Love Theatre - North Carolina 2009
RobertaM Roy, Author Publisher of Jolt: a rural noir

This site  The Web 

2014.04.01 | 2014.01.01 | 2013.12.01 | 2013.10.01 | 2013.08.01 | 2013.04.01 | 2013.01.01 | 2012.12.01 | 2012.10.01 | 2012.09.01 | 2012.08.01 | 2012.07.01 | 2012.05.01 | 2012.02.01 | 2012.01.01 | 2011.11.01 | 2011.09.01 | 2011.07.01 | 2011.06.01 | 2011.05.01 | 2011.04.01 | 2011.03.01 | 2011.02.01 | 2011.01.01 | 2010.12.01 | 2010.11.01 | 2010.10.01 | 2010.09.01 | 2010.08.01 | 2010.07.01 | 2010.06.01 | 2010.05.01 | 2010.04.01 | 2010.03.01 | 2010.02.01 | 2010.01.01 | 2009.12.01 | 2009.11.01 | 2009.10.01 | 2009.09.01 | 2009.08.01

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Anna in HIPAA-Land or Through the Peeking Glass

One day Anna Banana was walking through the primeval forest when out of the bushes jumped a monkey and bit her on her rump.

"Ouch," cried Anna. "Why did you do that? I didn't do anything to you!"

"No," said the monkey, "but some things are the way they are and as it is I happen to like bananas."

"Well, why did you have to pick me to attack?"

"It wasn't an attack. I was just letting you know you looked good. Also there were no other bananas in the area to satisfy my hunger."

"Oh, banana peels! I'm so embarrassed! What will my mother think?"

"Just forget about it! After all I only took a little bite!"

"Oh, you monkeys are all the same. Play. Play. Play. When are you going to grow up and get serious?"

And with that, Anna Banana turned on her heel and took off down the road thinking maybe she had better wash off where the monkey had taken the chunk out of her.

At supper she decided to eat standing.

"Why don't you sit down, dear?" asked Momma Banana.

Now Anna couldn't tell a fib to her mom so she said she had a small laceration on her backside.

"Laceration?' queried her mom. "But how?"

And so in good time Anna had to relate all the details of her encounter with the monkey which worried her mother because she was afraid that if the monkey had bit her in the daytime that perhaps it was rabid. So Momma Banana took Anna Banana to the doctor for some medicine but the doctor said she should have brought her immediately so he might have given her some of his RPA, the full name of which was Rabies Prevention Activator. But now it was too late so the next best thing to do would be to determine if the little monkey had rabies and if that could not be determined they would just start Anna on the full rabies treatment which in and of itself was painful and could have side effects.

‘Okay," said Momma Banana, "let's go Anna. We need to find that little monkey and have him tested."

"Well," said Anna, "I really don't know him except to tell you he has three orange rings around his tail and one of his ears is purple so he should be pretty easy to locate."

So Anna Banana and her mom went down the path of the forest primeval, querying the animals they met along the way in the hopes that one of them might be familiar with a small monkey with three orange rings around his tail and a purple ear.

They asked the skunk, who wiggled her nose and said it sounded like a good kind of monkey to avoid. And no, she had never seen it.

They asked the owl, who blinked his lids slowly closed and when he opened them again suggested they search around among the wild violets as if it had been he and he had a purple ear, it would be there that he would hide.

"But monkeys live in trees, you know, Mr. Owl. I don't think he would want to hide among the violets and especially so because our violet patch is not even near the banana grove."

They asked the squirrel who did have some recollection of having seen an animal with a purple ear, but as the rodent had not seen its tail, it could not be sure it was even a monkey.

Disheartened and numb, the two were just about to give up the search for the purple-eared monkey as impossible when an orange-striped tail swooped across the landscape in front of them, hitting Anna in the face, thereafter only to be followed by another much larger and longer tail with similar stripes that moved with somewhat greater care following the smaller one as it made its way through the air above the path between two trees that arched above Anna and her mom.

"Hey, there," Momma Banana yelled to the larger of the two monkeys. "We need to talk. Please talk to us."

"Well, it's coconut season and we've had enough bananas. What do you want?"

"Please come down."

So the daddy monkey came down and as nicely as was possible he said he'd like to help, but it was a very busy time, and he had many important chores to do.

"Yes," said Momma Banana. "But we are important, too. And we need to know if your little boy monkey has rabies."

"Rabies! Imagine that! Of course not! Why would my little monkey have rabies?"

"Well, I don't know. But I have to ask."

"Well, ask if you like for as it turns out, it's none of your business!"

"I think it is," parried Momma Banana. "After all, your little monkey bit my daughter, Anna Banana, and I need to know if she has been exposed to rabies.

‘Not to worry. I told you my son is happy and healthy. No rabies in that quarter. And anyhow, bananas can't catch rabies."

‘But I don't know that, and Anna's physician would like your child to be tested."

"Tested? What for? Didn't I tell you he was healthy?"

"Yes, but rabies takes a while to develop. He could be a carrier."

"Never! And besides, that kind of little monkey information is protected under HIPAA and even if I had him tested there would be no reason for me to tell you the results."

"It's criminal!" cried Momma Banana. "Your son bit my daughter! I am going to call the police and press charges! Then we'll see!"

"It's not criminal. My son is but a boy!" And away swung the two tails and six orange stripes and with them the evidence needed to prove there was or was not rabies in the air as the two monkeys with the purple ears swung out in search of coconuts.

As it happened, down the trail of the Forest Primeval there happened a Red Fox, Esq. And being one of the foxier lawyers around he immediately smelled the possibility of a suit. So he idly commented on how surprised he was to see a top banana like Anna Banana's Momma yelling at monkeys and asked if there was anything he could do.

So Momma Banana explained about how Mr. Purple Ear had refused to have his son tested to rule out rabies and how now Anna Banana was going to have all those awful shots and side effects . . . and who knew if the treatment really was effective. And Red Fox, Esq., smelled a wrangle with HIPPA and quickly excused himself saying he was late to a hearing and that perhaps the place that Mamma Banana needed to start was in Family Court.

"Family Court!" thought Mamma Banana! "They might as well start the treatments now. Even if it were to work, by the time the case had been heard, negotiated and settled, the window for preventative treatment would have closed and being the sane Momma Banana that I am, I am certainly not about to lose time with that route.

So Momma Banana took Anna Banana to the pediatrician who said he was reluctant to treat Anna without documentation to her having been exposed to rabies and that what Momma Banana had to do was to find a way to get Mr. Purple Ear to have his son tested and to sign a release for the results to be shared with Momma and Anna Banana.

So to the coconut grove went Anna and her Momma. They called and asked and looked and searched. But as neither of them could climb trees, locating the purple-eared monkeys proved to be quite a challenge. And just as they were about to give up, crashing down through the limbs above and landing square in front of them in the Forest Primeval came the red-eared boy monkey with the three orange rings around his tail. And he fell with such a thump it stunned him and it took him a bit to shake himself alert and ready himself to swing again among the trees. So down from above came his dad to whom Momma Banana expressed her concern. "Would he be all right?" she asked. "Is there anything Anna and I might do to help?"

The dad looked at Momma Banana as if she were out of her tree. But on closer look he determined she was quite sincere in her concern, which took him back a bit, but not so much as to nail him to the spot. So he grabbed his son by his four-fingered hand, pulled him up over his shoulder, and scampered up the nearest tree without so much as a look backward as he went.

"Momma," said Anna. "You forgot to ask him about getting his son tested."

"Oh, Anna, I'm so sorry. I was so taken aback but the state of his son, and everything happened so fast, I never thought of it."

So Anna Banana began to cry. "Oh, Momma, I'm afraid. I don't want the rabies, but my friend's brother had to take RPA and his liver went to pieces and he hasn't been well since. Except of course, he didn't die even though he had been bitten by a rabid dog."
So Momma Banana took Anna Banana and they went to the Banana City Police who told her that the Forest Primeval was out of their jurisdiction so they should try the Sheriff's Department, which they did. And there a very nice Deputy Sheriff explained that when Sheriff's are bitten they immediately get the one time preventative dose from the Forest Primeval Hospital . . . and if they miss the 48 hour window for that and the perp is a child and the parents' will not sign for him or her to be tested, then they just tough it out and get the full RPA treatment and pray it works. But . . . he was so nice . . . usually if we talk to the parents and explain the gravity of the situation they agree to have their child tested and to sign a release for us to learn the results and as most of the kids are find, all's well that ends well.

