Sunday Promenade Around Félines

A lovely stroll. Would love to do it in person someday.

Life on La Lune

Church at Félines Church at Félines

It was more like a forced march, actually. The SF did military service in the Swedish army and can still do a 20 km yomp bearing a 14 kilo pack with the best of them. Last Sunday morning, the sun shone but the wind was bitter, so a gentle stroll was not an option.

We were determined have some exercise and there are lovely walks around here. But, even though we are geographically in the south of France, the winters can be miserable and it’s not easy to get out unless you force yourself to do it. So we took advantage of the dry weather and did one of our favourite walks. 

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Latest reviews of MOTHER TONGUE on Amazon

Paperback cover final**** A great read. Originally intended to read during my fifteen minute breaks at work, I soon discovered that, if I wanted to keep my job, I would have to take this book home and read it because it is just so hard to put down...READ MORE

**** Very intriguing, about a place I knew nothing about…READ MORE

**** Once I started, it was impossible to put downREAD MORE


French Lessons for Preschoolers

I enjoyed reading this blog about teaching preschoolers French. My daughter only became fluent in French after living there two years after college; not because I started her with French lessons in kindergarten. But her two little ones, now two and five, have been spoken to at home primarily in French by her and in English by their father. The oldest has attended a French immersion preschool for four years. So both are totally fluent as well and have no American accent, unlike their mother who has a very slight accent. They switch from one language to the other depending upon who they are speaking to and readily translate for those of us in the family who are not bilingual. My daughter is hoping to continue their bilingual education here in the SF Bay area as they move on to elementary school.

A French American Life

This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Blogging Carnival, hosted this month by Isabelle at Multilingual Education Cafe. This month’s topic is The Multilingual Classroom. Be sure to follow the link to Isabelle’s blog to find the other great posts on this topic, starting March 17!

As some of my dear readers may recall, I made a New Year’s resolution to teach French lessons at my daughter’s preschool. I’m following through and now I’m two months in.

Teaching preschoolers is no easy feat, but trying to teach them in a foreign language – wheh! Way harder than I expected. And I never expected a cake walk. I knew I’d be spending a lot of time outside the classroom brainstorming ideas, prepping, finding and making props, and even test driving ideas on my own kids before taking my lessons to the school. Still – it’s even more than…

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5th birthday FROZEN extravaganza

IMG_0009Anticipation was in the air. My granddaughter eagerly awaits the arrival of her guests, hoping against hope that Elsa and Anna will keep their promise made at Disneyland months earlier to come to her 5th birthday party.

The food has been carefully prepared.


Anna’s Frozen Heart Strawberries – White chocolate coated


Kristoff’s Ice Blocks – blue jello jigglers with white cream that rises to the top


Olaf’s Noses


Elsa’s Frozen Castle – Carefully prepared by the birthday girl’s mother and all edible

Grandma Mimi (c’est moi!) is ready to enjoy the festivities.

IMG_0018IMG_0024And who should arrive at precisely 2:30? Why, it’s Elsa and Anna who put on a fabulous show for all the children and their parents. Disneyland characters have nothing on this duo of local high school musical theater stars. Elsa began by helping the children apply Frozen tattoos. Anna supervised the creation of little marshmallow Olafs.IMG_0033







And then the big moment came as the children gathered to listen to the story and the songs from Frozen. Anna began with her story and First Time Forever.

Their story continued and then Elsa sang Let It Go

And for the finale of the party, the children joined in for one last rendition of Let It Go with their idols. A magical day for the birthday girl and all the children and adults. It was the party we never even dreamed about as children.

Guest blog by digital artist Bob Keck…on growing old gracefully

DegreesofObsession240Digital artist and illustrator Bob Keck was kind enough back in 2005 to create a digitally produced cover for my first novel Degrees of Obsession from an idea I had come up with. It took dozens of hours for his computer to create the image as we tweaked the content over several weeks.

Download Christmas 2014 to see Bob’s Christmas Letter in its original pdf form AND SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM to see the incredible sci-fi and fantasy digital artwork he has produced in just the past year. More of his digital art can be found at

I so resonate with his comments on growing old and how it affects our abilities, our attitudes, and our art. And if I wrote fantasy or sci-fi, I would head straight to Bob Keck for a fantastic original book cover. Send inquires to my CONTACT page and I will forward them to Bob.


