WSJ, the Met & Me

I got an email from my darling publisher a few mornings ago:

“Hi, Donna – ICYMI (that’s editor talk for “in case you missed it”) “Flaming June” and Frederic Leighton were the topic of an article in the WSJ Review written by Barrymore Laurence Sherer.
Title of article is “A Victorian Vision of Beautiful Youth.” Such a treat to learn more about the artist and painting, now on loan to the Met in NYC. Happy Spring, Cynthia.”

I looked it up, and the article was very eloquent, and equally verbose… but, the main points were that this is Sir Frederic Leighton’s (1830-1896) most famous painting for its vivid color, and his technique that both conceals and reveals, appearing almost weightless. Scholars have called Flaming June “his most uninhibited hymn to human beauty and life itself.” It is currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from Puerto Rico’s Museo de Arte de Ponce along with five others through 2024. I’d love to see it.

I remember being enthralled the first time I saw the painting in an art class, and 50 years later, I am thrilled to be able to use it for my book cover.

In other news, I think I told you that I began studying Spanish using the DuoLingo app during the pandemic. I have managed to practice daily for 635 days now, usually spending between 4 – 5 hours a week. I’ve decided that when I hit the two-year mark in a few months that I may switch to Babble, unless some of you have other suggestions for online learning that worked for you? Please drop me a note in Comments.

My reading and writing comprehension are both good, but I get a little “tongue-tied” when I speak. And I can’t roll my Rrrrrrr anymore! But I do speak to everyone who will speak with me and I have had lots of opportunity. I’ve found that native speakers are always very kind, patient, and complimentary and it keeps me encouraged.

I don’t know if this is a good habit, or a bad one, but I’ve developed the habit of eating “at my desk.” Having never had a desk job, it’s a new experience for me, and it feels fun. I make myself a latte in the morning, having treated myself to a milk frother since I’ve had to give up my cream. (I’m limited to lactose-free milk right now – but it warms up and froths beautifully!)
Next I warm-up one of this week’s batch of gluten-free muffins, then carry them to my desk where I read Apple news. It is an extravagance having the time to do this with no demands at all as the sun comes up. Maybe I should think of it as more of a ritual?

What ever we call it, we all deserve an extravagant moment every day. Time to recharge our body, mind, and spirit so that we can be present to ourselves and for others.

XO Donna

Busy Bee

As I sit to write this, I realize that the bed in our guest room is unmade. Not that any of you can see it, but I feel it. BRB.
Done and dusted! Yesterday I did the floors and rugs, changed and washed the linens in both bedrooms and baths, and left the linens folded on the guest room bed to do them first thing this morning.

But something more fun came up: we went to look at an Airstream Trailer for sale nearby. Gorgeous. Modern. Iconic. Shiny. Soooooo shiny!

It was beautiful and had been very well-maintained, but the shower felt cramped to me, and the bathroom – well, imagine yourself having to use an airplane lavatory every single day. Soooooo tiny.
I’m only 5’4″ and I felt that way, it would have been impossible for my 6′ tall sweetie, so we didn’t make an offer. Fantasy, meet reality.

We have two more RVs we’re looking at that are similar to what we used to have, just a bit smaller.

Tuesday is usually my Farmer’s Market day, and since it’s right here in Sun City I can run up there in the golf cart and stroll the stalls picking just what I need. Fresh okra has been my favorite thing so far, but last week I got both fresh red and sweet potatoes, and Sunflower sprouts. Love sprouts! I’ll have to see about making it to the Thursday market downtown. Do you have Farmer’s Markets where you live?

On Labor Day we drove to College Station to see my dear friend Holly, (the Nia instructor I’ve talked about here before) and spend an afternoon with her and her darling husband. Her gardens are glorious, as was her pool… first time I’d been in the water all summer. I forgot how healing the water is. I brought a batch of my gluten-free brownies with toasted walnuts along.

