackers.  You'll have more troubles, serious troubles. Repairs must be done by our skilled technicians."

Apple, along with other phone makers, as well as Deere Co (maker of tractors), are lobbying and halting -- yes halting -- "Right to Repair " legislation. They're worried. They make billions from repairs and Right to Repair & Fair Repair is now in 12 States.

Peruse this.

Get some handyman books on this and that ...

Take a look....

Get specific

Pick up a tool or two....

This can be you.
All aspects of YOU yourself -- brains, brawn, and beauty -- are utilized when you fix it yourself. 

It's a way to fight helplessness about wars, immigration, global warming, racial issues, healthcare, taxes, scary headlines, and it's good exercise.

Hey, if you yourself cannot make the-whatever-it-is work, use your brain, brawn, beauty to find a local expert -- ask folks who own or operate or work for businesses in your neighborhood for suggestions; check references; negotiate; make an appointment; watch what they do. And learn.

It's interesting. It's fun.  I've done it. If I can do it, so can you.       

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


"Hmm," Emily Frankel says as she checks out their latest video recording, while her husband, John Cullum, chuckles and enjoys the video's topic.

Cullum the professional, who splices in music, and cuts out unnecessary stuff, doesn't criticize his or her performance, but Emily fusses over her diction, their outfits, and often wants to re-do the recording. John usually talks her out of it.

Saturday, September 30, 2017


A few weeks ago, everyday our kitchen television was tuned to men's and women's tennis at Forest Hills. My husband, John Cullum, is full-time fan and keeps me up to date. I peek over his shoulder.

I have loved, admired, and saluted Roger Federer for years. Before Forest Hills, every time I heard his name, the fact that he's now 36 was mentioned. I figured he and 31-year-old Rafael Nadal would be playing each other in the finals. I know how it feels to be told that you can't do what a younger  athlete can do, but Federer, winning the Australian open and Wimbledon earlier this year, has proved he's still a winner.

I was stunned when I saw Federer lose in the Quarter Finals -- upset, as I watched as he congratulated the winner, Juan Martin del Potro, and left the court.
He told reporters: "I didn’t think I played bad, I can do better maybe, sure, but I think the decisions that we both took, me serving, him returning, or whatever  it may have been, you know, it just didn’t go my way. The way I played or am playing right now, it's not good enough in my opinion to win this tournament."

The way he thinks/speaks about his work inspires me to think/speak to myself Roger's way, about my own work.

The vision of him in 2016 after the Forest Hills finals is still strong in my mind -- his friendly, kind manner that said I'm happy for you, as he shook hands with the winner, Novak Djkovic.

He thanked Djkovic for being  such an excellent player, and said, quietly, one sentence about being  back next year.

My ears tingled. My heart sang -- "Yes, be back next year. and try hard again."

Wherever  he is right now, today, he's not mourning or reviewing what he might have  handled better in that Quarter Finals Game with Del Potro. He said he'll be back next ear and he will be back. Right now he's probably playing tennis somewhere with his usual  intense total concentration -- like McEnroe said, "playing his usual  beautiful game."

Playing the game beautifully ...Yes, whatever Roger Federer did, does, and will do in tennis is a gift he gives me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Her latest work, a huge 11-foot by 18-foot collage, is upsetting some audiences and being praised to the skies by others. It is now on display at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Gallery, on 22nd street in Manhattan, the premier marketplace for contemporary art for sale.

The 47-year-old Kara Walker, who has long been heralded as one of our country's most prominent black female artists for making art about her race and gender, declared on the Internet just before the opening -- “I am tired, tired of standing up, being counted, tired of  ‘having a voice,’ or worse, ‘being a role model.’ Tired, true, of being a featured member of my racial group and/or my gender niche.” Referring to the recent White Nationalist Rally in Virginia, she strongly acknowledged her right and capacity -- “To live in this Godforsaken country as a (proudly) raced and (urgently) gendered person who is under threat by random groups of white (male) supremacist goons.”

