attachmentOn December 4 and 5, The Boomer Book of Christmas Memories – Kindle version – will be absolutely free! That’s right, no cost at all. Why?

Because I’m sure that once you see the book, you’ll realize that it’s the perfect holiday present for every Baby Boomer on your list, and you’ll want to get print copies for all of them.

But there’s more! Once you’ve downloaded your free copy of The Boomer Book of Christmas Memories, you can pick up a few other freebies and get discounts to other books, including my historical novel, Death Speaker. 

If you’re a writer, you should know that the freebies include steps to creating a bestseller, ways to promote your book, and some great ways to save money. All the details are here.

So download it and enjoy!

il_570xn-820794337_f4vyAnother new post on the Boomer Book of Christmas blog!

All Girls Learn to Embroider … or else face the wrath of Grandma.

Trust me, learning to embroider was the better choice.

A new post on my Boomer Book Of Christmas Memories blog:
Bellbottoms on the Strip,” about 1966 and the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.

So I pull my car up close to my condo, blocking a few parking spaces as we all do occasionally here, turn on my hazard lights, and run into the house for my little pushcart, filled with stuff for Thanksgiving dinner at my daughter’s house.

I get back to the car, and notice that someone has managed to pull into one of those parking places that I’m nearly blocking. A lady gets out and walks toward me as I’m lifting bags from the cart and putting them in the trunk. In the back of my mind is the half-formed thought, “She’s probably gonna yell at me for having my car in her way.”

I brace myself and pick up another bag.

She gets close. She’s half my size and about 10 years older than me. And she says, “Can I help you with that?”

I practically dissolve. I think today I met an angel.

 

On November 8, Donald Trump was elected president.

On November 9, here in California’s Westside, a bastion of liberal thought and acceptance, a friend-of-an-acquaintance was smashed in the face with a beer bottle, by a man who yelled, “We’ve got a new president, now, you fucking faggots!”

On November 10, my ex’s great niece, a teen, was followed near a mall in Chino Hills by two white men and a woman, who yelled racist slurs and threats, before catching her, slamming her into a wall, and tearing at her hair. By then, a couple of wiser men intervened, got the guys and woman to back off, and police were called.

The girl, raised here in Southern California, is of Filipino descent. She’s a California girl, has no accent and has never been discriminated against before. She’s a wreck, although I think she’s doing far better than I would under those circumstances.

Also on November 10, at the gym I work at, kids in high school were sharing stories of threats and racial slurs in the cafeteria and halls. You can hear about similar incidents on the news.

All have this theme in common: We’ve got a new president now, and racism and bullying have been green-lighted.

The people that I know who voted for Trump (I know a few) would not behave this way. I think – hope – they are as shocked as I am.

Is Trump shocked? I wish he’d say so. I wish he’d say so as passionately as he barks out his attacks. It might make a difference.

November 9 and 10th is the anniversary Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. in 1938. That was the night when all the good Nazi’s, who were in power, went on a rampage and smashed storefronts and windows of Jewish-owned businesses and homes, set synagogues on fire, and beat up any Jews that crossed their path. The mother of all hate crimes, if you will.

It’s hard not to draw allusions.

25148568I’m done with reality for a bit. You with me?

Today let’s enjoy Dapper Days at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Disneyland!

Dapper Day Spring 2015 Events at the Disneyland Resort

Dapper Day Spring 2015 Events at the Disneyland Resort

And not just any day at Disneyland, but dressed up to the nines, living the dream in our Sunday clothes . ‘Cause there’s no blue Monday in your Sunday clothes. Just ask Dolly.

The Los Angeles Times ran this story. I cannot use their photos, so these here are the result of a Google search. BUT–Please go visit the Times piece and scroll through to the 18 beautiful pictures: Musketeers, mermaids, suspenders, pillbox hats with mouse ears, more!

d68218e17c0e9f0e1034fbf24c483362Pocahontas leaves in bouffant hair. Bow ties and boas!  Pirates and flounces and canes, oh my.

Stay in that place a while, if you like. You will feel better.

Or if you’re already happy, you’ll be happier. After all, you’re probably tired of listening to the rest of us moan.

 

Came across this nifty little article on a nifty little site called  ThoughtCatalog: “13 Everyday Benefits of Being a Good Listener.

Some benefits are thoughtful, like #12: People assume that those who talk a lot are effective communicators, but it’s actually the Good Listeners who understand what it takes to form fast and intimate relationships with other people.”

