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"