Thursday, February 25, 2021

DREAMING MAPLES' 30TH anniversary: Audrey appears!!!

You can purchase a copy of "Dreaming Maples" on Amazon.com, or directly from me via claudiajricci@gmail.com.

It was February, 1991. My son, Noah Kirsch, was a toddler. We were having coffee at my friend Michéle's house in Spencertown, New York, where our family lived for so many years in the beautiful old farmhouse with the magnificent and mystical pond.






I had started writing fiction the summer before. On a hot July weekend in 1990, a few weeks after my dear uncle, Claude Rotondo, only 56 years old, died of a heart attack. Writing fiction was helping me breathe. Was making me feel alive!

That day at Michéle's, I had Noah on my lap in her living room when I happened to look out the window into the grey forest of maples.

I saw Audrey. As real as if she was there. She was an older woman, with silver ripply hair blanketing her shoulders. She was perfectly balanced, walking through the forest with silver pails in each hand.

I had no idea why I was "seeing" her. I hadn't yet realized that I was getting the first vision for my first novel, Dreaming Maples. I didn't know that I was going to "SEE" each and every scene in the book!

As it turned out, Audrey was the matriarch of my story. She and her partner lived in Vermont in a women's art collective. The women sugared the trees to make syrup that they would sell to help support themselves as artists.

Much much later, after the novel was published in April of 2002, I would tell readers that the Audrey vision was the first of three visions I needed to start writing the book. There would be a second vision six months later in July, 1991, when I was standing outside in our yard with my three kids. Suddenly, a character named Candace, Audrey's granddaughter, sped by on the back of a motorcycle! I could see quite clearly that Candace was nine months pregnant and she was riding behind Mark, her boyfriend.

The last vision came in August, 1991. I hadn't yet begun writing. In this vision, Candace was leaving her baby beneath a sugar maple.

I began writing in September. By the following spring I had written 75 or 100 pages, the scenes that spanned the day that Candace -- who was a painter -- gave birth to baby Grace. 


But I was still way too shy to call what I was writing a novel! I was taking a fiction workshop with Eugene Garber, a distinguished fiction writer and one of my all-time favorite professors at SUNY Albany, where I would eventually get my PhD in English (and Dreaming Maples would be part of the writing I did to satisfy the doctoral requirements.) I kept calling the novel "the long thing that I'm writing." Somehow, that semester I began to see that maybe, just maybe, I would be capable of writing a novel!

Eventually I would explain to readers that I didn't start writing the novel until all three visions were fixed in my mind. And writing would be a mega-marathon, taking me five years to complete! I used to tell readers that writing a novel was for me "a journey akin to driving across country in the dark without a map, with only those three postcard visions guiding my way!" It wasn't until all three visions were encased in the story that I knew I had finished the book!

All this history came to mind yesterday when the weather suddenly turned sugaring! To make maple syrup you have to tap dozens and dozens of sugar maples. The sap that runs in the weeks before spring arrives is boiled down in a sugarhouse into the sweet stuff we put on pancakes and waffles.

I became something of a maple sugaring expert writing Dreaming Maples. Every year at this time, I'm drawn back into the world that I created for the novel. Maybe that's why I love maple syrup so much!

To purchase a copy of "Dreaming Maples," go to Amazon.com, or contact me directly at claudiajricci@gmail.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: THE FIRST PHOTO IN THIS PIECE WAS SUPPLIED BY KATHY JOY HOFFNER, AN AMAZING WRITER IN ERIE, PA. (HOW I MET HER IS A MIRACLE IN ITSELF. SUFFICE TO SAY IT WAS THAT ONCE UPON A TIME INFANT, NOAH KIRSCH, WHO MADE THIS AMAZING CONNECTION!!! MORE ON THAT SOON!!!) Kathy is the author of a four-book series called, "Breath of Joy." She writes for the collaborative group, Books For Bonding Hearts, and is a blogger at www.coffeewithkathy.blogspot.com. Kathy's brand new children's book, "Will You Hold My Story?" can be found on Amazon.com. Kathy snapped this photo in the little hamlet of Cable Hollow, Pennsylvania, where her mother resides, and where sugar maple tappers are enjoying a robust season.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

CHANTING TO GANESHA BRINGS DEEP CHANGES

Sometime in January, I started chanting. I can't remember why, but one day I just decided to begin chanting to the Hindu deity, GANESHA. 

