Almost like normal


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This almost felt normal! The lively annual wreathing party was scaled down to just three of us and outside, despite the cold!

Usually there is a luncheon, lots of women, scones and pie and tea to go around. And we make a mess inside the house on the farmtable in the kitchen.

This time it was all outside, on the porch, but no less wonderful for carrying on the tradition, making a beautiful holiday decoration, and spending time with friends. In person.

The pandemic continues to show us that it is not what you have but who you have, that matters.

Japanese fans


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In anticipation of a cold winter, we cleaned out the attic to make room for a long overdue upgrade to our insulation. Over the years I’d thrown a lot of stuff up there including kid’s toys and clothes, interesting looking housewares and furniture from my various deceased relatives troves, and sentimental junk I couldn’t figure out what to do with. Now, I am discovering such interesting objects as these Japanese fans including one that came wrapped in a sheath complete with a ribbon strap. These were probably either purchases or gifts to my grandmother during her many trips to Japan. There’s a lovely Japanese tea set, a silk kimono, and ornamental Geisha fans I’m hanging on to also.

There was a lot up there in the attic we didn’t want, but hidden among the cobwebs I found these delights.

Cotton dresses


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Outfitting your daughters in cotton dresses that must be ironed after washing, to go fishing, is by today’s standards a bit crazy. Fabrics now are magically suited for outdoor living. But my mother had five kids, baskets of dirty laundry and a farm lifestyle that included such tasks.

This picture reminds me of all that my mother did to support our family. I’d claim that she did this tirelessly, but really, she was exhausted. She cooked three meals a day for seven people and managed the household in our big Victorian place for decades, with only minimal help from the rest of us. Yes, I set the table regularly, and swept the three sets of steps in the house every Saturday, but otherwise I was off the hook.  For a farmgirl, I did not have many chores.

It’s easy to forget what our mothers did to get us to where we are today, but this photo reminds always me.

Lucky stars


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Draconid Meteor Shower 2019: How to see shooting stars from the UK ...

What great good luck do I have that I may go to the state park, late, and lay down in the bed of the truck to watch the Perseids meteor shower? We had pillows and warm breezes and barely any light in our eyes, and so the stars came into focus as we settled ourselves in.

Every August, when our grown daughter inspires us to step into the dark late at night, it reminds me of walking out to the end of the lane in Arden on a starry evening and happening upon a meteor shower. Back then we were just kids killing time in a lonely place, steeped in nature, free to wander. The end of the lane promised a show as my older sister, who knew the constellations, pointed with authority upwards into our own personal sky. Sometimes while debating which particular stars she wanted me to see, we’d be charmed by a spark that painted a fleeting arc across the scene.  Before you knew it we spotted another and then several more. It made it clear that the world is large and we are just specks. Shooting stars, any stars, are just part of the landscape. Yet, at the same time they are so special that I imagined them bestowing us with sparkling good luck.

And they did. Since I left Arden, a place that I loved, my life has only improved, no doubt aided by the power bestowed on me by the energy inherent in that happenstance dust.

Unlike in Arden though, this week our trip to the state park is deliberate and we are impatient as we wait and hope for the next shooting star, aware now that meteor showers are predictable. We were not disappointed when all three of us saw a fireball cross the sky in a long screaming streak that seemed to never end. 

Some kind of good luck is on the way, I think to myself.

Friendship isn’t easy on a good day


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5 Things I Want to Tell My White Friends

Having close contact with young people, like my three grown children, has helped me take steps to educate myself about systemic racism in America. With their current interest in the injustices around us, I have been inspired to also learn. Robin DeAngelo’s White Fragility taught me much, opening my eyes to issues that have been right in front of me my entire life but to which I have been blind. Movies like Selma, Fruitvale Station, Do the Right Thing, I’m Not Your Negro, Who’s Streets, 13th, and Malcolm X, gripped me and illustrated themes that drive home what I have learned recently by listening better.

I am trying to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem and so I welcome articles like this one above that focuses on cross-racial friendship. It’s a heartfelt and generous letter from author, Christine Pride, to her white friends.

BOOK TRAILER: You’ll Get Over It, Jane Ellen


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After months of working on a book trailer for my memoir, You’ll Get Over It, Jane Ellen, my team of three high school students and I, finished the project. We previewed it in May at a discussion group of my readers that a fellow writer’s club member had already organized.

Those in attendance gave overall positive reviews to our visuals but pointed out issues with tone, pace and messaging. It was a “back-to-the-drawing-board” moment which had me loading more furniture into the truck and heading back into the woods with fresh ideas a few days later. What we have ended up with is vastly different from our earlier version yet strikingly similar as well.

You might wonder, like I did, why a discussion group would gather for an unpublished manuscript and book trailer viewing. The lively, heartfelt #MeToo debate that unfolded would not have been on my radar ahead of time since my story is primarily about isolation and loneliness, but I get it and I loved it. Many thanks to all who were there and all who have helped make this manuscript and this trailer satisfying representations of a story I have been eager to tell.

My book trailer is on the way – almost done!


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This is my Author’s Team, three high school students, myself and my not-yet-putrid Putrid Doll.

