Thursday, May 30, 2013

On the road again …

I’m saying goodbye but it’s just for three weeks. I’m off to visit my daughter and her husband in New York. I will also be attending a memorial service for my sister Peg and then, on a happier note, I will spend some time in “the Big Apple” with my niece Wendy.

In the meantime I’d really appreciate it if you could give me a little support on my new venture with the Unlimited gang. Here is a picture of my boss Justin … you can tell that a little thing like cerebral palsy won‘t keep him down. He’s the founder/President of


and will be posting a weekly blog entry from me every Monday while I’m gone … (I’ve already written and sent them to him). If you just click on the blog box it will bring them up.

Justin is a recent graduate from the prestigious Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship in Houston, Texas, and Unlimiters is his creation and dream. I’m excited to be in on the ground floor and hope that it succeeds.

I will have to be on my toes however, because the other 2 bloggers they’ve hired are tough to follow. Tiffany, a former model and spinal cord injury survivor from Minneapolis just had an article published in the “Huffington Post” and Peggy, a below knee amputee and active mom from Virginia was interviewed recently on the NPR Diane Rehm talk show.

Oh, well … a good challenge may be just what I need ! See you in three weeks …



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Much more than a loyal friend …

This little guy is about 4 inches tall and he’s made of rubber. He sat on my husbands desk for years and I remember how Dick would squeeze the dickens out of him to exercise his hands. It’s amazing that he’s held up as well as he has.
When Dick passed away in 1990 I put the little guy on my desk and he’s remained there ever since. I’ve loved having him near me because he’s a sweet reminder of many happy bygone times but I’ve rarely put him to use as Dick did.
Well, times have changed. Now I am the one with the arthritic hands (as you can see in this picture) and my little pal does not seem overjoyed to be, once again, the recipient of all that squeezing.

But he puts up with me and it does help. I squeeze, hold for the count of 5, release and repeat that exercise 10 times per hand and I do that at least 3 times a day. It doesn’t help the looks of my hands but it does help to keep the pain at bay and for that I am grateful.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Author Collection …


My mother, as soon as she finished reading a book that she enjoyed, would often write to the author of that book and tell them so. It was amazing how many of them wrote back. But it was a cumbersome process because authors were controlled by their publishers and it was only through them that you could make contact.

It is a different world now and many authors actually put their email addresses on their websites. When I realized this I decided to start my own collection. That was four years ago and I grant you that an email does not have the charm (or frankly, the value) of a hand written signature, but it’s still fun.

I now have 21 email answers and here are excerpts from my three favorites:

“The Book Thief”, Markus Zusak ….”the fact that my writing has also meant something to you is something that can never be taken for granted. You write and think no-one will read it, let alone be compelled to write to you about it. You’ve made my day”.

“The Welsh Girl”, Peter Ho Davies …”Many thanks for your kind note. It is such a pleasure to hear from readers who’ve enjoyed the book. I was especially glad you liked that scene in the pub, it’s one of my favorites too “ etc. (he goes on to tell me of his new book which he is having trouble putting down on paper!)

“The Night Circus”, Erin Morgenstern … “I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the book ! It is indeed my first novel and it’s amazing that the response has been so strong” etc. (also talks of her new idea for a book and signs it “Cheers, Erin”)

Give it a try … it’s fun, it’s FREE, and, as Markus said …it just might make their day … and yours !

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A proud grandma …

Graduating from North Carolina State University is no small thing…and graduating Magna Cum Laude is even a greater achievement, so no wonder I am a proud Grandma !

You may remember this adorable picture. It is Amelia at age 5.

And here she is last Saturday accepting her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology & Biological Sciences:


It doesn’t seem possible that 19 years have elapsed since that first picture was snapped. There have been many changes in that time … but it’s always been uphill. Now she and her fiancé have moved to Florida and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for her.

But one thing is certain … whatever it is you can bet I’ll write about it !!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Guess what ?



I've been hired by this amazing website to write a weekly blog for them. It is an online marketplace geared to individuals with disabilities and to the products they have found that make their lives easier.

Their founder/president is a young man named Justin Farley who, although facing his own limitations and life in a wheelchair, decided to put that aside and to follow his dream. He is definitely a person who “lives his life without boundaries”, as it says on their home page.

When their facilitator Lisa contacted me she told me that they were looking for a network of bloggers with various disabilities or limitations writing about ways that they “unlimited” their lives. She said the reason they were contacting me was because they felt I could represent the older population which (despite being in the majority) are often overlooked.

