Thursday, May 20, 2021

Glorious Song of Brood X Cicadas as we Emerge from Lockdown


Every seventeen years billions of Brood X (10) cicadas emerge to procreate along the Mid Atlantic. This evening, as I was driving home with the top down on my convertible up Route 522 outside Winchester, Virginia I suddenly noticed the delightful choir of cicadas seeking mates. In areas where these amazing insects emerge, their song can be deafening, often exceeding 100 decibels. 

As I roared up to our ridge, the sounds of the cicadas made me feel joyful with the awareness that despite our 14 months of lockdown, the cycle of life continues. Nature prevails yet again and shows us the natural wonders of our world. I first noticed a bit of a roar this afternoon while sitting at my desk with the windows open. I truly thought my essential oils diffuser was making an unusual racket. The sound seemed at a distance. The cicadas have just begun to emerge on our ridge. It is amazing that occasionally I feel as if I can hear an individual song. Could it be? 

This is my second experience with Brood X, which last emerged to sing in 2004. I recall then driving along the Baltimore Washington Parkway, the trees dark with cicadas, the thunderous sounds filling the air, my psyche filled with amazement that bugs could make so much noise! My life was so different then. 

The thought of these  prehistoric insects connecting us with the past, helping us to celebrate life in the present, and reminding us of the continuum of nature through time, is magical.I’m sitting on my deck with a glass of  sparkling Alsace rose celebrating the delights of all our earth has to offer. I wish more people would stop and listen to the cicadas and forget about politics and dissent for just a while.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Emerging From The Idiocy of COVID Lockdown


If nothing else, the Centers for Disease Control and the political establishment showed "we the people" that "science" is flexible depending on the agenda and that all COVID restrictions have been political. How many small businesses collapsed because of government interference! How many independent restaurants closed! This issue is close to home because my yoga studio and Pilates studio were unable to survive the forced closures followed by limited re-openings with social distancing. Really, if 80% of stopping the spread of a virus - including flu and COVID - involves hand-washing. Add a mask and common sense and every small business could have safely stayed open and thriving. Instead, the hopes and dreams of many main street Americans, including immigrants, fell victim to the politicization of the virus.

And what of the millions of school children and college students that lost an entire year of in -person teaching, socialization, engagement, sports, extra curricular activities, and growth? Some of the most at risk children will never regain what was lost! Hopefully, the American public will remember the teachers' unions that abandoned their students while lobbying for additional benefits and public support.

The hypocrisy and hubris of the media, political class, unions, educators, social activists, do-gooders, talking heads, protesters, apologists, and state courts has been mind numbing. Schools were closed, but cigarette factories were deemed essential businesses. Liquor stores stayed open, but restaurants had to close. Wineries could not have tastings, but fast food joints stayed open. Hair and nail salons closed, but convenience stores stayed open, 

States and businesses used COVID as an excuse to automate and replace humans with machines. Do you think the toll operators will ever rehire people to sit at a toll booth? Think fast food restaurants will ever replace the ordering kiosks with order takers /cashiers? Especially if such businesses are required to pay $15 per hour!

So, "celebrities" argue that the brilliant capitalist pharmaceutical companies and scientists that created several effective vaccines in less than a year to combat the virus should share their research with the world! I don't see those hypocrites donating millions of their own dollars to support research and development! There is a reason nobody watches these self -obsessed, self congratulatory, under educated morons self congratulate any longer. 

If nothing else, COVID has taught many of us the value of our families, immediate circle of friends, letting go of social media, turning off the partisan news, the beauty of home, the gloriousness of the family unit, and the celebration of the truly essential workers: truck drivers, grocery store workers, meat packers, farmers, bus drivers, train engineers, nurses, doctors, janitors, retail workers, butchers, factory workers, EMTs, tutors, vintners, and Amazon! Sorry, folks, Jeff Bezos deserves his billions!

Now, I've been vaccinated. I had my hair sheared short. One of the cats died. The truck died. We bought a 1946 Hudson convertible.  We celebrated our15th wedding anniversary and my dad's 89th birthday. I've decided I'm okay with facing the final years of my career without opportunity. I bought a Pilates reformer to practice at home, a new iPhone and new iPad. I've started planning for retirement- thinking about moving to a place that tends to reject extremism. I've unfriended on social media those that want to argue with everything I say. 

I'm looking for peace and contentment. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Contemplating Retirement

Looking to retire in four more years! 

I’ve been in the business of casualty insurance claims since June 1980 with a 4.5 year sabbatical from 1988 through 1993. Overall, the business has been fascinating since my specialties involve complex coverage and catastrophic injury claims. For the most part, I have been privileged to work for ethical companies that believe in acting fair and equitable in every respect. I could not be anything other than that.

But, the industry has swung back to focusing on bean counters. The focus on cost containment causes me internal conflict. I’m struggling with this. I’ve not ever been asked to compromise my ethics; and that I could not do under any circumstances. But, I’ve always believed it is my duty to look for ways to provide the client with the benefit of the doubt instead of looking at scenarios with a less generous view. It isn’t wrong.But, we are now expected to adhere to metrics that are not always flexible,

This change in philosophy has caused colleagues to retire early, look for opportunities in different industries or just quit. I find it sad. The insurance industry is wrongly misjudged to a great extent thanks to  lawyers that exploit people who have suffered a loss. Regrettably, the contraction of the workforce peopled with honorable folks that believe in doing the right thing compromises the reputation of our industry even more. Just an FYI...insurers do not try to take advantage of folks. Most make every effort to act in good faith & fair dealing. It is just who we are. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Fatigued by News, Politics, Hollywood


We’ve now reached that mind numbing achievement of a year of COVID quarantine. Seriously, one year ago my brother and I were laughingly singing the song “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine” as we celebrated our father’s 88th birthday. Who would have considered that the “flattening the curve” exercise would have resulted in such abrogation of civil rights for a year! 

