Sunday, December 31, 2023

The Adversary, by Michael Crummey ~ A Book Review

 The Adversary by Canadian Author Michael Crummey, is not an easy read. I’d not read any of his works prior to being afforded the opportunity to read a pre-publication galley courtesy of and the US publisher, Doubleday Books, in exchange for an honest review. 

The grim, dark, brutal story takes place in perhaps early 19th Century Mockbeggar, with the primary business being salted cod fisheries, on the northern coast of Newfoundland. The book follows the hatred and competition for control of the fisheries and related mercantile businesses between two siblings: Abe Strapp and the Widow. 

The author employs the unique colorful language of the settlers and populates of  Mockbeggar and nearby Nonsuch with the Beadle, Matterface, Old Soot, the Duke of Limbs, Heater, and the Jerseyman all featuring prominently. 

Despite the presence of the Church of England and a society of Quakers,  most of the characters  are corrupt, soulless, conniving and mean-spirited. Because I love historical fiction and an author that uses words artfully in telling a tale, I am giving this book four stars. But, there is little positivity in The Adversary. Plague, amputations, scourging, retribution, piracy, graft, audaciously unsavory language, creative terms for body parts, a bit of unconsenting sodomy, more plague, death, death and more death. 

While I did enjoy a great deal about the book, it was  certainly not an uplifting book for the holiday season. Or a beach read. 

Saturday, December 30, 2023

2023 ~ A Year Filled With Challenges, New Experiences, Acceptance & Gratitude


At the beginning of each new year, I like to consider with gratitude the fact that I’ve lived a blessed life with experiences I could not have fathomed during my childhood in Logansport, Indiana. The journey has been enlightening, glorious, at times painful & sorrowful,  joyful, interesting, and given me tools of resilience, learning my self worth, and a realization that I’ve earned certain good fortune and privileges.

I am filled with gratitude that my 91 year old father is still among us, that my brother left a happy life in Texas and moved back to  Indiana to look him, and that whiskey and cigars have kept them mostly peaceful.

My husband and I celebrated the anniversary of the day we met in February at the incomparable Inn at Little Washington, a destination on our bucket lists that fulfilled all expectations. 

Then, I discovered my Lasik surgery had not failed after several years. Instead, I was diagnosed with bilateral cataracts. Despite the realization that my health insurance would not pay for the laser treatment that brings the most favorable outcomes, I decided it would be worth the expense to undergo the laser surgery with artificial lens implants. The results have been astounding. My vision is back to where it was 15 years ago. A true miracle of modern medicine. 

My delightful spousal unit convinced me to hire a personal style consultant to help me fine tune my wardrobe, eliminate items that did not serve me well, and curate a closet full of YES! I retained Lani & Kyle with Real Life Style in Washington, DC. The process was exciting, and resulted in 17 bags of donations, a virtual closet with outfits put together for me, a style profile, a guide to my power colors, and the suggestion to avoid buying anymore shoes. Well, I bought FEWER shoes in 2023. 

We adopted our orange Siberian kitty, Milo, on Mother’s Day. We’d been without an orange boy for a couple of years. Life is just better with an orange cat. How could anyone resist that sweet face!

The summer arrived with my having a frightening accident on the Pennsylvania turnpike, followed by two unsettling bacterial infections and the need to replace our entire HVAC system during the hottest weeks of July and August. But I am grateful that no other vehicles were involved in the auto accident and that modern medicine and strong antibiotics saved me from the infection that could have resulted in sepsis. Not to mention, I was able to replace the Honda Pilot with a car I love! We are fortunate that our hard work over the years have provided the financial resources to weather these challenges. 

And we finally, thanks to Elon Musk and Starlink, have reasonably priced internet service that allows us to stream video and move into the 21st century. Thanks to his ingenuity, we have Starlink, PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla. He’s earned his billions. 

The deteriorating health of my beloved in-laws has caused sadness. Todd and I are making frequent trips to Michigan and Indiana, generally separately because of our individual needs to give honor to the parents that raised us. But we are both grateful to have them still in our lives and want them to feel appreciated while they are alive rather than having regrets later. 

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is not always easy. But it does help me to keep things in perspective.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023


Merry Christmas 2023! How can it be that I am celebrating Christmas in my 64th year! How did this happen? Rhetorical, of course. The trajectory of life takes us down different paths. Life has its own ideas. It is impossible to predict where the path will take us. But, we can accept what is. 

Today, Christmas 2023, brings a multitude of feelings. My mom has been gone nearly 7 years. My heart still aches for this loss. But I celebrate the fact that my dad is still among us, a bit addled, mostly cognizant, generally positive, appreciative of friends, at times lonely. I am grateful.

My partner and I tend to eschew decorating, buying into the commercialism of Christmas, purchasing gifts that people would prefer to exchange for cash, pondering the meaning of life or considering the less than optimal choices we’ve made. Whatever!

I celebrate the best choices I’ve made, accept the less than optimal decisions I’ve made and aspire to make better decisions in the future. But, I will not give in to ideology that doesn’t resonate. Maybe it just doesn’t matter. But, I  think it does. 

 It does. HH





Sunday, December 17, 2023

Family Estrangement & Siblings


I love the family photographs from my childhood, when we were happy, innocent and unaware of the vicissitudes of life that would cause we siblings to become estranged. I love my brother and sister. Generally, at least two of us are amenable at a time. But, there have been lengthy periods when separation has been the best course of action.

Throughout adulthood my most fraught relationship involved my younger sister. At times it feels as if we were raised by different parents in different households. Our memories of childhood are so dissimilar that it feels as if we lived in alternative universes. 

