Archive for the ‘Hobbies’ Category

11/18/19, The Crown

Posted on November 18, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a wonderful week, and that things are rolling along peacefully toward Thanksgiving, and you have plans you’re looking forward to. And I hope that all of you will be with people you care about for the holidays, whether family or friends.

 

I took a day off yesterday, on Sunday, to indulge myself, and I binge-watched Season 3 of The Crown, on Netflix, which came out (the whole season) yesterday. My only concern about it was that they had wonderful actors in the first two seasons, whom we all got attached to in the stories about Queen Elizabeth II of England and her family and history—–and they announced at the end of the last season that rather than ‘aging’ the current actors with makeup, as the Queen gets older, they were using an entirely new cast in the upcoming seasons. They spent two seasons getting us attached the old cast, and now we would be seeing an entirely new group of actors. And as I feared, the change of cast didn’t work for me. I love the stories and the history, and the glimpses into significant events in the Queen’s personal life, but the actors they chose were much older than the Queen’s actual age on screen at the time. They had actors in their 50’s portraying the Queen and Prince Phillip, her husband, when they were still in their thirties. At 38, they have her portrayed by an actress in her 50’s, or who looks that way. The acting was flawless, but the discrepancy in age was disturbing and distracting. And they could so easily have used the original actors, Claire Foy and Matt Smith, in Season 3.  They were fabulous in the first two seasons, and the change of cast was jarring and disturbing. I wonder if others will feel the same, and if the series will be less successful as a result. It seems like a very poor executive decision, particularly when actors and actresses are so successfully aged on screen —– Meryl Streep has done so many roles that portrayed her well beyond her actual age, and different from her real looks, and it was brilliantly done. I’m sorry they didn’t do the same with the original cast in The Crown.  I really missed Claire Foy and Matt Smith.

 

But other than that, I still enjoyed watching the series. It’s beautifully written, and the actors are very good, even if not the ones I would have preferred to see. Claire Foy and Matt Smith were so touching and endearing in those roles, and the new cast’s performances, while dramatically excellent, were not warm.

 

It’s fun to get hooked on a series, and I love binge-watching, and seeing the whole season all in one day. It was a great way to spend a cold, rainy Sunday. Because of the change of cast, the Crown only got a B+ from me, but it’s still very good and worth watching. If you enjoy seeing modern history brought to life, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the show very much!!!

 

Have a great week!!! And if you’d rather read a book than watch a series, you can always read my new book, Child’s Play, if you haven’t read it yet!!!

 

love, Danielle

10/21/19, Healthy Living and Remodeled Cars

Posted on October 21, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, and you’ve had some happy surprises, whatever they may be.

 

This has been one of my long travel weeks, involving several long plane trips, the usual delayed flights, long waits in security, and time on my hands, so I’ve had time to read magazines, and catch up on movies to help pass the time. I usually learn something new from the magazines, which this time led to some serious thought and musing about the times, and how things have changed. The most obvious change from my childhood and youth is that now everyone has a cell phone in their hand (my children literally sleep with their phones), and everyone texts instead of talking on the phone. Those who do talk on the phone do so with ear buds in their ears, talking loudly to themselves (or so it seems) walking down the street, and looking crazy. Personally, I hate texting, and miss the sound of a human voice. No one actually answers their phone, it all goes to voice mail, and they screen their calls.

 

Aside from the lightning speed of technology, the word one hears constantly now is ‘healthy’. And obviously, being aware of good health is a good thing. Everyone exercises, people count their steps, people look better, live longer, and it’s a good change—-within reason. I also find though that the word ‘healthy’ hides many things. I grew up on Hostess Twinkies (my favorite food at one time), cookies that had enough chemicals in them to preserve them into eternity, Wonder Bread (It still makes great French toast), and when I taught Sunday school, I bribed the children with candy until their parents picked them up. (And in Europe, I ate the equivalents, and ate and handed out lollipops) And I gave my children eventually chocolate flavored breakfast cereal, and sugar was considered okay. Children today get popsicles made of brussel sprouts and broccoli (I’m sorry…yerghk!!!), and fashionable young women live on Kale, which I admit that I hate. And most children in ultra-health conscious homes have never tasted sugar. I agree that my generation went overboard with the less healthy treats, but this one goes overboard too. And I find that ‘healthy’ is often a word used to hide ultra-low calorie, or no calorie foods for young women obsessed with their weight and are much too thin. What they mean is non-fattening and call it ‘healthy’. I’ve never had a problem with my weight, so it’s one battle I didn’t have to fight, and could even occasionally eat a donut (I wouldn’t dare today!!). And yes, we did and ate unhealthy things, and I’ve always been lazy about exercise except right after a baby, to get back to my normal weight. And I was lucky, I always bounced back pretty quickly. In contrast, all of my daughters go to the gym pretty much every day, and some get up at 4 am to go to the gym at 5 am, so they can exercise and be ready for work. I don’t think there is enough money in the world to get me to a gym at 5 am, or at any hour. I pay slight homage to the times with an exercise coach once in a while, not very often though. I’m lazy, and lucky, because my weight, on the low side, has stayed the same. And I try not to eat too much chocolate cake!!! I’m careful.

