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LETTERS FROM WAKE ROBIN FARM

In the Wake of the Disheartening Presidential Election

I have always loved this quote:

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”
¯ E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

Nowhere in my life has this sentiment had more application than to my dear friend, award-winning writer Theresa Nelson, who took the time from her mother's bedside to pass on this encouragement from E.B. White. Although written in an earlier dark time, the inspiration is welcome once again, and since I am at a loss myself and have no heart to even write the name of the President Elect, I will borrow and share these words, which are apparently making the rounds in the children's book world.

In 1973, E.B White wrote the following reply to a man asking White's opinion on what he perceived as the bleak future for the human race.

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

Sincerely,
E. B. White  Read More 
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Post-Election

Words fail me.
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Presidential Debate Day Rant

I don’t usually get into politics here, but on this day of the final presidential debate, I feel like speaking up. To maintain some connection with literature, here’s a nursery rhyme that, while reading to my grandson, reminded me of a certain despicable person:

Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry;
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.

I thought I had disliked politicians in the past, but the loathing I bear for Donald Trump makes what I felt for Richard Nixon, for example, seem, in retrospect, more like benign disapproval. (He did go to China, after all.)

This isn’t even about politics anymore. It’s about being a man. About being a decent human being. This crybaby’s not fit to be allowed on the same playground as the rest of us. He’s the very epitome of the kind of guy I would have nothing to do with in college. I would never date a frat rat, but likening Donald Trump to members of a fraternity is not fair to them, just as calling him childish is not fair to children, just as calling the appalling trash that comes out of his mouth “locker room talk” is not fair to athletes.

Seriously, he’s in a horrid little class by himself. And most people I associate with seem to agree on this. Unfortunately, it also seems fashionable to follow the expression of such sentiments with a pouty, “But I don’t like Hillary either.”

As if there’s any comparison!

So I want to state for the record that I like Hillary Clinton. I love that her classmates voted her the first student speaker at their commencement and predicted, in writing, she’d be the first female President of the United States.

And I identify with her. Just a year after she took an argumentative tone with Wellesley’s administration in that standing-ovation speech, I myself got into a verbal spat with John Howard, the President of Lewis & Clark College. A handful of top freshmen had been invited to an honorary dinner where we sat around a big round table with this guy. At some point I made the remark that for me, the high cost of tuition at this spendy private school (My parents could hardly scrape together that one year’s tuition, and were relieved when I elected to transfer to the more budget friendly U of O) would be something of a waste if I didn’t do something other than become a housewife. In this spring of 1970 I had no idea what that would be; I just knew I had a horror of 100% housewifery, thanks to having just read The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan. (Oh, good, another literature connection!)

President Howard asked how women expected to get along with their next door neighbors if they didn’t take classes in international relations, and another girl who’d also apparently earned stellar grades sniffed that she just couldn’t see any higher calling in life than marriage and motherhood. I cannot recall the rest of the exchange, but I’ll never forget President Howard’s closing argument:

“Frankly, I just couldn’t ever imagine being married to someone as unfeminine as you.”

Say WHAT? His personal assessment of me as wife material had WHAT to do with this debate?

Storming back to the dorm, I came upon the guy I’d recently been dating, sprawled on the lawn in his usual 501 jeans. In a huff, I dropped down to my side on the grass beside him and propped my cheek on my hand.

“So,” I said. “Do YOU think I’m unfeminine?”

My future husband clearly did not see any problems along these lines. The rest, as they say, is history.

I’m pretty sure its memories like this that make Trump’s comments push my outrage buttons. No, I was never groped (and THANK YOU, all of you who were and are now speaking up) but I’ve had to endure this nasty business of men trying to take us down by letting us know how unattractive they consider us smart girls. Like we’d even consider for one minute getting in bed with idiots like you, Donald!

So, yeah, I’ll be rooting for Hillary big time tonight. Trump’s over-the-top vocabulary of outrageous hyperbole is so limited, during the last debate I was thinking what a great drinking game it would be if we all did shots each time he used a certain word or phrase—disaster, tremendous, I’ll be honest about this. (Right—liar, liar, pants on fire.) Trouble is, select any one word and the whole country would be passed out drunk in the first five minutes.

I guess folks at the Wall Street Journal thought better of this idea too, and this morning ran a series of stress-relieving yoga poses we could all do instead.

