May 162022
 

May 16, 2022 — A few minutes ago, I saw Dr. Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General, state on CNN that more than 100 people were killed in shootings across the country over the weekend.

I am sick to death about every death.

I am sick to death that our black brothers and sisters must be constantly under attack for their color.  I am sick that hate has persisted across four centuries in this country where we are all from other places, except the Native Americans.

I am sick to death that a man who was a Buffalo police officer for many years died as a grocery security guard, protecting other people.

I am sick to death that a teenager (hospitalized a year ago when he made a murder-suicide threat at his high school) could procure the weaponry and armor for a terrorist-style attack on a grocery store. I am sick to death of people saying it’s not about the guns.

I am sick to death that these shootings will cause people to buy more guns, and more ammunition and stack them neatly in their homes, awaiting Armageddon.

I am sick of repeating every trope every time this happens.  Nothing changes. It’s always somebody else’s problem. When people are interviewed after a shooting that has taken their loved one, they always say, “I didn’t think it would happen to my family.”

We are the only country that has this many shootings. Why is that?  Because we allow the everyday person to own military-style guns. Do you think the second amendment meant that every person should be able to own an AR-15?  Why not give every citizen a musket and musket balls? Would that be more in the spirit and times of the second amendment?

Don’t tell me that my stance means I’m against all guns. I’m not — I grew up and live in farm country. People feed their families by hunting; some do it for sport. Sometimes people even shoot an errant snake. And some believe they need guns for protection.

From “The Street” one hour ago, “A mass shooting occurs, the news covers it, calls for gun control or reform grow louder for a while, nothing of impact happens legislatively, the country forgets about shootings until the next big one.

Anyone paying attention can see that pattern and there are plenty of examples to choose from.

This year there have been 202 mass shootings — shootings with 4 or more victims other than the gunman — and nine mass murders in the U.S., according to gun control advocacy group Gun Violence Archive.”

But no one — and I mean no one — who is not in a military conflict needs an automatic rifle.

Why do people insist on lumping all guns together?  And why do gun sales continue to climb while Congress has no consideration for any sensible gun laws? I gave up after a nutjob blasted into an elementary school and killed a classroom full of innocents. I knew there would never be any change

But they are all innocents. The finger of blame can go many places, and it rests firmly on the shoulders of every person who defends all guns in this country.  Or the person who allows for racism is behind many of these attacks.  I am an immigrant just like African Americans, though my ancestors weren’t forced to come to this country against their will and be enslaved. We owe them a debt—black lives matter.

And there is also blame to go to the media (Tucker Carlson et al.) and social media for fomenting hate speech. But, frankly, without access to guns with large magazines and tactical gear, there would be far fewer deaths. This is not a red herring, it is the gospel truth.

When churches and grocery stores aren’t safe, no place is safe. Our country has always experienced violence, from the wild west to the lynching and riots.  We are a hateful people made worse with the present of weapons that can bring down an armed security guard, just doing his job, in a minute. I am enraged. When will we ever learn?

 

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

.  Support my voice with your shares on social media.

Mar 282022
 
See the source image

Elizabeth Taylor at the Academy Awards

March 28, 2022 — All anyone can talk about today is Will Smith’s reaction to a joke in poor taste told by Chris Rock on the Academy Awards stage last night. It’s so hard for me to imagine that almost everyone in the media has overlooked the big, and I mean the big story of the night. The proliferation of the Side Boob.

When it comes to body and fashion, mostly I got nothing. God did not gift me good looks, and my penchant for penny candy has made me larger than life in several ways. But when it comes to cleavage, baby, I’m number one. (Rather number 42DD.)  I don’t care if it is a memorial service for Wendell Willkie or the circus coming to town; there will be a lovely décolleté showing if I have to dress up.  When you got it, flaunt it. When it’s all you got, flaunt it greatly. And I have noticed a few male eyes looking at my boobal region when I take the girls out for a fancy event.

My husband was a low-budget wedding photographer for a 1986 ceremony where I served as a bridesmaid. The girls were so young and perky, still not thirty, and always up for a test drive. The bride chose hot pink gowns for her maids, with a neckline somewhere south of Patagonia. Let’s put it this way: I was a standout in the crowd.  The girls were still poised, proud, happy, and seriously upright.

When the many rolls of pictures came back from the drug store, my chest featured prominently in many of the photographs. It was a little bit too obvious. That marriage where I was a bridesmaid and he the photographer didn’t last.  I wonder if that had anything to do with it.

On the Oscar stage last night, the three hilarious co-hosts came out at the show’s beginning, and sure enough, Amy Schumer presented herself with something beyond cleavage, like grapefruit in a transparent grocery bag. She’s hilarious, but lemme tell you; she needs wires like the Roebling Brothers used for the Brooklyn Bridge.  The Side Boob is not a good look for her, but she could rock cleavage.

And I swear I saw some nipple on one of the Williams sisters. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but if I see some cleavage, I would just as soon as the nipples do not show.  Wardrobe malfunction, indeed.