 

I find that not only do we eat better now, and exercise more in the US, but our exterior looks have become an obsession too. I was shocked to discover that young women in their 20’s are getting Botox shots now to get rid of signs of age—what age? At 22?? And assorted other shots and surgeries. In big cities, among sophisticated young women who can afford it, they are having countless shots, surgeries, electrical procedures, and treatments to improve their looks and combat the signs of age long before aging starts. They’re barely out of their teen age years when they start. I’m stunned by how much they do, and how early they do it. None of my daughters do, fortunately, but they do eat healthy and exercise a lot—–and I haven’t done anything in that vein (of surgery and shots), because not only am I lazy, but I’m a major coward. Having plastic surgery scares me to death!!! So I live with what nature hands out. I throw cold water on my face, and don’t look in the mirror too hard, and hope for the best.

 

And on my recent flight, I will confess to buying a magazine that told me how to look better naked. Not that I’m planning to walk down the street naked or have an audience, but for about 1 week a year I go to the beach, and don’t want to frighten the children (my own or other people’s). I expected to read about a few exercises I could do (maybe the week before my annual vacation), and found myself reading of surgical procedures I’d never heard of and couldn’t dream of. And by the time I finished reading the issue, I had lost all hope of ever looking decent in a bathing suit again, but somehow realizing how much people do, and the lengths they go to (not to mention the expense), I found it depressing that one has to fight THAT hard to look decent, and go to such extreme lengths to combat any sign of age and time on one’s body. I have to do ALL that? Wow, that is depressing, because I’m never going to have all that surgery. I’m just too chicken. It’s okay, I’ll wear a sweater or a coat to the beach next year. How far do we take this? How far are we willing to go? And what if it goes wrong? What if you don’t like your new face or body? I’ve kind of made friends with the old one, we’ve been together for quite a while. It just seems like we have to do SOOOOO MUCH now to stay in the game and look attractive, be healthy, and get all our steps in!!! Wow….it sounds like so much work, and what’s real in the end? What’s left of the original model? Not much in many cases. While claiming to be more genuine and more real and more honest and even liberated today, are we becoming Barbie dolls, by replacing all the moving parts, and attacking every inch of ourselves, with a shot, an electrical jolt, or the knife?? Is this really better?? Maybe I’m making excuses for my own cowardice, but suddenly it all seems so false. And at a certain point, gravity gets us all. Things are a little less extreme in Europe, but it’s happening there too. I suspect that every woman I know even in Europe gets shots of some kind in their face, from their early 20’s on. And many do a lot to their bodies too. It started with liposuction, and has gone way, way beyond that.

 

It somehow reminded me old cars that are being restored. I’ll bet that I don’t know a single woman of any age who isn’t doing something, at least shots if not surgery, and many of them surgery, to alter their looks. I don’t like getting older either, and no one hates birthdays more than I do, but somehow I think it’s sad if we have to have surgery, shots, and all those treatments to ‘stay in the game’, whatever the game is. I’ll bet there are damn few natural women left in the world. What about feeling good about who we are, where we are (within reason), without surgery?? It’s a novel idea these days. And something to think about. The Millennials have a firm grip on the world these days, and are getting a jump start on fighting age. Healthy is good, but I don’t want to have a year of surgery for my one week at the beach every year. It’s all pretty scary, and a mass panic (anti-age creams by big name brands cost $600. and $700. I’m probably ridiculous, but I’d rather buy shoes).

 

Anyway, you won’t be seeing me run down the street naked anytime soon. I refuse to eat Kale (it tastes like rubber to me), and I’ll do some exercise, but I have no idea how many steps I take. I can still make it to my typewriter, and chase after my millennial children, and 5 dogs, and publish 7 books a year. Do I really have to have shots and surgery too, or will I look older than King Tut because I don’t? So far, I’ve avoided the knife and the shots(out of pure cowardice more than moral strength), and people aren’t screaming when they see me. I just think it would be nice if we could preserve some of the original model, and not trade it all in for new parts, like an old car being turned into a new one. So far I’m holding out for the original me, and I may wind up being the last woman on the planet to do so.

 

Stay tuned…..and have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

9/23/19, Downton Heaven

Posted on September 23, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week. Mine had some ups and downs. My son Nick’s anniversary date is always a hard challenge and a hard day, but even the hardest things we face bring some blessings with them. I spent the day and the weekend with two of my daughters (and spoke to all my other children in other cities a lot). And I had a really lovely, heartwarming time with my two girls, with quiet dinners, some relaxing time, playing with our dogs, brunches and lunches, and beautiful late summer weather. It was just lovely to be with them, and a very special treat on Saturday afternoon!!! We went to see the new movie of Downton Abbey!!! And oh Wow!!! WHAT A TREAT!!!

 

We all have our addictions, some of them relatively harmless. I do enjoy fashion, and shopping, watching the latest fashion shows, and have a weak spot for shoes!!! I love bittersweet chocolate, and always have a bar in my purse for when I skip a meal, which I do when I’m running around or too busy to stop for lunch. I love dogs, and adore my three. I enjoy boats—-not an addiction, but I love time spent on the water. I love the ocean and the beach. And I fell in love with the TV series Downton Abbey from the first time I saw it.  Someone gave me a DVD of the first season as a Christmas gift, when it started. I put it in my DVD player with no great interest, but it was a cold snowy day, and I was between books—-and I emerged 8 hours later, dazzled by it. I had watched the whole season at one sitting—-binge watching. It was the beginning of a major love affair for the next 6 years. I have all the DVD’s and have watched them a million times, particularly favorite episodes. It eventually became a real addiction. It was an agonizing wait from the end of one season till the beginning of the next. I got a friend in England to send me the DVDs of a new season when they came out, the DVD’s in Europe are different than in the US, and I couldn’t wait for the American version to come out, so I’d get the English ones months earlier and play them in Paris, and eventually dedicated a laptop to European formats, so I could even watch them in the States. And when travelling, in desperation even watched Downton in Italian when I couldn’t get it on French TV.

