Ode to Z-Pak


The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.*

 No apple picking, bike riding
Or hiking on this cold, damp day.

I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny.
But we can have lots of good fun that is funny!*

Our son suggested we come around two
To read books and play Rummi-Q

We played with the grands,
Sharing cuddles and giggles
As they shared their snuffles and sniffles.

On the ride home I felt it at once
Like a wave over my head
A chill and a cough, and went right to bed

By morning I’d caught a full-fledged cold
Sneezing, dripping, and feeling quite old.

I’ll fight it a few days, I declared
Take aspirin, fluids and rest
Eat chicken soup, give the Neti-pot a test

Yet my energy dropped, my nose clogged
My head ached and ears rung
I worried I had gunk in my lung

The doctor thoroughly checked-
Lungs and ears all ok, but my sinuses
Seemed inflamed and infected

“This isn’t unusual with grandparents,”
she said. “We see this a lot.
Your immunity is lower
as you get older.”

I picked up the 5- pill Z-pak @
And took the first dose
By morning I raised my juice to a toast:

Praise be to drugs that help mend the sick
They’re efficient and do the job quick!


*Borrowed from The Cat in the Hat












Posted in aging, Family, Grandchildren, health, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Fall Into Reading

When I taught middle school Language Arts, I made a bulletin board called “Fall into Reading.” As students finished books, they’d make a leaf from construction paper, write the title, their name, rate the book up to five stars, then add their leaf to the tree. Other students would get ideas for book titles, and often chose books just because someone they knew read it.

So here’s a clutch of books I’ve read the past few months. Maybe you’ll want to add them to your own book tree.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. True account of an American citizen from Syria who decided to stay in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. A painting and building contractor, he wanted to protect his home, office and several rental properties. He used an old canoe to rescue people and neighborhood dogs until Homeland Security agents arrested him. He was subjected to torture and prison, until his wife could amass character witnesses and get him released. An American dream story that proves not to judge people by appearances.


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead have been paired together as new books addressing slavery and its legacy. I liked the Gyasi more but found the Whitehead intriguing. url

Along that theme, there can’t be enough stories about how the legacy of slavery informs present day race relations and challenges. I heard Ryan Speedo Green interviewed on the radio and knew I had to get his biography, Sing for Your Life, written by Daniel Bergner. Green grew up in Virginia, rebelled at home and at school and spent time in juvenile detention. Thanks to a persistent teacher who didn’t give up on him, he discovered opera and declared as a teenager he would sing at the Metropolitan Opera one day, something not many African Americans have done. He’s since returned to speak to current inmates at the center, encouraging them to find an interest and pursue it. And he’s appearing at the Met this season in Puccini’s La Boheme. The book details his life and also shares a fascinating behind the scenes look at the opera world. 51gt7whp6ol-_sx321_bo1204203200_


The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende. An elderly woman’s secret romance is discovered by her grandson. I listened to this on tape while reading at the same time. A really good story. url

And finally, my cousin Alexander Weinstein’s debut collection of short stories, Children of the New World. Alexander is my mother’s first cousin’s son so that technically makes him my second cousin. We don’t know each other well but thanks to social media and a family wedding a few years ago, we’re in touch. I confess I’m not a short story lover but I read these at a rapid pace. Alexander applies futuristic technology to some disturbing scenarios. Yet most offer hope despite the fact that the technology doesn’t seem so far-fetched. He’s on a national tour and will be speaking in Brooklyn later in November. I look forward to catching up and hearing his inspiration for these stories. fdfaea_146b3e3c3d2c4f04b3db7b71fb8e7552


I’m looking for new titles. Suggestions, please!


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Children’s Book Briefs

I visited my mentor, Dr. M. Jerry Weiss this week. At 90, he’s as sharp as ever and we discuss everything from family to politics and of course, children’s literature. He gave me a batch of books when I left. Publishers continue to send him new titles- his basement is lined with bookshelves and he seems to know where everything is.

Here’s what I got:

(alphabetical by title)

Curious George Visits the Dentist by Monica Perez, Illustrated by Mary O’Keefe Young (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)  Who can resist this adorable monkey who seems to get himself in and out of trouble? A nice way to ease a young child’s fears of the dentist, illustrated  with a multi-racial cast of characters. The Curious George industry has continued beyond the original writer and illustrator team of Margret & H. A. Rey, keeping the famous monkey alive for the ages.