The chant: OM GAM GANAPATAYE NAMAHA! I sang it out 108 times, as that is how it's done in Hindu practice. When I mentioned it to my sister-in-law, Jo Kirsch, who is deeply immersed in yoga and meditation, she said this to me:

"Try chanting for a month and watch all obstacles disappear." GANESHA, elephant-headed and roly-poly, is the god of beginnings. One of the most popular of Hindu deities in India, GANESHA is the remover of obstacles.

I used the beautiful blue and white and cranberry-colored mala beads that Jo had strung for me as a gift for my 65th birthday.

Jo was wrong. It didn't take a whole month for obstacles to start disappearing. After two weeks of daily chanting to GANESHA, I figured out how to proceed in revising my novel, ANGELS KEEP WHISPERING IN MY EARS. I had been struggling and sweating over the revision. I would look at the neat pile of pages on the floor of my study and I would think, "I haven't a clue what to do with this book."

And then it hit me: "I will organize the book around the different voices I've been writing!" There's the LEAH voice, which includes a lot of Italian. There are the journal entries. There are blogposts. There is poetry. There are lessons from the ancestors.

One day I picked up a rainbow-colored set of file folders and started sorting the pages into separate colors for separate voices.


It was magical. It was GANESHA's doing. Jo reminded me that GANESHA is also the Lord of Writers!

And soon I realized: I have to keep chanting. As much as possible. And I have to step out of the way, and let the Universe guide my writing!

I am full of gratitude. Gratitude to GANESHA. Gratitude to my wonderful sister-in-law Jo! Gratitude to the UNIVERSE for delivering me this creative project.

Gratitude to the DIVINE for my family, my friends, my health, my home, and all of the love and other blessings in my life!


Monday, February 22, 2021

GUEST COLUMN: How I went Shopping at Lowe's for a Bidet!

 I'm not sure how it happened, but my friend Kathy Joy Hoffner and I both ended up shopping for bidets this week. And I wouldn't have considered posting this post in a million years except Kathy posted it first in her blog, called Coffee with Kathy. It's hysterical how Kathy went shopping at Lowe's for a bidet. CR

On a bright winter Saturday, I got in my car and headed to Lowe's. I welcomed the prospect of shopping in a real store versus online. A freshly laundered mask gave me a little boost of confidence. The sun was shining and it was the weekend. Possibilities seemed endless.

I was on a mission to find a bidet and install it myself. In less than ten minutes, like the website promised. "A luxury you can afford!" the ad said. "Try the Tushy Classic" advised another consumer blurb.



I'd just celebrated a 60-something birthday and wanted to mark the occasion with a toilet accessory. I'd been mildly curious about the virtues of the bidet and now I wanted to unravel the mystery. 

It was time.

Today was The Day.

What I didn't bargain for, though, was the ordeal I would have finding the doggone gadget. 

Head for Plumbing, I reasoned, steering my cart like I actually knew my way around the big box store of All Things Hardware.

Finding the toilets and all the accoutrements, I felt sure I could locate the bidet section. The hunt, however, proved elusive. 

I'd have to ask for help.

Discreetly.

Before I could go searching for a red-vested associate, a red-vested associate approached me. A bearded one, with a helpful smile and a booming voice: "May I help you, ma'am?" he thundered. 

I wanted to disappear. 

How could I tell a man I was shopping for a bidet?

I hadn't figured in the plethora of red-vested men for my plumbing safari.

"Just browsing, thanks!" I breezily replied.

Oh, great.

I'd need a woman for this. A woman would understand these things.

Steering my cart through the aisle with a million PVC pipes, I persevered until I saw the Customer Service Desk. I waited in line, standing dutifully on the six-feet-apart-X, rehearsing what I would say.

"Where do you keep the bidets?" I'd say. Like I was asking for cabinet knobs, or area rugs. I'd say it calmly, casually.

Finally it was my turn at the counter and thankfully, a woman greeted me behind the Covid-issue plastic.

"Where do you keep the bidets?" I asked. Only, through the cloth mask I wore, it sounded more like, "Whar do you sheep the Big A's".

"WHAT?" she said through the muffle of her mask, "The filets?"

I hadn't counted on this.  My plans to casually whisper were thwarted. 

