Learning to listen

After reading this guest blog post, you'll wonder where the Blooms were when you needed them the most. They are experts on how couples can avoid arguing. And I am so pleased to host them on their WOW! Women  on Writing blog tour of their new book, An End to Arguing. They have also graciously created a  wonderful list of tips about listening - an essential tool when trying to avoid arguing. Hopefully you'll all still be able to benefit from their advice. Here are the Bloom's and their 16 tips.   The Art of Committed Listening: 16 Practical tips to become a champion listener-402 by Linda and Charlie Bloom   Relationships thrive when both partners practice committed listening. When we allow ourselves to be penetrated by each other’s words and feelings, it’s not simply a matter of receiving information, but of allowing ourselves to be informed by it. When we are able to hear and accept our partner’s feelings and needs our attention moves from concerns about ourselves to … [Read more...]

Living the life of an old crone

In my writing class this week, we were assigned a prompt to write about how to be a successful crone - you know the  little old lady who lives alone but can totally take control of her  life: her finances, her social life, her living situation, her everyday activities. I liked that prompt and wrote this: I came into my age of croneness when my husband of over fifty years became ill and died. It all happened very suddenly and hit me very hard. I had to make a million decisions without him almost right away: getting used to living without him, traveling without him, sleeping without him, not cooking for him, working without him. And I especially missed having our intellectual work-related conversations. That he couldn’t participate any more left me more than alone and lonely. It left me without the love of my life. I also had to learn to manage my financial life even though Bob called me innumerate. I formed relationships with our financial advisor and tax accountant, made the … [Read more...]

What do you have to brag about?

Choices is happy to host MARLA J. ALBERTIE'S WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR OF: The Ultimate Brag Book About Yourself   Book Summary Can you imagine all the things you like, love, and adore in one book? All your favorites captured at one time with space to write more. So, why did I write this book? How often do we brag about ourselves, take time to think about what makes us happy, or do the things we like? If I had to guess, not as often as you would like. This book has been on my heart for years and I am finally getting it out to the world. You deserve to brag about yourself, so why not? Not only is this a bragging book, but it is a book of ideas you can use to start your next project, business, career move, or anything your heart desires. So how does it work? Each topic/list has a “number” to reach because the goal is to get you to stretch your thinking. Need more space? Don’t worry, there are extra lines per number so you can add more and there are extra pages in … [Read more...]

Letting Go

Hello. Sorry for the long delay. It's been a busy holiday season. And during that time I resurrected some past writings - especially about my mother. The one I'm posting here today is not very uplifting or loving, but I thought it perfectly depicts the relationship she and I had through the years. Maybe I'll post a happier one next time. Here goes: Letting Go  In the last days of her life, my mother looked like a skeleton with yellowish gray skin, sunken chest, and bony shoulders, legs, and arms. Her hands and arms had huge red-and-blue bruises like mottled granite in sporadic blotches. Her lips were dry, cracked, and peeling. Her mouth was crooked as she labored in deep rapid breaths. Her sparse hair stuck up. She lay on her side in the fetal position with her eyes and mouth half open and her hands clutching the bars at the side of her bed. As she intertwined her fingers around the bars, I could see her nails like claws, badly needed a manicure—the silk wraps had … [Read more...]


Every time I meet with one of my writing groups I get an interesting and challenging prompt. This last week's prompt was: What is something I resist. What am I doing when I resist? And here is what I came up with. Needless to say, it's connected to my recent bicycle accident which is still very much on my mind. As much as I try to stop thinking about it it doesn't go away. I call it Resistance Just after the man on the bicycle ran over me and I was taken to the ER and later in the day to the ICU, I resisted seeing any of the people who wanted to call and visit me. At that point I could barely talk – not even to my son Ben who was in the room with me most of the time. I just wanted to lay in bed in my hospital gown, covered with bandages all over my arms and the back of my head. I was sure no one wanted to see me like that so I did the best I could to prevent it. At those early times no one, including myself, was sure I had enough brain power to carry on a coherent conversation. … [Read more...]