Additionally, our political , real world and social views are diametrically opposed. 

She inhabits the ivory towers of academia, which I loathe with every fiber of my being. It is an ambiance of DEI, participation trophies, helicopter parenting and pandering to woke ideology that I believe has threatened western society. 

Despite my years of soft skills training, in a family environment, I failed to resist the devil on my left shoulder and share my opinions a bit too freely. Dare I admit, I addressed the pink elephant in the center of the room. Yes, I’ve said what I think, which exacerbated the schism.

Occasionally, I have regrets. I love my sister. She can be delightful, funny, inspiring, smart, feisty, and resilient. But, it is better for me to maintain my distance, protect my sanity, avoid being drawn into the morass, communicate by text once in a blue moon, and focus on my peace & serenity. I’ve fought hard to get here. I am content. 

Friday, December 1, 2023

Sandra Day O’Connor, The Icons of My Youth Keep Falling


Sandra Day O’Connor departed this world today, in the same week another icon of my youth, Henry Kissinger, left us for the great beyond.

Ronald Reagan appointed Ms. Day O’Connor  to the Supreme Court at a time when women were still pressing against a glass ceiling that has still not been shattered more than 30 years later. To a young woman coming of age at the time of her appointment, she was a lioness. 

Instead of trying to blaze a judicial trail of activism, she instead sought the middle ground, conservative, consistent, true to the Constitution, fair, equitable, considerate of precedent, unwilling to crash the Apple cart, aware of history. 

To a young woman that had to fight for equality in my own industry, standing stoic and refusing to be marginalized in the Midwest of the 1980s and early 1990’s, who endured sexism, harassment, ridicule, marginalization, discrimination and disdain for daring to take a job at what had been previously a man’s world, I understand to a limited degree the flaming hoops she had to leap through and navigate merely because she was a brilliant, educated woman.

She is a shining example of women who have braved the storm, fought the good fight, tread where no woman had gone before, and made us proud, empowered and aware of our agency. 

Rest in peace my icon. Thank you for what you endured to pave the way for future generations. Without Sandra Day O’Connor there would be no Ruth Badger Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Amy Barrett, or Elena Kagan. She broke the mold. 

Now, in 2023, we have four women on the court of nine justices! Just WOW! 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Henry Kissinger, A Man For All Seasons


Love him or hate him, Henry Kissinger represents the best of American exceptionalism. He was born in Nazi Germany. His family made the decision to leave in 1938 before the government began eliminating Jews. He joined the US Army before becoming a citizen. He was part of a unit that lost liberated a concentration camp. That was a seminal moment for this great statesman. 

Many people disagree with his shuttle diplomacy. Many disagree with his ideology. But, modern ideologues fail to appreciate that hard decisions must be made. Kissinger understood that sacrifices are critical to diplomacy. Sometimes it is necessary to make hard decisions for the greater good. Modern politicians do not have the abilities to make such choices because they care too much about polls,

I am grateful that I lived in an era where statesmen made those hard decision that sacrificed the few for the benefit of the many. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Not Everyone Enjoys “The Holidays “


“The Holidays” are overrated. Society expects us to embrace love, charity, family, consumerism and the Hallmark channel while being inundated with holiday cheer, syrupy movies, bad music and  the false promise of peace on earth with goodwill towards humankind. 

Instead, people overspend on unappreciated gifts hoping to buy love or affection. Parents hope over the top gifts will replace spending time with their children. Corporations attempt to appear generous and community minded by hosting a collection for toys for. Tots. It is all about image.

During all of this hullabaloo, real people are grieving for loved ones who have died; disadvantaged people resent being made emblems for corporate “charity”; people and animals are left homeless n the streets; government organizations send money to foreign countries while ignoring a crisis at home; politicians use disadvantaged citizens as props; news organizations eschew their responsibility to commit to honest, unbiased journalism; Congress continues to engage in partisan wars that benefit only their reelection coffers; ideologues care only about an agenda without thought of constituents. 

The media, the political class, the NGOs, community organizations, local governments, we the people must recalibrate. So what if people spend less on stuff. So what if people feel unengaged. So what if Americans decide that “ holidays” don’t mean shopping. It is okay if people refuse to engage in the holiday maelstrom. 

My mother died at Christmas.  My friends have experienced loss during th holidays. Don’t try to force us to celebrate. Accept that his is not the happiest time of year for many. Be compassionate. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Appreciation of Gratitude- November 2023


I am bereft, at a loss, confused and struggling with Thanksgiving 2023. My beloved Mother-in-law, Jan Harrington, is struggling with dementia. It is an insidious disease, that has robbed a beautiful, dynamic, independent woman of her agency, sense of self, mental acuity, and ability to have her say. I’m at a loss to describe the deterioration of this amazing woman who raised my husband and his fearless sister. 

The deterioration has been unrelenting and fast. We did not expect this. Her mother grandma Moore, was lucid at 103. We’ve recalibrated our expectations for our future lives. We see the toll this has taken on loved ones. 

But, we also celebrate that we still have this incomparable women in our live, that her husband (my father in law) still loves the woman she has been for 68 years, and that despite our sadness, we still see glimpses of the women we love, who has an amazing history and an ability to love unconditionally. For this, I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

What is the History of American Thanksgiving Day? Do you know?


Do you know this history of American Thanksgiving? My guess is the typical American does not. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day holiday in 1863, in the midst of the American Civil War. 

Yes, there is a great deal of lore regarding the original Thanksgiving. There are many stories about the ‘First’ Thanksgiving involving “The Pilgrims”, which results in questions about what really happened. 