WHERE DO YOU KEEP THE BIDETS? I repeated. DO YOU HAVE BIDETS? I shouted through my mask, through the plastic barrier, to the Entire Universe.

"Oh," she said. 

And then, turning to another female associate, she hollered, "WHERE DO WE KEEP THE BIDETS!"

This was going downhill fast. I considered disappearing through the floor. Instead, I felt my ears turning red, burning with shame and regret.

Before I could plan my escape, I heard the female associate tap-tap-tapping her computer screen, determined to hook me up with my very own toilet seat attachment.

"Aisle 40-B, look for the end cap. We have a couple of different styles."

Great. 

Pushing my cart through a ridiculous amount of light switches and dimmers, I felt my shopping savvy ebbing away. Now everybody knew why I was there. 

When I finally located my quarry, it was a disappointing selection of hand-held sprayers. I wanted a button system, preferably with temperature control. 

They didn't have the one I wanted.

Defeated and deflated, I pulled my mask down for a quick breath of air. Inhaling a combo of sawdust, oil, paint and testosterone, I headed for the garden department. I just wanted to leave the store with some of my dignity intact.

I selected a small succulent for my desk at the office.

At the checkout, I noticed the irony of my huge red cart with just one small plant in the child seat. 

Walking to my car, I promised myself all future bidet-hunting would take place online. 

Thank you very much and have a nice Bid-Day.

https://myfreebookgift.com/558/will_you_hold_my_story_landing_page/index.html

This blog supports https://booksforbondinghearts.com/

Please visit the link to see my latest book launch, Will You Hold My Story? - a book for reading out loud for kids of all ages. 

 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

LEAH AND ME SWEPT UP IN THE UNIVERSE!!!!!

Sun in stripes on the meadow.

Crisp blue sky.  No clouds.

Snow, SNOW, grey. No I cannot say the color.

Branches stroked in white.

Birds flying to and from, landing lightly on the feeder.

I need fresh air. 

I open the front door and step outside. Cool moisture swords up my nose.

******

I am no longer frozen.

Non sono piú congelato. 

I've got a new voice. One that's healed. One that belongs to LEAH AND ME!

Ho una nuova voce che é guarita. Uno che appartiene a me e Leah.

I don't like the sound of the word. "Guarita." 

Non mi piace il suono della parola. "Guarita."

IT SOUNDS TOO STATIC.

NO MI PIACE IL SUONO DI "GUARITA." ´E TROPPO STATICO!

I've got a new voice. One that's HEALTHY!!

HO UNA NUOVA VOCE, UNO CHE ´E SANO!!

ONE THAT'S HEALTHY.


UNO CHE SIA SANO!!

ONE THAT'S UNIFIED. LEAH AND ME!!

UNO CHE HA UNITO LEAH E ME!!

SANO!!!!!!

HEALTHY!!

UNIFIED!!

UNITO!!

UNA VOCE CHE FLUISCE DENTRO E FUORI CON L'UNIVERSO!!

A VOICE THAT FLOWS IN AND OUT WITH THE UNIVERSE!




Friday, February 19, 2021

LEAH, HEALED

Daylight all in white. Ice. 

Leah steps outdoors in her bathrobe and slippers. 

She shuffles forward. Stands. In the snow, falling like a mist.


Leah breathes in the cold humid air. Feels it refreshing, there in her nostrils.

She sings out:

"OM GAM GANAPATIYE NAMAHA!"

She chants over and over.

The red-bellied woodpecker dances on the feeder.

Then the nuthatch. Chickadees. Always the chickadees.

Leah comes back indoors. 


"It looks like the Buddha has a robe on. A hat and a robe."

She says that, inhaling deeply.

She keeps feeling the warm pool awash inside.

Her core is no more

frozen.

Il suo nucleo non é piú 

congelato.


And when Leah speaks as I do now, it is with a

whole healed voice.

E quando Leah parla come faccio ora, é con una voce

completamente guarita.











Monday, February 15, 2021

COVID COMPLAINTS

I have no place to go during Covid.

So I have taken to wearing

my diamond stud

earrings around the house.

I can’t wait 

to be able to dress up again

and have a place to go,

a real destination,

one beside the grocery store or

the pharmacy.

