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My first book, “The Alchemy of al-Razi: A Translation of the Book of Secrets,” compares the alchemy manual of the tenth-century Persian physician al-Razi to the operation of a modern chemical laboratory. This analysis of early alchemy is based on my master’s thesis and draws on my own career in clinical laboratory science.

Persepolis 1958

More than my years in the lab, however, this topic reflects a lifelong interest in science, history, and travel. My family moved from California to Iran when I was eight. Those four years in Iran awakened an enthusiasm for history and a love for a country full of warmth, humor, and hospitality. My father’s career and wanderlust gave us the opportunity to see many countries in Europe and Asia.

 

With a Bachelor of Science in Biology, I began a 25-year career as a clinical laboratory technologist. We didn’t spend years abroad as my family had, but Charles and I did have a six-month sojourn in Japan and we enjoyed camping all over the western United States with our growing family. 

 When the children started college I reviewed my languages while taking night classes toward a master’s degree in history at California State University, Fullerton. 

I retired in 2008 and began a six-year doctoral program in history at University of California, Irvine. Two years later I almost dropped out when Charles was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He insisted that I continue my studies. We were even able to travel during his years of remission, taking trips to China, Greece, and Alaska.

 When I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship for a year of research in Germany, Charles was able to stay there with me most of the time. He was at my side in 2014 when I was awarded a Ph.D. in European History. We celebrated our fiftieth anniversary in 2016. However, all too soon I was alone.

My second book, “You Can Only Go Forward: A Journey of Caregiving and Hope, Loss and Renewal,” was inspired by our seven years of coping with cancer and caregiving. Alone now and rebuilding my life, I cherish my home, garden, choral singing, and my rescue dog Ozzie. I travel frequently and love to share my home and the world with our children and grandchildren.

I’m currently working on the fourth chapter of a thematic memoir loosely based on my life and travels. The chapters so far are: Thank You for the Music, Fifty Years a Catholic, Unplanned Journeys, and California, Here I Come (not finished yet). Chapters still in the planning stage include: Tehran And Why It Matters, Falling in Love or Til There Was You, Parenting and Other Hobbies, and Age Is a Foreign Country.

Now of course I need a chapter on our coronavirus days. Haven’t thought of a title, but if any of you have read Betty MacDonald’s hilarious book The Egg and I (1945), you may recall that she followed it up with The Plague and I about her life in a sanatorium recovering from tuberculosis. She was one funny lady and I wish I could co-opt that title.

I haven’t decided whether to publish a book based on my doctoral dissertation, which was titled “Putting Down Roots: The Reception of New World Medicinal Plants in Early Modern Germany, 1492-1648.” Not only will I need a better title, but I’ll have to do some massive rewriting because, while the topic is fascinating, the dissertation itself is rather academic and stodgy. It just doesn’t tell the story the way I would like to have told it. Maybe one day . . .

 

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