Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Super Tuesday 2020

I believe in American exceptionalism. I believe in the American Dream . I believe in the US Constitution. I believe in Libertarianism. Those of us whose ancestors crossed treacherous seas to resettle in this land of opportunity to escape oppression deserve to keep what we have earned.

I do not believe that settlers in the USA committed  genocide of indigenous people. The ‘native Americans’ emigrated from elsewhere. There were wars. Wars result in victory or defeat. The people who came here and settled were not evil, just ordinary folks looking for a better way of life. Wars have sad consequences. There was tragedy & unfairness. But, that is history. Are  people in Europe refighting Agincourt?

There have been periods of unsavory episodes in our history. Nobody in the modern world could possibly condone slavery. It is a stain on humankind. But we cannot change the past. We can only move forward with enlightenment, disdaining the sins of the past and embracing our fellow citizens as equals today.

Border security has nothing to do with race. I’ve lived in foreign countries. It matters not the race, creed or national origin at the border. Instead what matters is a visa and valid passport. I’ve seen people detained for hours in other countries because of visa issues. Ive also seen people lined up outside a US Consulate trying to come here legally but delayed because of limitations / quotas that do not apply to those crossing here illegally from the south. Talk about a dearth of fairness!

The current election cycle should not be based upon hatred of a particular individual. Politicians do not need to be likable or appealing to be successful. They only need be competent. I do not like the personality of Donald Trump. He is crass. But he is no more harmful than many other presidents. I prefer an abject capitalist over a socialist any day. I remember the Cold War. I Remember  the Iron Curtain. I know people who survived Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Castro, Tito, Gaddafi, Amin, Brezhnev, pr the many other dictators or oligarchs of my time. Give me a president who bolsters the economy and tries to limit China’s efforts to steal our intellectual property any day over a bleeding heart socialist trying to abrogate my rights & confiscate my earnings to support somebody who doesn’t pay his or her way.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Losing a Beloved Pet

Animals are not people. I get that. It is impossible to compare the loss of a loved family member, friend or colleague with the loss of an animal companion. However, our fur babies give us something that our human loved ones do not- unselfish, unconditional loyalty. No matter their variable personality quirks, our fur babies affirm through highs and lows, ups and downs, good fortune or bad, laughter and tears that we matter...whether it is because we feed them, give them shelter, love them, pet them, hear them or appreciate them, they give back more than tenfold.

Today Todd and I lost our sweet, three legged orange kitty Carlos. He was born under our porch on my birthday in 2006, the same year we married and moved into our home. We were amazed to discover this litter of kittens under the deck. From the first his engaging personality and sweet innocent face melted our hearts.

He was a loner. He hated other cats. He had no use for kittens. But he loved us. Cat sitters loved him. He had personality. He used to run thru the house pulling his birdie on a stick. He loved gravy. He loved lying in the sun or under a Japanese maple. He was named after Carlos Santana..musician and shoe designer.

When he started to fail we deluded ourselves into believing he was getting better. We tried antibiotics,  designer kitty food, warm compresses, spoon feeding, a heating pad, anything to encourage him to eat and make him comfortable. But, we couldn’t cure him. We didn’t want him to suffer any longer. We had to let him cross the Rainbow Bridge.

I wanted to hold onto him for a few more days. I wanted to feel his heartbeat, swaddle him in my arms, wish him into wellness. But we couldn’t listen to him cry another night or look at us with love and pain another day.

I turned to William Blake as we laid him to rest...Tyger, tyger burning bright...

Saturday, February 1, 2020

What One Learns Living Outside the USA

My life has been remarkable in that I have had the opportunity to travel. I am grateful for my good fortune. In 1976 I traveled with my high school French teacher and fellow students to London and Paris at the tender age of 16 It was the year of the American Bicentennial, which was an interesting time to visit Britain. 

My parents afforded me the chance to study in the UK and Paris during my sophomore year at university. I spent a year in Lincolnshire studying and traveling and a summer at the Sorbonne in Paris. 1978-1979 was a tumultuous time. Fellow students at Harlaxton College outside Grantham included citizens or Iran, who were fearful of the safety of their family members during the revolution. I learned quite a bit about the vagaries of safety and life during that time. I also had the chance to travel between terms with a few friends, some bravado, a backpack and about $800. I learned that I could be frugal, wash my hair in cold water, eat street food, and get by with three outfits for six weeks. I will say that my one night in Belgrade was a bit dicey. But I survived and had a lot of stories to tell. 

But it wasn't until I moved to Taipei, Taiwan in 1988 that I truly learned to appreciate the extraordinary good fortune I have to live in the USA as an American citizen. We are blessed with plenty. The options we have in the typical grocery store are unequaled anywhere else in the world,

My experiences have confirmed my youthful ideology that we Americans have the best standard of living in the world, the most sophisticated health care, the widest array of food, the most comfortable houses, the most diverse citizenry, the most enviable privileges, and greater freedoms than any other nation on earth. Our Republic is the envy of the world. There is a reason people want to come here. It is for the opportunities that are not available on any other corner of the earth. 

