I was delighted when Ellin offered to write some pieces for Serendipity. Good friend, passionate animal advocate, gourmet cook … a women who has done a lot of living and has made the best lemonade out of life’s lemons.


by Ellin Curley

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of time travel. I’m particularly fond of the fantasy of going back in time, knowing what you know now, and changing some pivotal moment in your past. I used to wish fervently for this fantasy to become a reality so I could undo some of my Top 10 “mistakes” and bad judgement calls. Many of those involved my first husband – like deciding to marry him and deciding — multiple times — to stay with him when reason told me I should leave.


I’m a logical person. The problem with this fantasy is I would have to accept the drastic changes in my personal time line which would inevitably flow from new and improved life choices.

The biggest and most obvious change is obvious: if I didn’t marry my ex, I wouldn’t have my children. I can’t imagine life without them, so, scratch that option.

If I leave him after I have my kids, life still changes so dramatically the odds of my ever meeting my current husband are virtually nil. I’m not prepared to give him up. He’s the best piece of luck I ever had, the best decision I ever made.

What this adds up to? I seem to have reached a point in my life I never thought I would achieve: at peace. Knowing all the crap I went through led me to where I am now. Made me into who I am.

My husband and I often talk about how, without the angst in our past, we wouldn’t have appreciated each other when we did meet. We’re pretty sure we wouldn’t have gotten along nearly as well without having had to pass through the sturm-und-drang of our first marriages.

It turns out I don’t really wish my past would go away. Not anymore. I wouldn’t have minded it being a bit easier, leaving fewer scars. Even so, I’m content with where I am and who I’ve become. Whatever the price I paid, it was worth it.

STEPHEN KING – 11/22/63


If you haven’t read this amazing novel yet, it is as good now as it was when it was when first published four years ago. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the central event of the novel, so it seemed a good time to remind everyone about a really great book, one of the best in my reading life.

This book was so good that it took my breath away. I’m not a Stephen King fan, yet several of his books and stories are among my favorites works of American Literature. The problem isn’t with his writing, which goes from good to amazing, but his genre (horror, usually) which ranks low on my list of what I like to read.

11-22-63 king

This is not horror. Small sections of the book touch on it, but only tangentially without ever diving in. In fact, this is as pure an example of the science fiction time travel genre as I’ve ever read. And I’ve read pretty much every book in the genre. To say I’m a time travel junkie would not overstate it.

King does the genre proud. Beyond that, this book is beautifully written. My husband, who is rather an anti-King fan (except for anything he ever wrote about the Red Sox or baseball) was dubious when I handed him the book and said “Read it. You’ll love it, I promise!” He read it. He couldn’t put it down. He read portions of it out loud because he felt they were so lyrically beautiful that it was heart-wrenching.

Whether or not you like Stephen King’s usual fare, if you are a reader of science fiction and/or time travel, you owe yourself a trip through this wonderful book. Like many authors, King avoids dealing with the technology of time travel and uses the tried-and-true “hole in the time-space continuum” ploy to move his characters to a particular time and place. The path is more circuitous that some other epics of this type I’ve read, but so well done that I savored the entire journey.

Most readers seem to agree that this is the best book King has written in many years, perhaps the best since “The Stand” and in my opinion, even better, but I’ll concede on this if you want to argue since “best” is relative and subjective. Regardless, read it. You won’t be disappointed.

This is Stephen King at the top of his game, writing with emotion, poetry, depth, and beauty. And finally, without taking any cheap and easy ways out of the complexities he creates by the very nature of time travel. Thank you Mr. King.This is a gift that keeps giving.

The audiobook recording is also wonderful. Print or narrated, this is a winner. I recommend both. Sequentially.


The Far Arena by Richard Ben Sapir


I recently bought a used copy of this long out-of-print book. I first read it when it was released in 1978. I was working at Doubleday and it fell to me to do the write-up for it in the monthly publication that was sent to book club members.

A large part of my job was reading books. Talk about great jobs, that was the best. I’m not sure I ever fully recovered from my Doubleday years. Not merely was I paid to read and write about books, but I received (as did all the editors and graphic artists in the department) new copies of every book we worked on. We all had huge personal libraries. We also had 2 hour lunches and wonderful co-workers. I looked forward to work the way most folks anticipate the weekend. It was that good. I realize this is a digression, but I wanted to put this in context. Maybe brag a little.

The Far Arena is classified as science fiction. It is, but not in the traditional sense. It doesn’t fall into any genre except perhaps speculative fiction, a catch-all term for odd books. Time travel? Sort of. But without the machinery.

gladiators2The story in brief: A Roman gladiator is flash frozen in the arctic ice. He is accidentally discovered by a team drilling for oil and subsequently defrosted and brought back to life. What follows is his story as a Roman married to a Hebrew slave, and his perceptions of the modern world from the point of view of a man whose world disappeared 1600 years ago. His observations on modern society are priceless.

For example, while in the hospital, he asks about the slaves who serve him. He is referring to the to nurses and other workers who attend to his needs. His new friends explain that they aren’t slaves, that they work for wages and are free to leave, or be dismissed by their employers. He thinks this is a fantastic idea.