Well, I already did my yoga first thing as usual, so, instead, I’ll be doing the handstitching on my grandson’s new quilt. The one I made him before he was born with Chinese children flying kites didn’t really do it for him, turns out. He wants John Deere tractors. This kid’s daddy was savvy enough at the age of ten to draw horns on a picture of Donald Trump and paste it in a scrapbook. Not yet three, our grandson has been spared the worst of Trump, obviously, and is simply relieved to be reassured this man lives all the way across the country from us.

He piped up a reference to Hillary Clinton yesterday as “that other grandmother.”

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The Return of an Old Friend Bearing Memories








The first good thing about going public with my story of inadvertent addiction to prescribed drugs in Accidental Addict was reconnecting with my childhood friend, Kathy Hendrix Burke. She’d moved to California after high school and we had all but lost touch until she read my website and contacted me.

We began a feverish catch-up correspondence, and it took no time at all to be reminded of why we’d hit it off so well in seventh grade. We still love all the same things! She sent a picture of herself dressed for a wedding, and her embroidered shawl was just like what I’d worn at my son’s wedding. Turns out we both both like the Johnny Was line of boho tunics and sweaters. She’s also into real estate and remodeling houses, favoring, as I do, craftsman style. We each consider choosing colors to be our strong point.

When she started writing about the dolls she’d outfitted with trunks of handsewn clothes and donated to charity, my husband was suspicious. “Are you sure this person isn’t stalking you? Have you written blog posts about all your doll projects?” No, I hadn’t. I agreed it was uncanny, but assured Herb my long-lost friend was for real.

Kathy and I agreed our fixation about dolls with trunks of clothes must have come from our mutual favorite childhood novel, A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, in which Sara Crewe’s wealthy father, returning to India, parks her in a stuffy school for girls with a doll and extravagant wardrobe as solace. I remember discussing with Kathy in high school how much fun it would be if our school would put on the theatrical version. Kathy generously allowed me the part of Sara in this fantasy since she wanted to be Sara’s loyal friend in poverty, the little cockney scullery maid, Becky. Of course neither of us dreamed I’d wind up with the last name Crew, and I must say here that I have always wished my husband’s family had that “e” on the end!

I wrote Kathy, though, that I had a vague memory of another book, a mystery, about a missing antique doll and trunk that had stayed lodged in my brain. I could still remember the descriptions of all the lovely miniature accessories which were reportedly in this trunk which the little girl longed to find somewhere on the family farm.

Kathy shot right back with an Esty listing. “Could this be it?” It was! The Wonderful Fashion Doll by Laura Bannon. Kathy remembered it too, as did a number of grown women posting wistfully on Amazon of the wish that this book be reprinted.

Well, nothing would do but for me to grab that rare copy so Kathy and I could share it and rediscover what had so captivated us when we were little. It was all there, the doll and trunk as I remembered it, but more, I was struck with the love of history and antiques the book conveyed. I would have first read it sitting in my parents brand new subdivision house with its boring sheetrock walls, and the scenes of pulling off seven layers of wallpaper to reveal stenciled walls beneath must have stuck with me since that’s what interests me now.

Of course, in the book, after chapters of suspense, false leads and disappointments, the little girl, Debby, ultimately finds the doll. Reporting on this book to my mother when I read it around the age of ten, she told me that her mother had been given a beautiful doll she named Lovey Mary (after a character in yet another book) and that the wardrobe sewn for the doll had won a prize in a contest and been displayed in a window in Meier & Frank in Portland where my grandmother grew up.

So where was Lovey Mary? Where were those beautiful clothes? Who knows? Not in my grandmother’s attic.

Thus one of my earliest lessons in an annoying truth: real life doesn't always live up to the books! My mother’s family weren’t savers, and she herself didn’t save one doll from her childhood. Probably why I’ve gone so far overboard in the other direction.

A few years ago, I tried to fix the longing to find Lovey Mary by researching what manufacture of doll she’d probably been and having as close a match as possible sent from a shop in New York City. I enjoyed the project, making several elegant dresses, for which my new Lovey Mary would of course need a trunk!

