Thursday, April 12, 2012

Anybody here?

Well, I moved over to WordPress, and guess what's happening over there? Nothing. I guess I'll give it another week or so, but if you won't follow me to my new neighborhood, I'll call the movers and come back. I moved over there so I could invite in other writers, guest bloggers I thought you'd enjoy. But oh well. Blogger may make it easier to bring them here one day. Here's what I wrote today at WordPress, and here's the new address : It’s lonely out here. I feel like I’ve moved to the tundra. I can feel the wind whistling by … According to the stats, not one person has read one post since I moved my blog to WordPress. Hm. I moved over here because SUPPOSEDLY I would increase my readership. I thought (obviously I was mistaken) that my readers were coming here from twitter by clicking on a link there and would simply click on whatever link was in the tweet. Not so. All righty then. I will post on dehelensbits and see if anyone is still looking for me over there. Meanwhile, if anyone does wander by, looking for a sandwich or something, say howdy, will ya? Leave me a note. Take whatever you can find in the cupboard. I’ll be back soon.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Moving ... to

For a few reasons, I am starting a new blog on WordPress. Please book mark me at and come visit me over there. One of the main reasons is that I will be able to guest blog and have guests on my blog easily via Another reason has to do with links and other tech items. I will keep this blog for awhile and may try doing two blogs, as I know that many writers do.

Happy Easter, Happy Passover! Passover means I can buy Coke at the grocery store without corn products, it comes in bottles with a yellow cap, for a week. One week out of a year. I'm off to Albertson's. Then, on Monday it means 1/2 price chocolate at Walgreen's. That's what I learned from my friend Ginny several years ago. She always bought chocolate after Easter and after Halloween. I like those little individually wrapped Dove dark chocolates, and never buy them ... except after Easter and Halloween. I keep them in the freezer and have one after dinner. Now to write!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Had a table reading of my newest full length play last night. I belong to PDX Playwrights group which meets twice a month to read new plays by its members. The reads are cold, and parts are handed out on the spot to whomever is available at the time. After the reading, feedback is given to the playwright in the following way: 1) popcorn response (one or two words), 2) what worked in the play, 3) the playwright gets to ask for specific feedback.
Here's the synopsis: An astronomer overcomes agoraphobia and travels to Korea with her adoptive mother, bi-racial daughter, and lesbian lover to find her biological parents. Her daughter disappears, her mother dies, she suffers relapse. Only her true ancestors – the stars – can save her now.
Usually after a table read, I just come away ready for work. This time, the positive feedback overwhelmingly outweighed the things that need fixing, however. I came away feeling terrific. There are definitely a few places that I need to tweak, a couple of problems to solve. The playwrights in the group are so helpful and generous that I'm really glad I joined this group last September.
Do you have a good writers' group? Do you have rules for giving and receiving criticism of your work in that group? How does that work for you?

Thursday, March 29, 2012


All that reading and re-reading of THE HOUNDING as I revised and edited it, not only led me to fall back in love with Shirley Combs and Dr. Mary Watson and the original story, but it made me downright itchy to write the next adventure in the series. I promised myself that as soon as I had all my deadlines met I would launch right into The Illustrious Client, and so I have. I'm having a great time. The game is afoot: I'm lining up the characters, beginning with Colonel James Damery who made an appearance right at the end of The Hounding. Next I had to choose who the illustrious client would be, of course, and begin building a story from the dust motes of the Sherlock Holmes's story "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client." As history is picked up, shaken out, and put back down, only the dust motes remain in the room, and from them I build a story for Shirley and Mary to share with their readers.
I've written character backgrounds for Oceane Chartré [Beaudet] a 20 year old pop star from France, and for her fiance Lucas F. Hansen, a Danish playboy/businessman who looks 30, and is about to have his looks ruined by an ex-girlfriend Borbála (Bori) Eszti whose background I wrote today. She's a beauty with a Lipizzaner farm from Bana, Hungary who is going to throw acid in his face here in Portland on a yacht where he and Oceane are moored for the Rose Festival. Bori is stalking him and plans to make a quick getaway.
Unfortunately, nobody is going to get what s/he wants for awhile. This is a murder mystery. Shirley, Mary and I will be the ones having all the fun, and that only because we are working and enjoying what we do. Stay tuned if you want to read about the process. Feel free to ask questions too. And, please! Share your own process. I'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Hounding, Second Edition

