Category Archives: Writer’s Block Blog

If you have a puppy, you don’t need an alarm clock!

If you have a puppy, you don’t need an alarm clock!

In December, we adopted our son and daughter-in-law’s Mini Aussie puppy, Maggie. She was an 8-month-old ball of nonstop energy and too much for their toddler son, Riley. Even though we generally adopt older rescues, it was important to our ten-year-old grandson, Shae, that Maggie remained in the family.

Living with this loveable little demon took some adjusting for my husband, Mike, me, and our 8-year-old Schnauzer mix, Emma, a sedate and refined lady—but it was worth it. We love her, and she loves us. In fact, she is my constant shadow. I have to ensure I leave lights on at night so I don’t trip over my shadow!

Maggie is about to turn one and is slowing down. A weensy bit. She’s no longer waking me up at 4 am, so that’s good. Now it’s between 5:30 and 6, seven days a week. She used to paw my face to wake me, but now she often gently sets a rock on my face to tell me how much she loves me. For a fifteen-pound dog, she sure can lift some big rocks! I now have a line of “love rocks” decorating the windowsill.

Instead of lamenting the lost sleep, I have incorporated
a few
new things into my morning routine.

• NEW: Ten minutes of red-light therapy while listening to beautiful Deva Premal music and deep breathing. Or, if my morning cup of caffeine has kicked in, I sing along to music. This morning it was The Judds. I have not listened to them in ages! So good!

• NEW: Ten-minute back stretch. I have osteoporosis in my back — too many years hunched over a drawing board during my graphic artist years.

• NEW: 30 minutes of exercise using my amazing Meta Quest 3 VR headset.

Note to self: Do not allow dogs in the room during the above activities because they think you want to play. Not relaxing!

Then, the usual: Get ready for the day. Eat a healthy breakfast and then commute to my office in the backyard to start my workday, while Maggie and Emma snooze on the couch.

Famous People I’ve Encountered Through the Years – Part Two

Famous People
I’ve Encountered Through the Years
~ Part Two ~

Last week, I posted Part One.
I’d love to hear what famous folks you’ve met!

Cruise was dating De Mornay when she and Voight were filming “Runaway Train” in Alaska. I was living in Anchorage, AK back then, and was the graphic artist for the ski resort – Alyeska.

I met them when I was paired up for a skiing lesson with Voight. He was a nice regular guy, as crummy a skier as I was, and gracious to everyone.

BRUCE WILLIS: In the mid-80s, I came down from Anchorage to visit my BFF, Nina,  and spend a few days in the Hollywood/Beverly Hills area. One evening, around midnight, we were walking along Sunset Boulevard to our car after attending a comedy show in Hollywood.

Willis, who at the time had hit it big with his TV show, “Moonlighting,” pulled up beside us in his shiny black car, rolled down the window, and told us it wasn’t safe to be walking out there at that time of night. He offered us a ride to our car, but Nina had no clue who he was and refused, even though I told her who he was. So, Willis slowly cruised beside us until we got to our car. Gosh – he was so cute!

ANDY GARCIA AND PETER STRAUSS: Their kids played club soccer, and the teams would gather at our restaurant in Arroyo Grande, CA –Klondike Pizza–when playing in our area. Both were nice, regular dads.

CHRISTOPHER LLOYD: He used to stop at the Klondike when driving up or down the 101 and eat on the patio with his dog.

BURTON GILLIAM (actor—”Blazing Saddles,” among many) He used to host “The Burton Gilliam Celebrity Golf tournament” to raise funds for the Central Coast YMCA. My hubby, Mike, played in it many times. Afterward, there would be a big dinner at our South County Regional Center that I attended with him. Peter Bergman (soap star) sat next to me one year. Another year, John Madden sat across from us.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS and her daughter CAROLINE KENNEDY: My friend, Ginnie and I were enjoying an afternoon stroll in Central Park, when we met them walking towards us. Jackie, wearing her signature sunglasses, was pushing her grandchild’s stroller and gave us a warm greeting.

DAVID BOREANAZ (Bones TV show, Seal Team, etc.): My friend Jeri and I were given a private tour of Fox Studios. Jeri’s son’s partner, Dawn, worked for the head of Fox and, in those years, arranged many fun events for us. We met Boreanaz while we were on the set of the TV show “Bones.” The season had ended, and he was packing personal items in a cardboard box to take home. He was very friendly – but the big surprise for me is how small the sets are. They look so big on TV.

AMERICAN IDOL: Jeri and I went for many seasons while it was on Fox.
Ryan Seacrest—personable and focused. Glen Campbell sat across the aisle one year —he was on his last tour and suffering from Alzheimer’s. Scotty McCreery, a sweet 16-year-old at the time, sat next to us for a special promo. That night, we knew he’d win the season. Rita Wilson often sat in front of us and was a big fan, just like us. Chelsea Handler—very quiet and polite. Anthony Hopkins was a huge, boisterous Idol fan. Simon Cowell—super nice to everyone during the commercial breaks. Same for Keith Urban. Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson’s voice) sat near us and did Bart’s voice during a commercial break. Freaky-fun!!

PLANE RIDES: Oliver North (retired military and television political commentator) sat behind me on a plane. Martin Sheen sat in front of my husband and me on another flight and was friendly to everyone.

LOU FERRIGNO (The Incredible Hulk): He has a home in our area, and I often see him shopping in stores. The other day I waited behind him in the CVS pharmacy line. His son, Louis Jude Ferrigno Jr, is a successful actor and has posted about his favorite Klondike Pizza.

OPRAH: I met her while waiting in line at Whole Foods in Santa Barbara. She was behind me. Very sweet and very real. She was makeup-free and wore flip-flops because of her poor gnarly feet. She’s often talked about how her stylish stilettos ruined her feet. Her feet looked miserable and deformed by bunions. Ouch!

GORDON RAMSEY: Jeri, Dawn, and I went to a taping of “Hell’s Kitchen.” It was the second to the final show of that season, so it was the last show that had competition cooking in it. It was down to four finalists, and the food was terrific. We sat at the front table and wound up talking on camera. It’s a blurry photo, because I took it from the TV recording.

It was at least a four-hour session in a very hot warehouse made to be like an authentic restaurant. We even had a maître d’ and an excellent choice of beer and wine. I ordered Ramsey’s fish and chips and mushy peas (who knew mushy peas could be so delectable), and the others had his famous Beef Wellington. The staff was amiable and fun. Ramsey was usually nice and quiet, and then they’d cue him to start shouting. Pretty funny.

HUGH JACKMAN / MEL GIBSON / KELSEY GRAMMER: Dawn arranged for Jeri and me to go to a big Hollywood red carpet premiere at the Chinese Theater – where all the major movie stars’ handprints, past and present, are in the cement. We walked behind dreamy Hugh and other stars of the “Wolverine” film while the paparazzi took our picture—probably wondering who we were!

Before taking our seats, we hung out in the lobby with the star-studded crowd—all amiable because everyone there (except us) was in the industry, and no one was allowed in with cell phones or cameras— so no videos or photos. We watched Martin Scorsese empty his pockets for the guard at the electronic barrier entrance—just like we’d just done. After I got a box of popcorn, I was walking around a pillar, looking the other way (lots of stars to gawk at), and knocked Mel Gibson off his feet. Kelsey Grammer, who’d been talking to him, and I helped Mel back to his feet. They were laughing and made me very comfortable in that embarrassing situation.

PIER ONE ENCOUNTER: Several years ago, I was shopping in the Santa Maria, CA shop and met Cheryll Ladd and her husband, Brian Russell. We were the only customers, so we got to chatting. They were shopping for Cheryll’s daughter, Jordan, who was in the PCPA program at nearby Allan Hancock College. PCPA is a well-regarded theater program with some famous past attendees, such as Robin Williams, Zac Efron (a local boy from my town, Arroyo Grande, and pizza-eater at our Klondike Pizza restaurants when he was a kid), and Kathy Bates. I forgot about meeting Cheryll until I watched a Hallmark Garage Sale Mystery: The Wedding Dress, last night. 

I have to say that I miss Pier One stores!

Some very important people I know and revere, run animal rescues and farm sanctuaries. My husband, Mike, and I are fortunate to be able to help raise funds for these organizations through our Klondike Pizza restaurants. Their names will not go down in history, but I consider them “important” and am privileged to know them.





Famous People I’ve Encountered Through the Years: Part One

Famous People
I’ve Encountered Through the Years
~ Part One ~

I was asked this question recently,
and I thought it would make a fun blog post.

I have not met famous people like Mother Teresa,
Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi
who have truly made a difference in the world,
and will never be forgotten.
Just Celebrities.

I’d love to hear what famous folks you’ve met!

KATHRYN BIGELOW (Hurt Locker, etc. director): High School Classmate. In 2010, she became the first woman in Oscar history to win the Best Director award.

TEX RITTER and TAMMY WYNETTE: In the late 1960s, my best friend Nina and I attended a Country Music Concert at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. We were 17 or 18 at the time. The first half of the show was young, up-and-coming country rock bands. During the intermission, we strolled the wide hallways built to accommodate cows and horses for rodeos and horse shows.

One of the young bands said hello to us, and invited us to sit on the side of the stage to watch the Grand Old Opry entertainers perform the show’s second half. I sat next to Tammy Wynette. The pretty, young blond wore a gold-spangled mini-dress and was friendly. She sang her big hit of that year, “Stand By Your Man.” Tex Ritter introduced himself and asked me to hold his bourbon while he performed with his band. We were invited to a big party afterward. Back then, I was a weekend folk singer in the streets of San Francisco, and I wanted to go the party, thinking I might have a chance to sing, and who knows — maybe be discovered as the next big country-folk music singer; but Nina was too shy to go.

JOAN BAEZ: I volunteered at her Peace Center in Palo Alto during the Viet Nam War. We arranged peaceful war moratoriums. Before that, I had met her while working at a high-end department store at the Stanford Mall in Palo Alto, CA. Joan was looking for a new outfit to wear on “Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show” the following night. She told me he always put her on at the show’s end, so she only had time to sing a song but not talk. She said, “I guess he thinks I’ll just talk about political stuff, but I can be really funny, too.”

The next night, I watched the show; sure enough, she was on in the last five minutes. When she finished her song, she dashed over to the seat next to Johnny’s desk and joked about always being the last guest on the show. He promised he wouldn’t do that again.

KENNY ORTEGA (Filmmaker, choreographer – High School Musical movies, Michael Jackson tour, etc.) When he was maybe 19, he directed “Oliver” in the San Mateo area. Nina and I wanted to work in the musical. Nina wanted to be in the play, but I wanted to be a stagehand instead of an actor because of my full-time job and school. He said I had to attend every rehearsal, or I could not be a part of the production. Although disappointed then, I understand why he insisted I be at every rehearsal. It is this work ethic that made him successful. However, at his young age back then, he was very brash and arrogant. When he was 21, he was in the touring stage production of “Hair.” Nina and I went to see him in San Francisco. Mainly to see the skinny guy naked on the stage, and have a good laugh. That doesn’t sound nice, but even though he was very talented, he was not a likable guy at that time. In later years, he was a weekly judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” and came across as a nice person. Age has a way of mellowing some people.

DAVID CROSBY: I saw Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young at the Oakland Coliseum. They were a big band, making beautiful music. I was 18 and went with my friend Elaine and her younger brother, Jim.

After the show, we went around back to watch the band leave. Crosby, who was very cute (in my opinion) at the time – long hair, droopy mustache, 27-ish, opened the door of his limo and invited me to the after-party. I declined. I may have been young, but I wasn’t dumb. The creepy looking guy on the right is Neil Young.

SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR JOSEPH ALIOTO: In 1970, I went to a dinner party with my boyfriend, Dan (who became my brief first husband—my “practice marriage”), at his much older brother’s home in San Francisco. His brother was a professor and on the San Francisco school board. I was nineteen and very much out of my comfort zone.

