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!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


John Cullum and wife Emily Frankel recall heading down the road spur of the moment, in their ancient second-hand Plymouth, with no plans or places to go.

Suddenly remembering an event, John exclaims, "Wow, those apple trees..." and the Cullums are re-living what happened.

Saturday, August 4, 2018


 My husband, John Cullum, a legendary performer, is currently being offered jobs for dying grandpas, and great-grandpas with Alzheimer's. His  age is more or less known, and producers feel if you're over sixty, you are old. J.C. would probably get more jobs 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 words about age in Shakespeare's plays. In all the arts, and in life, words like birds flitting around, and a-million/a-thousand new, true, cure-you things, are infecting people with AGE-ITIS.

It's what every one gets, sooner or later, before or after a birthday. Here's what I suggest -- little and big things you can do -- 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 -- if you're 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, special 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 joining whatever it is.

The World Science Foundation 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, and steer clear of the pitfalls listed above.

Am I worried about age? Well....


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

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


If there was a nuclear bomb alert, would you know what to do?

Two passionate, uninhibitedly vociferous members of the advisory board of the Carnegie Foundation's REINSTATING CIVIL DEFENSE project, Alex Wallerstein and Kristyn Karl are demanding that the 1952 "Duck and Cover" film be immediately sent to all schools, and kids throughout America start practicing.

RCD's advisory board includes everyone -- nuclear health physicists, specialists, highest level experts, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, celebrities, even screen writers -- they've been updating and re-vamping CIVIL DEFENSE. Since the Cold War it's been a federal government program.

After World War 2, Harry Truman created Civil Defense.1962's Cuban Missile Crisis got JFK demanding a $700 million national shelter plan. President Carter got FEMA handling nuclear preparedness along with floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Reagan's $4.2. billion,130 page Planning Guide says on page 66, "Take shelter in the nearest and most protective building or structure and listen for instructions from authorities" After 9/11, former Secretary of Defense Perry and many other powerful officials convened in DC, insisting America do what Switzerland has done -- equipped towns and cities with shelters, first aid, food and a system for measuring radiation. This has not been done in our county yet.

Most Americans (especially younger ones) have no practical idea of how to respond to the warning of an actual nuclear emergency. What happened in Hawaii in January -- false alert at 8:10 a.m -- lit up cell phones saying, BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL -- widespread dangerous, costly panic.

Fact: Ten years after 9/11, Americans have no sense of what to do. The latest media headlines, despite the President's "successful" meeting with Kim Jong, tell us North Korea is currently expanding production of nuclear fuel at various secret sites. There could be a nuclear threat tomorrow.

Scenario 1 an exchange between the U.S. and Russia or China involving hundreds of thermonuclear weapons; there might be a 20 to 30-minute warning, before lights start going out, throughout the world.
Scenario 2 -- a nuclear terrorist scenario, detonation of a smaller, 10-kiloton device in a major American city -- little or no warning -- tens of thousands killed during the initial blast, thousands would have a short time to protect themselves from the subsequent fallout.
Scenario 3 -- North Korea threat, involving 100 or 150-kiloton device over a city like Los Angeles, with a 30 minute warning -- an estimated 195,000 to 241,000 deaths and 510,000 to 629,000 injuries from both the blast and the radioactive fallout.

While RCD  experts are arguing about adding "stay tuned" to films, the passionately concerned professors, Wallerstein and Karl are shouting 'There won't an Internet, cell phones, and radios!'

Take a look: "DUCK AND COVER" shows you simple things you can do, and do fast, that might preserve your life.

Friday, July 27, 2018


What would you like to be able to DO again?  Do better and handle differently? 

Remembering specific things, both John and Emily reveal the small regrets that haunt them are not small--are important precious moments they want to hold onto, and never forget.

Monday, July 23, 2018


It's the capitol of Nunavut, a Canadian territory. When I was earning a living as a dancer, I did a lot of performing, master classes, and lectures in Canada, in small towns like Iqaluit.

What intrigued me, reading about this town in The Week Magazine, was its New York City prices. It's a town of about 7,500 people. An efficiency apartment is about $2000 a month; two bedroom house about $3,500.

There are stores, and malls like the one in the photo, but a place to live is hard to find. The government is the major employer through-out that area of Canada. Iqaluit's status as the capitol brought a surge of public sector workers, who have housing subsidized by the government, but with global warming, temperatures are higher and melting the "permafrost." Because the ground is melting, roads buckle, and building foundations crack.