My friend the filmmaker, Gabriel Darling, is at work on a teaser/trailer for the new edition of "The Hounding" but it is already up on if you want to go buy it and read it. (If you click on the title above, it will take you straight to amazon.) I've reduced the price to $2.99, and if you are a Prime member, you can read it for FREE. Also, if you have a book blog and want to review it, contact me and I'll send you a review copy for your Kindle. As an editor myself, I am appalled by the number of errors I see every day, not only in books, but in everything I read. If you find an error of any kind in my writings, please point them out to me so I can correct them. I will consider it a great favor. I paid $17.95 for a book of poetry that I ordered from, and when it arrived, I saw the back first. The first thing I saw was a typo. Argh. Then when I opened it to try to find my friend's poem, the contents listed only the names of the poems, not the names of the poets! There is no index. These people needed an editor, and not only a proofreader, but a developmental editor (I do both). But I digress. Please buy my book. Ha!
Read my work. If you find a mistake, please tell me and allow me to fix it. If you want your own work edited or proofread, my fees are reasonable. See my site at

Monday, March 12, 2012

Video is up: Singer Clashes with Cougar

Everyone did a brilliant job, and now you can see for yourself. I'm so pleased with everyone's work, the production crew, director, the actors were just brilliant ... they make me look good.
Please feel free to leave any comments here, or at youtube. I'm sure the actors and crew especially would love to hear what you think of their work.
If you have feedback about the script, come back and tell me. I'm always open to feedback, to doing better. Also, to hearing about YOUR work.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Performance last night SINGER CLASHES WITH COUGAR

Brilliant. My first full production in *ahem* let's just say awhile. Readings, yes. FULL productions, harder to come by. The SINGER set was so simple it contained only one black chair. Three actors, one mask, and the props were a guitar, a guitar stand, and a bottle of water. Backstage there was a crash bag. I hired a professional director and three professional actors myself when I was offered the opportunity for a staged reading on live TV. I decided I'd rather have a full production with professionals, and just went for it. So glad I did. My short script was brought to full life by lovely people that I hope to work with again and again. The singer in question, Nelda Reyes, is truly from Mexico and used her accent to provide the character with authenticity and vulnerability. Her youth and beauty didn't hurt either. Jennifer Lanier is amazing. She's tall, athletic, exotic looking because of her Native American genetics, and brought so much sensuality to the cougar, and yet was able to instantly transform herself into an aged human woman with just a kiss. David Loftus himself has exotic looks, a gorgeous man who always brings full skills to even a small role. He managed to show us a concerned, yet opportunistic theater manager in a few lines. You can catch all three of these actors on national TV, including NBC's Grimm. Jennifer has recurring roles on both Leverage and Grimm. They are all seen about town in local playhouses as well. All the time. Check out their Facebook pages for details. Director Karen Alexander-Brown is also a playwright. I was exceedingly lucky to get this ensemble together for my play.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rehearsal today, Performance tomorrow! SINGER CLASHES WITH COUGAR

Will finally see a rehearsal today. The first rehearsal, I was stricken by a horrible migraine, the first one I'd had in 6 weeks, and it lasted for 3 days. Last week, I wasn't planning to go, and didn't. So, today's the day! They are now rehearsed, blocked, and putting on the final touches for tomorrow's performance on live TV. I have a professional director and professional actors. I will have a DVD of this performance that I can watch from now on, and can send out to potential producers of this and other work.
Since I was here last, I have published a short story on amazon: "Girl Heroes: 1956" and received a rejection of my play "The Stars Are Our Ancestors" in its first draft. I was hoping for a reading at the Alaska Conference, but will settle instead for a table read on April 3rd by the PDX Playwrights group here in town. That will give me what I need in order to refine the draft by June 1.
Many of my women playwright friends are feeling discouraged by the statistics out there. As am I. Most of us (including me) have decided to put our heads down and keep writing anyway, and to continue to send out our work. The best course is to make sure you send your work to the best fitting place. Even better is to have a relationship with the literary manager or the artistic director of the theatre company. Not everyone can have that, but it is best if you can. Some women use their travel money to go to theaters in different parts of the country and try to establish relationship in order to send their work there. Some produce their own work. I do whatever I can to get my work on the boards. When I started out, it was so much easier than it is now that I took it for granted. I had full length plays produced every year. A few plays every year. Those days are gone for now. But I do have friends who have that happen now, and I share in their joy. There is nothing more fun than having a play up.
If you are a playwright, what are you doing now to have your work heard or seen by others? When did you last have a full production of a full-length play? Or, when is your next full-length play going up?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Planning a relaunch: The Hounding

