Thursday, April 29, 2010

Celebrating life

“The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough.” Rabindranath Tagore

What wise words from the poet, playwright, novelist and musician. Did you know he was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature? Love that.

Today I am celebrating 62 years of living on this planet.

To begin my day (after being served coffee in bed by Alan) I heard via the telephone the lovely voices of Darrolyn and Hans singing “Happy Birthday” to me – in harmony!

Next Juli had all of her third grade students at Robinson Elementary School sing to me their rendition of the famous birthday song. What sweet voices - fabulous.

I also had text messages from two of my kids. Marilyn was first at 6 a.m., Andrew second at 6:30 a.m., then calls from Juli at 8:45 a.m., Ben at 10:30 – still waiting to hear from Craig. No competition in this family…

As I celebrate my birthday, what I am most thankful for is all the love of family and friends. Rev. Bruce said it beautifully last night at Wednesday Wisdom that love is all we need. When we have love everything else falls into place – our minds are at peace, we have more creativity, we are healthier, more focused…

I am so abundantly grateful for all of you; each one of you has made a difference in my life.

Life is so good these days that I can’t stop smiling, and I plan to keep smiling as long as I have teeth!

Everyone have a great day! I’m off to have a mani/pedicure.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why Alan didn't go to church today

Just as Alan and I were about to climb into bed last night, I said, “Maybe we should sleep in the guest room; it’s too crowded in here.” Plus there was just too much hissing and fighting going on for sacred space in the queen-sized bed.

So, instead of retreating to the next bedroom, we moved one of the “peeps” to the tree house next to the window, one between us and one on top of me. Snuggled in, we laughed. For about 15 years with four kids we usually had a kid or two in bed with us, waking us in the middle of the night with, “Mommy, can we sleep with you?”

Now we were in bed with some other critters.

This weekend we have been sleeping with one cat and two Yorkie pooches - our dog “Sarah Jessica,” and our granddog “Parker” and our cat “Amanda.”

And during the day we have found ourselves returning to the dilemma of should we stay home, take them with us or get a babysitter?

We have had options of things to do. We could go to a bead show, a play at the Cabrillo Theater to see our friend Wade in the play, “Rumors,” the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books or to dinner at a friend’s home, but we don’t want to leave the dogs home alone. Sarah is still into chewing electrical cords. And we feel highly responsible for taking care of Parker, whom we are babysitting while his daddies are in Los Angeles celebrating their friend Matt’s 30th birthday. (Say, isn’t Matt still in fourth grade with Andrew plotting how to get out of class – like faking illness from a toxic classroom?) By the way, Parker is so well behaved, we are hoping she will teach some valuable lessons to Sarah today – like how not to poop in the house.

Juli came over with Keith and visited on Saturday and offered to take them home with her so we could go out, but we worried that the dogs would escape through her cat door and run away. Besides I think her husband hates Sarah - he might open the cat door for her. (He gets annoyed when she occasionally poops in their house. Hey, I do clean it up.)

Well, those are just excuses. We really don’t want to go anywhere because we are having too much fun. The dogs are hilarious, playing around us, running on the greenway, eating each other’s food, snuggling in our laps, digging up the seeds in my garden and tearing through the house chasing the cat. When we took a drive to get some pizza, the two pooches sat regally together in the baby car seat looking out the window, like this was the biggest treat of their day.

Sometimes it’s relaxing to be trapped at home – a good excuse to finish reading a great book or watching a movie. Alan is using it to stay home from church today.

Perhaps one of you might like to have that feel of being stuck at home, if so, just let me know, I’ll bring the animals over.

Sharing thoughts on “Oprah” with Erica Jong

I have a confession to make: I have read every book written by Kitty Kelley. There I said it. So, of course I bought the book, “Oprah.”

The reason I got the book is because Kelley wrote it. I like her books and I know that every word in each book has been researched, researched and researched again. I admire her tenacity in getting the truth in her biographies.

