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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You may sit next to a millionaire angel unawares

I just had lunch with a friend, and I can't tell you WHO because of the nature of this post. Yes, it's confidential. It's also unbelievable. This is a very short story about how an ordinary man wound up with a millionaire patron simply by being friendly.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Confessions of an Oscar junkie

I planned my annual soup-exchange party for Sunday, February 24. My friends had all responded and the date was set.

Then I found out the Oscars were that night. I had to change my party date.

It's embarrassing to be a movie junkie. Worse, I share the addiction with my husband, Mike, so we enable each other.

I was excited all day Saturday and Sunday in anticipation of the  Oscars. Sunday afternoon, I prepared: no, not with a fancy dress and a group of friends at an Oscar party, but with my fuzzy pink robe, my recliner, and my man in his recliner. Now that's comfort. I like to watch glamor, but I don't want to be it.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The good they die young: my friend Liz Nickel

Elizabeth Ann Nickel, Nov. 22, 1953 - Feb. 17, 2013
You wonder about sayings like "The good they die young." And then you meet someone like Liz Nickel. And then she dies.

Liz's memorial was held last night. It was quiet and unassuming, like Liz. She would have liked it.

I met Liz ten years ago, when my husband and I fell in love with Cajun music. Our friendship with Liz and her husband Tom became linked with all things Cajun.

Friday, February 22, 2013

How I became a mother to my mother figure

I started visiting Nancy a few years back, when she began fighting pancreatic cancer. I go see her once a week and usually bring soup.
When I started my visits, it was from a feeling of appreciation. Nancy had volunteered once a week for years at the charity I founded, HOPE Network for Single Mothers. I was grateful to Nancy for all the time she had given.
But something changed. My feeling of appreciation turned into love. I don't know how my feeling changed or where it changed or even why. It just did.
Nancy and I say "I love you" every time we talk. She calls me "Sweetheart." I call her "Sweetie pie." She gives me smooches right on the lips and I hug her skinny bones.
My mother died in 1978, so I had to raise my children without her guidance and love. That was hard. Nancy is 78. My own mom would be 82. Nancy is a friend to me, but I've imagined her as a kind of mother.
That's what I thought.
I have known for a long time that Nancy's mother died when Nancy was a baby. In all her 78 years, Nancy has never known a mother's love. Her husband abandoned her and she raised three sons without the support of a partner or a parent. She told me that she finds some comfort in the thought that she'll finally meet her mom after she leaves this earth.
The other day Nancy told me something that shocked me. Her wrinkly face burst into more wrinkles when she smiled and said, "I tell my son that you're my mother." 
She started calling me Mother Dear.
But I fooled her. I call her Mother Dear too.
Nancy after her new "pixie" haircut. Picture this beautiful face exploding with a smile. She hates her wrinkles but I love 'em.

How to go inside the magical world of a child

Once a week, I have a day with my grandkids. This is a tradition of almost eight years, one I cherish.

Every grandkid day is different: they're all funny, but they're not all magical.

Magical is when a child forgets you're there - or doesn't care - and you get a chance to peek into the amazing world of the child's imagination, which is very real to the child.

If you think back, very hard, to your own childhood, you will remember the feeling that the imaginary is real, maybe more real than everyday life.

This week's grandkid visit was a magical one.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ten reasons I'm still a Catholic

These are rough times for Catholics. The news goes from worse to worserer. The thought of the rape of children is more than I can stand. The thought of covering up the rape of children is beyond the beyond. Fighting against making reparations to survivors is unspeakable. I pray that the Church will clean up its act and sell some works of art or do whatever it needs to in order to make amends for what can never be rectified.

So why am I still a Catholic? Why have I not left the Church in disgust? Let me count the whys:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My author interview featured on Karen McQuestion's blog

Karen McQuestion
I'm thrilled to say that Karen McQuestion has featured an author interview with me on her blog, McQuestionable Musings.

Karen took my Creative Writing class at Waukesha County Technical College about 15 years ago or so. She didn't need me - she was already well on her way to being a published author, with an essay she sold to a national magazine. Now she's written nine books and is considered a best-selling Amazon author. Her books have been translated into other languages and one of those books, Easily Amused, is currently a bestseller in Germany. Ach ya! (More below the book cover photos...)

American version of Easily Amused

German version of Easily Amused
Karen's books are down-to-earth and fun, like she is. She writes novels for adults as well as for youth and for younger children.

I'm proud to say I consider Karen McQuestion a friend. I only hope I can emulate her prolific writing output and awesome marketing skills some day!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Neil Young's "Waging Heavy Peace" - an old friend's ramble

Neil Young's memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, is a 497-page sit-down with the man who has written much of the sound track to my life. I love Neil Young and I was excited to read his book.

I started it right after I finished reading Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids. To say the transition was jarring would be an understatement. Where Patti is literary, sober, and driven, Neil is an old man sitting on a porch. He rambles, has only recently sobered up, and wonders if he'll ever write another song.

It took me about 50 pages to adjust to Neil's pace, but once I gave in to a visit on his terms (has there ever been any other way for Neil?), I enjoyed the stay.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Will there ever be a good movie of "On the Road"?

I love Jack Kerouac. He is my writing guru. I love how his writing captured an era. I love his honesty. I love how he preached universal kindness.

Why has there never been a good movie made of Jack's book On the Road? Joyce Johnson, who loved Kerouac, explains it well in her blog:

Joyce Johnson's blog about Kerouac and efforts to produce a movie of "On the Road"

"Don't Worry Baby" free on Kindle Feb. 7 and Feb. 8

I'm happy to announce that Kindle readers may order my new book, Don't Worry Baby, free on Thursday, Feb. 7 and Friday, Feb. 8.

To order, use the link right next to this blog post.

Don't be shy! Order it - read it - and if you like it, tell others.

Tell me too! I welcome your voice.

Trish Andrae wins "Don't Worry Baby" give-away

I'm happy to announce that the winner of the drawing for a free copy of my new book, Don't Worry Baby, is Trish Andrae. She will receive the book soon, along with a couple of nice bookmarks.

I send many thanks to all those who entered the drawing!