I did get a tweet from one designer about possibly designing a cover for my mystery. I decided to use my own photo and go ahead with what I have on hand, at least for now. Money is the issue, or at least an issue. Another is that I want to get this done because I have other projects standing in line, tugging at my sleeve. When I first published this novel it was the best-selling mystery novel for a major distributor of the year. As an eBook. We were WAY ahead of our time in 1999. An eBook Reader cost almost $300 and hardly anyone had them. Of course, the book was available in CD-ROM, but who wanted to read on her computer? A laptop weighed several pounds at that time. The great thing about revising this novel and spending so much time with it over the past few weeks is: I've fallen in love with it all over again. "The Hounding" is an homage to the Sherlock Holmes series. I grew up with Sherlock and loved his methods and his eccentricities even more than I loved Nancy Drew. After I moved to Portland, I often thought of Sherlock and his London. I always felt I learned so much from the character of Sherlock about observation, about noticing my surroundings, deducing what had happened in a room before I walked into it by looking at what I saw. These methods have greatly contributed to my abilities as a writer, IMHO.
One day, when I worked downtown, I was walking across busy 5th Avenue, when suddenly I had the idea of having a female detective named Shirley Combs who would have been teased about her name, but in spite of -- or maybe even because of that -- became the world's greatest living detective. One day she meets her Dr. Watson. A young naturopath, Mary Watson, who becomes Shirley's sidekick and narrator. In the beginning I thought I would write a series of their exploits. So far, I've written only the one, beginning with the curse of the hound of the Baskervilles. It isn't too late for this to become a popular book, and to spark a series. And I have no end of ideas. The characters are plenty interesting to me to keep me writing about them. And if not, I have plays to write, poems to write, and a garden to which to tend.
By the way, I also run an editing service, and am all set up to help you get your own works e-published. I'm using Scrivener for that purpose now, which can work with any word processing format you might use. Have you considered e-publishing your short stories for 99 cents? Lots of Kindle readers are looking for those. Check my rates:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Editing my own work

Today I spent the day inputting all the changes I so painstakingly made by hand awhile back to my mystery novel. I am eager to get these changes made on computer, and finally online so I can relaunch my ebook. I am always an early adopter of new media, and this book came out in 1999 as an ebook published by a press that is no longer in business. My reader at that time cost almost $300, and hardly anyone had one. Hardly anyone bought ebooks either. My novel was the best-selling mystery novel (ebook) for 1999, so that tells you how many were sold that year. Ha. Especially considering that it wasn't even published until October! Still, it did get good reviews, so I have high hopes for it in its new life. As it was written so long ago, it definitely needed to be brought into the new millennium, with cell phones and so on. Otherwise, it holds up. I'm going to need two more full days to finish the uploading.
I also want a new cover. And a marketing campaign. This will not happen overnight as much as I would like for it to. Why can't things happen more quickly? Life is too short, and yet things take too long. It has been ever thus.
Do you write mysteries? Do you have a designer you want to recommend to do my cover? I have someone in mind, but they don't specifically do mysteries. I'm open to suggestions.
Leave a comment.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Irish unicorn

This is a photo from one of my favorite trips. Five years ago this coming May, I spent three weeks in Dublin visiting my artist friend (please check out her gallery). We did the largest women's athletic event in the world: an annual 10K. She ran, I walked. It was my first and only so far. I made it it 1:59 hrs. She ran it in 1:01. She was aiming for under an hour, which she had done before. And probably has done since several times, especially since she had joint replacement since then. After our training week, then the run/walk, we toured around Dublin sight-seeing, and ventured out to County Wicklow for nice walks and taking of photos. That's when I found this Irish unicorn. She must have lost her horn in the grass somewhere, or perhaps hid it in the nearby pot o'gold, waiting for us to pass. I've done lots of writing IN Ireland, no writing about Ireland. Have you?