I believe in the freedoms afforded by the US Constitution. I also believe that as moral citizens we have a duty to do the right thing. But, I have zero trust in the media, less than zero trust in federal government, and only nominal faith that any business entity cares one iota over anything but the return on investment. 

So, here we are, a year later. Donald Trump has been replaced by a stooge for progressives; Washington remains a swamp. Ridiculous bills are passing Congress that will cripple the next generation with debt. Artificial Intelligence will replace humans if Congress forces a $15 per hour wage nationwide ( really. ..The economy in New York, LA or Chicago is not the same as in Jackson, MS). 

Oil prices are increasing. Taxes are being raised. People with assets are fleeing NY, CA, CT, IL, NJ. Biden is a lightweight who only won because he was the least offensive. Baby boomers will keep working because of the stock market; as such, younger people will not be promoted. The WOKE left has ensured that anybody with a grievance can claim discrimination. This is resulting in segregation that we’ve tried to erase. 

I am bereft. Those of my generation wanted to see a society that thrived without any consideration of race, creed, national origin, physical challenges, sex, religion, or whatever! But that seems to have exacerbated the arguments of what is required to achieve equality.

Why? I don’t get it! I was raised to accept people as they are. I am not an anomaly in our world. Politicians seek to separate us instead of uniting us. If you live in the USA, you have a voice! You have agency! You have the right to protest. Consider this...65 years ago my  dad and his friends were fired as elementary school teachers in Indiana because they went out for cocktails in a neighboring county!!! They drank alcohol!!! In public!!! 

Folks! Chill! 

Friday, March 12, 2021

It Is National Women's History Month - Remembering My Remarkable Aunt Mary

Last night as I lay awake at 3:00am thinking about work, I decided to refocus my brain to consider some of the indomitable women throughout history that should be remembered during National Women's History Month.  While there are certainly many fascinating women that have overcome obstacles to achieve great things, I always return to the amazing women who raised my father and his siblings after their mother died in 1936, my Great Aunt Mary. Dad was just four years old. His sister was two. They lived on a farm in Posey County, Indiana. "The Farm" as we called it growing up, was in the 1930s a place without indoor plumbing, electricity, gas powered farm equipment, or any of the amenities we take for granted today. The farmers worked from sun up to sun down. Ploughing was done with a mule. Meat was smoked in the smoke house and hung up until needed in the cold of winter. Baths once per week with shared water - starting with Grandpa and passed down according to age.

Aunt Mary lived on the farm, raised the children, cooked for the farm workers, kept the place running and in her spare time hemmed towels for pennies to pay for the education of 3 young women. What made this so absolutely remarkable is the fact that Aunt Mary was completely blind from her mid teens. 

Despite her lack of sight, she was a formidable presence with a keen mind, a sixth sense, a fierce independence and was one of the most well read individuals I've had the good fortune to know.

She liberated herself from The Farm at the age of 50. She essentially ran away from home and started her independent life at a time when there was no safety net for those with disabilities. She had accomplices that drive her to the bus station where she caught a bus to the big city of Evansville. While I don't have all of the nitty gritty details, I do know that she got a job as a receptionist, taught other blind persons how to live independently, lived alone, was a fabulous cook, went to the local philharmonic regularly, had friends that took her to church and the grocery store, and read voraciously with Braille books and books on tape. At the time there were books available on reel to reel tape. She was a good conversationalist. She stayed independent almost until the end when she was 85. She never complained about her lot in life. 

When I think of my Aunt Mary, I feel truly blessed that I had such a remarkable woman as a role model.  Because I had the privilege to see how people can thrive if given the opportunity, even if they face obstacles and what seem like overwhelming challenges, it truly offends me when those living with so much in our modern society complain and demand to be supported by the tax payers. One must wonder how any of these young "socialists" would survive in the world inhabited by Aunt Mary, my grandparents, and my dad. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Book Review ~ Another Kind of Eden by James Lee Burke

 Another Kind of Eden is the first book I’ve read by the incomparable James Lee Burke that does not feature my favorite anti-hero, Dave Robicheaux.  This book to a significant degree reminded me of my first Robicheaux novel, In The Electric Mist With Confederate Dead in 1993. Since that time I’ve read every installment of the Robicheaux chronicles. The protagonist in Another Kind of Eden, Aaron Holland Broussard, is a similar in that he experiences nightmares and struggles from wartime horrors. For Broussard, it is Korea. Despite the psychological demons, Broussard, like Robicheaux, defends those who cannot defend themselves and seeks to rid the world of evildoers that he encounters. James Lee Burke writes lyrically with a poetic beauty that belies the cruelty of his less than honorable characters, which all feel three dimensional. None of the characters in Another Kind of Eden are cardboard cutouts. The elements of  mysticism feel right in the novel. It is abundantly evident that JLB, at the age of 84, continues to write at the top of his game. I remain grateful that this author has consistently fed my appetite for great fiction for 27 years. A huge thanks to Netgalley and publisher Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read an advance copy of Another Kind of Eden in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Keep an open mind & open heart/ you can find love over 40

 My husband Todd & I celebrated the 16th anniversary of the day we met recently. We do not recognize Valentines Day, which I believe is a Hallmark holiday created to cause otherwise normal people to spend ridiculous amounts on roses, Belgian chocolate and prize fixe dinners that are marketed as “special” events at an inflated price. Instead we celebrate a life event that makes our hearts sing, causes us to reflect on our good fortune, and allows us to secure reservations at dining establishments we love without the special event rigmarole that feels forced. 

 We met online through Yahoo Personals without expecting anything more than another one date wonder. Todd pointed out that meeting a life partner is a numbers game. That is so true. I was prepared to be underwhelmed. But, we connected. We’d both had prior marriages and long term relationships that just didn’t work. We were both in our mid forties and determined to avoid the bull feathers of typical dating. We shared the good, the bad & the ugly up front. I said I was too evolved to deal with drama or bullshit. That resonated. He told me not to try to change him. I replied that I’d tried that once and despised my creation. So, we decided to give love another try. And we are still on. 16 year honeymoon.

