On Choosing to Be Alone for the Holidays

For too many of us, holidays are a trying time rather than a joyous one. Before I learned the profound difference between "honoring family" and "enduring horrifically dysfunctional gatherings with people who swim in my gene pool," it was every year, right about this time, that my sleepless nights and heart palpitations would begin. Nothing to do with the limited daylight hours, as I'd once assumed. No, it was because I knew in just a few days, I'd be subjecting myself to the loud bitterness, the jeering sarcasm, the barely-disguised envy, and the general passive-aggressive cruelty known in my circle as "Christmas Day." But luckily, for the past sixteen years, I've been spending my … [Read more...]

Seven Holiday Rules to Live By

1) First guest who mentions the words, "Trump" "Hillary" "tax bill," or "health care" over the food it took someone hours to prepare and cook, has to wash ALL the dishes, and serve up dessert. 2) If you're a vegan, let the hosts know ahead of time. If they give you a hard time, bring your own food. If they give you a hard time about that, go where you're appreciated next year. But if you're made welcome, DON'T talk about the evils of eating defenseless animals. 3) Anyone who directs the following questions to any of the guests, should go on the naughty list and not be invited back: How come you're still not married? Do you really think you can make a decent living doing that? Did you … [Read more...]

Regrets: Have More Than Just a Few

Happy Sunday from northern California. As I was watching the frost on the grass in the back garden melting with the sun, I wrote a letter to some friends and wished another a happy birthday. It's things like that I've been missing as I market not one, but two books, and write another: Writing to friends, spending time with family, watching the sun reflect on the grass, cursing at politicians. This week, for the first time this winter, there was that frost here. The weather is mild in California, and I love that. Thinking about the weather made me think about all the locations on the planet my life has taken me. Before I met my husband, I lived in New York, where I'd been most of my life. … [Read more...]

Breathless Books and Bubbles: Award-Winning Sparkling Wine Label Pairs With Women’s Literature

A lovely story I want to share with you all about author Rebecca Rosenberg, Sharon Cohn, Kathy L. Murphy, a tiara-wearing book club and Breathless Wines. Rebecca and I met years ago at a Redwood Writers Conference, and as soon as we sat down to chat, she became an inspiration to me. She simply seizes life, celebrating the good and minimizing the bad. She works hard too, a trait I admire in everyone, but in my own sex especially. She and her husband Gary started Sonoma Lavender, which, sadly, was affected by the California wine country fires. (Although, being Rebecca, she's already knee-deep in rebuilding.) Rebecca's debut novel, The Secret Life of Mrs. London, will be released in January. … [Read more...]

Spells and Oregano: Book II in The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy is Here!

November 30 is the day.  I can't believe I made the deadline to turn it in to my publisher, that my editor didn't strangle me, and that, after all the rushing around, I actually kinda like this book, although I would have loved to have time to tweak it just a bit more.   But, here's an AMAZING trailer for it, which was filmed aboard the RMS Queen Mary. (It's only a minute and a half, but watch until the very end, as there's a surprise.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GU5PiigiKA Secondly, it is available for pre-order on Kindle for 2.99 until November 30, after which, the price will go up.  And finally, if you pre-order a paperback before November 30, and send an email with your receipt … [Read more...]

There’s Love, and Then There’s Moldy Egg Salad

This is for a special someone who is too inexperienced in this sort of thing as of yet to have figured this out thus far: You say that this person tells you he/she loves you. You say that you too, love this person. And yet you're miserably unhappy with each other, and you're wondering what's wrong, what you can do to "fix things." Allow me, if I may, to save you some time, possibly a whole helluva lot of time. Answer the following: 1) When you're in public with this person who 'loves' you, do you feel that you have to watch what you say and do, in order to prevent this person from getting angry, annoyed, making fun of you, or rolling their eyes? 2) When you know that you're at your very … [Read more...]

