A Birthday Playlist

On the day I turned two years old, the Democratic National Convention nominated John F. Kennedy as its presidential candidate (he went on to win that November). The #1 song in the country was “Alley Oop,” by The Hollywood Argyles. Yeah, I don’t remember any of this. But here’s the song:

On the day I turned 12, construction started on the underground metro in Amsterdam. Apparently planning had been in the works for 50 years. I’ve been to Amsterdam, but I walked everywhere. More familiar to me was the #1 song, “Mama Told Me (Not to Come) by Three Dog Night. Here it is:

On the day I turned 22, I was a recent college graduate in search of a job. It was a slow news day. The temperature in Memphis reached 108 degrees. And the #1 song on the Billboard R&B chart was “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” by The S.O.S. Band. I loved this song! Here it is:

On the day I turned 32, Pima County in Arizona considered banning foam products like Styrofoam containers and coffee cups. “Dick Tracy” and “Die Harder” were in the movie theaters. And the #1 song in the country was “Step by Step” by New Kids on the Block. Travel back to 1990 here:

On the day I turned 42, HarperCollins and Warner Books had both bid $7 million for publishing rights to Jack Welch‘s biography. And the #1 song on the country charts was “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. Here it is:

On the day I turned 52, George Steinbrenner died at the age of 80. I remember standing at the entrance to a restaurant on that day, and the news was on a TV screen above us. I said to my husband, “Oh, Steinbrenner died. Well, he was 80.” Two old guys were in line behind us. One of them said to the other, “Hey, Steinbrenner died. And he was only 80.” The #1 song on the adult contemporary charts was “Need You Now” by Lady A. Have a listen here:

And so here we are. I’m 62 today. Yikes. The #1 song as of today (July 9) has been at #1 for the past 17 weeks. It’s “Memories” by Maroon 5 (appropriate!), and here it is:

Now you make a playlist!

Best Seller Repackaged

The-Way-to-Remember-kindle (1)

About four years ago, I wrote a book and called it Best Seller. It enjoyed some success and more than a few kind reviews. It was one of the nine novels I’ve written, and one of my favorites.

Last November, I received word from Amazon (where most of my books are sold) that they had a problem with the book’s title. They deemed it ‘misleading,’ and advised me that unless I changed it in a few days, they would remove the book from their selling platform.

Wait, what? What??? The book was up for sale for years, and now Amazon decides it’s got a misleading title? And by the way, it wasn’t misleading at all. The words ‘a novel’ were right beneath the title. And, in one of many telephone calls I had with staff at Amazon, I assured them that the novel had never achieved its optimistically titled status.

Didn’t matter. We emailed back and forth numerous times, and I spoke with as many as six different service agents, but the answer always came back the same. And a week later, poof! Best Seller, and all of its reviews, were gone.

Now, I’ve re-released the book. It’s got a different name – The Way to Remember is the name of the book the main character, Robin, is working on – and a new cover. The book’s contents are the same, with just some minor tweaking to, I hope, make it better.

For many of you who read this blog, you probably already purchased and read the book years ago, so I don’t want to trick you into thinking it’s new. It’s not, and the novel I’m working on these days won’t be ready until the end of this year (if I can finish it).

However, if I can find your old review (I was able to take some screenshots before it disappeared), I will be reaching out to you, asking you to post that review again. Because reviews are so, so important to authors. I’m hoping you’ll be willing.

Anyway, that’s my news for the middle of 2020. What a year, right? I hope you’re doing okay – physically, mentally, emotionally. It has been challenging, certainly for me on all of those fronts. Be well, stay safe, wear your face covering.

Ten Travel Photos

Oh, what a lazy blogger I’ve been. Well, maybe not lazy. Distracted. Discouraged. But determined. I’ve finally returned – somewhat – to my new novel, the one I’d drafted in January and February, the same one that was set aside for the past three months. Isolating at home doesn’t always lead to productivity.

Anyway, I was challenged by my good friend Vikki Corliss, of Brown Corliss Books, to post 10 travel photos over 10 days. I’m limiting my time on Facebook these days, but I did post to Instagram, so I wanted to share them here, for you. For this post, only the photos.

Heer Hugowaard, The Netherlands
photo by Martha Reynolds
From atop St. Peter’s Cathedral in Vatican City, Italy
photo by Martha Reynolds
Sunset, Corfu, Greece
photo by Martha Reynolds
Morcote on Lake Lugano, Switzerland
photo by Martha Reynolds
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
photo by Martha Reynolds
Venice, Italy
photo by Martha Reynolds
Matterhorn, Switzerland
photo by Martha Reynolds
Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg, Austria
photo by J. McVeigh
With Abdullah the brass merchant, Fez, Morocco
photo by Martha Reynolds
Windsor Castle, Great Britain
photo by Martha Reynolds

There you have it. I had fun putting these together. The photos go back as far as 1978, and all bring back fond memories.

Be well.

Mothers and Daughters

Every mother-daughter relationship is unique. Complex. Some of these relationships evolve over time, if there is enough time to evolve.

My mom in Bermuda, around 1938

I looked up to her, then I didn’t. I resented that she was so strict – my friends’ moms seemed so much cooler. More permissive, certainly. By the time I got to college, I distanced myself – I could do what I wanted without her constantly looking over my shoulder. I was free to screw up as much as I wanted.

