Collective Salvation

FeaturedCollective Salvation

My friends and I laugh when we can’t remember the names of a TV series or old movie stars. We keep the conversation going anyway, knowing sooner or later someone will blurt out,”Paul Newman!” who starred in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with um, what’s her name? Oh yeah, Elizabeth Taylor.

Memory isn’t the only part of the brain clogged up. It takes longer for us to get the punchline of a joke. And we worry about the one who stops getting the punchline altogether. Processing information requires sifting through a lifetime of brain clutter. It simply takes more time these days. 

When I first became aware of the rummage sale in my head, I consulted Dr. Google for tips on decluttering. Dr. Google assured me that indiscriminate shopping, getting lost, difficulty with numbers, language, dates, names and places are all part of the normal aging process called cognitive decline. Researchers say eat right, exercise, socialize and learn something new.

And consult a neurologist.

I called the Mesulum Center for Cognitive Neurology at Northwestern University. “Someone will call you back,” the receptionist said.

“Can’t I just make an appointment?”

“No. Someone needs to talk to you first.”

“I’ll wait.”

“No. Someone will call you.”

I missed the callback. Called again. Missed again. And again.

Processing TV news had become difficult. I couldn’t connect information from one sentence to the next. To understand morning radio, I had to stop getting dressed, sit down with a cup of coffee and listen. Reading was clunky. Some words on the page faded. Some didn’t. I went to the eye doctor three times within six months. She insisted my vision was fine.

A friend told me about a new choir for people with early-stage memory loss. The organizers sought volunteers to help people with the music and to round out the choir. No audition or experience required. I’d never read sheet music or sung in a choir but I love to sing. So I signed up.

The first day I hesitated to accept my songbook. Would I remember to bring it to rehearsals? Would I even remember the day and time of rehearsals? People asked me what “part” I sang. I had no idea.

“I have to sing the melody,” I said.

After a few warm-up exercises we started learning an Oklahoma medley. Alice, sitting next to me, noticed I was having trouble. The music was running ahead of me—I couldn’t catch the words. She pointed to the soprano lines and pulled out a yellow marker to highlight them.

“Sing the notes with the stems pointing up,” She whispered.

That was 2018. I mark my own music now, never forget a rehearsal and can find my place on the sheet. Months of practice pulls the music closer, though I never feel concert-ready.

In December 2022 our repertoire included songs in five languages. Each deja-vu rehearsal seemed like a new beginning. I rarely got my voice to attach the foreign words to the notes. But on concert day, my brain latched onto another dimension. I sang perfectly.

I’d say I really cleaned up.

MLK: Dead is Not Nothing

FeaturedMLK: Dead is Not Nothing

On a recent podcast about grief, artist Laurie Anderson revealed to Anderson Cooper that she felt sad without being sad when her husband, rocker Lou Reed died in 2013. She came to this awareness at a class on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The teacher, Bob Thurman, said there is no dead. Dead doesn’t exist. He was referring, in part, to post mortem existence.

Different concepts of the afterlife exist in most religions and philosophies. For atheists who believe nothing happens after death,Thurman, a Tibetan Buddhist, teaches there is no nothing. Dead is not nothing.

I’m about as sure of what happens when the body breathes its last as I am of tomorrow’s weather. Oh, I tacitly agree with those who suggest I’ll see my dead dog again, the same way I concur it’s going to snow tomorrow. Maybe. Maybe not. Surely, dead is not nothing?

On November 22,1963, my mother called from New Jersey to the Catholic boarding school I attended in southern Virginia. I picked up the black handle dangling from its cord in the one allowable phone booth in the hall.

“Kennedy’s been shot.” She said.

I replied, “No. He’s dead. It’s on the radio.” 

I was seventeen and already tuned in. Politics had grabbed me as a pre-teenager watching the Vietnam war on TV.  By the time Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, I, a twenty-two year old hippie, had been to two marches on Washington and written hundreds of letters to Congress and President Johnson. I was in support of the Civil Rights bill, the Voting Rights bill, banning the bomb and against the Vietnam war. Anytime the morning news stirred an injustice I had to fix, I reached for my stash of pre-stamped postcards to fire off letters-to-the-editor. I harangued my friends—at work, in bars, on the beach, at parties—to think the way I did. 

MLK’s admonition, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” initially whipped me into a frenzy of activism—more letters, more phone calls, more marches, more recruiting. Then in his “Drum Major Instinct,” speech in 1968 he preached to act as a servant, not a savior. It is noble to help just one person, change one person’s viewpoint, get one person to vote.