JIM JONES: He was also at that dinner party. He was a prominent preacher who led the “Peoples Temple” in San Francisco between 1955 and 1978. He was heavily involved in political and charitable activity throughout the 1970s. Jones was appointed chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission in 1975. When I met him in 1970, he was 39, good-looking, and very intense. His eyes bored right into me, and I did not like it —or him. He gave me the willies. I guess the thing that attracted many people to him, repelled me. I remember him saying that my last name, Frost, was a good Anglo-Saxon name.

In November 1978, he led a “revolutionary suicide.” Jones and the members of his inner circle orchestrated a mass murder-suicide in his remote jungle commune at Jonestown, Guyana. Almost all his followers, 909 commune members, including 304 children — died by drinking Flavor Aid laced with cyanide. That is where the expression “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid” came from.

To this day, I still get a sick feeling inside when I think about this man
and what he did.
How can anyone have this kind of power over people?




Why Do I “Deserve” Anything?

Question: Why Do I “Deserve?”
Answer: I Don’t

A post that’s been going around for a few years in various forms about “deserving” things came through my FB feed recently, causing me to ponder the word “deserve” and why I or anyone, for that matter, “deserve” anything.

You Deserve Abundance: 

With all the good and “deserving” people on this planet who are suffering, starving, and living in squalor — why do I deserve abundance? Abundance means large amounts. How much do I really need to be happy? The older I get, the more I realize how much I don’t need.

You Deserve Nice Things:

If I want nice things, I will work hard to attain them—which I have always done and continue to do.

You Deserve Love and Romance:

I don’t deserve love unless I give love. I must be kind and generous. A loving parent, daughter, spouse, friend — but that still doesn’t mean I “deserve” love. I must earn love—and romance, too.

You Deserve to be Unapologetically Happy: 

Happiness is an attitude. It’s being a “glass half-full, not half-empty” person. Happiness comes from spreading joy and helping others. If you can look in the mirror and be proud of yourself, knowing you always do your best, hopefully you’ll feel happy, or content. Happiness is being content with who you are, and choosing the right people to be in your life.

I have gone through tough times, just like most people. However, most days, I remain a happy, contented person. Not because I deserve it but because I’ve worked for it, and sometimes the stars aligned themselves in my favor. 

For me, “You Deserve” means that I earned it;
either from working for it or through my behavior and actions.


Now, on the flip side of “You Deserve”
that I agree with:

You commit crimes; hurt or kill people;
lie, cheat, and steal; hurt children; hurt animals;
set fires that destroy forests and kill wild animals:
crimes against humanity and acts of terrorism…

You deserve to be punished.
You earned it.


 I have dear friends in Israel.
Good, kind, loving people who did not deserve
what Hamas has done to their country, their family,
their friends. Most of us will never experience that.
And no one deserves that.
They deserve peace.
We all deserve peace.




Can We Talk? #1

Subject: Colonoscopies (Yeah, I know–super fun!)

I labeled this “number one” because I know there will be other “delicate” subjects to talk about in the future.

I’m writing this post to assure folks who may be nervous about getting a colonoscopy that it’s a relatively simple procedure these days. Early detection of colon cancer is crucial for effective treatment. It’s the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths. 

A little backstory:
I get a colonoscopy every four years because my mom (69) and grandma (72) both died a long and miserable death from Colon Cancer. Plus, I’ve had Ulcerative Colitis (1-see notes at the end of the post) since elementary school. I had my latest colonoscopy a few days ago.

1977: I had a massive colon tumor. I underwent a colon resection at Stanford Medical Center — about a month after our first son was born. That was not a fun time on so many levels (see 2); however, we got a healthy, happy baby boy (3).

1979: I experienced my first colonoscopy. In the years prior, starting at 8 years old, I had many sigmoidoscopies (4), endoscopies, and upper/lower GIs. So much fun! 

Here I am, way back when.
I was in the hospital for Colitis problems and
my mom gave me a Barbie doll.
I still have her!
The Barbie on the table belonged to the girl in the next bed. 

The first modern colonoscopy was performed in 1969. In 1979, the procedure was still relatively new, and I must say, it differed significantly from what it is today. First off—the prep was much harder and unpleasant. Not only did you drink quarts of vile-tasting stuff, but you also had to have Fleet enemas. 

After a full day of prepping for my first experience, my husband, Mike, took me to the clinic the next day. As I waited in the lobby, an older man stumbled out of the procedure area and collapsed in a chair near me. He crumpled in his seat, wailing that it was the worst experience of his life. This definitely did not help my ramping trepidation.

But the clincher was my gastroenterologist did not anesthetize or give me painkillers. I was wide awake and felt that tube snake throughout my bowels. From the lowest part, the rectum, all the way up through the colon, to the lower end of the small intestine. Each turn in the intestinal tract was pure agony. When he reached the top of the tract, I knew he’d pull the colonoscope back out so I could relive the nightmare again! Now I understood what that poor man was moaning about.

The prep is so much easier these days!

Yes, you still must drink a lot of laxatives and cleanse your system (let’s call it a colon cleansing), but it’s no longer a gaggy-disgusting drink that makes you want to vomit with every swallow. The concoction tasted good — no salty, yucky flavor. Drinking the bowel cleanser is the thing that most people who’ve done it before dread doing again. It’s undoubtedly the reason so many put off doing it. So, this is a significant improvement. And boy, it did the job. Even better than past cleansings.

Prep: Two days before, I ate very little. Some people stuff themselves on that day because they know they can’t eat the next day—but that just makes the cleansing more arduous. The day before the event, prep day, I ate nothing per instructions. You may drink clear juices, sodas, or broth, and suck on hard candies. Lately, I’m into Werther’s Original Hard Candies. A few days ago, I introduced my 9 year old grandson to them and he flipped! Shh! Don’t tell his parents!

At noon, I took four Dulcolax.
At six, I mixed 64 ounces of clear Apple Juice (I’ve used Gatorade in the past – but it made me gag) with 8.3 ounces of powdered MiraLAX. I drank half—one cup every fifteen minutes for an hour. It tasted just like plain apple juice. Then I consumed the second half the following morning—6 hours before the procedure.

At the Out-Patient Medical Center: As I waited in my cubicle to go into the procedure room and be blissfully anesthetized, I heard a doctor telling a nearby 60-ish woman who’d just had her colonoscopy that she had colon cancer. He asked her when her last colonoscopy was, and she said she couldn’t remember. He gently told her this is why they recommend doing your first at age 40-45. If there are no problems, redo every ten years. As I listened, I realized that if she had done this regularly, she would not be in the dire predicament she is in now. My heart aches for her.

The friendly staff wheeled my gurney to the procedure room and in no time, I woke up in my cubicle and realized it was over. A few minutes later, my gastro doc told me all went well, and I’m fine. A few polyps were removed, and moderate Diverticulosis (5) was discovered. My hubby took me home, and after a light snack, I took a relieved and peaceful nap with my dear doggie-nurse, Emma. 

Nurse Emma

Additional Notes: 

(1) That may wind up as another “Can We Talk?” subject. 

(2) Another story for another day. A lot of bad stuff happened in 1977. The only bright spot was the birth of our son.

(3) Casey, the baby I had in 1977, had his first colonoscopy six months ago. And my younger son has it on his calendar. 

(4) Until the mid-1960s, the closest thing to a colonoscopy was an endoscopic procedure using a rigid sigmoidoscope. This device had minimal movement and reach and could not remove polyps.

(5) Several factors may increase your risk of developing Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis:

Aging: Yup, I’m aging!
Obesity: Nope—not obese. But could lose ten pounds and not miss them.
Smoking: Never—except as a teenager when I smoked a couple times because I thought I looked sophisticated. Yeah, right.
Lack of exercise: I do exercise, but one can always do more.
A diet high in animal fat and low in fiber: I’m a vegan. A healthy, well-balanced vegan diet is very anti-inflammatory. I think it’s why I don’t have any achy joints.
Some drugs, like steroids, opioids, ibuprofen, and naproxen, can cause side effects: I frequently must take steroids to control chronic hives. They were dormant for over twenty years until I got the Covid shots. This has happened to many people.

From 2000 to 2015, colon cancer rates significantly rose across increasingly younger populations. For adults aged 40–44, colorectal cancer incidence increased by 28%; for those aged 45­–49, it increased by 15%; and colonoscopy rates increased by 17% in those aged 50–54. 

Rising colorectal cancer rates have led to efforts such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s 2020 recommendation that all adults aged 40–75 should be regularly screened.

For Me?
I have no intention of quitting until I am no longer a resident of this planet.

 Last Thought

I hope this Blog Post will encourage my readers to keep on schedule with colonoscopies and other necessary medical procedures as needed. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, then do it for your loved ones. They’re the ones who would have to nurse you through Colon Cancer. You know what good old Ben Franklin said:
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

I’ve lost too many people to colon cancer.
Mom, Grandma, and some dear friends. Let’s stay as healthy as we can be!

Here’s my Barbie today
She’s aging way better than me!


Career Dreams: Past and Present

Recently, I was riding in a SFO airport-hotel shuttle bus. Across the aisle sat a charming, cute, brunette 10-year-old boy, named Noah. The driver, an upbeat, fun guy from the Philippines, asked the kid the typical question that all adults ask. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Noah’s answer: “I want to be a social influencer, make tons of money, and be super rich.”

Being the nosy lady I am, I asked, “What are you planning to influence? Lifestyle? Personal care products? Sports products? Business? Fashion?”

Noah: “I dunno. I just wanna be a social influencer, and YouTube will pay me lots of money. I’ll be a zillionaire. Or I want to design video games and be super rich.”

Me: “Why do you also want to design video games?”

Noah: “Because I like playing them.”

Me: “Do you plan to go to school to learn how to design games?” Yes, I sounded like a typical adult.

Noah: “No. I’m good on a computer, so it’ll be easy.”

Me: “I’ve talked to video game writers. They write the story, script, actions, you know, all of it, and work alongside the programmers and developers. It’s a huge job and takes a big team. I bet it’s a lot of fun, though.”

Noah’s eyes lit up when he heard I’d met video game developers—probably wondering how someone my age would meet cool people like that. I met them about twelve years ago while taking screenwriting classes at L.A. film school. They were from Sony Studios. Writing video games must be a mind-boggling challenge — so many possible outcomes.

Okay, I admit. I’m “youth-challenged.”
That’s my P.C. description for “old.” Feel free to use it if you are “youth challenged,” too. But the friendly boy’s social influencer answer made me feel a little sad for him. And the look on his parent’s faces made me feel sad for them, too. Undoubtedly, as he grows older, he will have new dreams. But when did “social influencer” become a kid’s dream job? Is it because their folks gave them a phone and access to the internet at a very young age? Talk about being “influenced.” 

When I was his age, back in the late Jurassic period, I aspired to be a singer, movie director, special effects makeup artist, writer, commercial artist, firefighter, veterinarian, nurse…

Some in my generation would have said scientist, astronaut, lawyer, or doctor. My depression-era mother believed that the only acceptable careers for a woman were bookkeeper, teacher, or secretary.

I sang for a while, first as a guitar-playing street singer in San Francisco and doing gigs while attending school and working at Ma Bell (the phone company). Then I joined a rock band and made the mistake of marrying the lead guitarist (my short practice marriage).

Second CareerI became a technical illustrator in aerospace, next a commercial artist, and then an advertising director — none of which my mom could fathom or acknowledge. I made a good income for years doing something I loved. Sadly, she never looked at any of my work. That’s a story for another day.

Third Career (ongoing): My husband, Mike, and I entered the restaurant business thirty-five years ago. Let me clarify that. Mike had worked in the restaurant industry for years, opening franchise restaurants for others.  My only restaurant experience was my first job at age sixteen.

