Monday, July 6, 2020

The Declaration of Independence - Have You Read It?

 Over the long Independence Day Weekend I watched the musical 1776,  the mini series Sons of Liberty, and James Cagney as George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (which despite some offensive depictions that would not be acceptable in the 21st Century celebrates patriotism as few other films). We Americans must recapture our patriotism for this beautiful country. Despite its flaws, there is truly no other place on earth that affords its people even a scintilla of similar liberty. Those that dishonor our flag,  show disdain for our national anthem, and advocate for lawlessness denigrate the brave men who wrote and signed the Declaration, the farmers who fought for independence from the British, the representatives of the 13 Colonies that compromised on values to form a more perfect albeit not perfect union, the abolitionists, John Adams who argued the Amistad case, George Washington who inspired and led an army composed of volunteers, the black soldiers of the 1st Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey units that fought in the Revolutionary War, Abe Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, the federal soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, the 54th Massachusetts  unit of black volunteer soldiers, the American soldiers who fought in the wars of 1812, Mexican,  Spanish American, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Granada, Afghan, and who serve our interests throughout the world. Read the document that set us on this path. And reconsider  your allegiance to this amazing land. 

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Consider The Original 13 Colonies 244 Years Ago

Many people in 21st Century America have graduated from High School or University without truly learning the history of our great country. I believe it is for this reason that progressive politicians, academics and the media are able to insight and condone anger, violence, looting, burning, toppling statues, defacing public property, shaming those with different opinions, censorship, and civil rebellion. Regretfully, many of the alleged intelligentsia that promote the belief that the United States of America was and is a substantially racist county are marginally educated in American and world history. Since the 1970's there has been a systemic attempt by educators, socialists, apologists, and proponents of multiculturalism to discourage critical thinking skills and reject the teaching of early American history because of its western European roots. This has resulted in a grave disservice to the people of our nation.

The Original 13 Colonies that formed the USA were founded over a period of 125 years. Virginia was the first colony founded in 1607 with the settlement at Jamestown followed by Plymouth Colony in 1620 (which became part of Massachusetts Bay) , New York in 1626, Massachusetts Bay  in 1630, Maryland in 1633, Rhode Island and Connecticut in 1636, New Hampshire and Delaware in 1638, North Carolina in 1653, South Carolina in 1663, New Jersey 1664, Pennsylvania 1682 and Georgia in 1732. These original colonies had distinct geographic, religious, climates, and natural resources. The New England colonies were mostly Puritans that tolerated no other religious expression and gained infamy by holding the Salem Witch Trials, branding those who committed adultery, and banished dissenters.  Pennsylvania was Quaker. Maryland was Catholic. Georgia was founded initially for a haven for London prisoners, but ultimately to provide a buffer between South Carolina and the Spanish that ruled Florida. The Southern colonies had fewer natural resources than the north and middle colonies, which resulted in the establishment of farming and large plantations that unfortunately relied on slave labor. All of the colonies came under the oversight of the English monarchs. Each colony had a British Governor appointed by the King. Each colony was peopled by those that came to the New World for different reasons - to make a fortune, to escape persecution, to find adventure, because the 4th son had no other options, to expand the English empire, to avoid imprisonment, for a job, for land, and for any number of other reasons that we, today, cannot fathom.

These distinct colonies were akin to separate countries. The decisions that were made in 1775 and 1776 to bring representatives of these disparate, ideological, economic, religious, moral, geographic, climate, and natural resource diverse colonies to declare independence from the monarch was an amazing exercise in  bravery, foolhardiness, and brilliance. Think what you will about the Founding Fathers; however, this country would not exist today had they faltered. 

Yes, by 21st Century standards most of our founders and those that have come after held attitudes that are the antithesis of what we hope to see in our modern world. However, I refuse to deny the debt that we owe to those brave men who affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence 244 years ago, which set off the firestorm of revolution that ultimately brought these 13 colonies together to form a nation. 

When one judges the actors of the past by the knowledge of the present without a full understanding of time and place; a time when most people didn't travel more than 50 miles beyond home in a lifetime; when there was no electricity, indoor plumbing, safe drinking water, antibiotics, radio, television, knowledge of vitamins, nutrition guidance, education for the masses, heating and air conditioning, refrigeration, supermarkets, libraries, record players, understanding of sanitation, awareness that washing hands prevents the spread of disease, telegraph and all of the other wonders that we take for granted, one is a pompous, self satisfied, smug, supercilious, condescending, self-righteous, didactic  fool. 