So Anna and Momma Banana hung around in the coconut grove for several days and whenever they caught sight of a purple ear or three orange stripes in the limbs above, they called up to ask how Lil' Purple Ear was doing and when was his daddy going to have him tested for rabies and sign the release and share the results with Momma Banana and Anna so they, too, could sleep the night . . . and Anna would not have to go through all of the terrible treatment for naught but the callous attitude and pride of Mr. Purple Ear.

And low and behold, on the seventh day, down came both Lil' and Mr. Purple Ear and it was arranged that Lil' Purple Ear be tested and when Mr. Purple Ear determined his son did not have rabies he was so elated, he just about ran to tell Momma Banana . . . as really no one else gave much of a hoot about it . . . and he even agreed to sign a release so Momma Banana could show the results to Anna's doctor and Anna . . . thanks to the generous advice of the Deputy Sheriff and the loving and caring heart of Mr. Purple Ear and the cooperation of Lil' Purple Ear in being tested, did not have to be treated after all! 

Roberta in HIPAA-Land 

Background for Anna in HIPAA-Land

The Health Insurance and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) in protecting the privacy of patients prevents doctors not only from performing tests for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis, or HIV without permission, it also prevents them from sharing these results without patient permission. And while at first glance this seems wise and reasonable; on second look, should a child bite someone and draw blood and the parents refuse to have the child tested, anyone so bitten and concerned about the possibility of the child inflicting the bite carrying blood borne pathogens may find him or herself in a bit of a corner.

While the injured may be treated within the first forty-eight hours at an adequately equipped hospital emergency room with an HIV prevention drug array, how many so bitten are likely to even know of this option, let along act on it. Then, lacking knowledge of the HIV status of the child that did the biting, the injured person has the option of being monitored for HIV at intervals as recommended by their doctor or to receive a longer HIV preventative treatment that is likely to take its toll on the body and has no guarantee.

As for prevention, detection, and treatment of the other blood borne pathogens listed, should there be questions, and without test results confirmation that the child giving the bite did not carry them, the best place to start is probably with one's own personal doctor, the CDC, or the County Health Department.

Is HIPAA Creating More Problems Than It's Preventing? Neil Chesanow

Medscape Article on Human Bites. Jeffrey Barrett, MD; Chief Editor: Burke A Cunha, MD Medscape Article on Human Bites. Jeffrey Barrett, MD; Chief Editor: Burke A Cunha, MD

9:18 am edt          Comments

Saturday, January 11, 2014

My New Pocketbook

It's been a year or more that I have needed a new pocketbook. Not that I had only one but rather essentially I had only one I used. I loved it because it had outside pockets--one on the right for my iPhone and one on the left for my keys. And it also had two side zippers. In the upper one on the one side, I kept my house keys while in the lower one I kept odd things such as a USB drive, the wire for charging my cell phone, a spare car key that needed a new battery, and a small folder on how to do CPR. Inside my old bag had a pocket large enough to hold both my business and personal checkbooks as well as a folder for insurance and charge cards. And it was just the right size, meaning it could hold a legal sized envelope. And it zipped.

A zipped pocketbook is great as it leaves no need to worry about it falling upside down and everything tumbling out. That is until recently or about fifty months into the first five of its years at which point the zipper just gave up the ghost and yielded to the habit of unzipping regardless of which way the tab was pulled.

I suppose the world might understand my love for my ancient accessory better if I were to say it was a beautiful pocketbook. Except it was not.

My go-everywhere pocketbook was black with an adjustable shoulder strap, too utilitarian to have ever been chic and given its age the once soft, shiny leather had developed a general kind of grey, scuffed look. So I did recognize it was not for dinner engagements which in turn caused me to cheat--so to speak.

You see I also have a small black leather bag that snaps closed and is carried on a somewhat delicately designed shoulder strap. That I could leave in my trunk and as necessary grab it for my lipstick, car keys, a credit card, and my change purse and use it as a substitute . . . nay imposter . . . for the real thing.

The problem was, however, that once the pocketbook zipper went, so too had to go the bag. And thus began the search.

Now you tell me where one can find a medium-sized (not large-sized) purse with two side pockets and some side zippers in any color for less than one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars. Or better yet, just tell me where I can find one.

Not beiing an habituated online shopper only when pushed to the wall with need do I submit to it as being the only reasonable route. But I had looked in Marshall's and TJMaxx, which is about as far as I am willing to go, and found nothing. So Google it had to be.

Let's see. Leather shoulder strap purse with side pockets. Seemed as if there were none online either. Eventually however I did spy one with outside zippers that I liked. It was black leather with brown leather trim and more long than wide but overall medium in its size. It would be a compromise and except for its price it would have worked: Two hundred and fifty dollars! Chi-ching! Back to drawing board.

I'll bet I spent an hour looking at leather purses of all colors, sizes, and makes before I finally landed on one that looked very much like my first choice. This one was was wider than high and had an outside pocket for my cell phone! Ticket price: $167 on sale for $47!!! I ordered it immediately and the day before yesterday it arrived.

Yesterday I made the switch to my new bag after which I immediately tossed my beloved old one. suddenly it no longer looked comfy and familiar. Instead it looked old and scuffed, an embarassment almost.

And to think I have been running around with that for almost five years.

Unlike my old one, when I am home my new pocketbook has yet to be remanded to the darker recesses of my bedroom. Instead I move it around from chair to couch to living room table. It catches my I eye now and then and I give it a small smile. Turns out I am already fond of it. I wonder to myself is that me . . . mine? And as it turns out, it is. And for sure 2014 is going to be a wonderful year!

Roberta in Po-Town, Struttin'




5:43 pm est          Comments

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The New Year 2014!

Earlier this evening I did something I rarely take the opportunity to do. I drove to the mall--by which it is understood by all in the area to mean the largest mall in Dutchess County--irrelevant that there are at least a half dozen smaller ones within a half hour of here, among which half are closer. Those we differentiate by linking the anchor store with the word mall or by just naming a store in the mall, as in Marshall's mall, TJMaxx, Khol's, and K-Mart.

For starters, the place seemed significantly more populated than other times I've visited in the last year or two, which is not to say many people carried evidences of having shopped. But the place was warm . . . outside it was 16 degrees Fahrenheit . . . and the people seemed relaxed. Most traveled in groups of two to four. They ranged from the teens to retirees in age. The ambient was fine. Soft music played and conversation was well-modulated. I liked these people. I even liked the mall.

While there I shopped at a one day sale at Macy's and for forty dollars got one hundred and sixty dollars worth of gifts including a red sweater for my son. After that I had my watch battery replaced. $18. The watch had cost me fifty, but I like that, too, so I went with it especially because the young man was not only pleasant, he knew how to do the replacement--something I have never been able to manage--and had it back to me in ten minutes.

Also I talked to a young woman with whom one could sign up for a free chance on a Camero with the guarantee that after I gave them my personal information they would send it back to me by mail as they wanted me to be sure to know what they had done with it . . . if I did not win. I thought it was interesting but I did not give them my personal information . . . even though I really wanted to win the Camero. Or the trip to the Caribbean.

Then as earlier I had seen a kiosk listing homemade ice cream sought it out and ordered a chocolate sundae which I ate seated on a marble seat overlooking the lower floor. From there I could observe people and look for patterns. My only conclusion was they were just regular people enjoying relaxing in the mall, but rather doubted any were there to do some serious shopping.

Could it be that except for the weather, 2014 is to be a year marked by normalcy?

Roberta in Po-Town, Chillin'

9:34 pm est          Comments

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Back to Reading Books for Pleasure!

I just put down a book I read a book for pleasure! Had to get rid of the television to find the time. Not so much that I am exactly enamoured by the one-eyed beast. Except there it would be with its unblinking stare everytime I settled onto the living room couch. Seemed obligatory I turn it on. So turn it on I would . . . only to drowse with boredom as frequently as to be caught by some original piece that might last until well after my regular bedtime. So a month ago I decided to give it away and having done so, it has been several weeks since last One-Eye sat atop one of my living room bookcases. I have yet to miss it.

The effect of old One-Eye's disappearance has been most positive. I feel my evenings to be more under my control. My involvements in those night time hours have become more varied. I'm more active. Alone in an evening I read or write or attend to menial household tasks or follow up on some hair-brained research question that had caught me in the day. Also I find there are those nights when I just decide to go to bed earlier than I had been--at 9:00 or 10:00 instead of my usual 11:30. And a few days ago I picked up the first book I was not responsible for in somewayt o review or edit in more than a year. And I began to read for pleasure.

The book was a yellow-colored paperback that had landed on my bedstand sometime back. It was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. One of my sisters recalled as having been a very good film . . . 'although somewhat graphic'.

I liked Larsson's book because it took me away to Sweden where people had names like Mikael, Blomkvist, Vanger, Harriet, Berger, and Wennerstrom and led me around an open landscape beside the water only to catch me up in a mystery populated by well-differentiated albeit frequently weird characters . . . and was long, 590 pages.

