Friday, November 16, 2018


Yii, our Sears Kenmore dishwasher, washing machine, vacuum--the fix-it booklets, where to phone for help and new parts, are now out of date.  

As of Aug. 4, the company still had 506 Sears locations including 482 full-line department stores and 360 Kmart stores. Sears is closing 78 right now, but soon all will be closed.

Farewell Sears/Kmart.

I didn't know Kmart purchased Sears--the two chains had a total of 3,500 US stores between them when they merged in 2005. We just happily continue to use stuff we bought from Sears in 1966, after my actor husband, John Cullum, finished playing a part in "Hawaii"--washcloths, towels, sheets, and a blue electric blanket that works better than the new blanket we bought at Bed & Bath.

Golly, I used "Sears" in my plays--in one, the antagonist referred to the heroine's fella as "A Sears Roebuck Buck of a lover." In my play that John directed in Seattle, the hero, heroine, and their cat and dog lived in a building like the Sears Tower in Chicago, that contained everything--they never left the building.

Of course I looked up the how and when of Sears. Young Richard Sears started a small mail-order catalog in 1888 with Alvah Roebuck, and sold watches and Jewelry. Six years later the catalog was 322 pages including sewing machines, bicycles, sporting goods; then autos, dolls, stoves, and groceries were added. New owners joined the corporation, with clothing, drugs, hardware, furniture;  a house you could build yourself was featured in Sears famous Christmas catalog that I used in the mid nineties to furnish our Malibu log cabin home for about $900.

Sears Chapter 11 bankruptcy hit me like the death of a favorite film stars. That brief article on Time's obit page is yelling, telling me...

"Pat that blue electric blanket! Use/enjoy/ your Sears appliances."
Googling around just now,
I found Kenmore Repair Stores galore!
Why cry? 
It's Bye Bye To A Store--Nothing More! 

Monday, November 12, 2018


Wife Emily Frankel wonders about John's tone of voice when he's judging things. Is he trying to sound like his dad?

John reveals why he is compelled to be more truthful nowadays.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


When is the last time you looked up at the stars in the sky?

Checking the stars, finding the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper used to be a huge part of my nightly ritual.
Sending prayerful wishes to the stars--wow, that was important when I was much, much younger. Each and every night I'd ask the stars to help me achieve what I wanted, which was to be a famous, marvelously memorable dancer.

Well, I more or less got what I prayed for--a very first tour, then a transcontinental tour...hey, I toured Israel, and Asia and England, danced with Symphony Orchestras as soloist, and performed with a dance company that I created and directed and supervised.

Sending more prayers to the stars was no longer necessary--golly, I was too busy choreographing, directing, and booking performances. And then, well....Having fallen in love, making a home, being a wife, a mother, and maybe becoming a marvelous, maybe bestseller writer was on my mind night and day.

And nowadays, well, there are so many other things to pray for that have to do with the people I love, and things that are happening in the world. And since we live in New York City, even when I'm on the roof, I don't see stars--just the fantastic glow of lights from thousands of places near our home. Gee, what would I'd say--"Twinkle twinkle little star--how I wonder where you are?"

I've stopped hoping and dreaming and wishing for things, though I hope I'll find a store where I can pick out a pair of shoes to wear other than my sneakers that I pinch my little toes.

Actually, I'm back to praying, trying to communicate with as many other people I can find, who will read what writer Em, a not famous, but quite marvelously varied, occasionally passionately articulate, pleasantly busy blogger has to say, about big and little things in today's world.

Sunday, November 4, 2018


It's a ritual--every night after dinner, John Cullum beautifully cleans, tidies, and polishes up the kitchen.

And Emily Frankel, always, every morning, before breakfast, draws a picture that and sets up a loving mood for the day.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Jamie Lee Curtis inspires me. There's lots of talk about her in the new version of "Halloween." I dug into various magazines, media, and film websites so I could talk about her today.     
Though she grew up in Hollywood as the daughter of legendary actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, the original "Halloween," made her a star back in 1978. I certainly remember the Oscar-nominated comedy "A Fish Called Wanda," and the unforgettable strip tease she did in "True Lies," and the way she body-swapped with Lindsay Lohan in Disney's "Freaky Friday." But what I fell in love with was her dancing--the sensual aerobics she did as she taught exercise classes in "Perfect," the film she did with Travolta in his dancing days, back in 1985.

