Judy’s Birthday

Today is Judy’s birthday. Judy was my older sister, whose loss still grieves me.

I am the oldest and smallest (6′, 215) of three brothers. Growing up, Judy ran us with an iron hand, but by college we became more collegial, and after her divorce, we came to be great friends. We’d talk about movies and music, books and travels, and the latest doings of her Boston Terrorist, Rocket.

My father could whistle between his teeth, a sound that could cut steel plate. Of the 4 of us, only Judy ever approached that sound, a skill she found handy in advancing her career. She worked for the phone company, when there was only one. She determined to crach the glass ceiling, going to pole-climbing school, learning the installation business. Assigned as the first woman manager for Hunter’s Point in San Francisco, she walked into her first meeting with her men (this was the late 60’s) to find them smoking,, talking, feet up on the table, paying no attention to her. She marched to the front of the room, turned to face them and cut loose her whistle. They all sat up like dogs, and Judy had established herself.

Judy died March 16, 2017 after a short illness. I still find myself thinking, when I see a movie, or read a book, “I have to remember to tell Judy about…” I need a place to put those things, so I guess this will have to do.

So we’ll raise a glass to Judy under the cherry tree.


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Nurses Recognition Awards: The Daisy Foundation

Went to a memorial for an old friend, Marilyn Lauer. She had a dry wit, liked a dry martini. Heart goes out to her husband Dave.

Her obit had mentioned donations to the Daisy Foundation. Looked it over online, it’s a family foundation for Patrick Barnes, who died of an autoimmune disease. The family was impressed by the skill of the nurses, but that they’d sort of expected. What moved them was the kindness, the respect and compassion the nurses showed the patient and his family. They wanted to recognize that. So they built a foundation and they provide a set of standards/awards for hospitals and health care sites. It’s mostly all paper, but it is recognition. Recognition helps nurses fight off burn-out. That’s a good thing.

I might be a trifle sensitive on the subject having recently been to the emergency room with my 100-year-old-mother and seen that care+kindness in operation, hour after hour.

So then I went to the memorial for Marilyn, where I met Mark Barnes, Patrick’s father, and Marilyn’s one-time brother-in-law. He is based in  Glen Ellen, Ca., site of of much of my book, Passage of the Kissing People.  Mark is very persuasive. We will be making a donation.
For more information :



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Biscuit Cough

Planning an outing to get Mom for a roll through Swanson’s Nursery. She was a big time gardener, so the smells and colors and all the shades of green are music..

These things require a bit more planning than in more carefree days, so I stopped by to iron out a detail or two. The restaurant had changed its menu. Did we need to reconsider? It’s turning into an Expotition, she said. To discover the North Pole, I continued.

Later as I was leaving she coughed heavily. I stopped short. “It’s a biscuit cough,” she said. “Not the kind you tell about.”

Family language gets to the heart.

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Writing Retreat Was Even More Remarkable Than The View

The 4th Annual Full Bodied Writing Retreat is in the books. It ought to keep everybody who was there, staff and writers alike wound up and spinning for at least a year. From the portal ceremony to the musical farewell, this event had it all. Gourmet organic food, massages, health care consultations, ms consultations, career sessions and spectacular presentations — if I do say so myself, since mine was one of them–I have been involved in some premier organizations, such as PNWA, but this was something beyond.

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