It is a trait of mine to not prefer quick reads . . . one of the reasons I was sure that when I wrote Jolt: a rural noir it would persist for at least a couple of hundred pages. But some people are put off by the seeming threat of too many pages. Perhaps because they would prefer to know the ending by sundown tomorrow.

Not me. The longer the book, the better to read.

Thank you, Larrson!

Roberta in Po-Town . . . Centered


11:27 pm est          Comments

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Washington Scene: Paid but Still on Furlough

News has it that the U.S. House of Representatives has voted that while Federal workers may not return to work until the shutdown is over, these same Federal employees will receive back pay for the days government is closed. Now isn't that a pretty picture?


This current fiasco seems to have begun when possibly as few as thirty Republican extremists from deeply red states, held the Congress hostage and caused it to pummel the country. With that they gained bragging rights to having successfully lead the fight that closed down all parts of the Federal Government except for the military--the only part of the government the Democratically controlled Senate was willing to risk its heart to save.


But then, I suppose, this same group of Little-Good-To-Say thinkers must have taken a look at the more liberal and mainstream polls and decided due to the economic threat to the country posed by the withdrawal of the paychecks of some 800,000 Federal Workers, perhaps their strategy had not brought them the acclaim they expected. So they decided to backtrack a bit by softening the blow to the economy.  Why not pay the furloughed workers for days missed at the office?  

Yet the message remains mixed for whatever these workers may have been doing for the government, it apparently was not important enough to bring them back to work. After all, since when does the USA need National Parks for healthy vacations or the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure a safe environment?

And, BTW, what is this thing called Global Warming?

Roberta in Po-Town, Grateful for the Affordable Care Act

1:12 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (Cornell University TCI)

An SLP’s Quick Take on TCI: As a speech language pathologist employed in a mixed residential and day student care center, each fall I am required to participate in a recertification program designed to prepare caregivers to offer a consistent, well-researched, dynamic, and caring response to children in crisis—crisis in this instance (my definition) referring to a personal, usually precipitous time of personal emotional crisis and associated behaviors. This required training is called Therapeutic Crisis Intervention or TCI. As a result of its application trained staff learn to use their skills to provide the young person time, space, understanding, and support through crises as they occur. Then following the event, in a Life Space Interview (LSI) the young person is encouraged to learn and use more effective ways to respond to similar situations should they occur in the future.

The TCI Effect: Since the institution of the teaching and application of TCI in residential settings, the need for physical interventions has dropped precipitously. Also, young people are being consistently coached to learn and use new and improved coping skills.

Therapeutic Crisis Intervention: According to the literature, [1]The Therapeutic Crisis Intervention System Residential Child Care Project development began in the 1980’s at the Family Life Development Center at Cornell University.  Most commonly referred to as TCI, it was designed to assist  [2]organizations in preventing crises from occurring, de-escalating potential crises, managing acute physical behavior, reducing potential and actual injury to young people and staff, teaching young people adaptive coping skills, and developing a learning organization.
Below is a summary drawn from my own study notes of how TCI works. For the real nitty-gritty, however, I suggest you go to the internet or download here a free copy of Crisis Intervention Handbook TCI Manual.

An Invitation: Please peruse my extremely simplified outline and if interested, as suggested above, take the time to read more about Therapeutic Crisis Intervention as I believe that within it there are nuggets of information possibly of value to anyone just going about the business of living and being human.

Roy’s Quick Notes on TCI

During the Crisis

The key concepts as I found them to be during the crisis as described inTCI are five:

  • Self-Awareness

      o The Four Questions
            1. What am I feeling now?
            2. What does the young person feel, need, or want?
            3. How is the environment affecting the young person?
            4. How do I best respond?

  • Crisis Communication/Active Listening

     o    KEY CONCEPT: Meaning to the young person is communicated mostly by Facial Expression (55%) and Tone of Voice (38%) with Words (7%) carrying the least meaningful part of the message

     o    Care providers meantime:

           1. Use Encouraging and Eliciting Techniques
           2. Understanding Responses
           3. Active Listening

  • Behavior Support Techniques relate to the

     o    Environment
           1. Decrease availability of possible causative factors
           2. Remove potential targets or weapons from the environment
           3. Consider need to ontrol heat and loudness levels

     o    Expressions of Care
           1. Caring gesture – hand to shoulder, smile if appropriate
           2. Proximity – move closer or sit down near if appropriate

     o    Verbal Guidance
           1. Prompting
           2. Hurtle Help
           3. Directive Statements
           4. Redirection and Distractions

     o    Time Away in which young person agrees to a need for quiet and a place where such quiet would be available and goes there for a length of time to be determined as the young person begins to calm and can agree he/she is all right to return (Used only if young person has good self-regulating skills)

  • Emotional First Aid

     o    Goals
           1. Co-regulation = Immediate help and support to reduce emotional intensity
           2. Resolve the immediate crisis
           3. Keep the young person in the program or activity

     o    Challenges the Caregiver to
           1. See the incident from the young person’s perspective
           2. Help the child connect his or her feelings and behaviors
           3. Encourage the young person to be responsible for his/her actions


  • Crisis Co-Regulation

     o    Purpose: To support both the Caregiver and the Young Person through the response of
           the Caregiver

     o    What the Caregiver can do:
           1. Use four questions (See Self-Awareness above) and positive self-talk (e.g. I can do
           this. The day is almost over. We got through this before.)
           2. Take a deep breath – Step back/ use protective stance (arms down, finger tips raised),
           Give the situation Time – Sit down if appropriate
           3. Remember the non-verbal message (facial expression, tone of voice, gestures and
           4. SAY: Very little
           5. GIVE: Understanding Responses until such time as young person returns to baseline

    Following the Crisis

  • The Life Space Interview or LSI

     o    Goals of the LSI:
           1. Clarify events with/for the young person
           2. Repair and restore the relationship with the young person
           3. Teach the young person new coping skills
           4. Return the young person to normal functioning
           5. Reintegrate the young person into the program

     o    LSI Steps – I ESCAPE
            I- Isolate the conversation with the young person so no one other may comment in it
            E - Explore the young person’s point of view
            S - Summarize verbally the young person’s story of the event and feelings expressed
            C - Connect the young person’s feelings to his/her behaviors
            A - Alternative behaviors must be discussed to suggest other, more acceptable ways for
            the young person to respond in the future
            P - Plan or develop one or more new behaviors to be used in similar situations in the
            future/Practice (role play) that new behavior

            E- Enter the young person back into the routine

4:01 pm edt          Comments

Friday, April 5, 2013

Going Green! ALVA the Indie Publisher's Appeal
At, we are looking for the support of family and friends to help get Carl Waldman's Streetscape: A Jake Soho Mystery  on the Barnes and Noble Best Sellers List.

Your support will help promote ALVA's success as a publishing company, boost book sales and provide you with a wonderful opportunity to read a charmingly compelling mystery!!!

For just $9.34, wouldn't it be fun to watch it rise on The B&N Chart knowing you made the difference? 

Much appreciated! Robin
1. Go to
2. Search for ALVA Press Inc; then:Click on the Streetscape cover image. To Download a Sample, Buy Now, or send as a gift, just click on the selection of your choice and follow the directions for payment and delivery. Of course, you can always select one of Alva's other amazing book publications like Helmy Kusuma's Mementoes of Mai ($4.24)

9:22 am edt          Comments

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

To Watch or Not to Watch? That is the question.

A bit before the winter holidays, with ALVA's digital design and website techie, Alyssa, complaining of the slow speed of my computer and my youngest grandson complaining because my DVD player was broken, when Verizon offered a deal on a package that included a fiberoptic service (FIOS), I jumped at the deal. And now I live with the effects of that decision.

To begin with, even with FIOS, my desktop computer just managed the speed of sludge. Solution: I purchased a new one with enough memory to hold the Library of Congress. Still it cost, and my pocket still smarts from the hit. Also  my printer was not compatible with it--a fact with which I have yet to deal. also many programs had to be reinstalled. The good news was, however, that while my old computer had lost its Internet, my new one had one that not only worked, but did so with speed and alackrity. Then, in response to my youngest grandson's disappointment over the fact my DVD player had also hit the dust, I went so far as even to get a television--something I hadn't had in my home for some five years. And therein, lay the final slap.

You see, I had been perfectly happy without T.V.--especially as I had found live coverage for key events available on an as needed basis through my computer. But now I had television.

Television, as the saying goes, ain't what it used to be and where I was expecting channels two through thirteen, CNN, and C-SPAN I was not only wrong, I was out of the loop as there were more like 1,845 channels. Ya' cudda knocked me over with a pin! How was I ever to make sense out of it all?