 

I often tried to think of what I loved about it, and why I loved it so much. The characters in it, and the episodes, were beautifully written, and the characters were clearly defined. Hard things happened, but rarely really horrible things. A character went to prison (first Bates, and then his wife Anna, the valet and ladies’ maid in the show), but they were eventually freed and justice prevailed. You cared about the characters in the show, and came to love them. It was always clear who the good guys were, and who were the bad guys. Unlike real life, where sometimes we get fooled by people who appear well intentioned and aren’t. Family and family values are central to the story. Just about all of the characters have integrity, which I also think is very important. It was a glimpse into a long gone era of elegance and style. The costumes were absolutely fabulous and true to the era. SOOOO MUCH care went into each episode, and they were historically accurate. The era itself was fascinating, from the sinking of the Titanic (in the first episode), till about 1925. And the values of the characters were clear, the issues they dealt with were often things we deal with ourselves in everyday life even a century later (problems in a marriage, or with children, or external events which impact us). I loved the humor in it, and still quote the grandmother regularly. I love her outrageous side, and the character was an opportunity to express wisdom. “Marriage is a lonnnnggggg business, you’d better be sure you’re doing it with the right person”. And after you cried in an episode, you laughed. There were many sub plots in each episode, so you never got bored. I loved the growth and transformation of characters over the years (the son in law, Tom Branson, the chauffeur who married the youngest daughter), and even the mellowing of the originally subversive butler (Barrow). The characters are credible and lovable. I got attached to all of them. (And like all Downton addicts, I was crushed when Matthew died—-after a car crash, we saw him dead with blood gushing from his ear, and clutching to denial, I thought “maybe it’s a severe ear problem….he can’t be dead” but he was. And I was shocked and saddened again when Lady Sybil died in childbirth at 23, and the family’s grief was heart wrenching. And I was elated when Matthew finally married Lady Mary. I even loved the hairdos, which were accurate to the period too…..and the hats!!! Everything about the production was high quality from the first episode to the last. And Julian Fellowes wrote it brilliantly. I’ve watched some other series since and enjoyed them a lot, even historical ones, (Victoria, and The Crown), but nothing has captured my heart the way Downton did. I was crushed when the series ended—MUCH too soon for my taste. I wish they had gone well past 6 seasons. And I still watch favorite episodes from time to time.

 

So you can imagine my absolute delight when they announced a Downton movie—-and there is no one more critical than a fan who knows the material intimately. (It’s why I never write sequels to my books—-because comparisons can be so tough!!!) The movie opened in New York on Friday, and one of my daughters reserved seats at a really fun theater for Saturday, my other daughter had left on a trip by then. Four of my daughters are Downton addicts too. The seats in the theater were huge and comfortable, you could lean back, lie back, in utter comfort, with a blanket, food and drinks were served and complimentary popcorn!!! But the biggest treat of all was the movie—–and seeing all the characters we love on screen again. It lived up to every possible expectation, and more. Once again, brilliantly written, beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted. ALL of the characters were there, no one was missing (except those who had died many seasons before). It’s been a 2 or 3 year gap since the end of the last season, a long hungry wait for an addict———-but the movie is an absolute feast of delight, utterly satisfying. You know everything that has happened in the meantime. It was like coming home to a group of old friends. I wanted the movie to last forever, and they left enough story lines open so they could do another movie, and I hope they do!!! We left the theater totally content, having laughed and cried and loved every minute of it. I plan to get the DVD and watch it a million times. It’s a harmless addiction, which makes me so happy to indulge.

 

It was a few hours of sheer, total joy. I’m SO HAPPY they made the movie. It’s every bit as good as the series, everyone was terrific in it. And if you’re a Downton addict too, you’re going to absolutely LOVE it. And even if you’d never seen a single episode or season before, they are people to fall in love with, in a beautiful movie. My addiction has been fed again for now….WHAT A TREAT!!! I hope you see it and love it too. I can’t wait to see it again. I have friends in California who were waiting for it eagerly too, and friends in Paris who can’t wait to go when it opens this coming week. I’ll probably see it in all the cities I live in, and will wear the DVD to a nub when I get it. SHEER JOY!!! Have a great week, and if you need a cheerer-upper run to see the movie of Downton Abbey.

 

They hit one right out of the park—–again!!!