Along the way to today's "Halloween," she wrote 13 children’s books and many articles, became an accomplished photographer, stopped drinking, talked and wrote about it, and started a family with her husband, writer-director Christopher Guest, ("Waiting for Guffman") with whom she has two children.

In a recent interview, explaining she's not a fan of horror movies, Jamie Lee declared, “The new "Halloween" tells a story about trauma, especially the many kinds that women endure. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are the result of generational, systematic abuse of women, and the trauma that abuse generates in a person. Working on this film again kicked me into a creative space." Apparently shooting the film energized her so much that she wrote a screenplay for an eco-horror movie that she plans to direct.

Her recovery from an addiction to painkillers became an article she published as “The single greatest thing I’ll ever did in my life.” Her last children’s book, "Me, Myself & I" is about a mom who is  documenting her family’s life on social media. Jamie Lee told a reporter, “I cop to it too! How quickly you can hit the a little booster button that brightens you up."

She doesn't need to be brightened up. "Halloween" got rave reviews, and a monster take at the box office, earning over $77.5 million. It marks several milestones, including the biggest horror-movie opening with a female lead and the highest-grossing film opening with a female lead over 55.

When Curtis posted a tweet about these record-breaking stats, her tweet went viral: "Here I am kissing 60. It's beyond my wildest dreams. I’m the luckiest girl in the world.”

I really mean it when I say yay Jamie Lee Curtis today.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


It's just below our living quarters on the 4th floor. The photos show you where my husband, John Cullum, is working on his one man show, reviewing the script he's written about his career and singing songs from shows he's starred in. Before he starts working, I'm at the barre, warming up before I start dancing.

Here's how the room looks when the black curtains that are on both walls are closed, the theater lights are on, and the 65 seats are arranged.

We use the space for staging shows, play readings, and raising funds to produce our theater projects. Over the years, a lot of very well-known people have been here for previews.

The floor space is 40 x 25. The sound equipment, designed by Bela Bartok's son, Peter, is powerful professional equipment which we've used in Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters. Our lighting equipment is homemade--we scrounged large tomato cans from neighborhood restaurants, converted them, and made tinfoil frames to hold the gels for each light. Our homemade dimmer board sits in the dressing rooms that are next to our two offices. Above my office is storage space for the costumes and props I used when I performed as soloist with symphony orchestras, and toured the world with my dance company.

In the center of the floor are the chairs and barre I use when I dance to "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis," by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Every day, I perform a four-minute section of this music.

When I'm dancing to this music, you don't see typical dance steps such as leaps, pirouettes, and intricate footwork. Instead, dancer Em visits the room and discovers each prop--relating to each, with curiosity and tenderness, recalling how it was used. As the music crescendos before the end of  "Fantasia," standing tall on the double set of chairs, dancer Em surveys the room. Then, swiftly, recapitulating the memories, triumphantly, I leave the room.

Dancing has been the major part of my life since I was ten-years-old. I dance like people who go to church--I just go into my studio, warm up at the barre, turn on the sound equipment, and the Vaughan Williams music begins.

The great Eugene Ormandy is conducting the music. As you listen, perhaps you'll understand how the music inspires me, gets me remembering, reliving, and dancing. 

It's marvelous to hear John. As I'm typing this I've been hearing songs from "Clear Day" and "Camelot," chuckling as John describes the day a stage manger called out, "You're next Mr. Cooolum," when he was auditioning for a show he didn't get.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


As a poor sleeper, having gone off caffeine, tried over-the-counter remedies and doctors' prescriptions, melatonin, homeopathic remedies, warm milk, liquor, and counted sheep, l still have a hard time falling asleep. 

I mostly "fall" awake.  If you do, here's what I do!

