A Tribute to Chris Mankowitz

The Arizona Daily Star wants close to $400 for a one day obituary about my sister Chris. Four hundred smackers! I would rather send a few kids to summer camp with the money, and I know Chris would agree. After all, we are our father’s daughters, and Walter knew how to squeeze a nickel.


After six months of hell and hope, Chris lost the fight with esophageal cancer on Monday, May 12. Reluctantly, Chris left us. She did not say good-bye to my husband Richard or to her nephew Greg, or to any of her friends. She slipped away and quietly began the inevitable journey. Chris was born in an Elizabeth, New Jersey maternity home to Walter and Mary Lulic. She earned her RN degree at Newark City Hospital in the days when hospitals ran 3-year nursing programs. She went on to Fairleigh Dickinson University for a BS degree. Chris enjoyed the challenge of critical care nursing and worked at Beth Israel Hospital in Newark for several years. She married at age 25 and with her husband moved to the Florida Keys. She had many fun years of fishing, snorkeling, tennis, golf, watercolor classes, and her beloved Doberman, Leba – whose name translated to “Leave Barry Alone.” When Chris had no choice but to divorce, she got in the Mercedes and drove straight to our home in Tucson. Chris worked in hotel hospitality and was a concierge at the Westin La Paloma until the Big-C attacked her esophagus. Ever generous, she donated her body to Research for Life. As a family, we give accolades of praise to Casa de la Luz for their in-home hospice care. A scholarship will be established in her name at the University of Arizona School of Nursing.  Farewell Chrissy dear, you are loved, missed, and forever remembered.

Chris in faux fur
Chris in faux fur

A Snowball’s Chance: High School Dropouts Tell Their Stories

If all self-published book authors were to stand in a line, our numbers might extend from Los Angeles to New York City, or at least to Jersey City. A few days ago, I saw my book in print for the first time. Happiness is seeing a book that went from an idea to pages of text bound between two covers. I opted to work with AlphaGraphics, a locally-owned, full-service print shop. The arrangement met my every need as a newcomer to self-publishing. The development phase is complete and an another challege begins.

Who will read A Snowball’s Chance? The stories will interest high school students at risk of dropping out, parents, teachers, adult education instructors, guidance and drug counselors, school administrators,  probation and correction officers, judges, and anyone willing to guide a student toward a bright future.

Please visit my Web site at   http://www.citygirlpress.com

To read a book review, please go to: http://tucsoncitizen.com/community/2013/05/17/a-snowballs-chance-high-school-dropouts-stories-book-review/     If the link does not connect, please do Copy and Paste.

They’re Back!

They’re Back!

In October when Tucson is still roasting, the white wing doves leave for Mexico. I celebrate their departure and prediction of cooler weather. I’m delighted to feed and enjoy the desert’s wild birds, the nice birds – cactus wrens, Gila woodpeckers, quail, sparrows, hummingbirds, pyrrhuloxias, finches, and mourning doves. Any bird except the white wing.

When the white wing returns in March, their arrival predicts higher temperatures. The bird is nature’s way of saying cool, quiet mornings and clean walls are over.  The males fornicate often and leave clueless females sitting on lamely constructed twig nests all through the heat of summer.

Why don’t I gather these beasty birds to my heart? Our acacia trees become dove tenaments and coo-coo-coo goes on all day long. Their coo-cooing begins at four in the morning, and I’m a light sleeper. In summer, I vacate the east bedroom and claim a west-facing room away from the trees. Those noisy birds put me out of my bedroom. That’s one.

The white wings perch on walls and fencing. With a flick of the tail, a knuckle-size dropping falls. Those nasty lumps dry cement-hard. I resist wasting water, but after a few months I power wash their droppings just to clean the place. That’s two.

White wings are greedy feeders with long beaks.  They aggressively chase off the small wild birds. That’s three, and that’s enough.

Last summer I called the Audubon office and asked how I could scram these pests from my trees and yard. Ms. Audubon chirped, “The white wings are migratory birds and federally protected. You cannot harm them. It’s against the law.”  Until then I had not considered killing them. Not a bad idea, but where to begin? Didn’t John James himself kill birds for his ornithology paintings? However, I needed to look elsewhere for a peace and quiet solution.

I did the next best thing, off to cyberspace. I bought a roll of one inch reflective Mylar from Peaceful Valley Farm. Birds, please say white wing doves too, do not like shiny, moving surfaces. Last summer Mylar streamers blew in the breeze from my fence rails. I painted pink, green, red, and black evil eyes on super-large foil discs and tied them to the tree branches. Acacias with earrings! The trees looked stylish and a boring landscape became zany.

It’s April and the white wings are back! I have work to do. Tie the Mylar streamers on the fencing and get those silvery evil eyes floating in the breeze.  Bye-bye, birdies!