Citizens who denigrate our Republic, our government, our way of life, our good fortune - who criticize the founders of our nation because they do not meet the current standards of diversity, who opine that European settlers were somehow proponents of genocide because of the Manifest Destiny propagated by the federal government, have not studied world history. Throughout time areas of land and the people who inhabited that land have been conquered and displaced. From a modern perspective this may be considered heinous. But, that is not how people who came before us thought.

We really have no right to judge those who lived in another time. I know that I cannot purport to understand what lived in the minds of a man or woman from the 15th, 16th, 17th , 18th or 19th Century. We can look at history through a modern lens and agree that we no longer accept those norms. But I cannot accept that it is appropriate to remove the names of those who came before from plaques, buildings, institutions, roads, schools, etc because we have evolved. Let us remember those who came before for what they did right - not for their failings. Do you want to be remembered for your failings? I do not.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Disgusted With Current Political Divisiveness & Vitriol

The American political system is a brilliant creation of men of the 18th Century who read the classics in the original Greek & Latin, studied the rise and fall of empires, and drafted a Constitution that was intended to avoid the pitfalls of past civilizations. That is why we in the USA are a republic instead of a democracy. The design of the government that afforded representation in the House of Representatives to afford those from states with larger populations to have a voice as well as the equal representation in the Senate was purposeful. The Founders did not want states with smaller populations to be steamrolled by population centers. This is also the reason for the Electoral College. Those who risked execution for treason by rebelling against the English Crown sought fairness. Compromise was essential to ensure ratification of the Constitution. There would be no USA today if the Founders had not compromised on some issues that today we find abhorrent. But consider that we are a country of diverse people that have endured through Civil War, bad presidents, corrupt members of Congress, the Civil Rights movement, engagement in foreign wars, attacks on our people, and extreme disagreement politically. 

There have been arguments over the direction the country should take since the founding of the republic. One of the bitterest political rivalries involved John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Although they disagreed vociferously politically and were estranged for years, they resumed their friendship and correspondence eventually and died on the same day - coincidentally - Independence Day. (As did James Monroe).

There have been several presidents loathed by the opposition. However, until the current presidential administration, the differences have, for the most part, been resolved through subsequent elections. Whether one hates, tolerates, disdains or loves Donald J. Trump, he was a duly elected president of the USA according to the law of the land and the Constitution. He has not destroyed the country. There are too many checks and balances for any executive to do so. 

Consider that Mr. Dershowitz, who admittedly voted for Hillary Clinton and argued that Bill Clinton should not have been impeached for perjury, also represents Donald Trump in this impeachment trial before the Senate and argues that he has not committed am impeachable offense. Mr. Dershowitz in a constitutional scholar with which I have not always agreed. But he is not partisan in this matter. He is consistent. 

The American electorate has reached a partisan divide in which those on opposite sides of the political spectrum will not listen to any alternative views. The partisans have become entrenched in a position, will not consider any other perspective, refuse to listen to alternative views, ridicule the opposition, and argue that Donald Trump is Satan personified. I am dumbfounded by the energy that people invest in the vitriol. The republic survived James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter (when I lived in Europe during the Carter administration I let people think I was Canadian). The republic will survive Donald Trump. We do not need our presidents to be good people. We need them to be effective leaders. John F. Kennedy is often looked upon as an effective president, yet he was a terribly unfaithful husband, violated his own sanctions against Cuba, and engaged in foreign policy decisions that were clearly ill-advised. Not only that, he accelerated our involvement in Vietnam. 

I am neither a Democrat or a Republican, although I am conservative fiscally and on Constitutional issues such as the 2nd Amendment. I lean toward Libertarian, which believes in a small government that keeps its paws out of my pocket, off my land, out of my house, without any input in decisions between me and my physician, who I can marry, what I can cultivate and how I defend myself.  I believe that one can love, live, conduct business with and worship as one feels is appropriate without government oversight.  Just fix my roads, bridges, air traffic control, monetary policy, interstate infrastructure, waterways, borders, print money, maintain federal land, maintain our military to protect and defend the USA, ensure the Native Americans and veterans are treated fairly, and sustain compliance with the Constitution. Stay out of healthcare, insurance, education, personal life decisions, etc. 

Just let go of the angst, the divisiveness, and vitriol. Embrace your fellow citizen and agree that it is okay to disagree without judgment. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Why We Rarely Go To The Movies


Todd and I rarely go to a cinema to see a film. It has been years since we felt compelled to pay full price for an evening viewing....I think the last time was Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ because Todd worked on the movie for the art department. We’ve gone to a few matinees to see James Bond, The Hunger Games, the documentary We Shall Not Grow Old, and a few others. But all in all....not worth the time, energy or money. Instead, we choose to binge watch premium TV...generally the imported variety. We watch The Handmaid’s Tale, Succession, Outlander, Victoria...shows with grit and actors that look like real people. American movies and television essentially sucks. (We did love Deadwood,  The Sopranos, Fargo & Justified)

No doubt that is one of the reasons the ratings for self congratulatory shows like the Holden Globes, Oscars, etc have started to tank. For me, the only reason to watch the first hour involves making fun of the awful fashions that the mainstream media lauds...such as the laughable frock worn by Ms. Paltrow at the Golden Globes. That made Bjorn look tasteful.

