Stop and look around.  Interesting people are everywhere!

Republished here with the approval of AROUND WOODSTOCK, “Our Woodstock Neighbors” April issue, 2018, by Leigh Cutrone.


Once in a while we meet someone with whom we just click.  That was the case when I met this dear woman.  We just happened to be next door neighbors when I moved to downtown Woodstock.

Simply put I was fascinated by her.  She is quite a lovely lady.  She has the most gorgeous blue eyes which are full of life along with a sense of humor that would make anyone smile.

Her full name is Marita Hallberg Walsh.  Born in Sweden in 1943, she was the only child.  She still remembers the food shortages resulting from the German blockades.   But her parents came to the United States looking for a better life which they found in Brooklyn, NY. where Marita grew and began her love of art.  Her father was a fresco artist so, perhaps,  Marita inherited that flair early on.

Parsons School of Design accepted Marita and with several scholarships under her belt she graduated with a Graphic Arts degree from Parsons.  This is impressive since today only about 35%* of applicants are accepted.

Graphic art was Marita’s forte’ which took her into the advertising world.  In fact, her first job was in an advertising firm in NY in the 60’s.  Remember television’s, ‘Madmen‘??  Was this world accurately depicted?  Actually, Marita said the men were.  The women, in her experience, not so much.  Women were typists and stenographers.  Not any room for a Peggy becoming an advertising executive in those days nor for a Joan Holloway rising to part owner of the firm.

The young and married Marita lived in the West Village of New York.  She ‘painted’ me a picture of the West Village as an area where the aspiring musicians, actors, and young artists lived and socialized.  Marita, in fact, knew Bob Dylan‘s girlfriend, Susan Rotolo.  Suze and Dylan lived around the corner. Suze actually was pictured on Dylan’s 1963 album, ‘The Freewheeling Bob Dylan’.  It must have been fascinating living there then.   I can picture Marita with her blonde hair and bright blue eyes walking along Bleeker St and running into Suze and Dylan.

Marita has always had a love of traveling and adventures.    Marita has been to 19 or 20 countries (but who is counting?).  Always independent with a sense of purpose.  With each move (and there were many) came a “new adventure”.  “It was fun” and along the way she has met Woody Allen and Woody Harrelson.  With a bit of wistfulness, Marita mentioned she may not have actually worked FOR Any Warhol but she was close enough to “touch his robe!”

Marita and her husband moved to downtown Woodstock about 6 1/2 years ago and has had no regrets.  Woodstock suits her lifestyle and she has no plans to move anytime soon if ever.  Today she paints and is humble about her work as she pointed to a painting she was working on in the corner of her living room.  The easel was beautiful as was the painting.

I asked Marita if she had any advice for the younger people starting out in their careers.  She was quick to answer.  “Work hard and put down the phones!”

Any regrets?” I asked.   “Anything on your bucket list?”   Marita had to think.  Maybe not a regret but a ‘wish’.  She still wishes she had landed that job with Lou Dorfsman.   She explained that Dorfsman was a graphic designer who was hired as the Director of Design for all of CBS in NYC. Marita informed me that Dorfsman was responsible for everything and anything that had to do with design (print advertising, marketing communications, etc.) for CBS…”down to the design of even the pencils”.  We agreed she may not have had half the adventures in her life if she had landed that job!

As Marita enjoys everything Woodstock, we all should be happy to have her living among us.  Cheers Marita!


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It never fails.

I have not been feeling my 100%. I caught whatever it is from a little girl named Lucy or, perhaps, Lenox. Both are my Granddaughters. Both had runny noses this past Sunday. One had an ear infection.

Truly, I don’t understand how a Grandmother can catch anything from a four-year-old or a 19-month-old. They are pint size! How does that happen exactly?

I am getting away from what I want to write about. Let me take a bit of a right turn.

Since I did catch that ‘something’, I went to my Doctor. What is the very first thing the nurse asks you to do when checking in at the office? Ladies? You know!!

