The Reason Behind Ring Around Reality

There’s a story behind my latest book Ring Around Reality.Although published in May of 2017, I originally wrote this book in 1980 and put it on a shelf in my closet. Frankly, I was intimidated by the manuscript. You see, even though I made Ring Around Reality a work of fiction, the book is based on my own struggle with alcoholism. My fiction is close to the actual truth, and I knew my family would figure out who was who and would be impacted by some of the revelations.

Then in 2014, within six weeks, I lost my older sister, my younger sister, and the man I loved. My grief was overwhelming and kept me from writing. In the spring of 2015, realizing that I was the last survivor of my original family, I took the original manuscript off the shelf and started an extensive rewrite.

I changed the title (the original was Ring Around the Rocking Chair which referred to the age of the protagonist’s parents) and concentrated on Diana Lossen’s story, illuminating other characters and their actions which, in turn, shaped Diana’s life. I changed names and occupations of some of the characters and I carefully crafted the story to keep the reader turning pages.

What I hope is that the story will, at the very least, cause non-alcoholics to question assumptions about alcoholics. Before I was affected, I used to think that true alcoholics were people who slept in the gutter, clutching a paper bag that contained a half-pint of whiskey. How they got to that point and where they were going didn’t much interest me. People I knew were social drinkers, myself included, or so I thought.

This is a story about how a person, believing she is a social drinker, gets into trouble, but doesn’t recognize drinking as the cause. Alcohol increasingly becomes a power over Diana’s life and denial becomes a way of life.

I won’t tell you what happens to Diana and spoil your reading of the book, but I will tell you I have been sober for forty-four years, so my story ends well, so far.

We live in a culture where drinking alcohol is an accepted and valued norm in life. I am happy for those who can drink sensibly and enjoy sharing a cup with friends; I can happily drink my water or soda and celebrate with them.

Love Comes at Twilight: A Love Story for Seniors

twilight_cover_250Where have I been all this months? Working on a very special book for those who suspect they might be too old for love.  Don’t believe it!  Love came to me at a virtual bridge table in the form of an 80-year-old Southern gentleman from Texas.  We have been corresponding for nearly three years now and are very, very close.

The inspiration I received from loving someone once again and being loved led me to write a novel about the experience.  Of course, I fictionalized the story for the true story can’t be told adequately.  I needed to invent characters and events to produce a universal love story, a story similar to my own experience, but a story all its own.  If you have ever written a piece of fiction you will know that the characters take over your talent and lead you down the pathways they want to go.  So it is with Carol and Ellis in Love Comes at Twilight: A Love Story for Seniors.  Check the book out on Amazon.  The Kindle version can be borrowed for a limited time, so don’t wait.

And, yes, the man whose name is on the cover of the book contributed to the writing in the form of emails from Ellis. We had a lot of fun creating this work together.  The writing took a year and a half. Creative projects are like that.  Let me hear from you about your creative projects, the kind of work that makes life interesting at any age.  I’ll turn my comment section back on for a while.  I had to turn it off because the spammers became impossible.


Losing Weight–Chapter Two

Yes, I have been successful! So far, I have lost 24 pounds! It has been easy to stick to my food program, which has surprised me. I’ve done dieting in the past and have been plagued with cravings and have given in to temptations presented me. You know the kind—“just take a taste of this—a little bit won’t hurt you.” This time, however, I seem to find the way to say a gracious “no” to my unwitting tempters. What’s my secret for all this success? A quiet confidence.

What I did at the outset was, first of all, say a prayer, and then decide I would not diet. I would eat three meals a day. I would not snack, and I would eat a vegetable with each meal, even breakfast. Try eating broccoli with Raisin Bran! Actually, I find broccoli or green beans taste good with cereal. What the vegetables seem to have done for me is to provide a buffer against cravings. Without thinking about it, I have not reached for bread. Perhaps, without bread, cravings do not get a foothold in my psyche. I don’t really know and don’t care. I like the results.

I do not deprive myself. Almost every night I have ice cream. Most nights the treat is a Healthy Choice fudge bar at 100 calories, but sometimes it is a bowl of my favorite Butter Pecan at who knows what calories. I don’t look. If I want sour cream with my vegetables, I have sour cream. I don’t measure, but I also don’t overdo anything, unless, of course, it’s vegetable. Vegetables have priority in my food plan.

I’ve established no goals, though I do think, in the back of my mind, that I’d like to see a 30-pound loss before my birthday in August. Yet, I am not anxious about this possibility. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’ll simply go on eating the way I’m eating and be grateful for what I’ve been given in life so far.

When eating out— and I do eat out frequently, I look for choices on the menu that provide vegetables. For instance, a vegetarian omelet for breakfast fills the bill. Instead of the fried potatoes, I ask if fruit can be substituted. Even if substitution costs extra, I gladly pay. Well, not so gladly. I prefer the restaurants that work with me and let me substitute freely. I am tempted sometimes to get a cheeseburger with bacon and all the trimmings, but I think of the consequences. Such a meal would disturb my digestive processes at this point, and who wants that? If I do want something like a hamburger or a lamb burger, I ask for one without the bun, and, of course, a salad or an extra helping of vegetables. Often I order a specialty salad—one with those luscious caramelized pecans, for instance, topped with a helping of chicken or a salmon steak.

Will my plan work for others? Do I recommend it? I have no idea whether other people can benefit from doing what I am doing. Intuitively, I think that eating as I do will produce weight loss for others, but, on the other hand, I know that losing weight is a very complex process. What works for one person may not work for another. The only true advice I can give for those of you who want to lose weight is to find a way that works for you.

See John’s Book Excerpt on ePicaro

You may have read about my late spouse John Palmer in my book Living With the Stranger in Me: An Exploration of Aging. John was 23 years older than I, and was grieving the loss of Edna, his wife of 46 years, when he came to me, her cousin.

Although John and I weren’t related by blood, it took time for us both to be comfortable with the idea that we could actually be together–so close were the familial bonds. Eventually, John came to live with me, and we became domestic partners, registered with the state of California.

John did not consider himself a writer until I encouraged him to write stories to help process his grief. Once started, however, he wrote story after story until, one day, he asked me if I thought he could write a book about hitchhiking across the country during the Great Depression. He was 89 at the time. I was privileged to be his guide on this journey, critiquing his work, typing his manuscript, and helping him look for a publisher. A Walk to Somewhere: On the Road During the Great Depression was published in 1993. His second book: Life After Edna, Surviving Loss, Reclaiming Life came out in 2004.

You can read an excerpt from A Walk to Somewhere on the website ePicaro, a Journal of Travels (

Vision Books International is no longer in business, but I have a supply of John’s books in my garage. If you want a new book, you can contact me by leaving a post under “Speak Your Mind,” Send me your email in that post. I will not publish your email, but will reply and we can correspond and make arrangements for you to purchase John’s book.