On Wednesday we both got the new Covid bivalent booster shots. And our flu shots, one in each arm! He had no reaction to either, but I felt a touch under-the-weather the next day, and Tylenol fixed that. A couple days later I had a reaction at the injection site. It was itchy, hot and red. The doctor said that is a rare reaction, but since my immune system is a bit wonky, we weren’t surprised.
A bit of ice, moreTylenol, and a couple of days later I am fine. It seems like this will be an annual booster now. Grateful to all the scientists who made/make this possible.

And two more fun things – my friend Mike came over for dinner and we usually collaborate on a cocktail to go with dinner – I cook and he brings the makings and acts as our mixologist! I found a recipe from Nigella Lawson for No Churn Margarita Ice Cream. I read it through and wondered if it was worth the splurge. OMG, yes, absolutely! It was Mike’s idea to start and finish the meal with a Rita, so he whipped us up top-shelf cocktails, and after dinner I pulled our treat from the freezer hoping it would be good. It was beyond good!

(My apologies for the monstrous link below, but there was no short-link that I could import.)

I plan to make it again, but this time using the box of fresh Meyer Lemons I have in the crisper. I’ll let you know how it turns out. It feels good to feel good and be busy again. Hope you are all well and enjoying these cooler mornings. I’ll talk to you soon.

In gratitude,
XO Donna


I know it’s been forever, but I haven’t had much to say until two great things came along to share.

After writing the above title, I realized that Odds & Ends was the name of the first salon where I worked upon graduating from beauty school in NY in 1976. It was my first, but unfortunately not my last, experience with a drug-addled boss. That’s a story for another post. On the positive side, I began my career with some lessons in “what not to do,” and realized I was capable of running things.

I’m having a hard time deciding whether to tell you about my fan-girl crush on an actor, or about a new-to-me book; “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Make Your Loved Ones’ Lives Easier and Your Own Life More Pleasant.” But, since we’re here, let’s do this.

I love the simplicity of nature-inspired Scandinavian style, and the way they have a concept called hygge (h(y)ōōge) to explain it: finding comfort, pleasure and contentment in simple things, such as a cozy atmosphere and the feeling of friendship.

So of course I would find the ideas in this book right up my alley. Margareta Magnusson’s book picks-up where Marie Kondo’s leaves off, by taking it to the next step – that when we reach a certain age, we need to think our mortality and what we will leave behind.
Will it be an orderly and uncluttered space, or will it be disarray?

If anyone brought up death or dying when I was growing up, it was quashed, and quickly! But what is the point of ignoring the fact of our death one day, when it is the natural conclusion to life?

Is this just a thing in our country, as it appears to me to be?

Magnusson says her book about Döstädning, or death cleaning, is a permanent form of organization that can make our lives run more smoothly by eliminating what is unnecessary, and in the process, we are doing a favor for those that survive us.

Our generation grew up with both the means, and the ability, to have all that we wanted. Yet, I noticed after downsizing three times since 2014, that the less stuff I had, the freer I felt, because there was less to take care of. Even after three times, there are still things we seem to be stuck with (for sentimental reasons) that we don’t use. And we are both aware that our kids don’t want any of this aside from a couple of antiques. I’m sure you’ve seen all of the articles in the papers and magazines recently touting that as their headline!

I know contemplating this isn’t for everyone, but it appeals to me. After all of my father’s threats when I was young to send me to a convent, the absolute simplicity of such a lifestyle has a certain appeal to me.

You may not know this, but I love British crime/detective shows, so much so that I subscribed to BritBox. I don’t watch series that are too gory, too cute, or about serial killers… but I love a well-scripted, well-acted series, and gorgeous countryside and unfamiliar locales make it all the better. I’ve watched tons, and my fave show so far, hands down, is “Shetland. ” Yes, the Scottish actor I have a crush on.

Douglas Henshall plays Jimmie Perez, a man with a strong sense of family and duty. He’s an honest cop, a loving father and loyal friend. Picture a Clint Eastwood character, but with a really big, gentle heart. Picture Walt Longmire. Now throw in a knock-out Scottish accent, (sub-titles really helped on this one) and put it all on the island of Shetland. When you finish that series there’s a great movie called “Doors Open,” also starring Henshall, a few years younger. Fun romp. How have I just now heard of him? LOL

If you have something that thrilled you, please let me know below. I feel like I’ve watched everything worth watching!