Yep…“Let me get your weight” she says. “Really?” I say. “Why?” I say. the nurse mumbles with something like “I know…..blah hard blah”.

NOOOOOOOOOO she does not know! I am coming to the office to see the Doctor. I already feel quite lousy. My throat hurts, my ear hurts, I have absolutely no make-up on and my hair is dirty and should be brushed. I threw on a sweatshirt and jeans and I barely drove myself to the Doc’s office without hitting a rest area. We should not have to endure at our age.

They feel it absolutely necessary to take your weight. I get why they take your blood pressure (to see if you are near death) and a temperature. I get that part. The degradation of getting on the scale during the holiday season? What nerve! Getting on the scale during any visit is mind-blowing.

What difference does your weight make when you are feeling so sick? Does the Doctor say, “Well, I see you have gained five pounds since Thanksgiving. That must be the reason you are not feeling well!! Here is a prescription. Go in peace.” Nope. Doesn’t say that. I am sure he doesn’t even look at your weight.

Same during your yearly physical. If you have lost weight, does the Doctor say anything about that wonderful news? NO! Not even a comment to boost your self-esteem. No balloons no nothing. Thanks Doc. YOU go in peace.

It’s just anti-everything, insensitive, noncaring, and should be against the Doctor code…you know that oath they live by. It should be added, “I will not take the weight of my patients unless I believe weight may be part of my diagnoses.” Easy enough.

I am here to tell you we may decline being ridiculed on the scale. We can say, “No, I don’t want to get on the scale” There is pretty much nothing the nurse can do about it. She may say she “must get your weight” but we can straighten up and boldly say “Nope, not today”! This is truly liberating. She may say, “I will make a note you refused to get on the scale”. Go right ahead sweetheart. I have many files that say, “Difficult” on them written by nurse or Doc. So it goes.

If they just give me one (not true…two) good reasons why they need my weight, MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, I will agree. Otherwise, NO. Hear me Docs? NO NO NO.

I want to keep my joyful Christmas spirit. I want to taste all the goodies and drink all the goodies and I do not want to pay that damn piper at the end of the holiday season.

So I say. GO FORTH. EAT AND DRINK and stay in the Christmas indulging spirit!

Say “NO” to you know who. You will feel much better for it.

Merry Christmas!




I’m hooked! It’s a bit embarrassing but there it is. The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem

My husband has even gotten into the spirit. Amen to that since I just can’t stay away! I’ve been monopolizing the TV.

Those damn Hallmark Christmas movies! Love ‘em but so addicting.  Never seen one? In a nutshell:

Girl goes back to hometown from her home in NYC/Chicago/Anywhere to see/help her parent/parents with a ‘problem’. Wait! She just learned before leaving that she is up for a promotion/a new job/something she worked for her whole life! The anticipation kills me! She flies home to a wintry wonderland small town USA. Breathtaking snow covered mountains. Main Street all decorated. I soo want to live there. Here comes her first love who still lives in the hometown. Single/divorced/widower and very handsome. They fall back in love in a short two-day window.  She does get that job/offer/etc and has to decide on man or job. What a problem to have. Can’t have both. The fella wins each and every time! They kiss. Roll the credits! THE END!  How good is this?

Romance, gorgeous scenery, twinkling lights, beautiful girl, handsome man and the true spirit of Christmas. LOVE. Family, old and new friends who surround us at Christmas.  We all slow down and reminisce. All of the wonderful memories of Christmases past and loved ones that are no longer with us.  The thankfulness for the gift the Lord has given to us all.  

Hurry! Grab the happiness the season of Christmas brings with it. “Soon it will be Christmas Day”!

Hug your loved ones and friends and be thankful. Eat, drink and be Merry. I’m wishing for ‘A White Christmas’!

Oooooooh a Christmas movie is about to begin…”Christmas Memories”…..it’s gotta be a good one!