You and I need to get up close to see what's in this painting -- what you recognize, what it's saying about who, when, and what's happened in our country. According to New York Times critic Roberta Smith, it's the "Remorseless racialized America present."

Walker makes the title of this work into a 198 word parody that playfully suggests to the audience what she wants them to think about what they're seeing, referring to one group of silhouetted figures as the "Slaughter of the Innocents( they might be guilty)," suggesting the recent police shootings of unarmed African Americans. She titles another group, an array of black women in two-piece bathing suits, as "Pool Party of Sarandapalus (after a famous Delacroix painting), because it brings to mind an incident back in 2015 when a Texas policeman pinned down a black girl at pool party.

Studying the painting you will see recognizable figures of Klansmen, Trayvon Martin, Batman, Uncle Ben,  Martin Luther King Jr., and Donald Trump as a severed head bearing a swastica on its forehead, a second Trump head held aloft by a Black Panther-like figure.

New York Magazine critic Jerry Saltz says, "Walker's enormous collage rates as perhaps the greatest work about America made in the 21st Century. Walker surely must know she may be destroying her career with her protest, but still it will be a crime if this work doesn't end up on permanent display in a prominent New York Museum."

Take a look at some of her earlier works that I wrote about back in 2015-- Kara Walker Artist.

Her paintings, collages, and what she says about them express, perhaps, her frustration that she, as a mere artist, might might have answers for the urgent questions facing us at this moment in history.  Kara Walker is demanding, shouting, howling, that we look ... see ... pay attention.

Friday, September 22, 2017


Emily Frankel tells her husband that the ancient classic literature that he reads on his kindle almost every night is "mostly boring, not my cup of tea."

John tells wife Emily that Plato, Sophocles, (& others like them) help him run his life, and understand the world of today.

Monday, September 18, 2017


This is Arundhati Roy.
I saw the photo, the headline "Captures India's chaotic beauty," above a review of her new book in Newsweek Magazine. Her face ... this photo ... got me reading the article.

Apparently in her book "THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS," author Roy wanders at night near her home in Delhi, observing the poor people who survive there among palaces, mosques, and cemeteries, trying, as an writer, to make what's not seen, clear and visible.

In this book, her second book that was written twenty years after her award-winning first novel "GOD OF SMALL THINGS," Roy moves from a family in an old graveyard, to what's happening in distant Kashmir where a love triangle unfolds -- a college pal and a journalist -- two people whose mixed background, (parents from different classes) resembles Roy's own background.

Roy says to write about India, without addressing its caste problem, would be like ignoring the legacy of aparthied in South Africa. The 55-year-old Roy has spent the last twenty years writing about injustices -- local and global -- from the negative ecological impact of hydroelectric projects in India to her support for National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

"It was about ten years ago," Roy said, "that I started feeling all my urgent interventions weren't making any difference. In Kasmir, I couldn't express what I learned about terror and repression with footnotes and facts. Fiction seemed to be, for me, the right thing to do. All the journeys I've made, all the things I have done, form the underpinnings of "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness."

So, did a buy a copy? Am I reading this new book?

Not yet. My desk is piled high with work I must do on my novels that John Cullum's publishing as audio videos. Am I recommending it? Yes.
Those words she wrote, and her face -- the look of her sticks in my mind -- woman, girl, amused, thoughtful, hugely observant. She inspires me to do the same things in my work. Maybe she'll inspire you too.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Today is the day I celebrate my mother's birthday. There's a green light glowing in her brass candle holder. It's electrified, and sits on a shelf above my desk. The nurse, who tended Mom, during the last weeks of her life, sent it to me. I keep it lit night and day.

Throughout my life, Mom was always there for me -- it didn't take much conversation -- just "Mom, I've got a problem," or "Mom, I'm not sure what to do," or just "Hi Mom."  (I've blogged about her in "Night Light" -- 4/13, and in " Marching" --  4/17.)

