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Good To Know

Why Me and Why Zoom?

On Sunday son Adam set us up for a four way chat on Zoom. Because my kids are so spread out, it was a rare occasion where all of us could see and chat with each other. That very night came the news report that Zoom has cyber security issues. And all I could think was 'why me?'


Why does it seem that anything that I try, that I put all my best effort into, turns out wrong somehow? Why can't I ever simply have a success to enjoy?


Like the first time I ever directed a play – the Odd Couple. We were putting it on at Sandalwood, my husband's golf course, where we'd already had successful plays in spring and fall. This was our first winter performance, and we had a full house. Ten minutes into the play, all the power went out. Overloaded. The actors were brilliant. "Oscar, did you forget to pay the light bill?"


Meeting David Dortort and becoming an authorized Bonanza novelist was the biggest success of my life. But I met a lot of disdain from others who wondered – why her? When they organized a big party for David in 2009, I wasn't invited, although I was in California at the time and could have gone. Instead I went to see him on my own, and he wondered, too, why I wasn't invited. When Pernell Roberts (Adam) died in 2010, most knew he'd been suffering from cancer for two years. Not me. His death took me by complete surprise. But I've met a lot of great Bonanza fans, and this is still my best success -- meeting and working with David Dortort, a man I loved and admired.


When I moved to Madison in 2015 to work a full-time job so I could have stable health insurance for the first time in my life, I found publishers for three novels in a year and a half. All three of those are now unpublished. All three had found the wrong publisher. I've not had anything but even worse contracts ever since.


I've had nothing but bad jobs ever since leaving Easter Seals, too. But finally I snagged one I always wanted, working in a tax office (yeah, how about that for aspiration?). I loved working with the public, and so did these business owners, having people make in-person appointments rather than just dropping off their taxes. So what happens? A world-wide pandemic forces them to close the office to the public, thereby eliminating the need for me, making me a superfluous germ-spreader.


Even my children, who I love being mom to, all felt the need to move away, so now all I see is them in still or moving pictures. I was always so proud of the three of them, of seeing them interact together as they grew and when they were grown – my own Cartwright family. But unlike my cousin with her three children, I don't get the joy of seeing them every week or even once a month. It wasn't just that one of mine became disillusioned and moved away, like Adam Cartwright did. I lost all three.


I suppose it's because I'm a "mother-less" child. But maybe that's just another of those 'why me' events. 'Why me' is my karma, and life is something to learn to live with.


Like this morning -- with this article idea in my head as I got out of bed, I emptied the dishwasher and a glass bowl exploded all over me when I attempted to put it away. Yeah, this house is another 'why me?'


Have you had 'why me' moments, too? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

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Guide to a New World

My first trip to Madison with my husband for his medical treatment since January. Because of the virus I'm now unemployed, so I thought, what the heck, I can kill three hours, right? Maybe get in my 7500 steps? No, it's not the world we're used to.


Gone is the freedom to browse. One of the ways we used go get our exercise was in walking the stores, stem to stern, occassionally finding something we didn't know we needed. Go in, get what you need and get out. That's the message of the face masks and hand creams and washing hands and no using reusable bags and heaven forbid you want to try and fill your water bottle.  


"Go buy plastic," says the kid at Target. 


"I don't ever buy plastic water," I said in return.


And the sense of no reusable bags? There really isn't any. Why do we need someone to bag our goods? I don't. I can bag my own. You want to give grocery workers a break? There's a good place to do it. Why should I trust bags that have been laying around the grocery store over those I keep in my car?


I get the feeling the plastics industry is having a field day with this disease, saying their plastic is safer than our reusable. For who? That's not answered. For who? Not for nature.


I believe in being safe, but I don't believe in being ridculous about it. Like face masks. You wear the same one all day long? Then if you're exposed to someone, you're breathing in those germs all day long. How often do you change it? There's no way of knowing.


And try finding a cup of coffee in town. I went to one drive up but when no one waited on me, I got to thinking they wouldn't let me use my own mug and drove off again. When I went to redeem my free burger coupon at Burger King (where we shouldn't be eating, yeah, I know), they DID allow me to use my mug, and I was so grateful I ordered more than I could eat. For drinking, I bought a glass bottle Kombuchu at Target. Don't expect me to survive by buying more plastic.


