Blood Spatter

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I have always liked a clean floor. It might have something to do with the way I was raised. When I was growing up our floors were spotless and the carpet was vacuumed each day. You could see paw prints from our 8 pound cat indented into the plush carpet.

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I ask that people remove their shoes before they come into our home. I placed a ceramic plaque I bought in Hawaii by our front door that reads: “Maholo for removing your slippers…(But no take mo’ bettah ones when you leave!)”

I know people make fun of me. That’s okay. I know where their feet have been. They’ve been to the alley behind a favorite restaurant to get to that secret parking place no one else knows about. They’ve been in the restroom at the airport or worse, the toilet on a plane. They’ve been to the doggie park, the gym and the gas station.

Most people are good about taking off their shoes. They’ll leave them outside at the front door or step onto the doormat inside and take off their shoes.  There are those individuals that will walk in to our home without thinking and wander into the living room. I have to remind them to ‘please take off their shoes.’

After a dinner party I’ll grab my Commercial Grade Microfiber Dust Mop from the hall closet, secure a clean mop pad to the Velcro backing and polish the floors. You’d be surprised at the number of crumbs that drop from an Hors d’oeuvres on the way to someone’s mouth or the particles that fall from dinner plates and forks onto the floor.

There are exceptions to any rule, of course, and I’ve had shoes-on parties. These are usually catered events. We set out tables in the back yard, set up a bar on the driveway and let people have the run of the property. We leave the doors open and lock the cats away in a back room. Once we even had dancing. Someone wore black rubber soled shoes that night. After the last guest left, I went through the house and rubbed until each scuffmark was erased.

I like walking on clean floors with clean feet.

These days I spend a lot of time on my hands and knees cleaning droplets of blood from the floors. Our cat has a tumor growing inside of his mouth. It pushes against his teeth and his tongue. After he eats, blood pools at the corner of his mouth, drips to the floor and leaves droplets smaller than a pea, the size of a blueberry or as big as a nickel.

Blood isn’t always red. It can be crimson, or maroon or rosewood. Blood clings to things. I clean the floor by the cat’s food dish, near the back door where he sits and cackles at squirrels and crows. I clean under the kitchen table where he naps in the late afternoon. I clean outside our bedroom door where he guards us at night.

There is blood splatter all over our house.

I use a mixture of Murphy’s Oil Soap and water to spray each droplet. I wait for the molecules to dissolve, I watch them loosen their grip. Then I wipe. Sometimes I’ll wind my way through the house following the trail of blood, stopping at each cluster to spray. Then I’ll loop my way back around and rub each spot clean.

I’ve been called neurotic. Maybe I’m compulsive. I don’t care.  Every day I clean my floors. I’ve perfected my process. Cleaning blood has become an art form.

Fred the Beautiful

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My Red Bench

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This morning I brought my coffee and my journal to the porch and sat on my bench. I love my bench. Not long after we moved in to our house I saw that the neighbors two doors down from us had a bench and I wanted one too. Their bench was honeydew green and had two white canvas accent pillows. It sat on the front porch under, what I assume to be, their kitchen window.

My Red Bench

My Red Bench

I wouldn’t call our neighborhood modern. In fact, except for the trees and a few over-the-top remodels, if you were to drive down our street, you might think it was 1956.  Most of the homes on our block have grass and maybe a brick pathway that leads from the curb or the driveway to the front steps.

The house with the honeydew green bench had curb appeal. One of the two women that lived there was rumored to be a landscape architect. She designed her front yard in sections with rock borders and exotic plants and a winding slate path that led you to the front of the house. When Bill and I first moved in, we’d walk over and take pictures of their plants so we could buy them and plant them in front of our house.

“I want a bench,” I said to Bill. We were standing in front of their house. I snapped a picture of their bench.

“I don’t know why they have that bench.”  Bill said. “I’ve never even seen them sit on it.”

“You don’t know.” I said and turned to Bill. “They might sit on it when we’re not looking.”

“We don’t need a bench.” Bill said. He was standing with his arms crossed staring at the house.

“It’s curb appeal.” I said. “I want a bench.”

Bill turned toward me. “You probably won’t ever sit on it.” He said.

“I’m buying a bench.” I said. Bill rolled his eyes. He turned and headed back to our house. I followed.

He stopped at the foot of our driveway and crossed his arms. I caught up and we stood there for a few moments looking at our home.

“I’ll go on line to that garden store, Smith & Hawken.” I said. “I bet that’s where they got their bench.”

“Don’t.” He said. “I’ll build you a bench.” I reached up on my tiptoes, kissed his cheek, and walked up the driveway to the house.