After watching the boobs trot out for an hour, we changed the channel to watch “The Weakest Link” and missed the most exciting adventure on the stage since a streaker ran behind David Niven.  I saw that one life, long ago, in a world where we all went to the theater and enjoyed films together. We ate popcorn with too much butter and our feet stuck to sticky floors.

That was a long time ago, but I remember the streaker.  He bared his nipples, but that wasn’t anyone’s most enduring memory. What I remember and indeed others do as well is what Niven said,

“But isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is stripping off and showing his shortcomings?”

Girls, if you’ve got it, flaunt up, but do it the old-fashioned way with wires and pulleys like your grandmother did.

Mar 252022
 

From the collection of my grandmother and her two sisters. Abt. 1919

July 17, 2021 — My book is finished. Now, my office is a complete mess, a space that looks like Dorothy Gale’s house during the Kansas tornado.  My office is usually a mess, but after 29 months of slavish devotion to one project, it is worse than usual.  I am not Marie Kondo.  There will only be the appearance of clean and organized, not the actual state of clean and organized.

Victrola, anyone? There are many things I need to do, and probably, the most important is decide what I’m going to donate to various museums, societies, and libraries out of the family stuff I’ve worked with for the book.  I have been unable to convince my son, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment in a city, that he needs Great-Great-Grandfather Long’s walnut library table or the 1918 Victrola and all the records.  Imagine what fun he could have at parties with the greatest hits of the 1920s?  He isn’t buying it, either.

And the deeds.  Stacks and stacks of legal documents that relate to the farm sit on a table near me. I will give those to the historical society. These documents contain much beyond what one would expect.  Attached affadavits  prove that Person X knew Person Y.  I just picked one off the top and started reading and was immediately immersed into a property dispute from 1857.  I did not recognize one name; this likely means it was attached to the history of a property that someone in my family bought a century later.  For a history nerd, it is fascinating reading.  I moved the table the documents rest upon, giving the impression in Zoom calls that the space is much more organized than it is.  The table is out of camera sight.

Compact discs.  Yes, some people still use them.  I’ve never been a slave to convention, so I don’t necessarily think that a Journey CD must go into a Journey jewel case.  This drives my husband crazy (librarian that he is.)  In our basement, we have a special place for CDs, and they are in order.  I mean, THEY ARE IN ORDER.

I just opened my CD player and found “Christmas Serenity.”  The jewel case it came out of was for the Broadway version of “I Do, I Do.”  I do not see any problem.  When you live this way, life is filled with delightful surprises.  My “Keely Smith Sings Sinatra” CD jewel case has Bach’s “Brandenburg Concertos” inside  Patsy Cline’s “Greatest Hits” jewel case features the 2009 Spanish-language version of “West Side Story” from Broadway.  I’m Crazy.  I Feel Pretty.  It’s all good unless you insist on perfect order.

Random Books.  We have books in almost every room in our house.  There are some books I want close to me, where I spend most of my day.  Do you feel this about your books?  Do you need to have them close to you?  On my desk, I have an AP Stylebook, a Webster’s word speller (from 1975), Mark Twain’s Quotations, my address book, Poems for Boys and Girls by Helen Ferris, the programs from the last few Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshops, the books I’ve written, and Birds of Indiana.

Close by are my history books, other poetry books, a Bible with a red leatherette cover, and writing books. Always open on my desk is Simple Abundance by Sarah ban Brathwaite.  I need to have these books near me, and I need to see the other books.  You will have to pry these books from my cold, dead hands, to paraphrase Charlton Heston.

Notecards, pens, journals and paper.  Not so long ago, people used to send mail.  This involved various kinds of paper, notecards, etc., as well as a writing instrument.  I took pride in this old-fashioned hobby.  I still have a few pen pals, believe it or not.  The rest of the world wants to send me a message on text, which I can barely see and have to decipher.  “Will I c u soon?”  Having not moved into this century, I still have many notecards, pens, journals, and paper.  I still have a manual typewriter that works perfectly well.  In Pat Frank’s iconic post-apocolyptic novel of the 1950s, Alas, Babylon, a small Florida town copes with life after a nuclear blast.  In this world without electricity, the two most important people in town are the newspaper reporter and the librarian.  The newspaper reporter has a manual press and can reproduce information, and the librarian has books with knowledge and information about most anything needed by those remaining.  When the big one falls, I’ll be huddled in my closet with my typewriter and extra ribbons, my books of poetry, and enough pen refills to last a millineum.