Just Cruising by Bob Keck

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Moon rise by Bob Keck

 Here is the text of BOB KECK’S CHRISTMAS LETTER–A paeon to aging gracefully

Well, I almost didn’t write a letter this year. Not much happens when you are semi-retired and work from home. It’s mainly because you are almost always at home. It’s hard to write about nothing. Getting older is strange; you start to become more of a homebody. You no longer want to deal with, or have to deal with, daily stress, traffic, waiting in lines, or the many things that upset you. With the Internet you can even get most things on line and delivered to your front door and don’t have to deal with going shopping, the crowds, and finding a parking space. All the things you put up with to go to work and all the other life events you had to deal with seem to become minimal and fade away. You no longer are into fashion, image, impressing people, bars, and hot spots to go to. All the days seem almost the same and one of the hardest things is remembering what day it is. I’m not sure if this is good or bad.

Being cool is not the same as it was in my twenties. In your twenties you want to be accepted and try to fit in to your social circle (your tribe). In my generation, if your group had long hair or wore jeans and a t-shirt, you did too. Things haven’t changed. In today’s generation if their group of friends has tattoos, they feel like they should get one too. They think it’s a form of rebellion, doing something their parents hate, but actually it’s a form of conformity to fit in and be accepted. Everyone seems to do it in different ways depending on who you hang out with. When you are young to be accepted is what makes you cool. Things change when you are older. I think that when you are older and retired you are cool when you can talk about something besides your kids, the expensive trip you took or your old job.

Now, all this doesn’t mean that you become a hermit, which is really easy to do. It means that you have to come up with things to do that interest you or stimulate your mind. You end up contemplating your past failures, successes and how you got to where you are now. You realize you only have so many years left, so you don’t want to waste them on boring people, stupid events, bad movies, and unproductive tasks. I’ve always said that the hardest thing in life is not getting what you want, but knowing what you want and being happy with what you have now.

There is a certain freedom that comes with age. It’s similar to the freedom you had when you were a kid. You are again on the quest to discover what defines who you are. You no longer have to fit into the restraints of the working world. You can do whatever you always wanted to do. The only thing is that most of the time you forget what that is. Heck, sometimes you even forget why you walked into a certain room.

Anyhow, Christmas and New Year’s seem to be way markers in your life. They are a time when you get to stop and see where you have been, where you are, and where you are going. Hopefully, you appreciate what you have, the friends that have shared your life, and the fact that you are still here.

As I’ve said not much has gone on in the past year. I’m still doing graphic design work for my last company as a consultant. It keeps me somewhat busy. When I’m not doing graphics, I try to do some art or work on my house. I’m still doing sci-fi and fantasy illustrations and even got to do another book cover. I’m also doing some fine art and photography too. I won some more art show awards, which is always nice, but having people buy my art is always better. Sales have been going down the last few years. I’m not sure why.

My cats have changed. Ramone passed away. He was a very nice cat. His nickname was “Mr. Mello”. He has been replaced by Sally. One of my neighbors moved away and left her. She was somewhat feral and ran away from them when they tried to get her. They told me that she hated to be touched. It took me about a month or so before I could pet her. Now she lives in the house. She is like a clingy girlfriend. She seems to always want to be on my lap and loves being petted. At night she sleeps by my head. She is a really old sweet cat. My other cats Frank (the gourmet) and Cindy (the gray ghost) are doing fine and get along with her.

There isn’t too much else to talk about. My house is good. It’s a slow constant project. I’m still trying to update it. My car is still running fine. I keep tinkering with it to make it even better. I’m doing fine too. I have been lucky. There really isn’t anything wrong with me, just the usual getting old aches and pains and basic memory loss. I still exercise and walk fast for a mile or two up and down the hills almost every day. I’ve always exercised and taken vitamins for most of my life. Guess it was a good thing.

Well that’s about it. I hope you have a Happy Christmas and a great New Year. Take care, Bob


Off to the races!

This is my favorite time of year. I will be attending the final day of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion historic car races at Laguna Seca on Sunday, August 17th. I’ve talked two of my BBFs into getting up at the crack of dawn and driving down to catch the first race at 8 am.

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Helio in pre-race introductions in 2011




And then on August 24th, I will head north to Sonoma raceway to cheer on my favorite Indy driver, Helio Castroneves, as he tries to get back his lead in the 2014 Indy Championship in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. He was robbed in Ohio, done in by faulty electronics).