Bill built me a sturdy pine bench. I helped him paint it. We chose candy apple red. She sits at the end of our porch under the kitchen window. I bought two black pillows with white piping and lean into them as I write and sip coffee in the mornings. In the summer, our neighbors Susie and Jerry join us for cocktails or beers. Bill and Jerry stand in the driveway and talk about boy things like boats and the weather and motorcycles while Susie and I sit and page through the latest Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn catalogue. Bill and I sit on our bench and watch the rain. On warm nights, sit and we’ll look at the stars and talk. I love my red bench.

The two women have since moved and a couple bought the house. He’s tall and she has platinum blonde hair. I rarely see them. The lawn is dying and the plants look tired and thirsty.  The porch is empty.

The View From My Bench

The View From My Bench

We’ve gone drought resistant. Our gardener planted lots of colorful dwarf trees and shrubs like Dwarf Day Lillies, California Redbuds, Dusty Millers, Evergreen Current and Fairy Lilacs.  What once was our lawn is now river of grey sand and rock with blue grass accents that runs through pea gravel the color of the beach on a rainy day. When Bill gets home from work, we’ll sit on our red bench and watch the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds drift from flower to flower.

This morning I brought my coffee, my journal and one of my black pillows with white piping outside. I sat on my red bench. The air was thick. The clouds hung low and heavy in the pink and blue sky. A woman walked by with her dog and waved. I waved back.  A man jogged pass on the other side of the street. A white Toyota slowed down in front of our house and stopped. I noticed the driver lean toward the passenger side window and aim her phone at our front yard. I think she was taking a picture.

A View From My Bench

The View From My Bench

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Moving With No Movement At All

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I haven’t been writing lately.

I’ve wanted to write.

I’ve wanted to write because that’s what I’m supposed to do. Write. I’m a writer. I should be writing. I want to write. I miss writing. I miss feeling words flow through me on a walk or during yoga. I miss rushing to get to my journal to write them down. I want to mush words together between my fingers, to mold them and shape and form them into a pose and put it in the kiln to finish.

I’ve wanted to write but since the picture I haven’t. I mean a journal entry here or there, but that’s the extent of my pen.

I’ve thought about writing. I’ve thought a lot about how I’m not writing. I’ve thought a lot about the light bulbs that puffy cloud through my mind but don’t seem to make their way through my fingers onto the ring.

I’ve been reading more than writing. Good thing writers read. Phew! I’ve been reading articles and books, poetry and blogs. I’ve been reading the news. I even read the back of my husband’s Morning O’s cereal box. (A quick read indeed).

The other day I read Cindy Yantis’ Thought Changer blog. She wrote about winding roads and beating your own drum.  

Let me paraphrase. I do that. I paraphrase. I’ll take someone else’s light bulb and ingest it, process it and make it my own. It’s not plagiarism, I promise. I give credit where credit is due. It’s more like digestion. Then I can share the light bulb and spread the love. Isn’t this what we writer’s want? To make a difference in the world with our words and let our light bulbs enlighten.

Cindy described that feeling of moving through molasses, that idea of things not happening fast enough. I know this place, I know this judgement of speed and how things should look. I know this gavel well.labryinth

My path has brought me here–to this forest. I’m not producing right now. It’s not my time. It’s my time to clock. Instead of writing, I’ll sneak off to a dark cool theatre and watch someone else’s creativity unfurl. Instead of writing, I’ll explore my own popcorn. I’ll listen to it hum and vibrate. I’ll feel it and feed it a bit of patience and respect and ocean air. It has been quite a practice, putting  my judgment aside and letting my popcorn dolphin on it’s own.

When I sit back and breathe I feel my gratitude. I’m grateful for the picture–that huge bump in my own coiling trail. I am grateful for the wrench that jammed up my labyrinth and the skillful hands of builder who yanked it out. All that digging and stirring about, although quite tunneling, turned out to be a blessing. I am different. I am more grounded. I am even somehow more whole.

It’s a funny thought. To find myself here, in a place of acceptance after that picture and the tunnel and my inability to grasp at my light bulbs and put them to pen. After all that, I’m okay.

Still, in this place of moving within no movement at all.


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Ekphrastic — Midsummer’s Eve

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Firebombs and Fairies

I’ll just hide here in this lantern, thank you very much.

I don’t like crowds, especially crowds of drunken naked fairies looking to cause trouble. They make fun of me because I don’t like to join

Midsummer's Eve Robert Edward Hughes

Midsummer’s Eve
Robert Edward Hughes

in their mischief. I don’t care. I’m used to the taunts. “Baby! Baby! Hughie is a Baby!!!”