After a head-on collision on the highway near Indianapolis, I was rushed to a hospital -- cut out of my clothes, temporarily repaired -- my small intestine had been severed by the seat belt, my facial injuries were extensive. Because I had a fever, surgeons postponed the major surgery that was needed on my back.

For the next three weeks, I was strapped to a Stryker table. The nurses turned it and me like a flap-jack, every 45 minutes. I couldn't sit up, or raise my head, or move any part of my torso, though I could move  my arms and hands. I lay on my bandaged stomach wounds, facing the floor, then lay face up with my injured back (at the waist), positioned over the padded hole in the center of the table.

My husband, John Cullum, and Mom arrived while I was still unconscious. He was in "1776" on Broadway singing "Molasses to Rum," playing the Senator from South Carolina. While I was being treated with antibiotics for the fever, the show's producer let him miss performances and fly to Indianapolis twice a week. The shows he missed weren't deducted from his salary. The cast members had a "kitty" -- money they collected to help cover the cost of the airfare.

Mom, who was recovering from a mastectomy she had a few months earlier, was with me every day. She got me large-size knitting needles, white yarn, and cast on thirty stitches, so that upside-down or right-side up, I could knit. With her encouraging me, I managed to make the first four inches of a scarf that my husband even now, occasionally wears.

The Doctors came in routinely, and tested my legs, arms, face as well as my private parts with a feather, asking, "Do you feel that?" Though I didn't feel anything, I always said, "I can march."

It seemed to cheer everyone when I said that. An orderly had told me I was temporarily paralyzed. Someone had murmured "partial paraplegia." I didn't have a dictionary, but if I had one, I wouldn't have looked up paraplegia or fracture. No one said "your back is broken" -- they just said that the lumbar vertebrae at my waist were "fractured."

It took all my energy to concentrate on minutes passing between pills and the hospital routines that had to do with food, toilet, bathing, combing my hair. I didn't ask for a mirror -- I didn't want to see what I looked like. Watching the clock ... what a torture it was, staring at the second hand, watching the minute hand, waiting for the hour hand to move. Only after three-and-a-half hours had past, could I start asking for the pills that let me disappear for a while.

It was a orderly who noticed a reddish, swollen area on my arm. A sliver of glass, probably from the shattered windshield of the car, was removed and treated. By the next day, the fever was gone.

JC was onstage in New York when the two surgeons examined me head-to-toe with a needle, instead of feather. Frowning, one of them said, "Well, we can operate in the morning. The other surgeon smiled, and joked -- "I'm the best bone fixer around town -- this is the hospital where we fix the racers from the Indy 500.  My friend here is a neurological specialist -- best in the country, figuring out nerve endings."

I tried to say something about marching. The way they were talking -- one frowning, the other smiling -- frightened me. They said ... maybe a year ... two years ... maybe five ... hope for best ... "Wheelchair" was mentioned twice.

After they left, Mom pulled her chair in. Squeezing my hand, she said, "Recovering from surgery is easier than waiting like you've been waiting. What you need to do is get a good night's sleep, and wake up strong, looking forward to the operation."

"Is that what you did, Mom?" She'd hadn't mentioned her mastectomy. I was thinking ... five years ... wheelchair ...  hope for the best ...  I wanted to say I don't want to live if I'm going to be in a wheelchair.

Mom spoke softly. "Don't think about what you fear. Try to give yourself to the doctors, dear, like you'd give yourself to a lover." She kissed me, and said it again, louder and very clearly. "The doctors need you to trust them, dear.  It will help them, if you give yourself to them like you'd give yourself to a lover."

I had never talked about lovers or my love life with my mother. How did my mother, married to my father -- for so many years the hard-working, faithful, adoring, good wife -- find the knowledge, the words, the wisdom to say what she did? And help me -- give me the command, and then, the power to look forward to tomorrow.

Happy birthday, Mom -- you gave me health, a body, resilience, a healing capacity, a powerful life force that's in my bones, my muscles, my blood, my skin, my pores, and you were always, always, always there when I needed you.''