Fourth Career (ongoing): Writer. I love writing Murder Mysteries and plan to write family-life fiction soon. But I still would like to be a movie director and do monster makeup.

Most Important Career: Being a mom. My hubby, Mike, and I raised a couple of great guys who gave us four awesome grandkids!

The restaurants* are still going strong. My “second career” experience has come in handy over the years for our in-house graphics, advertising, and in more recent years — social media content — which is advertising these days. Long ago, I traded my drawing board for a desktop, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

I didn’t achieve all my dreams.
 But I’m happy and content with what I have done. Maybe I should try
this “social influencer” thing to make scads of moola and be super rich
in my old age. I wonder what and who a seventy-something woman
can influence. Should I get a facelift and fillers so I’d look glam-fabulous?

One thing is for sure.
I absolutely refuse to do kissy-face selfies. Scary!

*Klondike Pizza Restaurants are on the C.A. central coast.

My Not So Fond Memories of High School P.E.

My Not So Fond Memories of High School P.E.

As a girl growing up in the 1960s, extracurricular team sports, like “Little League” were almost non-existent for girls in the San Francisco Bay Area. For me, that was fine, as I was not a “team sports” kind of girl. I went to dance class—tap and ballet. Still got my tap shoes. 


SOFTBALL: I played waaay-way outfield (like in the parking lot), hoping the ball would never fly in my direction. If it did, I was in big trouble, because I would have to run in close to throw (okay-hand it) to a base person. So humiliating. However, for some strange reason, I was a very good hitter.

BASKETBALL: I made a basket once. For the other team. Enough said.

FIELD HOCKEY: The girls were vicious with their hockey sticks.

ARCHERY: I loved it and was good at it, but it’s not a team sport.

SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING: I missed the first two weeks because of driver education. Therefore, I failed the final production for the class grade. Can you picture it? Everyone was perfectly in sync and knew the moves, and there was me, flopping around in the midst of it. Got an A in Driver’s Education, though.

BADMINTON: I was pretty good at that because we played it often at home. And even though it was a team sport, I liked it! Fun! I whacked the heck out of the little birdie.

TRAMPOLINE: I was good with simple jumping up and down. Not so good at the first and only flip I did. Back then there was no protection cover on the springs, and I landed my flip with one leg through one opening, the other leg through the next, and the spring in my crotch. I cannot begin to convey how that felt. I’m amazed I was able to have children.

VOLLEYBALL: Not good. Not fun.

TRACK: I had asthma. Just thinking about it makes me wheeze.

TENNIS: I was decent and liked it.

GYMNASTICS: Enough said.

JAZZ DANCE: I loved it and, for the first time, loved my teacher. Unlike my previous PE teachers, Mrs. Allen was in good athletic shape and graded on your personal ability. I had fun and got an“A.” Wow!


The transition into John F. Kennedy’s presidency in the early 60s marked a new era for the Fitness Test. Before he took office, Kennedy advocated for youth physical fitness in his article “The Soft American,” published in Sports Illustrated. In the widely popular article, the president fed into Cold War paranoia about American subservience, articulating concerns about children spending too much time watching television and not enough time building strong bodies. The harsh fact of the matter is that there is also an increasingly large number of young Americans who are neglecting their bodies—whose physical fitness is not what it should be—who are getting soft*. And such softness on the part of the individual citizen can help to strip and destroy the vitality of a nation.” Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, continued the program.

Every year, we went through days of physical fitness testing. Exercises included pushups, pull-ups, situps, a broad jump, shuttle run, 50-yard dash, softball throw, rope climb, and a one-mile run.

CLIMBING A ROPE: Horrifying.You’ve seen humiliating scenes like this in shows like The Goldbergs. It would have been nice if we’d been taught how to do it. Maybe I missed that class.

SITUPS: I was a pro! Not so much nowadays, though.

PUSHUPS were another matter. I have tiny wrists, so that’s my excuse. I vividly recall my PE teacher standing over me, loudly counting my properly executed pushups. “One! One! One!” I never got to “Two.”

ONE MILE RUN: A wheeze-fest.


When I was fourteen, I got my first horse, Glory Be—a beautiful, funny, skittish, intelligent chestnut quarter horse. A wonderful friend. He died a couple years later, and I nearly died of a broken heart.

Then I rescued a thoroughbred who’d been on the rodeo circuit—brutally mistreated and nameless. I was the first person to give her a carrot, and she bonded with me instantly. It took a lot of work and patience to tame her and teach her proper strides, but we did it. Mandy was a wonderful horse and a dear companion—always willing to listen to my woes. We occasionally showed in equestrian events through my teen years.

*Back then, there were very few overweight, let alone obese, children and adults. President Kennedy would freak out if he saw the condition we’re in now.

My Favorite Childhood Toys

This is another post from the chapters I’m writing for a “Storyworth” book.
My son signed me up because he thought it would be fun for the family
to have a book of my memories of growing up in Redwood City, California
in the 1950s and 60s. Every week I get a new question prompt.
I have to admit that I am way behind. 

My Favorite Childhood Toys

My Teddy Bear is the number one toy that has been with me for a lifetime.
He was my friend, confidant, sweetheart, and loyal sidekick. Teddy now
resides in our grandkids’ guest room, along with my kids’ stuffed animals.

We had a Post-World-War-2 Lionel Train set from the 1940s that I absolutely loved. The engine weighed several pounds and puffed smoke. There was a “milk car” with a little man that would push out milk cans onto a platform. I gave my hamster Nubbins rides on the train. Looking back now, I’m sure he was terrified, and that makes me feel awful.

The disappointing thing about being the second child is you inherit wonderful toys like that train set, and you think they’re yours until your much older sibling wants them back. My husband, Mike, and I were moving out of state with our three-month-old baby boy, when my father told me my brother wanted the train set. I know Dad felt terrible taking it, but it was my brother’s before it was handed down to me. I had envisioned our little Casey playing with it someday.

I loved my cap guns, cowboy gear, roller skates, and Flexi-Flyer. My first skates attached to my saddle shoes, and I wore the key on a string around my neck. Often, when I was speeding down the sidewalk, one of the skates would detach from a shoe, and I wound up with skinned knees, hands, and nose. Ouch!

I was in seventh-heaven when I got my first pair of “shoe skates” like the ones at the roller rink but with metal wheels for the sidewalk. Pretty soon everyone on the block had a pair. We often “skate-skied.” We’d tie a rope to a bike’s back fender and take turns pulling each other.

A Flexi-Flyer is a sled on wheels. Super dangerous and so much fun. When I was around four years old, I got my first concussion when I crashed off the sidewalk into the street and landed on my head. My poor dad found me unconscious, and my folks had to take me to a neurologist. Years later, I was allowed to play with it until I had another nasty crash.

My last ride was when I was in the fourth or fifth grade. I had snuck the Flexi-Flyer out of the garage, and a bunch of us kids were taking turns careening down steep Pleasant Hill Road in our neighborhood at break-neck speeds. However, we took the precaution of having a lookout at the bottom of the hill who kept an eye out for oncoming cars at the cross street. My final ride ended with my dad showing up at the bottom of the hill and confiscating the Flyer. He took the wheels off, and that was the end of my Flexi-Flyer days. To this day, I wish I could have one more ride!

I had a chemistry set in the 1960s that would be outlawed today. My friend Elaine and I would mix up bubbling green concoctions and then try to get her little tag-along sister, Judy, to drink them. She never did, and, of course, we never would have let her. But it was fun being evil mad scientists!

Other fun toys I had were Slinky, Silly Putty, Play-Doh, Tinker Toys, Hula Hoop, Mr. Potato Head (we used real potatoes) Magic 8 Ball, an Erector set, and my three-foot tall walking “Patti Playpal” that I would leave sitting around the house to scare my parents.




Friends – Part Three

~ Part Three ~
April 7, 2023

This is the third installment of my friendship stories. 

~ Jeri ~

I’m fortunate to have three longtime treasured friends. Two from my childhood, Elaine and Nina. And Jeri, who dates back to my early thirties. Given that I’m in my seventies now, that’s a long time too. Early thirties sounds very young to me these days!

I met Jeri through my husband’s job with Skipper’s Seafood and Chowder House restaurants. Her husband, Sam, was Mike’s boss. This was back in the day when the Northwest company was still owned by the founders, and there were a lot of Skippers in the region.

I’d see Jeri at restaurant openings, and we always enjoyed each other’s company, but because we didn’t live near each other, it didn’t go beyond restaurant events.

A few years passed, and we moved from Federal Way, Washington, to Greeley, Colorado, to open our own Skipper’s franchise. Sam and Jeri flew out from Washington to attend our grand opening. We’d picked Greeley because it was in the fastest-growing county in the nation. However, the area fell into a recession shortly after our opening, so eventually Mike accepted a job with the Skipper’s franchisee in Anchorage, Alaska. 

We moved to Alaska in the early summer with our two young boys, Casey and Spencer, to a lovely home in a neighborhood full of young families, plus the occasional moose and bear. I was happy to return to my profession as a freelance commercial artist. Anchorage’s population was about 250,000, with great shopping, restaurants, friendly people, and lots of work for me. The summer days were long, never fully dark, and fun. But getting used to the long, dark winters was rough. 

I grew up in the snowless San Francisco Bay Area. Even though I had already lived in Federal Way and Greeley’s occasional snow, this was a little much. After months and months of winter comes Spring. However, Spring in Alaska is a lot different from the Springs I was used to. There are no cherry blossoms, daffodils, and chirping birds. It’s the time of year when you trade your snow boots for knee-high rubber boots. The snow melts a little each day, and all the dog poop buried under several feet of it comes to the surface and thaws, perfuming the air with its stinky aroma. Then everything freezes again during the night.

So what does this have to do with my friendship with Jeri?
I’m getting there.

After our first looong Alaskan winter, I was down in the dumps (way down) and needed a vacation. My husband had got a break when he traveled to Boca Raton on business, but I stayed home with the kids. I was dreaming of laying on the hot sand and soaking up the sun in Cancún or Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. First, I asked my friend Nina if she could go, and she couldn’t because her husband (now longtime ex) didn’t like “babysitting” his kids. Next, I asked my neighbor, Carol, and she couldn’t go. And I knew Elaine couldn’t go. So that was that. Then my husband, Mike, suggested Jeri. I thought, “I really like her, but I don’t know her well, so why would she go on a trip with me?”

Mike convinced me to call her. I felt silly doing it, but to my surprise, she accepted. However, she said she didn’t want to go to Mexico but would love to go to Hawaii. Turns out that my sneaky husband had called her before I did and asked her to go with me.

I flew down to her house in Washington, and then we flew to Maui together. I’d never been to the islands and was instantly in love. Beautiful balmy days, clear warm ocean water. Jeri and I became close friends on that trip.

After living in Anchorage for about five years, our government decided that purchasing our oil from the Middle East was preferable to Alaska, Texas, Oklahoma, etc. That caused those oil-producing regions to go into recession. The banks shut down, our jobs dried up, everyone was leaving the state, and our house lost all its value, even though we still had a big mortgage. 

It was hard leaving Alaska and all our friends behind, but I was very excited to be moving to where you can grow vegetables all year round! Mike flew to California ahead of me; however, I needed a longer transition and wanted to drive out of Alaska. Guess who agreed to make the journey with me and my five-year-old and eleven-year-old? Jeri!

She flew up, and we all made the 3,000+ miles trip in my little Dodge Colt Vista wagon in July, 1988. At one point, the boys were arguing in the backseat. We were on the empty Dempster (dirt) Highway somewhere in the Yukon. I stopped the car and told Casey and Spencer to tell each other five reasons why they loved each other. By the third reason, we were all laughing, and that’s when Jeri told me she had thought long and hard about being trapped with us in that little car in the middle of nowhere—and this was why she was with us.

Dawson City – Yukon

Sam and Jeri eventually relocated to Santa Clara, CA, and worked for Fresh Choice restaurants. A few years later, they moved to Sacramento to open their own microbrew restaurants. The restaurants and beers were fabulous!

