…catch you next week
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Posted on May 21, 2019
Busy writing… See you next week!
Posted on May 13, 2019
I hope you had a good week and a lovely mother’s day, whether you’re a mother, or a son or daughter, a grandchild, or just a good motherly friend to someone who looks up to you.
Sometimes I have something I can’t wait to share with you, something I’ve seen or done or a pet peeve or immense joy. At other times, I grope around and can’t think of a single interesting thing I’ve done all week that might entertain you. There are always the fashion shows at certain times of year, the holidays, or a new book out. And I DO have a new book out, “Blessing in Disguise”, which came out last week, about a woman with three adult daughters, each one with a different father, and how very different they are, and how separate and distinct the mother’s relationship is with each of them. I hope you love it!!!
But since I spend about 95% of my time writing, there are times that I just haven’t seen or done anything except work, which gets boring for you to hear about. Sometimes I don’t leave my house (or office) for weeks at a time if I am working intensely on a book. And at other times something I want to share with you just leaps onto the page. I was travelling this week, which gets more and more complicated with increased security measures, and less and less fun, and there isn’t much to say about it. I didn’t do anything exciting this week, and then yesterday I got an email updating me about my incredible, remarkable, wonderful niece, Bea. And there it was, real life, staring me right in the eye, putting everything else I do or worry about into perspective.
Except for rare instances, we all share the same problems and deal with the same challenges to varying degrees in daily life. Worrying about our kids, the petty aggravations of daily life, (I am currently dealing with 2 winter leaks, hardly fascinating for you to hear), or we have a falling out with someone, or get irritated with our kids (the same ones we worry about!!), or just when you get your budget in semi-control you get a whopping bill from the plumber, or for your car, or from your dentist, and it blows your budget all over again. Whatever it is always seems monumental at the time (or really is with health or job or money or kid worries). And then suddenly you hear of something, or see it, which puts it all into perspective and reminds us of how small our problems are compared to that.
For those of you who don’t know, 3 years ago, my then 17 year old niece Bea was at the Brussels airport during the terrorist attack. You read about those events in the papers, and you never expect them to come close to home. She lost both her legs, was badly burned, her body filled with shrapnel. She was one of two survivors of one terminal, and was thought to be dead when they found her. She spent 7 months in a military hospital, and underwent more than 40 surgeries, and she will always have shrapnel in her body from the bombing. Unimaginable. She is an astoundingly brave and remarkable girl, with wonderful parents who got her through it. And she has more courage and guts than anyone I know. When she got out of the hospital, she finished high school and graduated. She did over a year of rehab with the Navy Seals. (She is half French and half American). She is now in college in the States. Her passion was horseback riding, and she was hoping to be in the Olympics. She is now training for the Paralympics, and sat on her beloved horse Deedee before she was even out of the hospital. The reunion of her and her horse was heart wrenching. Her horse Deedee was led out of its trailer, as a surprise for her, on the first day Bea was allowed to go out to the hospital garden. Deedee raced across the parking lot, and into the garden, went straight to Bea in her wheel chair, put her head on Bea’s shoulder, and licked her face. Bea began making a strong recovery from then on, and the love affair continues, as Bea now attends college and trains daily for the pre-Paralympic qualifying competitions. She had a recent setback for two months, which required more surgery for an infection. She’s on the mend now, and will be back in training again soon.
When I got the family update on her yesterday, it woke me up again. What Bea deals with every day is unthinkable to the rest of us, to come through something that immense and turn it into a positive life, and refuse to be defeated by a catastrophic, cataclysmic event so huge we can’t really even imagine it. It makes all my daily problems ridiculous by comparison: the suitcase that didn’t make it onto the plane with me 3 days ago (but eventually did turn up), the car repair, the bills that seem to multiply before they get to me, the harsh words exchanged with someone when I was tired, some minor disappointments. It shrinks to nothing when I am reminded of what Bea faces every day, and how brilliantly and bravely she has dealt with it, and her determination to lead an amazing life, and she surely will with her positive attitude. She is 20 now, and truly an extraordinary person.