Chime: A new play is born

It has been head down, butt in the chair for the past couple of weeks as I wrapped up the first draft of my first full length play of the new year: "The Stars Are Our Ancestors." Along the way, I also lost one of my best friends. RIP Ginny Foster. She died Saturday night February 4th. She and I were writing buddies for more than 20 years. I am now her literary executor, a great honor. Her works will be archived with the International Centre for Women Playwrights Collection at Ohio State University (as will mine, some are already there). So, there was Ginny's memorial to attend to, and I learned another friend of mine had also died 10 months ago without my having heard, and then two days later another friend died suddenly, shocking many of us. Rough week. In times like these I am especially grateful to be a writer.
"The Stars..." is a satisfying first draft. It did everything I wanted it to do for me, it surprised me, it came together when it should and as it should. I'm feeling pleased with it right now. I know I need to have a reading soon so I can hear all the places it needs rewriting (they always do need rewriting), and at the same time, I'd like to just be in love with it for a few weeks. This is my science play. Not terribly heavy on the science at the moment. I'll leave that for the rewrites. It has a simple set, only four characters, all women, one young, one old, two in their 40s. There is a love story, mother/daughter stories, it addresses adoption, different ethnicities, but it is never an issue play. It is a character-driven play about love and how we are all one, how we are all the stuff of stars. I listened to all kinds of music while I wrote this play: classical, rap, country, rock, blues, jazz, and opera.
I wrote when I didn't feel like writing. I would stop and think, well that's it for today. Then I'd look at the page number. And I'd say to myself, no you have to write ten more pages. Ten more pages? It's already 5 o'clock. Or whatever time it was. And then I'd kick my butt and keep writing. One day I did something I've never done before. I snacked while I wrote. I ate crackers while I was writing! It was past dinner time, I was hungry, and I was unwilling to stop writing. So. Crackers. And water. No dinner until I got those pages finished. What a task master! And guess what? It worked.
Do you ever write this way? And if so, are you pleased with the results? Surprised? Please tell me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My first time ...

So guess what happened to me last night? I got stuck in an elevator! With NINE other people. I went to a writing workshop, and afterward, got on the elevator which was already crowded, and then 3 more people got on after I did, the door shut, the elevator started down and then just stopped. We had gone 3 feet down. But it would not open, would not budge. And no one would come to fix it. We were put on hold, TWICE. So we called three times. Finally, we called 911. The firefighters got there. The elevator repair people never did arrive, although we had been told they were "almost there" a couple of times. The firefighters opened the door, one of them stood back in the hall with a bowl of candy from the reception table (from the workshop) stuffing his face, and the other (in full gear) reached a hand down, expecting us to haul ourselves up the 3 foot drop somehow, or be pulled up by our arms. I yelled up to the young woman from the workshop, who was dripping sweat from going up and down the stairs to deal with everyone, to get us a chair to climb on and she did, and then we older folks climbed out via the chair. I then beat it the hell down the stairs and outside. We had been in the elevator for an hour. I was hot because it was too crowded in the elevator, plus my hands were full, so I didn't take off my coat. Once outdoors I cooled down quickly and got cold. I had just missed my bus, didn't have hat or gloves and the wind was up. I called my daughter and asked her to pick me up downtown, then walked to the Hawthorne bridge and met her there. It was about a mile's brisk walk, and my ears were burning with cold by the time I got there and she picked me up. I was so glad to get home.
I had a couple of frightened moments on the elevator, but really just didn't let my mind go there. Instead, I struck up conversations with the other writers around me, asking them what they were working on. All the women have strong female protagonists -- even the YA writer. There was a young woman at the back of the elevator who isn't a writer, but is a broadcaster. She had been dealing with brain cancer. Is now looking for work. She seemed bright and optimistic, certainly was poised in our situation. I hope she finds work soon. We writers shared our current projects' stories with each other to pass the time. I was struck by the creativity and promise of each one.
All in all, I'd have to say I probably got as much from the experience in the elevator as I did from the workshop. Which is not a diss to the workshop -- I liked the interaction in the elevator is all. Plus it was free, and had the bonus of great relief at the end.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Busy, busy, busy -- writing!