Through the years, Jeri and I have had our share of disappointments and heartache. Shortly after our oldest son, Casey, had his wedding in our backyard, Sam succumbed to cancer after a long, horrendous battle. Sam was determined to go to our oldest son’s wedding, even though he was dreadfully sick at that time. He even helped us set up. During his prolonged illness, I drove up to Sacramento to help Sam and Jeri. That experience helped me a few years later when my husband got throat cancer. Sam was a good guy, and they made a great team.

Jeri and I have had some memorable adventures through the years. We love Disneyland and are planning to go again soon. We’re like a couple of kids! If we love a ride, we dash around and do it again. On our last visit, we rode the roller coaster on the California Adventure side four times in a row! 

We traveled to New Orleans when Jeri was president of her Rotary chapter. Bill Gates was the guest speaker.

Her son’s significant other was employed at Fox Studios, so she arranged for us to attend American Idol every year for many years—boy, do we have some stories to tell! We still watch the show.

We also walked the red carpet at the premiere of
Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine movie at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
– right behind Hugh Jackman!

We had a private tour of Fox Studios (so interesting),
and were on Hell’s Kitchen. Here’s a photo I took when it was on TV.
BTW – the food was fabulous!

Beverly Hills

Now Jeri lives in the beautiful Puget Sound. I still live on the
central coast of California, minding our restaurants with Mike
and writing The Murder Blog Mysteries.

And I’m getting super excited about going to
Disneyland again with Jeri!




Help! I’ve Fallen and …

HELP! I’ve fallen and…

Last year, my dear friend, Jeri, talked me into getting an Apple Watch.
I’m so glad she did.

I use it for everything — including Step Counting, Car Remote, Water Reminder, Heart Rate, ECG, Timer, Alarm, Weather, Directions, Phone Calls (I connected to my data plan), Texts, Messenger, Photos, Calculator, Meditation, Spotify, Audible, Flashlight… I mean, how did I survive without it? Plus, now I don’t have to carry my phone everywhere, which means I don’t have to have pockets!

However, the real reason I got it was because of the story Jeri told me about her eighty-year-old relative who fell off a ladder while alone in his home. When he didn’t respond to his watch, it sent for emergency help and may have saved his life. He suffered some serious injuries. That fall could have been the end for him, but because he’s a very fit marathon runner, and got emergency help, he recovered. 

This morning I was home alone when it started hailing in “Sunny California.” The tiny ice pellets were increasing in size, so I thought I should put my car in the garage. Years ago, when I lived in Colorado, we had a hailstorm the size of baseballs that pummeled every car in town. All the car dealers had “dent sales.”

Anyway, I ran out in the storm to save my car and slipped on the ice, crash landing on the concrete. Immediately my watch was buzzing me. Yes, I was all right. Wet and feeling like a dope, but all right. That’s the second fall I’ve had recently. Hopefully, my watch won’t start ignoring me.

A good friend of mine had a stroke in his sixties and fell in his kitchen. He wasn’t found for two days. If he’d had the watch or some type of medical alert bracelet on, he’d still be with us.

Falling is not just an “old folks” thing. People of any age and health can suffer a nasty fall and be badly injured. If you’re hiking, biking, live alone, or your co-habitant is out of town, and you cannot call for help, you’re out of luck.

I’m Okay!



Grandparenting From Afar

Grandparenting From Afar

We’ve all heard or know first-hand the sad tales of divided parents raising a child while living many miles and hours apart, and barely on speaking terms with one another. A long cold war.

There’s a lot of stress, anger, and frustration when one parent badmouths the other and does not consider the well-being, education, health, and happiness of the child to be the priority.

But we rarely hear about the heartache of grandparents who love the child who is in the miserable situation I just described. This is the life that one of my young grandkids is living. In fact, he is supposed to be staying with us right now for a few days, but… (Big, sad sigh here)

Even when divorced parents get along well, split parenting usually means that the grandparents get little one-on-one time with their grandchildren. There simply isn’t time for that when the kid(s) lives between two households—especially if it’s in different towns. They may see them once in a while at family gatherings, but those special times that many grandparents dream about—like sleepovers in a living room blanket tent, just don’t fit into a child’s schedule that includes two sets of parents and families, school, homework, friends, sports, clubs, etc. Their days and weekends are full!

Of course, the same goes for grandkids whose home life is under one roof with an intact set of parents—but live far away from their grandparents. It’s difficult to build a close bond when you’re rarely together — especially once the kids enter the teen years. It’s all about their friends and social life—like it was for all of us back in the dayeven without social media.

When I was a teen, our black, rotary home phone was practically glued to my ear! My BFF and I used to watch TV shows and movies together over the phone. I’m thankful our folks were cool about that.

FaceTime calls are great, but they do not replace being together. Plus, when I talk to my teen grandkids, they often morph into animated mice, donkeys, clowns, and pirates, making a meaningful conversation impossible! The bottom line is they prefer texting with their friends. I get it. I’d rather be back in the 1960s watching a movie on the phone with my friend and having giggle fits.

You may wonder why I’m posting this today. (Another big sigh here – it’s been a hard week – refer to the third paragraph.) I miss my grandkids.  They’re growing up way too fast, and I’m getting old way too fast! Of course, there’s more to it, but it would require us all to have a glass of wine or three. The bottom line is I want to be the cool grandparent who’s fun to hang out with and always has sage advice that the kiddos take to heart. Yup, I want to be a TV sitcom grandparent like George Segal’s character “Pops” was in The Goldbergs. But it’s hard to be that person long distance.

You may be thinking, “Why don’t you move to where your kids live so you can be “Pops”?”
We almost did that several years ago when our older son’s kids were tots. We bought a cozy Dutch Colonial in their area on the east coast, so we could be full time grandparents. We found a buyer for our restaurants, and were about to sign the papers when our son got transferred to another state.

What a disaster that would have been for us! Without family or friends, we would have been 3,000 from the home and town we love. I know several people who’ve given up their homes and friends to move close to kids, only to have this happen to them. BTW – We still have the restaurants – Klondike Pizza – since 1988.

I had a lot of fun raising my boys.
I was room mom, P.T.A. mom, judo mom,
gymnastics mom, ice hockey mom,
Little League mom, basketball mom,
roller hockey mom,
soccer mom, punk-rock mom,
scuba mom, golf mom, driver’s ed mom,
mentor-mom to a girl who didn’t have a mom,
working mom, worn-out mom,
Happy Mom.

I always thought I would be a Soccer Grandma.
Hey! I have a toddler grandson, so there’s still hope!
Oh wait, he doesn’t live near me. Rats.

Here’s a wonderful way to connect with young
far-away grandkids. It’s also great if you’re a
parent whose job often takes you out of town.
I wish this had been possible when my husband
traveled a lot back in the day.

I’ll be doing this again when my youngest long-distant toddler grandson is ready to sit still for a few minutes. I did this with his big brother for a couple of years and then tried it with my older grandkids, but they were too old. It’s great for the younger ones and opens up fun conversations with the kids. 

Readeo’s founder created it after his family moved 1,500 miles away—and quickly realized video calls alone weren’t enough to keep his son and son’s grandparents connected.

From the site: Readeo’s BookChat platform makes it easy to capture kids’ attention. By combining interactive, digitized books with video chat, BookChat sessions last almost 10 minutes longer than traditional video calls.

My experience was that the video chats lasted way longer than what Readeo says because the book you’re reading opens up new conversations with children old enough to understand. Soon they are showing you their toys and telling you stories.

I got my BFF going on it with her long-distant grandkids; she loves it!





Childhood Friends – Part Two

Childhood Friends
~ Part Two ~
February 28, 2023

My son signed me up for Storyworth. Using their inspiring prompts, you write your life story one week at a time, then eventually get them printed in a hardcover book.
So far, like my latest book, I am way behind. I also have a blog, but hardly ever blog, which is ironic considering I write The Murder Blog Mysteries. So, I’m posting my stories as blog posts too.

~  The Prompts  ~

#1: Are you still friends with any of your friends from high school?
#2: How have they changed since then?

I’m fortunate to have two dear friends
that go back even further than my
high school days. Elaine and Nina.
The first story was about Elaine.
Now it’s Nina’s turn.

~ Nina ~

The first time I saw Nina, it was “friends at first sight,” although I don’t think she noticed me. It was the beginning of a new school year, September 1963, and we were sitting at tables in Mr. Canberra’s (he was so cute!) seventh-grade art class at Goodwin Junior High School in Redwood City, CA. She was at another table wearing her signature blue corduroy coat. I thought, “She looks like a nice person.” It wasn’t long before we were officially best friends.

Every weekend we would rotate whose house we spent the night at. We were learning to play guitar and soon became a songwriting team. She’d go in one room and write the lyrics, and I’d be in another, creating the melody. Then we’d put the song together, practice it a few times, and then perform for her mother, Leah. She would always exclaim that we should be on the Ed Sullivan Show. Our biggest hits were “A New Feeling” and “Silent City Lights.” I can still sing them, and you know what? They are pretty good!

Folk songs were very popular back then. Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Buffy-Sainte Marie, Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul, and Mary … And we sang all their songs. Another reason Nina’s mom thought we should be on the Ed Sullivan Show. Yes, we were that good —according to her. I sure do miss her!

If you’re using Safari and the videos
in this post say,”Not Available”
don’t believe it.
They’re fine on Chrome.

I loved my weekends at Nina’s because her parents didn’t care how much noise we made or how late we stayed up. Plus, she lived close to Woodside Plaza, so we often strolled around, acting like cool wanna-be teenagers.

One day when we were maybe 14 years-old, we were walking to the plaza, smoking cigarettes and thinking we looked cool and sophisticated. Then a carload of cute guys pulled up to the curb and told us how stupid we looked. Talk about mortification!

Late at night, at Nina’s house, we’d lie in bed in the dark singing hit songs like The Marvelettes —“Please Mr. Postman.” The Shirelles—“Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” and The Dixie Cups—“Going to the Chapel.”

A typical dinner at my house would be mashed potatoes, meatloaf, canned green beans, cottage cheese with peaches, and a glass of milk. If it was close to payday and money was tight, we’d have creamed eggs or creamed hotdogs on Wonder Bread toast. I’ve had colitis since elementary school and ate bland food back then. Now I’m vegan, but definitely not bland!

A typical dinner at Nina’s would be orange Jello, spaghetti (made with Campbell’s Tomato Soup), a chicken leg, and Hi-C. Her mom would pile my plate while scolding me that I was too skinny. The Jello always melted into the rest of the dinner. Not good.

Nina’s father, Sid, would eat in the living room and watch sports while the rest of us ate in the kitchen. At some point, her little brother, Kenny, would start belching. He was very talented. After several good ones and no end of his stellar performance in sight, I would ask him to stop and he wouldn’t, so Leah would scream at Sid to make Kenny stop. 

Sid would exclaim that he was “Going to get his belt!” Then Kenny would run into his room, slam the door and lean against it, while his father stood in the hall, belt in hand, yelling at him to come out. Of course, he didn’t and nothing happened, but Nina and I would giggle so hard our sides would ache. 

My parents loved Nina, and her parents loved me. And both our households were challenging — but in very different ways. Nina’s mom seemed to always be in a good mood, while my mom had a personality disorder and took a lot of Valiums. You never knew if she was going to be pleasant or vicious. It was hard, and only a couple of friends knew how it was at my house. Nina and Elaine.

But we had good times with my folks, too. At my house, Nina learned her table manners and other rules of etiquette. To entertain us, she used to slide down in her chair to halfway under the table. We all thought she was funny!

