Healing Speaks!

Joyful news! The audio book of Good With Dogs and Cats: The Adventures of Healing Weintraub is now available from Audible and Apple Books and other audio book purveyors.

I’m especially excited about this audio book because it is my first narration of one of my books in thirteen years and I had SO much fun playing all the characters in the Healing Saga.

When Peter Temple and I listened to my first rendering of Chapter One in Peter’s studio, the dialogue sounded good to me, but the narration felt wrong. So I read the chapter again with a little more gusto, we listened again, and the narrator’s voice still wasn’t quite right.

And then it struck me that the voice I was using for the narrator was not the voice I’d heard speaking the words when I wrote them down to create the book. That voice had a mild British accent. It took hearing Todd reading the story, after working on the opus for fourteen months, before I realized that the Third Person narrator of The Adventures of Healing Weintraub is none other than Healing Weintraub himself!

So I read the first chapter again in Healing’s voice, we listened again, and voila, there was the voice from whence the story sprang.

You can listen to an enticing five-minute sample from the first chapter of the audio book on the book’s Audible page and see if you want to hear more.

Handsome paperback copies of the opus are orderable from your favorite actual bookstores, and available online from Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, and Amazon.

Now back to rewriting Volume Two of the saga.



P.S. E-book editions coming soon.


There Comes A Moment

there comes a moment when our strength departs

and we can no longer walk against the ferocious wind.

So we change direction and our nemesis becomes our

loving friend, the great obstacle now a source of joy.

Everything we fought so hard against turns out to be

what we wanted all along.

todd walton December 2023


The Healing Novel

Dear Friends

I have wonderful news for those of you who enjoy the Healing Weintraub stories. The first twenty-six stories have been transformed into the novel Good With Dogs and Cats: The Adventures of Healing Weintraub.

The goodly tome is now orderable from your favorite actual bookstores and gettable online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Bookshop. Alibris, and Powell’s will soon have the book, too. In a few weeks, the various E-book editions will debut, as well as the audio book narrated by yours truly.

I thought you might like to hear a little about the process of creating the novel and making the audio edition, endeavors that took the better part of a year while I was simultaneously writing the next twenty-six chapters of the Healing saga, those twenty-six chapters to appear in 2024 as Volume Two of the saga.

The first thing I did was to assemble the stories into a single document and eliminate the many re-introductions of characters and place that were written when the stories were intended to stand alone.

I then printed out the manuscript and thoroughly rewrote the book, entered my changes, printed out the manuscript again, and rewrote it again.

Marcia then carefully read each chapter and made notes about anything she found problematic. We discussed her notes at length, and I did two more drafts of the novel.

I then printed out the manuscript and waited three months for Peter Temple to have studio time for me to narrate the book. I wanted to narrate the audio book before I published the book because in the process of narrating four other books of mine that were already published works, I would inevitably find sentences and names and words I wished were otherwise. So this time I decided to use the narration process as a final editing step.

What fun it was to play all those different characters with the myriad accents and personalities! And what a great help Peter was in getting things just right, including the piano snippets I improvised for the end of each chapter.

I hope you’ll get the book in one form or another and enjoy the reading and/or listening experience.

Blessings and Thanks



Helping Garth

Our good friend and web master and graphics wizard, Garth Hagerman, he who is responsible for our web sites and the web sites and graphic and computer and publishing needs of many artists and businesses in Mendocino, is in the midst of overcoming leukemia. After spending two months in a hospital in Sacramento undergoing intense chemotherapy, he now needs to have a bone marrow transplant to be entirely cured so the leukemia does not recur.

HOWEVER, because of our deeply flawed medical system, he will only be scheduled for the transplant if he can prove he has the money to pay for attendants to live with him 24/7 in the dormitory adjacent to the UCSF hospital in San Francisco for 2-3 months AFTER he has the bone marrow transplant.

Garth is out of money and Medi-Cal will cover the cost of the transplant and for Garth to live in the recovery dormitory for 2-3 months, but they will NOT cover the salaries of his attendants, nor can he continue to qualify for Medi-Cal if he personally possesses the required money.

Thus we have set up a checking account into which his GoFundMe funds will go, and we will write the checks to Garth’s attendants.

So if you have a little something to spare or know someone who might like to contribute to a worthy cause, here is the link to Garth’s GoFundMe page. He needs at least three times his stated goal. Consider that a single day of 24/7 live-in care will cost at least $500, which means he will need $15,000 per month for the time he is in the recovery dormitory. 

Many Thanks

Todd & Marcia

Always Love a song by Todd and Marcia from their CD So Not Jazz


Beasty and the Beaut

Time capsule. Buried treasure. A lost story I’d forgotten was lost because I’d forgotten I ever wrote the story.

On Easter 2023 I received an email from my friend Richard Marks in Los Angeles. Richard is an entertainment lawyer. We are the same age and he represented me in Hollywood for a few years in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We’ve stayed in touch over the intervening decades and for the last several years Richard has been a subscriber to my blog and responds to many of my postings via email, which is a great gift to me.

Attached to Richard’s Easter email was a PDF of a story I sent him forty years ago. At the time, I must have felt the story would make a good movie, else I would not have sent it to him. I recognized the typeface of the IBM Selectric typewriter I used in those days before the coming of personal computers, yet I had no memory of the story.