I hope I’ll find new excuses for more projects like this. Inside, you see, I’m still ten, with the thrilling hope of finding that long-lost doll lodged forever in my little girl heart.  Read More 
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Support From the Beyond

Two years before he died at the age of 83, my Uncle Bill distributed copies of a book called The Four Agreements among family members. Inside he pasted a typed note: I believe this book contains valuable truths clearly stated. My hope is that you will find it so. Wm. E. Welch 2001.

It struck me as a bit too new-agey for me at the time, and something that could have been summed up in a magazine article rather than stretched into even a short book. Still, it was sweet of my uncle, and the agreements, conveniently summed up on the fly leaf, made sense:

1) Be impeccable with your word
2) Don’t take anything personally
3) Don’t make assumptions
4) Always do your best

A few days ago I took it out to read again and, honestly, with that message inside, it felt like his steadying hand reaching from Beyond in comfort.

He was my father’s big brother, and I have a picture of the two of them on a fishing trip to Alaska which now hangs in our Kings Valley cabin. A few years after my father died at the too-young age of 73, I was cleaning and found the picture on a top shelf. I turned it over and in my father’s dashed-off but artistic hand was a documentation of the trip that concluded with this: Bill is a very neat guy who loves you just as I do—Dad

Wow. Who knew deep cleaning a house could be such an emotional experience?

My dad and my uncle were the two children of Fay Eleanor, the beloved grandmother known to us as Deedee. I last saw her on my wedding day in 1974. She died a month later, and my mother said the Portland relatives reported she’d left a To-Do list which had my name on it.

On one of the healing meditation CDs I’ve been listening to during my recovery from physician-prescribed drugs, Belleruth Naparstek encourages the imagining of an emotional support team of people who’ve loved you in the past, those who love you now, and those who will love you in the future. I always get a kick out of that, conjuring the people who don’t even know yet how they’re going to love the heck out of you!

Those who've been trying to keep loving me now might be a little worn out with all this, though, so I’m calling on my father, my uncle and my grandmother as three who loved me in the past, and each morning when I’m doing yoga and turn to a left side plank, I raise my right arm and find myself saluting the lovely portrait which I recently had framed—my beautiful grandmother as a young woman.

Check it out, Deedee, I think each time. I’m doing my best!  Read More 
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ACCIDENTAL ADDICT is available on Amazon

Please click here to view a two-and-a-half minute YouTube trailer for ACCIDENTAL ADDICT.
ADVANCED PRAISE FOR ACCIDENTAL ADDICT:

After telling in lucid prose how she become an Accidental Addict, Linda Crew provides a prescription that all of medicine should heed: “A doctor should never prescribe a drug without an understanding of what it takes to get off of that drug, and a willingness to help his patient accomplish this.” One hopes that everyone who prescribes benzodiazepines and opioid painkillers will read this compelling memoir.
Robert Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic

Crew’s inspiring triumph over addiction and withdrawal is a lifeline for anyone struggling to recover from prescription painkillers or anti-anxiety medications…. a brutal eye-opener for bystander friends, family, and doctors at a loss for clarity and compassion who, inadvertently, reopen the dark, black hole of desperation. This bold memoir is a riveting roller coaster of devastating defeat, tenacious courage, and exhilarating joy, gratitude, and hope.
Gretchen Olson, Call Me Hope

I hope this timely book gets widely read. Linda Crew’s experience has been shared by millions of Americans and many have lost their lives. The medical community has accidentally created an epidemic of addiction by overprescribing narcotics, and now everyone, including prescribers, needs to know how easily these drugs can destroy lives.
Andrew Kolodny, MD—Executive Director, Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing

Accidental Addict is an excruciatingly tender, necessary work, wonderfully written, so compelling, so honest. Incredibly personal and filled with love. The many, many people who don't even know this is happening to them will thank Linda Crew over and over.
Jane Kirkpatrick, Homestead

I found myself instantly drawn into her story, and her witty delivery kept me engaged. Definitely a wake-up call for all of us about the perils of painkiller and anti-anxiety medication use, and the way doctors have carelessly over-prescribed these drugs in the last few decades. A fascinating (and scary) read that won’t be easy to forget.
Margot Vance-Borland, LPC

Linda Crew clearly has a gift. Her memoir about the unrecognized epidemic of protracted withdrawal illnesses caused by benzodiazepines and other psychiatric drugs is written like a novel and, like a brilliant piece of fiction, gets under your skin…an important piece of literature that may help educate many.
Monica Cassani, author and editor of Beyond Meds, prize-winning web magazine