I don’t care.

Cain is trying to get me out of this lantern. It’s the only safe place. The lantern. I made a beeline for it when we got here. I bet a small flock of fairies were swinging from it and it came crashing down, the fairies tumbling and laughing all the while. I’m just glad that I found this lantern. I’m not coming out. It’s enough I’m here at all. God, Jewish guilt is the worst.

Earlier this evening, I was reading in bed, catching up on my New Yorker’s sipping a cup of Chai tea when Cain came into my room.

“Hey.” He said. “Aren’t you going to come to the solstice celebration?”

“No” I said. Last year’s solstice party turned ugly. A riot broke out when the keg ran dry and some crazy fairy almost ripped my wings off my back. Booze and firebombs just don’t mix.  “Remember last year?” I asked. “No way I’m subjecting myself to that again.” I turned my attention back to the magazine.

“Come on.” He walked over and sat next to me. He pulled the New Yorker out of my hand and tossed it on the floor.  “Hey, I was reading Ellen Bass’ new poem.” I said.

“What is it with you?” he asked. “Why are you such downer?”

“I’m not a downer.” I said. I know that I was disappointing as an older brother. I wanted to be better. I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be able to relax, be myself and have fun with the other fairies. I just couldn’t. I didn’t know how.

It was going to be a nice evening.  The solstice sun was setting. It was warm and the sky was a kaleidoscope of pink, orange, and violet.  A white mother of pearl guitar pick lay on the floor by my window. The changing colors of the sky seemed to bounce off the pick and bathe the walls of my room in a rainbow glow.  I had found the trinket on yesterday’s beach walk. I love picking up little treasures. I have glass bowls of rocks and shells and lucky pennies all over my bedroom. The pick was a great find. I guess Mr. Taco must have swatted the it onto the floor. Cats will play with anything except their cat toys. Ahhhh a cat’s life–the world is their scratching post. Oh to be a house cat.

Cain didn’t need me tonight. He’s stronger than he knows and quite able to go to the celebration without me.  He shouldn’t care if I come or not. “You don’t need me.” I said.

“I do,” he said. “I want to get into the Fairy Fraternity.” He said. “They want you to be there too. If you don’t it will reflect badly on our family.  You have to go or else I might not get accepted in the frat.” He stood up. “Come on.” He said. “Get up and come with me. Please.” He said.

I shook my head. I pulled the covers up and over my head.

“Please.” He said and yanked the covers down. “Please. Please! PLEEEEAAAASSSSEEEE!” He said.

“God.” I said. “You are such a whiner!”

“It’s really important to me.” He said. “You have to come. I just have to get into the Fraternity. I have to!!!”

I’m such a sucker. Once again here I am doing something for someone else and sacrificing myself in the process. I have to learn how to say no. This isn’t good for me. My cortisol levels are rising. I can feel it. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Maybe if I focus on this red light. Breathe. Focus on the light. Breathe. I need to calm down. Maybe if I concentrate hard enough I can just will myself gone.

Uh oh, is that Fairy Constantine over there with a fireball? It looks like he’s going to throw it my way.

I gotta get out of here.

Breathe, breathe, focus, and breathe. Relax. I’m a fairy aren’t I? There must be some powers I have, right? Can’t fairies just blink their eyes and disappear?

Shit, what’s the point of wings if you can’t even fly?

**Thank you to two AMAZING writers, Josh Grapes and Lisa Segal. Their unique workshop BEYOND THE FRAME brought this fun piece to me…and I see many more on the horizon… 

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love rock pink

I’ve been swimming in love’s Caribbean blue. Diving down to explore. I’ve found a huge living breathing love reef. I explore the complexity, what clings to my coral, grows on it, decorates it, burrows into it. Yes, that’s me teeming with love fauna. Every piece of my soft underbelly that might break off with time skitters and pulses with love, with life.

The deeper I dive into my truth, my love and my self, the easier it is to swim.  I don’t need to come up for air as much. I frolic. I’m like the Whales that have been playing and eating in the ocean off of Redondo.

I dove a little deeper on Friday.

I dove and drove way out of my comfort zone to UCLA. (Have you been down Wilshire Blvd. in Westwood lately? Yikes!) I took a deep breath and swam through the sculpture garden and came up for air in Public Policy.

I was invited to guest lecture. I spoke to 70 + students who majored in Business or Econ.

The class was engaged and asked a lot of questions.

The professor invited me back.

Someone from the humanities department took me to lunch.

She asked if I’d come speak to Humanities, English; if I’d participate in a panel.





