Category Archives: Writing

The Gypsy’s Promise

I finished writing a book.

The funny part is, it was never supposed to be completed.

The thing is, I fleshed out a couple of characters who became the basis of my first five chapters. Then the urge to actually complete the book passed and I moved on to writing other things.

But after the fifth chapter was done, the book sorta called me back and then the characters took on lives of their own. Before I realized it, there was a sixth, a seventh and an eighth chapter. I laid the book aside again for a while–months if I remember  correctly. But I kept being lured back to the unfinished manuscript.

Before I knew it, there were over 70,000 words written and I found myself composing an Epilogue.

It probably sounds like the hard work has been done, but actually the hard work has just begun–revisions and more revisions. That’s where the book stands until I deem it worthy to be sent to an agent. If I’m lucky, some day you’ll see The Gypsy’s Promise on a shelf in your favorite bookstore, or on Amazon as an eBook.

Wish me luck.

DO NOT Keep a Diary

About a week ago, I sent an email out to several friends asking them to share a favorite childhood memory with me. Many of those who replied were the same people who have been telling me they can’t write.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I strongly feel everyone should be writing something –anything– so that the only thing one leaves behind isn’t just ashes. What would be the point of your being here if that’s all you leave?

Don’t even think about keeping a diary. Because you probably won’t. However, having a notebook sitting on an end table, a pretty one with flowers or something on the cover, might be just the thing. If it’s there, maybe you’ll write in it once in a while. I guarantee someone from the future will thank you for it.

From time to time, I’ll show some of the responses I received to my question. The ones I’ve chosen to share today probably took a mere five minutes (if that) for the respondents to write.

Here’s one from Judy H. It’s only two sentences long, but it says a lot about how kids entertained themselves before computers, and about the lack of crime in our neighborhoods.

I think my favorite childhood memories were playing games in the street – like “giant step” and neighborhood games like “Cops and Robbers”. Those were the days when you could run around the neighborhood without being afraid.

This one is from Judy C. Again, very few sentences. This one is a whopping three sentences. Who knew before there were Good Humor trucks, there were Good Humor bikes?

Let’s, see, I think it would be when my grandfather was a VP with Good Humor. I used to visit the warehouse where all the Good Humor Ice Cream bicycles were kept and riding them around the warehouse, not to mention eating the Good Humor ice cream birthday cakes he used to have made for me. Wow, that was a looooooooooooonng time ago!!

It doesn’t get much more succinct than this from Denise O.

When my sister ;o) got me Tony the Pony
>Xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox LOVE THAT TONY!!!

For the record, Denise is my sister and I bought the Tony the Pony for her birthday when she was four or five years old. Tony is a legend in our family. But who would know the story of Tony if we didn’t write about him?

Trust me, you need to buy yourself a notebook.

Year of the Rat & Aura Color Test

I have recently become the Resident Expert on Astrology at So, instead of finding my usual post here, I will direct you to my latest articles at LifeScript. If you are interested in Chinese Astology, you might enjoy reading about predictions for the Year of the Rat.

Or you may be interested in Aura Colors . Take the Aura Color Test.

First The Soapbox, Then Mom’s Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

Okay, I’m on my soapbox again, encouraging you to write something this week about yourself. If you do, I can almost guarantee one of your children or your grandchildren will thank you someday. You are living in their “good old days.”

I can’t tell you how many times I could kick myself for not asking my mother more questions about her life. Now it’s too late. The only things I have of hers, in her own handwriting, are a few recipes she gave me over the years. At least when I see her handwriting on the page, it helps me to remember other small things about her. I’m going to share one of her recipes with you at the end of this post.

But to get back to journaling, there’s so much to write about. Some suggestions:

  • any kind of travel would be good
  • all of your favorite recipes
  • right now, the campaign for the presidency furnishes a bushel full of options
  • what television shows won’t you miss
  • what movie did you see recently that you absolutely loved
  • if you are reading a book, try writing your own review

And remember, there’s no rule against being humorous. You can go in any direction, it’s your show. Someone mentioned to me a few weeks ago that she started writing stuff down occasionally and she does it in letter form, as if she is actually writing a letter to someone.

Or maybe something happens in the course of a normal day that seems worthy of preserving as a memory. Here’s one from Ireland.

I was driving home yesterday amidst a flood caused by a thaw of snow. We came to a big enough pool of water that stretch the entire width of the road. We watched as the car ahead of us passed safely through the water and then to my surprise the car stopped and waited. The driver waited to make sure we passed through the water safely.

