Saturday, January 11, 2014
My New Pocketbook
5:43 pm est
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
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.
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'
Saturday, January 4, 2014
The New Year 2014!
9:34 pm est
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.
be that except for the weather, 2014 is to be a year marked by normalcy?
Roberta in Po-Town, Chillin'
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Back to Reading Books for Pleasure!
11:27 pm est
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.
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
Sunday, October 6, 2013
The Washington Scene: Paid but Still on Furlough
1:12 pm edt
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?
in Po-Town, Grateful for the Affordable Care Act
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (Cornell University TCI)
4:01 pm edt
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, 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 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.
Quick Notes on TCI
During the Crisis
The key concepts as I found
them to be during the crisis as described inTCI are five:
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?
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
1. Use Encouraging
and Eliciting Techniques
2. Understanding Responses
3. Active Listening
Support Techniques relate to the
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
2. Hurtle Help
3. Directive Statements
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)
1. Co-regulation = Immediate help and support to reduce emotional intensity
2. Resolve the immediate crisis
the young person in the program or activity
o Challenges the Caregiver
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
To support both the Caregiver and the Young Person through the response of
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),
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
Life Space Interview or LSI
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
LSI Steps – I ESCAPE
the conversation with the young person so no one other may comment in it
E - Explore the young person’s point of view
- 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
Enter the young person back into the routine
Friday, April 5, 2013
Going Green! ALVA the Indie Publisher's Appeal
At alvapressinc.com, 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.
9:22 am edt
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
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 http://www.barnesandnoble.com/
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)
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
To Watch or Not to Watch? That is the question.
7:14 pm est
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
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.
in Po-Town, Bloggin'
Sunday, December 30, 2012
2012-2013: On the Cusp
10:57 am est
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.
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!
Saturday, December 8, 2012
My Bunion: A Retrospective
10:04 pm est
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.
Medicine in the Mountains of New York in the Early 1900's.
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
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.
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
about my medical history in a pre-surgical interview.
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.
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.
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.
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
Sunday, October 28, 2012
On the Currency of Probabilities
12:45 pm edt
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
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.)
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." http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/10/24/the-deeper-issues-behind-italys-conviction-of-earthquake-scientists/
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 alvapressinc.com. (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
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.
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
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
Sunday, September 30, 2012
CEUs, the Hub System, and a Visit in Raleigh, NC
9:12 pm edt
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.
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.
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.
more. But I will save it for next time.
Roberta in Po-Town, Happy
to have had this chance to chat with you
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
In the Heat of August
5:09 pm edt
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.
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.
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!
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
Roberta in Po-town, Having
a wonderful time!
Friday, July 6, 2012
But Where Fled June?
9:39 am edt
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,
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
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.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Where We Are and Where We Need to Be
8:05 am edt
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.
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!
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
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,
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Spring and the Question of To Free eBook or Not
11:45 am est
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 Amazon.com 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, Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com gets the traditional 30%, and agrees to no longer undersell the publisher. Whew! Well, whew for the minute
What then is Amazon.com'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 Amazon.com.
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
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,
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Happy New Year 2012!
10:40 pm est
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 robertamroy.wordpress.com.
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 en.gravatar.com/robertamroy 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!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Turkeyed Out and the Urban Dictionary
8:46 pm est
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
8:58 am est
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.
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
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!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Wishing Us a Saner Thanksgiving 2012
8:43 pm est
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
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.
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.
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
Sunday, November 13, 2011
A Wonderful Season!
10:32 am est
With Hurricane Irene and Snow Leaf II behind us, it has become a truly wonderful
fall--bright, clear, and relatively colorful. Love the weather! (No to mention the fact that my responsibilities as an SLP
promise to be more readily achievable than they have been since starting a new caseload in September.)
Politically, it's an interesting time. Politics rather than disasters and war have
become the topic of the day: the IMF, Greek elections, the economy in Italy, how Pakistan should best respond to the American
draw down in Afghanistan.
Also local politics are interesting.
Our city has changed hats as the Council went overwhelmingly Democratic. At the county level, however, there was a change
in County Executive but no change in party. We went with the more experienced Republican on the ballot.
Meantime the Republican candidates for president are bent on knocking President Obama
in his strong suit, foreign policy. That's probably because they really lack the answers to what currently is the larger question--the
Well, you know where my vote is going come next November.
As for Alva Press, Inc., I am seeking a way to dedicate more time to developing it--not
easy when one must work for a living. It sure would help if I were to find a really good PR person to help me out five hours
a week--at top dollar, that is all I can afford.
hurray! Kristen Henderson likes Alva Press's contract. Next week we'll meet over dinner in Roessleville to review and sign
our agreement so Alva can publish her book of glorious poetry come the new year.
Roessleville is about half way to Cherry Valley where Henderson runs the Cherry Branch Gallery from
Poughkeepsie, NY, where I live.
My take on Kristen's book,
Drum Machine, is that it will take many awards! Already the poet, musician, and published author, Carl Waldman, www.goodreads.com/author/show/106099.Carl_Waldman,
has written an insightful and enthusiastic introduction to it. Thank you, Carl!
As for my writing, I've decided to set aside Too Close for a while and try something lighter,
a historical novel which I will call Two. Two is the story of a feminist activist in the 1970's as she advocates
for the rights of women and minorities and struggles to balance her relationships with her daughter and husband with the demands
of her need for a full time activist commitment outside the home. Based freely on some of my own experiences in The Movement--which
at that time we called The Feminist Movement but which now is referred to as The Second Wave--it flows from my pen much more
easily and, for that reason, is more fun to write. Just now, however, I had to put down the pen to research actual dates and
events in that decade and its antecedents from the '60's, about which I am less informed.
BTW. Could I ask you a favor? If you get chance, do check in on GoodReads.com. It's a really nice
free informational source on books to read and readers' opinions of them. And while you are there, do add another five-star
critique or comment about my award winning novel, Jolt: a rural noir.
Sales of Jolt: a rural noir, now available from http://alvapressinc.com in eBook as well
as traditional form since I lost my PR person are lagging. But as word of mouth is a great healer and Alva Press needs a little
boost that you could give it, I'm optimistic that this will not last long.
Yes, nothing beats the personal recommendation of someone you care about and respect.
I wrote Jolt: a rural noir because I care about you. Please care about me. Do
sign onto GoodReads.com at www.goodreads.com/book/show/9076551-jolt and give Jolt a five-star plug. It sure
Also, if you have not ordered your Trade paperback,
hard cover, or eBook copy of Jolt: a rural noir, you can do it now. Just click the link for Alva Press, Inc. above.
Roberta in Po-Town, On waking