 

love, Danielle

5/21/18, Dog Days

Posted on May 21, 2018

Hi Everyone,
 

As many of you know, I love art, particularly contemporary art (and I used to have a contemporary art gallery, for 6 years, in San Francisco. I still miss it!!!), and I especially love happy art, and art that makes me smile. In more classic art, I love paintings of children, or mothers and children. And in contemporary art, I love paintings and sculptures that involve words and sayings. I love hearts, AND I love sculptures of dogs, preferably in bright, fun colors. I realized recently (especially when I moved apartments 6 months ago and had to pack them all!!! and then find places for them in the new apartment) that I have a lot of fun sculptures of dogs, so I thought I’d share some of them with you. Most of them are painted bronze (and weigh a ton), some are fiberglass/also in bright colors, and some are metal like tin, or aluminum, and some are in odd materials, (one of them is made of little strips of newspaper). So I hope you enjoying seeing them…..I can never resist a cute dog statue, especially in a bright color. The French bull dogs in a multitude of colors are by an Italian artist, and the ones of Chihuahuas (in gold, red, and other colors), and the big white dog are by a Belgian artist named Willem Sweetlove, and I love his work (I also have a big red elephant by him, the size of a real baby elephant!!! It’s in my entrance hall, as a surprise to welcome arriving guests).
 

The word sculptures I love are fun too, and feature words I love: Hope, Love, Happiness. I also used to make wall hangings with multi colored vintage letters to spell out words or sayings I like. Some of the word paintings are black and white, and the word sculptures tend to be red. I collect a French artist called “Ben”, who writes words or sayings, usually on a bright background. In my office, my paintings by him say: “You never know”, “Keep on looking”, “I risk everything”, ” There are no questions without answers”, and “You have to laugh at it”.
 

So here are the dogs I’ve collected, I hope you enjoy them too!!! Have a great week.

 

 

love, Danielle

 

Filed Under Art, Dogs, Hobbies, homes, Paris | 3 Comments

4/23/18, Binge Watching

Posted on April 23, 2018

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope you had a good week last week. I’ve been doing lots of spring cleaning. I cleaned out my children’s old playroom, full of things they haven’t looked at, or played with in fifteen years (a million high school papers!!). It was a lot more work than I expected, but it looks as good as new now, and can be used as a bedroom. That kept me busy. And I’ve been sorting and cleaning in other parts of the house too. Manual labor is always relaxing, and very rewarding to see a project completed at the end of the day—instead of waiting months for things to happen in business, or years to finish a book!!!
 

AND my reward to myself for my labors is that I binge watched the new season of  Call The Midwife, my currently favorite show. I received it as a gift from England, and nearly ripped it out of the mailman’s hands, and rushed to a computer so I could watch it. I LOVE binge watching a whole season of a series I love, instead of waiting to see what happens week by week. The characters are wonderful in the show, the casting is perfect, the actors lovable and believable, the script and various stories beautifully done and intertwined. I think Downton Abbey is still my favorite, I loved The Crown on Netflix. And I love Victoria too, about the young Queen Victoria. And now I’ve fallen in love with Call The Midwife. So that was my treat this week, and after I watched all of this season’s episodes, I watched it again!!! It’s very relaxing to watch a favorite show on TV or a computer.
 

So that’s what I did this past week, and the coming week will be a busy one. I’m on the road again, to visit my kids, and do some writing, in search of spring somewhere along the way!!! This has been the longest winter ever. I love snow, but have seen a little too much of it this year, and freezing weather. And of course, I have my DVD’s of my favorite shows with me, and will watch some of them on Netflix, so I can binge watch wherever I am!!!
 

I hope you have a great week, and take a few minutes to relax—–and maybe binge watch a favorite show too!!!

 

love, Danielle

4/16/18, Life Lessons

Posted on April 16, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope all is well with you, and that you’re having some peaceful, happy days, some fun, and productive times doing something you enjoy.
 

I was reading the new Joel Osteen book this weekend, “Blessed In The Darkness”. I always love what he writes, it makes me think, and feel hopeful about life. We all have daily challenges, and it’s nice to have ‘tools’ to help us deal with all the things that come up in all of our lives.
 

It brought to mind an experience I had several years ago. You may have read about it, or not. I was embezzled for a large amount of money, by my most trusted employee at the time, a person who had worked for me for nearly twenty years. (That doesn’t make me special, the FBI said at the time that most embezzlements are committed by the person closest to you, whom you know well, has worked for you the longest or for a very long time, and whom you trust most. And that’s how it was for me). It was an enormous financial and emotional challenge, ENORMOUS, and involved a huge amount of money. I discovered it by accident, which is usually how it happens, some small thing exposes it, and it all unravels after that. And it turned out that the person who embezzled from me had been doing it almost from the day they started working for me (nearly 20 years before), and the embezzler admitted that they had been jealous of everything I had from the moment they started working for me. Jealousy is a VERY dangerous thing!!! I work very hard for what I do have, and always have worked very hard, and I’m not careless with money, no one has the power to sign checks on my account except me. And it wasn’t done in huge shocking amounts that would catch attention, so that I would say “OMG, where did that money go?” It was done in small steady amounts, sometimes several times a day, usually under a thousand dollars,’only’ several hundred dollars at a time, and rarely over a thousand, so that eventually at the end of the month, I had less money in my account than I thought I should, but I couldn’t figure it out and thought that maybe I was spending more than I realized. The full amount if you added it up over nearly 20 years was a staggering figure. Embezzling from me was a full time job, more so than their actual job with me. You feel stupid when it happens, and shocked and betrayed, and hurt and heart broken, and feel you should have noticed it, but it was very, very cleverly and simply done, which is also typical of many embezzlements. The person who did it figured out the 3 areas that I didn’t watch closely, they also lied to me constantly and I believed them. They also figured out the one or two areas that the accounting firm we used to verify things didn’t watch as closely so they didn’t spot it either, and also what the bank didn’t watch closely. Those three factors made it possible to steal literally millions from me over the years. And life events happen which distract you—-I got divorced—-I had a very sick son, who died during that time, and those distractions also provided fertile times for someone to take advantage of me.
 