At the end of the day, does it really matter? One can look at history through a 21st Century lens and judge those who came before us. But, it is folly to do so. Unless you have lived in the skin and souls of those who came before, it is impossible to judge. Modern people fail to look at the context, political environment, world order, beliefs, opportunities, oppression, fear, bravery and philosophies of people who came before us.

There have always been conquests and conquered. There have always been oppressed and oppressors; there have always been people exploring and looking for a better way of life. Study history and appreciate there are nuances. The original settlers in what became America were looking for freedom of religion. Many died of starvation and disease. Do you really think they risk everything to be deemed oppressers hundreds of years later? No! They wanted to escape oppression and execution by intolerant monarchies. 

Nuance. Context. Time & place considerations. Judge not lest ye be judged.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Gratitude- American Thanksgiving Week Monday 2023


Gratitude is a concept each of us should embrace. Consider that gratitude grounds us, brings us contentment and hope. No matter what each of us experiences, it is more likely than not that another human soul is experiencing something worse. 

Those of us who have descended into the valley of despair and fought our way to peace & serenity appreciate that in life all things are relative. Particularly if we are blessed to live in a place where we can thrive.

Americans who whine about situations over which they have no control are in most scenarios blessed. Those of us who had the good fortune of being born and/or raised in the country must sing to the heavens the abundance that has given us opportunities that those born elsewhere do not enjoy.

Protesters denigrating the American experience would, no doubt, reconsider their antipathy if they were compelled to spend even a week in a country with fewer freedoms. 

Have you ever visited a country where people lived in a lean to next to the railroad tracks? Have you ever seen families exist in tents with dirt floors and pigs running rampant inside?Have you ever seen parents that have disabled their children to make them more effective beggars? Have you ever visited a country where you wish you could adopt all of the at risk children with the chance to bring  them to the USA to give them an opportunity for something more? Have you ever seen a government give tours to exploit their citizens? Have you ever experienced people refusing to engage for fear of angering their government? Have you ever been so horrified by the way people have been treated in their own countries that you’ve lost faith in mankind?

I have. Multiple times. That is why I cannot understand those American citizens that denounce the very foundation of who we are. That is why I am horrified by the antisemitism rampart in Universities, member of Congress, and uninformed people. We, the people, are required by our ideology to embrace people from all cultures and all walks of life unless they denounce the rule of  law and human rights.

That requires us to eschew support for Hamas, Iran, China, Russia, North Korea and any other entity that rejects  fairness and the need to protect human dignity regardless of race, creed, color, religion, country of origin, language, socioeconomic level, sex, identity or favorite color. Anyone who supports totalitarianism, intolerance, castigation of others for their beliefs or political affiliation or because of any human characteristic. 

Judge not yest thee be judged. 

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Thanksgiving Week 2023 / Cultivating An Attitude of Gratitude ~Sunday


As we begin a week of Celebrating American Thanksgiving in 2023, in a year filled with international turmoil, collective disdain for the leading presidential candidates, the deteriorating conditions of loved ones, and a mass exodus of my work colleagues for retirement or greener pastures, I’ve learned that for my psychological and physical wellbeing, I must remind myself of the myriad things for which I feel grateful. 

I first heard of this valuable tool for self care at my anxiety filled, teary- eyed inaugural Al Anon meeting at St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong, October 1993. 

My life was falling apart. I could imagine no glimmer of hope for healing. Then, one of those sharing said that in her darkest hours, she would go through the alphabet and try to think of one thing starting with each letter for which she as grateful. 

Sometimes, when happenings in the  world feel incomprehensible, I place my head against my pillow, close my eyes, and try this exercise. 

A- Anya, my Siberian kitty

B- bacon jam with jalapeños & bees & books & Bill of Rights & the beach

C- cashmere & crabcakes & creativity & cars & cookies & cheese & US Constitution 

D- deviled eggs & driving & our deck 

E- evening skies & eyesight & electricity & experience 

F- family & friends & flowers & FREEDOM & great food

G- gardens & guacamole & gasoline & gin 

H- health & hearing & history 

I- independence & individuality & Internet 

J- a job that pays for my life outside of work

K- kittens & my kitchen

L - laughter, love,  leisure & lights

M - memories & Mindy, our Ragdoll & Milo our orange kitty & music

N- Nordstrom 😎

O - open minded people

P - peace, plenty, parties

Q- Quince organic cotton, quiet times, 

R - respect for institutions, the American flag, & our great Republic 🇺🇸

S- silence, serenity, serendipity, sight, smell, stars, the sky, the sun, sea, 

T- time, Todd, travel, tenacity

U- understanding 

V- victory of good over evil & vino 

W- wine 

X- nothing comes to mind today but my Xtreme branded treadmill

Y - Daffodils 🌼 

Z- zippers

Try it. Make your own list off the top of your head. What is on your gratitude list today? 

Saturday, November 18, 2023

American Schools, Politicians & Families Must Teach Children To Love Our Country Again!


John F. Kennedy famously implored American to ask what each of us can do for our country rather than what our country can do for us. Sometime over the past decades, perhaps beginning with LBJ’s “Great Society” that created the Welfare State, Americans started to forget the foundations upon which this great country was built. 

How many young adults, leftist politicians and educators  truly appreciate the words that form preamble to our Constitution: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, infuse domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. 

The promise is aspirational. Representatives from 13 colonies, formed by disparate religious groups, refugees, countries of origin, languages, criminal backgrounds, socioeconomic groups, ideologies and beliefs argued and ultimately compromised on many fundamental issues to establish a new form of republican government. There has been political discord from the beginning. That is the nature of humankind. 