At Target one of the entrances was closed, and there was a clerk standing there, I guess, keeping track of the comings and goings, ready to stop me if there were too many in the store. Only a few of clerks wore face masks. Why not all of them? No one at either liquor store worth them, though they did have that big plastic barrier put up.


Oh, good for you, Plastics Industry - another win!


At Metcalf they were busy wiping carts down, and the guy told me which ones were clean. They had their aisles marked "one way only" so that people couldn't accidentally bump into each other. I had the hardest time figuring out how to get out, once I got in.


School was out, but so few kids around. That was spooky. 


A crow cawed at me, and closer to home, a robin had been killed, his mate in the street waiting for him, wondering why he didn't get up. There is a sense that animals are going to get used to this quiet in the streets, wonder over it, and even reveling in it, getting caught off guard when a car does come. I've never seen the birds quite so happy in our bird bath before. I've also heard the Earth is not vibrating quite so much, with fewer cars on the road.


There will be a new world emerging. Just what it will mean to all of us is yet to be seen. It's like we're reading the pages of a novel, and want to peek ahead to the end.

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A Shocking Detail

In lieu of being let go from my job, I've found myself nearing the end of my edit of Repbulican WarMongers: A study in political attitude.


Today I'm working on Obama's election and the emergence of the Tea Party. First I wanted to find out when racial profiling began. What I uncovered shocked me. Apparently Obama had a run-in with the Fraternal Order of Police when he was running for re-election in 2000 in Illiniois.


I checked back in my other notes. Sure enough, it was the Fraternal Order of Police that Robert F Kennedy oppossed in 1967.


For those who don't believe history is filled with real stuff, we know two things. We know that the LAPD covered up crucial evidence at the crime scene after RFK was shot. We also know that Obama's election brought racial profiling to our attention like it hadn't in the past.


Did you know that the measures Obama wanted to pass in 2000 couldn't get passed until 2003, when a Democractic Congress was elected? 


If you're not starting to see it now, you will when you read this book. Hopefully the kindle will be out by mid-summer.

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Republican WarMongers

Have you heard the latest? Apparently Trump abducted some masks being shipped to Canada. In today's climate, that sounds like a declaration of war. Mexico closed its border - to the USA, in a nice twist. And don't expect the US to start recovered until NY starts leveling off.


It feels odd now, working on a book called Republican Warmongers: Attitude of a political party (or how we got from Lincoln to Trump). I envisioned this being ready by October, before the elections, to answer a lot of questions people might have. In tracing the party politics and attitude over the decade, it really does seem clear how the politics flipped to give us a black president who's also a Democrat.


The Obama/Trump chapter is next, which means I'm also done with the first draft. Definitley longer than I expected. Of course you can't really explain the Republicans without throwing in some Democrats, too. The Obama chapter will mostly be on racial profiling, the Tea Party and how someone like Trump could make himself look like "one of us." The chapter on politics of the 60s will shock and, if you're like me, frighten you.


I don't know how much I'll devote to the virus. I think it's important to see the things Trump has done, or hasn't done, in his presidency, compared to others. I use only the most reliable of sources (no quotes from Facebook). As impartial as I can find. 


Then after anothe read through, and comments from a beta reader or two, I'll probably self-publish because I've not gotten a response from a query to publishers. I think my timeframe is too short for most.


Do I think this could help un-elect Donald? I think the virus is doing a number on him, but I also think there are lessons here for the Democrats, too. It  will be over 90,000 words when it's done.

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The April Fool

Yeah, this isn't really a good year to do any fooling. But I feel like technology is trying to do me in. For the past week I've been a day late and technology short.


Started with an opportunity to audition for a commerical - my first audition with my agency, and how nice it came when I'm laid off of work (officialy on-call, they say). So I did everything I could to make it the best audition - reading and re-reading the instructions, getting the lines down with so many rehearsals. But I didn't have a phone holder for my tripod and my husband said his hands shake too much to hold it for me. So I couldn't pick the best location - I had to shoot where the propped phone could video me from the waist up. I ordered a phone holder from Amazon, but it wasn't due to arrive in time.