My parents on their wedding day, 1955

I asked if I could spend my junior year at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. It was a program offered by my college, and many of my friends, all of us liberal arts majors, were going. Surprisingly, my parents said okay, and off I went.

On the day after Easter that year, my father died of a massive heart attack. My mother was a widow at 50. Three daughters – my older sister just out of college, me overseas and unreachable, and my younger sister still in high school. A widow at 50. Her parents were still alive. She had two brothers, but they both had their own issues. She was forced into doing all the things her husband had always done. Lawyers, accountants. Who will mow the lawn, service the car, pay the bills?

Mom around 1987, age 58

She learned to live on her own. Eventually her daughters moved out, she moved to a condo, and loved quilting. Her membership in the Narragansett Bay Quilters’ Association gave her purpose in her newly-single life. But she missed Jack every day.

Mom doing what she loved

It was around 20 years ago that my sisters and I noticed some changes in her behavior. She had no recollection of an event that we had participated in just a couple of years earlier. My sisters and I finally got her to agree to a test, and the diagnosis was fronto-temporal dementia. How cruel! This brilliant woman, who did crossword puzzles in pen, who taught me to love language and words, who majored in mathematics at Pembroke, was slowly losing her memory and cognitive abilities. I’m grateful that we, and my husband and brother-in-law, were able to surround her with love as she passed.

I think one of the reasons our relationship was a challenge (before I grew up and it wasn’t) was that we were more alike than either of us could admit. As she became more childlike with her disease, it fell to her daughters to be the caregivers, to mother the mother. We did, all three of us. We are Joyce’s girls, always.

Yes, But Would You Eat It? “Z” is for Za’atar

Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo of za’atar and aleppo pepper from commons.wikimedia.org

Za’atar, or زَعْتَر‎ in Arabic, is an herb and also the name of the spice mixture typically used as a condiment, which includes the herb za’atar as well as toasted sesame seeds, dried sumac, and salt, as well as thyme, oregano, and marjoram. The name za’atar alone most properly applies to hyssop, a shrub in the mint family. Some varieties of za’atar may add cumin, coriander, and fennel seed. There are so many versions, depending on the region and familial history.

Za’atar, both the herb and the condiment, is popular in Algeria, Armenia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey. It can be mixed with olive oil and spread on a pita, or mixed in with hummus, or sprinkled onto meats and vegetables. A traditional beverage in Oman is za’atar steeped in boiling water to make a herbal tea!

I’m surprised Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry za’atar in little glass jars. Maybe someday soon.

So, last time I’ll ask – would you try za’atar?

Thank you for joining me on this culinary trip around the world! I hope you learned something from these posts, and perhaps you have found one or two interesting items to try.


Yes, But Would You Eat It? “X” is for Xanthan Gum

Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo from flickr.com

I don’t even have to ask you if you’d eat it (even though I will), because odds are you have ingested xanthan gum. It’s in some toothpastes. It’s in some salad dressings. It’s in some wallpaper paste. Yes, xanthan gum is a plant-based food thickener. So where does it come from? Well, it’s made from bacteria that infect numerous plants. So yes, it’s plant-based. And the finished product doesn’t contain any viable bacteria.

Some studies have found that xanthan gum, when added to foods, may help lower blood sugar. It may lower cholesterol. Because it helps to bind water, it can be used for its laxative effect. It has no nutritional value.

I’ll ask it anyway – would you eat xanthan gum?


Yes, But Would You Eat It? “W” is for Wasp Crackers

Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

senbei is a Japanese rice cracker, which most of us have tried at least once. You know, the kind that come in bags or containers of snacks. Rice crackers are light and crispy. These just have the added yumminess of…wasps! The wasps that are used in the senbei are farmed especially for human consumption (that’s comforting).

I searched on Amazon to see if they were available, but couldn’t find them. Bezos let me down – I thought he sold everything. I guess you’ll just have to go to Japan (once the Coronoavirus isn’t an issue – I’m writing this post on March 2, so who knows?) to find these rice crackers.

But it still begs the question, friends – would you eat wasp crackers?


Yes, But Would You Eat It? “V” is for Vegemite

Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo from flickr.com

Hey, it looks like Nutella, doesn’t it? Yeah, no. Vegemite is thick and dark brown like Nutella, but the two are not at all similar. Developed in Australia in the 1920s, Vegemite is made primarily of brewers’ yeast extract (not chocolate and hazelnuts!).

It’s salty and malty, and full of glutamates, giving it a slightly beef bouillon-y flavor. A common way to eat Vegemite is on toasted bread, with a thin layer of butter underneath. It’s loaded with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate.

And, of course, it was made famous in the early 80s by the rock group Men at Work:

So, you’re out of Nutella. Would you eat the Vegemite?


Yes, But Would You Eat It? “U” is for Umeboshi

Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Each day in April (except Sundays) I’ll be posting about unusual and exotic foods.

photo from commons.wikimedia.org

The Japanese umeboshi is translated into ‘salted Japanese plums.’ It actually resembles an apricot more than a plum. They’re very sour and salty, but there are some umeboshi made with honey.

Umeboshi are traditionally made by harvesting the ume fruit when ripe (around June) and packing them in barrels with salt. The salt extracts the juice from the ume. And the liquid that comes out (the ume sit in the salt for about two weeks) is then sold as a vinegar.

Umeboshi is claimed to combat fatigue and protect against aging. Bring them!

Would you eat umeboshi?