Once the 

pen-DAMN-ICK

is over, God Willing,

I will happily travel to 


BOSTON

DENVER

NYC

Rome Florence or anywhere else in ITALIA 

or who knows maybe Morocco or

even

India or

Iran.

I yearn just to get away,

I yearn to say,

“I can go anywhere

I want today

without a fucking mask.”

That’s not too much

to ask,

is it?

Right now, I will

be happy to get

the vaccine.








Saturday, February 13, 2021

LEAH AND ME, FINALLY, MERGING

My sister-in-law Jo Kirsch read the last chapter, "HUMMING THE OM OF THE UNIVERSE," posted on February 10, 2021.
We had the following exchange, by text message, almost immediately after she read the chapter.

JK: "Cool. Forgive me for asking. Who is Leah? Feels like you?"


CR: "LOL. I've written a lot of the book in the third person with a 'character' based on me named Leah. My friend Peg and I figured out after about eight months into my writing that I chose the name without realizing that the reverse of LEAH is HEAL!

"The reason I wrote in the third person according to Peg is that I haven't yet OWNED THE HEALING IN MY DEAR DEEPEST SELF but maybe NOW I HAVE NOW gotten to the point of joining the healer with my innermost heart. All the CHANTING is bringing me closer and closer. I should let you read more of the book but I'll wait."

JK: "It's just soooooo apparent that Leah is you and it irks me a bit that you are not saying I. Hope that's OK for me to say! I feel like shouting, 'why don't you just say IIIIIIII or me me me me!'"

CR: "HA! So I think this exchange between you and me is actually very important, I think it's going to be a chapter in the book, one which is happening right this minute between us. Jo, this is GREAT FEEDBACK WHICH I NEED/NEEDED in order to move forward. I think now, I can finally say:



Leah
LEAH
is
ME
CLAUDIAJRICCI 
SEE
HOW EASY THAT
IS/WAS?
JUST WHAT I 
NEEDED
NOW
THANK U THANKS Jo 
SOSOSO MUCH!"

CR: "But you understand the reasons it has taken me so long to merge myself into Leah is that I am still dealing with painful healing episodes, from the depression, and the cancer of 1820 years ago and I'm constantly trying to heal myself and worrying that I'm not healed you get the picture! I wrote 1820 and that kind of tells you that there is no such thing as time because it is the book I started in 2020.

JK: "That's it! That feels MUCH better. I felt the angst flow away."


A couple days later, I sent this exchange to Peggy, who has read every single word I've written in this book, "ANGELS KEEP WHISPERING IN MY EARS."  Here is what she wrote back to me:

PW: "I think this is interesting what your sister-in-law says. But here is something to think about for the book -- your sister-in-law KNOWS you, so yes, to her it is obvious that Leah is you. But a reader who does not know you may not see the connection until the characters come together."















Thursday, February 11, 2021

HUMMMMMING THE OM OF THE UNIVERSE

                                                                     {{{{{{{{{{{{ }}}}}}}}}}

Hands bare resting on her chest

bare skin there too

she feels 

(SHE HEALS HERSELF 
LEAH LEAH HEAL HEAL)

the soft warm flesh

of her left breast --

THE ONE THAT


WORRIES HER 

(Says Mary: "Worrying for you and your Italian family goes back generations, when they (THEY the ANTENATI, THE WORD FOR ANCESTORS IN ITALIAN SOUNDS LIKE ANTENNA!)

"They had to deal with war and poverty and STARVATION (ITALIANS STARVING?) Now, worrying for you and your sisters and your family is

Just a bad habit!"

Who is this writing?

What voice? What name? LEAH?

LEAH! LEAH?

WHO IS NARRATINGTHISSTORY?

For that matter, what time is it? What date?

It matters none of it.

There is no such thing as time. There is no death.

THE SPIRIT THE ENERGY THE LOVE LASTS FOREVER.

                                                           {{{{{{{{{{{{ II }}}}}}}}}}}}

SHE IS KNEELING SITTING ON

HER MEDITATION BENCH.

With her hands palms bare there resting on the soft swell flesh of her left breast.

SHE FEELS THE PULSE OF HER HEART BEATING. JUST LET IT BEAT AND BEAT AND 

LET GO OF ALL WORRY, 

Says Mary: "Say it over and over again: 'I AM GOD'S PERFECT HEALTH IN EVERY CELL OF MY BODY."

Try chanting that.