Lotus & Feather by Ji-li Jiang, illustrated by Julie Downing (Disney/Hyperion)Lotus rescues an injured crane who she names Feather. When Feather heals, Lotus sends him back to his migrating flock. One day, Feather returns with his family in tow. Based on true events, the story inspires empathy. 61lnboe-bql-_ac_us160_

Henri’s Scissors written & illustrated by Jeanette Winter (Beach Lane Books)In sparse prose, Winter brings readers into the world of artist Henri Matisse, starting as a young child drawing through old age when ill in bed and no longer able to paint, he began creating collages with paper cut-outs. Have scissors and paper handy for young readers to create their own! 51-07u2rsl-_ac_us160_


Old MacDonald Had A Truck by Steve Goetz, illustrated by Eda Kaban (Chronicle Books)  And a front loader, a bulldozer, a dump truck and so on. The classic retold for the construction vehicle- loving crowd. Lots of fun sounds to act out too.

Monkey: Not Ready for the Baby by Marc Brown (Alfred A. Knopf)Monkey likes being the little brother but is thrilled when his baby sister arrives. There can never be enough books to prepare older siblings for the arrival of a new baby.

Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit by Sue-Ganz-Schmitt, illustrated by Shane Prigmore (Chronicle Kids)  The first 100 days of kindergarten set in outer space, including walking with a buddy and helping clean up alien toys. Onto day 101!  61ypqtjcmql-_ac_us160_

Platypus by Sue Whiting, illustrated by Mark Jackson (Candlewick Press) Learn about the mysterious platypus through both a lyrical narration of a platypus’ day and the scientific facts about the animal, combined in two different fonts on each page. 61btblt0fol-_ac_us160_

And finally a little self-promotion. I’ve self-published two books recently. Both have been long in the writing and have been vetted through children’s book writing workshops. I just wanted to get them out there this year!

Amanda at Bat is based on true events. Amanda is so excited to play t-ball but she never gets her turn at bat until she creatively suggests ways to change the batting order. I added a few questions at the end to discuss Amanda’s actions and the issue of fairness with young readers and listeners.Cover lo res

Clara & Her Nutcracker stems from an early love of the famous ballet and its music. I can’t remember when I started writing this beloved story in verse but kept at it for more than a decade. 9781522752509_p0_v1_s192x300


Please check them out and let me know what you think!












Bronte—how they played—writing, reading, plays , poems, stories.. creating fantasy worlds , drawing,

Tiny minuscule writing in little books. Wonder how publisher type setter managed unless told to copy over, curious how much editing was involved

Jane eyre always one of my favorites, gift from welsch pen pal when about 11..

Still have and have watched sereral variations of the movie.. still love original w/ orson wells and joan fontaine (and a very young Elizabeth taylor the best

Black and white brought out the cold moors and even colder boarding school cruel

Feminist—no man or woman, author.. is our reading biased by gender of author?

Rest of treasures of morgan library- guttenbuerg bible.

Posted in art, Books, commentary, Education, Grandchildren, Music, Nature, parenting, Reading, reviews, teaching, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

9/11 & Grandparents Day: Choices to Make

It’s National Grandparents Day.

It’s also the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

And both these days resonate for me.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was teaching 8th grade Language Arts  in South Orange, NJ when the principal made a vague announcement over the PA system. Rumors started and I tried calling my husband, who worked in New York City, using the classroom telephone. He told me what happened based on what he knew.

Eventually we found out more, and were asked to gather information from our students about where their parents worked and who might be home to collect them. The school emptied and staff who lived locally, including me, stayed with the students who couldn’t leave on their own. I focused on the tasks and the ambiguity of the news—we didn’t have televisions in the classrooms. I knew something terrible had occurred and worried about my husband getting home that night. (He worked mid-town and stayed in the city that night but his firm lost three employees.)

When I arrived home, I quickly learned that my neighbor didn’t return. He was in  one of the towers. Neighbors mobilized with search teams and food brigades and later offered housing for relatives who came for his funeral. He left a wife and three children, all under 8 years old. We wallowed in grief for a young life lost too soon, for all the other lives, and for our nation.

