hopes and dreams

Graduation: From Pandemic to ???

It’s been a wild a crazy ride, but graduation day has finally come. My daughter, Ashley, started her graduate studies at NYU in the fall of 2019. As she packed to go home for spring break last year, she had no idea that she would not be returning to school. The pandemic hit NYC hard. After being home for only a few days, she received an email from the university. If you lived more than eight hours away, you should not return to NYU. Talk about total chaos! Suddenly, life turned upside down and inside out.

Doing what should be hands-on coursework — conducting auditions, directing actors, designing sets — for a theater degree online presents its own challenges. Add to that the dilemma of getting your belongings in your apartment packed up and sent to you while city services are shutting down.

A year later, as she graduates with an M.A. in Educational Theatre in Colleges and Communities, the theatre world looks very different from when she started her degree. During the pandemic, theatre experimented with zoom performances and, as a result, started a whole conversation about what defines theatre and when does an online performance become a film? If a performance is recorded and not shown live, is that considered theatre or film? Actors’ Equity (theatre) and SAG-AFTRA (film/television), each representing their respective actors, must now grabble with those questions.

Theatres around the country have been shuttered for the last year. How many were able to stay afloat during the shutdown remains to be seen. All is not doom and gloom, though. Restrictions are being lifted, states are opening up, and, fingers crossed, the worst of the pandemic is behind us. The day of NYU’s graduation ceremony was also, ironically, the day NYC opened up. Here’s hoping that’s a good omen, not just for NYU graduates and NYC, but for all of us. It’s been a long year. It’s time for things to turn things upside down and inside out again, so we can get life back to normal — or maybe even better.

featured, cozy mystery, The Michelle Kilpatrick Mystery series

Discovering 1974 One Bite at a Time

Note: The first book in The Michelle Kilpatrick Mystery Series (working title) occurs at a mid-sized midwestern college and surrounding communities in 1974.

1974. President Nixon resigned. The UPC Bar Code was introduced. Flares were in, and polyester reigned supreme. The Jackson 5’s “Dancing Machine” and Barbara Streisand’s “The Way We Were” were in the top five singles of 1974, while sit-coms All in the Family, Sanford and Son, and Chico and The Man claimed the top three spots for the 74-75 season.

It was also the time when, in the midwest, pizza became mainstream. Yogurt was marketed as the new option for healthy eating and, I might add, for those who needed to lose a few pounds after eating all the pizza and McDonald’s new Egg McMuffin. A Jell-O Salad and a Tuna Casserole were standard-fare at family reunions, and no church function was complete without its version of a punch made with a quart of melted ice cream.

Whether you’re feeling nostalgic or simply want to step back in time, here are some recipes to help you capture 1974 one bite at a time.

Wacky Cake


Watergate Salad

Jell-O Salad

Poke Cake

Banana Breeze No-Bake Pie

Cherry Breeze Cheesecake Pie

Punch with Vanilla Ice Cream

featured, cozy mystery, The Michelle Kilpatrick Mystery series

New Work in Progress

Yeah, the first draft of my debut cozy mystery novel is completed. I have sent it off to a few readers for their input and then the first of many revisions will begin. I am going to take a couple of weeks off from writing to reinvigorate my inner being. The biggest problem facing me is what to do first. Yikes! Design my dream house? Make my own sourdough bread? Study black and white photography techniques? My list goes on and on.

With the internet at our fingertips, I think the world of learning new things becomes daunting. There is just so much to learn and to explore. A lifetime hardly seems long enough and I think that is where life gets even more confusing. It is easy to become paralyzed and not make a decision when there are so many options in front of us and we fear making the wrong one, so we don’t make any at all.

Thank goodness for what I like to call the low-consequence decisions in life – those decisions that even if we make the wrong ones are not going to impact our lives negatively. Sometimes we just have to go with the decision that brings us the most joy at that moment in time. Maybe today I dig out my photography book and tomorrow I start my bread. The main thing is not what I decide to do, but rather is to decide to do something.


Staying Organized: The Home Edit

If you’ve ever dreamed of having a closet so organized that you’d show it to every person who came through your front door, then The Home Edit on Netflix is a must-see. Marie Kondo may have taught me how to keep only those things that bring me joy, but Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin have gone a step further. They taught me how to make my home organization maintainable.

My first project: the refrigerator. I am an unapologetic penny pincher, so I bought my containers from Amazon as well as a package of clear sticker paper. I used my Cricut Maker to make labels for the shelves and containers.

I love having everything I need for tacos and nachos in one spot. And I (and everyone else) know exactly where to find all the condiments to go with a nice juicy hamburger. No more finding things buried in the back of the refrigerator.

Two months later, everything is pretty much where it should be (except for the random orange used for the rind, lolz). Things get put away, and I don’t have to hunt for anything when I am cooking.

If you’d like organization inspiration, I recommend The Home Edit Life and The Home Edit Life Workbook.