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Spur of the moment, no matter what we're discussing, we just waltz, Charleston, or do a classical "Minuet."

Instant choreography's a fun way of communicating.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


That's the title of my novel about infidelity -- Marian, the head of a fund-raising corporation, returning home a day early from a conference, finds suspicious things. We feel her pain as she  gradually finds out that her husband, Ferris, is involved with another woman. Learning more about his affair and why it happened, Marian must reinvent herself, recover, and redefine love.  Here's Chapter One.

click title "SPLINTERED HEART"

Get a copy
(free, September 6, 7, 8, 9, 2017

Saturday, September 2, 2017


Expressing your opinion nowadays, can be very tricky, very upsetting.

John Cullum and wife Emily Frankel have different ideas about this. Is it better to express your opinions loud and clear, or should you be quietly careful, and avoid getting into serious arguments?
Is the way the Cullums handle this relate to the way YOU speak your mind these days?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


There are around 80 million dog pets in our country. About 44% of Americans have at least one dog.
We don't have a dog anymore, but I remember many moments with our Lhasa Apso, Teechi, and still miss her.

I was intrigued by a six-page, featured article in Time Magazine about Canine research facilities that have been established around the world, and how they tested the question, "Can dogs actually count?"

Apparently the test dogs tended to chose a board with more shapes, not less. Other tests proved, "Dogs understand an object's permanence -- if an object is tossed out of sight, they look for it." Babies do not do that when they throw a spoon on the floor.  

"Do dogs do better than 3 to 4-year-olds?" Kids were taught to turn a lever to open a box and get a treat. When the lever was rigged so it wasn't needed, children continued to turn it. Dogs just opened the box.

Brain size facts: "A human brain is one fiftieth (1.50th) the mass of average body. Horses are dullards at 1:600th; lions are little better at 1:550th; Dogs are comparative scholars with an impressive 1:125th. But... (I love the way the author of the article, Time's Senior Reporter, Jeffrey Kluger, put it), "Dog brains don't have the real estate that humans have."

The article explained, "The 3 pillars of a dog's world are reward, pleasure, expectation." Using food rewards, experimenting with 2 smells -- puffs of a chemical that smelled like nail polish remover -- puffs of a green grass smell -- "Dogs learned to go right to the green grass smell."

Various research reports conclude: "Dogs tend to behave socially. They recognize faces of humans  and other dogs. They experience jealousy when a treat is fed to  a dog mannequin." With 2 dogs, side-by-side, one trained to pull a lever that would get food to the other, it was noted that the first dog  pulled the lever when the second dog was a playmate; it was noted that for unknown dogs, the test dogs didn't pull it.

"Do dogs alert someone if someone is injured or there's a fire? Tests showed that dogs do not bark if there's a fire, or an injury. A dog owner, walking his dog, fell to ground. Nearby, 2  humans were seated, but the dog didn't do anything. Since, in the majority of  cases, dogs tested did nothing, the researchers have said, "Dogs alerting humans in life and death situations is because of dogs' awareness of something weird or not safe."

"Do dogs follow pointing? Other species, such as dolphins, elephants, and bats, learn the meaning of pointing only from experience with humans who taught then by pointing. Researchers concluded, "Dogs know the hand is used to indicate something."

Do dogs understand and learn "displacement" of toys? It was noted that dogs, after playing with a toy and the researcher removed the toy, go to the place where researcher put the toy.

What about dogs remembering when you're home from a long time absence? Researchers say, "Dogs have awareness of the past, and the future, and possibly the rate at which time passes." Monitoring cameras show how dogs left alone, stir, check the door, and become restless while waiting for you to come home.

What about will power? In an experiment with dogs trained to sit without moving for 10 minutes, the dogs, after 20 minutes, given a new task, were less likely to complete a new task than dog who spent the same 10 minutes doing whatever it pleased. Science says it's because of depletion of glucose in the prefontal cortex. They say that after a 'sit and stay,' if you give a dog a sugary drink, the dog will stay and function with the next task longer and better.