Please consider dismantling CHAZ or CHOP, giving your fellow American the benefit of the doubt, thank the police for keeping you safe, understand that the majority of Americans find discrimination offensive and want fairness & equal opportunity for all, and stop listening to those who try to divide us. Read the Declaration of Independence that was drafted by a gifted, but flawed man who gave us the chance to form a more perfect union of independent colonies, and thank the Universe or the higher power of your understanding that you have the great fortune to live in these United States of America. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

If Democrats Truly Supported Diversity, They Would Step Down

If white Democrat members of Congress truly believed in embracing diversity, each would agree to establish a date to step down and spend the interim mentoring a person of color to replace them in the next election cycle. The fact they have not made such a commitment, suggests their recent actions are merely political theater meant to pander to a constituency that democrats rely upon for maintaining power. 
The most senior members of the Democrat Party in Congress, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, donned shawls made of Kente cloth, which is associated with Ghana, while they knelt on the floor of  the US Capitol building for eight minutes and 46 seconds to show solidarity for Black Lives Matter. However, this same cadre of hypocrites has spent the last 3 1/2 years wasting taxpayers' money in the singular effort to remove Donald Trump from office rather than working together with Republican colleagues to shore up the country's crumbling infrastructure, which would provide jobs for millions and increase each worker's standard of living. However, cultivating divisiveness has been the object in order to regain and retain political power.
The writings of George Orwell have never been more timely, despite his death in 1950, within a year of publishing 1984. Consider  his observation  that "No advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimeter nearer."  This is essentially because politicians, once they have achieved power, do not want to relinquish it.  No matter how much the Democrat leadership preaches to its own choir, they do nothing to actually create more diversity within their political party. If they truly believed in promoting diversity, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders would not be their most viable candidates for the presidency. The septuagenerians running the party would retire and support the candidacies of a new generation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Struggling With Destruction

As an American citizen who believes in the beauty of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, I am struggling with the  violence against people, destruction of property and desecration of monuments that accompany the peaceful protests associated with the unconscionable murder of Mr. Floyd. My parents raised me and my siblings to treat every human with equality, respect, courtesy, kindness and welcome. My husband was raised the same way. We were raised in middle class families in the Midwest with parents that worked hard to put food on the table, educate us, instill us with values, and to do the right thing. We grew up during the turbulent 1960s, saw the devastation caused by the riots, wept when Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, and watched the events unfolding in the conflict that could not be won in Vietnam.

But history cannot be reviewed in a vacuum. The sins of the fathers should not be foisted on the sins and daughters. While I may vociferously disagree with the attitudes and choices of those who came before me, I did not walk in their shoes or inhabit their skins. At this juncture I do not blame those of prior generations, people of history that were not enlightened, those that lived by the codes of the times.

Instead I blame parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, fellow students, gangs, leaders,  associates, coworkers, employers, media, politicians and social media for the unconscionable attitudes pervasive in today’s world. The problems today are not the sins of the past. Instead, it is the attitudes of people who know better. It is the political divisiveness that is perpetuated by purported leadership of both major parties to gain votes. Our leaders divide us for political and personal gain. None of them actually care about constituents. These are wealthy insulated people that revel in the quest for power. They are all out for themselves.  It is all theater of the absurd. Think about it...they all go to parties and out for drinks togethet🤔

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Conundrums in Today’s World

Throughout history there have been winners & losers,  conquerors and conquered, explorers and native inhabitants, governors and governed, elites and peasants, lords and commons, rulers and ruled, leaders and followers, free and subjugated, employers and workers, educated and illiterate, successes and failures, wealthy and poor, celebrated and vilified. Much is contingent on time and place, birth, geographic location, the phase of the moon, or just luck.

However, I do believe that in the western world people in the 21st Century have the ability to transcend the fates of birth. Despite the fact that we as a collective people have achieved progress that was unfathomable in my youth, there is still much work to be done to reach a Nirvana in our society. Rather than decry the sins of the past, we should instead celebrate the strides that have been made.

Forty years ago today the old Commercial Union Assurance Company hired me, a woman, as an outside claims adjuster in Indianapolis. The following year they hired a black man. We were both quota hires, anomalies in a field peopled by middle aged white men wearing sans-a-belt pants, shiney jackets, and carrying clipboards. We were not welcome. The establishment tried to get us to quit. Instead a Larry and I paved the way. Now, the Claims departments in the insurance industry afford opportunities for all. I never would have imagined that when I showed up for my first day on the job on a June 9, 1980.