Short, sweet and cute. That’s all it takes.

If you go somewhere…anywhere, write about it. Here’s a very short travelogue and a chuckle from Walking Around. She just returned from a trip to Wales.

So there you have it, one of my pep talks to get you writing and saving your memories. Now to the promised recipe from my mother.

Italian Wedding Soup

3 heads of escarole (found in the produce dept.)
1 lb. ground beef
2 eggs, scrambled
Chicken Broth, either homemade or 2 large cans Chicken Broth (my mother used College Inn)

First roll the ground beef into tiny balls about the size of your thumb nail. Set aside.

Wash the escarole leaf by leaf in a sink filled with cool water. Place leaves on a clean dish towel. There will be loads and loads of leafy greens, but they will shrink down when you drop them into a large pot of boiling water. Keep turning the escarole with a long wooden spoon until all of the greens have been submerged in the water. Cook until tender–about 20 to 25 minutes. To cool–transfer the entire pot to the sink and run cold water into it until the escarole is comfortable to handle. To remove most of the water from the escarole, squeeze the greens into fist-size balls. Cut through each ball, using a cutting board, about 6 times, slicing in two or three different directions.

Rinse out the same pot you used to cook down the escarole, and pour in the chicken broth. Most of the work is now done. Just drop the escarole and all of the tiny meatballs into the hot chicken broth. Cook on medium heat for about an hour.

Now for the scrambled eggs. Make sure the broth is boiling, then pour the eggs onto the surface of the soup. Use a tablespoon to swirl the egg around gently on the surface, creating little bits of cooked eggs. (This is reminiscent of confetti at a wedding–hence the name.) Once the eggs are cooked, the soup is ready to serve.

Optional: Some people like to sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of their soup, so make sure you have that on the table for those with that preference.

Enjoy.  And if you have a recipe from your mother that you’d like to share, feel free to send it as a comment.

This Blog Awarded E For Excellence


Can you believe it? My blog has been awarded the E for Excellence by Catherine from The Political Voices of Women.

Along with the award comes the opportunity to award the big “E” to ten of my favorite blogs. Here goes.

  1. I ran across this blog purely by chance because I happen to like the song As Time Goes By.
  2. This blog has always tickled me. Where do all these unusual maps come from?
  3. My friend writes a very thought-provoking blog. Visit her at Lee Cantrell Speaks.
  4. If you’ve ever visited Paris (or not), you’ll love reading about the City of Love here.
  5. I often read this political blog written by a woman, Barbara’s Blog.
  6. This is an eclectic blog. I never know what I’ll find there. Changing Places.
  7. It’s especially nice to know that there’s a thirteen year old out there blogging for her peers. Take a look at Nicole’s Blog.
  8. I’m bestowing the “E” on this blog, because it often makes me smile. Don’t Tell the Children.
  9. It’s about food, chocolate and Ireland. What’s not to like. It’s Ice Cream Ireland!
  10. And last but not least, there’s always some interesting information about Social Security and Medicare at Entitled To Know

Hatha Yoga Or A Pedicure

I got it into my head that I should try yoga. Pretty much, the only things I know about yoga are, it’s a form of relaxation, it helps with flexibility, it’s good for one’s balance and it doesn’t require me to bounce around too much.

I had one problem with the yoga class; it’s held at my local hospital for the 55+ gang on Tuesday evenings and, as it happened, I had an appointment to get a pedicure last Tuesday. Pretty much, what I know about pedicures is it’s a form of relaxation, your feet and legs receive a massage and it, too, requires no bouncing.

Hmm. What to choose, what to choose…


Image from

Here’s something to think about from Yoga Informer regarding relaxation.

The eye-catching promise of poise, grace, and flexibility are the common reasons why people—especially females—are being drawn to yoga classes nowadays. Having a similar stance with ballet, more and more people see yoga as a relaxing yet more elegant form of exercise.

But there’s something to be said for the pure pampering of a spa pedicure, too.

It isn’t often that a woman’s feet get to relax. Constantly on the go, with careers, family, and other commitments, the feet often take more than they deserve. Making the time to visit the beauty salon for spa pedicures rejuvenates the feet and keeps them looking their best.

Hmm. What to do, what to do…

I decided to check in on MSNBC to find out what ideas the exercise experts have beeen touting lately:

…new guidelines call for healthy adults to engage in moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 30 minutes five days each week…

…The new guidelines offered specific advice for people 65 and older, urging them to consider lifting weights, improving their strength to prevent falls, and working on flexibility exercises and balance training.