If you, who are reading this blog, have a dog over a long period of time, you may come to other  conclusions about your dog's intelligence. The days when we had a dog (also a cat, fish tanks, and a bird) are long gone. My husband worked as an actor on different coasts, and I maintained my dance company by touring -- we were not able to be good pet parents. Even so, my memories of interacting with our dog are vivid and continue to haunt me with guilty-mama thoughts -- Teechi was part of our family, so of course, I'm fascinated by information about something that was, and still is, so important in our lives.

Here's a link to Jeffrey Kruger's article in Time: SECRETS OF THE CANINE MIND.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Just A Quick Look At Something Personal

Back in 2013, I usually said "Good morning" to the small pot of elephant ears that sat on my book shelf.
That's how it looked, in February, 2014, after 2 of its ears  turned brown. On the steps to our roof where we have a storage area, I found a larger black pot. My husband, John Cullum, got a flower shop owner, a fan who'd seen him in various shows, to sell him 4 cupfuls of potting soil, and we transplanted it. I put it on top of my printer just below a bright light. Calling it "Plantee," I started greeting it every morning and every night.

By October 2015 there were 5 nice-sized elephant ears, 3 small ones, and 2 sprouts. I got a bag of potting soil from Kmart for $4.95. We didn't have a right-sized pot, so we used a large Plaster of Paris can. Scrubbed it, loaded it with soil, adding 2 wood sticks, 2 straightened-out wire clothes hangers to support the 2 main stems, and installed a lamp to give it sunshine near the fax machine in the hallway between our offices -- it's Plantee's home now. I say hi and compliment it, whenever I pass through the hall to chat with John, golly, around a dozen times a day.

If you work in a small office, spend your day inside away from people and other living things, hey -- a plant to love and cherish, and talk to -- wow, it grows you like it grows the plant.

You're growing, and growing, like I say as I run out of words in this in this video about the wonders of growing, growing, growing like Plantee.

Monday, August 21, 2017


Today's date, my brother's birthday, is burned in my mind.

My  brother, David Frankel, was the only male child in my father's family,  the one child who could carry on the family name. He drowned in a boating accident a few months before his 19th birthday. He was a freshman at Antioch college just beginning to figure out what he wanted to be and do. And he never got a chance to drive the second-hand convertible he bought. I wrote about this and how his death affected me and my family in "Spiffy Cadillac Cars."

As I say his name, I think of my mother, how she loved him, celebrated him, lived through the ups and downs in her life, and helped me -- never stopped helping me and being there for me -- how she gave me her strength. I celebrate her birthday every September in "My Mom's Birthday."

Mom and David are gone, but are part of what makes my mind wander  here-and-there, find significance in the many things that are changing, and write-talk about them -- about the sense that I have that the future is mile-a-minute coming in around me, and I am racing into what the earth will be like when I am gone.

David and Em

Yes, people who are gone have shaped you, and made you what you are right  this minute.


Celebrating them keeps them very much alive and present  in your life. Celebrating them is celebrating YOU. Thanks, Mom, I celebrate David's birthday today, Mom, for us.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Emily Frankel praises her husband for handling things that scare her -- she thinks he's always wise and brave.

John describes how he handled some dangerous situations back in the days when he was drinking too much, but his bravery had more to do with booze and bravado, little to do with courage.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Wish you could temporarily disappear from your present world and see a whole different EVERYTHING?

I'd love to be here!!!!!!

'Taint a fantasy -- I saw the photo in a magazine touting super vacations. You can rent this room for $250. You get breakfast in bed served by a butler. You get a 360 degree view of the alps, the true sense of nature, freedom, space.

Hey, is it something to consider? Switzerland’s tourist season peaks during the months of July and August, when the weather is most pleasant. You'd probably need to book an accommodation months ago -- Switzerland’s hostels, hotels, and inns fill up quickly in the summer. But, if you'd like to explore the alpine nation with less shoulder-rubbing, September and October are ideal -- less crowded and the weather remains agreeable, or try next April, or May.