Linda Crew's Accidental Addict is a must read for all medical students across America, and physicians who treat pain will find this book very useful as they rethink the way they are prescribing narcotics....a superb book on an enormous medical issue of our time.
Mark Rampton, M.D., Family Physician at Corvallis Family Medicine

Addiction to prescribed medications, due to the actions of well-meaning medical professionals, has become alarmingly common across the country today. Linda Crew has written a compelling and bravely honest memoir of her struggle and recovery from the aftereffects of legally prescribed narcotic painkillers and benzodiazepines. Her voice is clear on their devastating impact, and her story is one that needs to be widely read and shared by both patients and providers.
Catherine Saeger, LICSW

If you believe that smart, strong, successful people who faithfully follow the rules, listen to their doctors, and have a solid and impressive support system of family and friends are not the “sorts of folks” who become addicted to prescription narcotics for post-surgical pain, then you’d best read Linda Crew’s Accidental Addict, a memoir that’s as harrowing, honest, and raw as it is timely. Crew writes with a ferocious energy, as though she’s determined to finish the book even as the walls of her own home are crashing down around her.
Rick Borsten, The Great Equalizer

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ACCIDENTAL ADDICT: a True Story of Pain and Healing....also Marriage, Real Estate, and Cowboy Dancing

I’m excited. I love crossing things off a To-Do list, and for almost four years now the only thing on it has been GET WELL. Now I’m crossing that off . FINALLY. I am so glad to be looking forward to a life that’s about more than struggling to recover from the nasty job opioid painkillers and the benzodiazepine Xanax did to my brain in conjunction with my total knee replacement surgery.

Maybe only someone who’s been through withdrawal from prescription drugs can fully understand what I mean by this, but that’s okay. I’m hoping my new book, ACCIDENTAL ADDICT, will help people understand what this long drawn out healing process entails. It's surely baffling to the loved ones of those in our situation.

More importantly, I hope people will read about my pharmaceutically-induced trainwreck and get the warning I never had. I like to picture somebody sitting in their doctor’s office being offered Xanax and going, “Are you kidding? You think I want to wind up like that woman in ACCIDENTAL ADDICT?”

ACCIDENTAL ADDICT: a True Story of Pain and Healing….also Marriage, Real Estate, and Cowboy Dancing. It’s gone to press—or however that should be put in the digital age—which is another huge item off my To-Do list!
To view a two-and-a-half minute YouTube book trailer,click here.

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The Death of Prince

When I heard Prince had been found dead, I right away thought: drugs. No, not necessarily a heroin overdose, but when people in ever greater numbers are dying too young–found dead—and there’s been no talk of going downhill from cancer, no car accident, well, the involvement of prescription drugs is certainly what springs immediately to my mind.

True, Prince’s autopsy report hasn’t yet been made public, but it wasn’t long before Percocet was mentioned, and today we get the story that Prince died just one day before a famous addiction specialist was scheduled to fly to his aid. This is revealed as a tragedy of timing, as if he missed being saved by just one day.

But it’s not that simple. When it comes to getting off narcotic painkillers, money’s little help. As I suffered through withdrawal coming off of Oxycodone after my knee replacement surgery, I’m sure a sympathetic doctor holding my hand and encouraging me would have been better than the help I got—which was basically nothing—but in the end, it’s all down to the addicted patient. The most famous, high-priced doctor around pointing out you have to stop taking the drugs will not spare you the horrors. Doctors don’t have a whole lot of tricks in their bags for helping people deal with this addiction—never mind that in so many cases the addiction began at the prescription pad of some fellow physician.

What they don’t talk about in most addiction stories is just how long a person has to feel perfectly horrid long after they’ve stopped “using.” Is this because so few people ever actually get off this stuff and have the story to tell? Even in tales of recovery, it seems to me the physical difficulties are downplayed. I wonder if it’s possible that addicts feel they’ll sound whiny if they talk about this. Maybe they think others wouldn’t be sympathetic because they are, after all, addicts?