Red, Blue, Flood, Fire

You know, I've been thinking about something for a while, and I just have to say it, although I know it's not going to win me any brownie points with anyone. I've had a Facebook page for a number of years now, and as a lover of words and learning, I've always wanted it to be a forum, an exchange of ideas, a place where everyone of all stripes could feel safe to have a discussion, to ask a question of someone who they might not meet on an everyday basis. Because I write books and have always encouraged people to "like me on Facebook" etc., I've met many different people from all walks of life.  Right wing, white guy? He's there on that Facebook page, leaving his thoughts right near the … [Read more...]

On Las Vegas, a Ship I Love, and David Copperfield

I wanted to talk about my experiences in Las Vegas.  I live here six months out of every year. Honestly, before I ever visited, I can tell you that I thought I wouldn’t like it. It has that hard-playing reputation, you know, and based on that, it just didn’t seem like me. I don’t gamble, although I’ll put ten bucks into a slot machine now and again, just to hear the clinks and whistles. I don’t drink much. Two glasses of wine is usually my limit, and though I do love a good martini, it'll put me to sleep an hour later, as it has done since I was old enough to drink. But my husband coaxed me into visiting Las Vegas for the first time, and ever since he and I have been together, we’d come … [Read more...]

Why Ban Books?

At the end of Banned Books Week, let's ask ourselves why people feel the need to ban books. It's simple. When we point a gun at ourselves, we can see it. And we know that once we pull the trigger, we’ll cause our own death. But when we use our own mind against our own self, we don’t know that’s what we’re doing. In a twist of biological irony, the most unique and powerful weapon we have to insure our own survival is our brain, but that same brain can be manipulated into causing our own destruction. And the simplest way for our minds to be taken over to our own detriment is for the information that goes into it to be restricted and controlled. Think about it. If rice is the only food we’re … [Read more...]

You Deserve It

The year was 2000. I can't describe how lonely I was. I loved living in Greece, but I just wanted to talk with someone who had shared experiences, you know? An American who'd lived through what I had. Enter "Forest Farmer" a man who posted an ad for a pen pal. He'd written, "I have four wonderful sons, and I love them very much." That was the first sentence of his bio. I didn't know anything else about him, but I'm sure I started to fall in love from that, because I had a son who I loved very much too. We did become pen pals, wrote every day for six months, without ever exchanging a photo, until he came to Greece to meet me. He got off the plane, and I had never seen anyone skinnier or with … [Read more...]

Cookies, Bloody Cookies

Let's talk about passive aggression. The ability to snipe at others in this fashion and do so successfully takes patience and intelligence. And to spot it also takes intellect. Spite under a cloak of "support" or "helpfulness" works like this: You welcome a new neighbor whom you wish weren't in your neighborhood by bringing her home-baked cookies, and then while she's at her door, holding your plate and thanking you, and ready to invite you in, you step back off her porch, you tell her how miserable it is living on the block. If she asks you, "Why would you say that?" your reply is, "I'm just trying to be helpful. I'm just trying to let you know what you'll suffer by living here. And I … [Read more...]

Neo-America

Just so I'm clear, let me list the facts as I know them: In protest against American racism, a Black football player kneels during the national anthem. That's the length and breadth of his protest, correct? He is then called out as "disrespectful" by another former Black football player, Jim Brown, who, if memory serves me correctly, once threw a woman out of a moving car. We've somehow reasoned away a grassroots, fascist militia who open carries assault rifles and combat gear to their own protest, and a sheriff (Arpaio) who went after a judge, his own wife, jailed a journalist for reporting his misuse of power, was in contempt of the law for not showing up for his court date, and under … [Read more...]

A Letter to American Nazis

Dear American Nazis: We all thought it over ─ the rest of us in the United States who aren’t Nazis, that is ─ and decided to give you what you want. We will leave you the country, and we’ll all go someplace else to live. To be clear on who’s leaving, I’ll say it using your terminology: Niggers, Jews, Chinks, Spics, Wops, Feminist Cunts, Libtards, and anyone else that isn’t part of your supreme group ─ we’re all going. You win. When we saw how one of you sat in a 4000-pound vehicle that kept him safe while he plowed into pedestrians who had no chance at all against it ─ we thought, “Wow. That’s brave. We can’t beat these people.” So, we’re out of here. But when we go, we take with us … [Read more...]