Okay, I can forget about the weight training. That’s not going to happen anytime soon while I’m dealing with a rotator cuff tear. But there’s that flexibility and balance training again. It’s clear I should give yoga a try. And as an added bonus, if I yoga my heart out for an hour each week, I’m half way to meeting the five day requirement–well, almost.

Being a firm believer in having the best of both worlds, I attended my first yoga class on Tuesday; I rescheduled my pedicure for Thursday. The choice wasn’t so complicated afterall.


Photo from

How To Buy A New Car – 21st Century Style



It doesn’t happen that often, but when it’s time for me to buy a new car, I cringe. Last Saturday, I thought I had myself talked into visiting some car dealerships to test drive a few cars. But when Saturday rolled around, I couldn’t make myself go. My insides seized up, my head began to pound and I think I actually had a panic attack. I couldn’t leave the house.

By Monday, after giving it some serious thought over the weekend, I decided there must be a better way. Maybe if I didn’t have to deal face to face with a salesman, I might be able to hold on to my sanity. I decided to try out internet shopping. Did you know almost all car dealers now have an internet management group?

Don’t be thinking it’s all peachy keen, though. In some cases, you still have to put up with salesmen who prefer to give you information that they want to give you, instead of information you ask for. And there are still a few holdouts who won’t divulge their out-the-door price. (That is the bottom line that includes price of car, taxes, dealership fees, option costs, rebates, etc.). Fortunately, when you are working with this type of salesmen via email, you can just “delete” them and erase them forever from your life. It feels heavenly.

But for the most part, internet salesmen are happy to answer all your questions; to let you know what cars are in stock and, best of all, dickering over price is much more time efficient. Instead of sitting in the showroom waiting for the sales manager to bestow his reluctant blessing on each and every price reduction, you are sitting at home checking your email whenever it’s convenient for you.

Forays into the land of the hard sell are kept to a minimum, because it’s a lot more difficult for a salesman to pressure you via email, and those that did make feeble attempts to push, I was able to weed out the first day. Finally, I decided to concentrate on getting the best deal I could get on a Toyota Corolla.

There are three Toyota Dealers in my town and I spent three days corresponding with each of them. In the end, I decided to do business with Andy. He works out of a dealership named Courtesy Toyota; their name says it all.


Courtesy Toyota

Although price was my major concern, finding a likeable saleman also enteres into my equation. As the days wore on, it was Andy who patiently answered all my questions, made suggestions, made concessions. When we finally talked on the phone, he worked out a few more minor issues that were troubling me, such as, how could I get two cars to my home since I wasn’t planning on trading in my old car. His solution: two individuals from the dealership would follow me home.

All in all, my car buying experience was painless. I never thought I’d ever say that in this lifetime.

So, here you have it. Yet another reason why you should learn to make your computer work for you. Blogging and writing memoirs are a plus, but when the computer can save you time and money, it’s time to get on the bandwagon and make 2008 the year you’ll learn to utilize your computer to its fullest.

“Bucket List” “Done That List” “No Guts List”


photo from

Recently, I’ve seen coming attractions on TV about a new movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called The Bucket List. From the few snipets I’ve caught, it appears their list contains things they’ve both dreamt about doing before they kick the bucket.

I have a list like that, too, although I never thought to name mine the bucket list. And happily, my list spawned a Done That List. Some things on my “done” list include:

See Paris (a lifelong dream)
Ride in a helicopter
Go parasailing
Snow Ski
Ride a motorcycle, not just any cycle, a “Harley”
Learn how to blog, even when I thought I was “too old” to learn

Then there’s my tattoo. I sport a tiny bluebird of happiness on the inside of one of my ankles. I love birds.

So, I’ve fulfilled some of my dreams, but there are still plenty of challenges left on my Bucket List. Here are a few:

Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
Find out if I really can’t sink in the Salt Lake
Publish a Book
See Redwood Trees-This item, at first glance, might seem somewhat plebian. The fact is, these trees are disappearing quickly, and some people are pretty passionate about keeping them around.

What’s Your Tree is a program inspired by the story and message of Julia Butterfly Hill.