(*WHITE CHRISTMAS with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, 1954)

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image.pngToday is a cooking day.  It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I am alone in the kitchen wondering how in the heck I made this meal each and every year.  But looking back I did cook this meal each year without fail for my family and I did it with love and a grateful heart!

Last year my SIL (son in law)  made a delicious smoked turkey on his ‘egg’.  Yes, that’s a thing.  It literally melted in my mouth.  The thought of it today is, once again, making me salivate.  The year before last my son also made a turkey to die for….smoked on the grill.  Again, salivate.

Life just doesn’t get better than to have your own children cook a Thanksgiving meal.  Can I hear an AMEN!??

Year #3.  My turn!  It’s the reason, my husband reminds me, that we bought this house.  It has a separate dining room.  Little used.  Tomorrow, however, I will have my children (I include their spouses here) and my Grands (4 plus 1/2)  around our dining room table.  This is heaven.

Today, memories come flying back such as why I put the glass candlesticks in the freezer and not in hot water to remove remaining wax in crevices.  Why I bring to a boil the sugar water for the cranberry sauce before I throw in the cranberries.  Why I should take the turkey out of the freezer and into the frig so many days before “they” tell me to do it.  Why ‘we’ should start cleaning this house many days prior to the Turkey day!  (Actually kudos to my husband for doing the actual cleaning!!)  WHERE is the cleaning person’s phone number?  I really should have put her number in my phone.

So, as I make my creamed onions, my cranberry sauce, my white mashed potatoes, my surprise soup, my apple pie…oops…bought it!..I am thankful for so many things this year…BUT I have to say I may be most thankful today for the darn Whole Cloves I found in the back (way back) of my kitchen cabinet.  I have to use the cloves for my creamed onions.  Who knew my cabinet would be keeping them safe?  Truth be told I find so many staples that remind me of Thanksgivings past.

Life cannot get any better than this!

HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING EVERYONE and…as always…I am thankful that you take the time to read my ramblings!



image.pngThe trouble with knees is that they can just plain hurt and eventually, if you are hard on the little darlings, wear out.  Not good.

Overuse from running, playing tennis like a maniac, being over optimal weight and having blasted arthritis just do your knees in. Oh my!

Like so many others I went under the knife. To say I almost canceled this wonderful experience is quite an understatement. In fact….in hospital an hour prior…I considered walking out. But, hey, in my sexy hospital gown with a nurse setting up to put me in a relaxed state…I said to myself….”Hey, me, I’m here so why not?”

Why not??? Ouch. Double ouch. I am here to say to those contemplating this ordeal….good luck!

I describe my experience in one word…it’s A BITCH! From beginning to end (which is not in sight) it has been a nightmare. I can give birth to children all day long, mind you, but this? Not fun.

I religiously did my pre-op exercises and did my post op exercises twice a day and welcomed my physical therapist to my home with open arms (well not really….my bad). Outside PT went well and I graduated with flying colors. Yay me!

So here I am and long story short...I am five-month post-op and I have a great deal of swelling inside the old knee and I still have pangs of pain occur so I am definitely having a pity party for the most part. Doesn’t feel anywhere close to ‘normal’. But, hey, my doc said the knee will take 6-12 months to bounce back…but who’s counting? I am a bit disappointed with my body not bouncing back as expected.

I was hoping I could report good news but, alas, not yet. I have learned that I am not patient with my own healing process and I don’t like to pamper myself except when I am watching a good movie and eating ice cream.

I’ll report back in a few months hopefully with good news. Until then I would LOVE to hear about your experiences with knee replacements….please???? I need you to commiserate.  I would like to know that my experiences are much like yours and that I am not alone!  How long did it take for you to be ‘normal’?

The Facts:

  • Half the patients now receiving knee replacements are younger than 65 years of age, and most of them are in the workforce.
  • By 2030, total knee replacement surgeries are projected to grow 673% to 3.5 million procedures per year1
  • Nearly 1/2 of American adults develop knee osteoarthritis in at least one knee in their lifetime2
  • More than 90% of people who have knee replacement surgery experience a dramatic reduction of knee pain3
      (* August 21 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery)

Thanks for reading!