I write this entry to encourage everyone to keep an open mind and an open heart. If you want to find a life companion or life partner, it is possible. Send the positive energy out to the Universe. Truly think of the characteristics that are important to you. Send that message to the heaven. Ask for what you want. Visualize it. It worked for me. It can work for you.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Fatigued By COVID Nanny State Mandates

 Yesterday morning after we dropped one of the cars off for servicing at the Honda dealership, Todd and I ventured about 45 miles east to meet friends for brunch in Leesburg. It was farthest I’d been from home in two months except for a trip to the dentist. I hadn’t been in a Wegmans since July! I love Wegmans. I enjoy eating in restaurants. I want independent dining establishments to thrive. I want small businesses to recover. I want to sit at the bar and eat. 

When we got back to Winchester, I dropped Todd off to retrieve the car and went about running a few errands. Then I gave up and bust drove home. Going out isn’t fun anymore. I HATE wearing a mask indoors. It complicates breathing. It is uncomfortable. I have “mask-n矇e” around my chin, mouth and nose. I am fatigued by federal and state governments imposing inconsistent restriction on businesses and people.

I would rather see every restaurant and small business open to full capacity with business owners setting their own guidelines and ‘the people’ deciding whether to patronize an establishment while consider the risk/ benefit analysis. Funny how the mandates are imposed by government officials who still get a paycheck and flout their own rules while crippling America. I fail to see how it is any greater risk to visit a boutique than shop at Walmart, Target, Costco or the ABC store. Why is there less risk going to CVS, the grocery store or protesting during a BLM March than my sitting at a local bar, practicing yoga in a studio or going to church? 

The media hacks somberly reporting deaths and encouraging the perpetuation of lockdowns continue to get paid while supporting teachers unions that pay teachers to stay at home while parents have to give up jobs to look after kids that could and should be in school. Students may never recover what they’ve lost over the last 10 1/2 months. 

The liberal political class has enjoyed playing dictators/ tyrants/ oligarchs/  etc. at the expense of the taxpayers they are sworn to serve. It is time to re- open the economy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Hypocrisy Of Biden’s Call For Unity

 The inaugural address by President Biden in which he called for “Unity” is akin to Communist China alleging to support the “One Country, Two Systems” deal negotiated by the British when the abandoned Hong Kong to China in July 1, 1997. HOGWASH! 

Merriam Webster defines “unity” in part as “a condition of harmony” or “ the quality or state of being made one”. Forgive me if I guffaw. Biden and the democrats are acting as if the have a mandate via winning by a landslide. LBJ won in a landslide Barry Goldwater in 1964. Nixon won his second term over McGovern by a landslide in 1972. Reagan won in landslides over Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Walter  Mondale in 1984. There hasn’t been a landslide in a presidential election since 1984  when America became again a proud nation. Biden won only because he was not Donald Trump. People who voted for him hope he lives long enough to serve his four years as a placeholder until both parties can find an acceptable, moderate candidate under 70 who is not a socialist. Despite the popularity of “the squad” in socialist enclaves, most of America finds their views offensive. 

If Biden truly believes his own rhetoric ( if he has any clue what he said) he would follow the precedent of Gerald Ford and refuse to continue the charade of a second impeachment for the good of the country. He would stop reversing the positive executive orders made by Donald Trump. He would state categorically that he opposes removal of the filibuster, packing the Supreme Court, allowing open borders, sanctuary cities for illegals, confiscating the firearms of law abiding citizens, and forcing Americans to pay for the dumb ass loans taken out by college students. Sorry, not my problem! 

Instead, President Biden will support the anti American ideology of Citizen Pelosi’s, Chairman Schumer, Herr Schiff, and Comrade AOC to foster even more divisiveness. 

Trump did not lose because of his policies. He lost because he is a brash, unfiltered, self absorbed narcissist. Biden probably can’t spell unity. 

Come on man, 不不不不不不不不不

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Wondering if Anybody Supporting Today's Cancel Culture Has Met a Survivor of Re-Education Camps

It is time for reasonable, moderate, centrist thinking Americans to take back control of the political narrative and our government. Democrats and Conservatives share responsibility for the current toxic state of affairs. While Democrats may exhibit glee at taking both houses of Congress and the presidency, they should use discretion in pursuing a leftist agenda. There was no mandate. The country is divided nearly 50/50. More Americans voted against a candidate rather than for a candidate over the last two presidential elections. 

The rhetoric spouting from the mouths of Progressives, ANTIFA, and supporters of socialism in America is eerily reminiscent of Communist Party officials in China, the Soviet Union, North Korea and Vietnam during the Cold War when middle class, educated professors, doctors, writers and opposition politicians, as well as religious "bourgeoisie" who did not accept politically correct doctrine were sent to "re-education camps" to serve as slave labor for the "people". The government then confiscated the personal property of those sent to be indoctrinated in politically correct ideology - purportedly to redistribute to those more worthy such as Communist Party members and peasants. When Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Chuck Schumer and AOC acolytes suggest targeting Conservatives for their political ideology, Americans should be concerned. 

Unlike most Americans living in the 21st Century, during my five years living in Asia I  met several people who survived re-education camps and/or the confiscation of property and/or the loss of a profession because of political connections, the accident of birth, religious affiliation or ideology  during the Cultural Revolution and following the Vietnam following the "conflict".

People like to believe it could never happen here. But then again, until last Wednesday, nobody conceived that American citizens would storm the U.S. Capitol.

The events of January 6, 2021 have been blamed on President Trump. However, the outrageous vitriol, acceptance of burning and looting cities, the encouragement to harass or refuse to serve those with different ideas by partisan politicians contributed to the divisiveness by painting all Conservatives or Libertarians as racist, misogynist,  unintelligent, inarticulate deplorables. Just because an individual or a group of people find burning, looting, assaulting police officers and journalists heinous, unjustifiable activity, does not make him or her deplorable. In fact most middle of the road citizens find those actions deplorable. 