Interestingly, there is a statute of limitations on what people embezzle from you. That limit is 3 years, so even once we knew how much more it was, with some very frightening ballpark and accurate figures, the embezzler could only be prosecuted for 3 years of what they stole—-the 12 or 13 or 15 years before that could not be claimed because of the statute of limitations. I got some money back for the last 3 years, but the bulk of what was stolen couldn’t be claimed because of that statute of limitations, which was shocking too. Embezzling is in fact a psychological pathology, and probably a form of compulsion or obsession. I doubt that there was ever a day that some amount wasn’t stolen from me by the embezzler. Many lies were told, each lie tailored to the person they were lying to, the bank, the overseeing accountant, other employees, or me. And we all believed the lies. Looking back, there are signs that could have been red flags, but I’m a trusting person, I’m honest and assume that others are too. The person bought a big house and spent a lot of money on it, landscaping, decorating, etc., and I was told that a relative had left this person money, I believed it and never questioned it, and I was happy for them. It never occurred to me that I was the ‘relative’, and paid for that house. The court awarded me the house and the proceeds from selling it, but once caught, it was mortgaged to the hilt, and I got only a small fraction of what it was worth, and very little for the contents.
 

There is no question, it was a very, very ugly, frightening, shocking time. It took a team of forensic accountants recommended by the FBI eight months to figure out what I had lost, and it was mind boggling. Some days I would be panicked by losing so much money, other days I was heartbroken by being so badly betrayed by someone I trusted completely. And it took time to get over it emotionally. One of my daughters, in her teens at the time, summed it up for me one night when I was in despair over it, and she said “We’re not starving, we’re not in the street, you’re still working, we’re going to be okay, Mom”, and she was right. It was as simple as that.
 

Because of the huge financial loss, I lost some things that really mattered to me. In order to try and regain our financial balance—-losing any amount of money hurts, but when you get hit big, it’s a struggle to get things on an even keel again, unless you have vast amounts of money—-in order to try and equalize what I lost, I had to sell a beach house I loved, I had to close my art gallery which I’d had for 6 years, and REALLY loved, as a wonderful 2nd occupation, I represented 21 unknown struggling artists, so they got hurt by the loss too, and we were all very sad to close but I had no other choice, I couldn’t afford to support the gallery anymore. And worst of all, I had run a street outreach program to help the homeless for 11 years, working on the streets and providing supplies they desperately needed. I poured a lot of money into it, and could no longer afford it after the embezzlement, and had to shut down our operations on the street. That hurt the most, it was work I loved for people in dire need. The judge was most upset by that, and added many, many hours of community service to the embezzler’s sentence, to acknowledge that. I was very sad to lose those three things, the homeless outreach program, my art gallery, and the beach house. I just couldn’t afford them after the loss.
 

It doesn’t help much, but I realized then how common this is. If you own a small (or large) business, you are vulnerable to someone doing something similar to you. A household employee can steal from you. If you have caretakers for elderly parents, those caretakers can steal money from you too, and that happens often, I hear it from friends. It can happen on a large scale or a small one. Before it happened to me, it happened to my agent, with an employee he treated like a son—-he embezzled a huge amount of money from my agent, and bought himself 2 houses, just like what happened to me, and the embezzler claimed he had inherited money. It all unraveled with a $125. withdrawal, and everything was exposed after that. At the same time it happened to me, it happened to art dealers I knew, in similar amounts and shocking circumstances by their most trusted employee. And recently it happened to two friends who own a small jewelry store, again by their most trusted employee of many years. I’m not suggesting that you become suspicious of everyone around you, or who works for you. But these things do happen, to smart careful responsible people, if you have a dishonest employee who knows you well and what your vulnerabilities are. If you’re an honest person, it never occurs to you that a dishonest person is taking advantage of you. I never dreamed that it could happen to me, that someone would do that to me. But it does, and it’s smart to be aware, and very careful (I thought I was).
 

In my case, the embezzler went to prison, though not for very long. To be honest, I wasn’t angry (I think I was too shocked to be angry), I was deeply hurt by it, practically and emotionally. I wrote a book inspired by it although a different story since it’s fiction, which helped a little, (“Betrayal”). It takes time to get over a shocking event like that. And I never recouped the money that I lost. Maybe one day I will, but probably not. But my daughter’s early assessment was right, we had our house, we weren’t starving, I still had my job, and we’re okay.
 