Richard wrote: Do you have a copy of it, or did I rescue a piece of your past? Please let me know. In the meantime, Happy Pesach and Easter!

I was amazed by how moved I was by the story. When I typed the text into my computer, I resisted my impulse to rewrite the lines because I want to honor this story as a gift from the universe (through Richard), and I feel the roughness of the writing is part of the gift.

When I wrote to Richard to thank him, I said I was tempted to post the story on my blog. He wrote back encouraging me to do so. Here it is. Mazel tov!

Beasty and the Beaut

by Todd Walton


I’m a very large person. Around the middle I have maybe three or four pounds extra, but the rest is solid, which comes to about two hundred and sixty-five. I’m six-foot-seven. Except for a knee injury I would have no acceptable excuse for not having been on some sort of football team. But in actuality I dislike football. I prefer soccer. My father was a great soccer player. He was under six-feet and very thin, and extremely Irish. He played halfback and swarmed all over the field until he was sixty something. He died recently.

My mother was German and very small. No one knows where I got my size. I look, in the face, very much like my father, not that there was ever a question that he was the one. But there are no big people on either side. I don’t have any hormone problems either. I’m just extremely big.

My face is actually not too bad, but most people don’t ever really see my face. They either get preoccupied with my size or they see my face from below, which distorts it. Any face seen from below is not especially attractive, and I wouldn’t exactly be classified as handsome to begin with.

Because of my size, I have had to fight several guys in the plant. You would think my size would save me. Actually it makes me a target. Fortunately, I am quite strong. My father told me when I was twelve that if I was going to be big, I’d better have the strength to match my size. He started me going to Logan’s Gym and I still go there. I learned to wrestle, and best of all, to swim. I love to swim.

Except when the guy used a weapon, I had no problem defending myself. I don’t believe in attacking someone, but if they attack me I will hit and hit hard. Once a guy came at me with a pipe and I ran. He thought I was chicken, dropped the pipe and I knocked him out with a right left combination.

Another guy used a knife, and I should have run. He sliced open my arm. Forty stitches. I broke his jaw and pressed criminal charges. He did eight months.

The reason for these attacks is so stupid it make me sick. The reason is that I had a reputation for being invincible. I still have that reputation. Actually, I hate violence. I won’t go to violent movies. And though I may not sound it, I consider myself a cultured person. I like to read, to go to plays and to play chess with my neighbor, Isaac, who is a professor of English and totally accepts me.


I saw Walter for the first time at the company Christmas party. I didn’t want to go, but everyone in my carpool was going so I had no choice.

At first I was terrified of him. He towers over everybody, but he’s not just tall. He’s got broad shoulders and his arms are as big as my legs, which are not, I’m sorry to say, small.

He was alone. People spoke to him in passing, but he was really alone. I asked Carla who he was and she said his name was Walter and that he was a supervisor. She’d heard he was mean and very hard on the people under him.

I mixed in around the punch bowl and got talking to a guy who worked in Walter’s section. He started out saying what a goon Walter was, but when nobody else except me was listening he said that really the guy wasn’t so bad. He just had very high standards and was very sensitive about his size. I asked him if he was a fighter and the guy said that Walter didn’t look for a fight, but he could fight like hell if he had to.


She just walked up to me and introduced herself. I was talking to somebody from Management and she just waltzes up and says hi. The management guy evaporates and I say hello. She’s easily the most beautiful woman who has ever spoken to me in a social setting. I know there’s a catch, but what the hell it’s Christmas, give it a whirl. I figure she’s trying to get somebody jealous, especially when she asks me to dance, but I dance anyway. She’s so light, I lift her off the ground without even trying.

I’m thirty-seven. That’s what I was thinking when we started dancing. Thirty-seven, never married, barely loved. I make good money. I’m no dummy. I’m so lonely it hurts when I think about it, and yet I can’t ask her out because I know she’s doing this for a reason I don’t want to know about.

After a half-hour of dancing, we walk over to the punch bowl and talk a little. She’s in Accounting. Been there six months. Just rejoined the work force now that her kids are old enough for school. Wants to get a degree in counseling. She asks about me, but then her friends say they have to go. She asks me where I live and I tell her and then she runs off.

I am not much of a drinker, but meeting her made me kind of crazy, so I drink too much punch, hit a couple bars afterwards and wake up on Christmas morning with a terrible hangover. I go over to Isaac’s and we play some chess and he makes me drink tomato juice. I tell him about her and he doesn’t laugh at me. All I know is that her name is Luisa. She has light red hair, two kids, and I can’t wait to get back to work so I can take her to lunch.


Before I got home on Christmas Eve, I’d made up my mind to at least ask him. You can tell quite a bit about a person when you dance with them for a while. That he could dance at all surprised me, but he wasn’t bad. His sense of rhythm was good. With a little practice he could be excellent, though ideally he would have a very tall partner.

I confirmed his strength, but I got no sense of meanness. That was good and bad. I wanted a decent human being, but I couldn’t use a soft touch. He would be going up against the meanest man I’ve ever known.