So I’m sharing the wakeup call with you. Some people are dealing with such enormous things, and so successfully, that it shrinks my ‘problems’ to nothing. Bea is an inspiration to all who know her, and many who don’t. It makes me grateful for every waking moment. She is a blessing to us all. She didn’t just survive the attack, she met the challenge positively with immeasurable strength in every possible way, and still is. She is the definition of courage, in one totally amazing young girl.
Have a fantastic week—–and may all your challenges be small, and easily overcome!!!
with much love, Danielle
Bea’s Website: https://www.beaparathlete.org/
Ps. And to Mary Dixon, who asked if I’ve written any short books. The answer is yes. About 20 or 25 years ago, short books became fashionable for a short time (under 200 pages). They were VERY challenging to write, much more so than longer books, because in short books you have about half the time and space to tell the entire story in depth. During that time, I wrote a number of them: among them, “The Gift”, “Five Days in Paris”, “Second Chance”, and “Special Delivery”, and a few others. You might want to check them out. love, D.
Posted on March 18, 2019
I hope that all is well with you. Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, which I can lay no claim to, having no Irish relatives at all. But if it’s your holiday, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!
The riots in Paris are continuing and getting worse again, with stores destroyed, vandalized and looted—innocent stores like women and children’s clothing stores and the Disney store on the Champs Elysees. The city continues to live in fear on Saturdays, and the destruction continues. Violence is never the answer to anything and is disheartening to see.
I have done nothing but write for the last 10 days, and I’m happy with what I’m working on. I was working very closely on two books, and have really had fun with them. I hope you’ll love them too once they’re out.
My new book, Silent Night, is out and doing well, about Brain Injury. I hope you’ll read it and love it too, there’s some very good research in that book.
And when I work this hard writing, I work straight through most nights until 5 and 6 am, then I don’t do much else and am just on a constant cycle of writing, a few hours’ sleep, and then more writing—-so I’m not very interesting when I come up for air, and am a little dazed.
I saw my God children last night, which is always fun for me. And I hope to see some friends for lunch and dinner this week—-and to catch up on some fun things to tell you. In the meantime, take care, stay safe, work hard and have some fun!!!
much love, Danielle
Posted on February 18, 2019
I hope you’ve had a great week and Valentine’s Day turned out just the way you wanted it to!!!
I’m always fascinated by new forms of our social phenomena and culture. And since I spend time in California, I’m never sure if some new form of entertainment or behaviour is particular to California—which is not the norm!!—-or if a trend has spread to the rest of the country. California has a culture all its own.
The last new ‘wave’ I heard about were “Gender Reveal Parties”, where the couple discovers their unborn baby’s sex at the same time as their friends. Apparently that’s a common thing now, although I’d never heard of it before. That was news to me!!! Personally, it seems to me that it lacks intimacy, and turns a very private moment into a major social event. Learning a baby’s sex with your entire bowling team somehow lacks intimacy to me, but it seems to be a major trend!!
Now I’ve heard of another new trend—- Break Rooms or Destruction Rooms—- It’s apparently new but common in California—I have no idea if the rest of the country is setting them up too. It’s a form of ‘entertainment’ or stress release where the people who run them set up a room with old out of date computers and large television sets, plates, bottles, and assorted breakable objects. You rent the room for an hour for somewhere around $100.00. They are supposed to give you protective clothing, like some kind of protective cover all, goggles (gloves might be a good idea), they hand you a sledgehammer and some other form of ‘weapon’, like a baseball bat, and tell you to have a ball, and you can destroy whatever/everything that is in the room. Everything!!! There’s lots of broken glass, so you need to be protected. And you get to take out all your hostilities and aggressions, and your frustrations, and get to break everything in sight. My youngest son is very adventuresome and loves doing new things—he recently went to feed a giraffe and loved it—-so he drove an hour to where several of these Break Rooms were set up, and he thought it was an amazing way to let off steam. He’s normally not a destructive person, and he said it was kind of daunting at first, and then he decided to get into it and slammed away. He took his girlfriend who cautiously broke a few CD’s at first, and then got into it, and hammered a TV to bits. It’s certainly a novel and different form of entertainment and relaxation than swimming or taking a painting or yoga class or roller blading. But whatever works!!