The American Civil War resulted in emancipation of enslaved people and preserved the Union. In 1913 more than 50,000 veterans of the war gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. 

President Wilson noted “We have found one another again as brothers and comrades in arms, enemies no longer, generous friends rather, our battles long past, the quarrel forgotten- except that we shall not forget the splendid valor.”

If these former enemies, some would call the Confederate veterans traitors, could meet without overt rancor, acting civilly and  without violence, why should we tolerate the civil unrest, hate, looting, refusal to honor the flag, and outright disdain for the American ideals from those who benefit from our freedoms and way of life.

Anyone who excuses terrorists, supports communism and Marxism, who condemns the United States of America, should get on a plane, train, boat, bicycle, hot air balloon or his/her feet and depart this country. Go live in Russia, China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, North Korea, Iran, Yemen, Lebanon, and see how much freedom one enjoys there. Good luck! 

In most of these countries the protestors would be shot, imprisoned, tortured, drowned, poisoned, blown up, or  just ‘disappear’. 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Genocide by Pol Pot & Khmer Rouge in Cambodia 1975 to 1979


Too many people do not know that the National Holocaust Museum commemorates the horror perpetrated on innocent civilians beyond the abominations committed by the Nazis against Jewish people. 

There are so many examples of totalitarian governments and people filled with hate and a lust for power in recent history. How can reasonable people process the murder and destruction by despots of its own citizens? 

One of the most heinous atrocities in the 20th Century involved the deliberate, systematic murder of approximately 2,000,000 ( two million) Cambodians by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. This was perpetrated by Marxists, supported by China, to convert Cambodia into a Maoist society reminiscent with results similar to Mao’s Cultural Revolution resulting in the Great Chinese Famine that starved millions. Power corrupts. Communism is brutal. 

Remember. Never forget. I urge you to watch the film, First They Killed My Father, directed by Angelina Jolie. This was recommended to me by a woman who escaped the killing fields as a child.

Another excellent view into the horror of this time and place is the movie The Killing Fields, a 1984 film that depicted the experiences of  New York Times reporter, Sydney Schanberg, who covered the invasion of Cambodia with the help of a local translator, Dith Pran, who was portrayed by Dr. Haing  S angora, a survivor of the Killing Fields who was later murdered in a home invasion in California after winning an Oscar for his performance.  


Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The Difference Between Genocide and Casualties of War

Campus protesters, members of the Congressional “Squad”, Marxists, progressives and certain news outlets allege that Israel is committing genocide of Palestinian people in Gaza. This is a misunderstanding of what constitutes genocide. 

Encyclopedia Britannica defines genocide as  the deliberate and systematic destruction of a of people because of their ethnicitynationality, religion, or race. While the term was first used during World War II to describe the Nazi ‘final solution’, there have been numerous instances of genocide throughout history. 
There is no question that Jews and other people deemed ‘less than’ by the Third Reich were victims of genocide. 

Regrettably, Palestinians and other residents in Gaza are collateral damage in Israel’s efforts to justifiably eradicate Hamas, a terrorist organization that vows to destroy Israel and the Jewish people. The attacks by Hamas on October 7, 2023 constituted an act of war just as heinous as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA in 2001 and the January 7, 2015 attacks at Charlie Hebdo and the November 13, 2015 attacks by ISIL at the Batavian Theatre in Paris. Retaliation against terrorists that murder innocent civilians and use other civilians as human shields are responsible for the collateral damage. These victims are casualties of war, not victims of genocide. 

British civilians were victims of bombings, Norwegian merchant marines were torpedoed, Dresden residents were killed, the Lusitania was attacked, residents of the Balkans were murdered, opponents of Franco and Il Duce were purged, and the Romans enslaved their captives. These casualties were not victims of genocide anymore than the casualties in Gaza. 

Words matter. Much as I am not a fan of Joe Biden, he certainly has not earned the moniker Genocide Joe. That is actually defamatory. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

A Lesson on What Actually Constitutes Genocide - Orhdruf Concentration Camp 1945


Photos Courtesy of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library.

April 4, 1945, the U.S Army liberated Orhdruf Concentration Camp. This was a forced labor camp that was a part of the Buchenwald’s purview. 

General Patton refused to enter because it was so horrifying. General Eisenhower toured the camp on April 12th. He decided that it was critical to document the atrocities committed by the Nazis against Jews.

Any American student, resident, visitor, citizen, member of Congress, employee of government or University or business or news outlet that defends the atrocities of Hamas against Israeli citizens, visitors, contractors, civilians or foreigners has apparently been denied a thorough education. 

More than 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. Israel was founded to give Jewish people a home, where they could be free of oppression. 

Regrettably, too many have forgotten the pledge to NEVER FORGET.

Monday, October 30, 2023

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught How To Hate~ Who Taught The Cornell Professors & Antisemitic Students Protesting?

Peaceful protest is an American right protected by the Constitution. Inciting violence against any group of people or individual is not. 

Protesting the killing of Palestinian civilians is protected speech. Calling for the death of Jews or Israeli people is not. 

It is clear that the education system in the United States of America has failed at its most critical duty…which is to teach young people how to read, write, perform basic mathematics, learn basics of American and world history and develop critical thinking skills. 

What is most concerning is the fact that students and professors at ‘so-called’ elite universities and colleges are so under-educated in fundamental knowledge. It appears as if ‘elite’ in the 21st Century equates to ‘expensive’, not necessarily ‘excellent’ at conveying information that one needs to live peacefully in a civilized world.