People asked me why I stayed married to Wes. If I had told them the truth they wouldn’t have been able to believe it or accept it. No one can accept that a man will kill his wife and children rather than lose them, unless you’ve been there yourself, and even then it doesn’t seem possible. But that is what he would do. I left him twice. The first time, he beat me to a pulp. The second time he beat me, nearly killed a woman who was helping me, and kicked my three-year-old son. I would have murdered him, but I didn’t want to spend my life in prison, though even that didn’t seem so bad anymore.

I knew the chances were good he would come home drunk on Christmas Eve, and that he would try to hurt me and maybe rape me if he wasn’t too drunk. I’d arranged for the children to be at a friend’s. As I sat there waiting for him, I couldn’t believe this was what had happened to my life. On television the people on the talk show were laughing and teasing each other, and I was sitting there, bruised all over, beat up every couple weeks. For what? For marrying him. For his sickness. For my ignorance that it was too late to escape. I was at the bottom, but I thought of Walter and I had a little bit of hope.


I don’t remember what excuse I made for going into Accounting, but I went in there and there she was. She was wearing a ton of makeup, which seemed unnecessary to me until I looked closer and saw that somebody had punched her, and not just once. I got so furious I could hardly keep from screaming. She knew I saw the swelling, but she just smiled and before I could say anything she said she’d love to go to lunch.

Which was the weirdest, most amazing lunch I have ever had, or not had, since I couldn’t eat a thing. We sat down and she started talking. Two hours later she stopped and I couldn’t think of a single damn thing to say. I was incredulous. I took her back to work and then did my rounds in a kind of daze until somebody told me to go home, which I did.

Isaac wasn’t home, so there was no one to talk to except my dog Lucy, who was glad to have me home in the middle of the day, but could tell I was upset. She’s very intuitive. So we went for a walk and I just let Luisa’s story take me over for a couple hours.

She was a battered woman, that’s what she called herself. She had two kids. A girl four and a boy six. Her husband was a big bruiser, a heavy equipment operator, alcoholic, violent. She was afraid to leave him, but she said if she couldn’t escape somehow, she would either kill herself or him. She wanted to know if I would take her and her children in and protect them from him. In return, she would sleep with me, cook for me and be as good a friend as she could be if I would promise never to physically harm her or her children.

Crazy, right? Right. But when five o’clock came around, and I imagined that crazy, sick bastard going home and hurting her and her little kids, my heart ached, I felt dizzy and sick, and I didn’t feel I had any other purpose in life but to protect her.


I prayed Wes wouldn’t come home that night. I had asked Walter at lunch if he would take us and I knew he was thinking about it. I wanted to concentrate my thoughts on him so he would say yes. But Wes came home, and after dinner he started drinking, and then he started cursing at the television. Then he yelled at me to come and do a strip tease for him. I said I would after the kids were in bed, but he said Now!

I was in the kitchen and the big knife was sitting there staring at me, and I wanted to grab it and kill him, but I used every bit of strength I had to restrain myself. I put the kids to bed and then came into the living room and he was asleep. When he sleeps he looks so harmless, puffed up, like a big fat boy, about five-years-old, only huge.


I didn’t sleep. I told her yes, first thing the next day. The only thing was, I didn’t want her sleeping with me. That was something I wouldn’t force on anybody. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, believe me. I was just not something I could feel right about. She started crying when I said that, the good kind of crying. Then she hugged me, right there in Accounting where several people could see us.

She took the rest of the day off and moved some things and her kids over to my place. I couldn’t work thinking about what was happening, worrying about whether everything was going okay, or if her husband had found out, so I took the rest of the day off and went home to help her. Production at the plant was dropping fast.

God, the kids were cute. They were scared of me, naturally. Lucy didn’t know what was going on and was verging on hysterics, so it’s good I went home. My apartment always seemed roomy to me, but it was suddenly small, especially until we got things squared away.

I’ll give her this. She was organized as well as beautiful. She lined up a Montessori school for the kids, figured out the bus routes and opened a new checking account, plus did the shopping, all that first day. Isaac came over and did some juggling to entertain the kids. He also balanced a yardstick on his nose, which I didn’t know he could do. I gave her my room, the kids got the other room and I took the living room. For dinner that night I sent out for pizza and they couldn’t believe how much I ate, though actually I was holding back.

Then when the kids finally calmed down enough to sleep, she and I talked about what was likely to happen, how her husband would probably follow her from work. So I said we’d just have to travel together until things got resolved. That’s when she told me about him in more detail. She said he was six-foot-three, two hundred and forty pounds of viciousness. He liked to hurt things, people in particular. He had no pride or honor. He’d use a knife, a gun, anything to make sure he won. I said I’d figured as much.

Which is when she asked why I had agreed to take them. I told her I knew she had picked me because I was big, but that was okay, because being big hadn’t been much good to me or anybody else so far, and I knew she wouldn’t have chosen me if she hadn’t felt there was something else there besides bulk, because I’m not exactly gorgeous. I guess I’d been waiting around for someone to recognize me for something deeper, and she had.

She relaxed then and became even more beautiful than she’d ever been, and I couldn’t help saying something like, “How could anyone hit somebody as wonderful as you?”

“Who says I’m wonderful?” she said, frowning at me. “What’s so wonderful about marrying a psycho? I could get wonderful, but I’m not yet.”

“People get into screwy situations,” I said. “You just look up one day and say, ‘How the hell?’”