When one considers the progress made in just 40 years, there should be some celebration of those inroads. Yes, more progress is needed. There are still individuals that do not embrace diversity. But those individuals are lesser and poorer for their inability to embrace the current world. Rather than hate them, feel pity and sadness for their lack of enlightenment. Most people I know just accept folks for who they are. That is the beauty of today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Covid-19 ~ What I Don’t Miss

As I was enjoying my second walk surrounded by woods today, my thoughts first turned to the beauty of our rocky ridge and the comforting songs of the birds, insects and rustle of leaves in the slight breeze. But then I began to appreciate what I didn’t hear: vehicles, people talking, dogs barking, the ambient noise that we’ve become accustomed to hearing in the backgrounds of our modern lives. That caused me to reflect on all that I do not miss during our enforced stay-at-home experience.
I do not miss chain restaurants. Not once during our quarantine have either of us suggested ordering carry-out from TGI Friday, Chili’s, Texas Roadhouse, The Outback or any other ubiquitous dining establishment. On the rare occasions we did order dinner, we supported a local business. I do not miss crowds, traffic jams, shopping malls, movie theaters, public transportation, misbehaving children in public, traveling for business, sports on television, going to the yoga studio. 

Although my Libertarian beliefs disdain the heavy-handed stay at home orders that I do not believe are Constitutional, have crippled the economy and caused millions to lose jobs,  perhaps  the enforced isolation will cause some of us to appreciate a simpler existence with a renewed focus on gratitude, family, cooking at home, shorter commutes, quality over quantity, and celebration for the beauty around us. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

It Is Time For Common Sense Amidst Covid-19

Most of the USA has been shut down since mid March. For more than 2 months tens of millions of people have been ordered to shelter in place resulting in millions of lost jobs, the probable loss of small businesses that will never re-open, Congressional spending in multi trillions of dollars, a stock market crash that has devastated the retirement savings of a significant portion of the population, and the creation by some communities of tattletales reporting COVID violators and mask shaming reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Commuters deemed "essential" in the Washington, DC area have been pulled over on I66 with the Virginia State Police demanding to "see their papers" to validate a right to go into the office. 

While I fully understand the governments' desires to flatten the curve to ensure hospitals are not overwhelmed, closing the entire country to curtail the spread has in many geographical areas done more harm than good. Addicts that rely on Twelve -Step Programs which involves feeling part of a recovery community risk relapse, which can result in death. People that delayed routine medical screenings may have missed a window of opportunity for an earlier diagnosis of a disease that can be best arrested or cured when caught in its infancy. People with mental health issues miss critical in person counseling. People who rely on stress relieving therapies such as massage, acupuncture, Reformer Pilates and bio-feed back risk increased likelihood of heart attack of stroke. People are hording food. Our fishmonger told us on Friday evening that a few panic buyers cleaned him out buying 15-20 pounds of fresh fish instead of purchasing just for the weekend.

It is time to re-open the economy using common sense. People at higher risk should stay home. This includes elderly people, those of us with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, asthma, COPD, an auto immune disorder, heart disease, pulmonary disease, kidney disease or any bacterial or viral disease that could be spread in society. People with the ability to do so should be given the opportunity to telecommute. Students with underlying health conditions should be provided with high speed internet and a computer to keep up with studies. This would be an excellent use of the taxpayer's dollars earmarked by Congress for COVID-19 relief. But everybody who is able- bodied, healthy, and able to work, should re-open their businesses using common sense, return to their jobs, and get back to living. 

Most people recover from  COVID-19. The world did not shut down for AIDS or the swine flu, the dreaded smallpox, yellow fever, polio, cholera, measles, typhoid, tuberculosis, Ebola, Zika,  leprosy, the Black Death, or SARS. Destroying the economic health of the world in the pursuit to prevent even one death is admirable, but not smart or sustainable. While it may be politically incorrect to remind people of Darwin's theory of the "survival of the fittest", it is something we must consider. There will always be new diseases that emerge to cull the population. It is not fair. It is often indiscriminate. But we cannot destroy the lives of the survivors to protect all. And in this pandemic, it is those that cannot telecommute, those who must keep their businesses solvent to support numerous families, those who have invested their life's savings and all of their energies to build a business, those who must work to put food on the table, those who have an opportunity that may never come again, those who could not hold the hand or hug a loved one as they succumbed to COVID, those who could not share grief over the loss of a loved one, those who live alone and haven't had a human touch in 60 days that we must consider. It is time to re-open and embrace life.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Do Not Cut or Color Your Own Hair During Quarantine