I did the only thing I knew how to do to recover from it. I rolled up my sleeves and worked even harder than before—hard to believe since I have worked hard on my books all my life. I worked extra time and over time, and wrote more than ever. The feelings and the hurt fueled me, and I was determined to protect my family and provide for them. And I realize now that blessings came from it. There are hard things that happen in life, but they often come with a blessing you don’t realize until later. The raw emotions and drive and determination made me work even harder on the books, and it showed in the writing. Is it an event I count as a blessing? No, but there have been definite benefits from it. Seeing my work, my publisher moved me up from four books to six a year, and now seven. If it had never happened, I probably wouldn’t be publishing 7 books a year, or even 6. But my fan base grew, my publishers recognized it, and little by little my career has grown ever since. My determination to work harder grew my career. I still miss my gallery, but no longer having it, I began spending more time in France, and am very happy there. That might not have happened, if the embezzlement hadn’t happened. And I will always miss my street work with the homeless, but in fact it was a very dangerous project, and I always worried about someone in my 12 man team getting hurt on the streets. We had some dicey moments, and it was a very high risk project, working hand to hand and face to face with people who were often mentally ill. Anything could have happened, and luckily no one got hurt in 11 years, but I always knew that at some point the risks would be too great, so maybe we stopped at the right time, and maybe by now we couldn’t do it anymore. Maybe we stopped at the right time, without knowing it. And I raise my voice whenever possible for the homeless, which I couldn’t do when I did the street work, since we did it anonymously.  There is no question that blessings did come from the embezzlement, over time, and not always visibly at first. But needing to counterbalance the loss drove my career forward in ways I couldn’t have foreseen, and maybe I wouldn’t have done otherwise, and I’m very grateful for that. I love publishing more and writing more, and enjoy it thoroughly.
 

It was a hard lesson, and probably one of the hardest things that has happened to me. Losing my son was much worse, and getting divorced, but this was one of those shocking, brutal practical lessons you just don’t expect to happen to you. But it can happen to anyone. No one is exempt from jealousy, and the dishonesty of people you just don’t expect, whether it’s getting mugged on the street and having your purse stolen, or your house burglarized and possessions you love taken, or as in this case, someone you trust stealing from you. I was pretty careful, even very careful before, but I was trusting too. The other embezzlements I’ve heard of, of people I know, are incredibly similar to mine, always by a very, very trusted employee, and usually someone who worked for them for a very long time and has greater access than other employees, and the benefit of your trust. One thinks of innocent naive movie stars being ripped off by their shady managers—you just don’t think about it happening to responsible people who run their lives well. But it can happen to all of us in some form.
 

Reading Joel Osteen’s book reminded me of the blessings that can come from a shocking upsetting event. And as he says, you don’t stop there. You go on, you make the best of it, you use it to grow and become more as a person, which is the real victory after an event like that. The focus is on the money lost in an embezzlement, and the broken trust. But if you look harder you see the good that comes from it eventually too. And I realized, when I thought about it, that publishing 7 books a year now is one of those big blessings that might never have happened otherwise, and that’s a great thing for me, my family and my career. I’m working harder than ever, and my career has grown exponentially since that unhappy event. You can’t stop at the unhappy events in your life, you have to make the best of them, learn from them, and go on to better days…..and the blessings will come in abundance over time. I am very, very grateful for that!!!

 

much love, Danielle

2/26/18, Binge Worthy Series

Posted on February 26, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
I hope you’re having busy, fun, interesting weeks—-in spite of a last gasp of winter in a lot of places. It’s been cold on the West Coast, alternately freezing and weirdly warm in parts of the East, freezing in Paris. Winter is definitely still with us.

As I’ve said before, I have a tendency to hibernate in winter (like a Mama Bear!!). I do a lot of writing, and between bouts of writing, my latest passion in recent years are the series that I’ve grown attached to and really enjoy. And whenever possible, I binge watch them, when a new season comes out in its entirety, or when I decide to re-watch my favorite series. It is so cozy on a winter’s night to watch my favorite series in bed, on TV, or on my computer, with my three little dogs tucked in around me. They love my winter laziness, and don’t know how they got so lucky, as I sit in bed and they get my company for a whole day or evening.

My all-time very favorite series, and the first one I ever watched is Downton Abbey, I don’t even know how often I’ve watched all six seasons by now. I recently found it on Netflix, while I was in Paris, and although I have it on DVD’s, I happily watched it on Netflix all weekend. It was like meeting up with old friends again, as the characters on the show are for the most part endearing, and after devotedly watching for six years, I loved seeing them all again. My daughters and I were REALLY sorry when the show ended!! I would have been happy with another six seasons!!  More recently, I have loved The Crown, also on Netflix. And Victoria, (about the young Queen Victoria), both of those series have had two seasons so far. And on a lazy weekend recently, I discovered “Call The Midwife “also on Netflix, a British series, set in the l950’s in London’s somewhat rough East End, with a convent full of nuns, and young nurse/midwives, all of them with lots of personality, and the stories of the people they take care of, and their own lives, are very poignant. It’s beautifully written, and perfectly cast, and deals with many of the issues and challenges women faced in the 1950s.  It’s currently in its seventh season, and I binge-watched that too, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Oddly enough, all of the series I have grown attached to are British. I’ve had a wonderful time watching these series, and became totally immersed in them and the people in the story (the way people do with my books). The series provide a great break for me between books, and it’s fun to watch something I didn’t write!! If you watch them, I hope you enjoy them too!!!

Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

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6/20/16, Dreams

Posted on June 20, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a great week, and that some really nice things happened to you this week. We can all use that, to give us a boost, even something small, a nice moment, something that makes us smile, or some piece of really good news.