A little family history

I've been thinking about writing family histories lately. The one written years ago by my husband is long out of date. Plus, other people have asked me to help them with theirs, so practicing up wouldn't be a bad thing. I was encouraged by a writing prompt I got in one of my writing groups last week. I think we all could relate to it. Here's the prompt: Imagine asking your mother and father about their past and what would they say? My husband Bob took on the task of writing a family history about both our families about thirty years ago. He looked at all the gray heads at a family gathering one day and decided he better ask them about their past before they were gone. He was quite logical about it. With some, he’d ask questions about where they came from and when they arrived in America and where they settled and what they did for work and how many children they had, and he recorded their answers on a little tape recorder. Others were willing to write their stories and provide … [Read more...]

The man on the bike (Part 2)

This is the second part of my piece about being run over by a man on his bike. The first  part appeared here on December 4, 2022. *** Those days in the hospital were pretty much of a blur. I mostly remember getting up and using a walker to go into the bathroom – with nurse assistance – and Ben being with me most of the time. I didn’t do much else other than lay in my bed – barely talking to anyone the entire time. Once I was in the regular room the doctor started talking about discharging me, but he refused to discharge me to my apartment at Fountainview with home health care there because of my wounded head. I needed to be in a place that had a medical staff to monitor my injury, treat my wounds, and give me regular physical and occupational therapy so that I’d be as strong as possible when I return to my apartment. They said my stay would be a one-week minimum, though it depended on how I progress. I reluctantly agreed, and I was moved to the California Rehabilitation … [Read more...]

The man on the bike

I was in a horrible accident about two and a half months ago which ended up putting me in the ER, ICU, hospital and rehab. The cause - though hard to believe - was a man on his bicycle running me down and giving me cuts and bruises on my body and a cracked head and brain bleed. The bottom line is that I've recovered almost completely with no residual after effects. I'm doing everything I used to do before the accident. What I'm trying to do now is write about the details of the accident. I've written six pages, but I only plan to share the first two pages here today. Please comment after you've read it. I'd love your feedback.  With huge thanks. The Man on the Bike On Saturday, September 24, 2022, at about nine-thirty in the morning, I was walking back to my apartment in Playa Vista as usual. I had just about finished my daily ten thousand step walk and was ready to cross at Bluff Creek Drive and Westlawn, a corner I crossed every day, so I could reach my apartment entrance on … [Read more...]

The second anniversary of Bob’s death

Today is the second anniversary of my husband Bob's death. And leading up to this day I've done a lot of thinking about him - mostly about how much I miss him and need him. I also read through some letters I received from friends after he died. I'd like to share a couple with you. This first one is from Jack (Wizard) Doyle, my high school friend, Annie's, husband. Here are his beautiful and thoughtful words: Dear Madeline, I treasured my friendship with Bob. He was more than special; he was exceptional. Bob had the rare ability to relate to everyone he encountered. A common thread throughout his memorial service emphasized how well he connected with each individual be they a toddler, a new acquaintance or a skilled professional. Robert Sharples was a man of the keenest intellect, a man of constant curiosity who never stopped learning. He was a man of empathy who had the stature of a polymath to me. I too loved completing the Sunday LA Times crossword puzzle with Bob. … [Read more...]

Bullying vs abuse. Are they equal?

Welcome to Catherine Forster's WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR OF Chasing Tarzan Plus Catherine has honored us by writing a guest post about school bullying - a subject very much in the forefront these days. The long-term effects of bullying––abuse doesn’t cease when the bullying stops by Catherine Forster While enjoying my morning coffee and reading the Sunday  paper, I stumbled on an article about bullying. The title, The Long-term Effects of Bullying, caught my eye. The piece examined the multiple studies conducted in the U.S. and abroad, all revealing surprisingly similar results: individuals who were the  target of severe bullying (whether physical or verbal) were more likely to struggle with their relationships, suffer from depression, addiction, and suicide during adulthood bullies who were also bullied suffered similarly to their victims, and were more likely to be incarcerated bullies who were not bullied tended to continue their bulling behavior as … [Read more...]