DNA has proven dead is not dead. DNA, our physical manifestation of life itself, apparently lives forever. Anyone who has had a DNA test questions the trace variants of first peoples, like Neanderthal, listed in their results. Some religions teach physical immortality in that our dead bodies will rise or have risen to live in Paradise. Wherever our raised bodies take up residence, will they have our same DNA? 

The essence of Martin Luther King’s DNA lives in the generative marrow of his words. I always feel sad without being sad on his birthday. His death transitioned into the endorphins between my dreams and awareness. He lives in that zero-gravity mirage of my inner life that says, “get out there, be brave, do it, say it.” 

Yep. Dead is not nothing.


Listen: All There Is With Anderson Cooper and Laurie Anderson Podcast

Where You From?

Where You From?

Whenever I’m asked where I’m from, I hesitate. It takes a moment to wrangle shame to the ground long enough to scare up the truest truth to tell. The aftereffect of my parents’ inability to halt their rodeo boozing long enough to pay the rent accounts for a long trail of midnight moves.

Annapolis, Maryland; three different homes in Washington DC, two in Terre Haute Indiana, a hotel in Indianapolis, two homes in St.Louis, a hotel in Chicago, homes in Kenilworth, Wilmette, and Lake Forest, Illinois, two cottages in Sea Girt, New Jersey, two New York apartments, a Williamsburg, Virginia boarding school and back to Sea Girt.

At that point, after fourteen or fifteen schools, with a lick and a promise, I barely graduated from Manasquan high school. I spent the last year drinking and smoking in the school parking lot with a posse of flirty no-goods. I dropped out of Monmouth College, married, had a baby, moved to Vermont, divorced, got addicted to loco weed, moved to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, married again, joined a cult, divorced again. When I was twenty-nine years old I moved with my son back to Chicago, where I’ve mostly lived for forty-seven years as a tenderfoot, sober alcoholic. 

What do I say? I like to say I’m from the Midwest, like Bob Dylan, with God on my side. 

            Oh my name it ain’t nothin’

            My age it means less

            The country I come from

            Is called the Midwest

My three sisters say they are from New Jersey as if it has all the romance of Bruce Springsteen’s Jersey Girl.

              So don’t bother me cause I ain’t got no time

            I’m on my way to see that girl of mine

            Nothing else matters in this whole wide world

            When you’re in love with a Jersey girl

There are a lot of cool people at the Jersey Shore. I had a stable of romantic encounters like Springsteen’s Jersey Girl—on the beach, in the backseat of Mustang convertibles, in public bathrooms of raucous bars. Jersey boys drink beer. Morning. Noon. And Night. Not me. I drank gin. They have mononucleosis and venereal diseases. They drive drunk and kill you with sarcasm. And still they seek the girl from the right neighborhood, the right school, and the right family. I’m lucky I made it out of there alive.

In the Midwest of my girlhood, I knocked on neighbors’ doors for a ride to  school when I couldn’t wake up my mother or our car was out of gas. They helped me look for my missing dog, Lefty, in a snowstorm. When that rodeo was dusting up inside my home and danger was afoot, they taught me to hide in trees.

Midwestern fun: Beatles Sing Along

When I arrived back in Chicago to a corral of footloose midwestern strangers in the 1970s, I expected bound-for-glory hellos and found them. A friend from fifth grade I hadn’t seen in sixty-five years read my book recently and sent me a note: “you always belonged to us.”

That’s the Midwest. Where I’m from.

Inching Toward Dying

Inching Toward Dying

A friend announced that she’s ridding her home of once treasured belongings, little by little.

“Oh yeah, you’re in the process of dying.” I said.

“What?”

She’s past middle age, but not yet old enough to be drawn to articles about purging in AARP magazine under headlines like, “Common Old People Habits.”

“I’m just clearing out so my children aren’t left with all my junk.” She said.

“I rest my case.” I said.

I started purging suits and dresses when I was around sixty. I no longer wore them at work and when I retired, well, I no longer wore them period. During the pandemic I bundled up five plastic bags full of old garments that I loved, and sent them off to a resale shop. I then fell for the ubiquitous internet ads luring me into purchasing “casual clothes”. The empty space in my closet gradually filled in with comfortable pants, also known as pajamas, and colorful tops, also known as sweatshirts. These are the inching-toward-dying clothes.