Very wise!

Some of the benefits are aimed at those who enjoy gossip (“Everyone should be terrified of the information you hold.”) Meh.

1Some seem silly to me, especially #1: “You get invited to a lot of coffee dates because people find it so easy to vent to you.”

That’s a benefit? It sounds more like being barfed on.

I sense a huge generation gap here. Author Katie Mather is clearly much younger than me; It comes through in all her prose. So of course her outlook is different.

I’ve written about this before, about 8 months ago, in “Shut up and Listen.” That wasn’t a list, but an essay about the joys of listening. So now I’ll put together my own list of the benefits of listening well to others.

First, borrowing from the aforementioned article in ThoughtCatalog: “Good Listeners understand what it takes to form fast and intimate relationships with other people.” Well said.

Number 2: It’s easier to relax and listen. Less stress.

Some folks seem to consider conversations a competitive sport. You make a statement, and someone else has to top it:

“I found this great restaurant -“

“Oh, wow, let me tell you where I ate last night. It was so amazing!”

The Good Listener will sit back and let ‘er rip. Why bother getting into spitting contest? Maybe the second speaker is just irrepressible, full of excitement, and can’t wait to share. Maybe they’re from a large family and had to elbow their way into every conversation. Maybe they’re narcissists. Who cares? Relax and hear about their great eatery. You won’t get any points for interrupting them.

Number 3: You learn more, for two reasons:

  1. You’re letting others instruct and entertain you. They’ve got the story or facts, and they’re sharing.
  2. You’re listening, rather than interrupting, and since you’re not thinking about what you want to say next, you will probably retain more of what they said.

Number 4 (Don’t worry; I am not going to try for my own “13 Benefits.” Five is my max.)

Number 4 is that people like you and think well of you if you listen to them. That matters to me, probably more than it should.6a00d83452408569e2011570aa9334970b

Number 5  How about that if you listen to people for a bit, instead of interrupting with your own opinions, you learn what they are like. You give them time to crack a few jokes, search for more words, make connections. They’re not on the spot anymore; they can relax too. You can build a friendship that way.

Which circles back to the first point: Listening well gives you the tools to form fast and intimate relationships with the people you meet.

Circling back is always a good way to end.

 

When I think back to the 50s and 60s, my memories seem dark and poorly lit. Textures were heavy. Colors were grayed. I had a happy childhood; this is not a reflection of misery at all. No, it’s just the way the suburbs were. Bright sunlight, but dingy inside. Maybe that’s why most of my memories of playing, even with board games,c54138a2f9e2d8eb95e1230218d10324 are outside.

This picture (from Pinterest) is pretty typical. Venetian blinds and heavy drapes that were kept closed. I think most people consider this 40s decor and that makes sense. People who lived through the Depression did not redecorate every decade.

Reading about the mid-century era is a bit of a downer. Watching it on TV or in movies triggers little response. The Don Draper era as designed today seems more like fantasy. Except for the airport; we did take and pickup Grandma there a couple of times a year.

But pastels or bright colors? Mom was a nurse. She and all her friends wore crisp, white uniforms. And those men in suits? My Dad was a carpenter. Suits were for funerals.

I do recall leisure clothes and dressy outfits (with mink stoles and hats) for going to church, but fashion didn’t make much of an impression on  me.

I wouldn’t want to live in that era again. Clothes were scratchy. Macaroni and cheese was made with Velveeta. Dogs had fleas and there was nothing to be done about it. Now that I know how much nicer things can be, I’d have trouble adapting.

For example, here’s list of good things to eat that I didn’t know about as a kid:

  • Moose tracks ice cream. Had this been around, I would weigh 500 pounds now.
  • sushi-1Sushi. No one even dreamed of it. Lox was the closest any of us came to raw fish, and that was only served at parties, not in our house.
  • Warm bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Back in the 60s, I thought that pure, white WonderBread was the ultimate 10 in the bread hierarchy. And my mother wouldn’t buy it; I was aggrieved.
  • Exotic lettuce in our salads, like butter lettuce, or spring greens.
  • 1-many-peppers-greek-salad-500x500-kalynskitchenExotic anything in our salads, beyond lettuce and tomato. Varietal bell peppers? Artisanal olives or cheese? Pecans? Bits of fruit? My mother would call that weird.
  • Exotic dressings for the salads. Exotic in this instance meaning anything beyond mayo and 1000 island.