James Michener won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1948 for his Tales of the South Pacific, a collection of stories about the Pacific campaign of World War II from his observations while serving in the US Navy. These stories reflect the prejudices of people encountering those from South Pacific native peoples. In the play titled South Pacific, based loosely on theses stories, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein include a song by one of the characters, Lt. Cable, about people raised to hate those who are different.

Anyone who espouses hate for Jewish people and the state of Israel for defending the right to exist have been carefully taught all of the wrong things by ignorant teachers, parents, administrators, friends, propaganda and ivory tower professors who could not survive outside the confines of academia.

Every vociferous protestor should be compelled to visit one of the haunting Holocaust museums, read  Elie Wiesel’s NIGHT, and watch Schindler’s List directed by Stephen Spielberg. 

During my formative years, we were taught NEVER AGAIN. What happened!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Daughters of Shandong by Eve Chung

Resilient Women in a Patriarchal World

Daughters of Shandong is a must read for fans of Wild Swans, Peach Blossom Spring, and books by Lisa See and Amy Tan. This story celebrates the strength & resiliency of women who were 'less than' because of having been born female. Even today, sons are preferred in China & Taiwan. 

Having been privileged to live in Taiwan & Hong Kong and spoken to survivors of WWII and the Civil War between the communists and Nationalists, these stories are critical to our understanding of the past as well as the current political challenges facing ROC from PRC. I moved to Taipei in 1988, just after Chiang Ching Kuo died and martial law was lifted. Filial piety was still expected. Since that time women in Taiwan have triumphed in society and government. Loved this book! 

Thanks to BookBrowse and BerkleyBooks  for a chance to read an Advance Readers Copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 23, 2023

For the Good of the Country, Please Dump Trump & Biden


My fellow Americans, it is time to make intelligent decisions about our nations future. Donald Trump is a toxic, self centric narcissist who has damaged our reputation throughout the world. Joe Biden is a charlatan who has used his political positions for personal financial gain. Neither candidate is worthy of representing this great nation either domestically or on the world stage.

Why do the career politicians in Congress continue to support these has-beens? What is the basis for the fear that causes each to kowtow to the political machines that argue for their prominence? What happened to the America that heard and believed FDR when he said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. What happened to the Americans who celebrated when JFK asked us to consider not what the country could do for us, but what we can do for our country?

The Democrats shudder in fear and allow members of the squad, the progressives, and loudest media savvy politicians to create the narratives. The Republicans quake in fear of offending Donald Trump and his acolytes. 

Call them on it! Don’t let the extremists win! Do the right thing for America!!!!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

George Orwell’s 1984 Should Be Required Reading For Wanna Be Socialists In 2023


Last night I started reading a new book for my online book club through BookBrowse.Com, titled  1984 Julia by Sandra Newman. I’ve been a BookBrowse member for years and appreciate the occasional privilege of receiving a pre-publication galley in exchange for an honest review or a book with interesting themes to participate in the online book club.

1984 Julia is a retelling of George Orwell’s prescient classic from the perspective of Julia,  with approval of the George Orwell Estate. In just the first chapter, it is abundantly evident that Ms. Newman has captured the dystopian themes of the totalitarian society of Oceania and Big Brother so brutally & disconcertingly portrayed. 

In the first 18 pages of Julia 1984 the theme of Orwell are mind numbing. Julia works in the Ministry of Truth. The employees are compelling to attend The Hate where everyone must express HATE against anyone that opposed The Party.

Even one chapter gave me chills as the extreme right and extreme left seek to nullify people with middle of the road, common sense ideals.

The elites of Academia, the propaganda orchestrator of the press and political class, the hate mongers, those who advocate disregard for citizens of the world based upon country of origin or religion, those who have failed to study world history, those who have been brainwashed by socialist institutions that allege to propagate higher learning have FAILED in every way to support what is historically considered a liberal education.

Hate is unacceptable. Prejudice is unacceptable. Supporting any state that supports terrorists is wrong. Blaming the victim is wrong. Supporting genocide is incomprehensible. Idiotic ill-informed, undereducated, lightweight, proponents of killing must be marginalized. Consequences should be real. 

Read Orwell. He predicted today based upon the totalitarianism of his time. Just say no. Refuse to be indoctrinated. Teach moderation, consensus, compromise, compassion, acceptance, awareness, respect, rejection of prejudice, consideration of the people in the place and time of history, learn not to judge unless you’ve walked a mile in another’s shoes. 

Thursday, October 12, 2023

No Room for Hate ~ Remember The Holocaust


America was founded on the principles of tolerance. After World War II Americans and the world saw that  the Nazis, hate and the vilification of the Jewish people resulted in the annihilation of millions of innocent people. 

The world said ‘never again’. But, the world has forgotten. The world has forgotten the atrocities of the Nazis. The world has forgotten the genocide of the Jewish. The world has forgotten the camps of Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen and Treblinka. The world has apparently forgotten that at the conclusion of WWII the Allies agreed to establish a space of land for Jewish people to live free of the threat of death squads. 

Yes, Palestinian people were displaced. I know families that were driven from their homes. That was ill-advised and wrong. But, there was no ideal solution. The decision was made by the major prevailing powers to establish a Jewish state. This was no more disruptive than the results of wars throughout history. But this decision has resulted in 75 years of continued unrest or war. 