As I left North Campus, making that familiar right turn onto Hilgard, I felt a wave of emotion move through me.

I had stepped into a greater appreciation for myself. I realize that for fear of bragging, I’ve diminished some of my accomplishments. I didn’t want to sound like so many people I meet. “And then I did this and then I did that and me me me me me!”

I know that harsh tinny blinding glare–the sharp, pointed light of someone trying to prove something. I read it in newsletters every day. They’re trying to sell me something. They’re me-ing me.

I used to have this friend. She would analyze me. She’d come to my house, step into my office wearing a tool belt complete with hammer, nails, a yellow highlighter and a Freudian textbook. She was ready to analyze, diagnose and repair. Once she told me that I was holding onto extra weight because I was insecure, that I was afraid of intimacy. She was incorrect. I was holding onto extra weight because I had just had a miscarriage.

Here’s the irony, that’s her issue, not mine. Projection.

Interesting. I see her posts on Facebook. We are still “friends” there. I’ve read some of her newsletters. I watch as she bobs on the  surface of herself.

My wish for her would be to dive deep. I know that diving deep isn’t all colorful fish and blue waters. Sometimes it’s dark and scary. I’ve gone down and I’ve wondered if there was any life force down there at all. Our strange creatures, anglerfish, and giant squid live deep, their tentacles reaching. Evolution has shaded their eyes

Dive down, come back, open your eyes, see and feel.

I own it. My mistakes. My faults. My history. I take responsibility. If you’ve read my poetry, you know some of it ain’t so pretty.

I think if that old friend were to analyze me today, I’d have a different response. Or I might not respond at all, because sometimes people can’t listen to what might be true. It’s too hard and so they reflect and deflect and project. It doesn’t matter what she’d say or do now or then, that’s the beauty.

All that matters is love. Love of self so you can Love others.



Valentine’s Day Wish

May you turn on your light,

May you dive into your glow

May you shine

May you shine


From the inside out…

From you heart, not from your head.


Love yourself

Love love love

Wrap your arms around yourself and LOVE!

Wishing you a LOVEly Valentine’s Day,



Write on,


carolyn first only sig

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May It Be Filled With…

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Happy New Year


May you be

May you be fearless

May you be

May you be fearless

May you reach beyond
your wildest dreams

May it be easy

May you receive
all that you’ve wished for
and even more
…as if by magic

May you be silly
and laugh a lot

May you love
and be loved
a lot

May you feel into yourself
listen to your heart–

May you have fun
lots and lots
and lots
of fun

May you be surrounded
by those that inspire
that respect you
love you
that support you —
lift you up

May you burst at the seams
with joy
because you’ve received all that you desire
and more
because you know
because you see
because you are grateful

May you have a Happy New Year
Celebrate well

Write On,

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Happy Holidays

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happy new year 1It’s a crazy wonderful whirlwind a winter wonderland of love glitter and sugar, bubble highs, family gatherings around the sound of the Grinch Julie Andrews Ebenezer Jimmy Stewart Charlie Brown – it’s a Christmas Story in front of fires in living rooms across the country while friends clink-a-tink glasses and over look there red velvet bows with whiskers on kittens and bells that jingle and candles lit with magic as we go dashing through the snow rain and sleet and store after store planning parties, writing lists and checking them off twice or even thrice, chocolate trees, silver bells, big gold balls, blue satin sashes, green, silver, red bows and tinsel and lights that flash on and off and on and off and twinkle candy cane’s, popcorn strung trees, reindeer and the modes Christmas penguin, caroling elves, snowflakes and rain drops and I forgot my umbrella, secret Santa’s ring-a-ding-dong on every corner, miracles burn bright for eight crazy nights   as we wrap and tie and decorate and figure and choose which little black dress, red sequin gown, three piece tux black tie affair to attend. You better watch out, you better not blink or that guy will cut you off in traffic and you’ll miss the light and the sale and someone will buy Oprah’s favorite things right out from under you.

It’s crazy
It’s wonderful
It’s the season

we circle around and around and around and our feet just might not even touch the ground.
It’s okay. It’s all good.

If I get harried and nutscelebration crop
I drop into my body
I take a moment
take a breath
take another
I want to stay whole during these holy days
stay centered
stay with myself
It is a magical time
lights twinkle on dark nights
we see friends and family we haven’t seen for a while
we celebrate love and family and life and miracles 

I dive into my journal

It’s not the only way to get centered, but it sure does work for me. I like to spin.
I like to take a walk at the beach.
I like to visit my yoga mat, a little downward facing dog and cat-cow, peaceful warrior one, two and three.
I’ll turn on a carol in the car and I’ll sing-sing-a-ling.
I like to unwind with Bill, cook a meal, sit down and eat it with cloth napkins and conversation. (And then there’s always a bit of bubbly, a little love’n and chocolate! )

It’s the time to dive into it all–the hustle and flow and the magic and miracles and all the wishes and desires.