Election poems

Although the election results are not yet final, the results now look a lot more favorable than the conspiracy theories the GOP predicted before November 8. I wrote a few poems about how Trump and his cronies behaved, and now I'm so glad I patiently awaited the real results. Here's some examples: The mid-term election day Is Tuesday November 8. And I’m scared that Trump And his crazy-minded Followers are going to Take over our congress – Both the house and The senate if we don’t Get enough Democrats Out to vote. We’ve had a record number of pre-voters already, but even if there are more Democrat than Republican votes, the MAGA folks will cry fraud – even before the polls close. We had a polling place here Last week and only fifty Out one thirty-five of our Residents came to vote. They just don’t seem To care about the outcome Or the majority of them Are forever Trumpers. I just can’t stand it. Now the GOP is suing To eliminate thousands Of mail in … [Read more...]

Three Dead Bugs

Ever since I moved to a senior retirement living situation I've participated in a memoir writing class. And I love it. Mostly I pick my own topics which I've posted here on occasion. However, I also like to respond to prompts others write in response to. Lately the prompt exciting most of the writers has been our first and/or favorite automobiles. Of course with that topic I also had to join in. Here's the piece I read to the class last week.   Three Dead Bugs I had three bugs. I bought my first car, a Volkswagen bug, in 1961 so I could get to UCLA and back. And it served its purpose. Its old light blue body, built in 1957, cost me three hundred dollars, thanks to my father’s good negotiating skills. But unfortunately it died an accidental death. I had parked it on a hill, affixed the parking brake, which then failed and poor Bug Number One rolled down the hill and was smashed to smithereens when it hit the car at the end of the road. I figured the only way to get over … [Read more...]

Memoir class prompts

I've been attending a memoir class for almost a year at my new senior living community. I love the class and have written some interesting essays as a result. I thought I'd share a couple of recent ones with my readers. One prompt was to write about a best friend. My response was this: A First Best Friend Early during my Swift Elementary grammar school years I met Phyllis. She lived down the block from me at a residential hotel – the Sovereign – on Kenmore Avenue in the northside of Chicago. She was tall, had short curly blonde hair, and a pale complexion. In those days I had long dark brown hair and I was short, chubby, and olive skinned. But that didn’t stop me and Phyllis from becoming friends. I had to walk right by her hotel to go to school, so I would pick her up and we would walk together. Two other girls in our class – Vicky and Lynn – also lived at the Sovereign, and although we were friendly with them, we didn’t invite them to walk with us. Phyllis lived with her … [Read more...]

From fat acceptance to fat celebration

I’ve been a fan of Bill Maher for years. My husband and I used to watch his show weekly and especially liked his “New Rules” section and closing monologue. Nowadays I listen to him via a podcast when I’m out for my daily walk, usually the day after his show. In his most recent show, Real Time with Bill Maher, his monologue was about obesity – many times using the term “fat.” I was a chubby child and I know how that term hurts. My father called me “fatty” until I naturally lost my chubbiness when I went through puberty. Lucky for me but not so lucky for others. There has been a lot of scuttlebutt about Maher’s recent words – in fact, fat people complained that there is not enough support for them and denigrated the adored singer, Adele, for losing weight in the last several years. Another thing he pointed out is the new way of making men’s business suits – with drawstring waistbands so men can adjust them as their stomachs enlarge after a huge meal. Really now? That’s going a … [Read more...]

Out of balance

  Nationally and worldwide, we are experiencing a heat wave like no other in history. In Denver, where I just spent a three-day weekend, it was ninety-five degrees outside every day. It was so hot I could hardly walk, hardly think, hardly able to make decisions, and for the first time in years I experienced actual sweating. But when inside I couldn’t stay warm enough. The people I was visiting, who so wonderfully welcomed me and fed me and took care of me, kept their air conditioning up so high my whole body shook from the cold. The wind on my face – the only uncovered part of me in bed one night – kept me from sleeping. I also felt that way – absolutely freezing with a blanket on me – going to and from Denver on the plane. The weather has kept me out of balance, something I’ve never thought about so much before these last few days. I’m better back in Los Angeles. I actually felt a bit of a chill when I went out for my early morning walk today. That was a welcome … [Read more...]

