An Anniversary Letter to My Mother

Hey Ma—

How you doing up there?  Hard to believe it’s been a year since you were freed from the body that you were so frustrated with.

You’d been preparing me for a while, telling me how much you were losing; your sight, your mobility.  And how so many of your friends were already gone.  I’d call and you’d say you’d fallen asleep listening to a book again and I could hear the defeat in your voice.

When you told me from the hospital that you didn’t want dialysis, you said you were sorry.  I told you there was nothing to be sorry for.  We both knew your body was failing and I knew you were ready to go.  You’d been ready for a long time.  I’d never be ready but that didn’t matter.

I’m so glad I got to the hospital in time to talk to you.  And feed you orange sherbet.  And laugh with you.  And hold your hand that whole last day.  And whisper in your ear that I would be okay.  That it was time for you to go.

As we stood around the bed after you’d gone, Cousin Robin said this was the hardest part.  She was right.  Leaving you, alone in that bed, to be ministered to by strangers, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  But in my heart, I knew you’d already gone.  It was just that worn out body laying there and I hoped you were already with Grammy and Grampy, Nick and Judy, Flo and Arthur, our beagle, Blaze, and all the other loved ones who’d gone before you.

So now, every Saturday at one, I ask how you’re doing up there.  And I tell you what’s going on down here.  And every few weeks I leave flowers at your adopted grave.  I stand under the clear blue sky and watch the birds and listen to the burble of the nearby fountain and tell you how much I love you and miss you.  I wonder what you’d be saying about all this crazy political crap and the hard winter we’ve had and how I accidently retired.  You’ve got a kid who’s on Social Security!

And don’t worry about me.  You were always so sure that Jesus would take care of you and your faith was so strong that I know in my heart you’re happy and free.  My grief is selfish and nothing for you to feel bad about.  I miss our three hour phone calls and your laugh and gossiping about the ladies where you lived.  I miss your willing ear and advice and even your chiding (sometimes 😊 ).  I believe we’ll be together again someday but I miss you in the here and now, when I want to call you and share good news or gripe or just see what you’re up to.

So, I hope you’re doing okay, wherever you are.  I decided I didn’t want your first anniversary to be mournful.  I wanted it to be a celebration of your freedom.  I imagine you in a place like Grammy’s living room or Flo’s lake house, up on your feet walking, eating anything you want, re-reading the Eve Dallas series for the 5th time, watching White House Down for the 20th time and partying all night with family and friends, free from pain, weakness and all the earthly burdens.

I’ll bet it’s fuckin’ awesome!



Resistance is Futile

The last week or so, the writing of my novel has come to a bumpy stretch worthy of California surface streets after this rainy winter we’ve had.  I thought it might be the fact that I’m wrestling with the business side of indie authoring.  Yes, I will admit that I’ve been consciously avoiding that quagmire, while also coming up with a name for my indie publishing business and budgeting in my head.  This has been a very Jekyll/Hyde process.

But this morning, I caught sight of Steven Pressfield’s book, Do The Work, buried under a bunch of other books in one of the many piles around the bedroom.  So, I carefully pulled it out and opened it up.  And right there, in front of my face, was the truth. 

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The 100 Day Project

So, I’ve been sorta missing jewelry making lately.  Bear Chick Originals, the handmade jewelry company I started in 2001, is long defunct but I still have drawers and boxes of beads and findings and other sparkly things.  They’ve been calling to me, like the square-wheeled train on the Island of Unwanted Toys.  They want to become things of beauty, useful and loved.

Jewelry making, whether stringing beads, bending and shaping wire or creating patterns with jump rings, always made me feel like an artist.  I especially loved combining colors and working with wire.  But since I retired, writing has dominated my creative hours and the jewelry bug just never got a reboot.  (Although, I have been thinking about making themed jewelry as contest giveaways for marketing my books when they’re published…)

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Houdini at Muzeo Anaheim

Today, The Husband and I spent a few hours at Muzeo in Anaheim, California, one of our favorite museums.  It’s a small exhibition space with the flexibility to be set up individually for each show.   Previous shows have included selections of Cheech Marin’s Latino artwork, Napoleon’s hat, Russian religious icons and costumes from Downton Abbey, just to name a few.  The current exhibition, continuing until January 22, is Houdini Unchained: The Legacy of Harry Houdini.

Here are some highlights:

One of the more lurid posters.

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My Word of the Year 2023 – Compose

Happy New Year, Everybody!!