Laugh this away, realizing -- it's impossible -- you're too busy -- you don't really need a vacation. Or put this vision in the corner of your mind, visit it, and dare to dig into it, and find out if it's something you could really do.

WOW!!!!! With all the grim dark things in the news today, wouldn't it be lovely to wake up in this  room tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


  A well-known actress we know is suing a major movie website because when it revealed her age, she started losing jobs.

My husband, a legendary performer, is currently being offered jobs for  dying grandpas, and great-grandpas with Alzheimer's. Why? Because his  age is more or less known, and producers  feel if you're over  sixty, you are old. (J.C. would probably do better if he gained 20 pounds  and walked with a cane.)

Picasso's haunted, sad-faced self-portrait of his older self is on the left.  There are wonderful memorable words about age in in Shakespeare's plays. In all the arts, and in life, words/words like birds, ads/fads, a-mill/a-thousand new, true, cure-you things are affecting, infecting people with AGE-itis.

It's what every one gets soon or later in little and big ways before or after a birthday....well... maybe every birthday, Guys, maybe daily, so you need to do some little and big things, even very major things NOT to get it.

Starting now, keep away from ANY food, food supplements, pills, talk shows, advisers, therapists, knowledgeable friends, counselors, TV doctors, real doctors--keep away from humans who say, "At your age you should... you shouldn't..."

ALSO, keep away from I should be earning a good living. That's deadly. Also historical summaries: At age (?) others in my field were already established. Beware of "a person my age shouldn't wear..." Beware of "a person my age can't..."

If you're trying to sell a book, play, painting, style, a concept -- trying to land a job, go to college, learn a new language, craft, skill, technology, do not think about age. Do not wonder if anyone else has tried, at your age -- to become a famous, successful, income-producing whatever... Just do it.

Watch out for age-cliches, age-rationales, age as a factor. NEVER think at my age I need a flu shot, vitamins, must keep my weight down, exercise, walk, jog. It's okay to be aware of bladder control, but why do I forget things, why didn't I hear that -- THAT will get you to conclusions about how often you need to see the doctor, the dentist, the optometrist.

See doctors if, or when you absolutely need to.

Also,  if you're registering or joining something that asks your age, lop off a large chunk of years. If you can't lie, then skip whatever it is.

A world science panel recently said "Age 90 Is the new 50.” I don't think 90 is  the new anything, but if age 90 IS the number that says you are old, think of Betty White, and Warren Buffet, and if you're  actually approaching the 80 number, don't utter, mutter, or murmur it to anyone, including yourself.

So what about celebrating your birthday. I suggest DO NOT. If you get birthday cards, get the return addresses from the envelope, and throw the cards out. You can't stop people from saying "happy birthday," but a bunch of people singing "Hap -py  B i rth- day To Y O U" should be studiously avoided.

Aging is easier if you do the things I've mentioned above, carefully, discreetly, and gracefully. If you can't lie, or avoid your loved ones, well... you will age a little -- not a lot -- if you wisely, carefully, cautiously keep eyes and ears open, keep on your toes, and steer clear of the pitfalls listed above.

Am I worried about age? Well....


Not really. I just worry about getting AGE-ITIS.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


That's me!

That's what I often look like as I watch films on our bedroom television set.

I am not sure what the actors are saying.

For instance, if leading characters are arguing -- it sounds climatic and I do hear a few words -- I find myself supplying appropriate dialogue, based on what I have gathered thus far about the story that's unfolding.

Quite often, more often than I like to admit, it bothers me -- sometimes characters whisper, or it's just bad 
pronunciation, or the actors get so deeply into what they're feeling, they don't pay attention to pronouncing words clearly -- they just let words run together.

I can't blame this on our TV set. News and commercials are clear. But it's seriously annoying. Quoting Shakespeare's Hamlet, I tell the television, "Speak the speech I pray you as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines."

The other day, in desperation, I fixed the settings on our television to display captions. The dialogue appeared in a white strip with each word easy to read. It's somewhat distracting from the story that's unfolding, but it helps.