The local government advises removing the snow as soon as possible, so it doesn't seep into the ground. Since houses built on the ground can help thaw the soil with their escaped heat, many homes have been built on wood or metal pilings. The latest new technique --"thermosyphons" -- tubes in the ground that ventilate the ground relatively inexpensively, can also monitor ground temperature. It's what the government is promoting. Actually, throughout Nunavut, there are more than 100 bore holes that have been measuring ground temp since 2000.

The pretty lady in the picture is Colleen Healey, part of the local government. She has been working with the Canadian Space Agency, finding other ways to detect changes in the permafrost and shifts in the ground.

At a recent meeting, Healey declared, "We can now see ground movement within 3 millimeters. We are making maps to help builders. If homes need to be retro-fitted, which homeowner and government pays for, there are possible solutions." Holding up a map, Healey pointed out a spot. "The blue areas are high risk -- it's where the city was planning to build a housing development. That brown area -- that is where to build -- it's solid rock."

Here's a map that shows you the United States, Canada, Nunavut, and Iqaluit. If you were looking for a new kind of life, would you head there?

If we visited, we'd take a tour of the city, visit a museum, and probably watch some guys working on securing a house before it sinks. Though I no longer do classes or lectures, we checked out Iqaluit's Website to see what's happening here and there. My husband, actor John Cullum and I were impressed -- it's a good place for a would-be performer. You could find space in a gym or a large meeting room and do a play reading -- like John said, you might even get a community theater going in Iqaluit.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


 I bumped into them a few months ago on a night I was restless, looking for a film or a rerun of Friends or Seinfeld.

Wow! What I saw and heard got me laughing. These guys seemed so real, quirky, flawed, smart --  what seemed to be important to each of them interested me. I watched it the next night, and then the  next night. For the past few months, just about every evening, after browsing around for news that I haven't heard, I tune in this show.

That there's no TV punch lines, no intonation to setup up a laugh, that scenes start and end unexpectedly, out of sequence, that plot things are never explained -- they just make sense -- and what these people are involved with -- even science stuff that I know very little about -- is intriguing.

 Amy often amazes me  (her acting's exceptionally inventive). I get annoyed with Penny, (gorgeous, constantly sipping liquor), wishing she showed more affection for the passionately honest, somewhat boring Leonard, (affection she has for the marvelously irritating, brilliant Sheldon) -- Sheldon's sort of the star of the show. And tiny, tinny-sounding Bernadette, sharp, smart, down-to earth and divertingly voluptuous, whose her lover/husband Howard (another remarkably inventive actor) struggles with a domineering (unseen) Jewish Mom, and flirts with Raj, who's from India, in and out of love constantly, surprising us with his realistic views.

Guys, this is NOT a critque -- it's a love letter to the show's creators, Chuck Lorre  and Bill Prady, wise, intuitive, skilled grownups, who know instinctively, factually, dramatically what was and is affecting everything that's going on in our country.

Will I be watching six months from now?  Will how these characters mature -- their conflicts, goals, personal and professional happenstance, still intrigue me?

 Maybe. There's nothing else like this show on television. Even if I get somewhat bored, there's the opening theme -- this fantastic vision of the evolution of the world that astounds and delights me every time I see it, that's worth seeing again, and again, and yes -- again.

Sunday, July 15, 2018


Emily asks her husband a rather tricky question -- would his child-self approve, applaud what he's become?

Struggling to answer her, John finds himself telling his wife something about himself that surprises her.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Our huge response to the wedding of Harry and Mehgan, the "Younger Generation of the Royals" got my attention, but I wasn't hooked on it the way I'm hooked on "London Bridge Is Down." That's the phrase in England for "D" day, the day the Queen dies -- the code name for her is "Mrs. Robinson." There are meticulous details for "D+1, D+2 and each day day after Mrs. Robinson leaves the world.

The planners envisage her passing away after a short illness. The doctor who controls access to her room will determine what information will be in bulletins. The Queen's secretary will inform the prime minister; bulletins will be sent to governors and prime ministers of 15 governments outside the UK and 36 other nations in the commonwealth who will be advised to wear black armbands 3'3/4" wide on the left arm. The Guardian and the The London Times have 11 days of coverage prepared. Sky News and International Television News experts have already rehearsed what they'll say about her final hours.