“Exactly,” she said, reaching out and touching my arm, which made me realize she was starting to trust me.


It had been so long since I’d let myself sleep like that. I guess I must have felt safe. My kids were still kind of crazy and didn’t sleep so well, and Walter stayed up most of the night, I could tell, but I slept, and it made me feel so strong. I was absolutely hyper at work and everybody wanted to know what happened, and men were looking at me like they always used to, before I got married, and my girlfriends said they could see the difference in me. I had been living such a half-life, and my new life seemed too much like a dream and I made myself sick thinking about what might happen.


It was three days later when he came. I’ll give this to him, he didn’t wait until I was out. That he had two other guys with him struck me as a little unfair, but then I had anticipated that. I signaled to Luisa to call the police, which she did from the bedroom. Then she locked herself and the kids in.

I let Lucy do her deep growling act and then I asked politely who it was. Wes was calm at first. Actually, if his buddies hadn’t been there we might have just talked, but his masculine bullshit was on the line, so after a brief exchange he started chopping the door down.

I was scared, but I was also confident. It’s weird, but I was. I had talked to a friend on the police force, a guy I know from the gym, and we’d arranged for our call, if and when it came, to take priority. The cops arrived a couple minutes later and arrested Wes. While he was in custody, Luisa’s attorney served him with a restraining order, which he tore up in front of witnesses. But even if the cops hadn’t come I would have handled it. I know I would have, because I could feel the kids and Luisa behind me and it was like I was being transfused with strength, because I felt like Hercules.

She wanted to move afterwards. She had very romantic notions. A new life in Arizona. I said she was free to go, but that I was staying. I had realized something while Wes was chopping down the door, while I was getting ready to break his arm when it came through. I realized that he was a big hurt lonely person who had nothing. The only thing he thought he had was Luisa. And he thought I had taken her from him. And I realized that the only real difference between us, besides being different people, was that I grew up with love and he didn’t.


My biggest fear was that Wes would try to get the children. Walter sent them off in a cab every morning, and he paid the cabby extra to do all sorts of tricky maneuvering to lose Wes if he was following, which I don’t think he ever was. It was expensive, but Walter said it was worth it. He kept saying it would be over soon anyway, but I didn’t believe it.

I guess I started falling in love with Walter at the end of that first week. He’s such a gentle person, it would be hard not to like him. He’s a little self-conscious and somewhat eccentric, but that comes from too much aloneness I think.

After the door chopping I would have married him. I know it sounds stupid, but I felt that way. He was protecting me with his goodness. He was putting his life on the line for me and my kids. Why? Because he was bursting with love, and I had given him a place to put it.

And the kids. The kids were crazy about him and vice-versa. After just a few days, Tommy would fall asleep in Walter’s arms every night, and Jenny, who is really terrified of most men, started bringing Walter things, unsolicited. Beer, the paper, sweaters. She likes to dress him. They were losing their fear because of him and that made me love him, too.


I was afraid to make love with her. I was afraid I would crush her, among other things. I was afraid I would disappoint her. She said I didn’t. I guess I didn’t. She kept wanting to. That’s a good sign.


He can lift me with one hand. He is so gentle, but every once in a while he gives a hint of his strength and I go crazy.


I arranged to meet him at Logan’s Gym. I told him he could bring friends if he wanted. I have plenty of friends there. I said I wanted to talk.

He is not much smaller than I am. And actually, I think he’s handsome, in a dark Slavic sort of way. He’s maybe thirty pounds overweight, but he’s incredibly strong. We talked, but then the pain boiled up in him, in me, too, so we wrestled. My idea. We wrestled for a long time, and then we talked some more.

I told him the story of my life, as much as I could, and he told me what he could of his, but there was so much pain in his past, so much anger at himself, there was nothing to do but wrestle again. And this time I thought he might pin me. I have never felt such strength, such hatred in anyone. But I dug down and held on, and finally he subsided and we just lay there exhausted, trying to figure things out.

And then he cried and I cried, and he said he was going to get some help, see somebody. I said I probably should, too. And then he begged me to forgive him, and I said he would have to beg his wife because except for wrecking my door I had nothing against him, unless he hurt her or the kids again, because they had become part of me.

Then we wrestled some more.


We were sitting on the bench in the park, watching the kids play on the swings while Lucy chased them, when I saw him coming. I started to get up, but Walter held me in place. I struggled, but he held me. “It’s okay,” he said. “I asked him to come.”

This seemed completely insane to me, impossible. It was like a nightmare. I could feel the blows. Walter had told me about meeting with Wes, talking, but I just didn’t think Walter knew how crazy Wes could be. “Please,” I begged him. “He might have a gun.”

“No,” said Walter, getting up.

“Where are you going?” I asked, terrified.

“To play with the kids,” he says, leaving me there.

And then Wes sat on the bench, not looking at me. We didn’t speak for a long time. Then I’m not sure why, but I said, “I will never come back to you.” I guess that was a fear of mine, that he would ask me.

He said he didn’t want me back, that he understood it would be impossible, even if he really could change himself. He said he wouldn’t contest the divorce and he wouldn’t ask for any visitation rights. What he hoped was that someday I would forgive him. I said I didn’t know if I ever could. He said he could understand that, but that he was truly sorry for hurting me and making my life so horrible.