And she went everywhere with us. Even a family vacation. For several years, my folks rented a rustic cabin at Lower Blue Lake in Northern California. Nina and I had matching “surfer” two-piece swimming suits. Back then, Nina was a cookie monster (still is), so Mom made sure we were well-stocked with Oreos, Fig Newtons, and Vanilla Wafers. Also, Nina was prone to get carsick, so she rode in the front with Dad for the three-hour trip. Mom, me, and our chihuahua, Bambi, sat in the back.

A Day We Will Never Forget

On Friday, November 22, 1963, we were in Mr. Norton’s seventh-grade science class when President Kennedy’s assassination was announced over the intercom. Our usually amiable teacher broke into tears while we kids sat frozen, trying to understand what we’d just heard. 

Two days later, on Sunday morning, November 24, I was alone in the kitchen watching the never-ending live news reports on our little black and white portable TV. Detectives were escorting Lee Harvey Oswald, who had murdered our president, through the basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters. At 9:21 a.m. PT, Jack Ruby approached Oswald from the crowd and shot him in the abdomen at close range. I was twelve years old and had just witnessed a murder. I stood there screaming for my parents, who had been getting ready for church.

They renamed Goodwin Junior High to
Kennedy Middle School in 1964.

The Beatles hit the US in 1964 with their big hit, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and the entire country, including Nina and me, got swept up into the British Mod Invasion. On February 9, 1964, 73 million Americans watched the Beatles sing “All My Loving” on The Ed Sullivan Show.  

We were sprawled on the living room floor, my parents were on the couch. Nina and I were super excited. Mr. Sullivan introduced the Beatles to an audience full of giddy teenage girls, and the screaming commenced. It was crazy and awesome!! Six months later, in August 1964, the Fab Four traveled to California to perform at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. It was the opening night of their first concert tour of North America. 

One year later, they did their last concert of the tour back at the Cow Palace. Nina attended with another friend because I couldn’t afford the seven-dollar ticket* ($67 in today’s economy). But she was a bigger fan than me, and I was happy for her. She came home with an orange jellybean that had ricocheted off Paul McCartney (the Beatles were pelted with jellybeans throughout the concert because George Harrison said it was the band’s favorite candy) and set it in her bedroom Beatles shrine. To annoy my friend, I hung photos of “The Dave Clark Five” on my bedroom walls. 

The mail order form for the Beatle’s tickets.

*Money was often tight, but I wasn’t underprivileged –my parents were paying for riding lessons and, unbeknownst to me, saving to get me a horse if I stuck with it. And I got my horse, “Glory Be,” when I was fourteen. 

Nina and I went to see A Hard Days Night
at the Laurel Theatre in San Carlos, CA. 
The theatre was packed with crazy,
screaming girls. What a blast it was!
Nina saved her ticket to every concert she
attended. I wish I had done the same!
The theatre, built in 1949, has been replaced
with an apartment building. 

Wanna hear the song?

First Dance: It was a school dance at the Redwood City rec center. My dad dropped us off, and the minute he got home, Mom told him I had called and wanted to come home.

Here’s what happened: Nina and I had walked into the big multi-use room, and some kids hollered, “Ooo. Dave. Pam’s here.”

Dave was my sort-of crush. He liked me, and I sort of liked him. He was cute and popular. I was sort of cute but not popular, so it was cool that he liked me. However, at that moment, Dave was in a dark corner making out with another girl. Heck, we had never “made out,” let alone kissed.

I turned around and stomped out, with Nina trailing behind me to the payphone outside. I was crushed and mortified, but to be honest, I was also relieved to have an excuse not to stay at the dance! Plus, Nina and I were not ready for “making out” at dances. I dropped my dime in the phone and called mom. She was very sympathetic. At school on Monday, I got lots of sympathy about that rat, Dave.

First official dance we didn’t leave: The Jewish Temple. 8th grade, I think. We actually danced with boys at that dance. But I can’t say that we enjoyed the event—especially Nina, who was stuck dancing several times with a creepy boy with over-active hormones and garlic breath. On the upside, we had cute new dresses and matching short heels.

After middle school, Nina and I moved on to different high schools. I went to San Carlos High School, and she went to Woodside. But our friendship never wavered. I had a horse that kept me pretty busy after school and weekend-days. And she got involved in drama and had the lead in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She was so good! Mom and I went to see the play, and I broke out in an itchy rash while watching. No, not nerves — German measles. But every weekend, we had our sleepovers and she often went to the stables with me. 

Monterey International Pop Festival

In June 1967, we went to the Monterey International Pop Festival. It was a three-day event, and we had tickets for the Saturday afternoon concert. Nina’s dad drove us the ninety-five miles to the show, dropped us off, and returned at the end of the day. We’d never seen “hippies” before, and strange new aromas were wafting around us. Weed and Patchouli oil. The concert was amazing! There were many great bands of the day there, but when “Big Brother and the Holding Company” took the stage and Janis Joplin started belting “Ball and Chain,” we were on our feet and out of our minds. We knew a star had been born. I still get chills watching her — 56 years later at this writing.

Crank up the volume!

We saw “The Who” smash their guitars at the end of their set
and were shocked. How could they destroy their beautiful guitars?


And Jimi Hendrix. He even played the guitar with his teeth,
and to outdo The Who, he set his guitar on fire!



How have they changed since then?

We grew up. Like anyone; it was a bumpy ride for both of us. That story would make a good book! We got married and had kids. We both had two boys who grew up to be good people and marry awesome women. Over the last sixty years, we’ve had tragedies, illnesses, divorces, losses, and letdowns. But we’ve weathered it all, and our friendship is stronger than ever. And these days, we still morph into twelve-year-olds when together — giggles and all.

Now we’re gorgeous seventy-something sister-grandmas sharing photos and stories about our adorable perfect grandchildren.

Nina just texted that she’s disappointed
we didn’t see the Rolling Stones back in the
’60s at the Cow Palace.

I told her it was not too late!
They’re still touring! 

Pam and Nina

I’ll be writing a post soon about another
dear friend.
 Jeri and I don’t date back to
school days, but we’ve been close
for close to forty years. I’m so fortunate and
thankful to have 
these three incredible
women in my life!

I’d love to hear a favorite childhood friend
memory from you. If you want to share,
please leave your story in the comments.


Childhood Friends – Part One

Childhood Friends
~ Part One ~
February 21, 2023

For Christmas, my son signed me up for Storyworth. You write your life story one week at a time with their inspiring prompts, then get them printed in a hardcover book. So far, I’m way behind. Then I thought, “I can make it into blog posts, too” — thinking that would spur me on. Well, here we are, more than halfway through February, and I’m finally starting. We shall see how far I get.

Here are the questions that I will
answer in two blog posts.
1. Are you still friends with any of your friends from high school?
2. How have they changed since then?

I’m fortunate to have two dear friends
that go back even further than my
high school days. Way back to the Stone Age!
Elaine and Nina.
The first story is about Elaine.


It was the 1950s and families across the nation were moving out of the big cities into smaller outlying towns in droves. Suburbia was exploding with new housing developments everywhere. So was the birth rate.

Post War Suburbia

I lived in a sprawling, new neighborhood full of young families raising “boomer kids” in the hills of Redwood City—about thirty miles south of San Francisco.

Future Farm Hills Neighborhood

When we moved into the last house on Farm Hill Boulevard, a three-bedroom rancher, I was five. Beyond our house were old oaks and rolling green grass as far as you could see. About fifty feet from our house, I had nestled a fort in between two enormous oak trees. You can see the trees in the photo. My home being built in 1955 in Redwood City, CA -

I had books, blankets, pillows, and my toy piano in my “secret” hideout. Of course, the other neighborhood kids knew about it and visited me there, but they respected the sanctity of my space. In fact, I had installed a sophisticated phone system so they could call ahead before arriving.
Tin can string phone

One day the bulldozers came and removed my trees and fort. They didn’t even remove my stuff first. I was devastated and determined to hate whoever was going to live in the house that was now under construction.

Several months later, a moving truck and a station wagon arrived. I didn’t hang out to see who was moving in. But the next day, I got to thinking that they might have a little girl, and we could be friends. Plus, there were several girls already living on the block, and I wanted to beat them to meeting the new girl—if she existed.

The First Meeting

I stood at the end of the new neighbor’s front walk, staring at the two-story white house, then mustered up my courage, climbed the steps to the door, and rang the bell. A moment later, a tall, handsome man opened the door and bellowed, “Who is this beautiful child at our door?”

I was a skinny, knock-kneed kid with long brown braids and very short bangs, darkly tanned from playing outside all the time (no sunblock back then), freckles, and no front teeth. I wore a striped t-shirt, peddle-pushers (mid-calf length pants), and brown and white saddle shoes. Yes, I was indeed a vision of beauty!

“Hi. My name is Pam and I live next door.” I pointed next door. “Do you have a little girl?”

And the big man, named Jim, yelled, “Elaine! There’s someone here to see you.”

Elaine was three-ish (give or take) and the oldest of three kids that would one day be nine children. Her younger brothers were Jimmy and Mike. Soon, there would be Judy, Tommy, Loren, Eddie, Patty, and Cathy — not necessarily in that order.

Elaine and Pam 1958

Random Memories

In those days, kids ran wild in the neighborhood. Even three-year-olds. Everyone looked after everyone. If one kid was called home for dinner, we all went home. If you misbehaved at someone’s house, the parents would discipline you. And nobody sued anyone!

A few houses past Elaine’s, the street became a steep hill. We used to ride our bikes to the top and then sail down with our feet off the pedals. I remember feeling my bike quiver as I sped down the street.

One day, when I was not with her, Elaine had a bad accident and had to be taken to the ER. I was so worried about my friend. I went into her bedroom and saw her shoes on the floor with blood spatters on them My heart sank at the sight. Thankfully, she survived her wild ride.  I’d like to say we stopped doing that, but I can’t.

Elaine’s family was the first on the block to get a color TV.  I remember watching Bonanza and being mesmerized! Not many shows were in color yet, so it was really a treat. A couple years later, my dad built one using a “Heath Kit.”

We loved The Mickey Mouse Club and usually watched it every day — singing along with the opening credits. If there was a tap dance number, we’d put our tap shoes on and tap along. I wanted to be just like Annette Funicello.

Elaine and I have remained good friends to this day — 67 (give or take) years. Hopefully, we have many more years to come.

Her Irish mother still lives in the ‘hood, and I live three hours south. Recently Elaine and I went to a family B-B-Q at her mom’s. It was great to see Jimmy, Tommy, Eddie…

How have they changed since then?

Well, let’s see. There is the obvious. Elaine is no longer three, so a lot has changed. But the essence of Elaine has not. She remains a thoughtful, caring person with a good sense of humor. 

Until recently, she was a teacher, and taught English to newcomers, along with several other interesting teaching jobs. She still tutors. She was married for many years, and recently lost her husband after a long cancer battle.
Elaine plays marimba and her group occasionally entertains family and friends.
She has always been an outdoor person, an avid walker and bicyclist.
And she has the most beautiful platinum silver hair. It runs in the family.
Sure doesn’t run in mine!

I love that we share a common history. There are only two friends in my life that knew me as a child and my family and all its turmoil. I am so thankful to have Elaine in my life.

Elaine and Pam
Big girls now!

Next is Nina’s Story.

I’d love to hear a favorite childhood friend
memory from you. If you want to share,
please leave your story in the comments.

Let Them Eat Cake. Or Candy.

I have a few senior friends caring for elderly parents. At our stage in life, this is a challenging task. I’ve noticed that some are extremely strict about their mother or father’s diet—to the point of militant. I know they are doing it to keep their loved one alive and healthy, but are they keeping them happy?

The other day, a friend told me about someone she knows that’s caring for her 100+ mother. She dutifully ensures her mom drinks at least 60 ounces of water daily and eats a healthy, balanced diet. But when it comes to the goodies her mother craves, it’s a big “No.” Why? Does she think denying her mother’s sweet tooth will prolong the centenarian’s life?  