Maybe it's just as well that I am missing dialogue -- the stuff I am not hearing is stuff I don't want to hear.

Hey, maybe, probably, the dialogue I am inventing improves the film!


I turned off captions.  Now, I simply murmur --

Friday, July 28, 2017


Joanna Quaas, ninety-one-years old, is doing what athletes one-quarter her age often struggle to do.
I'm riveted.

To do a plank, lie on a mat or floor, face down, forearms on ground, clasp hands together, squeeze muscles in buttocks, straighten your legs -- here's the basic position.
Joanna Quaas is doing an advanced plank, straightening her arms, like in a push up, sustaining it for more than a minute.  I can manage to do it the basic position for 16 seconds.

Joanna Q got her start in gymnastics at 10-years-old, but had to quit because her family moved from Saxony, East Germany to a different part of the country. When World War II erupted, she was required do a year of social service, then married. After having three children, and playing competitive handball for fun, Quaas took up gymnastics again at 57 and has continued to exercise one hour a day. She  said, “My face is old but my heart is young. Maybe the day I stop doing gymnastics is the day I die.”

Golly, that hits me -- reminds me of me, around 6-years-old, making  a pact with God to "Dance till  the day I die." Hey, I'm an ex-dancer who's earned a living and danced professionally all over the world -- nowadays, I warm up and dance every day for about 40 minutes. Do I do it beautifully...? Well, I think so -- I don't perform my dance on a stage for an audience, but I feel wonderful, like a  real dancer doing it.

Realty:  I'm a full time writer, hunched or slumping at a desk working on a computer throughout the day, except when I'm doing my dance.

Hey, we age. We can't stop aging, but being able to do what one used to do is major -- even if you can only do it more or less -- striving, trying, working to keep 'cutting the mustard' is what we have to do -- need to do -- to make aging not a bad time, but a good, interesting, okay, part of life. 

Golly, if I added a plank exercise to my daily workout,
instead of being hunched when I'm working, I might be able to attain, and even maintain a sitting-tall posture. 

Watching Joanna Quaas, a not sleek, svelte, pretty young woman, observing Joanna in the video below and in all the other videos I've watched, I delight in this older woman's sense of humor, and obvious pleasure as she performs advanced gymnastics and that incredible "plank."

No doubt about it, I'm giving  the basic "plank" a try. She inspires me.

Guys, if you're intrigued, and want to try doing a plank at home, here's a link to video: BEGINNERS Workout.

Monday, July 24, 2017


Spur of the moment John Cullum and Emily discuss their new nightly ritual.
It's a silly wonderful thing -- making dessert.  Creating it, fussing over it, and devouring it has become a favorite thing to do.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Ah, the sweet smell of newly mowed grass ... it always gets to me....
It brings back memories of our lawn after Daddy mowed it. My older sister got to mow it sometimes, and then, finally, I was allowed to push the lawn mower. It was fun. It was hard to get the mower rolling, but wow, once I got it going I didn't want to stop -- I loved making a pathway in the grass.

A twig got stuck in the cutter blades. I had to figure out how to get it unstuck. Almost immediately, it  happened again, and again -- twigs, pebbles, more twigs.

With all the stopping and starting, mowing became a big chore. I was glad when my sister told me, "You aren't strong enough to mow the lawn, Em."

Even so, that sweet-sweet smell -- it meant summer, no school, long days with me free to do whatever I was in the mood to do.

Free -- what a feeling -- that feeling as if every day were Sunday. It made me aware of time passing quickly, grass re-growing, needing to be mowed, which meant soon -- too soon -- the summer would end and the wonderful green would turn yellow and brown.

Yes, newly-mowed grass means green, sun, sweat, blue sky, sleepy wonderful freedom. I no longer remember who said I had to learn to rake it up. Raking the remnants wasn't fun -- fun was in the precious, sweet smell.

I got too-too busy and didn't see or smell any grass for a long time.