Purging includes all the old letters, not because I’ll be embarrassed if the uninvited read them, but because the invited won’t. I’m counteracting this indifference by writing memoirs. There are other signs of moving toward dying. My friends, like me, have less tolerance for personal dramas. Oh, we may express understanding to our offspring’s tears and fears about bad bosses or broken relationships. But really, we know just when to slip out of the room or off the phone to avoid the theatrics. We’ve been there. We survived. We moved on.

Obsession with the weather is a keystone of my old age. When I acquired a three-wheel electric scooter, I downloaded all the weather apps on my iPhone-five of them. Instant updates, including pollen forecasts, determine if I scoot or take the bus. Happily there’s no shortage of old people chewing over the weather.

Except for doctor appointments, I have no responsibilities to manage in the early morning. And yet, the older I’ve gotten, the earlier I wake up. I listen to the radio, drink coffee, read the news. Audio books and podcasts are a great comfort to sleepy eyes at 5:00 am. A young friend once asked why old people get up so early.

“Because we’re all afraid we’re gonna die.” I said

Henry the dog social distancing

I used to walk Henry, the best dog on the planet, in the early morning. His process of dying was short-lived. He turned his tail under, dug in the closet, slept standing up, clung to me. At the last, he cried to be put out of his misery. One might say he purged himself from my life. But he was supposed to last longer—maybe longer than me.  The actuarial tables on my life expectancy indicate it would be imprudent for me to have another pet. 

Submitting to the idea of growing too old to have another dog is a new item in the burgeoning process-of-dying tote bag. 

I suspect the resulting sorrow will follow me to the grave.

Spirits, Good & Bad

Spirits, Good & Bad

Halloween was brought to the New World by my ancestors, refugees from the Irish Potato  Famine of 1845-1849. My amateurish genealogical sleuthing has churned up relatives in the Irish diaspora of rural Kentucky. Burkes, Flynns and Kilroys first appear during the Famine years. Place of birth on their official census records simply say: Ireland. Lineage dead ends there since the British, who ruled Ireland at the time, destroyed native records. Of eight million people, one million died and 2.1 million poverty-stricken souls emigrated during the four years of the Famine.

In 1844, English politician Benjamin Disraeli explained the “Irish problem”: “a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, an alien-established Protestant church, and in addition, the weakest executive in the world.” 

England left the Irish to die.

No wonder the Irish brought their dead ancestors, their heritage, their superstitions to the United States. When the harvest season ended on the night of October 31, Irish immigrants welcomed the spirits to walk among them. It was a celebration, a comfortable reunion between the world of the living and the familiarity of their dead. Little Patricks and Deirdres traipsed door-to-door on that one hallowed night seeking food for the incoming family spirits.

In short order Halloween in America became scary. Demons and witches took over, leaving me with nightmares, still. I cannot, will not watch fright movies. I get the heebie jeebies just looking at trailers for the entire Halloween franchise with Jamie Lee Curtis (though I love her).

The only reason I ever watched the movie, The Exorcist, is that the writer knew my parents and named the demon-possessed girl, Regan, after me. It chills me now even writing about her.

I’ve never been visited from beyond-the-veil by the devil, dead relatives or friends. Poets say spirit ancestors are flying around in the bodies of birds, particularly cardinals. Ethnologists have discovered that every culture honors spirits. From Christian angels to Buddhist arhats, depictions of creatures trapped between the living and the dead grace every ancient wall.

New research suggests people who experience the presence of ethereal beings, immerse themselves in practices that make the brain more porous, more receptive. I do that. I call it meditation. I don’t have the same experiences as indigenous peoples, but my twenty-minute practice of imagining my thoughts passing by on clouds, brings one nanosecond of pure joy. I choose to call this God, bypassing all the intermediaries. 

Author and mystical scholar Rev. Dr. Barbara Holmes had a visit from a dead aunt as a child. She shared the experience with the multiple generations of relatives sitting on the porch of their Gullah home in South Carolina. “Let us know if she comes to you again,” said one of the aunts. Their Africana heritage incudes a shared belief that the dead come back and talk to you.

My Irish-American parents buried their heirloom traditions, including the dead visiting the living, in order to assimilate into conventional white America. Halloween was a peasant holiday to be avoided. As was St.Patrick’s Day. 

Yes, the notion of the presence of the supernatural still scares me.

But I do love birds.