What I want to tell you is how she LEAH? was meditating when suddenly she LEAH! felt the beautiful MALA BEADS that her sister-in-law Jo made her for her 65th birthday.



Meditating and holding the beads NOW SHE IS CHANTING TO GANESH, the Hindu deity that is the remover of obstacles.

OM GAM GANAPATIYE NAMAHA

A month ago when she started chanting to Ganesh, her eyes on the cherubic little elephant statue, Jo told her "Do it for a month and watch all the obstacles disappear."

It only took two or three weeks. 


After struggling to revise her book,

Suddenly, she knew how to organize that book she called

FIRST "Pearly Everlasting,"

and then

{HEAL LEAH LEAH HEAL} OR {LEAH HEAL LEAH HEAL} OR {HEAL LEAH HEAL LEAH}


and now, finally:

{{{{{{{{{{ANGELS KEEP WHISPERING IN MY EARS. }}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

                                                           {{{{{{{{{{{{{ III }}}}}}}}}}}}

Someone suggested to me/her the other day that all you need to do to relax is 

HUMMMMMMMMMM

it takes you to the

MMMMMMMM feeling buzzing inside your mouth and your chest

"It is the OMMMMMMMMM

of the Universe." 

Who said that?

Who keeps writing this. LEAH?

PAUSE

BREATHE IN 

and OUT

and feel the 

NOW

the

PORTAL, each now is a 

THE DOOR TO THE DIVINE.




Now.

Stop.

This.

Writing. 

CHANT.

                                                       {{{{{{{{{{{{{{  IV }}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

I (WHO?) am reminded, my BODY REMEMBERS EVERY EMOTION IS EMBEDDED IN FLESH

It's like DRUMMMMMMMING. Remember all those drumming poems you wrote so many years ago AND when you asked poet Judy Johnson how to write drumming poems she said,

"Just drum." And she was 

write.

So why is your drum buried somewhere in the basement? 

The basement

of your

body is drumming

                                         {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{  V }}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

REMEMBER IS IN MY BODY. In Hindu philosophy it's called SAMSKARA

"';;;;;;the subtle mental impressions left by all thoughts, intentions and actions that an individual has ever experienced....often likened to grooves in the mind;;;;;;;;;"

Scientist Candace Pert wrote about "MOLECULES OF EMOTION," every time you feel something chemicals chemicals flood your bloodstream and are caught forever? in your bodily tissues!

OH God, I remember the chemicals, five chemotherapy chemicals a week for 13 weeks, Rich and me driving to New York? Boston? for CHEMO

BOTH OF US were driving he always drove me and we would vocalize sing

chant the CHAKRAS, Denise wrote down all seven sounds FOR ME FOR MY FAMILY on a piece of orange paper.

Vocalizing the CHAKRAS helped me through chemo and radiation back in 2002 and 2003.

(Who is me? Who are we? LEAH AND ME WE ARE A FAMILY! Are we LEAH? Still? 

Could we be possibly

dare

I say

MY NAME?

                                 {{{{{{{   {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{   VI }}}}}}}}}}}}}}}  }}}}}}}}}}

Here hear HEAR THIS Hear her  CHANT THE CHAKRAS:

Crown chakra: EEEEEEEEEEEEE

Throat chakra: AYYYYYYYYYY

HEART: OHHHHHHHHHH 


Solar plexis: OOOOOOOH like YOU (yes you should try this try hummmmmmming!)

LUNG: AHHHHHHHHHH

Reproductive: MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM 

Base chakra: SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

NOW.

CHANT!

HEAR JO: "Everyone loves to sing. From kids to elders. Everybody loves when I bring the harmonium into the yoga studio and use it to chant

OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

and let the BOOK POUR OUT OF THE UNIVERSE into voices into files of different colors!












Tuesday, February 09, 2021

FIRST LOVE

By Sharon Flitterman-King

I remember Bob Van Grove, my eighth grade boyfriend. I remember going to his house, his mother and sister playing cards, cigarette smoke in the air, his mother’s asthma not doing well in the smoke-filled room. Still they all were friendly, warm, and welcoming.

And then there were the baseball games, the Los Angeles Dodgers in Dodger Stadium. We went and enjoyed the game—had hot dogs and soda, then popcorn and ice cream.