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It was one of those years.
 When I began writing this blog I decided to share the ups and downs along the way.  I have been amiss and have fallen short.  I absolutely did not want to draw undue attention to myself.  A poster child I am not.  Plus I didn’t want to relive the drama that unfolded from my diagnoses.  Call me weak I suppose.  If you have been through it, you get it.  Yet, people have been through much worse experiences than this!  I write this only to draw attention to misconceptions that I definitely had.

My first hurdle I confronted this past October.  I was very good about having a yearly visit to my Dermatologist for my all over body check.  I had the Basel Cell and the Squamous Cell dug out of my thumb and my leg.  No problem.  After my yearly visit to my Dermatologist, I received a telephone call from her PA telling me she felt I needed to have my cheek biopsied.  She  was my Angel.  She took it upon herself to look at my chart, compare it with the previous year and was concerned.  She told the Doctor she wanted to have a biopsy done on my cheek.  I thank her because she was, perhaps, a life saver.

My Dermatologist had never taken a biopsy of the spot on my face….it looked like a large old age spot (or liver spot if you will) and, in fact, she prescribed bleaching cream, laser, and zapped it (I like to say) by burning it off with CO2 over the years!  Five years of everything BUT a biopsy!  Surprise!  The mark still was there.  It bothered me and she knew it since I could not cover it up with makeup.  So every year I would ask her about it and she would then laser or burn.

After the biopsy I was diagnosed with Melanoma on my face I went into a bit of a tailspin.  WHAT? A good cry.  Why me?  Why not me?  Now what?  Surgeon?  Who?  Plastic Surgeon since it was on my face after all!  MOHS or Excised?  How deep will it be?  Will it already be in my lymph nodes?  Will it be in my Bloodstream?  Why didn’t the damn Doctor know about this years ago?  Anger, self-pity, annoyance and hours and hours spent researching (thank you Daphne) and ‘interviewing’ surgeons!  It was a nightmare.  Stress city.

So why write about it now?  It doesn’t hurt to give more attention to this type of cancer in my opinion and to read about experiences.  After all, Melanoma can very well be deadly and every year the number of people getting Melanoma increases.  In fact, 91,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2018 and close to 10,000 people are expected to die this year from it. (cancer.org)  I wish I had been more proactive with my concerns.

In describing Melanoma the script may read something like…”Melanoma may appear as a dark spot or wound that does not heal, or one that grows, changes shape or bleeds.”  Really? (www.cancercenter.com/melanoma/cancer) I’m sure many Melanomas may be described like this but NOT in my case.

Think about this.  I had this Melanoma on my face for five years.   My highly rated Atlanta Dermatologist wasn’t concerned obviously since she never biopsied it.  I could have gone another year with it lingering and could very well have had a different outcome. My conclusion…Doctors don’t always know.

Melanoma can look like many things.  Mine looked like an old age mark dealt by the sun. Be aware of marks etc. that may look like mine.  It was not black.  It was brown.  Flat, not raised as a mole with an irregular border.   It never changed shape nor did it bleed. It was not growing larger as far as I could determine.

What’s my point?  I have had two dermatologists let me down.  Both with excellent ratings.  We must be diligent checking our own bodies and ask and then tell our doctors what we think we need.  Question diagnoses if it just doesn’t sound right.  Tell doctors that you WANT a biopsy.  Don’t assume they are always right!  We know our bodies better than any doctor that may only see us once a year during a checkup.

I am happy to report that my surgeon got it all and it had not progressed to lymph nodes.  It was surprisingly deep but not life-threatening.  A heartfelt thank you again to the P.A.

Next time…..my second ordeal!  Knee replacement.  Two weeks post-op.  A blow-by-blow.  Ain’t life a ride??

Thanks for reading.







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