Since I telecommute on a regular basis, being required to work from home has not altered my daily routine to any significant extent up until the bewitching hour of 5:00 PM when I would mindfully shut down my laptop and head out for yoga, Pilates, my monthly massage, acupuncture treatments,  the occasional pedicure, running errands, a date with my husband or friends and my monthly appointment at Utopia Salon for Aveda color enhancements and a haircut.

While I miss all of these activities that I consider essential to my overall well being, the closure of hair salons has cause me and most of my friends the most inconvenience and consternation.

My Facebook feed has numerous daily ads for allegedly natural hair color at home products that are easy to use for a fraction of the cost of salon color with salon results. Despite my frustration when I look in the mirror each morning with a wider "part of colorless highlights", I will resist the temptation to self treat. I've noticed too many instances over the years of "obvious" home hair color. My one foray into "at home" treatments at the tender age of 15 left me with brassy orange hair that had a straw-like texture that would have made an excellent foundation for a birds nest.

That is not to say that all salons provide the same level of competence. I'm a firm believer that one does get what one pays for. There were a few times in my young adult years where I left national chains in tears.  However, a less than stellar salon experience is still better than taking matters into your own hands. If a licensed cosmetologist provides a services that you pay for and the result is "unfortunate", you can ask them to fix it. If you screw up your own hair at home, particularly in the time of COVID-19, you will be stuck with the disaster until the quarantine lefts and our salons re-open. 

 Just say NO! Don't do it! Do you REALLY believe those celebrities that tout at home hair color  color their own hair?  Wear a hat or baseball cap or a scarf or a wide headband. I've just ordered two cute headbands from Nordstrom. Anthropologie has some cute and fabulous headbands for sale online. And I have some lovely baseball caps from local wineries. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Importance of Trying New Things

Despite the fact that I have reached a place in my life in which I am able to take advantage of the"early shopping hours" during Covid-19, I believe it is critical to keep trying new things, exploring new frontiers, embracing adventures, tasting new foods, experimenting with a different hairstyle or color, trying on clothes and makeup from an alternative brand or designer and refusing to stay in a rut.

Every time I visit my hair stylist, Brian Williams at Utopia Salon, we "tweak" my hair color and cut. I am an Aveda woman through and through, but I will push the boundaries with my color. I've embraced all shades or red or auburn and alter my cut regularly.  I will not go quietly into the night. 
During my adulthood I tended to stay rather committed to shops such as Talbots, Nordstrom, Chico's, J Jill or Soft Surroundings. Now I've embraced Anthropologie and discovered Closed Jeans, Pilcro, Citizens of Humanity, and Cecelia of New York footwear. I am obsessed by Cecelia of New York! I've found I love totes by Cuyana & Everlane, skincare from Eminence Organics, bras from Third Love, undies by Hanky Panky, earring by Lagos, boutique styles from The Artful Home, artisan soaps, Etsy handmade coffee mugs, Boll & Branch or Brooklinen sheets, 1930's fashion from House of Foxy, and cashmere & linen from Garnet Hill. 

There are also instances where I've returned to the stalwarts of my "adult youth" such as Chanel makeup, Book of the Month Club and actual books printed on paper and bound, the comfort of family, Midwestern values, and a love of a much simpler life. I've chased the dream and realized I've had what I need all along.

But what I encourage everybody to consider is the benefits of trying new things. Since I turned 50 I've embraced yoga, accomplished a head stand, practiced Pilates on a reformer, learned alternative photographic processes, attended Civil War re--enactments and living history events, sewed my own camel hair winter coat, used a sledge hammer, learned to shoot, earned a concealed carry permit, protested at the Virginia state house,  sewed mid 19th century clothing, wore a corset, learned how to cook on an open fire, used a chamber pot, drove a pick up truck, caught the yard on fire, tried acupuncture, scheduled monthly massage therapy, made sausage, laid tile, reupholstered two wing chairs, renovated a bathroom, wrote a blog, and began to understand that I can let go of "things".