My current routine: Tuck pillows under neck and knees, mutter Shakespeare words--"Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care," and repeat the words, concentrating on the left leg, sensing the flow of blood in 10 toes, ankle, calf, knee, thigh, hip joint before concentrating on the right leg. I repeat this 15 to 30 times till my mind rebels, and a loud awareness that I am wide awake drives me out of bed.

If you try this, and are still wide awake, get a snack. Watch TV, and try again later.

Other possibilities: There's Modafinil, a stimulant that Wall street-investors use. There's a relatively new process called transcranial direct stimulation (tDCS) that zaps the brain with electricity, and keeps people up for as much as 30 hours, but tDCS currently lasts six.

Dammit, I don't want to spend my work time, trying new things that might or not work. 

Doctors say the Internet, email, and social networking are giving us shots of dopamine, a chemical the brain releases to simulate pleasure. We get this from caffeine, and nowadays we're sold caffeine in toothbrushes, stockings, soap, bath bubbles, beer, marshmallows, lollipops, coke, red bull, and bottled water. So, don't drink coffee? Do drink it? Drink it less?

Golly, we're flashed a lot of facts--about coffee, saccharin, eggs, cholesterol, omega 3, belly fat, dental hygiene, bacteria, calories, carbs, exercise--most of this is in my BB pile (bullshit baloney), where many of the latest life and death important facts fade like smoke rings.

FACT: After a not-enough-sleep night, I do my work--how well I do it depends, not on sleep, but on whether or not the topic excites me.

Therefore, I do my "raveled sleeve" routine, and sing this to myself. If you sing this a few times and are still wide awake, get a snack. Then, if you sing it again, and again, and again, you'll pleasantly tire yourself/bore yourself to sleep.

Friday, October 19, 2018


Describing small, "eek" sort of fears, Emily wonders why things like bugs that scare her, don't seem to bother John Cullum. John says he does what has to be done, like a soldier, despite his fears.

Teasing John who is calm and collected, even on a big deal opening night of a big Broadway show, Emily deems him her "brave Knight."

Monday, October 15, 2018


Why oh why are we stuck in a war for 17 years? I find myself asking questions others have asked, hunting for answers in TimeWeek Magazine, Newsweek, even UK's The Guardian. 
We invaded in December 2001 to topple a Taliban govern-ment with a harsh form of Sunni Islam, that had given safe haven to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The population, about 20,500,000, is now around 36,700,000. The Afghan government controls the cities and about 60% of the county. Right now, the Taliban, with 40%, controls more territory than they have at any time since 2001, and are attacking and killing hundreds of Afghan soldiers and civilians.

How many U.S. troops are there?
When President Obama took office in 2009, 30,000 troops were there. He tripled the force hoping it would bring victory. In 2011 there were 100,000 U.S. troops. The Taliban waited in Pakistan till Obama gradually withdrew troops.
       President Trump, skeptical of the war, was persuaded by the Military to continue supporting the Afghan army and boosted our forces to 15,000. They are now on a mission, aided by Afghan forces, using armed drones and airstrikes. But 15,000 troops can't defeat the Taliban, and Afghan forces are collapsing. In 2016, nearly 7,000 Afghan soldiers and police were killed. Since then, the government stopped releasing figures.

What about the Taliban? They're believed to be 20,000 to 40,000 fighters, about the same as a decade ago. With an annual budget of $2 billion, they get funding from Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi sources, probably Russia, and also from their control of the lucrative international opium and hashish trades that employ 600,000 Afghans.
       New York Times said, "The Taliban are much better equipped than anti-government forces and Afghan security forces--they have more resources, and access to modern weapons."
       James Mattis, our Defense Secretary, has been negotiating, but the Taliban are rejecting our terms, refusing to renounce violence, break ties with al Qaeda, accept the protection of women's rights in the Afghan constitution, and negotiate directly with the Afghan government.