And then he said something that seemed to confirm everything I’d ever thought about him. He said, “You know, it took a guy that big, that strong. I woulda chewed anybody else up.”

And as I was nodding in agreement, I said something. It made Wes laugh and look at me in amazement, and I have to admit I was a little bit amazed, too. I said, “So would I.”


You Are the One from Todd’s CD Lounge Act In Heaven


Golden Memory

Corners produce

Today I was in Corners, the small grocery store in Mendocino where I shop two or three times a week, and a song emerged from the music mix they were playing on the store stereo that reminded me of a song I wrote circa 1996, otherwise known as twenty-seven years ago.

The song I was reminded of is entitled Golden Light, and I remember when I wrote it because I had just moved to Berkeley in 1995 after living in Sacramento for fifteen years, and being in a new place starting a new life inspired a bunch of new songs, one of which was Golden Light.


Spring in Mendocino

Driving home from town in my little old pickup with two baskets of marvelous groceries, I was trying to remember why I never recorded Golden Light, when I noticed my speedometer had stopped working and said I was going zero-miles-per-hour when I knew I was going much faster than zero, and the disparity made me laugh.

Arriving home, I remembered I did record Golden Light a couple years after writing the song, but chose not to include the tune on the album I was making at the time because… I couldn’t remember why.


Little Lake Road

After I put the groceries away, I went on my daily walk, and a few minutes into my walk I had the thought Maybe I didn’t include the song on an album because the lyrics were sexist. Could that be? I certainly didn’t think the lyrics were sexist when I wrote the song, never having been one to consciously write sexist songs. However, a few years into my Berkeley sojourn I sublet a room in the house I was renting to woman named Z who had identified as a lesbian for twenty years and was beginning to think she might be bisexual. She and I had several long talks about sexual identity in a sexist society. So maybe those conversations figured into my decision not to include Golden Light on an album.

Then again… what were the lyrics to Golden Light?

I started to sing the song as I walked along.

Late last Tuesday evening, after midnight one or two,

I was sunk in bitter loneliness, fighting those killing blues

Came a flash outside my window, a burst of golden light

Lifted me from my despair, launched me into the night.

Something made me, something made me go

Went on down to Jackie’s joint, thought I’d tip a few

There she was playin’ slide with her band and…

That was all I could remember. Hmm. There she was playin’ slide with her band and…


faint geese lines in sky

I walked on and heard the sound of geese, hundreds of them, calling to each other, and I thought Migrating geese! Where are they? I was just coming out of a heavily wooded stretch of road and caught sight of a crooked V of hundreds of geese high above me. I got out my little camera and tried to get a photo of them, but didn’t have time to zoom closer before they were gone.

Then I remembered another line from Golden Light. Oh my God she could play those blues.


Fabulous hummus

For the rest of the forty-five minute walk, fragments of lyrics came to me, but not the entire song. When I got home, I busied myself with bringing in firewood for the afternoon-into-evening fire, and while building the fire I wondered if I might have the lyrics to the song in a Word document on my computer.

After I got the fire going in the woodstove, I made some fabulous hummus using sunflower seed butter instead of tahini to go with the garbanzos and lemon juice and garlic and hot sauce and a splash of white wine and curry powder, and whilst eating the good goo on crackers, I remembered what Golden Light was about and thought maybe I hadn’t included the song on an album because the storyline of the song was a male fantasy cliché, which might have felt somewhat sexist to me in 1996, though why I would have felt that way I couldn’t imagine: lonely man meets fabulous woman, takes a chance, fabulous woman dances with him.


old Word doc symbol

After gorging on the superb hummus I went to the computer, looked in my long neglected Song Lyrics folder and found a Word document for Golden Light. However, it was a strange looking little file symbol, different than the others, and when I tried to open the file, a message appeared on the screen saying my computer and current writing software were unable to read the file because the file was ancient, a modern synonym for more than ten years old.


looking inside

So I spent some time Googling how to read old Word files and learned that my current Word is considered antique and the newest Word app should be able to read the old file. However, to get the newest Word app I’ll need a new and more powerful computer and the new Word app for which I must pay an exorbitant monthly subscription fee. Can you say greedy amoral creepy jerks?

Then I thought I’ll just send this ancient Word document to my computer-wizard brother and he will make a new copy for me that is readable by my seven-year-old antique computer.

I started an email to my brother intending to attach the old Word document when I felt a pang of frustration and annoyance and a touch of anger, and decided to try to remember the lyrics without resorting to anything other than my memory.


lyrics to Golden Light

To that end, I sat down at the kitchen table with a blank piece of paper and started writing out the song lyrics. Once again my memory hit a wall at There she was playin’ slide with her band and…

I continued humming the tune and went on to the next verse, and more and more lines arose from the archives of my memory, with several large gaps remaining.