It’s all fun. From watching them polish the rims on pit row

To listening to the interviews at the finish…even when Helio came in 3rd in 2012.

Or the bittersweet moment when Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti shared a moment of commiseration back before the terrible accident that ended Dario’s racing days this past year.



A snapshot with Helio’s Number 3 in 2012.


Mid-race in 2012.


Helio with his lovely girlfriend and daughter pre-race 2012

Sam’s Anchor Cafe ~ Tiburon ~ 1963 and 51 years later

Sams 1963

Sam’s Anchor Cafe in Tiburon in 1963

2014-03-07 14.05.12A typical Sunday morning at Sam’s Anchor Cafe in Tiburon, CA in 1963 was marked by hard drinking by rowdy college and twenty-something crowd.

In 2014 on a Sunday, you find families filling the deck and enjoying the great view across San Francisco Bay to the City.


Mary Lou 1963

1963. My best friend from childhood. A flock of empty Ramos Fizz glasses (hey…don’t the raw eggs in them count as breakfast!)

Karen 1963

This photo was taken in La Jolla but that’s me in 1963.

We were best friends from the 4th grade on and in 1963 roommates in an off-campus apartment at UC Berkeley. Every Sunday morning we headed off to Sam’s with a couple of friends in the back seat of my Morris Minor and downed more Ramos fizzes than was prudent.

Amazing that we survived. Must have had more than one guardian angel looking over us. No one gave a thought to driving under the influence. Figured no harm could come our way if we were back on the road by one p.m. What can I say? We were both nineteen and stupid. All our friends drank with the help of the ubiquitous fake ID’s available on campus.

2014-03-07 14.04.23So here we are in March of 2014. Alive, well, and still best friends. I went on to a Ph.D., a 40-year career as a therapist, a union leader, the mother of two, grandmother of four, and, of course an author. My BBF went on to a fabulous career in catering, head of special events at the San Diego Convention center, a leadership position in the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), and also a mother of two and grandmother of two. We turned into church-going, upstanding members of the community. This is a reverse cautionary tale for mothers who are worried what their college-aged children are up to, that they’ll never amount to anything! Of course, we both came to terms later in life with the risks we took around alcohol and we both have experienced the devastating effects of addiction within our own families. So certainly nothing to be flip about! Thank God for the gift of recovery.


How real locations contribute to plot

DSC02587As I wrote my initial draft for DEGREES OF OBSESSION, I realized that I needed an image of the place where my protagonist, Charlie Pederson, and her long-lost college flame, Danny Shapiro, have their first romantic encounter after a separation of twenty-eight years. It had to be his home because at that moment in the story, she has accompanied her husband to his Medieval History convention in Los Angeles. Immediately a home came to mind, not located in Los Angeles but a few miles from my own home in Northern Calfiornia. I don’t know about you, but our family’s favorite outdoor sport on Sunday afternoons was visiting model homes and it’s still in my blood. One particularly boring Sunday afternoon some years before, I had dropped by a fabulous open house on the East Bay shoreline, which sported a drop-dead gorgeous view of San Francisco across the bay. The inside was as spectacular as the view with an unusual indoor atrium descending to the bedrooms below. Stained glass skylights cast colorful shadows on the rounded walls of the atrium, which were marked with the hours of the day in the manner of a sundial, a natural for a steamy romantic interlude. My BOOK TRAILER for DEGREES highlights this moment.

As the novel progressed I was stymied as to what would comprise the “battle scene”, that climatic moment when protagonist and antagonist play out the final chapter of a suspenseful and dangerous cat and house game. This time three real-life locations near Point Molate, all located within very close proximity, caused the plot to quickly fall into place. DSC02629

An old sportman’s club hidden in a small cove on San Francisco Bay, the ultimate place to take a hostage…

…a treacherous isolated road winding over a hill to a former military base, its Forties era officer housing standing pristine but desertedDSC02614, lending and then tearing away the hope of rescue…


…and a deserted medieval-looking brick winery, with ladder after ladder leading to a parapet, perfect for a final confrontation.



DSC02601I have created a Pinterest Board with other photos of the real-life locations that inspired the plot, mood, and character development of DEGREES OF OBSESSION.