Prayers

Prayers

(excerpted from the November 2022 Grapevine, the International Journal of Alcoholics Anonymous)

My mother’s cousin, Father Long, asked to meet me on the wraparound porch of the1900s-era resort hotel in Spring Lake, New Jersey.

I had recently left my husband and was living at my mother’s house with my two-year-old boy. Assuming Father Long wanted to force feed me unwanted marriage counseling, I hung a defiant roach clip from an anti-establishment leather string around my 22-year-old neck to amplify my hippie ensemble.

He talked about my marijuana use. “Give it up, for your mother’s sake,” he said. I paused. “Are you talking to her about giving up drinking for my sake?”

Father Long started his career as a disciplinarian of an inner-city Catholic boys’ school. Realizing I was no match for him, I scrambled out of the painted wood rocking chair and made a fast exit. I heard him call to me as I walked away, “I’ll pray for you.” 

Father Long spent a few weeks every year near Sea Girt where I lived during adolescence and young adulthood. That summer his vacation on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean was interrupted by my mother’s cry for help. She wanted him to help me. My mother’s lips never parted to pray and I doubt her thoughts ever enter the spiritual realm. On the way home, I wondered how drunk she must have been to ask for help from her cousin, a soldier of God. Had Father Long been summoned to help other wayward children sprung from our very wayward relatives?

A few years later, I made it to Alcoholics Anonymous and, after six months sober, I was asked to speak at a large AA meeting in Montclair. In the meeting, I talked about my inability to stop drinking, stop smoking pot, stop consuming illicit drugs. I welled up speaking of gratitude for my father, who had brought me into the Fellowship.

My father had sobered up at Towns Hospital in Manhattan. He attended meetings on the Upper East Side and had been able to sustain abstinence during the time I was dying way out there in some other dimension of addiction. We hadn’t seen each other for five years. Then he showed up at the public mental institution where I had been sent after I overdosed at 24 years old. He suggested I go to the AA meeting on the grounds of the institution.

After I wrapped up my six-months sober talk at that meeting in Montclair, a petite, pearly lady stood out from a line of well-wishers. She approached and said, “I pray for you every day.” “What?” I asked. “Do I know you?”

“I go to meetings in New York with your father,” she said. “We helped him when he went to see you in the hospital. We told him what to say, to just share his story, what it was like, what happened and what it was like now. Like we do with any other alcoholic—and suggest you go to meetings. A lot of us have been praying for you for a long time.” 

 “And here you are.” 

That was the summer of 1971.

___________________________________________________

NOTE: Father Long was removed from the priesthood in 1995 for sexual abuse. He’s on the Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington DC, lists of accused priests. He died in 2004.

Letter to the Boyfriend

Letter to the Boyfriend

I found your book from the early ’90’s the other day. It’s the mystery about martial arts, ritual tattooing, sumo wrestling and a murderous Japanese crime syndicate. Mysteries are my favorite genre and I’ve read my share of torture and ritual killings, but no book ever frightened me more than yours.

Remember when you came to see me in Washington on your book tour? You phoned to ask if you could come over to my place. How did you know I wasn’t married? When I said no, you insisted on meeting me in the lobby of your hotel. Why were you staying so close to where I lived?

“Ok, but I’m not going to your room.” I said.

We sat in the hotel bar revealing certain truths of our lives from the past twenty-five years. Neither of us drank. You, of course, insisted I come to your room for a copy of the book. I relented, armed with my pocketed cell phone. You said I broke your heart when we were together one teenage summer. A high school teacher suggested you pour out your dejection on paper, which started your writing career. I was surprised, even flattered, to hear you’d written hundreds of pages about me, including detailed sex scenes some of which you duplicated in your novels.

I remember hiding naked with you in the basement of your parent’s Jersey Shore bungalow, listening to the undulating Atlantic Ocean, giggling at talk of marrying, concocting funny names for our children. Once, on the boardwalk, your mother’s eyes locked me down. “Don’t get pregnant,” she smiled. You returned to Philadelphia for senior year. I stayed, and went to someone else. You drove back to the Shore periodically that year, ambushed me at school and home, and tried to snare me into embracing you. You, the oversexed, body-building wrestler. You, the alpha male cornering me with your power. Did you have any sense of how frightening you were?

In your Washington hotel room I tried to avoid answering your demand, but you insisted over and over asking, “You really did love me, didn’t you?” 

“No. I just wanted the experience to write about.” I said.

“But you didn’t write. I did.” You said.