Although not a lot is new and revealing in this book – the queen of TV has talked about many of her personal experiences on her show – it is interesting to see how she has changed a few things in her stories to make a better story. The same is true in the recent book about Martha Stewart, “Best Friends.” What I’ve learned in these two books about these powerful women is that they have worked extremely hard to get where they are and they have been relentless in their pursuit of huge wealth - no matter what it takes. I admire them for staying focused and on track. I find it also interesting that they have both worked diligently to “collect” famous friends - they are big-time name droppers – and this is what they appear to be quite proud of. But hey, they don’t know the Butterfly Six Plus Two: Darrolyn Fennelly, Hans Smith, Alan Potter, Wade and Kimberly Wooldridge, Karyn Allen and Rick Dale, to name just a few of my fabulous friends.

Let's face it Martha and Oprah have made a wonderful difference in the lives of women and men around the world. For this they should be celebrated. Can you imagine a life without a daily dose of Oprah? I can't!

Erica Jong has written a piece on the “Oprah” book and I want to share it because it’s exactly how I feel about Kelley’s latest book. By the way, years ago I interviewed Jong, author of “Fear of Flying,” and many other books. She is a delightful person, warm and extremely funny. Here’s the link:

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Runaway Success

Congratulations to Jackson Kee Maxwell, my grandson, for running 13 laps at Robinson Elementary School’s 7th annual Jog-A-Thon on April 16. The fabulous fifth grader raised $259 for his school. For his fundraising efforts and fast footwork, he will spend an evening at Boomers with the school’s principal, Mr. Snyder. They will arrive by limo. Other prizes, too numerous to mention, were also awarded to Jack. Way to go!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We are all one mind

Yesterday at our center the guest speaker was visionary thought leader Jan Phillips. I sat through the worship service wondering why she looked familiar. Where had I met her and why do her words also sound familiar? She gave an inspirational talk that centered on three turning points in her life. She also said that she had just returned home from a trip to Nigeria where she found children begging for someone to teach them. She said she came upon a group of kids playing in the dirt and they said, “Do you have a pencil? Could you teach us?” It made me want to board the next plane to Nigeria and help these children. I’m going to follow Jan’s website and see what we as a community can do to help. Oh, and where did I find that I had met Jan? Well, I discovered after church that she is the author of one of my favorite books, “Marry Your Muse.” I’ve read it often and I use it in my memoir writing class. I said to her with probably too much enthusiasm, “I know you, I have read your book three times.” Then I apologized and said, “Oh, I don’t really know you, sorry.” She graciously said, “You’ve read my book, you know me.” Sweet. She has written several books, recorded CD’s and she offers workshops.

This just in: Jan Phillips is collecting children's books to send to villages in Nigeria. So if you want to send some, she writes, "Kim Burnett has volunteered to collect and store the children's books till the container is ready to go to Nigeria. Her address is 10717 Hunters Place, Vienna, VA 22181. Thank you so much for your generous response! - Jan"

This weekend: two golden picks

Ah, a rose and a friend - what a great way to celebrate author Louise L. Hay. We recently learned that a rose has been named in the author's honor, a beautiful apricot Hybrid Tea. An ad on the nursery's website reads that it is guaranteed “to produce enormous round petals that provide a lovely fragrance." On Friday Alan and I stopped by the Mission Hills Nursery in the Hillcrest area of San Diego and bought one to grace our rose garden. For information and to see a Louise Hay Rose, go to

For those of you who want more information on Louise Hay, she is the author of many books including the ever popular, “You Can Heal Your Life,” and the founder of Hay House, Inc. a publishing company in Carlsbad.

“A single rose can be my garden…a single friend, my world.” Leo F. Buscaglia

And now a word about food

There is something special about visiting San Diego. Every time I go there I feel as though we have been on vacation - my spirit just soars. It probably has a lot to do with hanging out with our son Andrew and his husband Mike. They are always amusing, intelligent and such great hosts. Of course our two dogs, Sarah Jessica and Parker, love to play together too. Anyway, the next time you are in Hillcrest have dinner at Buonissimo2- the food and the atmosphere – fabulous. Word or rumor has it that all the furniture in the restaurant has been shipped over from Italy. Patrons are handed menus in red paper bags, cute. And if you just happen to meet the waiter Andrew, tell him that another Andrew and his mother sent you!