I must admit my rant was triggered by the backlash to the extremely amusing monologue by Ricky Gervais. It was darn funny. It harkened back to the days when comedians were allowed to be funny without fear of being blacklisted. It felt refreshing. And, it was the only part of the show we watched..online...after it was broadcast.

People in the entertainment industry forget that they are, essentially, irrelevant to most folks unless they are...entertaining. We don’t care what they think about politics, climate, war, wearing fur or the homeless...These are people that like to ‘interpret’ history so they look fetching instead of appropriate.

So give me a nice BBC production on Masterpiece or a premium network with actors who look like real people wearing hair styles and clothing that is appropriate for the time, place and genre. Or Netflix & Hulu.

Hollywood.....YAWN. Have I mentioned how distracted I was by the awful hairstyles & costumes in Little Women? That’s $7 and 2 1/2 hours I’ll never get back.






Monday, January 6, 2020

Can I Avoid Impulse Purchases in 2020?




I am a compulsive shopper. This has been a personal challenge for decades. I love clothes, shoes, belts, scarves, hats, jewelry and housewares. I currently have 20 Third Love bras. I can’t resist a great online  sale. I telecommute. I travel an average of monthly for work. And yet... a new offering by MM LaFleur reels me in. 

After reading an article in The Guardian yesterday by a fashion editor that decided to avoid purchasing fast fashion for a year, I’ve decided to give my adapted version a go for 2020. This is not a New Years Resolution. I don’t subscribe to resolutions that are likely to be broken in 72 hours. Instead, this is an aspiration for which there is no penalty, guilt or failure if there are purchases. What I hope to achieve is some semblance of common sense that balances need vs want, thoughtfulness vs impulse,  mindfulness vs shopping as an alternative for some more fulfilling activity. 

No doubt psychologists could diagnose some ‘disorder’ for my propensity to purchase things on a whim. Whatever! It is just part of my psyche. At this point in my life, however, I have goals beyond immediate satisfaction. Achieving those goals will require a modicum of self restraint. 

Does anybody else have a similar goal? What tools do you use to keep yourself in check? Please share. Shall we support one another to achieve some level of success?

Tonight I deleted all of my favorite shopping sites from my iPad. ( with the exception of Sephora, Nordstrom & Amazon[seriously, we can’t delete makeup, cat food & books]) I am giving myself a pass for accessories, books & makeup. But otherwise, I will try to refrain from sweaters, jeans, coats, dresses, skirts, workout outfits, tops, casual pants, pajamas, jackets, professional clothes and swimwear. This will be a one day at a time effort. I may need to unplug. Temptation is everywhere. 😎

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Begin 2020 With An Attitude of Gratitude



Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” –Marcus Aurelius


There is too much anger in the world. Maintaining that anger takes a lot of energy, adversely affects one's immune system, and inhibits one's ability to feel joy. Letting go of anger, resentments and negativity is self-healing. From my own journey, I've learned that practicing an attitude of gratitude can be life changing. Learning to focus on positivity and gratitude helped me reboot my hard drive to enable me to live a life that is mostly filled with contentment and serenity. The process took years of introspection, fellowship in Al Anon, listening to my angels, putting positive energy into the Universe, setting boundaries, avoiding negative people, accepting that I have no control over other people, places and things, actively forgiving myself and all others for real or imagined resentments, and mindfully expressing gratitude for my blessings.


Think of the beauty in our world~ Todd and I have not been able to tame the barren, rocky wilderness upon which we live. But we've been able to find beauty in the trees that surround us, the stars in the night sky, the sunrise in the east, the brilliant colors in the sun setting over the western ridge, the chirping of cicadas, the variety of birds that dine at our feeders, our collection of abandoned cats that rush up to greet us when we ascend th driveway. 

Focus on gratitude when thinking about the wonders of the USA, a grand experiment in democracy that affords its citizens the ability to select our leaders. Instead of focusing on what is wrong with our nation, focus on what is right. Celebrate with gratitude the fact that Americans have the freedom to criticize our leaders without fear of imprisonment or execution. Express gratitude for the ingenuity of individuals that created great books, cures for diseases, drugs that prolong life, social media, mobile phones, movies that entertain the world, airplanes, personal computers, libraries in most towns, insecticides that allow crops to thrive, the electric light, railroads, the steel industry, the sewing machine, Heinz Ketchup, Hershey's chocolate, IBM, and rockets that sent humankind to the moon. 


I am today grateful for my family, fulfilling employment, excellent health, wine, books, cashmere, a home with indoor plumbing/heating/AC/electricity, treasures from my travels, beautiful memories, garlic, clear vision, the ability to hear beautiful music, the aroma of cookies baking, mobility, and the ability to disagree with friends and still be friends. 😍