I’ve been somewhat pensive, and quiet, in the almost two weeks since the passing of my ex-husband Tom. It’s a sad event for those of us who knew and loved and admired him, but he had an extraordinary life, a truly great life, and I think he got to do everything he wanted to do, and more. He lived to be a great age, and had opportunities and experiences few people have. He once went to Antarctica for several months on one of his boats—-(I stayed home!!! I would pay money, serious money, NOT to be on a sailboat, dodging icebergs in the dead of winter. He loved it, I would have hated it, so I didn’t go. But what an amazing experience for him, and the photos he brought back were fabulous!!). For those of us left behind when someone we love passes on, we are left with memories, the loose ends to tie up in our minds, and some introspection about their impact on our lives. So I have been quiet and reflective.

I’ve seen some close friends for lunch, and really enjoyed their company. And I had dinner at the home of good friends a few days ago. The wife is Japanese, so there were a number of Japanese people there, which was interesting, and nice to meet them. One of the couples had brought their nephew to dinner. He looked to be somewhere in his late twenties, was a biologist, and was leaving soon for a 6 month research project in Finland, so it was interesting talking to him. And at some point in the conversation, despite his youth, he said something that really caught my attention. He said that “You’re not old until your dreams become regrets”. Wow!! That is a very deep, and very true thought. No matter how old we are, we still have dreams, we ALL have dreams, or we should. Things we’ve always wanted to do, haven’t gotten to yet, and hope to get to one day. Some of it may not be realistic: Winning Miss Universe or Miss America at 55 or 65 or 70 is not likely to happen, you may have missed the boat on that. Or climbing Mount Everest. That could be sketchy too. But going somewhere that is actually feasible, traveling somewhere, building something, learning a language—-taking classes of some kind, or even writing a book. There’s no limit to what we can do—there may be some limits, but in many cases, we can fulfill at least some of our dreams. Some people even find their soul mate late in life. And bitterness and regret is not unique to old age. Some people give up on their dreams early, and shouldn’t. One of my favorite role models is an 88 year old friend of mine in New York. She is still working as an interior designer, takes classes to learn something new, goes to a book club, the theater, and sees nearly every movie and reads every book that comes out. She is still learning things at 88. She is a knock out, and so much fun. She is a living example to me of how I want to be when I’m her age, full of life, and busy, and still growing and doing, and fully alive. And obviously, good health helps.

I try to keep track of what my goals are every few years, and what I want to do. I try to keep track of it so those dreams don’t slip away. It’s easy to put our dreams away, and get bogged down in the every day. And sometimes I achieve those goals better than others. But I thought that what that young man said was so true….that you’re not old until your dreams turn into regrets (about what you didn’t do). It was a good wake up call for me, and I wanted to share it with you.

What are YOUR dreams? What do you want to do, that you haven’t gotten around to yet? It’s good to think about it from time to time. I have a rock on my desk with a saying carved on it, “It’s Never too late”. And another one that says “Follow your dreams”. It’s not too late for you to meet the right person, to take a class you’ve always wanted to take, to learn a language, learn to cook, take a writing class, a dancing class, to get in shape, to make new friends. I think that’s how people do stay young, interested and interesting, by opening new doors and windows, learning new things, even small things, and hanging onto those dreams.

It was a good reminder hearing that, and maybe for you too. Take good care, and have some fun! We all need it, a good belly laugh from time to time, and even just a warm moment with a friend. Have a terrific week!!

love, Danielle

9/28/15 Midnight Musings about Fashion

Posted on September 28, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is going smoothly in your life, and that the Fall is off to a good start, now that it’s officially here.

I was thinking about ‘fashion’ in general and specifically tonight. I write about it often, when I go to fashion shows, or see my daughters’ work. Three of my daughters are professional stylists and design consultants, to a variety of designers. All three of them have the same job, but perform it in very different ways, depending on who they’re working with, and their own individual styles. A design consultant works closely with the designer to develop their next collection, how it should look, what colors are strongest, fabrics, textures, details, and a huge amount of research and collaboration goes into putting the new collection together. They may be inspired by a period in history, a country, a culture, or even world events, or street culture. First they help develop the concept, and then in the case of one of my daughters, she does an immense amount of research, delving back into fashion books, and even looking at vintage pieces, for inspiration. And then the hands on work begins, helping to choose fabrics, seeing how they work, what colors work best with those designs, then they have samples cut and sewn and fit them on models to see how they move and drape, before cutting the actual clothes for the collection. And once the real samples are made, they fit them on the models who will wear them in the fashion show (and pick the models), and then their role as stylists comes in, as they put together each complete look that will be worn by a model on the runway, and the accessories that will help create that look. The tension before a fashion show is enormous, my girls stay at work long after midnight, and are often back at work at 6 or 7 am right before a show. And the day after a show, it’s not over, and then they begin shooting photographs for the “look book”, which buyers can refer to when they order the clothes. And by the time they finish that, a week after the show, they begin work on the next collection. Designers (who actually do the drawing of the designs) and their consultants work closely together, and have to come up with 3 major collections a year: spring, fall, and ‘resort/cruise’, which used to be beachwear people wore to resorts in the winter, and is now essentially an early spring collection. In addition, for spring and fall, they do a “pre-collection”, which is a simpler, more commercial, sometimes slightly less expensive version of what is shown on the runway. So you’re really talking about designing 5 collections a year, with the pre-collections. It’s a stunning amount of work, and that’s true for all brands, whether low, moderate, or high priced. “Fashion Week” happens twice a year, for the spring and fall collections, and is really fashion month. It starts with a week in New York, where American designers show their wares, then on to London for the British designers, Milan for the Italians, and then the grand finale in Paris, for all the French ready to wear designers. It is four intense weeks where magazine editors, the fashion press in general, store buyers, and anyone who follows fashion go from city to city for an exhausting month. It begins in early September in New York and goes into October, showing spring clothes for the stores to order, and then happens again in February, into March, to show the fall collections. One of my daughters actually worked all 4 cities at times, but mostly my daughters work in New York and Paris. All three are talented and work with major designers, and it’s a thrill for me every time to see the collections they worked on, and to see the influence they had, and the results of their hard work. I admire them immensely for how hard they work, and am very proud of the results. (I’m proud of all my kids, who work in very different fields, the eldest is a social worker in pediatric oncology, the youngest has a passion for music, two of my sons work in startups, and another works in the film industry. And my late son Nick was a talented musician, and lyricist, and lead singer in a band. And best of all, each is following their passions and expressing their individual talents.) » read more »

