Ahora Entras Tu

Our new album Ahora Entras Tu is here! We’re so glad to be able to share this suite of new piano songs and piano/cello songs with you.

The album contains nine songs and four short poems and is downloadable and streamable from Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, and other music web sites! We will soon be getting our shipment of the actual CDs to send to community radio stations in hope of getting some airplay, and to dispense to friends who still have CD players.

We began the recording process last year when Peter Temple came to the house and recorded me playing the piano tracks on my Yamaha U7, an excellent upright piano I bought new in 1980 and have babied for forty-five years. I then went into the studio and added vocals to three of the eight tunes and gave those eight tunes to Marcia. She listened to them for some weeks and decided on four of the tunes she wanted to compose cello parts for.

When she was happy with what she’d created, we went into the studio and she recorded her parts. Then we lived with those renditions for a time, she made changes and additions in subsequent studio visits, and… voila!

As I prepare to send copies of the album to radio DJs, I’m calling the music Jazz with a Latin feel, though the music isn’t traditional Jazz. These tunes are melodic inventions, several of them Latinesque, as their names imply. And one groovacious blues.

We hope you’ll take a listen.

Blessings and Thanks!

Todd & Marcia


Who We Were

I subscribe to the Buddhist idea that happiness arises from living fully in the present moment. Yet as a subscriber to this idea, which I know to be true, everything I see and do, and virtually anything anyone says to me, triggers an avalanche of memories, which I then have to dig out from under in order to get back to living fully in the present moment.

Einstein wrote: The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once. This suggests that the past must be part of the present moment, in which case living fully in the present moment must entail simultaneously living in the past.

Of course the Buddhist idea about living fully in the present moment is an idea, an ideal, a practice. Even the most advanced enlightened Buddhist occasionally dwells on events and feelings from the past. In fact, neurologically speaking, we are the end results of our past actions.

I’m not speaking of karma – our actions determining the courses of our lives – a notion I also subscribe to. I’m speaking about Brain Maps. Having read a bunch of fairly up-to-date books about neuroscience, it is now understood that every time we do something or think something or see something, our brains make a little synaptic map of that something. If we repeat the action or thought, or see the same view out the kitchen window over and over again, those synaptic maps get etched deeper in our brains.

And if we repeat an action or a thought or see the same thing thousands of times, those brain maps dictate responses in us so automatic they resemble innate reflexes. This is why when you play a piece of music once, your playing will be tentative compared to the hundredth time you play that same piece of music. The brain map directing your body/mind/spirit for the playing of that piece gets etched more deeply into your neurological system with each playing, and your fingers/body/actions in that regard become vastly more proficient as a result.

Thus: we become what we do over and over again.

So here we are aspiring to live fully in the present moment while being, in large part, made of what we were, because what we were created the mechanics of how we operate in the present moment. By the same token, if we spend lots of time thinking about the future, those thoughts will shape who we are now!

So when I’m schlepping firewood from the woodshed to the north porch, practicing being mindful as I place those pieces of wood into the wheelbarrow, and as I gaze in wonder at the leaves and clouds and blades of grass as I wheel my wheelbarrow along the path, and a memory of a girl I was too shy to pursue when I was sixteen drifts into the matrix of my brain maps, I can’t help but feel her appearance as part of the totality of the present moment.

And now the time has come to make my list of things I’ll buy at the grocery store in the near future. To make this list I will pay close attention to what we no longer have because we ate those things in the past. Thus past, present, and future collide in the kitchen and reverberate throughout the universe in every direction and in myriad other dimensions, too. Caramba!



Writing Table

Todd in 1996 at his writing table in Berkeley with Ruby & Spear

The year was 1995, a mere twenty-nine years ago when I was but an overgrown child of forty-six. Recently divorced and settling into my new digs in Berkeley, the universe bestowed a large (relatively speaking) chunk of money on me: a modest advance from a publisher for my novel Ruby & Spear and eye-popping option money for the movie rights to my novel Forgotten Impulses. Thus ended a decade of month-to-month barely squeaking by, and thus began a couple years of having sufficient funds to work on my writing and music full time.