Perhaps if more of the protestors read actual history instead of swallowing the partisan news of CNN, MSNBC, FOX, The WaPo, New York Times or the bull-feathers taught by indoctrinated academics, they might discover the actual facts instead of the revisionist fantasies of such projects such as 1619.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Beginning 2021 With A Positive Attitude

I am a firm believer that positivity begets positivity. That is why I have tried to keep my mind and attitude firmly in the "glass half full" sector over the past 18 years. It took a lot of work, introspection, journaling, healing, positive affirmations, making healthy choices, and attitude adjustment to "reboot" my former self that had spent too many years in the depths of negativity, unhealthy relationships and just plain misery. I had to heal my psyche, convince myself that I deserved happiness, joy, peace, contentment, success, a great parking space, opportunities for expanding my horizons, and marriage based upon love and mutual respect. 

My concerted effort to maintain an attitude of gratitude helped me navigate the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" that we faced in 2020. Having survived that tumultuous year with all of my fingers and toes, a regular paycheck, a full wine refrigerator, most of the cats, only a short period when the Utopia Salon was forcibly closed, and Home Depot correcting the kitchen restoration of 2015 that did not last five years, we have much for which we are grateful. Consequently, with vaccine deployment now underway we can anticipate a return to some semblance of normalcy be the end of 2021. 

To kick off the new year, Todd and I have started working on our "Retirement Visualization" planning. It is amazing how quickly that last 40 years of working life have swept us to this place and time. We met at the right moment and plan to enter the next phase of our lives mindfully with the anticipation of many years of excellent health and opportunities for continued growth, new friendships, and enjoyment. 

Despite the closure of my favorite yoga studio thanks to COVID mandates, I've discovered Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. Adriene is beginning 2021 with a 30 day program titled "Welcome To Breath".  It is FREE. She is inspiring. And I always feel physically and mentally better when I participate her daily practice. If the daily practice isn't what I am looking for - there are hundreds of free Yoga With Adriene YouTube videos available.  I've begun 2021 with the intention to self-motivate to practice more frequently. 

After indulging in Todd's scrumptious buttermilk Christmas  cookies and a little extra wine over the holidays, we are both committed to returning to the low carb diet that previously worked for us. We just avoid bread, white rice, pasta, potatoes, pizza, processed foods,  sugar and that extra glass of wine from Sunday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday are made for indulgence. I actually went a year without pasta and didn't miss it - even though it is among my favorite food groups. 

And tomorrow it is back to work! While I have experienced career disappointments recently, I am now at peace with my role and am committed to transferring the knowledge I have acquired from years of experience to the next generation of high performers. My "spousal unit" referred to me a few weeks ago as a "sage dinosaur". After giving him the "narrow eye" and a bit of a growl, I had to concede that he is right to a degree. I am still relevant in the corporate world because of my institutional knowledge, broad experience, aptitude for learning new things, and willingness to share. My main professional challenge for 2021 is to keep my ego in check and continue my 40 year journey to enhance  my "soft skills" 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Remembering 2020 as the New Year Dawns

 I know that 2020 has been a year of challenges for all of us. However, I've altered my psyche to focus on the positivity that surrounds me rather than the negativity. Yes, the year of COVID has altered our Universe; but it hasn't been all bad.

These are the things that I celebrate as we conclude 2020:

1)    I have been able to telecommute without interruption to my job.

2)     My dad was able to celebrate his 88th birthday; and those of us who love him were afforded the   privilege of celebrating with him before the country shut down - just barely.

3)    My brother was blessed with the opportunity to stay with Dad, work remotely from Logansport,      Indiana, and develop an enhanced relationship that is rewarding for both of them;

4)    Dad's neighbor Scott became part of the family and provides an additional layer of love and        support for our beloved father.

5)    My business unit at work re-organized yet again; however, I was fortunate to be assigned to a work     group of dynamic, enjoyable, like minded co-workers that helped me assimilate to a new role.

6)    My beloved husband found a role that he loves, that fulfills him, and gives him an opportunity to   shine.

7)    Although I tend to be an introvert (despite what outsiders think), I've been able to enhance             select friendships with my small cadre of friends throughout COVID.

8)    Solitude afforded me the chance to indulge in my favorite pastimes - reading and drinking wine.

9)    Rappahannock Vineyards offered free shipping for orders.

10)  Zoom mediations & WebEx Meetings revolutionized my world.

11)    I realized on my 61st birthday that retirement is just a few years away.

12)    Regular short trips to Indiana gave me an opportunity to spend quality time with my Dad and               brother.

13)    I let go of resentments.

14)     Investigation Discovery is the gift that keeps on giving - murder - 24/7 - 365......who knew how             many horrific acts have been perpetrated on innocent victims. This gives me a greater sense of             gratitude for my good fortune.

15)    I have friends that have lost loved one due to COVID. My heart aches for them. 

16)    Downsizing. Rightsizing. A focus on the future. Fewer better. What do I want in my life moving             forward? Critical thinking for the next stage of life approaching.

17)    Gratitude that my sister is still keeping a positive outlook as she deals with deteriorating health             from lupus.

18)    Celebrating that despite the political turmoil in the USA, the founders got it right. The republic             will survive in spite of the media and partisan politicians. 

19)    I don't miss business travel.

20)     Professional sports - eh....

21)    Movie theaters.....who cares? I can stream fabulous shows on my wall size Samsung TV from                 numerous sources!

22)    Shopping online works for me. Now...if only a drone could deliver my Costco and wine shopping!

23)    It is possible to wear the same cashmere jogger outfit everyday for a week and just change the             scarf around my neck and nobody on Zoom will know.

24)    Eating in restaurants during COVID is no fun.  Outdoor dining in tents - no ambiance.

