Hello, Readers,

As we get ready for Thanksgiving in the USA, our thoughts increasingly turn to FOOD as we plan the feast: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and . . . Spam?

This week, I have found myself thinking about Hawaiian food, including Spam, no doubt in light of Saffron Street: Island Danger, recently released and set on O’ahu. And as it turns out, there is a link between Spam and the Japanese Americans’ incarcerations post Pearl Harbor, central to my book’s mystery. Keep reading!

I found an interesting article by Kiki Aranita about the history of Spam, a food abundantly served throughout the Hawaiian islands. According to Aranita, who grew up on O’ahu, many people on the Mainland denigrate this popular food as over-processed, unhealthy, salt-laden, canned junk food. Not so in Hawai’i! For Aranita and Hawaiians, Spam, especially served with eggs and rice, is wrapped in the history and nostalgia of the islands there.

Also from O’ahu, Chef Chung Chow of New York City’s Noreetah restaurant associates Spam with home. He serves Spam in a fine-dining context in an attempt to change Spam’s image on the Mainland. On his menu is an array of Spam musubi. He finds it interesting that Spam costs more on the Mainland ($5.00) than in Hawai’i ($1.99) despite it being produced in Minnesota and Nebraska!

Spam’s Hawaiian history was born of suspicion and food insecurity. In the late 19th century, “work contracts of the Japanese laborers who had come to work on Hawai’i’s sugarcane plantations expired. Many of them, skilled fisherman, turned to commercial fishing. They could earn more than working on the plantations. The Japanese displaced the Hawaiians in commercial fisheries . . . and eventually monopolized the deep sea fishing industry.

By the 1930s, the US military came to view this as a threat to national security. . . . There were concerns that the fishermen were being interrogated by Japanese Navy officials on hydrographic conditions in Hawai’i, ending the careers of many fishermen. But even after the attack on Pearl Harbor, none of these claims were substantiated. As Japanese Americans were incarcerated in camps on the mainland, this effective ban in Hawai’i on deep sea fishing by “aliens” obliterated the industry and left Hawai’i’s Japanese population stranded.

The iconic Spam musubi was borne from this sudden lack of fish to eat as people came to subsist on canned foods — an adaptation that is, painfully, not unique.”
So, get a clue, Readers. I hope you will read Aranita’s article to learn more about Spam’s history and why it’s so special to the Hawaiians. Happy Thanksgiving for all our blessings, no matter what foods complement your feast!


Dear Readers,

Did you see the news today about the “2022 Word of the Year”?

It’s been chosen by the U.K.-based Collins Dictionary. In fact, its top ten words of the year have a definite theme: “the ongoing crisis the world is facing.”

Some don’t pay much attention to these yearly “contests,” but this year’s word might be something many of us can relate to, unfortunately.

Here it it: The number one word of 2022 is PERMACRISIS. As you might guess, it means “an extended period of instability and insecurity–the emotional equivalent of your feet dangling off a ledge as you try to find a safe landing.” Yikes!

Sounds scary, right? The people at Collins Dictionary in charge of selecting the words of the year considered our global “political instability, the war in Ukraine, climate change, and the cost-of-living crisis.” They also looked at a database of over 18 billion words and “took ‘snapshots’ at intervals throughout the year to analyze newspapers and social media among other sources.”

So, get a clue, Readers. If you’d like to see some of the other nine words of the year and read more about this topic, please click HERE. And may your life NOT resemble 2022’s Word of the Year. But if it does, I hope you have positive ways to counteract the feeling. Remember! This, too, shall pass.


Five Reasons to Celebrate Halloween

Dear Kids and All Other Halloween Revelers,

Some people do or do not celebrate Halloween for religious reasons. Regardless, many people love Halloween, and I am no exception.

Did you know that there are important scientific reasons to celebrate Halloween?

Embracing and celebrating scary things in life could compel us to make some beneficial changes on how we deal with them. For example, holidays like Halloween and Dia de los Muertos “ritualize our fears, mainly of death . . . turning horror into play, death into levity, and gore into laughter,” says Dacher Keltner, founder of Great Good Science-Based Insights for a Meaningful Life, at UC Berkeley.

According to Jeremy Adam Smith, a psychologist, also at Greater Good, there are five scientifically validated reasons why human beings need Halloween:

  1. Halloween is a ritual. Rituals keep us together. They do this by getting us out to socialize, perhaps with the neighbors during trick-or-treat. This “social-capital enhancement” can make us happier, kinder, and healthier.
  2. We need candy. It’s proven that one ounce of dark chocolate can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and boost the mood.

If you would like to read on to find out important reasons number 3, 4, and 5, please click HERE.