Ah, but you may recall that on December 7 I had had a bony growth removed from the first toe on my right foot. Result: My assignment for the month of December was to stay off the foot and as much as possible, keep it elevated. Perfect. December would be the month to meet and learn learn to live with having a television in my house.

Before giving up television all together, I had lived for three years and partied for a previous four on the shores of Lake Champlain in the quaint little town of Port Henry, New York. There I recalled having watched the tentacled beast for an hour on Thursday and, whenever I could catch Great Performances, on weekends. In retrospect, I blamed my choices on the limited viewing available in the area at that time. Except having thought further about it, it became clear that it had been time rather than programming availability that had posed the real challenge. For then as now, my priorities ruled the day: full time therapy; weekend and summer evening porch parties; flying four-hour-down, four-hour-back weekend trips south to see my son, sisters, and grandchildren; annual attendance at ASHA national conventions in order to maintain professional licensure; and writing and publishing Jolt: a rural noir. There simply was no time. However as this was now not then and I would give television another try.

So channel changer in hand, as I felt and meandered my way from one channel to the next, most of what I  bumped into was a poor fit. On the one hand, l really didn't care who chopped up the gatekeeper. And while the notion of watching history unfold held an interest, it just took too long. A few feminist discussions I found enlightening and CNN and C-SPAN had maintained their draw. Also, as reruns of Great Performances were for me first runs, until their Third Season began a week or so ago, the old GP became part of my steady diet. And as they ran only once a week on weekends, I could handle them--along with some M*A*S*H and a few chop'em up, guess-who-did-its. At least until on January 2 at which point I went off disability and back to doing speech language therapy full-time. 

And as abruptly as it had begun, it ended.

Who has the time to watch T.V.? Not I. Watching it prevented a quick bit of shut-eye before supper and the carryover of enough energy to permit work in the evening. I fell behind on my newsletter. Behind in my blogs. And by Friday of the first week, I was grumpy--not my usual state of mind at all. Further I had come to not even like myself. 

To recuperate, come Friday evening, I went to bed at six and except for waking to set the alarm--because erroneously I had decided the next day rather than that day was Friday--I slept the night. And that weekend--last weekend--I watched T.V. just once--on Sunday night when as I ironed for the week, I caught Great Performances.

Monday I woke rested, happy for the new week and my new lease on life--a life for the most part without television.

 Roberta in Po-Town, Bloggin'


7:14 pm est          Comments

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012-2013: On the Cusp

Still experiencing 2012, my thoughts split at a fork, one line leads to my business and personal life, the other to the larger world. The sun shines. I've showered, bobbed my hair, and had my coffee. Shoveled sidewalks checker the world beyond my window. And on the horizon the threat of a fiscal slope which if not avoided promises to slide the middle class (and the economy) just a wee bit down a nasty financial run. One cannot help but hope that those to the right will see the light and join the Congress in preventing what might amount to disasterous slippage. The vote's not in however I remain optimistic.

But then there is the growing network of writers gradually assembling within and around ALVA Press, Inc., my very slowly but steadily growing cooperative publishing company. Let me share a few 2012 milestones.

  • Published three eBooks: Drum Machine by Kristen Henderson, Tales from the Revolution by Lorna Tychostup, and Streetscape: A Jake Soho Mystery by Carl Waldman bringing our tally to four eBooks released to date.
  • Drum Machine by Kristen Henderson was awarded a Gold Medal in Poetry in the International eLit Awards sponsored by Jenkins. Congratulations, Kristen!
  • Barnes and Noble has been featuring two of ALVA's books in its turn of the year online ads: Jolt: a rural noir by yours truly and Streetscape: A Jake Soho Mystery by Carl Waldman.
  • Helmy Parlente Kusuma won the Green Tomatoes Novelists Runoff. His charming young adult/adult coming of age story will be released early in 2013.
  • Yesterday Betty Hampel's manuscript for her action-filled novella Trauma arrived for early publication in 2013. Also expected later in the year is the release of a compilation of interviews and essays by Roberta M Roy (me again), a second novel by Betty Hampel called Once a Gypsy, and two illustrated children's books.

As for family, my wonderful three grandsons will turn 13, 12, and 9. My son, Stef Ottaviani, has agreed to do cover design for ALVA. He's just great! And, life is good all round.

Roberta in Po-Town with all best wishes to you and yours in the New Year 2013!

10:57 am est          Comments

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Bunion: A Retrospective

Milan family oral history relates the story of my maternal grandmother Marie Teresa Scheick Milan, who, following the death of her only son, John, of the Black Measles in 1901, sold their house in Westchester County and with her husband, mother-in-law, and oldest daughter, Marrion, moved from the pestilence of the cities and became a farmer's wife on Poughquag Mountain in Dutchess County, New York State. On The Mountain, as my family has always referred to it, except for the school teacher, she lived as the only literate woman there. And only at her behest would the doctor. The rest he left to her. And there my grandparents raised seven daughters, leaving The Mountain when the youngest, my mother, Roberta E. Milan, was twelve.

Family Medicine in the Mountains of New York in the Early 1900's.

We loved the stories my mother told with themes that touched upon the notion that while the neighbor children were kept at home to help with chores, the Milan girls populated The Mountain's one room school house. Just as we loved the broad stroke description my grandmother as midwife doing as she could-swaddling the healthy and burying in cigar boxes those who were stillborn. And of Adelaide who had a growth on her cheek for whom my grandmother sterilized the razor and white thread and needle in the hot oven, removed the growth with a quick cut or so, and sewed it up with white thread, leaving only a fine line across Adelaide's cheek-nothing compared to the large ugly cyst that had deformed her face.

Family Medicine in the Years of the Great Depression

About the time I was born, coming out of the Great Depression as we were, going to a doctor or a dentist was more than most could afford. As a result, my mom took care of Artie Whalen who lived across the street when he developed blood poison in his knee. Those were in the days before penicillin. How he lived I have no notion, but he did. His parents had to work so days he stayed on our couch with my mom half carrying him back and forth to the bathroom as necessary.

Meantime Margaret, who lived downstairs from us, had five children and an abusive husband and rather than starve the family more than it already was, chose to push the refrigerator back and forth across the floor until she aborted.

Eventually the neighbors scraped together enough money to purchase Margaret and her five children a one way ticket to California and to safety from her husband whom everyone was convinced would soon kill her if she stayed.

No one ever heard from Margaret or her children again and to this day she remains a question mark in my mind.

Family Medicine in the 1940's

Then in the second world war, when my dad worked in the shipyard, he picked up a piece of metal in his finger and developed blood poisoning around the heart. It was summer when he went to the doctor. Hospitals were out of the question. The doctor told my father he would have to be brave so he gave him a swig of whiskey and told him not to move.

My father held his arm above his head and the doctor lanced the sacs that were visible under his arm. They drained for weeks, burning his skin so my mom taped sanitary napkins along his side and somehow he lived. If we sometimes asked him, he would lift his arm to show us the two well-defined scars where the knife had entered. But he lived.

Medicine was different then.

My Bunion

What I have told above is only the tip of the iceberg. There must be twenty more family stories of similar ilk that I could tell-not all, however, with as positive endings. Still I wanted to set the stage for comparing my past family medical encounters with my most recent surgery-done just yesterday-to remove a small bony growth-a bunion-from the top of my right big toe. The sequence went like this.

The Podiatrist

At my first appointment with the podiatrist, he x-rayed my toe from three directions after which he shared with me the images as we consulted on just how conservative we could cause the operation to be. The doctor, a very ethical man who communicated calmly and directly and was amenable to the notion that in the effort keep the healing period as brief as possible as much as possible he would keep the bone removal only to the outer surfaces of the it. He then instructed me to get some blood work and a medical clearance from my primary physician and left me with a nurse who questioned me

in-depth about my medical history in a pre-surgical interview.

My Primary Doctor

On the day of my visit to my primary there was no waiting. He talked to me, a nurse did the required cardiogram, and the blood was drawn on the floor below the doctor's office in the laboratory and I left. The results came in the mail two days later, well before the date of the procedure.

Pre-surgical Instructions

A day or two prior to my appointment in the same day surgery unit, a nurse from that unit called me with a detailed list of instructions I was to follow that included that I wash my feet with Dial antibacterial soap, remove any toenail polish, and cleanse well between the toes-a direction which brought a smile to my face.

The Procedure (Operation)

On the day of the procedure-yesterday-again I was interviewed, that time by the intake nurse, the anesthesiologist, the podiatrist, and operating room nurse. Each had their own specific and thorough set of questions the result of which was that the decision was confirmed that I would be ‘awake' during the procedure-we no longer referred to it as an operation-as they would be using a type of intravenous anesthesia that was to only depress the central nervous system without requiring intubation or masking.