25)    The state and federal governments became giddy with power and abused it to the point of near                 totalitarianism which violates the Constitution. States controlled by Democrats were the most                 oppressed. I hope there is a backlash in 2022.

26)    Thinking back to the angst over Y2K is amusing. A debacle that did not materialize.

27)    The cancel culture must be cancelled. We do not need a modern Bonfire of the Vanities. Read          history. Learn from it. Even if the language is not politically correct.

28)    COVID is not the worst thing that has ever happened. Anybody who thinks such has never                     studied the history of the world. This is a blip. Recall that before penicillin people died when                 pricked by the thorn of a rosebush. 

29)    Life is happier and less stressful without social media and television news. Unplug. Read a                book. Watch Netflix. 

30)    Live a life of gratitude. Thank the universe for what you have. Understand that we Americans,                 even those who feel oppressed, have it better than the rest of the world. Stop complaining. Do the         next right thing. Quit casting aspersions against others. Look for common ground instead of                     differences. Embrace the progress that has been made rather than focusing on what has yet to be             accomplished. Look to 2021 with optimism for a new opportunity. Everyday is a new chance to be all that you can be.


Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Self Care in the Year of COVID ~ 2020

Befitting the year of COVID our Christmas day began with a loss of power at 5:00am. Since we live in the boondocks, no electricity also means no water from the well, no septic, no flushing toilets, no coffee, no French toast from the challah bread, and beginning the day with furry teeth. Once the power returned, we celebrated Christmas in the way all marooned, quarantined, abby-normal people do - watching hours on the all murder 24/7 Investigation Discovery Channel. Today's offerings were winter themed - so particularly festive.

Notwithstanding the above cheery festivities, 2020 has been an extraordinary year that had created a need for me to embrace comfort and celebrate small things that bring joy. Since I turned 61 over the summer, I've decided to consider the "fewer better" philosophy of one of my favorite women owned brands - Cuyana. Consequently, I've been consciously looking for and purchasing fewer, higher quality items that bring me joy.

Todd and I do not exchange gifts for Christmas or birthdays. Instead, we tend to share experiences. As such, we purchase our own little pleasures. This COVID Christmas I've indulged in the following glorious purchases:

1)    A Breville  Bambino Plus Espresso Machine which I use every morning

2)    Naked Cashmere jogger suit

3)    Tatcha skin care products

4) M.Gemi loafers / drivers/ ballet flats

COVID has also resulted in many companies offering pay over time options without any interest through Klarna, Affirm, After Pay or Pay Pal Credit. So "fewer better" can be purchased without guilt or interest . 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve 2020 ~ In The Year of COVID


2020 has been a struggle for most of us. In a year filled with pandemic, forced isolation, political upheaval, financial hardship, the burning and looting of cities, government orders that shuttered businesses and kept people from gathering, governors and mayors that exempted themselves and select groups of protestors from their own autocratic actions, and media personalities that lost any semblance of credibility to  the extent most people I know turned off the television and radio news and relied on only the printed word for information, there have been some silver linings.

Professionally, I experienced another series of frustrations and disappointments in the midst of yet another re-organization - a scenario that has been a constant since my company was acquired in July 2015. Essentially, it has been the continued marginalization of those with "institutional knowledge". Todd says rather more bluntly that I an now a "sage dinosaur". At least I'm a dinosaur with valuable skill. Despite the "career" changes that have in turn left me angry, unmotivated, unfocused, depressed, anxious and demoralized,  I've been blessed to work with a wonderful team, a manager who understands me, and a regional leader that is among the best managers I've experienced in my 35 years in the insurance industry.  The biggest blessing - my ability to telecommute and continue receiving a regular paycheck when so many others have lost their livelihoods during the past year. 

I'm also celebrating the rediscovery of a simpler, quieter, slower existence and a renewed focus on self-care. Cooking at home. Enjoying summer evenings on the deck - sipping wine, listening to the birds, surrounded by our outdoor refugee cats, and finding peace in the sounds and beauty of nature.

The holidays of 2020 have been strangely quiet. The last real family celebration - my dad's 88th birthday in March. My brother and I sang "It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine" as we stocked up on foods at D & R for the party we hosted in my childhood home in Logansport, Indiana. It really was the last "normal" thing that happened in 2020 - although we did charge entrants to the festivities a cover fee of a  roll of toilet paper. The next day, the country shut down. The greatest gift of COVID - my brother was able to stay in Indiana with Dad and telecommute to his job in Texas. 

Since March my travels have been limited to shot "social distancing" trips to Michigan and Indiana to see my dad and in-laws. Those trips have been filled with joy that our loved ones are safe, healthy and happy.  While I would love to be with our loved ones this Christmas, I am content to wait until those most at risk are able to be vaccinated. Then, let the floodgates of a full life open.

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Liberal Hypocrisy Regarding Amy C. Barrett & Clarence Thomas

 Why is it not misogyny to disagree with Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court on the basis of her judicial philosophies  but it would be misogyny to oppose the nominations of RBG, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor? Why is is not racist to oppose Clarence Thomas merely because he is a conservative but it would be racist to oppose Thurgood Marshall? It is either misogyny to oppose any woman on the basis of sex or political philosophy or it is not. It is either racist to oppose all people of color no matter one’s political affiliation  or it is not.

The political machinations regarding what constitutes misogyny or racism dumbfounds me. If citizens chose to vote against Hillary Clinton they were labeled anti woman. Democrats who refused to consider the brilliant legal career of Amy C. Barrett, however, are not anti woman. Instead they purport to be principled leaders saving the country from conservative legal theory. 

I find it remarkably convenient that labels are unimportant when  a person, politician or jurist with conservative ideology is vilified by the press and other politicians. However, any offensive act by a liberal is swept under the rug for political expediency.

If conservative politicians and special interest groups had tried to derail the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, it would have been racism and misogyny. However, it was perfectly fine for liberal to besmirch Clarence Thomas because he doesn’t follow the script for his race. This is appalling.