The selection for the commercial is supposed to happen today. I got the phone holder yesterday.


But maybe it would be a good thing NOT to be chosen. I found out yesterday when my son Bennett tried to skype me with his daughters that my webcam no longer works. And they plan to film me through my computer. The only thing I could think of was that the recent upgrade to Windows 10 screwed something up, so I went there to get them to fix it. They said, yes, they know, a fix is in progress. And they will let me know when it's ready.


But I need it now! 


No, I don't have it yet.


Then of all the weird things, this morning I looked for the cord to charge my old Kindle and couldn't find it. The one I found no longer fit. I finally found an old cord that for some reason has black tape wrapped around it. At least that works. This Kindle had been lost for a month, and I ordered a new one, finding the old one before the new one came. And the new one came without a cord. I sent it back.


If we're in isolation, and our technology no longer works, then what? 


April Fool. I wish I was just kidding.

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I learned a new word today. It's from Booker T Washington's autobiography, and the word is geegaw. Now maybe you all knew it already. But I had to look it up. It means "a worthless showy thing." You know, like a knicknack you have on your shelf that just sits there for people to admire.


I once bought a magnetic decorated ball on a stand at a museum but it's not a geegaw. Why? Because it rotates. On its own. Without batteries. When the sun is out. It's cool because it proves something about the sun, right? Or is it just a geegaw after all? It also rotates at night when I turn the light on in the cabinet where I put it. Why? I don't know.


I'm not the collector type, but I like to buy at museum gift shops because they have cool stuff and they can use the money. But antique stores are filled with geegaws and it's an issue you hear talked about. You know, like, who's going to want all that stuff when you're gone?


I think about that a lot. So I watch my geegaws. And now the word has earned a place in the novel I'm editing, too. Malavika got me the novel "The Paris Wife," and I highly recommend it. It's a fictional story of Hemingway's first wife, and it starts in Chicago. So I'm trying to get inspired to make the right improvements on Dinner at Marshall Fields. Which is a novel I've tried to find a beta reader for.


But I get it. Who needs another geegaw?

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Extra Effort

What is meant by "it takes extra effort to succeed?" One, it means reading imstructions. If you fail on a single part of the delivery, the whole project can get tossed. I often think that I had to self-publish Civil War & Bloody Peace because my marketing efforts were just that poor.


Recently I had to re-do a number of times the video I was making for a national commercial spot because I kept seeing where I'd missed an instruction. But, in the meantime, they were good rehearsals, so that by the time the submission copy was taped following all instructions, I had it down. It wasn't just "good enough." Heaven knows what would have happened if I hadn't taken my efforts that far.


It doesn't mean I'm a shoe-in. Unfortunately, I didn't have a phone adaptor for my tripod, and they insisted it be filmed on a phone. This limited me to a location where I could stand the phone at the proper angle to tape me from the waist up. It wasn't the "uncluttered approach" they wanted - the ceiling fan was tucked ominously behind my head. But it was the one aspect I could not control. I have ordered a phone adaptor now so I'm ready next time. But they gave us so little time to prepare. That's how it is in the bizz.


Then there's this grant I'm preparing. There is just one aspect that I have no control over, and that's in my desire to get the OAS to show me more artifacts than they had available for me last year. Will they get in trouble when I added that as part of the grant? Or will they be able to comply? Or will this aspect be less of a deterrant than I fear? But the rest of the grant's preparation was in my control. While I applied for grant monies from the Wisconsin Historical Society in the past, I'm not an archaeologist, I'm a historian. For this grant, I could be called an archaeological historian, perhaps by the Iowa State Historical Society, who's offering the grant. But there was no lack of demonstration in what I'd prepared so they will see that I know what I'm doing.


Back in 2017, I said a farewell to Actors in Wisconsin because I wasn't getting any roles in any of the indie movies there. Back then, I didn't make the effort to memorize the lines (I worked full-time.) Back then, my film taking abilities were amateurish. And my acting wasn't even that good. Now I memorize. Now when they ask for a monologue, I do one without preparation, simply telling one of my fairy tales. Now, I pay attention to what kind of person they're looking for. Wes insists that I already look like what he wants. "Is that your real gray hair?" The awkward delivery he's asking for is exactly what he wants, and he's encouraged me to keep trying. He asked me to call him, and though I didn't want to, I did. And now I think I know what he wants.