I’m wishing you all a Peaceful and Happy Passover and Easter.

(P.S. 20% off everything in my Etsyshop through Sunday.)

XO Donna


Did you know that there is a “Random Acts of Kindness Day?” I didn’t know, but there is, and it was last Thursday, February 17th.

I remember the idea of Random Acts of Kindness being put forward in a workshop I did way back in the late ’80s. It was a nice, and novel, thought. Then it became a bit of a trend and all of my friends and I cultivated the habit of making donations to causes we supported, and randomly doing nice things for strangers, expecting nothing in return. Just because. And also because it was good Karma.

I loved the rush I got from putting extra money in my parking meter, leaving time for the next person. Or surreptitiously paying for a stranger’s coffee. Or leaving flowers on a friend’s doorstep anonymously because I knew it would cheer them up.

As it turns out, that “rush” I got is because being altruistic stimulates the reward centers in our brain, releasing oxytocin and giving us what is called “a helper’s high.” Not only does spreading kindness help others feel good about themselves, it contributes to our overall sense of belonging and community – which has become so sadly divided in the last few years. It also boosts our energy, happiness, and health. In study after study, it has been shown that:

  • Volunteering improves depression, reduces stress, and lowers our risk of cognitive impairment.
  • Making donations to charities lowers our blood pressure and improves heart health. Think, “Open Hearted.
  • Giving to others deactivates our pain centers leading us to feel more comfortable and at ease.
  • Committing a variety of kind acts throughout our week leads to improved happiness.
Write a nice note to someone. FairviewPhotos

Our random acts can be either anonymous or visible. We can plan them ahead of time or just go-with-the-flow and follow a spontaneous impulse. You can do something as easy as giving a heartfelt compliment. You can mail a handwritten note to someone you haven’t seen in a while. Write a positive review. Donate a couple of books to your local library, or pick up a little litter on your walk. Drop your judgements for a whole day, all of them, even (or especially) the ones about yourself.

I’m sure there are as many ways to show kindness as there are people to do them, but in case you need new ideas, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has lists of wonderful ideas to try. I know I’ve been more inwardly focused than in the past, but that’s going to change.

Remember, giving kindness to others is also a gift to yourself. Let’s make Kindness contagious, in a good way!

XO Donna


I don’t know if it’s that I’ve been home so much, only going to the grocery store or to visit my son and bring him home-made baked goodies, but I think my brain is beginning to turn to mush.

I’ve actually enjoyed my reclusiveness, but just when I started to feel comfortable thinking about going out again, vaxxed and boosted, both a dear friend, and my sister (also vaccinated and boosted) caught the Omicron variant.
They are well again, but it was not “like a cold” for either. They were lucky enough to be able to get a monoclonal antibody infusion.

Like Punxatawnie Phil the Groundhog seeing his shadow today, I am perfectly content to go back underground for 6 more weeks!

I’ve been irregular in my posting, but not being out-and-about I’ve felt I had nothing of import to share, then it occurred to me that lots of us probably feel that way these days. Lots of us are struggling a bit to overcome our boredom, after all, it’s winter and it’s difficult to get out and exercise, which always helps me. Here’s when we can get by with a little help from our friends.

So, it may be a hodgepodge, but I’m going to share what’s been getting me by: movies, books, blogs, etc. and I’ll bet you will find something new that strikes your fancy!

Let’s start off with movies – two that we’ve loved are “The Tender Bar” starring Ben Affleck, and “Don’t Look Up” with an all-star cast. As my sister Elizabeth said, Ben Affleck is better in The Tender Bar than anything else I’ve seen him in. Set in 1972 on Long Island, NY (my home) it’s about a young boy looking for a father figure, which he finds in his Uncle Charlie, a self-educated and worldly-wise bartender played by Affleck. Perfection.

And if you need a zany spoof of everything right-this-moment, “Don’t Look Up!” is just the comic-disaster to deliver it!
Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio play astronomers who discover a comet that’s headed straight for Earth… and total annihilation, but can’t get anyone to take it seriously. An indictment of our current world. With a karmic ending.