When my mother-in-law was in her later eighties, the only “food” she wanted was candy. Jackie had emphysema, and her taste buds were shot from old age and a lifetime of smoking. She had no social activities at that point, and life was no fun, but she could still taste (and enjoy) sweets. I would bring her See’s Candy and Godiva chocolates, but in her last years, she reverted to childhood favorites, like Raisinets, Snickers, and jellybeans. I think they evoked happy memories—as certain songs or aromas do.

I have another dear friend whose father just passed. He loved cinnamon rolls, so she gave her dear dad a cinnamon roll every day. And then one day, very recently, he didn’t want it, and she knew he was ready to let go. Her dad was ninety, had cancer, and had suffered several heart attacks. No way was she going to deny him his one tasty pleasure. It made him happy.

Here’s the thing

In North America, a woman’s average life expectancy hovers between 80 and 83 years of age, depending on where she lives and other factors. A man can expect to live between 75 and 78 years of age. So what harm is there in letting our older folks enjoy the foods they crave? I’m not saying to forsake a healthy diet, but please do not deny them their joy! Our elderly loved ones have likely suffered many hard times and losses as they’ve aged. Letting them indulge in the foods they love can help improve their quality of life.

Like most older people, I fear losing my independence and freedom of choice in the not-too-distant future. I’m not a candy eater (yet), but I do love homemade cake, fruit pies, and potato chips. I hope my children do not go militant on me in the future and take away my Ruffles.

As I type this, there’s a Costco-size bag of Ruffles in the pantry and a slice of our secret family recipe cranberry pie in the freezer calling my name. That pie is why I married Mike forty-six years ago–it was the only way I could get that darn recipe! Thank goodness I don’t have any well-meaning kids that have padlocked the freezer!

One more thing

Ten years ago, my husband battled stage four throat cancer. The poor guy had a stomach tube I pumped nutrients and meds through several times a day. Plus, weekly chemo and daily radiation that destroyed his taste buds, So now, the only food he truly enjoys are sweets.

But he survived, still works at our restaurants (not developing new pizzas, though ), plays golf a few times a week, and indulges his sweet tooth daily. He was close to death ten years ago, so am I going to deny him his one tasty pleasure? Heck no! I let him eat cake!

FYI: I wrote the first book in my series while caring for him.


M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Visit, Part Two.

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Visit

~ Part Two ~

After my BFF’s tests were completed in Houston, we headed back to her house in El Paso, and the next day I came home to the California Central Coast. While I was out of town, our drought-ravaged area was deluged with days of fast and furious rain. My husband called me one night while I was in Houston to tell me our backyard had turned into a lake that threatened to flow into the house. He tried to sound calm, but I knew he was a nervous-wreck. Luckily, the drains could do their job when the rain slowed down. As I write this, there’s people on my roof repairing the storm damage.

A few days after my homecoming, Houston was slammed by a tornado. The cancer center was not damaged, but Nina and I are grateful to have missed the storm!

Good News!!! 

Nina had a virtual visit with her cancer doc in Houston, and her tests confirmed what Dr. Lee had suspected on our first visit with him. Her Multiple Myeloma is actually “Smoldering Multiple Myeloma.” This is an early form of Multiple Myeloma. With luck, it may never spark into full-blown MM.

At the time of her original diagnosis, Nina thought she had two to five years. She kept trying to get into remission, and it wasn’t working. She was living a secluded life and was unable to travel. She did infusions and many other cancer drugs for nearly two years. One of them damn near killed her one night. Now, she is off all the drugs. Including infusions! She will get regular blood work done, and if there are any changes, they will treat it as needed.

Now she is free to live her life! First, there will be trips to visit grandkids. Then a trip to visit me!

In my kitchen – 1966. 15 years-old. I’m the looney-looking one with braces.

The takeaway from this experience, at least for me, is to get a second opinion. Nina’s El Paso Oncologist is a wonderful doctor, but she is not a Multiple Myeloma specialist. There are over 200 types of cancer—breast cancer, colorectal, bladder, leukemia, colon cancer, etc. The average oncologist sees about twenty patients per day. So, it makes sense that after you get a cancer diagnosis; you see an oncologist specializing in that cancer. Nina’s Houston doctor and staff only deal with Multiple Myeloma. 

Here we are a few years ago on our way to American Idol.
But that’s a story for another day.
Yup – we are not natural blonds!
Recently, Nina (left) grew out her natural hair color.
A gorgeous Platinum silver.

One last note…

Folks in Texas are incredibly kind, polite, and wonderful. I have never met so many friendly people. For example: When we went to the Houston Airport to return home, our cab driver, after we’d paid and tipped him, grabbed all our luggage and ran it into the airport to the check-in desk and hugged us goodbye. 


M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Visit

I’m in Houston with my long-time BFF, Nina. The purpose of the trip is to get a second opinion on Nina’s cancer at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She’s had Multiple Myeloma for about a year-and-a-half, and although her “numbers” are pretty good, she’s having difficulties with some of the new medications they’ve put her on.

We spent yesterday at the cancer center doing tests and talking to the doctors. We left the center feeling optimistic and elated. No — we don’t have any new information about her disease yet. But the entire staff at Anderson, from the shuttle bus drivers to the doctors, is terrific. Friendly, helpful, caring, funny, polite, loving.

I can say the same about The Hilton Houston Plaza/Medical Center staff. And the guests, too. Most are here for the same reason we are. Every guest I talk to is friendly — ready to share a smile, a laugh, a story.

Today will be a quiet day. Nina has to do a 24-hour-you-know-what-collection. So I will venture out for some supplies: oat milk creamer, fruit, wine for me, plus goodies for both of us. Then I’ll catch up on work, watch a movie with Nina and try the yoga app on my phone that has been gathering “techie-dust” for a while.

Usually, when I travel, I have a long list of restaurants and historical sites to check out. But this is a business trip. And the business we are in is to beat cancer.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is a comprehensive cancer center in Houston, Texas. It is the largest cancer center in the U.S. and one of the country’s original three comprehensive cancer centers. It is both a degree-granting academic institution and a cancer treatment and research center located at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. It is affiliated with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. According to Newsweek, MD Anderson Cancer Center is considered the best hospital in the world for oncology and related cancer treatment. — Wikipedia

DateLine: “A Walk in the Rain.”

DateLine: “A Walk in the Rain.”

If you watch the ABC crime drama series Alaska Daily starring Hilary Swank — this might interest you …
I’ve got a “flu-or-something bug” and I’m doing something I normally don’t do that’s making my dog, Emma, very happy. I’m watching TV in the daytime. That means it’s couch-snuggle time all day long.

Usually when I’m under the weather, I watch lightweight stuff — like Hallmark Mysteries and old movies. Something cozy to snooze through. But I had several DateLine NBC shows recorded, so that’s what I’m watching.
The episode I just finished is “A Walk in the Rain.” Season 31, episode 5. If you’re watching the ABC drama, Alaska Daily, this DateLine episode will interest you. It’s about the disappearance and murder of a 19-year-old Alaska Native woman in August 2003 in Nome, Alaska.

This led me to learn that thousands of Indigenous women from several states, including Alaska, are missing. Yet, we never hear about these women on the news. Why is that? I realize not all missing persons can be featured on the network news. But, still, there usually isn’t even a whisper about missing Native American women. Not even on the local news in their states.

When Gabby Petito went missing last year, it was on the news throughout her harrowing ordeal. Her end was tragic, but at least her folks know what happened — instead of waiting and hoping until the end of their days.

If you’re interested, the two-hour DateLine episode is available to watch “On Demand.”

Dateline debuted on March 31, 1992, initially airing only on Tuesdays, with Stone Phillips and Jane Pauley serving as its co-anchors.

Current Anchor: Lester Holt (September 23, 2011–present)

Citizen’s Arrest

Citizen’s Arrest!

The other day, I turned left and wound up behind a big pickup truck. The kind that granny would need a ladder to climb into. I’m a granny, so I mean me!

At first, we were traveling at the posted speed limit. 45 MP.
Then 40.
Then 35.
Dead stop, even though there was no stop sign.

My first thought was the driver needed help. Maybe they were sick, having a heart attack (been there and done that!) or a stroke (yup, done that a few times, too—I’m such a fun person!), so I pulled alongside, ready to jump out and save his life.

He was alive and well and staring at his phone, oblivious to his surroundings. Now I was cranky. I honked a long, angry honk, and he never looked away from his phone.

Do you ever wish you could roll down your car window and slap a siren on the roof? I sooo wanted to give him a ticket! Those of s certain age (old) may have seen the famous and funny scene from the Andy Griffith show where Gomer Pyle makes a “citizen’s arrest.”


Back in the 80s, Moonlighting was one of my favorite shows.

A former high fashion model and a wisecracking detective partner to run the Blue Moon Detective Agency. Soon barbs are being lobbied and attraction is being denied as the two crack cases together. The popular series revived Shepherd’s career and launched Willis’s.The show ran on ABC from March 3, 1985 to May 14, 1989.

Why was the TV show Moonlighting Cancelled? Bruce Willis, fresh from his Die Hard success, wanted to make more films. Cybill Shepherd, having just given birth to twins, had grown tired of the long, grueling production days and was ready for the series to end. – Wikipedia.

So why am I doing a blog post on a show that went off the air decades ago?

I’m writing the sixth book in the Murder Blog Mysteries, and Katy is working as a temp employee at a detective agency. She’s doing boring stakeouts, so she loads her tablet with her mother’s all-time favorite private detective show, Moonlighting,  that aired before Katy was born.

That led me to want to watch the show again—so I checked Netflix and Prime. No luck. I learned the show has never streamed because of contract issues with the popular music used on the show. A few minutes after I read that, I came across a tweet on Twitter that said the show would start streaming soon. What a coincidence!

And then I remembered a personal experience from way back
in the
Moonlighting days that relates to the show. 

I was living in Alaska with my husband, Mike, and two kids during the height of the show’s success. I needed a break from the weather and the long dark winter, so I flew to the San Francisco Bay Area to visit my BFF, Nina, in Menlo Park—just a hop, skip, and a jump from where we both grew up.

From there, we drove down to Beverly Hills/Hollywood to spend a few days enjoying good food, window shopping, and visiting iconic Hollywood-Golden-Era establishments like Grauman’s Chinese Theatre*, and the Polo Lounge. Sadly, The Brown Derby (where the Cobb Salad was invented) had closed the year before.

The Polo Lounge

The Brown Derby in the 1940s

The hotel that Nina booked us into was in the heart of Hollywood. Unfortunately, this was before Yelp, so she had no idea that it was a “hooker” No-Tell Hotel. Definitely not a place for two young mommies. So we checked out, did not get a refund, and hightailed it to The Beverly Hilton. At the time, it was owned by Merv Griffin. The manager took pity on us and gave us a charming room for a very reasonable rate.

But what does this have to do with Moonlighting?

One night, Nina and I went to the late show at The Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard. That’s when established, famous comedians would try out new material. Some had jokes written on a legal pad, and if it bombed, they tore it off, crumbled it, and tossed it aside. Plus, the earlier evening performers sat in the audience and gave advice and encouragement. And a few rude insults.

It was well past midnight when we left the club to walk back to our car. Picture this:
Two lovely young women are strolling along Sunset Boulevard in the wee hours of the morning. Laughing. Talking. A couple of idiot tourists not paying any attention to our surroundings.

A shiny black sporty car (can’t remember the make) pulls up along the curb and rolls down the window. The driver leans across the passenger seat and says, “Ladies. This is not a safe place to walk at this time of night.”

It was Bruce Willis.

