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My husband calls me “opinionated,” but I say I just have good ideas and the world - or at least maybe our country - would be a better place if I had been made Benevolent Dictator. But, alas, that didn’t happen. The nice thing about having my own website is that it allows me to speak my mind, even if I'm not a dictator.  Maybe you'll even find something of interest in the topics below, even though they don't have anything much to do with writing. Just scroll down or click one of the blue links.

Investing      My Life in the Theater      1984 Olympics

INVESTING

 If you’ve read my novel, MASQUERADE, you know that I used my knowledge of investing when writing that book. Not that I was ever a stock broker like Ginger. Some years ago I started an investment club with thirteen women who belonged to a businesswoman’s organization. I had read an article in the newspaper about the NAIC (National Association of Investment Clubs) and liked what they offered. My previous reading on the subject led me to fear that investment clubs consisted of reckless people who bought into Broadway shows, prize fighters and thoroughbred race horses. NAIC’s rules were to invest only in common stocks, preferably “growth” stocks, and reinvest all dividends. That sounded good, especially when they indicated that–over the years the Association had existed–all-women’s clubs had done better than all-men’s or mixed-gender clubs.

So we each began to put $20 a month into the club, little realizing that the stock market was about to have one of its usual “bear” periods, that one lasting over two years. Everything our little club bought went down! We thought we were the “kiss of death” to the stock market and had we not started our club, that would never have happened.

Well, of course, we had no such control over anything, and I proceeded to read 23 books on the stock market and get educated. And when the tide turned upward again, as it always does, our club began to do very well. So well, in fact, that nineteen years later, when I had to leave the club because I moved away, our gain averaged over 14% per year for all those years.

In fact, we did so well, we were featured in Money Magazine and my picture was on the cover of another magazine. That one has since changed its name and content, but–if I may brag a bit–Angela Lansbury was on their cover the month before me and Walter Matthau the month after. So, in a manner of speaking, I moved in great company. That cover picture is reproduced here.

Following NAIC guidelines, our club members used the Stock Selection Guide to find good companies to invest in, and, since I seemed to have a knack for filling out those forms, I soon became a teacher of the technique, even going to other investment clubs to teach their members. I also helped several other clubs to start, and, as a result of all that, I wrote my non-fiction book WALL STREET ON $20 A MONTH, “How to Profit from an Investment Club,” which was published by John Wiley & Sons.

Although the book is out of print now, I think it still has a lot of valuable information in it. If you’re interested, you can usually find a used copy of the book on Amazon.com or ask me for one of them (but my supply is limited).

Since leaving the investment club, I’ve invested on my own and had average gains of 14.3% a year. However, between December 31, 2005 and December 31, 2006, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 16%, my little portfolio went up 25.4%.

I am no Suze Orman, who knows everything about money, but I’m happy to share what little I do know about investing with my readers. Just ask.

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MY LIFE IN THE THEATER

If you’ve read my Biography you already know that I’ve been writing seriously for 30 years: articles, short stories, and books, plus two radio plays. Lately, however, I’ve been writing short skits and plays, mainly because I’ve taken up acting again and the Repertory Players where I live, are generous enough to produce and perform some of what I write, as well as let me direct my work.

After minor parts in high school and college plays, I moved on, during my first marriage, to directing plays for a woman’s club and then to Little Theatre. For several years I acted in one or more of the five plays they performed every year. I played the lead in CLAUDIA, Elvira in Noel Coward’s BLITHE SPIRIT, and Olivia in Emlyn Williams’ NIGHT MUST FALL.

That was my last acting until three years ago because–in addition to getting divorced, way back when, and having to working for a living–I got remarried and soon went back to my other love, writing. Fast forward a bunch or years and in 2007 I appeared in a very small role in the one annual play done by the Performing Arts Club in my community, which was BERMUDA AVENUE TRIANGLE by Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna. Much to my surprise, in October of that year I was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy by the Desert Theater League. The League members include almost all the live theaters and acting groups in this valley and their awards every year are like the “Tonys” on Broadway. I didn’t win their “Star” Award that year, but, as everyone says, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.” Besides, I'm having a lot of fun!

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THE 1984 SUMMER OLYMPICS

When the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games were televised from Beijing this year, I watched with a lump in my throat, fondly remembering 1984.  I thought of that warm August night in  Los Angeles twenty-four years ago, and how, as wonderful as television coverage is, it can never compare with “being there.”