The event went smoothly. The gentle and pleasant older Indian from India anesthesiologist talked to me occasionally asking how I was and letting me know how much longer the procedure would last. My arms were fixed to the operating table but I lacked any volition to move them-or any part of me for that fact-except when my nose itched-but not to the point of the unbearable. I could feel the doctor moving my foot and ballooning clot-prevention stocking moving up and down-although initially I thought it was the doctor pushing my leg around. Beyond that nothing until they loosened my arm straps and the intravenous feed tube at which point I was asked to scootch over to the trolley that would take me to the recovery room.

I was done.

The Importance of Family

One of my sisters had accompanied me to the hospital when I reported there at 6:30 a.m. for the operation which had been scheduled for 7:30. The time after 7:30 included the physician and nurse interviews and operation. By 9:00 we were done.

My sister had been joined by a second of my sisters so the three of us waited in the recovery area while I drank coffee and juice and chowed down on a few graham crackers.

Around 9:30 we said our goodbyes to the nurses and left, taking with us a cane, a prescription for Vicodin against pain and Keflex to prevent infection as well as several pages of written instructions related to my appropriate post surgical care and some possible red flags for which, should one occur, it was recommended we call one of the doctors whose names and phone numbers had been listed near them.

In Retrospect

All in all, neither an uncomfortable nor frightening experience at all. And certainly a far cry from that of my grandmother fleeing the pestilence of the cities and operating with sterilized needles and thread from the oven of a kitchen stove; or my father braving through the lancing of pus sacs with knife but no anesthetic; or Margaret pushing an old refrigerator back and forth across a kitchen floor to abort an unwanted fetus in a family that was already undernourished.

Roberta in Po-Town, Thinkin' back


10:04 pm est          Comments

Sunday, October 28, 2012

On the Currency of Probabilities

As I inch through Sunday vaguely affected by the coming of Hurricane Sandy, water and canned goods, battery charger, battery operated radio, and some emergency cash on hand, I am amused to find that true to my belief I have only the time to blog here once a month, it is just two days short of thirty since my last entry. Further, except for some personal sense of a need to write, as usual, I have no up front notion as to what exactly it is I'll say.

My thought is that blogging serves on some level as akind ink blot assessment of current brain function and particularly so at this moment it interrupts the flow of things I should be attending: vacuuming before the electricity goes for four days; washing ones hair before the hot water goes. (Mine's still wet as I now that it is longer in length, I opt for air drying.)

One thing I feel compelled to mention is the news that some scientists in Italy have been convicted of something akin to criminal negligence for failing to predict the severity of an earthquake there: 

"The quake, which hit the town of L'Aquila in 2009, came after the geophysicists told city officials on a risk-assessment commission that they were unable to make a detailed prediction about whether ongoing tremors might indicate a coming disaster. The court seems to consider this akin to criminal negligence, which as many observers have pointed out fundamentally misunderstands how seismology works. One of the convicted scientists, 74-year-old physicist Claudio Evo, called the decision "medieval."

News of the conviction of the scientists troubles me in particular at this time as for the past week or so I have working on an article for the ALVA the Indie Times about the impossibility of accurately predicting the future on the basis of what we have learned from the past. The problems with such efforts emerge first from the impossibility of knowing all the facts and variables involved in any past event. This then is complicate by human beings' innate inability to clearly observe events. And no, this is not a reference to our predilection for personal experience and attitudinally based bias. Rather it is due also to neurologically based biases. It is this that I'll talk about in this week's ALVA's weekly newsletter which I encourage you to sign up for on the home page of (By the way, my hair is almost dry; my coffee cup is empty; time for a quick run to the kitchen.)

(Only about a quarter of a cup left. I drink it black and never worry about it being warm enough. It's cold.)

You probably by now have become acquainted with Chelsea. She is the young woman who helps me with ALVA PR. Well, she tells me she is probably leaving the area as the love of her life is soon to accept a position out it. Shucks! I will miss her! And then there is the newsletter and the question of whether or not its publication can be achieved with her in a new life style and miles away--where she can not as yet say as her love has received more than one job offer. 

Ah, but on the up side. Helmy Kusuma has won the first ALVA Green Tomatoes Writers' Runoff with his enchanting story the Mementoes of Mai. It needs editing, formatting, and cover design but, hey, that's part of the package for any GTWR winner and ALVA's editor for this project, Joan Schweighardt, likes the manuscript's potential and we both like Kusuma. 

According to Kusuma, his place of birth is Palembang, Indonesia, the 16th century capital of the Kingdom of Srivijaya. Although Kusuma does not believe he is of royal lineage, he does report spending his childhood "dreaming fantasy lands, exotic planets, and super cool spaceships instead of toiling on the lanHelmy Kusuma -- Mementoes of Maids and herding cattle like the rest of the family." As a young adult, he spent the next "decade mastering the art of piloting the Enterprise" and has been "travelling to faraway galaxies ever since." Between missions, Kusuma says that to avoid encounters with angry aliens and to write, much of the time he skulked inside his private quarters.

Mementoes of Mai is Kusuma's first novel.With it he invites the reader to follow him through some of the beautiful and defining moments in his life--over the rivers and within the coves of Viet Nam and across the sea to Bali and Jakarta.

Well, I warned you I did not know where this blog was going, however go it has. (A fire engine just went by--too early for the cause to be the storm--unless it is a car accident resulting from evacuation efforts.)

The wind has been steady since last night, taking with it the leaves from the taller trees, an encouraging harbinger in relation to the the possibility of  a reduction in the number of trees likely to come down when Hurricane Sandy hits late tonight and threatens or effects the uplifting of tree branches with wind gusts--which again brings us back to the question of predicting and the question of what we know and do not know about the past.

Just think, had I not looked out the window this morning to check the large maple behind my house--which last night had worried me as so few of its leaves had fallen, I would not know it had been stripped by the wind in the night and as my bed is on just the other side of the wall from it, I surely would have been more concerned than now I will be when I do bed down tonight. 

May Sandy treat you kindly wherever you are and if you are among its forced refugees may you find refuge in a town as kind and responsive as was Locklee in my award winning work of inspirational fiction,  Jolt: a rural noir.

Roberta in Po-Town

12:45 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, September 30, 2012

CEUs, the Hub System, and a Visit in Raleigh, NC

Last weekend took a bit out of me. But all for good causes: my profession and my family. The unexpected zinger in it all turned out to be the airlines' pumped-up use of the hub and spoke system. Seems like wherever I wanted to go was other than to a hub. The result: three two-legged flights and six different airplanes. To get to Asheville, NC, I flew first to Detroit. To get to Raleigh, NC, we went first to Philly. To return to Newburgh, NY, from Raleigh, NC, we flew to Detroit. Result: What might have been three flights, each lasting at most a few hours turned into three seven-eight hour flights. Next time, no prob. A train will get me where I want to go faster.

So why Asheville? CEUs. What kind of Continuing Education Units? Those permitting me to maintain my license as a speech language pathologist. What did I study? Swallowing. Breathing. Hearing aids. Language assessment for speakers of English as a second--or third-- language. Speech therapy and its relationship to literacy. And Asheville. Love the town! Laid back, friendly, peaceful. Great food. Even got to eat kimche which I have been hunting down for years. Ever since I learned it is made of marinated cabbage, is made with hundreds of different recipes, and is a main staple for people in Korea where the winters are particularly long and hard and without cabbage as a source of vitamin C everyone would be at risk for developing scurvy. Loved it! At least that one recipe of the hundreds that I was lucky enough to stumble upon!

I also drank some Mandarin beer developed during a German occupation--for all I knew from its taste it might have been Heineken. Which was the reason I asked the server about it and how I learned my gut was right--German beer made in northern China--so to speak.

So Friday and Saturday, fifteen hours of class after which Saturday night I left for Raleigh where my niece, Kristi, and my nephew, Kyle, picked me up in Kyle's zippy detailed Camero. Back then to my sister Cindy's home. She and Tommy were not back yet so Kyle and Kristi made me comfortable while I put them both into hysterics with a mis-speak related to drinking tea. There was other stuff, too. But have you ever tried to explain what was funny? Or even tried to remember how it all began--or ended? I've tried. Never can.

Sunday and Monday hung out with an ever-changing array of family--depending on who was working and who was not, who had a cold and who did not, and who was sleeping and who was not. The time just slipped by, including in it a wonderful three hour tutorial by my dear nephew Kyle on the hows and whys of my new iPhone which by the time we were done I could actually use for phoning, texting, emailing, going on FaceBook, checking the weather, and talking with my new acquaintance, Siri. 