And it is time to stop the litmus test for Supreme Court nominees. Advice & consent based on qualifications is the basis....not political ideology. 

 Nobody can accurately predict how a jurist will decide any case. And that is what we want for our republic. Each case must be decided on its merits based upon the Constitution as it was written and based on precedent. But precedent should not always be followed. Consider Dredd Scott v Sanford and Plessy v Ferguson. 

If liberals truly believe in equality and equal opportunity for all citizens there should be a celebration each time an exceptional individual who is a woman or person of color is considered for a position of authority without regard to ideology. But, liberals denigrate those who do not agree with them and call them names. That is flat out hypocrisy that offends open minded individuals. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

A Reminder That Addiction is a Family Disease


There has been quite a bit of recent news reporting and social media commentary about Hunter Biden's addiction with attempts to exploit the family tragedy for political purposes. While it is perfectly reasonable to question the Burisma affiliation, I personally believe it is improper to blame Joe Biden for trying to protect his son.

Addiction affects far more families than many Americans would like to believe. Those of us who have experienced the pain, insanity, devastation, humiliation, heartache, financial losses, and emotional effects of loving an addict or a family member who has  suffered from a family member's addiction appreciate the former Vice President's conundrum. Many friends and family members of addicts stay on the merry-go-round of denial throughout life, hoping and praying for a miracle. 

My mother was the adult child and sister of alcoholics. It affected her personal relationships and approach to life. While she was able to accept that her sister suffered from alcoholism, she was never able accept that her father was an alcoholic.  It took years for me to realize my first husband was an alcoholic. Once I found my way to Al-Anon, I attended meetings for years before I was able to accept the first step. Al Anon follows the same 12 Steps that AA uses to find recovery. The first step requires us to admit that we have no power over alcohol, other people places and things, and that our lives had become unmanageable. It only took me 10 years to accept that truth. Fortunately, I found a community in Al Anon that helped me find my own recovery, peace and serenity, so that I could learn the tools to embrace a healthy relationship and life.

Joe Biden is not the first and will certainly not be the last politician that has a family member that suffers from addiction. I recall that George McGovern's daughter, Terry, died of addiction, alone in a cold alley.    While I  would never consider supporting the politics of Mr. McGovern, reading the story of his daughter's sad death brought tears to my eyes. This was  a family tragedy for McGovern just as Hunter Biden's addiction is a family tragedy for Joe Biden. None of us know what is within the hearts or lives behind closed doors of another. One of the most valuable lessons I learned during my years in Al Anon is that most people do the best they can with the tools they have at any point in time. Joe Biden has experienced significant losses in his life. I cannot judge him for wanting to protect his son.

We Americans have lost a lot of civility. Everyday I am dumbfounded by the crass, obtuse, rude, offensive, obnoxious partisanship that has filled our lives.  No matter your political affiliation, consider being kind and resist exploiting what is clearly a devastating family tragedy for Mr. Biden. 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Tatcha~The Silk Peony Eye Cream


I love cosmetics. Discovering skincare products that solve the problems I’ve experienced as a woman over 60 are my passion. Yes, I am vain. I have no desire to be overly natural & look my age.  It looking for surgical intervention, but I will seek out alternatives that offer solutions to dry, sensitive, aging skin.

Every time I think I’ve stumbled upon an eye cream that doesn’t burn, yet provides some correction for fine lines around my eyes, dryness, plumping or travel weariness, I’m ultimately disappointed. But after my most recent experience with redness, sensitivity, rosacea, allergic reactions, itching, burning, and horror at my blotchy face ( was it work related stress or the tomato vines) I decided to try another skincare regimen for sensitive skin, this time by Tatcha. 

Wow! My face cleared up within two days! My skin looks clear and luminous. But of paramount importance, the Silk Peony Eye  Cream soaks into the delicate skin around my eyes and doesn’t burn! It doesn’t burn my eyelids!!!!  It doesn’t cause puffiness. It doesn’t burn underneath my eyes. It just feels....amazingly moisturizing. 

I’ve experimented with untold numbers of skincare products in the last few years, but I can state categorically that this is a winner. Try a travel sample. You will be sold!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Embrace Gratitude Instead of Anger


One of the greatest lessons I learned during my years in Al-Anon is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. It is my belief that too many people today forget to celebrate their blessings. In one of my earliest meeting at a church in Hong Kong, my group advocated for cultivating an attitude of gratitude to reset the focus from what we lack to what we already have. 

My first Al Anon home group suggested that I make a gratitude list to remind myself that I am blessed....even when it seems there is little to no hope.

I am grateful today for the following in no particular order of importance: 

1) my family, particularly having my dad to cherish

2) my husband

3) my job

4) a roof over my head

5) transportation 

6) food

7) wine

8) indoor plumbing

8) heat

10) air conditioning 

11) a grocery store

12) refrigerators 

13) electricity 

14) water

15) Internet

16) clothing

17) gasoline, propane, 

18) sight

19) hearing

20) taste

21) smell

22) mobility

23) nature

24) music

25) books

26) telephones 

27) roads

28) our cats

29) beauty

30) modern medicine 

31) libraries 

32) flowers

33) memories

34) beaches

35) written language 

These are just a few of the myriad things for which I feel gratitude. Make your own list. Review it often. Thank your higher power for what you have. Let go of resentments. Embrace positive thoughts. Breathe deeply while looking at a sunrise or sunset and celebrate the beauty that surrounds us.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Letting Go Of Negativity

During my acupuncture appointment this afternoon, I discussed with my practitioner how the negativity on social media, in the news, at work, from acquaintances, from family members, and in the atmosphere has knocked me off kilter. It isn’t just Covid, isolation, social distancing, the election or the riots (aka “ peaceful protests”) it is the hate, polarization, political fighting, and inability of people who live in the most prosperous, free, egalitarian nation on earth to consider the art of compromise. I am continually dumbfounded that intelligent people with opposing viewpoints can’t have a rational discussion. 