I don’t have a physical disability, per se, but  I surely have the aches and pains and difficulties that go along with being 80 and that’s what I plan to write about. And here’s where I turn to you, my blogging family ! If any of you have faced limitations and/or are living a life with medical disabilities I would love to hear from you. Please email me with your thoughts and your recommendations.  

Although their website is a marketplace Justin and Lisa have given me a blank slate and I am free to fill it as I see fit.  It does not have to be based on products so that gives me wide leverage and I hope, with your help, to chronicle the ways that we break out of the chains and lead lives without limits matter how old we may be !


Friday, May 10, 2013


I recently watched this 2000 Oscar-winning documentary, narrated by Judi Dench. It tells the story of the Kindertransport that saved the lives of more than 10,000 Jewish children at the dawn of World War II.

In November of 1938, 5 days after Kristallnacht (the horrendous “Night of Broken Glass” when the Nazi’s in Germany and Austria smashed most everything that was Jewish) a delegation of British Jewish leaders appealed to the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, to permit the entry of unaccompanied Jewish children to their country.

The House of Commons agreed to help and the call went out to the public for housing. It is to the credit of the British people that they (Jews and non-Jews alike) stepped forth and the RCM (Refugee Children’s Movement) began.

The documentary is made up of moving recollections from some of the survivors. As you can imagine it was not easy and there were back-lashes and very few of the children were ever reunited with their parents; but, overall it was an amazing accomplishment.

I couldn’t help but compare what they were going through in 1938 to what was happening to me at the same time. I would have been 5 at the time and living peacefully in Plainfield, New Jersey. It would have been (and still is) inconceivable to imagine a time when being wrenched from the safety of my loving family would be the only alternative to survival.

I pray that we never forget those days … lest they return.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Fulfilling a BUCKET LIST …

I’ve been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for almost 24 years and I’m still amazed at the way peoples lives are transformed with the aid of this group. Here’s just one small example of how that works:

A little over a year ago we welcomed a new girl into our midst. She is in her early 50’s and married to a highly ranked Army officer. She had struggled to get sober and wanted to stay that way but was also facing the fact that, as his wife, she would be expected to hostess many social occasions and, of course, most of these occasions would include alcohol. It scared her to death.

In AA one of the first things we recommend is that the newcomer get a sponsor … one who will walk them through the program and who will stick by their side through thick and thin. This girl was sure that she wouldn’t find anyone who could relate to her particular situation. However, she attended an AA meeting where one of the participants was a woman in her 70‘s who is the widow of a prominent Naval officer. She and her husband had spent many years in Washington, DC and she was very aware of the pressures of that lifestyle so sponsor and sponsee clicked immediately.

About three months after they paired up our new girl’s husband was to be honored at a ceremony in DC and then sent overseas. It was just the sort of situation that would have petrified her before, but she asked her sponsor to accompany her for support and she said “yes”. That was all she needed to get through the event but that’s not the end of the story.

In the months before, while these two were getting to know each other, the sponsor had shared that, after her husband died, she’d made a bucket list of places she wanted to visit but she’d given up on the idea since she could no longer drive long distances. So, when the trip to Washington came up they decided to not just go there, but to keep going.

And that’s what they did !

They headed North, checking off the items on her bucket list as they went. It took them nearly two weeks and they were just beaming when they came home. The list was gone from the bucket but it wasn’t empty … it was overflowing with memories that will last them both for a lifetime.









Thursday, May 02, 2013

SAN GIMIGNANO … for real and on film !

Recently I watched the delightful film “Tea with Mussolini” for the third time. This is a 1999 semi-autobiographical film directed by Franco Zeffirelli. It tells the story of a young Italian boy who is fostered by a circle of English and American women before and during World War II.

As any of you who follow my blog knows, I am a lover of Italy and especially of Florence where most of this film takes place. However, the walled city of San Gimignano with it’s amazing array of towers is a close second, so you can imagine how thrilled I was

when I saw that a good part of the movie was filmed there. I actually put the tape on “Pause” when they got to the plaza pictured here. Just looking at it transported me back to that magical day in 2008 when my son and I spent a day there.

I remember it so clearly. Mark and I had separated and I thought I’d lost track of him until I realized he was still inside this lovely church. He stayed there for a long time and was almost in a daze when he finally came out … saying he could hardly get his fill of the frescoes and the history portrayed there. I think this picture says it all…

“Tea with Mussolini” could hardly fail with a cast including Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith and Cher … but the story is compelling on it’s own. Treat yourself to a viewing if you haven’t already had the pleasure … it’s a gem of a movie.