My head burned so hot I stepped outside of my body to cool off. Unaware, you gave a walking monologue on how successful you were, how physically fit you were and how you were taking female hormones to reduce whatever estrogen was active in your body. 

I scrambled out of there without the book.

A few days later multiple copies were stacked up in my neighborhood book store. Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted? For your old girlfriends to see your fruit on display? I bought it. In a straight-back chair at my dining room table I made it through a few nightmarish chapters, then hid the book in a cardboard box.

The book, your book, is now headed to a landfill.

Remembering Jim Cummins

Remembering Jim Cummins

“I got fired,” he said over the phone one spring afternoon in 1979.

“What? I’ll be right there!” I sprang from my desk yelling, “I have an emergency” and bolted out the front door of the Ontario Street hotel where we both worked—he at the front desk and me in the back office.

Jim Cummins and I were nascent members of Alcoholics Anonymous and I feared the worst—that he was drinking again. Lately he had been showing up too late for work, taking too many smoke breaks and wisecracking about too many hotel guests.

Jim’s furnished one-bedroom on Delaware had lower-floor gloom characteristic of downtown Chicago apartments. The coffee table, overstuffed brown couch and chair blended together into the beige carpeting. A glass ashtray loaded with butts sat atop newspapers strewn all over the coffee table. No beer cans. He hadn’t shaved. His shirt was wrinkled and hanging out of his trousers but otherwise he looked the same guy I’d seen two days earlier.

“Sit down and read this,” he said, handing over a Sun-Times opened to an article buried in the back of the paper. The blunt headline read, “Gold Coast Leather Bar Raided”. The article contained facts about the location, the owner, a description of the leather get-ups and the names of eleven men who were arrested. Jim was listed. I read, then read again, looking for an explanation. Abruptly I burst out laughing and fell headlong into uncontrolled hysterics as I slid off the brown overstuffed.

“What the hell were YOU doing there?” I said from the floor. 

“My dear, I’m a homosexual. I was participating.” 

“You are NOT! What? Were you looking for someone?”

Jim said he thought I would giggle at the news but he didn’t expect he’d have to convince me he was gay. We talked long into the night about the history of his secret. He had been expelled from the seminary for improper behavior, served in the Army, was married, had a child, divorced, worked in the newspaper business, was an actor, voted Republican—all the while hiding his true nature. Beer and gin helped wage the battle against his Irish-Catholic guilt until he hit bottom and sobered up. 

When our employer, the hotel manager, read the article he promptly called Jim and fired him. Jim joined others from the raid in a class action suit against the city, but he was gone before it came to trial. Mayor Jane Byrne ended police raids on gay bars after her 1979 election, the same month as Jim’s arrest.

Jim stayed sober but had a difficult time landing another job. He started dating, tried but failed to form a lasting relationship, lost his apartment and lived on my couch for a while. I lost track of him. He’d moved to Washington DC where he cooked meals for homebound HIV patients. In 1991 I visited him at the Veterans hospice in Washington, the day before he died of AIDS. He’s the only dead person I ever said good-bye to.

Atonement: Bird on the Wire

Atonement: Bird on the Wire

In the late 1970’s I worked at a run-down residential hotel that had been sold and was about to be renovated. The legions of accountants, lawyers, contractors and financial schemers confounded even the notable. I managed to keep them all straight, pass information one to another and generally play the know-it-all role I like.

The lead accountant, Mel, asked if I had any friends who could be temporary helpers on some new events his firm was staffing—the Taste of Chicago, ChicagoFest and Art Chicago Expo.

“Sure,” I said, “How much will they get paid?”

“Free entry, all the food they can eat, a T-shirt and a poster.”

Having just accumulated a whole batch of new friends in Alcoholics Anonymous, I knew plenty of unemployed sober oddballs hungry for food and fun as ticket-takers and money-changers. Next thing I knew, Mel told me I had to meet “the guy” in charge.

“Come to Temple Beth Israel on Yom Kippur.” Mel said.

“What? What’s that?” I said, “Am I allowed? What do I wear?”

“Everyone’s allowed. Day of Atonement. It’s the best time to do business.”

I tried to sneak into a seat in the back and look around for Mel. After lengthy  prayers and singing, there was an intermission. Mel appeared at my side, grabbed me by the elbow and said, “Let’s go.”

All the congregants rose up, walked around, talked and laughed and “did business”. Mel introduced me to “the guy” who headed up one of Chicago’s Big Eight downtown accounting firms.

“How many people you got?” The guy asked me.

“Twenty or so,” I lied.