So why don't we just pull out? The Afghan government would fall. Afghanistan would again become a Taliban-ruled medieval society, and al Qaeda and ISIS would have free rein there to plan and carry out attacks on the U.S. In 2011, when the U.S. pulled out of Iraq, it led to civil war and the rise of ISIS. Top experts believe that negotiating with the Taliban is the only way to end the conflict, but negotiations involve agreements with India, China, Russia, Iran, and most of all, Pakistan, who won't negotiate.

Why is Pakistan so important? We rely on Pakistani land and airspace to supply our troops, but the Pakistani military also allows the Afghan Taliban to retreat into its territory. Pakistan's new prime minister, Imran Khan, a fierce critic of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, wants us to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban. The head of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, says, "Now is the time for them to step forward." It hasn't been happening.

The horrendous cost $4 trillion, but approximately 2,400 U.S. service personnel have been killed in the Afghan war, more than 20,000 wounded--if you add in the future costs of the war veterans and their health care, and the interest on the money borrowed to finance the war, the figure approaches $8 trillion.
     Much of this money was wasted. Our special inspector for Afghanistan reconstruction told the Senate, "The United States threw itself into reconstruction with haste and hubris, with untested assumptions, unrealistic expectations, with piles of cash and tight deadlines for spending it too fast, with too little oversight."
By 2014, $109 billion had been spent on reconstruction alone, more in today's dollars than the entire Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe. Even so, Afghanistan still lacks adequate roads, schools, and infrastructure. Our country still spends $45 billion a year on Afghan security and economic aid, more than double Afghanistan's GDP.

All I can do is post this, and pray for bigger protests.

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Suddenly, out of the blue, she was all over the news. Maybe not where you live, but I'm remembering what she said and did in March, when she was running for governor in the New York primary.

Winner of Tony, Emmy, Grammy awards, she's is a well-known actress. If I name Broadway plays, television, and films she's done as a star or featured player, it would fill this page. She's 52, lesbian, openly handling her commitment to her wife and their childrensharing this with reporters, who like and admire her, or dislike and disapprove.

The current governor of the state of New York, Andrew Cuomo, in March, like a guy running for president, was bombarding us with daily ads touting his accomplishments. Cuomo won the primary. But the way Cynthia sold her liberal ideas -- golly, the way she ambled down a street, holding out her hand to people -- could you smile, hold out a hand offering yourself to folks who are heading someplace and too busy to notice or consider voting for you -- that stays with me.

Guys, for years, I've seen a legendary actor, my husband John Cullum, digging into many different roles that require many aspects of what that character could, should, or might feel. I've been his eye at more than a few hundred rehearsals. I know what's real or not real. Cynthia's smile is real. That hand reaching for you is truly trying to connect with you.

Hey Cynthia Nixon, I'm hoping you keep running for offices, get on committees, give speeches, doing whatever you could do in your neighborhood, in your city, national politics, oh my, yes -- in politics today. We need people like you.

Sunday, October 7, 2018


John Cullum wants everyone to know how exercise SAVED his wife, Emily Frankel.

Yes, we are definitely older and wiser now. We made this video in 2010, it was one of our first, but it will give you an idea of how to make exercise more interesting, not tedious, even FUN.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Sometimes on the highway there's a warning.

Sometimes you just keep going.

You put on your survival hat and travel down the winding road on foot, on a bike, in an auto, or donning your wings.

Hey, "if you come to a fork in the road, take it." That's what Yogi Berra said.

Why? Probably it's what Berra learned from doing what he did in baseball.

If you don't move down the road, maybe it's because you don't know where the road might be taking you. Even so, take a step, then another, and see whatever is there to see -- the yellow line, cracks in the road, rocks along the side, or maybe the foliage as you look beyond the trees and wonder where you are going.

Here's a remark for you  to remember:

"A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it," said Jean de la Fontaine, 17th Century French poet whose fables are still quoted nowadays.

Travel lightly -- don't pack all your clothes, your mementos, your special favorite things. The less you carry with you, the easier it is to take strong steps and get from where you are, to another place where you can pause and look around.

Ayn Rand said, "People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don't sit looking at it -- walk."