I procrastinated for one day, then dove in to my writing projects so hard I forgot to come up long enough to blog about them. I completed revising "Asylum No More" for the umpteenth time, but this time after seeing it performed before live audiences, receiving feedback from thoughtful friends, getting on-point questions from the director. Sent it out before deadline to an important festival. Was also referred by a director to a theatre company that produces works with African-American casts. It would be lovely to have the play read there as well.
Now I'm working on writing my new play: "The Stars Are Our Ancestors." This has meant listening to a book on tape which I read years ago -- "A Brief History of Time." Listening to it means I can listen to it again, until I understand the concept. When I'm reading, sometimes the pages are like Teflon -- my eyes keep sliding off. My play contains dark energy, dark matter, black holes, and stars. My protagonist has to have ideas, thoughts, and something to say about these things. So ... So do I.
Meanwhile, I'm also studying for a job that's coming up. Memorizing material. I like challenging my brain for that as well. I alternate my projects. Work on one thing for awhile, go away and work on another.
Keeping busy also keeps me sane. How do you take care of yourself?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Procrastination Day

I am normally an organized person, right on top of things. I outline my plays, have to-do lists, keep a list of movies I plan to see, make my bed as soon as I get out of it in the morning. If you've checked your calendar, you'll note that National Procrastination Week doesn't begin until the second week in March. I don't have time for an entire week of procrastination every year. And I really can't wait until March to procrastinate, so I'm doing it today. I have a mystery novel that I've revised that needs those revisions uploaded on the computer, and formatted for so I can sell more books. I have revisions to make to "Asylum No More" now that the show is over. I have a new play to finish the first draft on -- it is outlined, and the first 5 pages are written. I've had two days off to rest up, and I could be working today. However, I saw on my calendar that Procrastination Week was coming up and I'd need to find time for it somewhere, so I thought I might as well get it out of the way, particularly as it is already 4 in the afternoon. So, there ya go. All done with that. I'm not one to tell you what to do, but you might want to look at your own March calendar. Isn't that around the time you're usually getting your tax information together and taking it to your tax person? Or better yet, doing your own taxes and getting them out of the way? You're welcome.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Asylum No More -- Last Night was Closing Night

The cast was really on last night, an even tighter ensemble than the night before. We had a smaller audience, and this time we had an audience who laughed on the inside. Ouch. I always remember that line from an old sitcome "I'm laughing on the inside -- where it counts!" No it doesn't. Not at all. It does make for a shorter show though.
Feedback still says they want to see a full production. Love the show, love the cast. One feedback sheet I haven't read yet because it is definitely for the playwright: covered front and back. I'm not quite ready for that this morning, but I know it is well-intentioned and meant for a playwright who is open-hearted and ready to rewrite.
It was delightful to watch the relationships develop between the characters onstage, even though these were staged readings, and the actors had scripts in hand. They rehearsed enough to be able to look up from their lines and deliver them face to face with feeling, they stepped out of each other's way at particularly heated times, their body language was beautiful to watch. This is one of those memories I feel so lucky to have, one of the reasons I am primarily a playwright instead of a novelist. It is the playing that brings me to the stage. Let's pretend. As the playwright I get to watch the players.
Live theater is a gift to the world and one we must remember to give to ourselves and friends and families. I bring my friends out to see live theater at every opportunity, proselytize constantly. Theater doesn't exist without an audience, it is a living, breathing thing, and the audience makes that so. Opening night, closing night, every night is new and different. There are moments when the world stands still inside the theater building and you can feel the oneness that we all are. You want to be there when that happens. I've been there, more than once. It's why I keep going back.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Asylum No More -- Last Night was Opening Night

We had a decent house, sold more than half the seats. Not bad when the show doesn't start until 11PM, and it is POURING down rain on a Friday night in January. We handed out feedback forms and writing utensils before the show and almost everyone took the time afterward to complete the three questions. This after a lots of laughter, lots of applause for the actors who really delivered. I saw more places to cut, places I want to change, and the actors helped to illuminate the script so I could see and hear what I needed to see and hear. All feedback for the actors was glowing. As it should be! The director, well I can't say enough about Brian Demar Jones. He was a gift. I found him because I needed a new director after mine bailed, and Sven Bonnichsen sent me his headshot because Brian had applied to audition and Sven noticed that Brian also directs. Lucky me, Brian was brand new to Portland and hadn't yet been snapped up. By now, he is overloaded with projects, and I will not likely ever get to work with him again as he will be employed by all the big theaters from now on. So, I'm celebrating the fact that we are working together now, and he has been a tremendous help to me on Asylum No More.
We do it again tonight, for our second and last time in this run. It's a festival, we have only two nights. Maybe we will get to do a full production later in the year. I will do my best to raise the funds. All but one person who turned in feedback said they wanted to see the show in full production. The one negative person was negative in every way -- except toward the cast. When I read that feedback (so out of step with everyone else) I suddenly heard my NYC friend speaking in my ear "remember, when playwrights give negative feedback, they are telling you the problems they have in their own plays. It is not about you." So, I took it like that. Because seriously, it didn't seem to be about my play. After tonight, I will write about what I plan to change in the play, based on feedback, based on my own observations. Because it is, of course, still a work in progress.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Helen's corner of heaven