So, get a clue, all you Halloween revelers! I hope you enjoyed the article, which might help you prepare for an even Happier Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, and beyond . . . into your everyday lives!


That Creepy Feeling!

Hi, All Readers, and Happy October!

This month, culminating in Halloween, seems perfect for discussing creepy feelings! One, in particular . . .

Have you ever experienced deja vu? That’s French for “already seen”–a perhaps paranormal sensation that you’ve experienced the same exact situation before, even though that’s impossible? If you have, you’re in good company. Two-thirds of us have had this weird experience!

The Conversation, a nonprofit organization working for the public good through fact- and research-based journalism, published its “Curious Kids” segment on October 3, 2022, about deja vu. Kids and adults can write in questions for experts to answer. This time, a ten-year-old from India asked why people experience that “been there; done that” feeling.

Anne Cleary, professor of cognitive psychology at Colorado State University, answered the question. She has completed a thorough review of others’ findings from over 100 years and is currently doing her own scientific study about deja vu.

Would you like to read more about the history of deja vu and what Cleary has discovered? If yes, please click HERE.

So, get a clue, readers. Have you experienced deja vu? I know I have–many times! May all your “been there; done thats” be pleasant!


Love Match

Hello, Kids, Readers, and Tennis Fans,

I am saddened by the news that my favorite tennis player Roger Federer is retiring from competitive tennis tomorrow, September 23, following his last match in the Laver Cup, which is happening in London this weekend.

Roger started his professional career in 1998 at the age of 17 and will leave as a 41-year-old role model for young and old alike. He’s won 103 ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) singles titles, an Olympic gold medal in doubles, logged 11,000 career aces, achieved 1,251 singles match wins, and more. 

He and tennis will remain a “love match” in my opinion–love here meaning a mutual compatibility between the man and his sport.

Even more than his balletic moves on any court, impossible shots that he made look easy, twenty major singles titles (Grand Slams–eight at Wimbledon alone), and phenomenal 310 weeks ( a record 237 consecutive weeks) as the World’s No. 1 tennis player, I was always mesmerized by Roger’s consistently great sportsmanship, kindness and positivity, and charitable giving that mostly benefited kids’ educations and living situations in Europe and Africa. For me, he was and will remain a class act first and an unequaled champion a very close second. 

Last week when Roger announced on social media that he would be retiring–but not leaving tennis entirely, he said this about his fans: “The inspiring feeling of walking into full stadiums and arenas has been one of the huge thrills in my life. Without you, those successes would’ve felt lonely, rather than filled with joy and energy.”

Thank you, Roger Federer, for so many years of tennis elegance and your eloquence on behalf of the sport. It was an honor to behold your style and virtuosity. I will miss you. Personally, tennis won’t be the same without you.

Want to read more about Roger’s announcement in his own words in an NBC news story? Please click HERE.  And click HERE if you’d like to read other tennis greats’ glowing tributes to Roger.

So, get a clue, Readers. Tennis is the love of Roger’s life. He says he’ll never leave it. We will see him play again, but on his own terms. Perhaps like me, you will be watching for those magical golden opportunities.

“The Cowboy and Queen Elizabeth”

Dear Readers, Horse Lovers, and/or Admirers of the late Queen Elizabeth II,

Here is a heartwarming story from the New York Times by Jenny Gross, dated September 12, 2022, that I thought might be as interesting to you as it was to me.

Mr. Monty Roberts, an eighty-seven-year-old legendary horse trainer from California, has special reasons to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II this week.

They shared a three-decades-long friendship.

In April of 1989, Queen Elizabeth invited Mr. Roberts to England’s Windsor Castle to discuss his intriguing method of training horses. There, she witnessed his gentle techniques in which the horse is taught to see the rider as a member of the herd, rather than as a master.

During that visit, Roberts demonstrated his techniques for the queen using twenty-three of the royal family’s horses. That started the long friendship that sometimes meant taking a phone call from the queen in the middle of the night! Thereafter, he visited England six to seven times each year to assist the queen.

Her Majesty encouraged Mr. Roberts to write a book about his method. He did, and The Man Who Listens to Horses became a NYT bestseller!

In 2011, the queen designated Roberts an honorary member of the Royal Victorian Order for his service to the royal family, the queen, and the racing establishment.

From his 100-acre horse ranch in Solvang, California, Roberts reflected this week on how horses brought the queen a sense of calm and escape. While riding horses, she could briefly become a horsewoman instead of a queen.

He will be one of 2,000 friends and dignitaries at her funeral on September 19.

So, get a clue, Readers. Could your passion make a great book that might benefit others? I hope you will be inspired to write as was Mr. Roberts. RIP, Queen Elizabeth.