In these days of high stress jobs, high pressure corporate life—no matter where you are on the ladder, or what kind of job you have, we all have daily stresses—just calling the phone company to report your phone out of order, or being put on hold for an hour when you try to call your insurance company—–this is certainly one way to deal with your frustration and hostilities. And you can channel it all in one safe room, break everything in sight, and go home to relax and watch TV. So that’s the latest trend I’ve heard about. As a business enterprise, it’s intriguing too. All you have to do is get a bunch of old non-functional equipment, a sledgehammer, a baseball bat, set up a safe room, and collect a hundred dollars for people to come for an hour and break everything. Amazing.
A while back, laser tag was new, and I gave a couple of really fun parties taking over a laser tag place, with my friends on teams, and they went nuts playing war, and ‘killing each other’ for a couple of hours. It always fascinated me that the meekest people became the most intense and the fiercest in laser wars. It was really fun though.
So if you’ve had a tough week, and you’ve had it with your kids and your boss, stood on line for two hours at the DMV or the post office, or couldn’t get anything done that you wanted to do…..head for a Break Room, and hammer away.
I occasionally have slow or hard days writing, where it just doesn’t go the way I want it to, or I get interrupted all day, or the words just won’t come….but I will NOT be taking a hammer to my typewriter!!! The Break Rooms provide controlled destruction—–definitely a novel idea.
Have a great week—-and some fun!!! love, Danielle
Posted on January 14, 2019
Buried under work this week,, see you next week!
Posted on December 17, 2018
I hope that things are going well for you. The demonstrations and riots are continuing in Paris, but are thinning out, and were less violent this past Saturday. The government made some concessions, and I think people are just worn out from the strain of weekly violence, and so much destruction. Businesses are sufferring, and thus the economy, and all merchants, with shops and restaurants closed every weekend for the past five weeks, so close to Christmas. And hotels are empty. People don’t want to come to Paris with so much unrest in the country. I hope the New Year brings some peace to all!!
Other than that, my new book is out, Beauchamp Hall. I hope you’ve had time to read it, or will over the holidays, and I hope you gave it as a gift to someone. And my paperback, Accidental Heroes, is doing really well, and is an exciting read.
It’s been a checkered week with some good and bad things thrown in. A friend came to visit and stayed with me for a week, which was fun (except for the lockdown weekends due to the demonstrations and riots). But other than that, we had a good time. A close best friend lost his adorable little dog, hit by a car, which was heart breaking and we all felt terrible for him. And on the happy side, I had my Christmas party, with 28 good friends. People stay much later than they do in the states, so they stayed till about 1:30 am, on a school night, which was really fun. I gave a Christmas ladies’ lunch too, and had some women friends for a pasta dinner in my kitchen. So I saw a lot of friends this past week, which is fun in this season. And I’ll be seeing my children soon, which is the best part of the holidays for me.
I’m still trying to catch up on work, and I’ll be back at work, deep in new books when the holidays are over. I can’t believe Christmas is only 8 days away. I’m still scrambling for the last few special presents.
I hope these are happy days for you, that you are finding something to celebrate, and the time and opportunity to spend time with family or friends. The one thing I realize every year is how fast time flies, and how fleeting the precious moments are, they fly through our fingers like angels and bless us as they rush past. My hope for you is that you are enjoying special times with people you love, and who love you. I hope that the days leading up to the holidays will be happy ones for you, and that the holiday will be a memory you cherish. Thank you for the blessings you share with me all year round, reading my books, and enjoying my work.
Thank you, and much love to you, Danielle
Posted on December 10, 2018
I hope that all is well with you. 14 more shopping days till Christmas!!! Holey Moley and I haven’t finished shopping yet—-and I started in August!! But I have to admit, Paris being under lock-down every weekend, as the riots continue, and have for four weeks now, with shops and restaurants closed, and many stores being vandalized, burned and looted every weekend—–is not exactly conducive to Christmas shopping, as we all stay home (by police order) to be safe.