“Good.” Bring ‘em to Navy Pier on Saturday and get ‘em signed up. We’ll take it from there.”

In the years since, I’ve practiced atonement often — not just once a year, but almost everyday. At a recent book group studying The Jewish Annotated New Testament, I inched into a discussion of Ken Burns’ documentary, The US and the Holocaust.

“Someone told me the trouble with Jews is that they didn’t assimilate.” I said.

“The. trouble. with. Jews?”  One of the Jewish participants admonished.

“Do you hear what you’re saying?”

“I’m so sorry,” I said. I then attempted to overcompensate the sin of victim-blaming by blabbering about assimilation, of which I know nothing.

I once asked a musician friend to sing Leonard Cohen’s Bird on the Wire at my funeral.

“No.” He replied.

“Aw, c’mon. Just say yes. I won’t know. I’ll be dead.”

“Better to atone when you’re alive.” He said.

I bowed to my ignorance and he agreed to sing just these words.

Like a bird on the wire

Like a drunk in a midnight choir

I have tried in my way to be free

Like a worm on a hook

Like a knight from some old-fashioned book

I have saved all my ribbons for thee

If I, if I have been unkind

I hope that you can just let it go by

If I, if I have been untrue

I hope you know it was never to you

God bless Leonard Cohen 1934–2016.

Listen to Bird on the Wire here.

Mystery of The Matching Shoes

Mystery of The Matching Shoes

Chicago’s annual Printers Row Lit Fest is a red-meat feast of books. For two days bibliomaniacs don their Walgreen’s readers and shuffle from table to table in the two-block long chow-down of book delights. Lone readers never look up, never reply to vendors, never talk to authors. They’re intent on finding the books they need to satisfy an obsession that never ends—to be alone with their books.

Then there are the book lovers who hold vendors hostage yakking about their favorite books and authors. And others with their dogs and friends, happy to be outside talking to neighbors, catching glimpses of book titles they may wander back to.

In 2021, my publisher asked me to stand behind the Tortoise Books display to promote my book, In That Number

“Oh, you’re the author? What’s it about?” strangers asked.

“It’s a memoir about politics.” I answered.

The publisher interjected, “She was a hippie who worked for Bill Clinton. She met Putin.”

I had no idea how to initiate conversations about my book, never mind promote myself. I signed a few copies, but not many words passed between me and the buyers.

At the 2022 Lit Fest, memoir writing teacher, Beth Finke, organized a program, “Unlocking Memories and Uncovering Stories” with two of her students who had published children’s books. Beth moderated the discussion.

I sat in the front row, soaking up the ethereal juice of a room of twenty-five or so people attracted to children’s literature.

The two presenters, Sharon Rosenblatt Kramer, and Bindy Bitterman, sat on either side of Beth Finke at a table covered by a floor-length black cloth. Beth, a published author herself, introduced her student-authors in her usual lighthearted manner, exuding pride in their accomplishments. She asked questions about how they got started and their publishing processes.

Sharon Kramer’s book, A Time for Bubbe, published by Golden Alley Press, blossomed from one of Beth’s memoir writing prompts, “all the time in the world”. It’s the story of her six-year-old grandson visiting his great-grandmother in her high-rise. He punches all the elevator buttons and she responds, “Don’t worry boychik, we have all the time in the world.”

Bindy Bitterman’s  Skiddly Diddly Skat is a self-published cat and mouse story written in limericks, accompanied by a QR audio code.

Sharon Rosenblatt Kramer, Beth Finke, Bindy Bitterman and the Matching Shoes

Halfway through the presentation, I noticed two sets of matching shoes sticking out from the tablecloth, under Sharon and Beth. Did Sharon and Beth coordinate their shoes? They looked like soft-souled, black canvas with round grey tips. The feet moved slightly every few minutes, always in unison. For a second I thought they might be mice. I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

Then all at once the tablecloth ruffled and a black Labrador stuck her nose out from under the table, flopped her head down and resumed her subservient posture at Beth’s feet. I’d forgotten that Luna, the seeing eye dog, uses those four black feet with grey pads to lead Beth around town.

Luna solves the mystery of the matching shoes

Hmm. Would the mystery of the matching shoes make a good children’s story?

__________

  • Click here to buy A Time for Bubbe by Sharon Kramer on Amazon.
  • Purchase Skiddly Diddly Skat by Bindy Bitterman here
  • To purchase Beth Finke’s latest book, Writing Out Loud, click here