We also dropped by Costco and they are selling a champagne cheese – oh my gosh, it is delicious!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Butterfly Six

Firepit Players on YouTube

Hey we’re on YouTube! This is probably as close as I’ll ever get to performing on TV. Many years ago I was occasionally on a news channel when working in Pennsylvania as a reporter – with a notebook in hand and a poised pen, but this doesn’t count. Now we’re in the big leagues - on YouTube, singing and acting. Who knew?

This presentation of an original one-act play written by Wade and Kimberly Wooldridge could be coming to a church near you – someday. The Firepit Players (The Butterfly Six Plus Two – shown above on a cruise last year) performed this staged reading in February at Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley in San Juan Capistrano. “To Tell the Truth” is based on the old TV show of the same name, but is a search for a more Universal Truth. It features Karyn Allen (Mao Zedong), Rick Dale (Pope John Paul II), Darrolyn Fennelly (Betty White), Alan Potter (Bud Collyer), Barbara Potter (Dorothy Kilgallen), Hans Smith (Carl Jung), Kimberly Wooldridge (Emma Curtis Hopkins) and Wade Wooldridge (Charles Nelson Reilly).

Check us out on YouTube. When you get to the site, type in “To Tell the Truth Wade Wooldridge” – you will be able to see two segments of the show.

Any day now we could be in demand, so let us know if you want us to perform at your church. I will let you know our next performance date.

This Week's Writing Prompt

“If you could change how you raised your children, what would you do differently?”

In my memoir writing class this past session I talked about a book that allows writers to fill in the blanks when interested in writing their memoirs. You can order it from – “The Story of a Lifetime.” It costs between $37 and $50 and the publisher is TriAngel. I don't think it is available in stores.

Memory is Your Memoir

This past weekend I attended the annual Literary Orange 2010 at UCI, a conference that “celebrates authors, readers and libraries.” I sat in on the memoir writing session and heard from some of the experts. One of the panelists suggested “framing two stories at the same time in your memoir to move the story forward.” They all agreed that at the end of a memoir it must teach the reader something, however, the memoir can’t be written in a “preachy style.”

Author Norman Ollestad said that when he wrote, “Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival,” he wrote the draft in chronological order, then went back in and did some intercutting, reflecting on his experience. Also one said that when writing a memoir, it’s also a good idea to take a screenwriting course – it helps with creating scenes. Another suggested reading “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion. I have read it – excellent writing.

Also at Literary Orange I purchased the book, “Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America – and Found Unexpected Peace.” The author, William Lobdell, is a former Los Angeles Times reporter. I just started reading this book and it’s so good I can’t put it down. (Oops, I think I’m supposed to be writing my own book.) I especially like it because I know some of the people who are in it and of course it’s great to read a book that is set in your own backyard – Orange County. This is an excellent memoir.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Next on my book list

My friend Jane D'Cunha recommends this book, "The Help," by Kathryn Stockett. Publisher's Weekly writes: "It's set during the civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you."

A hairy situation

There are just some things I don’t care to see, like others having sex.

Last night Alan and I went to the San Clemente pier to have dinner with friends. Getting out of the car in the pier parking lot, I glanced to the car parked next to ours. To my disbelief, a man and woman were engaged in sex in the front seat of the car, right there in broad daylight for anyone to see. Now, I can’t get the image out of my head of this guy’s ugly backside, covered in curly black hair, pumping away.

Traumatized, I told our friends while we were eating dinner. One of them, a very wise woman, said, laughing, “Yes, it’s always important if one is going to have sex in a parking lot, it should be in a van with covered windows.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thank you, thank you

What a fun week this has been! I am so grateful for all of your comments regarding the launch of my blog. I love that you have celebrated with me – what a blessing to have such wonderful, caring friends and relatives. Rev. Geoff Layng e-mailed a poem to me after reading my blog. He said I could share it with you. What a special gift; it makes me smile.