To celebrate this joyful turn of events, I purchased a few things I’d always wanted: a writing table, a dining table, and a medium-sized green vase. Not far from the house I rented in Berkeley was a woodshop specializing in furniture made from recycled lumber, and in their little storefront I found the writing table of my dreams and the expandable dining table of my dreams, both made of reclaimed pine. The dining table is our dining table to this day, and the writing table is the subject of this missive. I found a marvelous green vase a few weeks after moving to Berkeley and it is still our go-to vase for fleurs from the garden here in Mendocino.

Unbeknownst to me, I arrived in Berkeley during the last year of rent control and so was able to rent my old three-bedroom house for 1100 dollars a month. A year later the revolution exploded in synch with the demise of rent control, at which time my house would have rented for 4000 dollars a month. Fortunately I was grandfathered in and my rent could not be increased. So I was able to stay there.

I let one of my bedrooms to a series of housemates, one of the bedrooms became my office/guestroom, and the third bedroom was my bedroom. The new writing table became the centerpiece of my office, and for my first two years in Berkeley I used my writing table for… writing.

Then money became scarce, I became the sole support of two needy dependents, and the days of month-to-month squeaking by resumed. And ere long the writing table became a storage area rather than a writing surface.

As I’m sure you are aware, any flat surface elevated a few feet off the ground is a magnet for mail, bills, glasses, wallets, earplugs, postal scales, computers, printers, car keys, flashlights, guitar picks, pens, pencils, dishes, mugs, sheets of paper, scraps of paper, silverware, half-eaten cookies, snapshots, cameras, phones, statuary, rocks, driftwood, lip balm, address books, change jars, crystals, and bowls of sage, to name but a fraction of the things we humans collect and stack on flat surfaces (and on top of each other.) It’s just how we are. I’m sure this propensity to stack things on elevated flat surfaces is genetic.

Near the end of my eleven-year stay in Berkeley, my mother died and I inherited enough money to make the move to Mendocino and rent a place where I could start anew and use the surface of my writing table for writing and drawing again, which I did for a while, and I was glad.

Then my old iMac died and I got a new one with a long bubble backside (strange design) that was so long the only surface in my office wide enough to accommodate the thing was my beloved writing table. As I’m sure you know, a computer of any size, let alone a big bulbous one, immediately and thoroughly negates the beauty and spaciousness and je ne sais quoi of a good writing table. Yet despite the warnings and pleas from my higher self, I surrendered my writing table to the elongated computer and made do with other surfaces for writing.

Then twelve years ago Marcia and I bought our house in which we each have an office studio, and in my new office I gave my newer and less bulbous iMac domain over a standing desk and freed my writing table to be a spacious writing surface once more.

However, my office is not large, and having recently launched my career as a self-publisher and self-music producer, the office and writing table soon became functionaries of a laughably inefficient shipping operation in which my writing table assumed the identity of a multi-layered quagmire of easy-to-misplace and easy-to-overlook and easy-to-forget stuff.

I did my longhand writing on the dining table or I sat in chairs writing on a clipboard, and for the last twelve years my table desk has been a clutter hell, a stack of woe, a mechanism of self-sabotage.

Looking back over my life, psychoanalytically speaking, I can recall many Large Instances of Self-Sabotage, many Lesser Instances of Self-Sabotage, and myriad Minor Instances of Self-Sabotage. Large instances include teaming up with negative, critical partners who undermined me at every turn, drinking too much coffee, and going barefoot on nail-infested construction sites. Lesser Instances include waiting too long to fill the gas tank and running out on a remote highway during a tempest, renting a room in my house to a psychic leech, and eating too much popcorn in one sitting. Minor instances include tripping over shoes I should have put away and leaving the door open so clouds of mosquitoes come into the house.

But perhaps worse than those instances of self-sabotage identifiable after-the-fact are Unconscious Instances of Self-Sabotage, one of which is rendering the heart, if you will, of my creative process unusable by covering my wonderful writing table with detritus that should never be put there, and certainly not left there for days and weeks and months and, yes, years!

Also psychoanalytically speaking, while acknowledging that some percentage of mess-making can be blamed on human nature, I think it important to acknowledge that most self-sabotaging behavior is LEARNED. And here’s the thing about Unconscious Self-Sabotage; though I (We) may have consciously decided not to emulate my (our) profoundly neurotic parents, and in many ways we have been successful in not emulating them, they are still inside us influencing our neurological operating systems. Yes they are.

Only eternal vigilance can keep us from repeating behavior our primary caretakers relentlessly modeled for our wildly receptive psyches throughout the formative years of our childhoods.