Can you believe it’s 2023?!  Whether you’re a young whippersnapper or a young-at-heart boomer, time flies. Whether we’re having fun or not.  So I hope you’re making the most of it!

Do you pick a word of the year to focus your intentions?  It’s a January thing and usually falls by the wayside by February but here goes anyway! 

My word for 2023 is:


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Holiday Movies in Disguise

So, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) went well.  I added over 10,000 words to the 11,611 I started with on my cozy mystery, so I’m happy.  Lots more to write, then edit, so still slogging merrily away 😊

But it’s also the holidays!  We don’t do a lot of decorating but we do have a lot of favorite holiday movies we watch.

Here are a couple of movies I watch during the holidays that you might not necessarily associate with Christmas.

I’m starting with the movie I’m most conflicted about.  I shouldn’t like You’ve Got Mail.  It’s about a big box book store moving into a New York City neighborhood that wants to close all the competition, including The Little Shop Around the Corner.  Tom Hanks plays Joe Fox, the charming figurehead of the big bad bookstore, Fox Books and Meg Ryan plays Kathleen Kelly, who is desperately trying to keep alive her late mother’s childrens bookstore.  Hanks and Ryan are at their peak, playing people who are sworn enemies in real life, not realizing that they’re falling in love via anonymous email (the sound of AOL connecting to the internet!  LOL!).  Part of the story takes place during December, so there are Christmas trees and gift buying, which makes this a holiday movie to me.

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Gray Mare’s Oatmeal Survey

It’s been a while since the last blog post!  October was National Novel Writing Month prep and this month I’ve been working on the cozy mystery I was prepping for.  It’s going slower than I’d hoped but I’m a slow writer and just getting the words down is a win!  I do tend to go down research rabbit holes—this week, I learned a lot about electronic fingerprinting…  So, if I can get halfway through during NaNoWriMo, I’ll be very happy.

As it’s gotten chilly here in SoCal, the urge for some comforting oatmeal has been strong.  I thought it might be interesting to compare the different offerings I’ve ordered recently.

Corner Bakery

The only overnight oats in the bunch, I’d ordered this at the Santa Ana restaurant and loved it.  The oatmeal is refreshingly cold, thick and flavored with vanilla yogurt.  Add the dried cranberries, raisins, apple and banana slices for even more texture and goodness.  Plus, it comes with a raisin pecan sweet crisp!  It’s pretty yummy and there’s also a version that adds almonds, strawberries and blueberries.

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Gray Mare Gets Movin’

So, preparing to take a walk this morning, I went to the front door to see how cool it was.  Didn’t expect to see a light drizzle dripping from the eves and the street all shiny.  Bummer!  The pleasantly overcast mornings lately have made for really good walking weather.  Oh well, Plan B!

I have a couple of Leslie Sansone’s DVD’s but this is my favorite.  Lots of walking, knee lifts, side to sides, etc.  Like any exercise program, you can be as lazy or as energetic as you feel on any given day.  Today was medium energy and I used the hand weights.  And, like many exercise programs, there’s lots of encouraging patter that you can easily tune out and let your mind wander as you try not to bang into the furniture.  It’s a fun alternative when I need it.

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A Ghost Story for October

It’s been a minute since I last posted.  I’ve been doing some writing and editing.  Also, planning for NaNoWriMo next month (that’s National Novel Writing Month), hoping to write the first draft of my cozy mystery during November.   

And I binge watched Younger, a show about a 40-year-old posing as 26 when she can’t find a job in publishing at “her age”.   Starring Sutton Foster, Hillary Duff and Debi Mazar, I was alternately charmed, frustrated and amused.  Highly recommended-it’s a great show but you’ve been warned, there will be times when you’ll want to take characters and shake some sense into them, which really is the sign of any good soap opera!

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Lessons in Grief – Part 5

I woke up this morning to a notification on my phone.  The royal family had been summoned to Balmoral Castle as Queen Elizabeth was under “medical supervision”. 

It brought me straight back to the morning last March when I got a similar summons.  Off and on all morning, memories of the panic to book flights and the dread of the next few days surfaced.  Signing into the hospital for the End of Life ward.  Feeding The Mom orange sherbet.  Too much emotion to process.

When the announcement came later in the morning that the Queen had died, though her death wasn’t totally unexpected, it was a shock because she’d been on her feet, greeting Liz Truss, the new Prime Minister, on Tuesday. 

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