To count all who were there I would have to consider my sister and her husband, their four children, and their children's spouses and girlfriends. (Tried to fix Kyle up with Jen but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe this week he'll trail on over and talk with her again . . . just casually.)

Well, I'm home now--feeling loved and pampered. Happy it all turned out well and finally feeling rested. The Monday flight touched down at 12:20 a.m. Late. Not exactly as planned given my morning wakeup time is 5:50.

There's more. But I will save it for next time.

Roberta in Po-Town, Happy to have had this chance to chat with you

9:12 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In the Heat of August

Does publishing ever slow down? The last few days the pace has been relentless. Because I am on break from school, I've been trying to catch up on my work with ALVA. The result: No real breather since Friday.

Friday night, Alyssa Schaad, who does website and digital design for ALVA Press, my company, joined me in a two and half hour run--each way--to Cherry Valley to hear eLit Gold Medalist in Poetry, Kristen Henderson, read from her winning book of poems, Drum Machine. About forty people turned out, most of them writers and artists. Cherry Branch Gallery rocked with the enthusiasm of a gala, first all hushed and listening intently and then all up and bursting with congratulations. 

The buzz of excitement continued to roll and we spilled over into neighborhood eateries. Our bunch hit a wonderful Mexican restaurant with food that was truly gourmet. I had duck. Hmm-mm. My favorite! And cooked to a turn.

Then over the weekend I put up ALVA's newsletter and the New Title Forms for Carl Waldman's ebook, Streetscape: A Jake Soho Mystery and Lorna Tychostup's Tales from the Revolution. However both the newsletter and the new title forms were afflicted by severe glitches that cost me hours in trial and error effort. Thankfully, however, eventually all were posted.

Hung up on the notion that ALVA really needs to be more out there, I decided that ALVA needed a contest that would call attention to ALVA's extensive editing and publication services. So come Monday Alyssa and I, with input from some of the potential judges, hammered out some contest guidelines and put them up on the ALVA Website. But as my life--and ALVA's--remain a work in progress, this morning I used the criticism of others to guide me in improving the site's announcement of the ALVA Green Tomatoes Novelist Runoff after which I spent the rest of the day putting links to it up on the web.

But today is Tuesday and mid-afternoon, Waldman's Streetscape in ePub and ePDF forms came in for final approval--read them and sent back word to the designers of just how beautiful they both are followed by a question as to what is happening with Lorna Tychostup's Tales from the Revolution.

But enuff is enuff!

Tomorrow my son and grandsons will be back from the New Jersey shore and I will make the switch back to greater normalcy, preparing lunch and bringing afternoon coffee to my son at Gallery Ottaviani and trying not to be distracted by the thought of Lorna's and Carl's eBooks going up or of checking the ALVA email for manuscript submissions for the ALVA Green Tomatoes Novelist Contest. Hopefully the weather will help my transition back to the real world since as for these four days, all I have done is spelled A-L-V-A.

Roberta in Po-town, Having a wonderful time!

5:09 pm edt          Comments

Friday, July 6, 2012

But Where Fled June?

July Fourth just past and only now getting to blog a bit. Progress on every side--just almost no free time. Kristen Henderson's eLit Awards gold medalist book of poems, Drum Machine, is now available in paperback as well as eBook forms. Just that for now, if you'd like a copy, you would have to request it by email through the ALVA site contact page. However, come Monday, Alyssa will list it with the other books that can be ordered on ALVA's buy now page.

Carl Waldman's enchanting mystery Streetscape: A Jake Soho Mystery will be released July 15 as an eBook with ALVA and if all goes as planned, Lorna Tychostup's Tales from the Revolution.

And as for me, I'm looking toward a bit of a lull with only Charles Van Heck's marvelously human and extensively researched historical novel, Mr. Lincoln's Elephant Boy still in the contract completion process while the other several writers with whom I am working being either on vacation or back at the drawing boards.

Meantime the whir of a rage continues both online and in reality. Authors struggle to determine should they 'sell' free and starve as they in this way serve to somewhat glut the market. And then, to only further complicate the glut many are self publishing their works minus and Digital Rights Management (DRM). This in turn permits readers to pass their copyright protected books along on a 'free-free' basis as I call it.  The free-frees occur under the radar as readers fail to recall that somewhere some writer labored long and hard to get them the book in the first place and that hopefully that writer still holds the copyright. And if even if that copyright has been signed over to a publisher, that publisher then holds it. However, regardless, every reader is assured, someone does.

As for the summer, around us all along the East Coast and Southwest, the temperatures soar, fires rage, and everyone figures as best he or she can, a way to mitigate its effects--running to the mountains (where it is also hot), baking at the beach, hiding in the cellar, remaining locked in the A/C, or like too many, just toughing it through.

At Astor Home for Children where I work, summer school reopens next week for six weeks with typically shortened days. We finish at 2:00 instead of 3:00 as kids chomp at the bit looking toward a swim in the pool and in down times observe the progress on the completion of the new sleeping units being built to guarantee each child resident a room of his or her own. As such there will be no longer a necessity for any of the already severely emotionally challenged child residents to share space and keep personal belongings separate while also wading through the ups and downs of a roommates' behaviors and moods.

The major part of the Astor new units project  appeared to have been done by summer break. The roof was on and they were working on the interior and finishing a glassed-in sunroom of some kind. I believe the plan is for Astor Services for Children and Families to have its Rhinebeck, NY, residential placement for children's new units ready for habitation come September. Amazing the space and variety the relatively small campus offers in its various buildings for use by staff and children.

Meantime, my two weeks summer break draws to a close, its highlights being the pleasure of my twelve year old and eight year old grandsons spending time with me when possible and the kick of having passed the above publishing milestones. And tomorrow I shall head to Cherry Valley, NY, in a one day run for the opening of colorist Ed McDaniel's art show at Cherry Branch Gallery and the chance to spend some time with my pal Kristen Henderson and maybe chat a bit with Carl Waldman--if he makes it back in time. 

In the frying pan, a couple of projects: some research into noirs--which I would love some help with--including just possibly the chance to interview someone on the topic--maybe Carl Waldman-- and what started out as a request for an interview but has ended up in quickly becoming a hefty research assignment in which I struggle to determine who is Charley Pymell?

Meanwhile I continue with my lopsided life as it flops one way and the other among my publisher, speech language pathologist, writer, family member, and friend identities. Its parts dominate the scene for lengths of anywhere from an hour to a several weeks as I constantly struggle to move back the walls of the day only to find that anything more or other than 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. just won't work.

Roberta in Po-Town



9:39 am edt          Comments

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Where We Are and Where We Need to Be

Life at its current place leaves little time for blogging. Still I feel remiss when I neglect the task. These last months have been a whirlwind what with still juggling doing speech language therapy and running ALVA Press, Inc. The only thing that has saved me is the dedication of my staff and those writers ALVA serves.

Kristen Henderson's Drum Machine in soft cover should go to press next week. Carl Waldman's Streetscape, a mystery, may go to eBooking almost as soon. Lorna Tychostup's book of poetry, Tales from the Revolution, is to follow soon. In the development stage, I count two other novels actively being prepared for publication with ALVA. Each of the five in its own right wonderful.

But the big news is that Henderson's Drum Machine took a Gold Medal in Poetry in the eLit internationally representative awards run by Jenkins. Very exciting! We are all very proud of her!

And then there is the rest of my life. And the economy: Each morning I wake to an ever increasing awareness of its disparities. To salve my worry over it I tinker with the notion of another bumper sticker for my car: "Down with weapons, up with jobs."

Then I thought of this one: "Wake up both the 1% and the 99%: Require the income of every board member and employee in a company to be papered on the wall of the company's vestibule for all to read." Too long. Maybe just "Post the Incomes."Or how's this? "Ask Obama to Offer a Second WPA Executive Order." Well, maybe just: "Love Obama's WPA 2012" - - just to make it happen.

Oh, well. Just dreaming. Mustn't weaken.

I think today since I doubt I will find one that reads the way I want it to:"Ask Obama to Offer a Second WPA Executive Order," I guess I try for the minimal: "Raise the Minimum Wage."

Roberta in Po-Town,



8:05 am edt          Comments

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spring and the Question of To Free eBook or Not

Where do the month's fly? ALVA Press, Inc., gradually takes over my life. It consumes my weekends, my evenings, my holidays. President's week I must have put in eighty hours. Have I lost it completely? I think not. Only beginning to understand the wonderful but somewhat brutal world of publishing.Witness the knock-down drag-out debate about freebies and willingness to undersell anyone, even at a loss to the company as meantime it buys up all the best selling authors.