The riots have continued since last week, with even greater damage last weekend, with stores burned, flaming barricades in some streets, cars burning and some exploding, and in some cases whole streets virtually destroyed, and some monuments, and tear gas heavy in the air. It has been an impressive and saddening experience to see the violence in the city (and several other French cities), and so much destruction. Rumor is that it will continue this weekend. The city licks its wounds for 6 days, and then explodes again on Saturday. The atmosphere is heavy and people are serious. I hope it will be resolved soon, so peace can return to France.
Other than that, I am looking forward to Christmas with my children, am enjoying small gatherings with friends, a women’s lunch I give before Christmas every year, and a small dinner for others who can’t make the lunch, a wonderful early Christmas celebration with my God children yesterday, with a pasta dinner in my kitchen, and the warmth of sharing the beginning of the holidays with friends and people I love. And another gathering of friends, in the Christmas spirit. I love Christmas, and can’t wait to spend it with my kids soon, although divided in two cities this year.
I’ve been working on several books recently, and am hoping to take a couple of weeks off now, to enjoy the holidays, and see friends and family. It’s nice to take a break!!! And as always, I worked hard this year.
I hope that all is well with you!!! I hope you’ve had time to read my new book, Beauchamp Hall, it seems like the right kind of book for the holidays, and would make a great gift if you have people on your list who love a good story!!! I hope you really enjoy it, and will have time to read it before or after the holidays.
I hope too that your holiday plans are taking shape the way you want them to, that you’ll make it home if that’s where you want to be, or that others come to your home, people you enjoy spending time with. It can be a stressful time too, and I hope it won’t be for you. I hope it will be a happy, fun, blessed, warm, loving holiday and that everyone in your world is good to you!!!
Have a great week!!!
much love, Danielle.
Posted on August 27, 2018
I hope you’re enjoying these last days of the summer
I went to a fun movie last night with one of my daughters—-another daughter had read the book and loved it. I had seen a trailer for the movie, which didn’t seem too exciting, and didn’t do it justice, but I went to the movie anyway, to enjoy an evening with a daughter. I rarely get time to go to the movies with them, they work hard and are busy, and when I travel to their cities to see them, I want to spend the evening talking to them, and catching up on their news, not sit in a dark theater—-besides which, we’re all often so tired from working that we fall asleep in a movie theater!! Last year, a whole group of us went to a show when we were in Las Vegas together—–and the entire row of us fell asleep!!! It must be a family trait!! But we didn’t fall asleep at the movie last night—-we loved it!!!
We went to one of the fancy new movie houses with reclining seats (and we were joking about how fast we’d fall asleep in big comfortable seats in the dark!!!) We got popcorn, candy, a pretzel, soda, and all the snacks we could carry, and I was quite startled to see that by state law, all the food sold at the concession states how many calories they are!!! Ugh, if I’m going to indulge myself at a movie, I’d rather not know, but I can see the value of warning people of their calorie intake as a precaution for their health. Since I don’t get to the movies very often since I write at night, the calorie listing was new to me.
The movie we saw was “Crazy Rich Asians”, and I loved it. Lots of fun, good dialogue, good characters, the movie took place in Singapore, Shanghai, and was a romantic story. I won’t tell you how it turned out, but I had a great time, loved the movie, and would see it again in a flash. Since I see most movies on planes when I travel, I hope it turns up on the airplanes soon so I can see it again. So if you are looking for a fun movie to celebrate the end of summer, go see it before life gets busier again after Labor Day. Have a great week!!
Posted on August 13, 2018
I hope that all is well with you, in these final weeks of summer, which as always has sped by too fast. Whooosh!!! And it’s over!!! Although it’s still boiling hot everywhere I’ve been. I’m ready for fall.
I used to love the months of my children’s summer vacation, and I never used to work/write during the months of their vacation from school. Now our time together in the summer is short but very sweet, as they lead their busy lives in other cities, and none of them have the long French/European style summer vacations, so we seize the time together when we can. Typically, I have a week together with my kids every summer in July and a long weekend with ALL of my kids together in August, so we start and end the summer together. We wait for that time together with great anticipation every year, and like all good things it goes by too fast, but that time is very precious to me, and to them.