“You mean they do everything you tell them to do, but when they get old and can no longer work, you don’t have to take care of them? What a great idea! Slaves without responsibility.”

“They aren’t slaves,” insist his modern friends.

“They are treated like slaves, they act like slaves. They are slaves,” he responds. Who would argue the point? Not me.

That is paraphrasing, of course, but it’s the spirit of the dialogue. I have never looked at the world quite the same way since I read this book. Modern workers have all the freedom of slaves, but no assurance that anyone will care for them when they are no longer able to work. That’s a pretty good deal from the owners’ … I mean employers’ … point-of-view.

This is a brilliant, unique book. It stands apart from all the books I’ve read over the years. All other time travel stories are about modern people visiting the past. This is the only book I can think of where a man from the past offers a view of the modern world and it’s not pretty.

Richard Ben Sapir wrote other books that are unusual and worth reading. I especially liked The Body. But The Far Arena stands head and shoulders above the rest. Ben Sapir only wrote a few novels. His world was really comic books, or what are now called “graphic novels.” Finding copies of Ben Sapir’s books is challenging. If you can buy or borrow one, it’s a must-read, even if science fiction is not normally your favorite genre. It’s a worth your time.

It would make a great movie. I can see it all in my mind’s eye. Read it if you can.

Did I mention that it’s exceptionally well written? Highly literate? Well-researched? Convincing? All those things and a gripping story too.

Happy hunting and with a bit of luck, happy reading!


I don’t have a bucket list. Until I saw the movie of the same name, the concept had never occurred to me. The things I have wanted to do — which were doable — I’ve done.

Then, there are the Other Things. My hidden agenda. My secret list. The things I terribly want to do but somehow think are unlikely given the current state of reality.


The Mother Ship — from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” 1977. Photo: Mary Evans – Columbia Pictures/EMI / Ronald Grant/Everett Collection (10307178)


Since I first read a science fiction story, saw “Forbidden Planet” and “The Red Planet Mars,” I’ve been waiting for the big ship to come and take me away. I have slightly modified this so that they will come and take both of us away. To wherever they went in “Cocoon.” Where we get to be young again. Leave the mortgage, the bills, the problems behind. But we bring the dogs so they can be young again, too.


Somewhere out there in the dark of night, there is an ancient vampire. So old, he is nearly made of stone. He remembers Egypt, perhaps even ages before that. He will offer me eternity in exchange for living in eternal night. Will I accept? I’ve only gotten as far as the offer. I have yet to determine my answer … but I’m thinking about it.


Because magic is real and I can do it. I just never realized it until one day, in the kitchen, while mixing up a batch of my internationally renowned chili, I accidentally conjured a spell of enormous, overwhelming power. No longer a sickly senior citizen on a fixed income, I could rule nations. At the very least, I can probably make enough money to pay the bills and have something left over. Money or not, magic would be the greatest adventure of all, would it not?



There it is, the time tunnel. It has been there the whole time and I never knew it. That’s the problem with having such a heavy bed. I can’t move it aside, so I didn’t see the wormhole. It’s a good one that will let me travel to other dimensions or any-when. Talk about adventure!

I promise not to try to change anything. I just want to go hang out in the past and watch. I’m sure Garry would be happy to join me. Does anyone have a couple of Babblefish they can spare?

While I’m waiting for these things to happen, I’m still hoping someone will invent a workable transporter. Because however unlikely it may be, nothing is entirely impossible.



“So,” says Uncle Shmuel, who having appeared out of nowhere, now miraculously speaks vernacular American English — albeit with a heavy Yiddish accent, “Nice place you got here. I see you keep your animals in your house. That one there sounds like a pig but looks like a dog.”

“They are our pets, Uncle Shmuel. The oinker is Nan. She just makes that sound. She’s kind of old. I think that’s the dog equivalent of ‘oy’.”

“Pets, shmets. Animals. In the house. What’s next? Toilets? Never mind, your life, your choice. Oy.”

“Can I give you something to eat? Tea? Coffee? Cake? If we don’t have it, I can go out and buy some.”

“Are you Kosher?”

“Uh, no. Not Kosher,” and I shiver, remembering the bacon that has passed through our kitchen. “Oh, wait, here’s my husband. Uncle Shmuel, I’d like you to meet my husband Garry.”

Shmuel looks shrewdly at Garry, then at me. “He doesn’t look Jewish.”

Garry’s eyes twinkle. “But really I am,” he says and deftly pulls a yarmulke out of his pocket. It say “Joel’s Bar Mitzvah” across the back in big white letters. Fortunately, Shmuel doesn’t notice.

“So,” Shmuel continues after a pregnant pause, “You have problems with the Cossacks?”

“No Cossacks, but lots of politicians,” I reply.

“Cossacks, politicians, there’s a difference?”

“Not so much,” I admit.

“And for a living you do what?”

“We’re retired. But before that, I was a writer. Garry was a reporter. On television.”

“What’s a television?”