Consequently, I’ve stopped listening to radio, watching news, engaging with dissenters, succumbing to the taunts on social media. We talked with some folks this weekend at an event at Old  Bedford Village that described plunging blood pressure after deleting Facebook. 

When will people appreciate that the media, politicians and businesses profit from polarization? We should instead focus on what we have in common instead of our differences? We should count our blessings instead of what we lack. We should send positive energy to the Universe. We should celebrate that the Declaration of Independence argued that we have the right to life, liberty and the ‘pursuit’ of happiness. ( not actual happiness, but the pursuit). 

Thank your higher power for the little things. Gratitude brings abundance. Giving brings abundance. Kindness begets kindness. Letting go of resentment brings peace & serenity. 

Friendship and family harmony should not be contingent upon political views. Accept we will not all agree on everything. Listen. Respect the views of others. Resist denigrating others for having a different opinion. Recall the wisdom of the past: do not judge another until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

9/11 ~ 19 Years Ago Today

 I’m teary eyed as I write this. My memories of that day 19 years ago are still vivid. I was sitting at my desk, a claim supervisor for an insurer, looking out the window at the Mall in Columbia, Maryland. One of my coworkers was on the phone with a friend who was a secret service agent at the White House. She slammed down the phone & said a plane had struck the World Trade Center. We all gathered together in the lunch room watching an old vacuum tube TV that could only broadcast one channel. We watched horrified as a second plane flew into the second tower. It was surreal. Next was the Pentagon, that massive complex on the Potomac that is the heart, soul and brain trust of our military. By then we knew there was a 4th plane. Everyone speculated the target....Fort Detrick? The a White House? The Capitol building? Fort Meade? We watched the towers collapse with the roar of debris tumbling on everybody in the vicinity. The site looked like a dystopian Armageddon. The world vowed we would never forget. We would never forget the firefighters and police officers who ran into the burning building to rescue people of every race, creed, color, sex or national origin. Many that were not killed when the towers fell have died of illnesses related to exposure to toxic chemicals. I will not forget the heroes on Flight 93 that died trying to stop the terrorists that highjacked the plane from hitting their unknown target. I recall walking along sidewalks in Westchester County a few weeks later as my friend identical homes where someone had died in the towers. 

It is painful to recall the tragedy of that day and the weeks that followed and consider the hate, discord, protests by those to young or too uneducated to know what happened. Terrorists attacked  the symbols of our freedom, our strength, our center of commerce, our safety, the fruits of capitalism, our glory architecture, site where countless immigrants came ashore to start new lives.

9/11. If for no other reason, every patriotic American  should rise up, lead the throngs of we everyday citizens who still mourn the day of our lost innocence, tell those who hate people  they consider ‘privileged’ to watch very video, see the footage of people jumping to their deaths to avoid death by fire, listen to every phone call made to loved ones, read the names of every public servant and victim, look at their pictures, consider the volunteers, and then tell us a with a straight face that only certain lives matter.  

I will never forget. And I do not accept that denigrating our flag is an acceptable protest. This flag, the symbol of our republic, helped us through the horror. If you cannot honor the symbol of the free world, LEAVE綾賅綾賅綾賅綾賅綾

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Tuning Out The News

 Many of my coworkers, friends and acquaintances across the political spectrum have joined me in tuning out national and local television news, many newspapers, radio stations, a significant amount of social media ( particularly Twitter), professional sports, info-tainment, and any medium that creates  more divisiveness and angst in this year of COVID, social upheaval, and polarized politics. It is just too exhausting. My husband withdrew from Facebook because he found it too agitating. 

Nobody I know watched or at least admitted to watching any of the political conventions. Why bother! It is all propaganda from the left or the right. Who would have imagined that in 2020 Americans would be left with the option to vote for an addled old white man vs an obnoxious old white man? At least it would be entertaining to watch a race between Nikki Haley and AOC. 

The protests are new to young Americans. However, those of us who were alive when Detroit and LA burned in the ‘60s have concluded the unrest is cyclical. Watch some video of Chicago during the 1968 Democrat convention. 

So, many of us over 40 are tuning out, watching home renovation shows, hoping the stock market stays bullish, listening to audio books, reading novels, avoiding urban areas, thankful for telecommuting, and the freedom to switch it off! I feel more calm, peaceful and serene and will stick the The Babylon Bee for some satire that makes me laugh,  look at cat memes and old Far Side cartoons on Facebook, and occasionally poke a tiger for some random fun.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Indy 500 - Ends On Yellow Flag - Par for 2020


Of course! In the year of COVID -19, the Indy 500 had to conclude on a yellow flag. There will always be an asterisk on Takuma Sato’s second victory. But let’s face it, 2020 is a year of asterisks. Watching sporting events on TV in 2020 with empty stadiums, eerily vacant bleachers, silent environments without cheering crowds, altered seasons, postponed dates, or compressed schedules feels dystopian to the same extent that cities without vibrant citizenry ( with exception, of course, of ‘peaceful unmasked protesters’) looks and feels somewhat post apocalyptic- as if a neutron bomb exploded, denuded the universe of humans, and left empty skyscrapers. 

If it were only feasible to hit the reset button on 2020 and start over..... but NOT  a la Groundhog Day, PLEASE! Reset with the knowledge we have today and our loved ones safely at home, alive and well. 

Yes,I know from the lessons I’ve learned that we are all where we are meant to be today. ...according to the Universe, the God of our understanding, our higher power. This is our 21st Century plague. Hello, Charles Darwin! COVID in aisle 12!! We are NOT amused. 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

In Store Retail Therapy Is No Longer Therapeutic Thanks to COVID-19


It is no secret that I have indulged in retail therapy for decades in my quest to support the US economy (of course) and to give myself that little boost of joy that comes from shopping. During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s I roamed the various shopping malls in Indianapolis, Plano, St.Louis, Dallas, Hong Kong, Chicago, Palo Alto, Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland. During my time in Plano, Texas I may have spent as much time at the recently demolished Collin Creek Mall as anywhere else in the vicinity. 

