"Good Fences Make Good Neighbours"

Robert Frost

I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours."

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved the works of Robert Frost.  I remember devouring every morsel of information about him when "Look" magazine featured him in their publication following his death.  His work struck a chord in my heart.  I love the rhythm in his verses, I love the way he takes the mundane nuances of life and weaves a universal connection to which everyone can relate.  

I like to study his picture, and imagine all the experiences he had in life which led him to sharing his humble, yet poignant material.  When I read the verses above, they almost "rock" me to sleep.  If I am stressed, his words calm me down.

I have never been a voracious reader, which accounts for my ignorance in executing good mechanics in my own writing.  

But I still feel the rhythm in my veins.  Frost's work ,(like Yeats; T.S. Eliot,;Dickens; F Scott Fitzgerald) inspires me to write.  What especially appeals to me about Frost is the simplicity of his work.   

When I examine the verses I intuitively understand what he is saying.  I don't have to keep digging to understand.    There is no struggling, just surrender and joy.

I especially like his name, Robert Frost.  It fit his image, with his mountain of white hair and his life in New England.

I find that I relate to his work, especially in one of his most memorable pieces "The Road Less Traveled:"

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I can actually see the road. And who has not come to a fork road in their life?  How many times have we struggled with decisions; which again, lends itself to how effectively Frost taps into the human soul.

I shall be telling this with a sigh.  Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 

The Plumber and Congress

You gotta love this country, even with all its faults.  Consider this:  "Joe the Plumber" is now officially in politics.  He won the ninth district Ohio primary on Tuesday, with an endorsement from Herman Cain to boot.

You'll recall how he stepped into the limelight... In 2008, Joe (AKA Sammuel Wurzelbacher)- asked then Presidential Candidate Barak O'Bama,  how he proposed to help small businesses.  

That was the shot heard 'round the world.  He created so much media interest it made him  the new darling of the Republican Party.   

Point is, in this country ANYONE can become SOMEONE.  You have to:

  • Be at the right place at the right time
  • Have something to say that addresses a hot issue
  • Be ready and willing to work to affect a change

The scenario reminds me of a scene from the movie "Gypsy" starring Natalie Wood.  When  Rose Louise makes her debut into Burlesque, she has no idea what to do on stage.

One of the strippers step in with the suggestion: " Ya'  gotta have a gimmick."

This is a rather coarse analogy, but you understand where I am going with this.

Apparently Joe has his "gimmick" going  great guns:Joe-the-Plumber-goes-to-Congress

The battle is just beginning.

He  has to face State Representative and Democrat Marcy Kaptur, who has also just scored a victory.

Joe's campaign has already funneled out $60,000 for his efforts.  (We all know plumbers make good money!).

You've got no excuses. 

 If you really want to do something, you can do it, and even be taken seriously...

What's your gimmick?

Maybe a plumber can get a better handle on how to "flush out" the ailing economy.

Feeling Good About You

 We often get so caught up in our own drama in life that we forget about what is really important.  We know there are others that can use or help, but we turn a deaf ear to their needs and focus on ourselves.

My worrying is not going to change a thing in my life.  I can't make things better by worrying about them.

Here is my new agenda:  I have decided to take on others problems and help them out.

 My little experiment.  It makes me feel good, however; it is not always easy.  This requires commitment, and I actually am uncomfortable with commitment.

 I have no real reason not to be happy.  I have my health, am attractive, above average intelligence, all is good.

Maybe I believe I don't have a right to be happy.  Or, alternately, if I am really happy something terrible will happen.

After all, life is all about polarities.

I have noticed that when things are going well, really well, and everything is in sync, the other shoe always falls, and there is another fire to put out.

But if I distract myself with others concerns or issues, all is well with the world.  The importance of self is diminished and I am feeling good about myself.

And so, for me, it is Lent.  I have my own little hit list of what will help me this Lenten season.  None of it is going to be terribly difficult- I don't do difficult too well; but are the steps that will help me grow.

I can't tell you exactly what I am doing, because then that would really be boasting.  Some of tasks involve financial sacrifices, time sacrifices, and some involved doing things that are uncomfortable for me. 

It doesn't have to be Lent for you to do something special for someone.  It can be as simple as saying hello to a coworker you don't like, or offering to help a needy neighbor in some way.  

So go on, grab a piece of paper, or start a new document on your computer and jot down some random acts of kindness you've always wanted to do. 

 Don't make it too hard, or you won't do them.  Just take inventory of things or people you've neglected, or haven't paid attention to lately. Then you can check off a task a week.

And you know what, when you finish you will feel soooooooo good about yourself!

CU Gunnery

I am not comfortable with the ban being lifted on carrying a concealed gun on CU Campus.
To me, this is a recipe for disaster. 

I say this because what do students like to do best in college? Party.  It doesn't take an Einstein to figure this out.  Just because a student has turned 21 does not mean they are emotionally or physically capable of handling a weapon responsibly.

Heck, I am not even ready to handle a weapon, nor would I want to, and these kids are a third of my age.

When your partying, you don't always have your wits about you.  Mix that with carrying a concealed weapon and it spells trouble.