 

 

Genetic Predisposition for the Nightly Walk and Talk

Genetic Predisposition for the Nightly Walk and Talk

March 7, 2022 — My paternal grandfather died when my dad was four years old, on June 1, 1934. I know very little about him, although I heard the following story from my grandmother, and it has been passed down for a good reason. Grandpa McVay walked and talked in his sleep. On his wedding […]

A Lesson from Wordle

A Lesson from Wordle

February 25, 2022 — I did not get today’s Wordle, and I’m horrified. Wordle has become a happy part of my day, and I’ve enthusiastically played every day. My supreme triumph was getting “bloke” in two!  My first guess had two letters in the appropriate places–sheer luck, I guess. Not so much today. My first two […]

Two Years Since the Before Times

Two Years Since the Before Times

January 30, 2022 –I had a vision in the Before Times. When my spouse and I retired, we would spend weeks, if not months, somewhere warm during cold and damp winters. That has not happened. I admit I am somewhere warm; I’m in my office chair. Every. Single. Day. Other visions I’ve had included working […]

Rubber Cement in My Hair

Rubber Cement in My Hair

January 7. 2022 — When I was a month old, I attended my first picnic, or so I’m told. My parents put me on a blanket with another infant, a baby boy born in April to my summer birth. To paraphrase Louie in “Casablanca,” that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Michael “Mike” Gene […]

Feeding Birds versus Feeding Facebook

Feeding Birds versus Feeding Facebook

January 6, 2022 — Mark this date on your calendar as the one where you have enough evidence to lock me up, to quote Perry Mason, in an east-coast sanatarium. For the first time in a year or so, we have snow. And like all first snows, it is beautiful, covering the ground like a […]

Banned Books: Nothing New to See Here

Banned Books: Nothing New to See Here

In Texas, Panic Over Critical Race Theory Extends to Bookshelves – The New York Times (nytimes.com) December 11, 2021 — I’ve been a voracious reader all my life.  I was read to as a child, and I witnessed two parents reading every day, from the weekly and daily newspapers we received to their respective alumni magazines […]

Something's Coming

Something’s Coming

December 6, 2021 —  The recent death of Stephen Sondheim put his amazing work back in the spotlight.  For me, a lifelong lover of musical theater, Sondheim was never far from mind. Especially as the genius director Steven Spielburg releases a reboot of the sixty-year-old film classic, “West Side Story.”  That movie was based on […]

When the Fates Allow

When the Fates Allow

Through the years, we all will be together. If the fates allow So hang a shining star upon the highest bough And have yourself a merry little Christmas now   November 21, 2021 — Christmas music is one of my favorite aspects of the holiday season. And the station I listen to for half of […]

Rising Waters

Rising Waters

October 6, 2021 — About 10 p.m. last evening, I flushed the commode after doing my duty in the master bathroom. The water in the basin rose unexpectedly and spilled over the top of the rim. I jumped back to avoid getting wet, and the forty-foot tether of oxygen tubing that is my constant friend pulled the […]

Another Long and Short Strange Summer

Another Long and Short Strange Summer

July 9, 2021 — We anticipate summer forever and then it seems to rush by. A friend told me that her grandchildren return to school in less than a month.  Returning to school in early August is a silly thing.  Why do children need to spend half their summer in school?  When I was a […]

Obvious Mistakes in Book Promotion

Obvious Mistakes in Book Promotion

July 29, 2021 — I’m happy to report at 39 plus many, many years, I can still learn. The reason I still learn is that I still make mistakes. Allow me to elucidate. That’s a good example. The word elucidate should be avoided at all costs. The phrase avoided at all costs should be avoided […]

The Wishes of an Eccentric Billionaire

The Wishes of an Eccentric Billionaire

Flag Day 2021 — Strange times we’re in: cicadas eating plants, dogs eating cicadas, humans stepping on cicada carcasses, the world seemingly falling apart, the pandemic over or not?  What does one little book matter in the middle of all this?  It matters a great deal. History is important.  It’s how we learn when we […]

An Unncessary Public Rant about Cleaning My Office

An Unncessary Public Rant about Cleaning My Office

May 29, 2021 — Joy, in passive voice, is not being sparked in this house, Marie Kondo. After 29 months, my latest book project (stay tuned) is written, edited, designed, and ready to roll. What is left in its wake is an office I wouldn’t invite the local animal control officer to visit.  (Why do […]

And that's how we roll

And that’s how we roll

May 15, 2021 — Oversharing.  Yes, that’s how I roll.  This horrifies almost everyone who loves me. But, I have to write.  Whether anyone reads it or not is irrelevant. I’ve been getting requests for updates.  I appreciate the love and support during this most recent adventure. People keep asking me what they can do.  […]

Spandex May be the Death of Me

Spandex May be the Death of Me

May 11, 2021 — Tomorrow morning at 10:45 a.m. Central Daylight Time, while you are having your second or third cup of coffee, I’ll be under anesthesia.  About a month ago I experienced a loss of vision in my left eye, and will be having my second vitrectomy. More on that later. This past week […]

The Hallmarkiest of Holidays

The Hallmarkiest of Holidays

I’ve misbehaved at times. One of my lowest moments involves Valentine’s Day 1983.  Valentine’s Day is among the Hallmarkiest of Hallmark holidays, setting expectations for some and creating downright heartbreak for others. I was in a new relationship, only about six weeks in.  I had high hopes for our first Valentine’s Day together.  Being immature,  […]

An American Tail

An American Tail

March 3, 2021 — Earlier this week, Herman and I got our second COVID-19 vaccines. Anticipating a rough time, we made a big pot of chicken noodle soup for our recovery.  Both of us had sore arms, and yesterday felt a tiny chill all day. When I checked the thermostat about 9 p.m. last night, I […]