7/7/14, Are we taking technology too far??

Posted on July 7, 2014

 

Hi Everyone,

As a person who has had a war with machines all my life, I can’t help but ask myself that question. Machines have always hated me, and I have to admit, it’s mutual. I hate them back. I have no problem with a light switch or the basics. I owned an electric can opener years ago that I could never operate. It took me 5 years to learn to fax, and longer to figure out how to get my messages off my cell phone. I kept forgetting how to do it. I can however manage a toaster, and now a microwave if it’s not too high tech. And my cell phone is prehistoric.  Smart Phones terrify me, so I have stuck with my old 14 year old battered cell phone that has disco lights that warn me when I have a message. I could give you a list a mile long of the machines I can’t figure out how to operate, and my mistakes on my laptop are legendary. I usually hit delete instead of send when writing a message, and then can’t figure out later why the person didn’t get my message and didn’t respond, when I complain that they didn’t. I write on a 1946 manual typewriter which does not erase my latest book. And I can’t blame the machinery in question, in my case it is ALWAYS pilot error. I can write a 500 page book, but damned if I can send an email without a hitch.

So for me the world of virtual everything and E-everything is pretty scary. In that context, I was told today that there are, or are going to be, computer operated cars that you don’t have to drive yourself, you just program them and they drive you. My home in Paris can usually be accessed by a minefield referred to as L’Etoile (The Star). In the center of it sits the very dignified Arc de Triomphe, there is a circle of traffic that runs around it, and a dozen broad avenues leading away from the circle. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. You take your life in your hands when you enter that circle of frantic traffic, cars going at odd angles to each other at full speed, in a mad dash to go from one boulevard to another, it looks like bumper cars or the destruction derby. And I have friends who have devised elaborate routes to avoid the circle entirely. So how is a computerized car going to navigate that without imploding? Hard to imagine.  And there is an “app” to park your car now. Why? I can actually manage to park my car myself. I can drive without a problem, I just can’t operate my computer.

I am also terrified by surgery performed by robots. I know it’s state of the art surgery at its best—-but what if the computer blows up, or goes haywire, or does something crazy, like my toaster or my microwave? The idea of a surgeon in Cincinnati, eating his lunch while operating his computer, performing surgery on me in Phoenix, or Houston or Miami, scares me to pieces. I can barely get my mouth open at the dentist, let alone stomach the idea of a robot doing surgery. On the other hand, a surgeon with shaky hands after a bad night before isn’t too reassuring either, and a robot presumably eliminates the possibility of human error, but still…

And I learned today that drones will no longer be used for aerial photography in real estate. Why? Did they hit someone? Take off their head? Hit a 747 at high altitude? If they’ve been eliminated in real estate, what terrible thing did they commit to be banned?

And the last straw came when I saw on my computer tonight (while trying to send an email) that there will now be computerized Smart Bras.  Computerized bras? Wow. Now that is impressive and really scary. My current bras are definitely not smart, they just hang there doing their job quietly. They seem to hold things up okay, although admittedly my bra size is small ( okay,very small), so they don’t have to do a lot of work, but my bra has never complained about it, at least not that I know of. What does a Smart Bra do? Do I really want to know? Will it teach my boobs to speak another language, vacuum, do laundry? A Japanese friend has a robot to do housework and vacuum. So could a Smart Bra be taught to do household chores, walk the dog, or feed the children? How smart could our boobs get, and our bras? I’m afraid here I go back to basics. I think I’ll stick with my fancy French bras which do absolutely nothing except decorate the landscape. My daughters once decorated their Christmas tree with fancy multi-colored bras. But a computerized Smart Bra? Maybe it could decorate the Christmas tree all by itself….I’m afraid that technology has left me way behind on this one…..I’m still back in the dark ages wearing a Dumb Bra, not a smart one, don’t have a robot doing my vacuuming, and park my car myself. And the idea of getting into a car that will drive itself is terrifying, what if it gets confused and takes me somewhere I dont want to go, while my Smart Bra gives it the wrong voice commands…..wow, guys, I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready for virtual everything. And if my bra spoke to me, I think I’d faint…unless it paid me compliments….maybe a Smart Bra could be taught to lie….”Congratulations!!! You wear a 44 Quadruple D”…..in that case, maybe it would be okay…..but I guess for now, I’ll stick to basics….have a great week!!! A real one!! Not just a virtual week!!! And watch out for heavy machinery!!!

 

love, danielle