We just had our end of summer weekend together, and we were a small group this year for the first time. One was away, in Texas, one recently moved to Austria, another had a wedding to go to so he came a little late to the weekend, another had another party to go to in another city so left early, and yet another was unable to come, so there was a lot of coming and going, and late arrivals and early departures, and we were a ‘normal’ sized family for once, and some of the children arrived staunchly for the whole weekend, even from far away, and we had a great time, although we missed those who were absent.
Many, many years ago, when I was first married, my husband loved the Napa Valley, had spent a lot of time there, and he wanted to find a home there for us to spend summers and weekends when we could. I’m more of a beach person, so I wasn’t as crazy about the location as he was. I’m also not a drinker, so the charm of the vineyards was lost on me. We looked at some houses, rented for a couple of years, and finally found an old farm that was a quaint funny old place, built in 1857, with a number of farm buildings on it, and an old house. It was a working farm, run by a 95 year old woman, who had kept the place running and in good shape, whose heirs were several nieces and nephews who didn’t want the property so they were willing to sell it. By coincidence, I met the heirs through our church. The property had buildings for the animals, and we didn’t know then how many children we’d have, and that we’d eventually have 9 of them. It had vineyards on either side, but none on the property, which didn’t matter, and it was quiet farm and wine growing country then, about an hour and a half out of the city. I wasn’t crazy about the place, but it had ‘possibilities’, and my husband had a vision (a lot of them!!) for it. We bought it (despite my misgivings) and turned all the farm buildings into living spaces. A small horse barn (big enough for 2 horses) became a small and very cute guest house, a milking shed for the cow became a playhouse for our kids. We built a tree house for them too and a play area. We turned a water tower into a tiny 3 story, 3 bedroom house with a bathroom and no kitchen. We kept chickens in the chicken coop (and bought a pig who wandered around, and loved the orchard where she could eat all the fruit she wanted). And a small shed that housed rabbits became another small guest house, which we still call “the rabbit house”, the ranch manager’s house became a small house with two bunk rooms and two other bedrooms and a kitchen. And the main house, also with 3 small bedrooms became our main house, for my husband and myself. It became a family compound with all the buildings close together. And there was a big Victorian barn for farm equipment. The first thing we did was add an old fashioned porch on the main house, which was my husband’s idea and gave the place a lot of charm, and is still today the favorite gathering place for the whole family, with the main kitchen, and we put a long, long table on the porch for dinners on warm nights. We put a swimming pool where there had been a planted field, and years later a tennis court for by then our many kids to use. A bike shed, vegetable gardens, and my husband planted vineyards on every inch he could, which proved to be a wise move in later years. Our children, who own the property now, since their father passed away, support the property now with the grapes they sell for wine. And I put picket fences everywhere to keep the kids from wandering off when they were little, and keep our many dogs safe too. For years, it was a happy, healthy place of freedom and happy summers for the kids, and weekends through the winter. I grumbled about it at times, and we worked hard ourselves to improve the place and keep it up. Our weekends were as much work as play, or more work, as we continued to work on it. It still looks like the working farm it once was, and is wonderfully old fashioned and quaint—and very much unlike the fancy homes that have sprung up in the area over the years. Now there are restaurants and shops, tourists, and city dwellers that spend weekends there. And our place still has the look of a granny’s house and old farm. We bought two small neighboring homes bordering on it, and the old farm has grown, but it hasn’t changed. And as our family grew, it became the perfect place for them to bring their friends when they were teen agers, and spend their summers barefoot, in the country setting, for their entire youth and now as adults. The property had some very old trees on it, to provide shade, and we planted some more, which have grown into beautiful old trees while our kids grew up.