Never say no. Make that extra effort, and keep going.

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In Honor of my First Agented Audition!

Okay, sometimes I get a little self-serving here. But I'm very excited that finally I got an audition through Milwaukee Talent Network. It's a nationwide commercial, but sadly, I probably won't get it. The requirement was that I film it on my phone in a fairly uncluttered area, and I didn't have a phone attachment for my tripod. Yeah, I ordered one today. (Not like I can run out to Best Buy, after all.) They will be filming whoever they choose in their home location, so having that right backdrop, I'm sure, will figure into their choice.  


Anyway, I decided to share some of my Youtube video links here on the links page. They're for the copper documentary I'm filming because I finally figured out how I want to open the video. This I'll be filming shortly. Hey, we're home-stuck so might as well make it productive!


It amazes me that I got that audition only shortly after being laid off at work. So here's hoping. I think I did well. But they're looking at more than that in this one.

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Does My Website Remind you of The Black Forest?

Well, maybe that's a deliberate subliminal choice. I didn't think of it when I chose the style, but definitely afterward. My business is Grimms, Etc., because when I was about 6 I found out I'm a Grimm and decided I was going to have my own fairy tale collection someday. Still working on it! But Germany is also next on my travel list. I was there once before but not on my terms. The Black Forest is on my list.  Here's what I found out about it:


Located in a large mountain range in Southwest Germany, Black Forest or Schwarzwald in German, is home to the cuckoo clock, the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales and world-renowned thermal spas. Black Forest Germany is a popular vacation spot for locals and tourists alike. With the Rhine valley to the west and south, the Black Forest of Germany is known for its hills, valleys, rivers and forests. If you're planning a trip to Germany, you'll want to spend at least a couple of days in the Black Forest, the most beautiful region in the country.


It should be unsurprising that forestry is one of the biggest industries in the region. Logs cut from Germany's Black Forest have built ships in the Netherlands and buildings in Japan. Before industrialization, many farmers used the wood to build cuckoo clocks to supplement their income during the winter months. To this day,  Black Forest cuckoo clockmakers preserve the rich history of the region, using the same means as their forbearers to produce hand carved cuckoo clocks famous for their quality and craftsmanship.


Today, the spa town of Baden-Baden, the national park surrounding the 12 thermal springs, and the small towns that dot the landscape attract visitors from all over the world to Germany's lush Black Forest.


That pretty much settles that! My great-uncle was from Baden-Wurtemberg, too! I also have to go to Zurich, so I think I'll start there and make my way to the Fairy Tale trail via the Black Forest.

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First Bike Ride - Hopefully not Last!

We have a nice little party/floral shop down the road that also handles UPS/USPS packages, and I had to return the Kindle I bought. So I hoped a bike ride would give me some needed steps I'm losing out on because of not working with the public anymore. (I did make $95 - ask me how!)


It was a little chilly and the sun went under some clouds but I rode on. We have a pretty decent bike path from here to there, about a mile and a half. I had called first to make sure they're open. (They created this gorgeous arrangement my boss gave me last week, flowers are still opening on it.)


Afterward, chatted with some folks about the bike ride. As I mounted my bag with the water bottle on my back must have shiffted because as I mounted, down I went! You know that feeling when you know you're going to fall and there's nothing you can do to stop it? I think that's my first fall in five years or more. Wait - I don't think I've fallen since I was 15!


Anyway, I leaped back up before anyone could see me and rode off, had to turn around and go back for the water bottle. (Did you know you should drink water after every personal encounter?)


But right now, wow, right hip is sore. Which is odd, because I fell on my left side -- I can tell because my left coat elbow is dirty, and I'd just washed the coat, too. I made it home, that's the important thing. And didn't get near the steps on my Fitbit, either. It generally does count my bike rides.


So, bummer. But I'm still glad I went by bike. More of those to come, if I can still move tomorrow.



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