No matter where she is at the end of her life, the coffin will be taken to Buckingham Palace on the Royal Train. As the train progresses, people will throw flowers, bells will toll, flags will be lowered. On D+1 the central window on the palace balcony will be removed. After rituals and three blasts from Trumpeters, Charles will appear. The current Garter King of Arms will proclaim Charles as King Charles III, followed by a 41 gun salute, 7 minutes of artillery.

On D+2 and the next 9 days, Westminster Hall will be cleaned. Hundreds of candles will be positioned. Guard rails along the route will be put up. Traffic lights will be removed. Ten pallbearers will be chosen and begin practicing. Programming on BBC will be changed -- comedy and satire moved to BBC2. The Queen will be buried in a lead-lined coffin, weighing more than a quarter a ton.

On D +4, the orb, scepter, and imperial crown will be placed. With Charles leading the mourners, there will be a huge Military parade with the Royal Navy, Beefeaters, and Gurkhas Indian soldiers taking part. Four soldiers will stand guard for 20 minutes at a time, as people stream past the Queen for 23 hours a day, in a line that will be more than four miles long. Every day wreathes on the coffin will be renewed.

Before dawn on D+9 (the day of the funeral) the jewels on the orb, scepter, and crown will be cleaned. Shops, stock market, and most of the country will be on a day off. There will be memorial services in various soccer stadiums. Members of the royal family will arrive unannounced. Children and grandchildren (including women for the first time), will arrive at 9 a.m. Big Ben, hammer covered with leather pad, will ring with muffled tones.

Inside the hall there will be 2000 guests. No cameras will be visible. At 1 p.m. the country falls silent. Buses, cars, railroads stop. Inside the Abby, the Archbishop will speak. Pallbearers will place the coffin on the green gun carriage that was used for the Queen's father, and it will be pulled by 138 junior sailors. This procession, on the mall, will travel the 23 miles from Westminster Hall to Winslow Castle, where the royal household will be waiting.

Cameras will stop broadcasting. The lift to the royal vault will descend. Then, finally, King Charles III will reach into a silver bow and drop a handful or red earth from it onto the coffin.

The coffin will descend.

I think we will feel this death and mourn her as a beloved ruler, deeply affecting our culture as well as the world. Who in America is, for us, like the Queen? I will always remember -- never forget -- the day Barack Obama was chosen to be a candidate, the huzzahs, the huge, incredibly excited, marvelously massive crowd celebrating. Will we ever feel that way again? Since the election, for me, my beautiful America -- amber waves, purple mountains, power, glory, land of the free with her welcoming arms -- has changed. Will it ever be beautiful in that way again to us again?

What will happen in London hasn't been seen in London since the death of Winston Churchill back in 1965. Perhaps, like the UK Guardian says, "The Queen is perhaps the U.K.'s last living link to the nation's former great power."

I guess that's why I'm writing about "London Bridge is down" and Mrs. Robinson leaving the world.

My blog is based on an article by Sam Night, in UKGuardian, March 2017.

Saturday, July 7, 2018


I want to head for Geneva, Switzerland, and visit the small town on its outskirts, and see the Hadron Collider.

It sounds like an odd thing for the Cullums to be doing, but I've researched and written about it ever since 2012 when the Hadron Collider detected the "Higgs boson." Creating headlines all over the world, scientist Peter Higgs proved that there's one elementary particle, a "God Particle," that gives everything in the universe its mass. And also, everything about this topic fascinates my husband, actor John Cullum, who reads and re reads books by Stephen Hawking about black holes and the big bang.

Here's a photo of the Collider.
Note the tiny figure at the bottom in a dark jacket and brown pants, and you'll get a sense of the size of the world's most powerful accelerator. It's mammoth, overwhelmingly huge. Is it dangerous? A visitor receives less radiation than he'd get from dental Xrays.

Near the collider are live video feeds and a plaque summarizing its lofty mission: “To advance human knowledge, to continue an endless quest to learn where we come from and why the Universe is as we see it today.” Just beyond the plaque is the accelerator's tunnel.
Though this 17-mile tunnel, the accelerator sends "subatomic protons" racing in an opposite direction, getting them to move faster until they're moving nearly at the speed of light. When the particles collide, they create tiny fireballs of pure energy. Doing this, scientists re-created the Big Bang and proved that the one particle Higgs measured and photographed forty years ago which showed it occurred at the same place, same time -- the "God Particle" -- does in fact, occur at the same place with each test.