I remembered She had big men at her elbows and rich gals buying her booze.


guitar and piano

Time to add another log to the fire. Whilst adding the log, it occurred to me I could try to play the song and sing it. Surely that would jog my memory. I haven’t played the guitar for several months because I’ve been working on a new suite of piano tunes. Thus the guitar callouses on my chord-making fingers would be wimpy and my fingers would hurt when I played and my playing would be lousy because I’m out of practice. And I hadn’t played Golden Light in twenty years. Nevertheless, I got my guitar and my thumb pick and sat down to see if I could remember how to play and sing Golden Light.


thumb pick on thumb

Interesting Tidbit: It turns out I do not, independently of my right thumb, know how to play the many songs I’ve written for the guitar. If I try to strum the chords without my thumb pick on, I can’t remember the chords or how to play any of my songs. With my thumb pick on, I can play the songs. I’m not kidding. My thumb is a genius.

I began to play and sing, and here it was, the song in her (or his or its) entirety. As I played, I thought This is a rock soul classic waiting to be covered by singers and bands and choirs for generations to come. Nor did the words or the story seem sexist to me. Was the song a fantasy? Yes. A fairy tale? Yes. Implausible and verging on silly? Perhaps.


Todd’s fabulous nut butter and raisin cookies

Then it occurred to me that anyone who felt this song was sexist would probably not be someone I would invite over for hummus or cookies, though I would, of course honor his or her or any other pronoun’s opinion about my wonderful song.


Todd circa 1996

Here are the lyrics to Golden Light. Maybe someday I will include the song on an album, though now I’m thinking of changing the title to Something Made Me. What do you think?

Late last Tuesday evening, after midnight one or two,

I was sunk in bitter loneliness, fighting those killing blues

Came a flash outside my window, a burst of golden light

Lifted me from my despair, launched me into the night.

Something made me go, something made me

Went on down to Jackie’s joint, thought I’d tip a few

There she was playin’ slide with her band

and there was nothing I could do

She had a wild mane of long long hair, luscious tiger’s eyes

She was everything I would ever want

if I only had the strength to try

She had big men at her elbows, she had rich gals buying her booze

She had pretty boys blowing kisses,

and oh my God she could play those blues

Something made me go, something made me

I moved past all her suitors and asked her for a dance

She looked at me for a long long time,

Then she put down her guitar and gave me my chance.

Something made me go, something made me

We held hands on the dance floor

Her band was burning bright

And I could tell by the way she moved

She was the maker of the golden light

Something made me go, something made me


Hey Baby Todd’s guitar song on YouTube with Todd and Gwyneth

Links for Todd and Marcia’s new CD Through the Fire



Generally speaking, when artists or writers or musicians talk about the creative process, I run away as if pursued by a monster. Not only do I find such talk nonsensical, but many of the hundreds of writers I worked with as a teacher and editor were made to feel like failures by authors of famous writing books, and famous authors pontificating in various venues, all of them preaching the necessity of writing for many hours a day and adhering to arbitrary rules guaranteeing failure for just about anybody who tried to tie themselves into such knots to please the people who, I guarantee you, did not walk their own talk.

Dogmatizing creative expression is always done by people taking advantage of aspiring artists longing for easy-to-follow recipes for creating marvelous things. There is only one such recipe. I will give you the secret for free. Try to create something and keep trying whenever you are so moved to try.


Long ago when I published novels with mainstream publishers and had enough success to land lucrative gigs appearing at writers’ conferences and speaking to writing groups, I was forever being asked about my creative process. More often than not, I would feign going into a trance and say in a somewhat robotic voice I am a channel for Kavon Knarf speaking from Dimension Gazornen Nine. Or something like that. Depending on the group I was addressing, this got big laughs or big uncomfortable silences.

This was in the early days of personal computers, and many of the people listening to me wanted to know whether I used Word or Word Perfect or another of the many writing programs vying for supremacy in those days.

When I said I wrote my first and second drafts with pen and paper, many of the attendees were terribly disappointed. They were hoping the kind of writing software I used would be the key to unlocking their creative treasure troves. And then came the inevitable follow-up questions: What kind of pen do you use? Lined paper or unlined?

If that seems silly to you, it is. Yet I have heard famous authors say, “You must write for at least three hours a day,” and “Never use the word suddenly,” and “Always write on an empty stomach,” and “Never write in First Person,” and “Always write in First Person,” and lots of other insulting unhelpful poo poo. 


Why am I going on about this? Because I want to tell you something about my creative process. Tee hee. Not a rule or anything, just something that happened.

So for the last few months I have been writing and rewriting, at least a dozen drafts so far, the novel I’m creating from the Healing Weintraub stories some of you may recall from my blog in the second half of 2022.

For my last run through, before turning all those pages over to Marcia to proof before we embark on publishing the book, I read the twenty-six chapters in reverse order (out loud), starting with Chapter 26 and working my way through to Chapter One. This proved helpful and revelatory. For reasons no doubt neurological, my brain/imagination loved doing this.

Suddenly everything fell into place. Not really.

Suddenly I understood who I really am. Not really.

I had a wonderful time. Really.


When Marcia has done her work and we begin the process of publishing the book, I will embark on the making-of-the-audio-book adventure. To that end I’ve been acting out all the dialogue with gusto and in character, and having big fun honing the many accents required for a neato narration: British (various), American (various), Jewish (various) Irish, German, French, Polish, Norwegian, and Spanish (various).

I’m beginning to feel there may be a sequel on the way.


Max a modern jazz piece from Through the Fire.