Monday, April 13, 2020

Online Purchases During Covid-19 Quarantine

During one of my foraging adventures last week I heard some talking heads on the radio discuss the oddest things they’d purchased online since the “Stay at Home” directives. That really had me thinking about the atypical purchases we’ve made online recently.

Despite my short-lived intentions at the new year to avoid buying clothes, I used the excuse of my 20 pound weight loss to indulge in new jeans & shorts. And Brahmin did offer a 25% discount on handbags recently, which tempted me to buy the bags I’ve lusted over. And I routinely order books, skincare products, makeup, shoes, cat food, bird seed and Aveda products.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. Yes, I ordered 3 cases of wine from Rappahannock Vineyards. Free shipping! Artisan olive oils & balsamic vinegar from our local Flavour Perfection. Almost instant delivery!  Bandanas! There has been a bandana shortage! Yeast for baking! Bamboo drawer organizers that are easily found at Lowe’s in normal times. Laundry detergent & fabric softener, paper towels, Slap Yo Mama spices, and coffee mugs from Etsy.

What unusual things have you ordered while in quarantine? Did I mention yeast?

Thank You Sherry & Bob♥️

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Celebrating the Blessings of Easter Amidst Quarantine

Those of us who live in the modern world are truly blessed considering the adverse impacts of epidemics throughout history. Modern medicine, scientists, the ability to spread information instantly, pharmaceutical research, wealthy governments that can implement financial strategies that aid the citizenry, technology that affords many of us to telecommute, modern banking that gives us access to money even when we can't get to a bank, e-commerce that allows us to order food or wine or dry goods or any number of things we don't need inline to be delivered within days, transportation infrastructure that affords goods to be moved from one geographical area to another almost instantly, freezers and refrigeration that give us the opportunity to stock up on food, doctors and nurses that can get on a plane and provide care where it is needed, the ability for modern industry to shift focus and retool factories to churn out respirators or masks, knowledge of how disease is transmitted and the education of the people that gives them the tools to understand to importance of social distancing. I've provided a link to an article about epidemics throughout history that can provide insights in to our good fortune. 

This post is not to diminish the challenges we face as a people, the illnesses, the inability to cure the disease and the fact that many of us will lose people we love. Instead, I mean to put the pandemic in context.  Rather than denigrate governments for failing to address the spread of the disease instantaneously, consider celebrating the wonders of modern society that will allow us to limit the devastation that would have occurred in another time and place.  There is no magic bullet that will end this. There is no absolutely right answer - how to balance the health and safety of citizens vs. the health of the economy. I prefer to avoid making judgments about these issues because I am not a public health expert, virologist, epidemiologist, or biologist.  Just celebrate our blessings that we live in a first world country that has the resources to do what must be done - hopefully without eroding our civil liberties. 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Life in Quarantine During Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has altered our collective views of the world in the blink of an eye. As a die-hard Libertarian, I initially resisted government intervention and intellectually rebelled against what is essentially marital law. I don't like it. I do not want to comply. I believe that governors should allow localities to enforce regulations that make sense for that particular geographical area. I would prefer a more tempered, nuanced approach that did not infringe upon my civil rights and force businesses to close - with the awareness that many small businesses that are not considered essential may not survive. But, a part of me understands the need for the lock-down because we Americans enjoy freedoms that most if not all other societies do not enjoy. And the knee-jerk reactions of citizens and government alike are counter-productive. Sure, lock down New York, Philadelphia and Jersey City - but why Harrisonburg, Virginia? 

Why not a more nuanced approach? Why not consider that people at risk should practice social distancing and encourage corporations to implement telecommuting? 

I do not understand the hording mentality, the need to compile enough toiler paper, chicken, Lysol or bleach to last a lifetime. 

It is beyond my comprehension  why a liquor store, restaurant, or WalMart is considered "essential", but my Pilates studio, yoga studio, massage spa, and acupuncture practice is not. These contribute far more to my over-all well-being than a drive-thru McDonald's. 

Overall, my concern involves the slippery slope that could result in a few politicians enjoying their power over the citizenry just a little too much. I do agree that huge gatherings should be discouraged. I do agree that it makes sense to encourage self quarantine. But I really loathe the concept of a nanny state imposing restrictions that bears too close a similarity to the movie I watched on Turner Classic Movies this morning - the 1944 Address Unknown about the erosion of civil liberties in Germany. It resonated. Just food for thought.

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 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. 😍