The Benefits of a Good Sleep

I am writing tonight on my phone, which means one finger pecking, so this post will not be long. I was up at 6:30 this morning and have had an afternoon and evening full of students. I am more tired than I normally would be, but what the heck. I am going to embrace this fatigue and go crawl in bed.

I am a great believer that a good sleep improves all things. In fact, in my case, this tends to be especially true since I tend to get cranky when tired. Ask anyone who knows me well. When my eyes get squinty it is best to gently aim me in the direction of bed. Otherwise, Life might get messy.

Tonight I am just ready for a little peace and quiet. I love people, but lots of human interaction wears me out. Though I look like an extrovert, I truly am an introvert. This is evidenced by my need for solitude to recharge. 

Well, this post has expanded beyond my initial estimate. That’s okay since it will put me a little closer to my 20 minute a day goal.

I am happy to be settled in for the night. I look forward to a good long sleep. Like I said, I think sleep has benefits that go well beyond our understanding. Just as mothers can see when their children are beginning to unravel because they are too tired, we owe it to ourselves to note that same downward spiral in ourselves.

So on that note I bid you adieu.

Until tomorrow.

A Few Thoughts on Flash Fiction and Nonfiction

I teach a flash fiction and nonfiction class for Story Circle Network. Right now I am teaching flash nonfiction.  Flash is usually a piece that is limited to around 1200 words maximum.

Here are some thoughts on this type of writing.

Flash fiction and flash nonfiction differ clearly in content, but many of the needs are the same given the conciseness of the form.

In an excerpt from The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Flash Fiction, Nathan Leslie in his article, “The “V” Word,” states, “By focusing on language, scene, voice, and character, my students often find themselves writing compelling and effectively ambiguous stories rather than cloyingly serendipitous and artificial ones. By doing so they learn that in flash fiction:

• Accomplishing one clear goal is of utmost importance.

• Hemingway’s Iceberg Principle, and minimalist writing overall, can work wonders—understatement and purposeful ambiguity are vital.

• Every word bears weight.

• Imagery is of the utmost importance.

• Many works of flash fiction can employ a sudden twist, turn, or realization.

• Irony is helpful.

• Beginning in the middle saves precious time and space.

• Length restrictions can bring out great art.

For flash nonfiction, book author and editor of the journal Brevity Dinty W. Moore states in an interview at River Teeth Journal that “The imperatives are the same, but everything is dialed up in a shorter piece. You need to move in and out of scene quickly, you need to introduce language, diction, and rhythm immediately, and you need to establish place, character, and conflict right away – usually in the first sentence. The first paragraph of a brief essay has to do what the first chapter of a memoir does.”

Here’s Dinty’s full interview.


Dinty Moore’s full interview can be found at


Pasadena Tonight with Our Family and Uncle Sam

Tonight our family gathered in Pasadena at the Levitt Pavilion to hear the Chambers Brothers and to have a visit with my brother Sam, who is visiting from Tennessee. This was a picnic in the park and Rachael and Ariel, Liz, Sarah, Gregorio, Luna and Nico joined Ray, Sam and me. (Ron had a prior commitment.)

Needless to say, I am happy to have my brother in town. It is quite a treat. Tomorrow, his girlfriend, Jaime, is coming so we’re planning a family dinner minus Sarah’s family. She has to begin two weeks of nights at the hospital beginning tomorrow nights.

Here are some photos of our evening:

Grandma and Nico


Rachael, Ariel, Sam, Sarah and Nico


Liz, Luna, Ray, Cordie, Frankie and Gregorio


Sarah, Nico and Rachael in the background


Ray’s Insides – Our Garage

Ray and I have been cleaning our garage today. This is not a small task since we physically handle so many antiques and collectibles when dealing with estates. Still, this space is so cool and unique I wanted to share some pictures of it. This is classic Ray Beaty with tons of stuff hung on the walls and a plethora (you’ll see) of tools and accompanying supplies to tackle pretty much any project. This space reminds me of the art installation at LACMA (LA County Museum of Art) of the old garage. I loved that place. Someone told me it is currently in storage, which is too bad since it speaks of a certain type of person with a clear sensibility. There is a smell that comes with this place too which is a mixture of paint thinner and oil. And the air is cool in there even on a hot day since the walls are so thick. I love this space.

Ray said to me, “Is this what you imagine my insides look like?”

“Yes,” I said.

His response, “Me too.”

Here are the pictures:

IMG_4730IMG_4728 IMG_4734 IMG_4735 IMG_4736

My Day’s Work

Today was one of those days where I first met with my writing friend, Michael, and we worked for two hours on our individual works-in-progress, then I headed outside to organize junk for a few hours before returning inside to work with students on various important projects in their lives.  One was a Senior Class speech for a boy who attends Harvard Westlake, another a “Why Penn?” essay for a girl who wants only to go to Penn and another was another supplemental essay for a young man applying to medical school.  Two hours for each student = 6 hours of intensive and satisfying work.  It is now 10:11 – my last student ended at 9:30 – and I am, as usual, ready to head upstairs for a bath and bed.

I like that my life is varied.  I have work that requires lifting, moving and selling antiques and I have work that demands attention to all aspects of the written word from theme to voice to story to grammar. Both make me happy and use very different parts of my brain.  I truly need the physical work of my antique life since the writing life is not exactly filled with jumping jacks and push-ups, at least not the physical kind.

So, off I go upstairs.

I hope you’ve had your own satisfying day.

I will check in with you tomorrow to share how life is faring.

Until then…



A Gift from a Kindred Spirit (and Kin)

I came home from Ojai today to find that I had an unexpected package in the mail.  I saw the return address was a hearing clinic in Austin so I immediately knew that this was from my cousin-in-law, Elaine, the wife of my first cousin, Lee.  Hmmm, I thought,  is Elaine sending me something else for my hearing aids?  You see, Elaine is an audiologist and is the person who provided me with the devices that have made my life significantly better.

However, when I opened the package, I saw a little blue bag and a note from Elaine that read: “We had these at our church bookstore and I thought of you.  I hope this fits some digit. Thumb, pointer finger, toe. Love, Elaine.”  I knew immediately what it was since she and I had had a long exchange about a blog piece I’d written on a meditative prayer that is part of my daily life – and hers – as it turns out.  The prayer is “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner.”  When I opened up the bag, I saw a silver ring with those words written across it and I immediately smiled.  Elaine had told me she wore a ring like this with the words written in Greek – she is Greek Orthodox – and now with her gift, we both had one. This made me very happy indeed and I instantly placed this ring on my pointer finger to remind me of that meditation (and Elaine).

After my blog post, Elaine had also sent me a link to a piece that discussed meditative prayer. It was excellent and is based on the following: do not resent, do not resist, keep inner stillness.  Actually, here is the link for anyone who is interested.  It was one of the best guides I’ve read in years regarding this.  (It is long, but worth it.)

Anyway, I am delighted that my first cousin-in-law and I are both wearing these silver rings.  We are two women working on the same goals: to develop an inner sense of peace. I like that, and, of course, I love her.

Thank you, Elaine!

Jesus Ring



Lost Post about Grilling 

I just lost my entire blog post when WordPress crashed. Darn it!

Let it suffice to say that I grilled up some tasty chicken thighs tonight here in Ojai. 

I know that is not interesting but my now lost post described all about the grill Ray reclaimed by sanding off all the rust and repainting. Trust me it was a good post. 

But now I am too tired to recreate it. Just take a look at my dinner. That will have to work for today. 

We will talk tomorrow, my friends. 

Sleep well. 

Flash Fiction, Memoir and Essay


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