Now that I no longer sell books or music CDs from my web site, and my office is no longer a shipping depot, I finally got around to making my writing table a table for writing again. Hurray!

I hereby vow to strive to keep my writing table free of stuff that shouldn’t be there. I know there will be setbacks in the days and weeks ahead (there are already minor incursions underway) but for now I have tasted the fruits of clearing the boards, and those fruits are sweet and nutritious and fill me with joy.


Todd and Marcia’s music is gettable from Apple, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, etc. Copies of many of Todd’s books are orderable from your favorite actual bookstores and many online book sources. E-books editions are available from Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble, and Todd’s fabuloso audio books are available from Apple Books and Audible.


How I Came To

Todd (upper right corner)

A reader inquired about Good With Dogs Cats, “How did you come to write this book?”

Here is a long-winded answer.

I began making up and writing down short stories sixty-five years ago when I was in First Grade at Las Lomitas Elementary School in Menlo Park, California. My first successful short story was entitled Albert the Alligator and Billy Brown about a talking alligator who befriends a little boy.

I say successful because one day my First Grade teacher Mrs. Bushnell, desperate for a nap, had me up in front of the class to tell the kids my latest version of Albert the Alligator and Billy Brown. My classmates enjoyed the tale, especially my silly voices for the characters, and laughed throughout the telling. Mrs. Bushnell woke refreshed and thereafter had me tell stories to the class on several other occasions.

Word spread among the teachers and I was asked to appear as a guest performer for the other First Grade class, for both Second Grade classes, and so on up through the Fourth Grade classes. Heady stuff for little Todd, performing for giant kids who had a separate playground from us little kids lest the big kids trample us at recess.

My older sister was in one of those Third Grade classes I performed for. You may imagine her chagrin as her annoying little brother held sway over her classmates and garnered big laughs. I can still see her squirming in her seat and rolling her eyes as I babbled and cavorted.

I think it fair to say the adulation of those kids in elementary school emboldened me to continue making up stories for the rest of my life.

As a reader I have always favored short stories over novels. As a writer of fiction, several of my novels are composed of interconnected short stories. Now and then one of my stories will beget a related story that begets another related story, and so on until those related stories amount to a novella or novel.

This is what happened with Good With Dogs and Cats. Two years ago I published Why You Are Here, my first book of interconnected stories set in the mythical town of Mercy on the far north coast of California – Mercy being a mythical version of Mendocino where I live. Readers let me know they enjoyed Why You Are Here, and, having grown enamored of Mercy, I was glad when The Muse sent more stories set in the delightful little town.

Several characters who debut in Why You Are Here appear again in Good With Dogs and Cats: the adventures of Healing Weintraub as well as in the soon-to-be published sequel Raaz and Oz: the further adventures of Healing Weintraub. Those characters include the poet Helen Morningstar, her very tall husband Justin Oglethorpe, Ruben Higuera the unflappable Sheriff of Mercy, and Eliana Levine, a musician and actor.

When I penned the first of the Healing adventures, I had no idea the story would create such a frisson of appreciation in readers (a dozen encouraging emails!) nor did I imagine I would eventually write another fifty stories featuring Healing Weintraub, his family and friends, and the many fascinating dogs and cats he helps, but that’s what happened.

So that’s part of the answer to how I came to write Good With Dogs and Cats. However, I think the questioner was also curious about why I chose to write about a person who helps dogs and cats with problems they’re having with humans.

The answer to that part of the question is: I don’t know. And the reason I don’t know is that I never know what I’m going to write before I write whatever comes out on the page. I have never successfully had a conscious idea for a story and then written that story. Whenever I try to do that, the result is poo-poo. Better for me to write down what my inner storyteller has to say and then see what I’ve got.

Which is to say, I didn’t consciously choose to write about a person who helps dogs and cats with their people, but once that switch was flipped, so to speak, I kept writing until stories in that vein stopped coming.

Several people have asked me if the Healing stories are autobiographical. The answer is no, though it is true I love cats and dogs, they love me, and I do communicate clairvoyantly with animals, but that’s where the similarities end.


Copies of Why You Are Here and Good With Dogs and Cats are orderable from your favorite actual bookstores and many online bookstores. E-books of both books are available from Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble, and a really neato audio book of Good With Dogs and Cats is available from Apple Books and Audible. Rave reviews most appreciated.