On our to-watch movie list are “Eye in the Sky,” “Two Faces of January,” and “Jean of the Joneses.”

I signed up for BritBox after talking to a neighbor who also loves all-things-British when it comes to TV. I especially enjoy legal thrillers and detective series. After Midsomer Murders finished, I was lost – but now I’ve become hooked on a new-to-me series called “Vera.” It’s formulaic – always opens with a murder that’s always solved in 90 minutes – but that doesn’t make it boring. I’ve fallen in love with the main character, Vera, a wise woman who is fearless, dependable, earthy, ruthless in her pursuit of justice for the deceased, but still has a capacity for tenderness in spite of all she sees.

I’ve only read one book lately, because I’m having trouble trying to focus right now. Thus my escape into murder mysteries, and why I think my brain is turning to mush. But, I follow a blogger who I think you will also enjoy. It was her recommendation that led me to “Reading in Bed,” by Sue Gee
about two 60-ish women, friends, one married and one single. It was sweet, honest, poignant, and well worth the read. I may reread it because all I can remember is how it made me feel, but not the details.

The blogger is Sue Burpee, and her blog is ‘High Heels in the Wilderness.’

It’s beginning to rain now. We are expecting the cold front that most of the rest of the country is experiencing right now – with temps in the 20’s for a couple of days. Not our usual Texas weather. Whether our power-grid will hold up this year remains to be seen. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and I’ve got flashlights, candles, blankets, and bottled water just in case. Who knows, maybe I’ll even read a book by candlelight if our power goes out. Stay warm, y’all!

XO Donna


Lasagna is a special occasion dish: Easter, Christmas, maybe a big birthday. All of the hours of preparation and assembly are done step-by-step with a sense of duty, tradition, and love. An obligation willingly accepted. It is understood that no matter what is happening – good or bad – a lasagna will always make it better, and the family gathered around the table to share in the deliciousness was the best thing of all.

This I learned from my in-laws.

Growing up, we didn’t eat lasagna, my Mom didn’t know how to make it until I’d married and my in-laws taught her. Our family’s go-to for special occasions was a ham… but most of our holidays were, well, not very special. My father’s anxiety and frustration increased as the hours ticked by, and by dinnertime everyone was wound-up so tight that nobody was really hungry.
My Mom may have made a perfectly delicious meal, but as good as it was, there was very little room for fun or conversation at the dinner table.

I met my future husband when I was just sixteen. My first invitation to dinner at his home was a revelation. They were a three-generation family under one roof, only the second I’d ever met, and everyone was working together, music was playing – probably opera – and when we sat to eat, there was lots of talking around the crowded dinner table… and a lasagna. One mouthful and I felt I had gone to Heaven!

Although my marriage didn’t last because we were too young, we always stayed friends. Or friendly, depending on the year. Lucky for me, my relationship with my in-laws DID last, for more than 40 years. When I think of Christmas dinners, it’s always theirs that comes to mind. Theirs that was the exemplar. From my father-in-law’s delicious French onion soup, to my MIL Dot’s multi-course extravaganza, and finally to her mom, Gram’s pleasure in asking, “Whatsa matter, isn’t it good?” when compliments weren’t immediately forthcoming because our mouths were full of her delicious lasagna.

I am sad that those days are only memories now, and happy that I got to be part of such a family.

This year I am going to make a lasagna for Christmas Eve. I haven’t made one in at least 7 years, since I had to quit eating wheat products. When I learned that Barilla makes good no-boil lasagna noodles that hold their shape, I knew it was time. I have had enough experience with gluten-free cooking that I believe I can make this work.

And yet, I’m a little nervous, doubting myself. For some reason, I feel the weight of all of those delicious memories bearing down on me. Will I get it right? Here’s where the rubber meets the road: all of my years of absorbing their experience and wisdom added to my years of cooking, plus the very best ingredients I can find, will, of course, add up to a wonderful lasagna. My version of lasagna.

What do I have to be nervous about?

I will serve it proudly to my Sweetie, my son, and his Dad – we are all sharing a meal this year, and even if it’s not like the old ways, they will all love it.

Here’s hoping that everything you cook turns out perfectly, and fills both bellies and hearts. And here’s wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, and love-filled New Year!