In 2001, I was a mother of three school-aged children.

Now, in 2016, I’m a grandmother of seven. (#8 on the way).

Now I’m connected to the future in the most profound way and I worry about the world these children will inherit.

Teachers in classrooms across the country are grappling with ways to inform a new generation about 9/11. I hope they’re putting it in context, exploring the roots of terrorism yet sharing the values that make this country great: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and human rights. I want my grandchildren to know tolerance for all and understand peace is a process not a quick fix. I want them to have empathy for those that have little and want them to be stewards of the earth and  all its people.

That future lies in our hands.

Posted in commentary, Education, Family, History, New York City, parenting, teaching, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

All Things Are Connected

Read, think and vote responsibly.

Writing Between the Lines

The chief of a certain village had many advisors.

If there was something he wanted done, he would order it done, and it would be done. “Is it a good thing?” the chief would ask. Whether it was a wise decision or no, his counselors always agreed.  Those who did not were beaten.  There was one counselor who never said ‘yes’ and never said ‘no.’  This counselor would consider the matter and reply, “All things are connected.”

The village was located at the edge of the marsh.  At night when the chief couldn’t sleep, he became aware of the noisy croaking of the frogs.  Once it came to his attention, he found himself listening for it each night.  The sound annoyed him so much he ordered all the frogs killed.

“Do you agree with my plan?” he asked.  His counselors all agreed, except for the one, who warned, “All things are connected.”…

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I really am speechless but I have to say something

Another wonderful post by my friend Dr. Judy Washington. Proud to say I’m doing yoga training with her and we’re planning a workshop for homeless families in our community. More to come.

A Family Doctor's Reflection

The events of the past few months have been mind-numbing. For me, this is what happens when I get overloaded with so much negativity.  I go numb and then I have to process all my feelings.  This helps me be logical and rational when all those around me seem to be falling apart.  I used this process all through college, medical school, residency training and now as a residency faculty.

I am starting Yoga Teacher Training.  I am going to use it to teach anyone who will let me all the techniques I have learned to have balance mentally, physically and emotionally. More about that journey in another post.

I went to HS in 1971 and graduated in 1975. A great deal had happened and was happening in Birmingham, Alabama.  We (Black students)  were integrating predominantly White schools and we  all had to adjust. I learned how volatile and fragile this coexistence would…

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Adult Coloring Books: Color Your Dreams

It’s hard to avoid the adult coloring book craze. They’re prominently displayed by the checkout counters of every grocery, drug and big box store I enter, though I haven’t personally seen anyone buy any as usually they’re too busy looking at their phones or unloading their carts.

Thanks to Scottish author, Johanna Basford, the industry has taken off. Her 2013 title, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book became an instant bestseller and spurred others to join the publishing bonanza. And the news industry hasn’t ignored the fad, writing about its success and giving advice on how to produce your best effort.   “An estimated 12 million adult coloring books sold in the U.S last year, up from 1 million in 2014.”

Adults are coloring to relieve stress, relive their childhoods, or to keep their hands busy when phones aren’t allowed, like doctors’ waiting rooms. (I knit).

We had one son and his family visiting us at our lake in PA these past 5 days. My brother and my niece joined us. Dasha,  an accomplished artist, shared some of her drawing techniques with the kids.  IMG_1511

They prefer to draw “outside the lines,”  and don’t seem that eager to color in books. I know my kids had coloring books at times but don’t think they ever loved them much. Free style doodling and painting led to many artistic works that were hung on refrigerators, sent to grandparents, and framed for posterity to hang on our walls.

Yet far be it from me to chastise a harmless hobby. So here’s a new adult coloring book created by illustrator Ryan Durney. He’s a master at fantastical drawings and produced

Color Your Dreams: Adult Coloring & Dream Journal Unknown-1 after spending months fulfilling orders for commercial adult coloring books. I met Ryan through the hireanllustrator.com and contracted with him to illustrate my soon-to-be announced picture book, Clara & Her Nutcracker.  9781522752509_p0_v1_s192x300

Please check out Color Your Dreams if you’re an adult into coloring.

And if you’re into anything Nutcracker, please check out Clara & Her Nutcracker!

In the meantime, I found this cartoon amusing:







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