Not withstanding the legitimate concerns of the Palestinian people, Hamas does not represent them. Hamas represents itself and uses  Palestinian people as pawns in its reign of terror. Hamas does not seek a solution for the residents of Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Egypt or other Arab states. Instead Hamas, under the direction of Iran, seeks destabilization of the Middle East to eradicate western influence and the Jewish people. It is a Holocaust redux. Inexcusable. Abhorrent. Disgusting. Against the laws of nature and any reasonable religion.

And the American students demonstrating in support of Hamas must be the products of of a failed liberal education. I applaud the executives of major employers who refuse to employ the misguided zealots that decry the right of Israel to exist. One must wonder if they’ve ever submitted DNA for testing. It is my guess a significant number have Jewish blood and would have been eliminated in the Nazi purges. It only took a nominal percentage of Jewish blood. 

Please, decry the hate filled hearts of the Squad and their minions. We are better than that, at least that iscwhatvInwant to believe.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

No Excuses~ Hamas Attack on Israel


There are no excuses by any group, political entity, university organization, religious order, state or individual who celebrates the slaughter of civilians. As an American I am horrified by the student groups at Harvard, Columbia, NYU and members of the “Squad” who argue that the acts of Hamas can be justified in any way, shape or form. The degradation of any people is abhorrent. Those who continue in their antisemitism should be vilified by any human being with an iota of compassion for humanity. In our modern world of mixed race and religion, it is more likely than not that we are all part of the mixology that defies compartmentalization by color, religion, race or country of origin. None of us can claim “purity” of genealogy of background. Essential, most of us are mutts. Get over it. 

Accept it. There is no such animal as a pure blooded human unless that person originated in a remote tribe that has not assimilated into modern society. Hamas made the decision to annihilate anyone who may have traveled to Israel to study, visit friends or family, explore the country that gave birth to more than one religion, to do business, to visit holy sites. 

The assault against civilians by Hamas qualifies them as the lowest form of life. Those of the animal kingdom kill only for food. Only humans kill for sport. Any group that supports these troglodytes should be marginalized by humankind.

I applaud the CEOs of American companies that have pledged to “file 13” any job applicants that belonged to organizations supporting Hamas. These university students are not “ children”. Kudos to those who stand for their principles and hold our young adults to a high standard. Shame to Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Stanford and all of the “woke” alleged institutions of higher learning that abrogate the rights of free speech unless it is leftist propaganda. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Beheading Babies & Executing Elderly is NOT Okay

 Yes, I get it. Israel is not a state without flaws. There are nuances to questions regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state, the treatment of Palestinian people by Israel in Gaza and historical disagreements that span millennia. But, there is no possible argument to support the slaughter of innocent civilians. Hamas, Hezbollah, the rogue state of Iran exist in an environment of hate that has no explanation.

What I was a university student studying abroad, I had the privilege of sharing my life with students from Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Oman, China, countries of Europe and Turks. As students we realized that what we had in common was humanity in an imperfect world. The year was 1979. The student in Iran occupied the US embassy in Tehran. It was painful for Americans and for the Iranian students who could not contact their loved ones.

Since that tenuous time, Iran has morphed into a rogue state that denigrates women, kills dissidents, holds foreigners hostage for political gain, actively supports terrorists that seek to eradicate Israel and the west, tries to disrupt political alliances, and subjugates its citizens in the misguided name of Allah. 

Studies of world religions will show that the higher power of the world’s great religions advocate peace, kindness, and acceptance of our fellow human beings rather than hate, oppression, war, abuse of power, murder and fomenting discontent. I do not believe that the Koran teaches followers to murder in the name of God anymore than I believe the God of Christianity would have encouraged the Crusaders of the Middle Ages to eradicate those with different beliefs ap during that era.

People have too often employed, wrongly, their religious beliefs throughout human existence to vilify, eradicate, torture, enslave, crush, destroy, marginalize, martyr, eliminate or otherwise erase those with differing beliefs instead of seeking common ground.

The biggest disappointment for me is understanding that we are allegedly enlightened citizens of the 21st century.  Apparently we have, as a people, learned nothing from our collective history. How can that be? 

Monday, October 9, 2023

Condemning Iran, Hamas, Harvard Students & The Squad


Any individual, organization or state that supports the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas and Iran against Israeli citizens must be denounced, cancelled, excoriated, vilified, ostracized,  condemned and humiliated. We cannot silence them because the Constitution of the United States of America affords them the right to freedom of speech, a right that must be defended. What is unconscionable is the fact that individuals enjoying the privileges of citizenship, legal residency or student visas believe that people of sovereign nations should not enjoy the same right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we in America too often fail to appreciate.

How can any human being with an iota of intelligence, compassion, integrity, humanity or sense of dignity applaud the atrocities committed by Hamas and Iran?  These reprobates celebrate the murders and kidnappings of innocent civilians including Holocaust survivors, children, the disabled, young people enjoying a festival or civilians asleep in their beds. 

Any person who disavows the principles of the US Constitution should depart the great country post haste. Leave and spread your hate elsewhere. The members of “The Squad” should resign from Congress and crawl back into the caves from which they emerged with their hate, disdain for all that is good in America, their immature and uneducated views of the world, their prejudices, and their failure to appreciate that we the people are overall honest, open, kind, generous, compassionate, welcoming, respectful people that abhor the baser instincts of the human condition. If you belong to one of the individuals, states, political groups or organizations that celebrate the invasions of Israel and Ukraine, you should feel shame for believing it is okay to laud the slaughter of innocents, of vacationers, of babies, of young people on the precipice of adulthood, of young couples, of children, of the aged who survived prior wars, of those with divergent religious beliefs or political affiliation. 

YOU are the PROBLEM.