Just as long as I don’t forget to dive into myself!
I’m taking this moment to make a wish.
Here’s to a wonderful and wild and colorful and bright bushy-tailed winter wonderland
here’s to magic and miracles
to peace on Earth
to true good will toward human kind.

Here’s to loving kindness
Here’s to loving each other
Here’s to love

Here’s to giving presents
and staying present as we give!

Here’s to you!

Write on,
Happy Holidays.

Write on,

carolyn first only sig



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Watched Pot

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la rain

a rainy LA day


Last night after we made love Bill went outside to wait for the rain.

He stood on the flagstone patio,
hands in the pockets of his white terry robe,
watching the oncoming storm hover in the distance.

She was moving in her own time.

I opened the back door and leaned outside,
“A watched pot never boils.” I said.
But I knew, if watched long enough, it would boil.
Bill stood patient, planted, like a tree
whose roots are thirsty for wet.
“I felt a drop,” he said.

This morning the house is quiet,
except for the sounds of sleep and wind and rain.
Until I turn on the news–
pictures of splintered trees,
pictures of floating cars, flooded and stuck in muck,
pictures of sand bags and empty beaches and businesses shut down,
a flash of yellow earthmover slogging through mud
and inevitably dramatic coverage of a swift water rescue
from the quick rising LA River.

Later, I’ll dress for weather.
New winter boots
water resistant, lined with fur.
Ultramarine raincoat
that matches nothing.
I’ll walk, head down, to the car,
open the trunk and dig for the umbrella.




It seemed like a good day to share this poem I wrote last year.
This was published in The Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles in the June 2014 edition.

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Unedited Sunday Morning Musings

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when i was walking

sand slipping between my toes

heels sinking

and lifting

legs moving me forward

people lined up in pews

eyes closed

hands clasped

throats thick with hymn

and they prayed


while they sat

surfers AND dolphins

sunday morning redondo beach

in the white and blue

steepled building

down the street from my house

i watched

neoprene clad surfers

wait on waves

i watched

dolphins flip

through the gleam

of sun

a flicker-dance

on the water

i watched pelicans

and gulls dive

for their breakfast


i know it might be corny

to make such a simple


my church

to theirs


sometimes truth

is just that simple


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Journal Entry: August 31, 2014

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Journal Entry:  August 31, 2014


I had a good childhood.

me and dad Maui, maybe 79 or 80

Me and Dad Maui Circa 79 or 80

I grew up on movie sets. My Dad was a Production Manager back when you broke down a script using colored cardboard strips. Wemoved from New York to Beverly Hills. “Stepford Wives” was in the can but I still got to brush Katherine Ross’ strawberry blonde hair and help her bake cookies in her Malibu kitchen. I loved how her bathing suit bottoms never matched her tops.  When my Dad was working on “Murder by Death” he arranged for me to meet Angie Dickenson and Earl Holliman. “Police Woman” was my favorite show and it was a way bigger deal than meeting David Niven, Truman Capote or Maggie Smith. Although it was pretty neat to watch Colombo rehearse the same line over and over and over again.

It wasn’t just me. My Dad brought lots of people up in the movie business. He got them jobs, got them training, got them in the union.

Then the script took a dark turn. An unexpected diagnosis. A first surgical procedure doesn’t go as planned. Lake Arrowhead-chemo-recovery-weekends and my Dad’s healthy vital glow mask the executioner. A Second surgery and still Cancer drills deep and takes root.

All scenes led to that final diagnosis.
Seven days left to say goodbye.

“Did you get the shot?” He asked. From his bedside at Cedars, I could see the Hollywood sign, white against the Indian summer hillside.  I held his hand. It felt heavy.

“We did.” I replied.

Cut. Print. That’s a wrap.

That was 1988.

Man of Destiny

Roger M. Rothstein

It took a bit of time, but now I can feel into the gift that is my father. Not just my gift–I still get emails, letters and Facebook posts: I miss him every day; I found a picture of him; There was no one quite like Roger.

I can look in the mirror and see him in the round of my face, the beauty mark on my cheek and my dark hair and eyes. His energy courses through my veins as I negotiate with a tough client.

If my father weren’t where he is, somewhere out there, I wouldn’t be where I am now.  Who knows, maybe he is here, hovering over my right shoulder as I type.

This is my life.

Happy Birthday Dad.

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