Now, I never see newly mowed grass except in television ads. Even so, I remember -- oh my yes -- I do remember, that sweet, sweet, sweet smell and it still gives me a powerful feeling that has to do with loving nature for giving us the gift of grass -- taking it away -- giving it back to us every summer.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Want to know what the rest of your life is going to be like?  Be forewarned about the bad things and the good things?

Would you trust a fortune teller to read your palm, check out your lifeline, and tell you how many years you have left?

Well, a California company, 23andMe could help you. Since we are made of cells and there are 23 pairs of chromosomes in every cell, this company's DNA testing can give an ordinary person (like you and me) a window into their DNA.

23andMe was founded five years ago by two women, Anne Wojcicki, and Linda Avery, who have  top-drawer credits and years of experience in the field of genetic testing. Their company's DNA test kit was named "Invention of the Year" by Time Magazine in 2008.

Right now Avery is working specifically on Alzheimer's. Anne Wojcicki runs the company now. She was married, is now divorced from Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, whose Mother has Parkinson's. It's not surprising that Google invested $3,900,000 in the company.

Yes, there are other companies that do DNA testing, but none offer to get your results in eight weeks, for a $199 fee that includes a conference with a doctor. Others  charge between $1000 and $5000 for a DNA report that your doctor must explain to you.

One can't help wondering about the hugely advertised diseases. Whenever you turn on your television, you're bombarded with fearful things.

23andMe reports telltale markers for 10 diseases. Anyone who buys the $199 the DNA test kit which tests ancestry as well as health, will automatically learn about their potential for:
    Parkinson’s disease, nervous system disorder, impacts movement.
    Late-onset Alzheimer's progressive brain disorder, destroys memory & thinking skills.
    Celiac disease: inability to digest gluten.
    Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, raises risk of lung & liver disease.
    Early-onset primary dystonia, disorder creating uncontrolled muscle contractions.
    Factor XI deficiency, blood-clotting disorder.
    Gaucher disease type 1, an organ & tissue disorder.
    Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase deficiency, (aka G6PD), red blood cell condition.
    Hereditary hemochromatosis, iron overload disorder; thrombophilia, blood-clot disorder.

The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) just recently suspended its ban on 23andMe. At present, it is the only company allowed to give out genetic disease reports to consumers without a doctor’s prescription. Current 23andMe customers in the U.S. will get these reports, but due to regulations, it is not happening for other customers in other countries.

So would you buy a DNA test kit from 23and Me?

Galavanting on the Internet, I've looked at videos and comments of medical people and ordinary folks with pro and con opinions about DNA testing. I read a blog by a guy who bought the 23andME  testing kit and was on the verge suicide because of the bad news.

Are you thinking hmm...?

Would you rather keep floating along, dancing along the way you’re dancing, or would you at some point -- go ahead and find out where you’re heading? Me, I'll keep dancing. What about you?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


I'm giving away free copies of my novel, "Somebody, Woman of the Century," hoping you'll find time to peek at it -- browse, skim, and start reading my heroine Cordelia's story.

Born out of wedlock on day one of 1900, the events in her life coincide with first light bulbs, radio waves, first phones, flivers, victrolas, wars...bustles to bikinis, the Pill -- major happenings as well as trivia.

At 18 Cordelia's the Mother of twins, at 19 in silent movies, 27 on Broadway playing Juliet, age 30 first news lady in radio, widowed at 32 married to a powerful publisher, 37 first female on TV; age 43 an older woman birthing daughter with birthmark, at 50 number-one famous TV reporter. Age 59, she's mothering daughter Kate's baby Miranda; at 64 she's running 18 newspapers, coaching Miranda in tennis, working for Mz Magazine, helped by two beloved best friends who are also, both, her lovers.

Click title "Somebody"
Get a free copy
July 12, 13, 14, 15

As the 20th Century is ending, the way Cordelia passes onto her granddaughter her own powerful energy and passion to take on the future, is what most of us would like to do for our children, if time and opportunity give us a chance.