Yes, the American political culture is divided. That was actually the intent of those who founded our great nation. There have been huge arguments about the future of the USA since John Adams and Thomas Jefferson opposed one another for the presidency. But, we as a people survived. Let us hope that we the people can repel the disgusting people that endeavor to crush this great republic by supporting terrorists, rogue nations and dictators. Do not let the ne’er do-wells win. Stand up for what is right and just. Live up to tour duty as an American to support freedom wherever it may be found. 

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Nostalgia ~ Sirius XM ~ The Bridge


Yes, my music taste runs the gamut from renaissance to gothic to classical orchestral to Gilbert & Sullivan to opera to Stravinsky to Aaron Copeland to Big Band to New Orleans Jazz to early R&B to Elvis to classical guitar to movie themes to rock or new wave or grunge or alternative to singer songwriter to blue grass. Ultimately, I love music in its many iterations. But, notwithstanding my appreciation for Mozart’s REQUIEM or Stravinsky’s Firebird or Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue or Rachmaninov’s piano concertos or swing or blues…I feel nostalgia for the music of my youth. 

Thanks to Apple Music and The Bridge on Sirius XM I can reminisce while driving, listening to The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kansas, Bread, Boz Skaggs, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Simon & Garfunkel, Gerry Rafferty, ELO and recall times of my youth that bring me fond memories.

Music is part of the soul. The music of Chicago brings me back to my freshman year in high school. Donna Summer, my college years, the themes to Apocalypse Now..the end of my school days. How cathartic to think of these tunes as a microcosm of time, of a place in my history, of wonderful memories. Thankful for the ease of linking my past with my current self. This is one of the absolute glories of 21st century life.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Body Positivity Should Not Require A Lack Of Self Dignity

We should all appreciate, love and dress for the bodies we currently inhabit and be grateful for eyes that see, legs that help us ambulate, arms that are able to reach or move our conveyances, hands that can grasp, skin that breathes and covers our bodies no matter the size, physical challenges, mental struggles, or current fashion. 

However,  those who encourage young women to dress in clothes that are unflattering just for the sake of embracing body positivity are doing a disservice. There is a time and a place for sexy, revealing, skimpy, tight, micro short, revealing, sheer, exhibitionist fashion. Alleged celebrities who desperately seek media attention should not be emulated at the supermarket, Walmart, SCHOOLS, houses of worship, museums, libraries, fine dining establishments, commercial airlines, or any place where decorum should be considered.

I don’t care what one’s BMI, weight, size, socioeconomic environment, geographic region may be, but look in the mirror….a full length mirror. Ask yourself, are you dressing like a sex worker because you truly thing you look great? Or do you crave crave attention? Want to fit in? Want to shock someone? Want to annoy your mother? Do you want to copy one of the reality TV, TikTok, or Instagram influencers? 

There are plenty of celebrities or fashion icons that dress appropriately and still look alluring, sexy and cutting edge while not exposing every inch of skin. Rihanna can wear anything because she’s Rihanna. The rest of us….not so much. Look at Pinterest 💙

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Not Ready For 2024 Presidential Politics ~ The Reality Impacts My Serenity


I am thoroughly disgusted with the political establishment and the segment of the American electorate that continues to blindly support former President Trump and the mentally incapacitated current President Biden into the abyss. The concept of these two geriatric chuckleheads sparring in the media and at the polls for the next 14 months makes me want to hibernate and avoid all news sources to maintain a semblance of peace & serenity. Well, I take the NYT only to play Wordle and Spelling Bee. I click on the Daily Mail because for mind candy. But, we haven’t watched the news, debates, read about the candidates latest exploits, and even decline to discuss the matter when out with live humanoids. We are not the only formerly politically engaged Americans to opt out. If these two has beens are the candidates, I will not even be able to hold my nose and votes for the lesser of the boll weevils. Nope. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent. 

Instead, I will celebrate that my 91 year old dad is still vibrant. I will enjoy our menagerie of cats. I will sit on my screened in porch, surrounded by plants, listening to the fountain on the deck, reading books or listening to music, sharing adult beverages with my spousal unit, thanking the Universe that having to pay for bilateral cataract surgery, a new car and a gold plated heating & air conditioning system didn’t send us to the food bank.

Seriously, I’ve been handling wrongful death and catastrophic injury claims in the insurance industry for decades. It is less stressful than listening to or watching or reading the news. 

Monday, May 29, 2023

After 17 Years of Gardening ~our Property Remains a Moonscape in Progress


To look at this view of our property, one would think we had created an oasis on the rocky ridge in rural Frederick County, Virginia. That assumption would be woefully incorrect. Despite 17 years of toil; pouring thousands of dollars and hours of sweat equity into attempts to cultivate the landscape;  the shrubs, flowers, trees and countless seedlings planted with great optimism only to find withered, shriveled, leafless, blighted remains by the end of a season; we have adjusted our expectations. Now, we focus just on the areas we can view from our deck. 

There have been successes: Japanese maple trees, bearded Iris, peonies, weigela, and hostas close to the house.

Lessons learned: wisteria was a very bad idea. It destroyed the porch railings…even the American plants. Mint must stay in a pot. Deer LOVE day lilies. Roses hate our environment. We want vinca to spread like an invasive bamboo. 

Tomatoes……I keep trying. This year: cylindrical grow bags placed in the sun amidst the moonscape. They are always the most expensive tomatoes we eat each year😆 

But, I find gardening and landscaping therapeutic. My regular job is stressful. Any position in corporate America is stressful thanks to COVID, post COVID return to office policies that make recruiting challenging, DEI, continuing to do more with less, the unfathomable jury verdicts, declining ethics of plaintiff attorneys and politicians and mental exhaustion. 