Okay, if you're tired, you can't help recalling other long walks that led to empty spots and dead-end places, dark places -- where time was wasted looking for ways to get out, or ways to back out while traveling slowly backwards.

Hey, even moving backwards you are progressing. Backwards, sideways, forward, or up or down is progressing -- it's life's exercise.

You could quote Hawking, Einstein, Margaret Thatcher, Buddha -- a  lot of major thinkers talk about the roads we travel on. You could sing that song:

"Life is a winding road,
with many twists and turns.
You must make the right choices,
or you will crash and burn.

There is always a chance,
the wrong choice will be chosen.
But do not fret, and do not fear.
The right choice you will hear.

Life is a winding road,
with many different choices.
Be careful what you choose,
for there are many different voices."

Yes, sing, but don't judge, or attach praise, or fears, or definitions. Be there. Just be there as you go.

Saturday, September 29, 2018


The narrator-director of this clip got an easy-going, relaxed performance from Cruise even though the action sequences are more spectacular, more dangerous than ever. There's a gorgeous female (played by Vanessa Kirby) with a shiv in her garter. Ethan, the part Cruise plays, and his new partner Walker (actor Henry Cavill), ambush a deadly villain in a men’s bathroom.

Having seen it, I agree with the NY Times: "Cruise drives, dives, shoots, flies, falls, and teeters on the edge of disaster in his latest film... The setting and Cavill’s strapping masculinity give the scene titillating possibilities, echoing rumors about Mr. Cruise’s sexuality while shrewdly framing him as being as self-aware, as well as controlling... Mr. Cruise’s being 56, and fitter than most people, looks closer to his age than ever, but it works for the character, making him more vulnerable."

Having watched Cruise over the years, I've seen a feisty, cute, young guy become a major producer, writer, director, star, super star. Here's a list of film projects Cruise produced and awards.

There are other film stars who have done what Cruise has done but he's kept expanding, taking on challenges, apparently undeterred by success/failure fears, bad reviews, disturbing headlines about his private life. I saw Tom jump on the couch on the Oprah Winfrey show, declaring he was in love, and cringed. I have heard him chit chatting about Scientology, his marriage and divorce from Kidman, his marriage to Holmes and their baby. Despite being turned off by what he's said, I bow to actor Tom Cruise reverentially. He's done things in films that touch me: "Born on the Fourth of July," "A Few Good Men," "Rain Man" "The Firm." I've seen them more than once or twice.  If they were on TV tonight I'd watch.

I watched George Clooney recently getting the AFI Award. It's not an award that actor, director, producer Cruise will probably ever get, though I am more affected by his work  than anything Clooney's done. The artist in Cruise keeps reaching -- wider, broader, higher, and bolder --  fearlessly reaching for ideas about what a man believes in and what drives him. What Tom Cruise does with the projects he chooses creates a realty that stays with me as a real experience and part of my life.

My award is my reverential bow.

I want to say it again: This artist, actor, producer has created  realities that have become experiences for me that are truly part of my life.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


John Cullum's fascinated as wife Emily Frankel describes some of her silly, daily rituals.

Claiming he's NOT "a routine sort of guy," John admits something that surprises Emily, and will surprise you about Cullum as a performer.

Friday, September 21, 2018


I remember his inauguration day.

He shunned pomp of the presidency, even carried his own suitcase onto Air Force One, and has maintained that same humility since he left the White House in 1981. Former Presidents join corporate boards of directors and usually sign lucrative book deals. Carter said, "I didn't want to  capitalize on being in the White House. It has never been my ambition to be rich."

He lives with wife Rosalyn in the two-bedroom ranch house in Plains which they built in 1961. He teaches Sunday School at the local Baptist church. Today, at 93, he does household chores like washing the dishes after he and Rosalyn cook dinner -- does charity work in Plains, as well as at his headquarters in Atlanta, while helping restore homes with his own hammer and tool belt, for "Habitat for Humanity." He stays on the peanut farm where he grew up during the Great Depression because  "I can't imagine living anywhere else. We feel at home here--the folks in town, when we need it, they take care of us."