And here are some non-food items I would not want to give up:

400+ thread count pima cotton sheets.

Microwave ovens. Almost a food item, but not quite.

Souvenir tee shirts. In the 60s, men wore short-sleeved tees to work. Fashion options? That would be with or without a pocket for pens.

The shirts came in white, gray, light blue, navy, brown, and a deep green. I know about the last two because I bought myself a couple in the late 60s and embroidered flowers around the neck. I was a hippie wanna-be and in these shirts, I had flower power.

But souvenir tees, with pictures or words on them? I guess screen printing had not been invented. I’ve checked and most people don’t remember having souvenir tees until the 1980s.

Just went googling: Here is a brief and fun (and unofficial) History of the Tee Shirt.

And the obvious: computers, smartphones, movies and TV shows on demand, gazillions of them.

Honestly, I don’t understand nostalgia. We’ve got it so much better now!

Patient Zero is such a dynamic, catchy term. Patient Zero is the cause, the source of our ills, the one who started the epidemic, right?

51s3m9rdkmlHe’s the French Canadian flight attendant who spread the AIDS virus so efficiently in the 1980s. I remember reading about him in And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts. Great book.

According to Wikipedia, Patient Zero is “the index case or initial patient in the population of an epidemiological investigation.” So any dramatic epidemic or pandemic must have a Patient Zero. It makes for great plots in fiction: the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, the selfish bozo who slips out of the quarantine to infect the nearby town, the astronaut returning from space with an undetected biohazard …

Real life is much messier.

As it turns out, the flight attendant was not the sole cause of AIDS. According to a New York Times article that outlines recent medical detective work, AIDS had been present in New York for a few years before the flight attendant jumped into the playground.

Here’s the article: “H.I.V. Arrived in the U.S. Long Before Patient Zero.”

How odd that the NYT capitalizes most words, even “Before,” and other newspapers do not. But I digress.

The term Patient Zero, which seems so cutting edge and thrillerish, is actually a mistake in this case. The flight attendant was designated Patient O (the letter), shorthand for “outside of California,” because the study in which the man was interviewed began in California, and all the other patients were designated by area (city, county).

aids03And since this is the case and this is the book that introduced the term Patient Zero into the lexicon, it’s ironic that the resulting cultural theme or trope, whatever you want to call it, is based on a misreading.

If you’ve read Shilts’ book, you’ll recognize some of the facts, or supposed facts, in this article, as well as some names. Doctors in the 1980s were just learning about AIDS and didn’t know that the disease was actually widespread in Africa or had been present in NYC for a while. They assumed, since gay men were dying in large numbers so very quickly, that all victims died within a year of infection. Not true at all.

330px-randy_shilts_1987Randy Shilts pulled together a gripping story when he wrote And The Band Played On, driven by what was happening to his friends and community, and eventually to himself. So little was known that it’s no surprise and not to his detriment that he put some of the pieces together wrong. At least he managed to put them together into a coherent narrative, which was needed.

Remember that back then, there were activists who thought all AIDS patients (before and after the term AIDS came into use) should be herded off into concentration camps, children included. People who believed the lives of their own kids would be endangered by contact with kids with AIDS became heartless — or, as they saw it, protective. No one knew how to track it, stop it, or treat it.

Do you recall that the Surgeon General sent a mass mailing to every home in America to try and quell the panic? Every home address in the US. I don’t think anyone has tried that before or since. And I knew a few families who threw it out, convinced that the government was lying to them for some reason, and that nothing that pamphlet said could be believed. There was a right-wing religious component to it all, and more than one preacher made headlines by stating that AIDS was divine punishment for homosexuality, or for tolerating homosexuality (they had to amend the crime as it became clear that heterosexuals were also contracting the disease.)

Glad we’re over that. We are, aren’t we?

 

I learned something yesterday.

When using a recipe from the internet, don’t be persuaded by a colorful photo of a succulent dish in which a creamy, thick sauce has settled over pasta, meat, and veggies.

In fact, you might want to ask yourself, “Are all the the flavors this photo implies actually listed in the recipe?”

If the answer is no, you might want to look at a few more recipes.

If you go with the picture that displays a bowl of what looks like delicious pasta primavera, oblivious to the fact that the recipe itself calls for no cheese or cream, you have only yourself to blame for a sauce that tastes like skim milk and flour, with some white wine and generic Italian herbs thrown in.

The dog enjoyed it most, but even she would have preferred something cheesy.