Fast forward the film, and we still have our funny old farm, it’s a wonderful place for our children to gather now as adults, and bring their friends. The ones who live nearby use it more frequently, and those who live across the country, come once or twice a year, and always come on our August weekend. There are hundreds of family photos framed on the walls in all the buildings, of all the good times we have shared there. And it is the perfect counterpoint to our busy city lives, our stressful jobs, and all the pressures in our lives. Going to the old farm is like a trip back in time, to their childhood, and also to all the history on the farm before us. We have so many memories there. The kids have kept everything just as it was when they were very young, their rooms are the same, their childhood treasures and mementoes are still there, so many of our family memories, and the main house that my husband and I lived in is unchanged. Whereas once I complained about ‘boring summer months there’, it touches my heart to go there now, and revives precious memories. I realized this weekend that I was younger than some of my children now when we bought the place and started working on it. We’ve owned it for well over half my life now, and I’ve finally come to love it. It took a while!!! For a long time, it was a muddy, dusty, old farm with blazing heat in summer, and some very wet cold winters, while I wished we had a beach house, and missed my own childhood haunts in Europe, which seemed so far away, although the Napa Valley does look a lot like parts of France and Italy. It remains a major grape growing/wine making area, and it became ‘fashionable’ and popular along the way. But our old farm doesn’t look fashionable, it has charm and warmth and is quaint, and shines with the love lavished on it for so many years. I realized this weekend that we’ve had our summer reunions there now for more than half my life, and somewhere along the way, love for that old place snuck into my heart. It was my husband’s favorite place on earth, and he eventually retired there, and in the many years that passed, he imparted his love for the old farm to all our children, and I’m so glad he did. He was right all along (and I remember now how my heart sank when I first saw the place. It was not on my dream wish list at the time to own an old farm!!! I missed Paris and my life in Europe—but that came back into my life much later anyway) He would be so proud to see what good care his kids take of the farm now, how well they run it, how much they love it, and how well they use it, share it, and enjoy it, and what good shape it’s in. His dream has been preserved.
It was a huge trauma for all of us last fall when the fires raging in the Napa Valley came within 500 feet of the buildings on the farm, all entirely wood Victorian structures. All their childhood memories and mementoes of their father are there, and one of my sons heroically drove up and rescued hundreds of photographs from the houses and drove them to the city. I have since had them copied for all the kids. And miraculously the property was spared by a last minute shift of the winds, and the flames stopped just short of the houses.
I only go there twice a year now myself, once in the Spring with one of my daughters, who runs it with her younger brother, and I take a crew of men and women to help us repair, refresh, replace, repaint, and do everything we need to, to keep it fresh, looking good and running smoothly. They keep it up all year, but I am the very willing head of the janitorial committee to help keep the place looking beautiful and loved. They use it all year, but once a year I run the energetic spring cleaning. I end on a Friday, and they spend the weekend there with their friends to start the summer. And I only stay there once a year myself for our August long weekend reunion. It is always very nostalgic for me to go there, hundreds of memories crowd into my mind, of them as little kids, and their father, and our life there. It was his vision and his dream which brought the farm into our lives. What an incredible gift and legacy for all of us, especially our children. I walk the same paths as I did then, walk into rooms which still look the same, and remember all the love and laughter and warm times we shared there. He was very artful about it, which amused me less then and makes me laugh now: the flatbed truck he gave me one year for my birthday, because he needed it on the farm—-the vintage trucks he collected, and occasionally pretended to give me, although he used them and I didn’t….the flock of goats (that I did NOT appreciate at all), and the tractor I gave him. There was no glamour there, just wonderful family life with a lot of barefoot children running in the grass, free of their city life for a whole summer. It was a fantastic experience for us all.
It amazes me to realize how many years have passed, the children have grown up, and we still have the farm. It has been a lasting blessing in our lives, for more than half my life. I eventually got the beach house I had dreamed of, and sold it after 15 years, the charm of that wore thin, and the children preferred their farm life, and the freedom to run around there, instead of the beach. So the farm won hands down in the end, and now I cherish my days there at the end of every summer, as we follow our old traditions, and make new memories there every year. It is a piece of our history which I cherish and am profoundly grateful for. It makes our long weekend together there every summer extra special, and where once the children were in our home, now I am a grateful guest in theirs.
I hope the end of your summer will have special moments for you, and will brace you for the long winter months ahead.
Happy end of summer!! Have a great week!!!