Just in time, back in February our team went out into the creek to film these beautiful scenes. Since then we have worked remotely to put together the two-minute trailer featuring a tea party on a rock in the middle of this raging creek. It hopefully will entice the viewer to want to read You’ll Get Over It, Jane Ellen. A discussion group organized by readers of the manuscript will get to preview our masterpiece this Thursday.

American Idol Magic


Last night, my favorite TV show, American Idol, came through. All the behind-the-scenes issues were exposed in fascinating detail. Yes, I love singers, and I loved seeing brave crooners stepping up, but for me, last night’s episode was all about the logistical challenges. Belting it out on your front porch in suburbia trying to imagine you are actually an exceptional singer destined to leave small-town America is far more difficult than standing under the glitzy lights of Hollywood.

The coolest part was the costumes. Of course they had measurements, a selected color palette, style ideas and a potential wardrobe assembled for each contestant before the quarantine. Maybe each person consulted remotely with a stylist who then sent them custom made clothing options. That’s how they managed to have great looking, well-fitting outfits as Julia’ shoulderless peach dress, perfectly suited for playing to America from her living room.

Maybe they had hair and makeup consults too. I kept looking at the eye make-up and hair on the women and feeling grateful my daughter wasn’t one of the contestants. I can’t do hair!

I heard the panel say that everone had the same ring light, the same microphone, the same set of equipment supplied by the producers, and the same access to the professionals for consultation, and that it was up to each contestant to create their own scene. As difficult as this must have been, I love this necessity for creativity. One girl used red lighting and what looked like a dozen floor lamps to set a mood in her suburban garage. It was gorgeous. Did they have to unload all the grass clippings and garbage cans to set that up?

If it were me, after failing the hair and make-up challenge, the lack of an audience would be the biggest stumbling block. Pretending that a glowing ring light positioned in front of the stairs heading to the bedrooms that I have been staring at for six weeks, is actually millions of potential fans, requires heroic acting skills or an unshakable belief in self. The most successful contestants had a song to sing that our present reality could not hold back.

To me, this experiment of producing a talent contest of would-be singer stars from their homes, is a fascinating look behind the scenes of glamour and stardom. It was all a bit more human. I loved it.

And it was destracting and entertaining, and I needed that.



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To all my acquired sisters (and brothers) out there: I love you and appreciate all that you bring to my life!

But my background is unusual, and a little fraught, and so the idea of having carried a sister with me from that difficult past into today, to help interpret what was and what is now, would be terribly sweet.

A scene like this picture above always makes me take pause. It is two sisters. Before the pandemic, I used to see them often and just like this, eagerly engaging in whatever it is they have to share, obviously friends. They report, lest I be confused, that as sisters things are not categorically smooth all the time.

I do love romanticizing the idea of two women who have know each other their whole lives. Partners in life who have seen it all. A trusted friend who knows what others do not and can engage in the lifted eyebrow communication reserved for so few in our lives.

My own sisters and I took different paths, primarily characterized by flight. One ran away physically, and the other, although she did move a thousand miles from home, fled by engaging with everyone through that effective distancer, anger. I haven’t gone as far away on the map, but my world is profoundly different than the one I shared once with them.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to have a sister. But it’s kind of too late now. One is gone at the hands of breast cancer and the other has herself hidden far away. There was so much threat in our lives we learned not to trust anyone, even each other. Real communication, like sharing our feelings about anything as it seems these two sisters above have been doing for a lifetime, that’s off the table.

Too bad, too. I was always up for it.

The Perfect Fraud: This gripping novel explores complex realities


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To my delight, Ellen LaCorte carries the reader inside the mind of a psychic in The Perfect Fraud.  There we get a glimpse of the physical and emotional toll, complete with the joys and fears, the discomforts and the thrill, that would come with tapping into the spirit of someone else. But it also raises the question of whether psychics are for real or not. Don’t some of them help the police find the killer? Not having ever considered much about the legitimacy of psychics, I found myself curious to follow the story of Claire, whose powers to see into the lives of others seems to come and go. Readers see what it means to have the ability to channel other people’s experiences, and to see ahead to the threats clients soon will face. This novel idea made The Perfect Fraud a gripping read.

Juxtaposed with the psychic Claire’s emotional life is the ongoing story of another woman, Rena, who goes to great lengths in caring for her seriously sick girl. Just as in the case of the psychic we are carried into Rena’s mind. She is a woman who must take dramatic steps to discover the cause of her daughter’s deteriorating health, tracking down doctor after doctor in search of a diagnosis. It is easy to relate to the mother who will stop at nothing to safeguard her daughter, and this is where Ellen LaCorte’s story grabs hold of you.

But neither Claire nor Rena are what they seem on the surface. They are more than just women with the power to affect the lives of others. As events unfold, subtle hints suggest that the narrators of these two storylines report their worlds as they alone perceive them. Suddenly their ability to see themselves clearly is called into question. The reader turns pages to see who’s telling the truth and how the lives of these two women, both caught in their own mother-daughter entanglements, will intersect.

The Perfect Fraud surprises, entertains and delights with the unexpected story of two women, each struggling to get what they need and what they want out of life while forced to face their complicated realities.