I said, ‘We’re going to our car.”
Bruce continued, “Where’s your car?
Nina backed away, thinking he might be an axe murderer. I pointed in the direction where her car was parked—a few blocks away. 
He said, “Let me give you a ride to your car.”
“No, thank you,” said Nina, backing further away.
I stepped close to her, whispering, “Nina! That’s Bruce Willis!”
“Whose that?”
“He stars in Moonlighting!”
“What’s that?”
“The show with Cybill Shepherd. You know! It’s really popular. Mike and I watch it all the time.”
Nina had no clue who Bruce Willis was because she and her husband (ex) only watched Star Trek shows back then.
Note: I double-checked this with her just now in case my memory was exaggerating the Star Trek thing. It was true. However, she was usually reading and not paying much attention.

So we didn’t get in Bruce’s car. And looking back, Nina was right not to get into a stranger’s car. So, guess what Bruce did?

He drove alongside us and ensured we got safely into our car.
After our Hollywood adventure, Nina started watching the show. 

Side note: Nina and I have been best friends since 7th grade. And to this day, we have never gotten into a stranger’s car. 

*Grauman’s Chinese Theatre: Years later, I was invited to a red carpet premier at the theater. And that’s a story for another day.


A Funny Future Scene

Don’t be surprised if this silly scene
from my life winds up in a future book.

Yesterday, I was leaving the house for an appointment. I’d settled into my car in the driveway and was about to start it when I noticed the veggies in the raised garden beyond the driveway looked limp. So I got out to water them.

As I was watering, I stumbled. Then, during what felt like a slow-motion fall, I tried to stop the tumble by grabbing the planter’s edge. That’s when I dropped the hose, which spun around and sprayed me — head to toe: hair, face, clothes.

I landed on my bum but could not reach the hose—so the drenching continued. Then I felt tickles on my legs. The water had disturbed an ant colony, and they were climbing up my legs, under my pants—millions of them.

While this was happening, my apple watch wanted to know if I needed emergency services. I was in an awkward, tangled position and would have loved some help getting back on my feet, but it wasn’t an emergency—so the ants kept marching while the water kept spraying.

Needless to say, I was late for my appointment.

My Author YouTube Channel

I’ve been working on my Author YouTube Channel.

So far, it’s a mish-mash of this-and-that. Family, friends, things I find amusing.

Movie trailers from films I’ve enjoyed through the years — Alfred Hitchcock, Low Budget, Quirky ….  I will be loading lots more when time allows. I’d love to hear your suggestions for must-see movies!

As of this posting, I have 2 Subscribers! Woo-Hoo!! When I get 100, YouTube will take me more seriously and give me customization options — like adding better descriptions to the videos.



Audible Books – Here We Come!

As I write this post,

a remarkable woman is narrating
Dead Girls Don’t Blog!

I listened to many auditions before
finding the right voice for
The Murder Blog Mysteries.

And my close friends all agreed.
Jennifer is the right voice for Katy and company.

  • 2022 Audie Winner – Thriller/Suspense
  • Earphones Award Winner – AudioFile Magazine
  • 2022 American Library Association YALSA Top-Ten Winner – Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults
  • 2021 Independent Audiobook Awards Finalist – Best Mystery
  • 2020 SOVAS Voice Arts Award Nominee – Best Fantasy Audiobook
  • 2020 Independent Audiobook Awards Two-Time Finalist – Best Anthology, Best Nonfiction
  • A symphony Cellist

The Audible version will be available in late spring.
I’m so excited!


A Worrywort’s Emergency Car Kit

An icy traffic nightmare happened recently in Virginia following a winter storm.
Hundreds of motorists were stuck in the snow for more than 15 hours along a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 after a crash involving six tractor-trailers.

The terrible traffic pileup got me thinking. Can you imagine sitting in your car, in the snow, all night long? Cold, hungry, in the dark, and no bathroom. Maybe there’re kids in the back seat. Or a cranky mother-in-law. And you’re trying to conserve gas by running the engine for brief spurts to warm the car.

This could happen to anyone. Maybe not the snow part, but getting trapped in standstill traffic can happen on any freeway at any time.

I was born and raised in Redwood City, CA. Our town’s motto was “Climate Best by Government Test.” We averaged 20 inches of rain per year, 0 snowfall, 255 days of sunshine. In my mid-twenties, my husband and I moved to Reno, Nevada, where we got our first taste of seasonal weather—boiling in the summer and frigid in the winter. From there, we moved to Vancouver, WA, and then on to Seattle. Next up: Greeley, CO. And finally, Alaska, where we stayed put for five years before heading south to the California Central Coast and 0 snowfall.

We moved into our home in Anchorage in the early summer. At our first neighborhood gathering, our new friends told us how to get our cars ready for winter. Many shared horror stories of getting stuck in snow banks, sliding off the road, and whiteouts. So, of course, I got freaked out and heeded their advice long before winter arrived.

Car Emergency Supplies that everyone should have
regardless of where you live.

  • Tea candles (those are the ones in a metal tin) and wooden matches
  • Tin cans to burn the candles in and radiate the heat. Light a couple and put them on your dashboard. I found 18-hour tea candles online
  • Snacks that won’t go bad sitting in an emergency kit. Peanut Butter, crackers, nuts, hard candy, etc.
  • Water
  • Emergency Mylar thermal blankets
  • Emergency urinals for women and men—available online. Don’t roll your eyes! You know you’ve wondered what folks do in these situations. Picture it: You’re surrounded by bumper-to-bumper traffic and you gotta pee. Bad enough for the men, but for the women? If anyone knows of a device to handle poo in the car, I’d love to hear about it. Not kidding!
  • Toilet paper and wet wipes
  • First Aid kit
  • Car Safety Hammer—an emergency escape tool with window breaker and seatbelt cutter
  • A fully charged separate power bank for cell phones
  • Jumper Cables and/or Car Jump Starter (make sure it is charged!)
  • Entertainment that does not require power
  • If you live where it snows, I’m sure you already keep a shovel and cat litter in your trunk

A couple of weeks ago, I drove to San Diego. It usually takes about five hours, which would have got me there in the late afternoon. This time it took over nine. I averaged four miles per hour for a couple of hours. Certainly not an emergency, but a reminder for me to be prepared. It got dark—I hate driving in the dark away from home; the traffic was bumper-to-bumper for miles and could have come to a standstill at any time for hours. My friend once sat on that same freeway for eleven hours.

I feel better for sharing this, although I’m sure many of you reading this are already prepared, so I just wasted a couple of minutes of your time. Oh! One more thing. I suggest keeping this kit inside the car and not in the trunk. And the Car Safety Hammer by the driver’s seat.

Additional suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Okay, Now I really do feel better.

FYI: My husband thinks I’m a worry-wort. When I met him I was twenty-three and carefree. I turned into a worrywort while raising kids.


Who remembers the Gas Shortages in the 1970s?

Who remembers the Gas Shortages in the 1970s?

Even though the current Colonial Pipeline shutdown is not a true gas shortage—it dredges up long forgotten memories of the early 70s gas shortage that affected the entire US and much of the world. That gas crisis resulted from an oil embargo imposed by members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) and led to fuel shortages and sky-high prices throughout much of the decade.

For a time, we could only get gas on even or odd days (your license plate number). The gas was rationed, and often, after sitting in your car for an hour or more—pushing your car forward so you weren’t running the motor, the pumps would empty before your turn. Gas prices went from about 50¢ a gallon to as high as $4 ($24 today) in some areas.

I didn’t have children back then, but just think what it was like for those parents with a car full of restless kids. Back then you couldn’t hand them a tablet and tell them to watch a Disney movie. 

Americans continue to rely heavily on foreign oil. The United States consumes about 20 million of the roughly 80 million barrels of oil consumed daily in the world, and three-fifths of that is imported. So we are always under the threat of embargos. And now hackers, too.

I’m no longer letting my tank get below half these days.
I’m a “half-tank-full” kind of girl now.

The folks who remember the 1970s gas shortage came from parents
who dealt with a far worse gas shortage that went on for years.
World War Two

Where is it?

Now where in the heck did I put …
The cameras we haven’t used in ages?
The air purifier filters?
The generator manual?

Does this happen to you? It happens to me all the time. I’ll get into an organizing mood and decide to relocate items that I don’t often use to what I think is a more sensible place. 

The trouble is, when I want to use that item in a few months (or years), I go to where it was, not where it is. Then I stand there thinking, “Did I give it to Goodwill?” “Did Mike (my hubby) get rid of it and not tell me?” “Did I lend it to someone?”

And finally, “Am I losing my mind? Is this dementia?”

Last year, I made a “Where Is It?” list and posted it on the laundry room wall. Now, every time I put something away that’s not used often, I write the location on my list. It has helped so much!

I know—very low tech—there’s probably umpteen apps for this, but sometimes simple works best. Here’s the link for the pdf. Where Is It List.

Where is it Word Doc

I miss the Ice Cream Man

I Miss the  Ice Cream Man

For some reason, this morning I was remembering how happy the Ice Cream Truck melody made me feel when I’d hear it rolling through my childhood neighborhood.
George was our  “ice cream man.” A nice, very patient man.

Even though I rarely had any money to buy something, I loved chasing the truck and crowding around George with the other kids. I’m glad I didn’t often have the money because it made the treat so much sweeter when I did. I was a fudgsicle girl!


Here is a compilation of 22 ice cream truck songs.

0:00 Mister Softee 0:30 The Entertainer 0:59 Turkey in the Straw 1:11 Pop Goes The Weasel 1:20 Sailing, Sailing 1:37 Little Brown Jug 1:54 Red Wing 2:13 Camptown Races 2:39 La Cucaracha 3:04 Turkey in the Straw 3:26 Brahms Lullaby 3:46 The Entertainer 4:09 Music Box Dancer 4:42 Stagecoach 5:33 The Picnic 6:15 Romance de Amour 6:41 Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 7:02 Buttons and Bows 7:19 Go Tell Aunt Rhody 7:42 Rock-a-Bye Baby 8:04 Greensleeves 8:27 The More We Get Together 8:49 The Yellow Rose of Texas 9:15 Old MacDonald Had a Farm 9:41 The Cuckoo Waltz 10:12 Oh! Susanna 10:38 Old Folks at Home (Swanee River) 11:10 It’s A Small World After All 11:43 I’m a Little Teapot 11:57 London Bridge Is Falling Down 12:11 Turkey in the Straw 12:26 Row, Row, Row Your Boat 12:37 Frere Jacques 12:51 Happy Birthday To You 13:07 Fur Elise 13:21 Korobeiniki 13:39 Yankee Doodle 13:51 Mary Had a Little Lamb 14:08 Six Landler 14:23 Brahms Lullaby 14:45 Home on the Range 15:11 Song of Joy 15:40 Moonlight on the Colorado 16:19 If You’re Happy And You Know It 16:36 The Moon Shines Bright 17:00 Oranges and Lemons 17:24 I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside 17:48 Match of the Day 18:20 Home on the Range 20:05 It’s A Small World After All 20:46 Row, Row, Row Your Boat 21:08 Mary Had a Little Lamb 21:25 Oh! Susanna 22:12 Happy Birthday To You

My First Job

My First Job

In 1967, I rode my horse, Mandy, to a quaint little hamburger joint, “The Little Store” in Woodside, CA**. I tied my horse’s reins to the hitchrack and timidly went inside to apply for my very first job. I was so nervous! Mrs. Iris James, a petite sixty-ish woman, was the owner, and for some unfathomable reason, she hired me.

The minimum wage in 1967 was $1.30 an hour. I thought I was rich!*** 
I look back now and realize what a typical first-time teen worker I was. Pretty clueless, definitely a little lazy. My patient mentor-boss-mom always had one teenager on staff, along with two older women. Those three motherly ladies were such a positive influence. They had no idea how much they meant to me—but that’s a story for another day.

I remember one Sunday afternoon, the Hell’s Angels rolled into town. We heard a loud roar in the distance and looked out the window. There had to be fifty bikes heading our way. Mrs. James had dealt with them before and wasn’t about to do it again, so she locked the door and flipped the “Open” sign to “Closed.” We sat on the floor behind the counter and waited. Sure enough, they stopped at our place and lined up their big, shiny motorcycles along our front porch and parking area. We held our breath as they banged on the door. I was so scared! Luckily, with a helluva lot a cussing, they revved up their bikes and moved on.