XO Donna


It is funny how things change, but yet, they really don’t. I’d say it’s more of an unfolding, or evolution, rather than being another Big Bang!

I turned 70 since I last posted, and as those of you that have preceded me know, it’s no big deal. More of a societal issue, actually.
We have all been conditioned to think of 70 as old, (hell, women dread turning 40… can you imagine?) but I still feel years younger than my chronological age. I’m still l learning new things, still doing Nia, and still having fun. But there is one change I have noticed – I would dearly love a nap most afternoons! I’ve decided it’s because I am still recovering… because I’m certainly not old yet!

I had a lovely birthday – I got to speak to all three of my sisters, AND they all sent me beautiful gifts. My 93-year-old father called me and we had a very upbeat conversation. I thought he wouldn’t remember, but he did. And my sweet son posted a playlist for me on Facebook, then called, and we had a nice conversation, too.

My long-time friend Mike came over for a joint Birthday supper, and whipped up some very complicated, but utterly delicious cocktails to go with a tray of chicken enchiladas verde. Isn’t Mike’s shirt fun? And our drinks were even gin-based!

For dessert, I made my first rustic apple tart and “tweaked it” to compliment the enchiladas by adding finely minced jalapeño, raw sugar and cinnamon, and topped it off with toasted piñon. I was surprised by how simple the crust was to handle, and how light and flaky it turned out! A win worth duplicating for Turkey Day, sans jalapeños.

But, just so I didn’t get too cocky with my pastry success, the Kitchen Gods intervened and the next morning I boiled-over my oatmeal and had a mess to clean-up before my first cup of coffee!

It seems that some things never change, and microwaving oatmeal continues to elude me, so back to the stovetop.

Never get cocky!

Besides time in the kitchen, I’ve spent lots of time poring over photos, ordering cards, and getting everything ready for my Etsy shop. I know you’re going to love it! I finally settled on the perfect name for it – Fairview Photos. Fairview Avenue is the only address where all five of us O’Klock sisters lived together. It was a great house, although with six gals and only one-and-a-half baths, it was a squeeze.
No wonder my poor outnumbered Dad was usually overwhelmed. Its location was ideal – the Great South Bay was just at the end of our street. Lots of kids our age, school was only a few blocks away, and we had amazing neighbors. So many great memories there, so the name suits me to a tee.

Speaking of memories, these mailboxes are among my favorite photos from Santa Fe, shot in 1995. I always smile when I come across these pictures. I always assume that Larry was their friendly local mailman. Can you imagine actually knowing your mail carrier these days? I wish I did, and I’ll bet some of you do.

Gentle Spirit, indeed.

This is just some of my art that will be available on Etsy. Some details are still unfinished, but, in less than two weeks it should be ready for its opening and you will be the first to know!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a bright and meaningful Hanukkah. While many things around us are changing right now, there is always so much to be thankful for. Goodness, love, and light – that Gentle Spirit – are what I am most thankful for!

With my love and heartfelt respect,

XO Donna


I got to spend the morning on my friend Barbara’s ranch a couple of weeks ago. Her ranch manager was out of town, so she invited me to come along to check-up on her livestock.

Lookout Cow

She’s an orthopedic surgeon who’s been taking care of my shoulders for years now. You know… those pesky rotator-cuff issues most of us have from years of slinging around ridiculously heavy purses, lifting bag upon bag of groceries, hoisting our kids to our hips, and now hoisting grandkids, if we’ve got them.
I don’t have any “grands”, but I had my arms raised for years cutting and blow-styling hair.

Barbara is also an accomplished horse-woman. And a wonderful singer/songwriter/storyteller. And a lot of fun!

After a 90-minute ride through rolling green land east of Austin, we pulled off the main highway and turned onto a long dirt drive to her property. I was expecting something more rustic, but the land was beautifully fenced and mowed, fields green, and her farmhouse was charming cottage.

We checked on things inside as she showed me around, and after having a drink of water, we made the short walk from the cottage to the barn, with its adjacent henhouse and the fields where the horses and cows were anxiously awaiting us.