Hooray to the JWST team

This is the best time I can think of to write about my late husband Bob and his work as a rocket scientist. He began his career working on the development of the US Air Force’s Minuteman III MIRV ballistic missile weapon system, serving as the Manager of Systems Engineering and Test for the Minuteman Program Office in charge of the testing of the weapon system. Other management work included the development of real-time software for the Hard-site Defense system, a US Army development of an operational anti-ballistic missile system. This assignment included almost two years in residence at the Kwajalein atoll engaged in live testing of the radar and software product against live Minuteman III launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in CA. In his work in aerospace, he served as the Systems Engineering & Integration Manager for the NASA AXAF (Chandra) x-ray telescope spacecraft and Program Manager for the ROCSAT satellite program for the Republic of China on Taiwan, which … [Read more...]

A must see movie!!!

I've been raving about a new Emma Thompson movie for a couple of weeks. I think it's so good I've already seen it twice. It's called "Good Luck to You Leo Grande." And though it will probably appeal more to older women like me, I think the acting and the script and the directing will appeal to others as well. But of course that's me being partial. Besides being about an older woman's experience with a young handsome and paid-for sex worker, a major theme is how she learned to love and respect her body and her face after a whole life of putting herself down. Actually I'm not the only one who liked it. The other night three of us sat in my living room watching Leo Grande on my sixty-five inch television screen. And one of the women reported her reaction in her blog the next day: "I had a very interesting evening yesterday. My friend Madeline invited me and our friend Carol to her apartment to watch a movie. Madeline had seen it a few days before and not only recommended it but … [Read more...]

Shame on them!

"Shame is a psychological autoimmune disease, the mind trying to eat itself." I’ve been thinking about shame today, and the most I can come up with is how I feel after watching the January 6 select committee hearings this morning. How Mr. Trump and his allies Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman treated people who didn’t obey their requests to overturn the election or go along with their lies about the work of honest election officials. Our whole country should feel shame about how these politicians acted and are still acting and how, at least in my estimation, they will eventually get away with their appalling and illegal behaviors. I watched a young women named Shaye Moss as she gave her testimony to the committee. She had been a loyal election worker for many years and loved helping people – especially the older adults – vote, either in person or by mail. And now, after the lies that she and her mother stuffed the ballot boxes with votes for Biden and the life threats she … [Read more...]

Not home yet

Next week I'll have lived at Fountainview at Gonda in Playa Vista California for one year. And I still can’t call it my home. It’s supposed to be, but to me it’s just a building with six stories, common areas consisting of a living room, dining room, library, gym, theater, bar, and a big room called the events center. All those rooms are nice looking but mostly empty. Because of Covid and staff losses, we haven’t eaten together in the dining room for months except for a few special occasions. My apartment is on the fourth floor. It’s a corner unit so it gives me a little more space and a wrap-around deck. I furnished my apartment with things from the family home that I sold in Manhattan Beach, and they fit in very well. But that’s because I hired a designer recommended to me who was familiar with Fountainview floor plans. She picked out the pieces of my furniture that would fit best here. And to make it more homey, I kept and display artifacts, pictures, books, crystal, depression … [Read more...]

A poem for Uvalde, Texas

President Biden Said losing a child Is like tearing A piece out of your soul. I know. I lost a son. And yesterday nineteen Sets of parents In Uvalde, Texas Lost their precious Little boys and girls too. No amount of prayers Will ever take away Their pain. I know. My pain Stays in my heart After twenty-three years. And that we allowed it To happen. That we didn’t restrict An eighteen-year-old From buying An assault weapon, Designed and intended Only to be used In battlefields And not to bloody Schools or grocery stores Or places of worship. We must stop These horrors – The killing of Innocent people Just wanting To live normal lives. We must stop The pain and The pieces of our souls From tearing away. … [Read more...]