Julia Butterfly Hill gained international notoriety when she climbed 200 feet up into an ancient redwood tree named Luna that was slated to be cut down by Pacific Lumber/Maxaam Corporation. She refused to come down until Luna was permanently protected. Withstanding death threats and gale force El Nino winds, Julia lived on a tiny platform in Luna’s branches for 738 days. Julia and her team had successfully negotiated to save Luna and a 3 acre buffer zone around the tree into perpetuity.
(see the rest of the story)

Learn to Paint (don’t have to be good, just have to try)
Hang Glide (parasailing was wonderful, so hang gliding must be spectacular)
See Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument

The No Guts List – I have one of them, too. These are things I know I could never muster up the courage to do:

Sky Diving
High Diving
Scuba Diving
Bungee Jumping

Bungee Jump in Normandy, France (Souleuvre Viaduct)

Bungee jumping in Normandy, France in Viaduc de la Souleuvre.

Can you even imagine doing this?

New Year’s Resolutions and Non-Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions


I don’t do it anymore–make New Year’s Resolutions, that is. After 60+ years, I know better.

Evidently, I’m in good company. Mark Twain wasn’t too keen on New Year’s Resolutions, either.

…Mark Twain has written of New Year’s Resolutions, “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.” read full post here

But there is one thing I do each year. I pull out the books I’ve been journaling in for over thirty years, and I reread some of my favorite sayings collected over the years.

Some of them mean something totally different to me now then they did twenty or thirty years ago when I first wrote them. Take for instance this one by Eleanor Roosevelt, No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

When I first wrote this in my journal back in the sixties, women were scrambling uphill to establish equal footing with men. I recited it out loud, over and over again like a mantra. The “little woman” stereotype in me was attempting to break out and reach for hitherto impossible things. Believe me, it wasn’t an easy concept to grasp–this freedom to be whoever I wanted to be. It was a time when every young woman needed a mantra and this one was mine.

I saved another one from Eleanor Roosevelt that still rings out loud and clear to me. You must do the thing that you think you cannot do. This one started me on the path I’ve walked for the rest of my life.

I’ve learned that I don’t always have to conform. I think the reward for conformity is everyone likes you but yourself. Attributed to Rita Mae Brown.

Learning who to befriend is big, too. Claudette Colbert said it best. It’s more important what’s in a woman’s face than what’s on it.

I like to believe the older I get, the wiser I become. Reading over the sayings that are dear to my heart each year reinforce that belief. I’ve learned it’s important to “live” from Dorothy McCall. One cannot have wisdom without living life.

Also, from Joan Baez, You don’t get to choose how you are going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live. Now.

And it appears many people are collectors of sayings. These are a few from Lee Cantrell’s blog:

I’d like to think that this one is a good description of me:
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Lastly, since I just quit my job, I guess this one is really me:
“I’d rather be a failure at something I enjoy than a success at something I hate.” – George Burns read full post here

Once I’ve read through all my journals, there’s no reason to make a resolution. Life leads, and I follow.

Memphis, Tennessee – The Birth of the Blues

If you’re looking to hear the blues, Memphis is the town.

Looking to savor the sweet taste of BBQ? Memphis is a good choice.

I recently got it into my head that I’d like to do both. I emailed a co-worker to see if there was any mutual interest. This is how the emailed exchange went.

Do you want to go to Memphis? [Me]

Are you serious? [Co-worker]

Yes. [Me]

What brought this on? [Co-worker]

$100 roundtrip offer being made by Northwest Airlines. [Me]

Let’s do it. [Co-worker]

I guess it’s clear from the email exchange that I’m a bit of a free spirit and most of my friends tend to be cut from the same cloth. Therefore, this type of exchange happens more often than one would think, especially since I receive updates from various travel sites listing each week’s top ten best travel deals. (It was one of these offers that served as catalyst for my Carnival Cruise, which I wrote about back in October, ’07)

Anyway, we swooped into Memphis early Saturday morning, and we stayed at the Comfort Inn, a fortunate choice. Choosing accommodations in a city that you haven’t visited before is tricky, but sometimes luck is on your side. Our Comfort Inn was truly an inn. The price of the room included a continental breakfast that turned out to be much, much more then mere donuts and coffee. What a delight.

Speaking of delights, another one of our friends drove clear across Tennessee to meet us in Memphis. What began as a spur of the moment jaunt, became a glorious three-day reunion, jam packed with loads of fun, music, history and good eatin’.

Our first stop was to the famous Beale Street, where we swooned over the music at B.B. King’s and ate catfish, shrimp po’ boys and, what else? BBQ.


More about the Memphis adventure next week.