My sister asked me to write something that someone could read at Mom's memorial. This morning I had a dream that I was standing in a field of a wild bird refuge that Mom had created simply by having fed birds out her window all these years of her later life, and hadn't seen because of not being able to get outdoors the past couple of years. There were flocks of herons taking off and coming back, that made me cry.
When I woke up, I was able to finally write something for Mom. Here it is:

Mom’s corner of heaven is filled with birds. And dogs. She is up there with her dogs and birds, feeding them all. Never having to eat a bite herself, she can just feed the dogs and birds as much as they will eat. Forever. She loved throwing out doughnuts and watching birds eat in a circle. She loved walking her dog to the pond and feeding the ducks and geese. Mom rescued more animals in her lifetime than most, beginning way before they called it rescuing and still called it "taking in strays."
Mom had a goat when she was a kid herself. She loved to tell the story of how she about drove her grandma nuts by riding her tricycle with a cow bell on it around and around the outside of their house with the goat following her. The goat came inside the house as well, and jumped on the dresser, among other things.
Mom made sure we always had pets in the house when we were growing up. One Easter we got baby chicks, dyed pink and blue. Mom named them Pink and Blue. They never lived out in the hen house with the other chickens. They roosted on the window sill. Another Easter we got a rabbit. Mom named him Bunny Hop, and he became great friends with our dog Leven. (We rarely got to name our own pets. Mom enjoyed that job.) Another holiday we got two collie puppies: Salt and Pepper. Unfortunately, Mom backed over Pepper, while he was still a pup, but Salt grew up to be a favorite -- until she bit the Sheriff. But strays! There was Neighbor, who came to live with us after his father, Ricky Nelson, a 20 pound yellow tomcat, died. Alberta named Ricky, but Mom named Neighbor because ... he lived next door. Lee, Mom got from the pound. Girl came from the no-kill shelter. And Bird, of course. Everyone knows about Bird. Now they can all be free, out of the cage, off-leash, no more aches or pains, all together, forever, in heaven.

Monday, January 16, 2012

DABDA: those 5 stages of grief

DABDA: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We don't necessarily go through them in order, nor do we necessarily all go through all of them. Sometimes we get stuck. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross introduced these stages to us back in 1969 in her book On Death and Dying. I read the book back in the 70s when a friend my age was dying of leukemia and Kubler-Ross came to interview her. And now here I am experiencing the stages of grief (well one stage: anger) because my 94 year-old Mom has died.
I'm stuck like a moose in the spring thaw. I know it has been only 11 days, but my blood is boiling. Every communication I attempt with my sibling just makes my anger worse. She feels unable to speak with me, and I now feel unable to email her. I cannot go out to Missouri for the memorial service that they were not going to have, and now are having this weekend. I was not invited, but now am invited to write something that someone else could read (not my sister). I cannot. Mom always said when you don't know what to do, do nothing. At the moment, that is all I can do: nothing. And it feels wrong. I stand for peace, and today I am a hypocrite. I cannot make peace with my family.
Maybe tomorrow I will be able to move forward.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Talk about taking things literally. I was thinking about how difficult it is to sever the apron strings, and then remembered that when I received my box of "stuff" from my sister yesterday, the stuff from my Mom's place, the detritus I get to keep now that my 94 year old mother has left the earth, in the box were several aprons. I don't know where the aprons came from. They weren't Mom's. They weren't mine. I expect they came from the "free table" at the senior housing where Mom spent her last 6 years -- the happiest years of her life. She loved to get stuff from the free table and put it in "my" drawer where I left things behind to wear when I visited her. A couple pair of shorts for the summer, a hat for the winter, slippers and p.js., a nightgown that disappeared and was replaced by underpants I've never seen before. Back to severing the apron strings ... do we ever really leave our mothers? Maybe sons do. Daughters become their mothers. I hear Mom's voice come out of my mouth now, even when I catch myself snoring. It's disturbing. Her words talking to my cat. Her voice telling my daughter I didn't mean to bother her. Shut the hell up, Mom. I hated when she said that to me.
I find myself so angry these past few days. Angry at my sister for her lack of communication, because I feel so shut out. Angry at my Mom for not wanting me there at the end. Angry at myself for not going anyway.
Then I remember when my first husband killed himself more than 25 years after I left him, but still soon enough for our son to perhaps have a life. I was suddenly thrown back into my life 25 years earlier, haunted by fear of him, recalling how I left him -- and my son -- remembering how I had feared for my life, wishing he had killed himself before I left so that our son hadn't spent those years with him. Angry that he hadn't. Angry that I hadn't killed him myself after all. Angry that I allowed our son to grow up with him. Angry, then sad, then relieved. Finally, relieved.
I remember ever further back when my Dad died. I was 7 years old. I wasn't angry then. Just scared and horribly sad. That was when I first lost not only my Dad, but also my Mom as she had to go to work at two jobs. We lost our house too. I guess it's time to start letting go.