He writes in a garage attached to their house. His books include: "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid,"  "An Hour Before Daylight," "Our Endangered Values." (Received a "Best Spoken Word" Grammy Award for his recording of "Our Endangered Values." In March his latest book "Faith" was published and is now a best seller. Publicizing it he appeared on the late show.

Wowy wow! This very senior Senior Citizen -- his keenness, powerful sense of right and wrong and sense of humor -- he gets me looking forward to tomorrow, and gives me hope about growing older, working, writing/talking about what's on my mind till the very end of life arrives.

Monday, September 17, 2018


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.''

Thursday, September 13, 2018


Emily Frankel's question, "What do you wish for" (usually a fun topic) becomes an SERIOUS topic.

What John says gets the Cullums sharing what truly worries them.

Sunday, September 9, 2018


Serena Williams has been sharing her personal story of what she's been though, in order to be what she is in this picture -- a very beautiful mother holding her very beautiful daughter.

In Time Magazine (August 27) with her face on the cover, she talked about her fear that she isn't a good enough mother. She described how becoming a Mother led to a pulmonary embolism and hematoma that required multiple surgeries.  Serena said, "I went through hell to have Alexis Olympia Ohanian, who is in fact, (she bragged) already learning to count the stairs in French."

After six weeks in bed, too weak to get up, detailing her schedule, her exercises -- how she struggled to regain her strength -- Serena revealed how arduous it was, after a difficult childbirth at age 36, to take on a global championship as an athlete who has reached stardom.

That is exactly what what Serena is doing right now at the U.S.Open Tennis finals in Forest Hills. She has a team surrounding her, guiding her,  an adoring husband, the owner and founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, also a fitness guru, along with her agent, her coach, and a fashion expert who works with her on everything that has to do with how she looks.

Since the tight-fitting (to prevent blood clots) "black-panther body suit" she wore at the French Open was banned, we have been seeing her everyday in ballerina "tutu "outfits.

Here's the blue tutu.

My husband, (tennis nut John Cullum) seeing Serena in this black tutu, finds the outfits a bit silly,

Serena's determination to win can be seen in everything she has been doing, is now doing more than ever -- her fund-raising charities for domestic abuse victims and children -- as an author of several published books, she recently announced she's writing a TV show storyline, which will be converted into script form by her agency.

Reading and rereading various other biographies, I sense that everything she does has to do with  childhood dreams that have shaped her and become her plan -- to do everything at the top most, highest level and win -- win -- win.

This woman knows tennis -- knows everything there is to know about the game and winning. You can't win without learning about losing. Winning or losing, she will find more and more more things to win.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


Practical thoughts.

It's time to do your own annual checkup. You need to keep track of what's on this list.

Your Blood Pressure -- know the words systolic, diastolic and know the numbers -- are you high, low, or in the normal range.

 Your Elimination -- urination and bowel habits -- be aware of quantity, color, quality, frequency, discomfort -- all the aspects of your body's output -- the sphincter and peristaltic feelings. Are you having to work hard to empty bladder or bowel? Are you losing control?

Your Symptoms -- anything that's weird, odd, different that you're feeling, you need to know when it occurs, how often, and does it keep you from functioning normally. Include moodiness -- depressive, or suicidal thoughts, and your worries -- events, things you do that get you flushed, or get your  heart-racing. Are you ever dizzy, ever feel faint? Do you get enough sleep? Are you often exhausted? Also, keep track of sneezing, itching, rashes; also twinges, or dull aches when you bite or chew. Do you sweat a lot, or never sweat? What about your eyes, your ears -- are you seeing and hearing normally?

Your Exercise -- do you know what exercises you ought to do every day, or every other day, or once a week?  You need to be in charge, and realistic. Be aware of your arms, legs, shoulders, back -- do you wake with a backache, or aches in neck, elbows, hips, knees, or wrists? Whatever/where ever-- pay attention! And include feet, toes, hands, fingers, and thumbs, in your exercise.

Your Weight and Height -- are you gaining, losing?  If you're shorter than you were a couple of years ago, you are shrinking as you age, so pay attention to sitting  and standing taller.