Thanks. But, no, thanks! Picky chickens.

Barbara had mentioned that her hens liked scraps, and if I wanted to bring them some, I could. As I recall, my Grandmother threw everything to her chickens, her philosophy being, “eat it or go hungry.” But when I proudly presented my leftover goodies to these gals, they looked at me like I was stupid. Grumbling as they went, they moseyed off.

The cows, on the other hand, were not at all picky. Quite the opposite, they were curious and bold. It was a bit frightening coming face-to-face with a 1,200 lb. creature, if truth be told! But I “cowgirled up” and shooed the cows away like an old hand, as I dumped piles of grain from a sack on the back of the Gator, walking behind it as Barbara drove. What an experience!

Too close for comfort

After the work was done, we drove the fields checking on the hay bales as big as Volkswagens. They never look that big from the road.
We checked fences and then rode the trails through the woods. There was even a cove with a few large pieces of Petrified wood! I wish I’d planned ahead for better photos, but I am glad I grabbed a few fun shots to share.

It was a morning well spent – I came away with a dozen beautiful eggs, courtesy of the girls, and a reminder of how hard our farmers and ranchers work to bring us all food.

Look like Easter eggs!

As my dear friend, Karen, always says, “If you have food to eat… thank a farmer.” Indeed.

XO Donna

endless summer

Stevie Wonder’s album, “Hotter Than July” generally describes our Texas weather to a tee! It usually becomes unbearable by now, but it has been a great year for being outdoors, for a change. So, I’m walkin’, yes indeed, I’m walkin!

Mark’s Daily Apple, a health/fitness blog I have been reading for years, had an article on the benefits of having a walking routine. As did CNN, calling it the “most underrated form of exercise.” I gotta admit, I love it when I’m ahead of a trend!

And to make things even better, my youngest sister, Elizabeth, came to visit for eight days! She lives in Wisconsin, and pretty much hates the weather there ten months of the year. All she wanted to do while she was here was go for walks and lie by the swimming pool each day.

So, that’s exactly what we did, sometimes walking twice a day! We also went out riding in our golf cart most evenings – and we were generally able to talk my sweetie into chauffeuring us around.
We saw lots of deer and their still-spotted fawns everywhere. Loved it.

Elizabeth is 14 years younger than I, but of all my sisters, we are the most alike. We both share a love for hair and makeup, healthy foods and fashion. And we both have a warped sense of humor… that certainly goes a long way right now.
Take this photo, for example – I have so few photos of us together, and just when I thought we’d finally have one, she licked me!

I planned a special dinner while she was here, and invited my darling friend Mike for dinner. His new hobby (he’s already mastered being a barista) is mixology. Lucky us! We told him our planned menu and he made us a special cocktail to go with it, the base of which was freshly made watermelon juice, made from a Pecos watermelon! The best of Texas, for sure!

Can you believe I was too busy having fun to take any photos?!?

Elizabeth loves feta cheese more than anyone I know. I’m talking obsessed with feta. And a week or so before her arrival I found a Bon Appétite recipe I had to make for her – a Spinach Feta Tart with an almond-flour crust. Is your mouth watering?

She can’t eat wheat, either, so it was perfect for us, and came out better than we could imagine! Again, no photos. BUT, I will make the tart again and post photos and the recipe. I promise.

Unfortunately, vacations end and she had to return home and go back to work. Still wanting a nice photo of the two of us, I told her to act right. She told me she thinks she always looks awful in photos.
I told her the same thing I’ve said here before – if we think we are going to look awful, it will show.

I coached her a little bit, told my sweetie to give us a count, and lo-and-behold, a great photo to remember our week by!

XO Donna

P.S. – If you haven’t noticed the new button on the right side of your screen yet – the book is a link directly to Amazon where you can purchase Sick and Tired & Sexy! Cheers, y’all.

ErroR notiCe

I had a nice (well, at least I thought so) post ready to go… but a glitch with the new, and infuriating , WordPress editor wouldn’t cooperate.

The best laid plans o’ mice an’ men often go awry.

Robert Burns

Hopefully, I will rise to the challenge and have the issue resolved quickly!

XO Donna