Here's a photo of the "God Particle."

If I go to Geneva, will I continue to wonder, "Does the Higgs boson prove God created the world?"

We can't go there this year -- we're still dealing with Con Edison and renovating to get approval for using gas appliances, but maybe next year, or the year after. Someday, I've got to see the Hadron Collider, and find out ... feel out for myself what it means.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


I love this photo of  my husband, John Cullum, in costume, on the set for the  movie "1776."

The candle on the table, the shoulders seen on each side of John indicates that other people are with him -- the photo tells me it's John as "Rutledge," the senator from South Carolina thinking about how he'll vote while other senators are voting.

Golly, the look on John's face is so real -- so typical -- just the way my husband looks when he's thinking about one of our domestic problems.

John told me that this scene in the movie had been done as a long shot -- cameras and lights re-positioned for the medium shot and filmed again -- the set up was again changed for the closeups -- he'd already sung "Molasses to Rum" twice. He told the director, Peter Hunt, "Better get it this time, I've just got one more "G" in me."

(JC told me just now that if I listened to the film again, I'd hear how he "slipped into the high note, that "G." He's a Baritone -- a G can be tricky.)    
Wife, fan, lover of John Cullum delights in studying that photo of the man she fell in love with at first sight, the guy who had evolved from a very good looking, handsome, leading man on a stage, a leading man who could rivet an audience -- into a man who could truly star in a show and draw thousands of theatergoers.

Why am I jabbering about all this? I'm doing it to remind you that people with whom you are intimately involved change, grow up as you change, and viewing them freshly grows you up too.

Here's John yesterday at 10 a.m., mike in hand, my book in his hand, recording a video for one of our projects -- on our A.I.R audio-video channel, he reads aloud a chapter a week from one of my novels and publishes it on Facebook.

Yep! Wife Em WAS, IS, on Independence Day, enthralled by John in that marvelous film, stunned by the power in him, artist, musician, singer, actor, performer that he is. I am gifted by Mother Nature, God, and happenstance, to have been able to grow up with him.

Friday, June 29, 2018


I am anti-cellphones. I've written about them yearly since 2010 when Media said they had the same level of frequency radiation of cellphones that killed lab rats.
     2011, I wondered if phones caused  brain cancer.
     2012, I wrote "Dear Darling Phones" because everyone I knew had a phone.
     2013, I quoted Carrie Underwood -- "My phone is my best friend, my life line to the world."
     2014 and thereafter, in various blogs  I've attacked various new phone apps that promise to run our lives better, more easily,  more safely.

Today, constantly, I'm seeing hunched-over people who seem to be talking out loud to themselves.

I doodled this:  
Why? Because hunched over people look scary, weird. Their intense focus is scary weird. But maybe-perhaps-possibly there's a TREND that could change things.
       NY TIMES article: "Are you tried of touch screens, app updates, and incessant push notifications? You’re in luck: The budget phone is making a comeback... consumers are going retro, finding that cheaper phones have never been better.”
      SEATTLE TIMES: "In an age when everyone seems glued to a screen, the humble flip-phone is turning into a statement of protest and individuality. Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and billionaire investor Warren Buffett have all been spotted recently with low-tech devices."
       WALL STREET JOURNAL: "Its time to take feature phones seriously again. It's the Less is More theory. You stay connected, but get something less intense, than the sensory overload of an attention-sucking smartphone."
       USA TODAY: "If you want a phone for under $100, you are no longer doomed to limping along with leftover software. Google has rebuilt its Android software -- you can get the latest apps with less storage and less memory."
       WIRED. COM : "Nokia's reissued its UltraCheap 3310 and 8110, a/k/a candy bar & banana- shaped phones. The 3310 ($60), has a camera and a web browser. The 8110 tiny 24-inch screen travels easily from open to shut. The best thing is the battery life is almost a full month.

This picture in "THE WEEK Magazine" of nice looking devices cheered me. 
Gee, it would be wonderful to walk down and street and see this !!!!

Golly, I'm hoping -- wouldn't it be great if everyone would 
re-learn to connect and relate to others with words you pronounce out loud into the air and actually just plain 
S P E A K.