I look at Shmuel, realize we are about to embark on an extended conversation, so all I say is: “Oy vay is mir!” Which seems to sum it up.

Oy vay. Can someone set the table?



What did you or did not like about the first apartment you ever rented?

We could afford it, which at the time, was not a “given.” It was walking distance to the university. Good for me because I didn’t drive yet.


Good for the husband because he needed the exercise. It was a corner apartment, so it had excellent cross ventilation. Finally, it was at the end of the corridor, so it was quieter than apartments nearer the elevator.

On the negative side, it had no sound-proofing, so we could hear our upstairs neighbor snoring as if he were in the room with us.

What kind of art is your favorite? Why?

I can’t answer that. I love books, movies, paintings. Sculpture.


And, of course, photography.


I like old stuff, new stuff, and in between stuff. My taste defines eclectic.

How many siblings do you have? What’s your birth order?

I’m the middle kid. My brother was 4 years older than me and my sister is five years younger.


1952. My sister wasn’t born yet.

My brother died 7 years ago of pancreatic cancer. My sister disappeared into the world of drugs decades before.

TimeTravelComplete this sentence:  I’m dreaming of a white …. (and no you can’t use Christmas as your answer) …

I’m dreaming of a giant white space ship which is on its way to take us to a better world.

Or maybe a strange white swirling light which is a wormhole into a time tunnel and I can go traveling to whenever I want to go. Woo hoo!



Time travel, the ultimate addiction. The day I realized the big window in my bedroom was a wormhole, I started day tripping all ever. It started out a day like any other. Coffee. Making sure the dogs had biscuits. Wash those few dishes in the sink. Clean out the drying rack. Look at the sky, wonder if it’s going to clear. Wondering why it matters so much anyhow. It’s just another day, right?

Note: Sorry WordPress, don’t need your single-use, one way machine. I’ve got my own, personal vortex so maybe when you get your technical act together we’ll go traveling, okay? Meanwhile, I’ll stick with my own.

Then there’s the whirling twirling thing in the blinds. A vortex! While I’m standing there, staring and trying to figure out how to get to it, wondering how come they don’t appear at a more convenient location … like at floor level. I’m supposed to leap over my dresser? I’m 67 and arthritic. And — I need a clue how to designate when and where I want to go and return. Because I do want to return!

It turns out (surprise!) the vortex knows. Focus your mind on when, where and how long you want to be wherever. The vortex takes care of the rest, like an exceptionally good travel agent, but much cheaper. The danger is going through the vortex with your brain muddled. You can wind up some strange places … not places a tourist wants to be.

Garry caught this picture of me on my way home from traveling to a favorite spot in Arthurian England. Good catch Gar!

Garry caught this picture of me on my way home from traveling to a favorite spot in Arthurian England. Good catch Gar!

Also, you don’t have to jump or climb into the vortex. Just stand as close as you can and reach into it mentally. Cool beans, right? Like, wow, what a trip. Whatever was the best hallucinogenic drug you ever took? This is better. This is what we were looking for.

If you are one of the lucky ones who’ve had a vortex appear for you, I’d like to offer you some practical advice:

  • Don’t drink, smoke dope, or take other mind-bending substances before you travel elsewhen.
  • Avoid the 14th century. It’s too depressing. Also, you need vaccinations for defunct diseases making it difficult to explain to your doctor.
  • If you have a cool doctor, let him or her in on the secret. Some can be bribed with an excursion of their own. And it’s a good bet you’ll eventually need medical support.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Layer. Sometimes the seasons aren’t predictable. A small carry-on piece of luggage in a natural fiber such as canvas makes a good investment.
  • Take your camera. Take extra memory chips and backup batteries. You aren’t going to be recharging anything.
  • Leave the cell phone home. A ringing cell at the wrong moment can produce unexpected — and unpleasant — results.
  • Tell your mate what’s going on. Nothing upsets a relationship more than your appearing out of nowhere. Why not take your other half along for a couple of rides? Maybe he or she will love it too!
  • Try to land on or near the ground in an open area. Arriving mid-air or inside a wall produces bad trips. Sometimes death. Be clear in your mind so the vortex can read you. Wherever you are going, do a little research. Google Earth and history books can be very helpful in giving you good visualization capabilities.
  • Try not to lose yourself in time. If you overdo it, you can forget who you are supposed to be, who your children are, your friends, family. Everything. Maybe that’s not so bad for some, but most of us want to go home eventually.
  • Don’t tell everything to everybody. You want to keep the press out of it. Far out of it.
  • The future is scarier than the past. Spend time in known history before you venture forward. You’ll be glad you did.

This is the most fun you’ll ever have. Take lots of notes, pictures and have a blast. Talk to people Don’t worry about language barriers. The vortex won’t send you anywhere without the appropriate language skills in your brain. You won’t remember them when you get home, but they will always be there when you need them.

Vortexes don’t last forever. Make the most of your opportunity while it’s available. Enjoy your travels, my friends. Welcome to TIMING OUT of life! It’s the best ride you’ll ever take.