Maybe that’s the way I felt before I went through this myself—as judgmental as the next person. Now I have nothing but the sincerest admiration for anybody who can get themselves off these brain-damaging drugs and stay off. Since I have nothing to feel guilty about, I have no problem speaking up and pointing out that withdrawal is truly hell, and our medical system better get its act together in a hurry to deal with restrictive new prescription protocols for opioids, and all the people who are soon going to be ushered off of their painkillers and into this horrid illness.

I’m hoping my upcoming memoir—Accidental Addict--will help shed light on all this. I’ve been receiving some wonderful pre-publication endorsements, including this one from Dr. Andrew Kolodny, Executive Director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing: "I hope this timely book gets widely read. Linda Crew’s experience has been shared by millions of Americans and many have lost their lives. The medical community has accidentally created an epidemic of addiction by overprescribing narcotics, and now everyone, including prescribers, needs to know how easily these drugs can destroy lives."

So sad about the loss of the talented and popular Prince, but for every famous person who dies this way, there are thousands who die without headlines, becoming only another statistic in the CDC’s alarming new reports of the rising rates of overdose deaths from prescription drugs.  Read More 
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Fond Memories

A year ago today it was like spring, and I decided to try acting like a well person. I took up my loppers and headed out to work in my trees. About a half hour later I tripped, fell, and broke my ankle. It’s amazing to me how long it’s been since I’ve given that fully healed ankle a second thought. If only brains healed so quickly and efficiently. But that’s a long story, a book, in fact (coming soon), and not what I want to write about here.

It’s just that this anniversary reminded me of some unfinished business derailed by my accident. The previous day last year I received, out of the blue, an email from Thy Chan, known now as Tony Te, with a picture of himself as a child at Wake Robin Farm. Through the magic of Facebook, the internet, and a helpful sister, he’d found my site. I loved this—him writing that he had such happy memories of playing at the farm while his parents helped during harvest. This was during the time when the stories of families like his were inspiring me to write CHILDREN OF THE RIVER.

Now he works for a wedding photography company in Southern California. He's also an events coordinator, in charge of the Cambodian New Years Parade in Long Beach, the biggest new year's celebration in Southern California.

Thank you, little Thy, all grown up into Tony Te, for coming back for a cyber visit!

I also recently heard from some middle school students in Nebraska who were reading Children of the River and wanted to know how things had turned out for my Cambodian character Sundara. Of course Sundara is fictional, so the best I can do is to report the "happy endings" of the good lives being lived here in the US by the Cambodian refugees we met back then. I'm glad to say that every follow-up story I've heard is a good one, and reinforces the idea that refugees from other countries have helped make America strong. As my husband likes to say, "Bring 'em on!"  Read More 
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Young Critic Raves Over Old Book!

My husband Herb’s grandmother was first cousins with Marie Hall Ets, winner of the Caldecott Medal for children’s picture books, and Herb remembers as a child being taken to visit her New York City apartment, where he was impressed by the pet mice she kept in cages as models for her charcoal drawings.

Over the years he has searched out copies of her various books from antiquarian book sites, but recently, as it became time to introduce the star pupil of the Wake Robin Farm Daycare and Academy for Exceptional Grandchildren to her works, he realized he was missing his own childhood favorite, In the Forest.

When the precious copy arrived from a couple of nice-sounding ladies in upstate New York doing business as Book Rescue LLC and also Happy Dog Farm, Inc., (surely a story in itself) we couldn’t wait to see what our resident 23-month-old critic would have to say about it.

Five stars!

“Read again! Again! Start over.” One particular page fascinates him. “Go to the gooder page.” Something about the boy in the story trying to ascertain if one of the animals—a stork—was “real” seems to intrigue him. Maybe it’s all the discussion around here about the difference between the logo deer on the John Deere tractor and the “real deer” that come up out of the forest to graze in the yard. As we read it over and over and discussed everything, he finally looked at us solemnly and said, “We talking all about this.”

I love that Marie Hall Ets wrote and illustrated this book seventy-five years ago and today, despite the musty smell of the pages, her story is as alive and fresh as the day she finished her charcoal drawings and decided she had the words down just right. Wish she could see how beautifully and mysteriously her work still speaks to this child.

You have to hand it to the people who write, illustrate, edit and publish children’s books when they manage to nail it like this. The Caldecott Medal means nothing to this little guy, but he knows what he likes, and the people on the committee that year--all long gone, I'm sure--knew exactly knew what they were doing.














































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