Bob was a sweetheart. He treated me like a princess. I still remember the first gift he got me—a beautiful raw silk shirt, a bright autumn gold. 

He and his best friend Jerry went to I Magnin, a fancy department store in LA, and had the salesgirl help them out. 

And then there were the nights at Bobby’s house. We’d be in his bedroom with the door open, TV on, and kissing and hugging. He was my first love, and it was yummy and warm. I am eternally grateful for that.

Sharon Flitterman-King, PhD, grew up in Los Angeles, and earned her doctorate in English from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a writer and painter from Hillsdale, New York. This is one of her many paintings.

 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

ONE MORE MYSTERY: MY NEW DOCTOR

It was time to find a new doctor. The woman I had been seeing mysteriously stopped returning phone calls. She missed three or four phone appointments.

When I asked her assistant -- I will call her Donna -- what was going on, the woman asked me if I was accusing the doctor of lying.

"She's been trying to reach you," she barked. "She's left you messages."

Messages that somehow never managed to make it into  my voicemail. And calls that never made it to my list of recent calls.



After the doctor failed to call me still once more this past week, I placed still another call to Donna. 

I never heard a word back.

Meanwhile, my dear friend Nancy Dunlop had given me a referral to her doctor's practice. She raved about them. I was a bit uncertain about switching, but really, what choice did I have?

So on Monday, just before 1 p.m., which was my appointment with this new nurse practitioner, I got a text message from her assistant. "Would you like to Zoom?"

"I'd love to," I responded.

The new practitioner seemed a bit foreboding. Long grey hair. Black rimmed glasses. But her smile was lovely.

Her assistant -- a delightful woman named Brianna -- was conducting the medical history.

She asked me all the standard questions...a long long list of them. And then this question:

"What is the highest grade level you achieved in school?"


I told her I had a Ph.D. 

And honestly I'm not exactly sure how things unfolded after that. At some point, Angela (the new practitioner) asked me what my PhD was in.

"English, specifically teaching and writing. My first novel served as my dissertation."

Angela's face lit up. "So you write books?" She wanted to know the titles. I told her, and then I told her about this one, the one I'm now calling 

"Angels Keep Whispering In My Ears."

"It's a crazy book and sometimes I'm not sure it is a book at all," I said. She asked what it was about and I told her, "it's a healing book, a story about how I healed myself of depression by believing in Divine forces."

Angela practically exploded through the computer screen.

"That's incredible," she said. "That's the premise of my whole psychiatric practice.  I believe everyone is healthy when they are in touch with the Divine. You could be our spokesperson."

To say I was stunned is putting it very very mildly. And then came even more incredible information.

I told Angela that it was also a story about my Italian ancestors, including family from Calabria, the Orzo clan that originated with my great grandfather, Pasquale. 


"You see, he was illegitimate, which was very shameful in those days. It's actually a miracle that he survived because in those days, in southern Italy, many illegitimate babies were put to death!"


I told her that the book is written partly in Italian.

"That's incredible," she said again. "I'm also Italian. Fluent. My maiden name is Loccisano (loosely translated, "healthy eyes" -- her brother is an optometrist!) And my ancestors are also from Calabria, from a tiny mountain town called Ciaverello, a place I visited last April." My ancestors were from the tiny village of Paola, in Cosenza, Calabria.

Then she explained to me that in addition to her medical practice, she has developed a peer advocacy group she calls "Mentisano," which translates to Whole Mind. People are coached by peer advocacy specialists to develop a plan that reflects their life goals and dreams.

At this point, the medical history was all but forgotten. We turned briefly to a discussion of my medications. Before I hung up, I promised to send a couple of chapters from the novel.

It wasn't until later that it hit me: through some mysterious process, I now have a medical practitioner who subscribes to the most important principles of my spiritual practices.

How did this happen?

How is it the other doctor just disappeared out of my life, and this new one with whom I'm perfectly suited dropped right in? How is it that these "coincidences" keep happening?

Here is just one more miracle, one more miracle, tied up with this book. Here is one more episode that I can't possibly explain, except to say it's a gift bestowed by the Divine!

Thanks to my dear friend Sharon Flitterman-King, Ph.D., who painted the beautiful still life that appears here. And thanks to my friends Peg Woods and Jan Ramjerdi -- both wonderful writers -- who have been reading this book and encouraging me to go forward.