Meantime, authors feel caught the frey. But better some stars than no stars we figure. No we will not all make it as writers--try though as we may. However, oddly on first take, has come round--thanks to a major confrontation with the industry. Yes, back a bit Steve Jobs, in his imitatable way, came up with the answer. Yes, Amazon would go with the agency model in which the publisher sets the price and gets the traditional 30%, and agrees to no longer undersell the publisher. Whew! Well, whew for the minute at least.

What then is's next logical move? You guessed it. It goes into the publishing bursiness. Witness now the list of free books it offers--because it can--as it launches out on a new path to gobble up smaller publishing companies through its tactic of feeding the hungry masses free eBook after free eBook and by so doing it would seem, probably immediately--although probably not eventually--diminishing the demand for eBooks at reasonable prices--except at 

What then can be my small contribution on behalf of writers? Truly only miniscule: other than for review and author interview and book advertising purposes, I do not solicit free eBooks. Nonetheless, as I launch the eBooks of other writers the question of to free-eBook-it or not remains.

So by the first week of March ALVA Press will make available its  first eBook written by someone other than myself. It is Kristen Henderson's marvelous book of passionate lyric poetry, Drum Machine. Tell me, should ALVA or should ALVA not distribute Drum Machine as an eBook free?

BTW: If you have not noticed, there is a small comment button below your link and any views on how I might handle the tricky to-free-eBook-or-not question would be most appreciated!

 As to my personal life, given the press of time spent on the company I find that more and more it revolves primarily around my son, his family, and those who share an interest in what I am doing and how I am progressing. 

But spring is coming and it is my plan to make a run to Saturday's opening at the Cherry Branch Gallery in Cherry Valley, NY; to participate in the Hudson Valley Sciontist's May 27 gathering at the Vassar College Alumni House for lunch and some delightful discussion with other lovers of Sherlock Holmes and words and literature in general; and to, hopefully, make a run north to Port Henry, NY, to visit with some very missed friends. And, to my delight, there are of course: my niece's sixteenth birthday bash; my grandson's participation in the New York State Music Festival, and the engagement shower for my nephew's bride-to-be. 

And this while all around and within our lives we celebrate the passing of a winter that for us here in the Hudson Valley has been kind and offers promise of a gentle fading into the warmer weather.

Roberta in Po-Town, Feelin' light

11:45 am est          Comments

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012!

The New Year 2012 wandered in last night welcomed by a sense of renewed hope. The weather has been incredibly pleasant for the turn of the year. Business and the economy seem better while news of new climatic and seismic disasters has been minimal. Should we go on tiptoe? I think not. Best we move while the moving is good and take advantage of the time and energy we have to renew friendships, mend walls, and generally make the most of it without going over board.

Wednesday we celebrated my cousin Betty Hampel's 84th birthday. In the past two year she's published two books: Mirror Image and Gumshoe. (What had happened was that when I published Jolt: a rural noir, Betty remembered she had five unpublished novels stuck somewhere in the closet, so she pulled out those two and tells me she has a third due out soon. Can't beat that!)

And then today we celebrated my paternal aunt, Marie Sicolo's, 88th! A good time was had by all.

What a wonderful feeling it must be to have gathered around you not only your three daughters and son and their various spouses, but also their children, and their children's children--Marie's great grandchildren! Happy Birthday Marie! And Happy New Year also to you.

I feel a bit remiss to have neglected this blog recently, however I have been blogging. If you are on my or the Alva Press Mailing list, you should be getting updates as to where you can read me in any particular week as I alternate my efforts among this one and the ones to be found on Alva Press, Inc., robertamroyonnuclearsurvival, and Mutterings of Alva the Indie at

Yes, I do not forget you. It's just that I am something of a peripetic when it comes to writing to you. So do check out the links to all my blogs by going to and tag along with me wherever I go. I just ove your company.

Roberta in Po-Town, Wishing you a happy New Year 2012 filled with health, hope, and happiness!


10:40 pm est          Comments

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkeyed Out and the Urban Dictionary

This is not the first time I take issue with the Urban Dictionary. Also it's not the first time I find it has usurped, gutted, chewed up, and spat out a perfectly clear and workable term good for all ages and turned it into a booby trap for anyone such as myself, too busy to worry much about staying hep. (Checked hep in the UD and here in the East it still means stylish or cool. Whew!)

Turkeyed out, however, has been less lucky than hep. So let me explain to my readers who: 1. Never heard the expression. 2. Never had an American Thanksgiving turkey dinner. 3. Immediately apply the Urban Dictionary definition to turkeyed out--and to which the implication has been added that anyone who is turkeyed out is also a bit crazy and at any moment likely to do something grumpy or wild. Not so in my book. Not if one goes to the meaning of turkeyed out we knew as we grew up and as we still use it within the family.

Nope, turkeyed out meant that at Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner one had eaten turkey from a plate filled with anything from potatoes to stuffing to turnips to whatever suited your preference, smothered in turkey gravy. 

Thanksgiving evening, Dad would again dance out the turkey rack and there would be the turkey sandwiches. These could be hot with turkey gravy poured over them or cold with turkey, stuffing, and cold turkey gravy or cranberry sauce in them.

Friday lunch would slip by with hardly a ripple as everyone would still be filled from the previous day and Dad's fresh morning muffins. Maybe a piece of left over pumpkin or apple pie would do. And coffee. But by dinner hour everyone was starving so again, out came the turkey and assorted left overs.

Each family had their own way of reheating things. Some steamed them. Some baked them. In my family, my father would drag out two big frying pans. In one pan he would arrange one food so as to cradle another. That pan he'd fill with left-over mashed potatoes beside left over turnips and carrots  beside left-over sweet potatoes beside left-over potatoes. The second he would line with slices of the turkey pan-stuffing to be warmed in a shallow bed of water until it was all steamed and hot. The left over turkey by then was off the bone and sliced and he warmed that in the remaining turkey gravy. Then would be the traditional debate as to which was tastier--the left overs or the original meal. Most preferred the leftovers but regardless of our preference on that issue, we would cleaned up just about everything in sight.

Well, not quite everything.

After dinner, my dad would take the turkey rack, throw it in a large pot of water, and boil it until the meat fell off the bones, after which he would scoop out the rack and turkey meat, carefully remove any bones he found there, cut the turkey into small pieces, re-enter it in the broth, and once more bring it to a boil. Then he would add onions, carrot wheels, celery cuts, and rice or noodles. Et voila! The largest, most delicious pot of turkey soup to be found anywhere. In sum--Saturday's lunch.

Ah, but I forgot to tell you. It seems there had been a bit of sliced turkey he had not served. Not to worry. All my dad did was to prepare some cream sauce with a few pimentos that had been cut into small pieces for color and throw them into the sauce with the turkey cuts. This then took care of Saturday dinner. . . which could be done in two ways. The first was to toast some bread and pour the creamed turkey and pimentos over it. The second was pour the same mixture over baking powder biscuits.

As for Sunday, it was up for grabs. Either we were on our own, could rustle up salads, or help ourselves to a large bowl of turkey soup to be eaten with bread and butter that, being at home, we could just dunk into the broth in order to achieve the most luscious and delicious bite of broth-laden bread and butter one could imagine.

Later, when we lay back on the couch, sated and unable to move due to the amount of turkey and turkey products we had consumed over the previous four days, no one jumped nor acted crazy or grumped about anything. We couldn't. Indeed, we were turkeyed out.

Roberta in Po-Town, Gobble-gobble

P. S. Sometimes I think the Urban Dictionary is all just a bunch of gobble-gook.

8:46 pm est          Comments

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Rhythms

My middle grandson is a beautiful boy. He's almost eleven, has yet to learn to talk, takes only sparing interest in socializing, and needs one hundred per cent attention of his caregiver if he is to sit at a table, eat and drink in a balanced way, and utilize his just emerging communication skills. So the way the family has worked it out is that he and his mom and his other grandmother and grandfather first share an early Thanksgiving dinner with him around midday to which he goes with his mom.

Later he and his mom and his maternal grandparents will join us for a second Thanksgiving dinner which his dad and I with the support of my two other grandsons will have prepared for the family.  At that dinner, my most special grandson will sit for a little while and with one hundred per cent attention for him at that time not possible, he will eat a bit and return to his favorite activity--wandering, With his portable CD player in hand and watching a favorite movie or show for the hundredth time, healthy and happy, and just occasionally, only mildly interested in socializing with the rest of us, he will wander the house to periodically come briefly into the room to look around for a few seconds before returning to his wandering movie-viewing.

I guess all family's have someone with special needs. We have my middle grandson.