Spring Things

circa 2016

When we first moved to our two acres in the redwoods eleven years ago, I endeavored to grow vegetables in the ground despite the warnings from neighbors that the redwood roots would defeat me. In my ignorance, I believed otherwise and dug massive quantities of roots from my beds every few months until after five years of futile labor, I finally I hurt my back one too many times and surrendered.


Thus began the era of tub farming. Easy living with great results! Yesterday I prepared one of my orchard tubs by turning the soil and adding aged chicken manure and compost, and then planted seeds of chard, lettuce, sugar snap peas, and arugula.

In another tub I planted potatoes next to last year’s chard. Zucchini and tomatoes and other vegetables that like hot weather, or at least warm weather, do not grow well here a mile from the coast outside of greenhouses, and we do not have a greenhouse.

When we came to look at this place before we bought it, the first thing I saw was this magnificent old tree in our woods, her twisted trunk having saved her from felling when the area was clear-cut a hundred years ago. Her twisted trunk means that usable lumber cannot be made from her trunk. We believe she is more than two-hundred-years-old.

We mostly heat our house with a woodstove. We buy tan oak from Frank’s Firewood and harvest soft wood from our two acres. Every year I clear brush and thickets of young hemlocks from which I make great piles of kindling. We also occasionally have trees felled that are threatening to fall on the house or on our neighbors’ houses, and from these trees we get soft wood to go with the tan oak in our woodstove fires.

We recently had five yards of gravel delivered for various projects, and every day I move a few wheelbarrow loads to places around the property. I am very careful not to load the shovel or the wheelbarrow too full lest I hurt my back in the process, something I do with annoying regularity these days.


Really Really You a song by Todd from his new CD Through the Fire.


Guitarist from New York

I went to bed last night thinking about fences and walls. We recently removed a large section of the old fence topped with barbed wire that surrounded our two acres when we bought the place. All our neighbors and visitors have told us how much they love the fence being gone, how beautiful the forest vista, and how spacious this whole part of the neighborhood feels now.

When I was growing up there were no fences or walls dividing the lots in our suburban neighborhood, which gave a marvelous spacious feeling to our environment. Everyone, adults and children and dogs, felt connected and could connect easily with each other. Fifty years gone by, high walls now surround all those lots, and the neighborhood feels like a vast prison.

I was going to write more about walls and fences, but the dream I had last night is much more interesting to me, and I thought you might find the dream interesting, too.


I’m walking on a dirt road on the coast of Spain in summer. I’m younger than I am now, wearing a T-shirt and jeans and I’m barefoot and have no possessions.

I come to a house on a hill with a view of the ocean. There are no other houses anywhere to be seen. In search of food, I enter the house and find three women there. I don’t know them and they don’t know me. Nevertheless, they accept me into their midst and one of them says of another of the women, “She’s a guitarist from New York.”

This woman, the guitarist from New York, has long brown hair and is very beautiful to me. She’s wearing a skimpy purple dress and invites me to embrace her. We embrace and kiss and disrobe, and she leads me away from the others and we make love.

The other women inform me they are a lesbian couple, and one of them says she’s never been with a man and would like to try. So she and I have sex, which upsets the guitarist from New York. She gives me a look to say From now on you will only have sex with me. Okay?

I give her a look to say Will do.

Now I’m doing some kind of work on the place and need a shovel. A moment later I’m in a big city in the 1930s in winter. There are electric trolleys and automobiles from that era, and the people are dressed in the fashions of those times.

I wander around until I find a hardware store. I choose a shiny new shovel and an axe, and on my way to the counter with them I remember I have no money. So I lean the shovel and axe against the counter and walk out of the store intending to go to my parents’ house in California to get some money.

I walk up a street where all the buildings collapsed long ago and trees and vines are now growing in the rubble. I come to a bus stop amidst the ruins and ask a man if buses still stop here. The man speaks English with a thick Spanish accent and says, “Yes. Buses still come here.”

A crowded bus arrives. I get on and say to the driver, “I don’t know how much it is. I want to go to the airport.” I get out my wallet and it is bulging with fifty and hundred-dollar bills. The driver gives me a ticket and two dollars.

I take a seat beside a woman wearing a heavy coat, her hair and face covered by a bandana. She removes her bandana and let’s her hair down. The guitarist from New York!

“Why do you need to fly to California?” she asks, pursing her lips for a kiss, “when your wallet is full of money?”


Something piano solo from our new CD Through the Fire



I learned how to backpack from my father in the 1950s, and in the 1960s I was fortunate to go backpacking with some of the people who had the first recorded ascents of many of the peaks of the Sierras.

There was no giardia in the waters of the Sierras in those days, so there was no need to filter or boil water from the lakes and streams. One of my great pleasures was lying on my belly and drinking directly from a flowing stream. I remember the first time we had to filter Sierra water. I was in my twenties. I was so sad about the loss of purity in those splendid mountains, I cried every time I had to filter our water.

This was also before the advent of lightweight packs and lightweight tents and lightweight sleeping bags, before armies of backpackers swarmed the wilderness. My pack for a week in the Sierras weighed upwards of sixty pounds, and we so rarely met other backpackers, every meeting was memorable.

We were ever on the lookout for edible food that needed only water added to make a viable meal. Forget tasty. Edible. I was a fly fisherman, and in those days so few people visited the places we went, the fishing was always good and we had trout for breakfast and supper.