Friday, January 6, 2012

RIP Helen B. Phelps 07/06/1917 to 01/05/2012

Phelps, Helen B. 94 July 6, 1917 January 5, 2012 Helen B. Phelps died peacefully in her sleep. She was born in Orornogo, Missouri to Maggie Mae Strawhun Taylor and Virgil E. Taylor. Virgil was in the US Army fighting WWI at the time. She was raised by her grandmother whom she called Mom, and sometimes by Maggie whom she called Mother. Helen married Jim Brown when she was 16 and they had two baby girls who were stillborn. (Margaret Sue and Helen Rosalie). After they divorced, she married Albert Charles McCorkle, the man she called the love of her life. Their first child, John Patrick died a few hours after birth. Their next, Sandra de Helen survives them both, in Portland. Their third, son Howard Allen, also lived only a few hours. Their last child, Alberta lives with her husband Tim Mobley in Jefferson City, Missouri. They were caring for Helen and with her at the time of her death. Albert died in 1951, and Helen remarried. Her last husband was Lloyd Phelps and he also predeceased Helen in 1973. Helen has four living grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandson. She retired from Rawling’s Sporting Goods factory in Newburg, MO, where she was president of her union local for over 20 years. Helen was known for writing poems all her life, often to commemorate special occasions. After Helen moved to Portland, Oregon to live with her daughter Sandra in 1981, she often helped design and build costumes and props including a giant lavender satin hand, and a bat that flew through the audience. Helen led an active life and will be deeply missed by her family and friends, including many in the LGBTQ and theatre community.
I wanted to run this ad in the Oregonian with a photo, but I can't afford to run an obit in the Oregonian. It costs more than NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR ONE DAY. I especially wanted to run the obit in JUST OUT, but Just Out predeceased my Mom by four weeks. So I hope my friends who knew my Mom in the 80's will find her here. Mom always supported my theatre work, came to my plays, entertained my friends with her character. This is for you Mom.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Day 2012

The day is nearly over, and so is the life of my 94 year old mother. I just received an email from my sister that Mom has stopped taking in anything, is doing nothing but resting now. They think it may be a matter of hours before she slips away. Sis will call me to let me know. I will meditate on the life of my mother and write about her in the coming days.
I had the good fortune to have plenty of time with Mom to work through a lot of the hard places in our relationship when she came to live with me for nine years in my 30s and 40s. After that and from then on, we always talked and spent time together. We cried together, we laughed together. There was forgiveness in the mix. We knew that we are human, that we always were just doing the best that we could do at the time. Sometimes that wasn't so great. As Maya Angelou says: When you know better, you do better.
I hope you're resting well tonight, Mom. And when it comes time to breathe your last, I truly hope it is so painless you don't notice it. I know that there was a time when you were afraid of that pain, that you once asked "how do we know a person wasn't in pain when they died in their sleep?" We don't, Mom, so I hope if it happens to you, you find out that it is absolutely painless. And if you're awake when you go, that you are fearless. I love you, Mom.