The second dinner we prepare in stages. Last night it was hors d'oeurves, stuffing, and vegetable-preparation time. My son and seven-year-old and eleven-year-old grandsons and I did that. It took us four hours to: cut the and cook the turnips and carrots; prepare the creamed spinach with hard-boiled eggs; peel and cut the potatoes; mix the cream cheese and olives and cut and stuff the celery; and cook the sausage and crush the walnuts to prepare the stuffing for finishing today. My son did the stuffing, handled the turnip cutting, and ran general interference in the search for the proper pan or bowl. My oldest grandson stood shoulder-to-shoulder with me cutting and doing stove-top boiling of turnips and carrots and mixing the cream sauce. My youngest grandson peeled the potatoes and his middle finger lightly once. All-in-all it was a wonderful time, the results of which will make us all proud come five o'clock.

As for today, we bake the stuffing, pies, and turkey, make the gravy, boil the potatoes, and sit to eat at five o'clock.

My daughter-in-law is does what I call the decor: Last night she put up the Christmas tree. It took her four hours, but you should see it. It's a real balsam with perfect shape, hundreds of tiny white lights, and a long history of special decorations. Today it will add just the perfect touch. And whew, it's done!

Today my daughter-in-law will do the table settings. I always look forward to them. Each year they become if anything, just more beautiful. Ropes of gold leaves, a bowl of sparkling flowers--one never knows--but we all look forward to them.

Well, I have to go now. I usually help with the timing for cooking, you know--what goes on when--what comes out or off when. However each year I have less to do as my grandsons grow and the team becomes more experienced and communication requires less an less lengthy explanation. That said, Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday.

Wishing you  a Happy Thanksgiving filled with good food and happy comaradie! 

Roberta in Po-Town, Cookin'


8:58 am est          Comments

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wishing Us a Saner Thanksgiving 2012

Sometimes I hurry to blog a bit of news or a fresh insight on an aspect of life. Other times such as now, I blog to blog. It's a bit like fishing. My thoughts float around over an apparently placid surface of life. I cast my line outward and wait for something to grab me.

It doesn't worry me that I haven't a clue as to where the line will lead me. I simply cast and wait. Let's see. The season? After all it is Thanksgiving week. Or how about work? Seems a bit of a downer just before a holiday. Or maybe politics? I can always kick up something there. Oh. I think I got one! Outliers! I love'em.

To tell you the truth, while some might judge me to be an outlier, I hardly touch to skirt of either being or becoming one. Michaelangelo and Steve Jobs were outliers. And Emily Dickenson. And Lucretia Mott. And maybe those who participate in the Occupy Movement. 

Why? Well, Steve Jobs was extreme in that he changed all our lives. Recall the days before the desktop with graphic interface and mouse? Can you imagine life without a mobile phone? Or the iPod? Or iTunes? Or even the iPad? Perhaps you are one who has never known life without these things--things we now almost take for granted. Well, we can thank Steve Jobs for all of them. Difficult to believe. But, yup. That's an outlier for you.

Then there is Emily. Sat around in that big old house associating only with a very small circle of friends and family and writing those itty-bitty crooked poems that resonated in so many hearts we still read her and wonder what makes her work so great--until we try to produce something in her style, and, well, it just ain't so easy.

And that's part of what makes Emily the outlier that she is and what makes her special. But then even if you don't like her work, you have to admire her fortitude and ability to hang in there as a small but irrepressible voice of a woman--when women were only just learning to read and write, so to speak, and male literature dominated the day.

Or Lucretia Mott: Quaker, Abolitionist, Feminist--in a time when being any one of the three might have made one an outlier But there she was, sitting in a Quaker school in upstate New York in good ole' Po-Town and advocating for the rights of slaves and women all in one breath--just another outlier.

Gotta' appreciate the steel Mott must have needed to stand up to the world and speak out when so few were. Yup. Makes me feel grateful just to know she was there to cut the path--and, as it was, just down the road a bit at Oakwood School in Poughkeepsie.

And now we have the Occupiers--outliers. Outliers all. But are they really? Or are they central to our culture? Maybe even more so than you or I? Maybe like Jobs and Dickenson and Mott with the difference between us and them mainly in just two areas: insight and leadership. 

Consider this. Leonardo DaVinci invented some flying machines--well, he drew some plans for some which, when one thinks about what constitutes a patent, is essentially inventing. He just never quite got around to building them. I suppose DaVinci was an outlier of sorts, even with flying machines, but not the kind of actualizer-outlier I'm thinking about when it came to them.

Now Jobs could have done the same as DaVinci with his notion of the desktop. And the mouse. Or, like DaVinci, he could have drawn the plans for an iPod and a mobile phone and made clay models of them and let it go at that. And then just maybe someone might have come along in the same way as did the French when they invaded Italy in 1498. You see, DaVinci had built a clay model of the 24 foot horse which when they invaded, the French destroyed; this then left Il Cavallo to not be cast before some 500 years passed and an art afficiado and outlier named Charlie Den started a dream fund that eventually enlisted the Tallix Art Foundry in Beacon, New York, to cast the horse--at a cost of $6.5 million--all in private donations--to be sent in 1999 as a gift to Milan, Italy, where it still stands. Except if Jobs had done that, we can't be sure anyone else in our lifetimes would have quite been up to the tasks he took on and we could all still be typing letters and using snailmail for our prime method of overland written communication.

The term outlier, is a funny term. You can use it as a perjorative or as a simple descriptor. For me, I like it as a descriptor. I not only find the term interesting, I also have a penchant for the outliers who change the world for the better. And as it turns out, I'm even happy to learn of those with little success who at least do more than talk to themselves in closets and who maybe knock at least a few particles this way or that for the better. At least they have dared to come out to talk to the world--even at the risk of ridicule and derision--as do the Occupiers.

Now if I were looking for some funny people, I wouldn't lift the flaps of the tents of those who participate in the Occupy Movement. Nope. I'd march myself right on down to D.C. and stop in and visit all those Representatives and Senators in Congress wallowing in a kind of ridiculous collusion with the rich whom to begin with the wimps are all just second-guessing as being among the most miserly people in the world and on whose behalf that same wimpy group in Congress would willingly starve 46.2 million people in the nation--Wikipedia statistic for number in the USA below poverty line in 2010--before they'd cut the military or raise the taxes on the top 1%--the same 1% who among them hold a third of the wealth in the country and probably, as such, wouldn't feel it at all if their taxes were increased even to levels levied in the 1970's--before the Bush-Reagan rich-mix tax cut flurry. 

As for me, I'm standing with the Outliers--Jobs, Dickenson, Mott, Charlie Den, and the Occupiers. Their hearts are in the right place and each has demonstrated the importance of creative, responsive, and caring leadership.

As for us? Where are we? Perhaps we feel too uninformed to make a statement? Or maybe we should wait for someone to pick up the pieces and build a better mousetrap when we're dead? Or are we talking to our neighbors? Writing to our Congressmen?

And me--I'm already thinking of 2012 and the fact that its an election year. And I've registered to vote. You, too?

Roberta in Po-Town, Wishing us a sanerThanksgiving 2012


8:43 pm est          Comments

Link to web log's RSS file

Here you're suppose to learn about my personal life, my love of learning, the dog I don't have, my house that sits empty on a hill in Port Henry 'cause on the one hand I don't want to sell it, 'cause I love it too much, but on the other hand, I never seem to find the time to get there anymore but I haven't found a buyer. Of course I haven't been looking either. Too busy with Jolt.  Also this site is still under construction so I probably won't get to selling it this month either.  Well, that means, at least I can run up there over Labor Day and party with all my friends and neighbors there which is enough to make me want to hurry up and finish this so I can get ready to leave.

Here I am supposed to write more about myself and think about putting a picture of myself someplace below, except I put the picture in before I did anything else because I thought I was suppose to get rid of the butterfly but it didn't, which is probably just as well because I like the butterfly better.  That's because it doesn't make me feel exposed like the black dress I'm wearing below does.  The reason I chose that picture is because my sister C. thinks it's about the best picture of me I ever had taken.  That's because I'm more mature now and most pictures look awful because they really look just like me.  Of course C. thinks the one below does and all the other ones don't. Which a bit of a trip in itself. But what is there to say? And I'm glad she took it.  R.

Almost to the Apex

8/28/09 - Very exciting. Dust jacket design forwarded for proofing.  Thank you so much Kristi for the image! And John and Nancy for the quotes! And Lorna for sending me Joan--and Joan for sending me Kathi--and Kathi for the design!
                                                                                                                                                     I love you all!
Hugs, hugs, and more hugs:)
R. in Po-Town
                                             Click comments under respective post.
                                             Type to your hearts content.               
                                             Post by clicking post comment on lower left.