One day a backpacking friend touted me on a rice dish available in a cardboard box, the ingredients needing only water to turn into some sort of pilaf. I got some, cooked it at home, found it edible, barely, and got two more boxes to take on a backpacking trip.

Our first day we hiked for seven hours carrying our hella heavy packs over two high passes, and we didn’t reach our destination until darkness was falling. Exhausted and having no time to fish, we made our cooking fire and boiled a pan of water to cook the rice pilaf.

Yes. A cooking fire. This was when so few people ventured into the Sierras there was always plenty of dead wood to be gathered for fires, no permits were required, and there was no need to carry a little propane stove. When the water came to a boil, we poured in the desiccated rice grains, stirred occasionally, and twenty minutes later scooped the gruel into our Sierra Club cups.

Oh my God. The pilaf tasted like a three-star Michelin entrée, our mighty exertions and our extreme hunger making the crummy food gourmet.


When I was in my twenties I was a vagabond for a few years. I hitchhiked all over America and Canada, carrying all my possessions in a big backpack weighing fifty to seventy pounds depending on how much food and how many books I was carrying. I also toted a cheap guitar in a flimsy case and played for hours while waiting for rides. I was essentially a highway backpacker.

During the summer of 1971 I found myself in Stowe, Vermont with a few dollars in my wallet and needing work. Stowe is now a swank resort town, but in 1971 it was a small country town. I inquired in the hardware store if they knew of anyone needing a laborer. The friendly fellow working there said he’d make a few calls and to come back in a half hour. To pass the time, I went to the bakery to get a loaf of bread.

The gal in the bakery sold me a big day-old loaf for twenty-five cents. When I inquired about places to camp, she said I could pitch my tube tent in her backyard. I asked if she knew of anyone needing a laborer, and she said there was a guy tending a warming hut on the nearby Long Trail, which is part of the Appalachian Trail, who wanted somebody to cut and chop wood for the hut. She said he came into the bakery every few days to buy cookies and bread, and to complain about the absence of bagels.

The guy at the hardware store didn’t come up with any work for me, so after spending the night in the bakery gal’s backyard, I hiked two miles up a trail that connected with the Long Trail, hiked another mile or so north along the Long Trail, and introduced myself to the fellow tending the warming hut there.

I don’t know how things are run on those trails nowadays, but in 1971 hikers did not camp wherever they wanted along the way and had to stay in these warming huts, which were one-room cabins with a hearth, a woodstove, and wooden platforms for sleeping bags. There was no electricity and the outhouse was unpleasant.

The fee to stay overnight was fifty cents. The keeper of the hut collected the fees, made sure there was plenty of firewood, swept out the hut, cleaned the outhouse, kept the water barrel in the hut full, and had a walkie-talkie in case of emergencies.

The fellow tending the hut was named Bernard. He lived in Brooklyn where he was born thirty-five years before I met him. He spoke with a thick Brooklyn Jewish accent and was a chess master with a high ranking. Tall and bearded, Bernard was volubly unhappy about spending his summer in the mountains. He was there at the suggestion of his psychiatrist who felt a break from city life would help lessen his anxiety and depression and anger.

Within thirty seconds of my arrival, Bernard asked me, “Do you play chess?”

“Not well,” I replied.

“Let’s play,” he said grimly.

A moment later we were sitting on the deck of the hut with a chessboard between us. I asked him to remind me how the horse moved and he gave me a look of dismay. “Please tell me you’re kidding. You must know that piece is called a knight.”

“Now I do,” I said, laughing.

Not amused, Bernard checkmated me with ease three or four times, and said, “You’ll get better.”

He then explained his job included foraging in the surrounding woods for well-aged fallen trees and branches, sawing them up, and splitting them into firewood for the hut. Never having wielded a saw or an axe, this labor was torture for him. He would pay me five dollars a day and cover my food if I would work for him.

I stayed a week, which was all I could take of Bernard. He was desperately lonely and talked endlessly about his mother and father, chess tournaments, his most challenging rivals in the chess world, and his difficulties with women. Fortunately he did not accompany me on my wood gathering expeditions, so I had daily respites from his laments.

Hikers would start arriving in the afternoon. Bernard would collect the fees and inquire of each hiker, “Do you play chess?” Occasionally a good chess player would come along and Bernard would delight in games he always won. He and I played many times and I got a little better, but not so it made a difference to Bernard.

In the mornings, hikers would cook their oatmeal and move on. I would sweep out the hut, pump water from the spring to refill the warming hut barrel, clean the outhouse, and then go forth with saw and axe to gather wood from the surrounding forest. In my absence, Bernard would read, write letters and postcards, and because I was in the vicinity, he walked into town every other day to mail his letters, get his mail, make phone calls, and buy food.

We got to be friends, though Bernard never asked me anything about my life. What he learned about me came from overhearing conversations I had with hikers who were more inquisitive than he. By contrast, I knew so much about Bernard I could have written a long depressing novel based on his anguished life. Working title: Such A Headache I’ve Got.

At the end of a week, with thirty-five dollars in my pocket (a fortune to me in those days) I bid Bernard adieu and left the mountains for another stint on the road.


Through the Fire the title song from our new CD Through the Fire.