I got my 1984 Olympic ticket booklet the day they appeared, and that evening I decided which events I most wanted to see, which should be listed as alternates and how much I was willing to spend for the tickets. When I had finally chosen: Opening Ceremonies, Closing Ceremonies, Women’s Gymnastics and Men’s Diving in the mid-range of prices, and authorized the Committee to bill a  huge sum to my credit card, my husband asked, “Why?”

“We don’ t live in Los Angeles,” he argued, “so we’ll have to drive there, find accommodations, and fight the traffic and crowds. And you can see everything better on television.” I had to admit he was probably right, but I had long ago decided that my life would not be complete unless I participated in certain activities (like riding the Orient Express, taking a gondola in Venice, cruising through the Panama Canal).

“The Summer Olympics,” I argued, “are only held once every four years and seldom in the U.S. They may never come as close to us as LA for another 50 years.” (The winter games were not an option. I keep a respectful distance from snow.)

He finally agreed, but I didn’t receive all the tickets I ordered. A lottery was held for the popular events and all we ended up with was two seats for the Closing Ceremonies. It was enough. Friends who live near Los Angeles invited us to stay in their home overnight (we picked up souvenirs for them) and they agreed to tape the ceremonies for us on their VCR. We also rented a new Buick for the drive to LA, the “Olympic Edition” with the five Olympic rings on the trunk. We arrived at the Coliseum about three in the afternoon, chose souvenirs, bought small U. S. flags to wave, and then took our seats, about halfway up the rows and directly opposite the Olympic flame. We watched blimps and skywriters above us, and a giant television screen showed the progress of the men’s marathon, always the last event.

Finally the first runners entered the Coliseum and the crowd got to its feet, cheering. Around the track the athletes went, waving, and for the next fifty minutes, runners continued to come into the arena and circle the track to the finish line. After about fifteen minutes, however, the spectators sat down again, although each section cheered as a runner passed in front of it.

Then, third from the last, a black runner from a small African nation entered the Coliseum and began to circle the track. He was visibly exhausted–could hardly make his legs move–but he persisted, weaving and stumbling, determined to finish. The waves of sound, that we had come to know signaled the cheering of people directly in front of the runner, increased in volume until it became a roar. And then a wonderful thing happened. All the people rose up again and gave this athlete a standing ovation. It was something you didn’t see on your TV set at home, something totally unexpected, moving and beautiful.

We stood for the medal ceremony and watched the athletes’ flags being hoisted into place, happy for them. I turned to my husband. “It’s too bad an American couldn’t have won. It would be nice to see our flag raised in the medal ceremony.”

My wish was granted. The winners of an equestrian event held earlier in the day came into the arena on their horses, paraded around the track and went to the platform for the awards. An American had won the gold medal. I have never felt such emotion as I did standing in the Coliseum that day, my hand over my heart, singing our national anthem and watching Old Glory rise.

The TV cameras caught the sight of the magnificent full moon that night, but their quick scan didn’t do it justice. As the huge yellow disc appeared above the top row of seats and climbed into the black sky– well, “you just had to be there.”

When we entered the Coliseum, we’d been handed flashlights with red, clear and blue plastic covers, so at a given signal, the Coliseum lights went off and we provided thousands of winking blue lights in the darkness. It was a pretty sight on television–it was magic to be part of making it happen.

The closing spectacle, singing and dancing, even the laser light show, was dwarfed in our opinion, by the fireworks display, which seemingly went on forever, each burst more spectacular than the last. My husband, who is a fireworks fan, squeezed my arm and said, “Honey, I’m so glad you insisted we come.”

Afterward all the athletes poured into the center of the arena, running, laughing, shouting, joining hands, swaying and singing. They weren’t the only ones who didn’t want to go home. The spectators lingered in the stands for an hour or more, swaying, smiling, pointing to the antics of the athletes on the field. Finally, slowly, we wound our way into the night, still filled with indescribable emotions. I remembered leaving outdoor concerts or sports events in the past, people shoving, trying to be first to get out, to get to their cars. Not that night. We strolled leisurely, smiling at strangers, saying, “Thank you for coming,” “Adieu,” “Adios,” waving, shaking hands.

I may never attend an Olympic event again (after all, I still have the Orient Express on my list), but I wouldn’t have missed that one night for anything. For a few hours I had seen the world as it ought to be: in peace and love.

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