“Tis a wonderful blog I see.
A master of mind's liberty.
A love so glad and greatious,
It stimulates God's voracious.”

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010


On my way to creating a web site, I got distracted and decided to start a blog. I wonder if I should throw a party for this launch. I could make some hats, serve white trash food and provide squirt guns for entertainment purposes – well, maybe not.

In my research on blogging, experts write that blogs should have a theme, similar to what I suggest when teaching my memoir writing classes. Memoir themes can center on several topics such as growing up in poverty, sibling rivalry, a spiritual journey to India or living in Pittsburgh – that last one could produce several volumes.

Just thinking about a theme for this blog gave me a headache and blocked me for the first time in my writing career. So I’ve decided to break all the rules. I’m going to blog on a variety of topics.

What I won’t be writing about: torrid love affairs of married politicians, celebrities and sports figures. I don’t care and it's boring. I also won’t be writing about the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station’s Unit 2 reactor - I don’t understand it. And one more thing, you won’t see photos of me relaxing in a bathtub surrounded by bubbles, wearing sunglasses and drinking a glass of wine like Jane Fonda has on her blog. It's cute, but really do we need to see that?

As we all know there are no coincidences in life. So from time to time I may write about my daily synchronicities.

My blog also might occasionally include some chatter on politics. Like my daughter, Juli, I too, am a flamin' liberal. Back in the day I was a bra burning feminist, still am, but now I need to wear Victoria’s Secret “Miraculous Push-Up” bra to keep the girls up.

My intent with this blog is to give you some ideas on things to go and do, books to read, quotes I've heard around town, links to my latest column, links to some humorous sites, theater and movie reviews and a weekly writing prompt for those who want to keep penning their memoirs. I'm sure as this blog develops, there will be more topics. But for now…

Between the Covers

From the time I learned to read, my mother says that I have had my nose in a book. As a kid I was always getting yelled at to “get outside and play – put that book down.” But now if I want to I can read all day. I also recently purchased an iPod – it’s a fun thing to do, to occasionally read an e-book. I just carry it in my purse or pocket and when Alan is driving or I’m standing in line somewhere, I just pull it out and read away.

Over the past couple of weeks I have read the following books and I highly recommend them:

Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (fiction)
Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin (nonfiction)
True Compass: A Memoir by Edward Kennedy
The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan (memoir)
The Best of Friends: Martha and Me by Mariana Pasternak

Just released: Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott

This Week's Hilarious Link

Upcoming Events

April 24-25: Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Admission is free, parking is $9. Located on the UCLA Campus. Two days of being with “people who create books and with those who love to read them.” More than 400 authors will be in attendance to talk about the art of writing and to sign their books. The festival also offers panel discussions. This is where I have met several: Larry King, Julie Andrews, Brooke Shields, Carolyn See, Mitch Albom, way too many to list. This year some top names: Stephen J. Cannell, Mary Higgins Clark, Antwone Fisher, Elizabeth George, Louis Gossett Jr., Bernadette Peters and that’s only to the P’s. For more information go to:

April 10-24: Stop by the Salvation Army, near the DMV in San Clemente, 2727 Via Cascadita and see what two Saddleback College students have designed with items from the warehouse. They are competing with three other students for a first place win in eco-friendly designs. You can also bid on the items in the showroom as part of a two-week auction. I’ve got to check this out. The money will go to the Salvation Army’s Anaheim Adult Rehabilitation Center. Read the story:

May 8-9: “A Woman of Independent Means,” starring Lissa Layng. Fremont Center Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena. 8 p.m. May 8 with brownies and champagne at intermission and 3 p.m. May 9 with a Mother’s Day Tea in the garden at 2 p.m. You won’t want to miss this one woman show. I will be there on May 8 with hubby and friends. To read about the play:

This Week's Memoir Writing Prompt

Write about how you spent your allowance as a kid. Then write about what you like to spend money on now.

Quote of the Week

“Get down off the cross, honey. Somebody needs the wood.” Dolly Parton in the movie “Straight Talk”