So….scratching out a spot for planting seeds, spreading bags of mulch, digging in the dirt, stalling the potted flowers on the deck, and gazing at the tiny slice of an oasis in the midst of our desert brings peace, serenity and a feeling of accomplishment…even if some of the efforts are less than desired.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Americans Need a Candidate to Vote FOR Instead of AGAINST

 Political pundits and media outlets forget that Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election because he was NOT Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden was elected in 2020 because he was NOT Donald Trump. For 2024 I do not want to have to choose between the lesser of two awful candidates. It is time to marginalize these unfit candidates, stop pandering to the extremism on the right and left, and choose two candidates that actually have the welfare of the American people at the forefront, do not offend 50% of the voters because of obnoxious self interest or lack of cognitive dissonance or cognitive function. 

The American political arena has always been divisive. That was actually the intent of the founders of the Republic. The only President elected without dissent was George Washington. Think about it! Even the Continental Congress fought over the Articles of Confederation followed by the Constitution. It was nearly impossible to find agreement among the representatives of 13 colonies much less 50 states.

But we deserve better than what the primary system has produced in recent history. The primary elections and caucuses pander to the hard core right or left. But, elections are won or lost based upon the tolerance of those of us in the center, who loathe extremes, who believe in the rights of the people to live freely without onerous regulation, who agree that contribute to the common good through reasonable taxation is acceptable, who dislike being forced to pay for  projects or appropriations that do not benefit the entire nation, who truly agree that all persons have a right to live their lives without oppression, but do not believe that ideology should trump common sense. It is time to replace the septuagenarians and activists with a new generation of ideas. It is time to reflect on our similarities instead of differences. 

Republicans and  Democrats, please give us a choice that doesn’t force independent voters to hold their noses, close their eyes, cringe and pick the least awful candidate and hope for a not terrible outcome. 

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”― Nelson Mandela

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Long Ago by Michael McGarrity

 I read The Long Ago in one day. I waffled between  rating the book ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and decided that while the story has some predictability and a few slow parts, overall, I loved the themes of loyalty, ties that bind, that family isn’t necessarily biology, and the role of fate. 

Perhaps The Long Ago resonated with me so much because the story takes place during the earliest days of the war ( AKA ‘conflict’) in Vietnam, when I was a child. It fueled memories war correspondents on the 6 O’clock news. Ray Lansdale joined the Army to escape from his dysfunctional childhood in rural Montana. His sister Barbara ran away as well. During a leave from the Army, Ray embarks on a search for his sister the old fashioned way….paper trails, interviews with people, missing persons posters, police assistance, like gum shoes before cellphones and the Internet. 

The Long Ago is a mixture of intrigue, family dynamics, romance, and just a little bit of Mickey Mouse. Now, I want to read some of Michael McGarrity’s earlier works. 

Thanks to Bookbrowse.Com and WW Norton & Company for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Publishes July 2023

Friday, March 10, 2023

So, Now I Have Cataracts


At least 15 years ago I had Lasic surgery with Dr. Andrew Holzman, one of the most respected Lasic practitioners in the country. He transitioned me from nearly blind to 20/15 in both eyes. It was a miracle. Retrogression is very unusual with Lasic. So, it was with a modicum of alarm that I began to notice deteriorating vision just around 2018 or 2019. It was just before COVID.

I had an examination and discovered my vision had devolved to 20/30 in each eye. A year later there was more retrogression. In 2022, it was within 6 months that I could no longer see chalkboard menses or watch television. I called to schedule an appointment before my annual eye exam. But I was told to wait for my regular appointment. 

By the time of my exam, my vision impairment had doubled. I was almost as impaired as I’d been in 2007. What! 

After a few tests with dilation, I was told I had cataracts on both eyes. This explained the halos, poor night vision, blurry Vaseline filtered sight, speedy deterioration. I said I wanted to consult with an ophthalmologist for a surgical consult. And, I was really annoyed! I thought cataracts were for OLD people! That is NOT me!

Monday, March 6, 2023

My Journey With Real Life Style- Alterations

One of the biggest eye-openers during the initial closet edit involved my realization  that minor alterations to some of my clothes would make such a significant difference, resulting in a much more flattering garment. Raising a hemline of a dress by an inch lengthened my legs. Hemming trousers to wear with a specific shoe or heel height changed the look entirely. 

Lani showed my the way replacing shoulder pads in a jacket or dress elevated the look. And I learned that my good fortune in being born with an appropriate ankle curve makes everything look better! This is not something I’d ever considered. 

While I’d often heard that a good tailor is your best friend, I’d really not considered taking the time to alter off the rack clothes so they would fit me  better. Again, I thought that was for the rich and famous. But it makes sense. I’d created a toile and used a dress form to ensure my Civil War wardrobe fit perfectly. Why did I not realize that my 21st Century clothing should fit as well as my 19th Century wardrobe! 

Because I had to experience sewing I made the decision to complete my on alterations. If I was able to make a  Civil War  era taffeta boned evening bodice, fashion a spoon  bonnet and sew a double lined ankle length camel hair coat from a 1954 Vogue pattern, surely I could manage my own alterations. 

Consequently, I have set about hemming my trousers and dresses, taking up the shoulders on some tops, and updating the fit on the items Lani pinned. And I’ve completed nearly two thirds on my projects. What a feeling of accomplishment! 

And I’ve completed the work while enjoying true crime podcasts!