I met my first boyfriend while working there. Greg had become a regular weekend customer and I realize now, that my co-workers were on pins and needles waiting for him to ask me out. He was a great guy and a wonderful first boyfriend.

When I retired from that job at the end of my senior year, I passed it on to my dear friend, Elaine, who was two years younger.

I’ve been in the restaurant business**** for over three decades now. Thousands of employees later, I wish I could tell Mrs. James what an impact she had on that young, goofy girl and that I’ve always tried to emulate her. Through the years, many of our teen employees have remained family friends after they grew up. They come to visit, we go to dinner, and some have teens of their own who have worked for us! I call that success!


*Woodside is a charming little town in the California Bay Area. When I was a kid, I boarded my horse at a stable there. When I got my job, I took over all of my horse expenses and started saving for a car. I felt so proud!
The “Little Store” opened in 1902 and today I just found out it has closed. We are nearly eleven months into the pandemic at the time of this writing, and as a restaurant owner, I know first hand how 
tough it is to stay in business when you’re not allowed to have inside dining for months on end. 

**So how much would that $1.30 equal these days? I checked it out on this inflation calculator, and it’s $10.07!  And if Mrs. James had been paying me $10.07 way back then — that would equal $78.03 today.

**** Klondike Pizza.
We had lived for several years in Anchorage, Alaska when in the late ’80s, the US basically stopped drilling or exploring for its own oil. This decision destroyed many economies–both here in the states and in Canada. Our local banks were failing. Our jobs were gone because of the domino effect. My husband worked for a restaurant franchise corporation, and I was a graphic artist and advertising director.

Our house had a mortgage, but its value had gone down the drain. People were leaving the state in droves. It was time for a new plan—one with no snow! We loved living in Alaska, so we decided to bring a little bit with us—hence our Alaskan themed pizza restaurants.

In Alaska, I was an ice-hockey mom. In California, I became a soccer and golf mom. Way easier than ice hockey mom!


Fun February National Days

There are a lot more “national days” than what I’ve listed.  But I’m kinda picky. I don’t want to celebrate national serpent day, umbrella day, home warranty day, don’t cry over spilled milk day, battery day, cabbage day, public sleeping day …

If you want to share, I’ve included a link to a jpg: February National Days JPG
And a pdf:  February National Days PDF

February 1

  • Baked Alaska Day 

February 2

  • Tater Tot Day
  • National Groundhog Day

February 3

  • Carrot Cake Day

February 4

  • Homemade Soup Day

February 5

  • Shower with a Friend Day
  • World Nutella Day
  • Wear Red Day 
  • Bubble Gum Day 

February 6

  • Frozen Yogurt Day
  • Ice Cream for Breakfast Day 

February 7

  • Fettuccine Alfredo Day
  • Send a Card to a Friend Day

February 8

  • Kite Flying Day

February 9 

  • Bagel and Lox Day
  • National Pizza Day I write books and I’m in the restaurant business!

February 10

  • Cream Cheese Brownie Day

February 11

  • Make a Friend Day

February 12

  • Plum Pudding Day

February 13

  • Galentine’s Day
  • Cheddar Day

February 14

  • Cream-Filled Chocolates Day
  • Organ Donor Day
  • Valentines Day

February 15

  • Gumdrop Day
  • Presidents Day 

February 16

  • Do A Grouch a Favor Day
  • Fat Tuesday 

February 17

  • Random Acts of Kindness Day
  • Cabbage Day
  • Ash Wednesday

February 18

  • Drink Wine Day

February 19

  • Chocolate Mint Day

February 20

  • Love Your Pet Day
  • Cherry Pie Day

February 21

  • Sticky Bun Day

February 22

  • Margarita Day

February 23

  • Banana Bread Day
  • Dog Biscuit Day

February 24

  • Tortilla Chip Day

February 25

  • Chocolate Covered Nut Day
  • Clam Chowder Day
  • Pancake Day 

February 26

  • Pistachio Day
  • Toast Day 
  • Chili Day 
  • Muffin Day

February 27

  • Strawberry Day
  • Polar Bear Day
  • Kahlua Day

February 28

  • Chocolate Soufflé Day
  • Tooth Fairy Day


History Trivia: Presidential Pardons Through History

History Trivia: Presidential Pardons Through History

If you’re interested in history, you may find this post about Presidential Pardons and Commutations interesting. For eons, presidents have dished out loads of pardons and commutations on their last day in the Oval Office. Some good, some pretty darn odd, and some that are jaw-dropping questionable.

Make sure to check out “Presidential Pardons That Made the News” and “Which president started the tradition of pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey?” at the end of the post.

First off—what’s a pardon, and what’s a commutation?

PARDON: The President’s power to pardon is not restricted by any temporal constraints except that the crime must have been committed.

COMMUTATION is the mitigation of the sentence of someone currently serving a sentence for a crime pursuant to a conviction, without vacating the sentence itself. So it’s a good thing for the recipient, but not a full pardon.

Interesting fact: Barack Obama holds the record for the biggest single-day use of the clemency power on his last day in office.

President George Washington pardoned, commuted, or rescinded the convictions of 16 people. Among them were: Philip Vigol (or Wigle) and John Mitchel, convicted of treason for their roles in the Whiskey Rebellion*.

Abraham Lincoln pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 343 people during his term, including 264 Dakota Indians who attacked white settlers in the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862**.

Andrew Johnson fully pardoned every soldier who fought for the Confederate Army on Christmas day, 1868. Though many thought he was being far too lenient to people who were considered traitors to the Union, Johnson believed it was time for the country to reconcile with the past.

Franklin D. Roosevelt granted 3,687 pardons in his four terms in office.

John F. Kennedy pardoned, commuted, or rescinded the convictions of 575 people.

Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon–this decision won him a lot of enemies. He also offered conditional amnesty to over 50,000 draft resisters. I had a boyfriend back then who fled to Canada to avoid the draft. He was able to return and eventually became a professor.

Ronald Reagan pardoned, commuted, or rescinded the convictions of 406 people.

Bill Clinton pardoned, commuted, or rescinded the convictions of 459 people, including his younger half-brother, Roger. In the mid-1980s, Roger was caught on videotape trying to sell cocaine to an undercover cop. He was arrested, pleaded guilty, and served a year in prison.

Another notorious Clinton pardon was Marc Rich who was indicted in 1983 for evading over $48 million in taxes. He was also charged with 51 counts of tax fraud. And he was also accused of making illegal oil deals with Iran while it was holding U.S. citizens hostage. He was living in Switzerland at the time of his pardon.

Clinton also pardoned Patty Hearst—read more below.

Barack Obama granted 330 commutations on January 19, 2017, his last full day in office. During his presidency, he issued more commutations than the past 13 presidents combined.

In a letter to 46 people whose sentences he commuted in 2015, he wrote: “The power to grant pardons and clemency is one of the most profound authorities granted to the President of the United States. It embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws.”

Presidential Pardons That Made the News

Jimmy Hoffa, 1971

The Teamsters leader had been serving a prison sentence for jury tampering and fraud when President Nixon pardoned him in December 1971. There was a condition: Hoffa should not engage in any management of any labor organization until at least March 1980. Hoffa may have been trying to reassert his power over the Teamsters when he disappeared in 1975. We may never know.

Patty Hearst, 2001

The granddaughter of publisher William Randolph Hearst made headlines in 1974 when an urban guerilla group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) kidnapped her from her Berkeley, Calif., apartment. Two months later, the 19-year-old was photographed robbing a San Francisco bank while brandishing an assault rifle. Apparently, she had taken up her captors’ cause. At her trial, her lawyer asserted that she’d been brainwashed. She was convicted and imprisoned for almost two years before President Jimmy Carter commuted her seven-year sentence and freed her from jail. President Bill Clinton granted her a full pardon on the last day of his presidency, January 20, 2001.

John Forté, 2008

In 2000, recording artist, Forté was arrested at Newark International Airport after accepting a briefcase containing $1.4 million worth of liquid cocaine. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to distribute. He was sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 14 years after being found guilty. Carly Simon and her son, Ben Taylor (son of James Taylor) were advocates on Forté’s behalf, believing he didn’t receive a fair trial. They fought to appeal the mandatory minimum drug laws that remove a judge’s discretion in a case.

With Senator Orrin Hatch’s help, Forté’s prison sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush on November 24, 2008. —Wikipedia

Alice Marie Johnson, 2020

She was convicted in 1996 for her involvement in drug trafficking. Johnson received a life sentence even though it was her first offence. Years later, her cause was taken up by celebrity Kim Kardashian West***. In June 2018, after serving 21 years in prison, she was released after President Trump commuted her sentence. In August 2020, he granted her a full pardon.

Which president started the tradition of pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey?

Actually, it started with Christmas dinner in 1863. President Abraham Lincoln’s clemency to a turkey was recorded in a dispatch by White House reporter Noah Brooks, who noted, “a live turkey had been brought home for the Christmas dinner, but Lincoln’s son, Tad, interceded in behalf of its life and the turkey’s life spared.”

The formalities of pardoning a turkey gelled by 1989, when President George H.W. Bush remarked, “Reprieve,” “keep him going,” or “pardon”: it’s all the same for the turkey, as long as he doesn’t end up on the president’s holiday table.—

President Harry S. Truman pardoning a 35-pound tom turkey
in the White House Rose Garden on Nov. 18, 1952


*Whiskey Rebellion

**Want to know more about the Great Sioux Uprising?

***Kim Kardashian West has said she’s studying to become a criminal justice lawyer and is planning to take her exams in 2022. The reality star began a four-year apprenticeship with a law firm in San Francisco around the time she played a role in the release from prison of Alice Marie Johnson



Book #4 is finally available!

Number 4 in the Murder Blog Mysteries is now on sale! Yay!

What took me so darn long?

I’d love to say the dog ate my work, but what really happened is I had a heart attack. And to make it even more dramatic –I had the attack seven days after my husband had undergone a quadruple bypass. Talk about an awful time!

Mike jokes that I did it because he was getting all the attention. Yeah, right. 

Trust me—I can think of better ways to get attention.

What I have learned is when your body is telling you something isn’t right, do not ignore it like I did. I kept telling myself that as soon as Mike was well, I’d get a check-up. That kind of thinking nearly killed me. A lot of women have said to me that they would have done the same thing. We are often so busy taking care of everyone else that we tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the list. 

Please listen to your body and if something feels odd, don’t wait until it’s too late. I am counting my blessings every day …and working on the fifth book in the series

Nothing bad ever happens in the peaceful English village of Bridleford—except for murder, that is.

In the latest Murder Blog Mysteries novel, Katy finds herself at loose ends. She’s jobless, but not penny-less thanks to a recently discovered box of rare coins in her attic. But she’s clueless as to what her next career will be. Plus, her sizzling romance with Josh, is doing a fast fizzle since he left town to continue nursing his ex-wife through her cancer battle.

Just as Katy is settling in for an extended pity-party of weepy old movies and tubs of mint-chip ice cream, her mother calls with tragic news. A dear family member has met an untimely end. Now Katy and her grandma must travel to the scenic Cotswolds of England to sort out legal matters. When they arrive, they’re overwhelmed by the friendly villagers who offer help and moral support.

However, when Katy and Ruby become the target of vandals, they realize that not everyone in town is pleased about their presence.

Is murder next on the list?

Was It Murder? is available in ebook, the Kindleunlimited program, and paperback. This particular book’s paperback edition is (for some reason) priced much lower than the first three, even though its page count is similar. I’m glad about that, but annoyed that I can’t lower the price on Dead Girls Don’t Blog, Better Dead Than Wed, and Coins and Cadavers. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do that!