Your Diet. Get educated: learn about the calories, carbohydrates in the foods you eat or over-eat, as well as essential nutrients, vitamins, C, D, B, calcium, and minerals.

B-Bp, E-limination, S-ymptoms E-xercise W-eight/height, D-iet -- B E S E W D -- that's my advice.  Be aware of these things, and maintain awareness. Even if it's difficult for you -- do it anyway.

Yes, its a lot of stuff. If necessary make notes in a little notebook. I do it, been doing it for years. It works!

If if something seems weird, wrong, painful, or repetitiously worrisome, consult a trusted, highly recommended MD.

Guys, it's YOUR job. YOU are the boss of YOU.  BE YOUR OWN DOC is a BIG part of it. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018


Emily Frankel asks her husband, John Cullum to name celebs, stars, topics--things he can't stand the moment he the sees them on TV.

John sails into a tirade, listing, condemning, describing commercials that absolutely horrifically infuriate him.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


"BlacKkKlansmen" is the title of Spike Lee's latest film.

It was released August 10th, on the anniversary of the 2017 White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a Nazi Supporter drove his car into the protesters, and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. In May, at the Cannes film festival, "BlacKkKlansmen" won the Grand Prix.

Time Magazine's August 20 issue features a five-page article on Spike Lee by Rembert Browne, a 31-year-old, well-established journalist, who says the film will change the way we think about racism.    

Here's another photo of Lee in Browne's article. He says Lee in his Blacka hat (each A in the hat is also a Klansman's triangular white hood) is a walking advertisement for Spike Lee and his new film. I think the cover photo and this photo tell us how confident Lee feels about his film's message, and its waking up people.

Browne says, "Getting to know Spike is delightful if you know how to hang, how to spar and how to shut up. He does he have an air about him that suggests wasting his time will not be tolerated. Lee vacillates between talking with you and talking at you as if every moment will be his last opportunity to say his piece. And when he gets to the end of one declarative statement, he smiles at you and then says some version of the phrase "WAKE UP" -- the refrain he's used in many of his films.

"You'll hear it in this one. He refuses to let the viewer miss the parallels between racism in the 1970s and today, between law enforcement then and now, between the Klan and the so called alt right."
(alt right=white supremacists)

Guys, click the link -- see for yourself what the desperately angry Spike Lee is saying in the August 20 issue of Time Magazine.

Then, maybe you'll go see the film.

Friday, August 24, 2018


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

That's me age 7 with my two front teeth gone; David was 3.

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.

Monday, August 20, 2018


Emily Frankel tells her husband John Cullum to close his eyes.

"Right now, picture us doing something crazy, silly, thrilling! What would we do?"

Thursday, August 16, 2018


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.

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, August 12, 2018


Back in 2013, I got a small pot of elephant ears, and sat it on my book shelf.

Calling it "plantee,"  I greeted it every morning and said goodnight to it every night.

By October 2015 there were 5 nice-sized elephant ears and 3 sprouts. I transplanted it with my husband's help (John Cullum's a good helper).

Using a large Plaster of Paris can, we filled it with potting soil, wood sticks and a straightened-out wire clothes hanger to support the 2 main stems, and placed it near fax machine in the hallway between our offices. With a desk lamp giving her sunshine, it was Plantee's home.

I greeted her as I crossed through the hallway to chat with John a dozen times a day. He began greeting her when he crossed the hallway to visit me.

If you work in a small office inside and faraway from people, a plant to love and cherish, and talk to, grows YOU like it grows the plant. John Held the Mac computer. I got behind the plant. And together we made this a photo of my flourishing Plantee last year.
Since Plantee was beginning to look like a tree, we headed for Home Depot in March -- bought a large pot and 2 bags of potting soil, made a mess of the hallway transplanting her but we were sure plantee needed a bigger home sweet home.

Here she is today. We figure Plantee is still adjusting.  (Double click the picture, the video starts slowly.)

If you have any ideas about this, don't fib -- let us know!