Over the last 15 years my love of malls disintegrated and I've migrated to boutiques and online shopping. After the gloriously independent department stores such as L.S. Ayres, Blocks, Lazarus, Marshall Fields, Foley's, Joske's, Woodward & Lothrop, Wanamaker's, Jordan Marsh, Famous-Barr, Sanger- Harris, Hechts, Strawbridge, I.Magnin, Filene's, Parisian, Gump's, Garfinkel's, and Jacobson's closed or were gobbled up by Federated and May Company,   the remaining or consolidated department stores all sold the same clothes and housewares.  And much of the merchandise on offer is of significantly lower quality, such as the  Tools of the Trade stainless steel pans I bought at Macy's (when it was really Macy's) in 1985 that I still use today.It is a big yawn. 

COVID-19 will change the retail landscape yet again. Here is a link to a Moneywise article detailing the retail establishments that are closing permanently as a result of the virus:

After my experience this morning, which is the first time I've entered a store other than a grocery store, WalMart, Target, Petco, Lowes or Home Depot since March 14th, I plan to stick with online shopping. The store was packed with merchandise marked down 70% because customers had no place to wear new clothes over the summer (although I do dress professionally and wear makeup for Zoom calls). The dressing rooms are large, private, and could allow for one customer in every other cubicle; however, only one customer was allowed in the dressing rooms at a time. Only one cash register was open. It wasn't fun. It was frustrating. Instead of retail therapy, it was just one more inconvenient example of how drastically our world has changed since March. 

It appears as of the rules are applied inconsistently to different segments of the retail industry. Whole Foods in Indianapolis was buzzing with activity and minimal social distancing last week. But independent restaurants are prohibited from serving at their bars - even with stools separated by 6 feet. Boutiques are struggling. But state run liquor stores have remained open. 

So, I'll shop from my comfy leather chair with my cat on my shoulders and my laptop on my curled up legs while sipping ice tea or coffee or a nice Cabernet and wait eagerly for a delivery from FedEx, UPS or the USPS - instead of the Wells Fargo wagon of yore. At least my favorite local winery, Rappahannock Cellars,  offered free shipping during COVID !

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Violence is Unacceptable in the USA

There is no legitimate excuse for the violence, burning, looting, destruction of property and intentional attacks on state, local and federal officers in our cities. The Constitution affords each citizen the right of assembly and peaceful protest. However, despite the rhetoric of liberal mayors, governors, media personalities, elected officials and activists, destruction of personal, municipal, state and federal property is a crime. Perpetrators should be prosecuted and ordered to pay restitution. 

I understand that people are angry about the death of George Floyd. I understand that everyone in America wants to be heard. I agree that racism is wrong, that there are lingering attitudes among individuals that are offensive, that there are some police officers that abuse authority, that there are still strides to be made for equality. However, we will not achieve equality, harmony, and fairness as long as there are any segregated groups, communities, pageants, congressional caucuses, quotas, census questions or focus on race, country of origin, religion, sexual orientation or any other label.

Despite the fact that I grew up in a small town in Indiana in the 1960s and 1970s that was not particularly diverse, my parents raised me to accept each person for who he or she was, to treat each person with respect, to be kind, and to not judge another until I’d walked a mile in his/her shoes. My husband and most of my friends were raised the same way. We cannot fathom that there is systemic racism in this country. Think about the progress that has been made and that will continue to be made. 

I’ve lived in countries where I was a minority and treated as such. I was a quota hire as a woman in the insurance industry in 1980. I want to believe that we Americans, collectively as a nation, do not subscribe to racism, discrimination, or judgments of people- unless the individual is an asshole. That is a different conversation. 

But really, give peace a chance. Open your minds. Consider opposing views. Have a conversation without shouting. Let go of anger. And become engaged in the political process at the local level. That is where serious changes begin. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

What’s In A Name? The Washington Football Team

Although I’ve lived in the Washington, DC area for 26 years, I’ve never developed an affection for the Washington Football Team, FKA the Washington Redskins. I’ve attended a few games at RFK Stadium and FedEx Field when gifted with FREE tickets; but I’ve never actually paid to see a game.  I will say that games at RFK we’re a lot more energetic and fun. Just getting to FedEx Field was enough of challenge that I actually declined FREE tickets in multiple occasions. 

It isn’t that I dislike professional football, although I prefer live games to watching on TV. I actually held season tickets for the Indianapolis Colts for several years before they had a successful season. Other than Darrell Green, who played years for Washington, the era of free agency destroyed any sense of team consistency and cohesiveness.

Based upon my history of apathy interspersed with active dislike, I really have no “ skin in the game” so to speak regarding the team name. Frankly, the entire decades long brouhaha is a bit mystifying. Somebody can find a way to make any name offensive. The team name and mascot was intended to honor the fierceness of Native American warriors and foster a winning spirit. 

But times have changed. The woke culture finds offense in the Betsy Ross Flag, Mount Rushmore, the Constitution, freedom of speech, and anybody who doesn’t vote for a democrat. 

With these thoughts in mind I’ve come up with several ideas for names to succeed the Redskins for the Washington Football Team which more accurately represent the raison d’etre of our Nations Capital, which is alleged governance:
* The Legislators 
* The Witch-hunt 
* The Back Stabbers
* The Politicians / the mascot - a large rat
* The Swamp
* The Weasels
* The Do Nothings
* The Hypocrites 
* The Pork Barrels
* The Charlatans
* The Mighty Obstructionists
* The Sanctimonious 
* The Self- Righteous 
* The Partisans
* The Lobbyist / the mascot- a bag full of money  

Well, at least I had a bit of self-amusement with this不