I realize that many students are leery of having to walk to class on an almost deserted campus in the wee small hours of the morning or night.  However, there are other alternatives.

What about pepper spray?  

The goal is to disorient the would-be attacker, and pepper spray can accomplish this.  Why do we have to introduce guns and bullets into an unstable environment- a college campus?

I can see it now, all it will take is one campus ruckus - students' wanting to make a political statement - (like "Occupy") and out will come the guns.

According to CU Regent Kyle Hybl, the gun ban was enacted in 1970, and has been upheld since then:

"All along this was a case about the authority of the Board of Regents as a governing body to ensure the health and safety of our students and faculty," Hybl said. "We are disappointed that this Supreme Court has not upheld our authority."

This is not good karma Boulder.  Wake up.   

I'm starting to feel my knees knocking already.

Read more:Colorado Supreme Court affirms that licensed guns allowed on CU campus - The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20109533/colorado-supreme-court-affirms-that-licensed-guns-allowed?source=googlenews&google_editors_picks=true#ixzz1oNYPBKFw

A Penny for your Thoughts..

Having just read about a way to score big on the stock market, I am ready to invest.  It is not without trepidation, however.  Last time I invested the market crashed, I lost all my savings!

This article caught my eye regarding Penny Stocks: http://www.smarterlifestyles.com/2011/09/20/discover-a-way-to-beat-the-odds/

So you reader, are going to have to help me out here.  Have you personally invested in them? Have you made substantial gains?

Everyone I know has pulled out of the stock market for obvious reasons.  This investment, however, feels good to me.  I have a little bit saved, and I need to build up what I have.

 It is all in savings, because it is my "rainy day" fund.  Trouble is, I have had too many rainy days.  What started out as a respectable amount of savings has dwindled down to much less in the course of one year.

There are always unforeseen expenses, car, living, weddings, birthdays, etc. etc.....

I have always been against a passbook savings mentality.  Yet, it feels like this is my destiny unless I take a calculated risk with an investment.

Is there even such thing as a safe investment these days?

My mother used to tell me: "scared money never wins," and I am afraid I am still in that category concerning my finances.

I feel that if the money went away so fast it won't take me too many more years to have nothing left.

So here is dilemma, do I or don't I invest? I am going to start to do more research on penny stocks.

Please share your war stories with me.

 A penny for your thoughts please!

Swift Sailing

Harpers Bazaar

I can think of 100 reasons why I like Taylor Swift.  She is everybody's'  little darlin' now,

 I began to really like her about a year ago.  There are those that will argue that she can't sing worth a hoot, that she really isn't a stand out.

I disagree.

She is a joy to watch.  She is a gifted singer/writer.  Taylor has the"it" factor.  Like when all the pieces of the puzzle fit effortlessly together.

I read about how she got her start.  She refused to "settle" when she was trying to break through in the music industry.

Back then, there weren't a lot of takers.

Getty Images- CMA, Nashville June 2011
Apparently, the first recording studio that was considering adding her to their label made an offer she could easily refuse:
  • She couldn't write her own material.  
  • The studio kept telling her she wasn't ready to cut her first record
Her mother cautioned her that this might be her only opportunity, and asked her if she really wanted to pass this up.

There was not hesitation, she dug in those gorgeous heels, and wasted no time in pursuing other labels.

 Soon after, the songstress was approached by a producer with a new record label, he agreed to her terms- she could write her own music- and sing it her way.

This quality is shared by successful people.  They don't give up.

She has a strong independent spirit- a charming nonchalance (as in not thinking twice about adding real names to her girl-looses-boy love songs).

I call that guts.

Apart from that, she has a unique freshness about her.  Being tall (5'11) and striking, she has developed a style that is all her own.

No sooner did she wrap a Vogue photo shoot when she was found gracing the cover of Harper's Bazaar.  She is a chameleon, she morphs to package her talents' to suit the industry.

Add fashion model to the list.

I don't think the economic situation is going to impact Taylor Swift anytime soon.

It is interesting that her appeal is not  limited to the "tweens."  An excellent entertainer;  parents that have accompanied their children to her concerts are now converted "Swifties."

She also has the ability to reinvent herself depending on the venue (remember her Grammy performance?).

Delightfully brilliant.

At the tender age of 21, she still has a lot of growing to do, both as a songwriter and a young lady.

I am really looking forward to watching her continue to blossom.

Left holding the Bag

I am getting tired of of having to read the fine print.  Frankly, my eyes can't even see it anymore, and moreover, why should I ?

It is time for businesses to come clean with their "free" offers.  I have yet to get a "free" anything.  It seems there is always a hitch.  Consider this offer as found in mouseprint.org: :  Apparently, Friday's had sent out an email offering a "free entree on us" coupon.   Actually, the offer required the patron to buy a meal to get a free entree.

This is the case in every offer I have ever seen advertised.  I imagine it has been working for advertisers, so they keep repeating these bogus offers.  When Mouseprint.org contacted Friday's PR firm, they issued an apology and sent out another email explaining the "error."

My favorite faux pas involves a 12 year old shopping sleuth that noted a discrepancy in the number  Glad Bags in a box:  Jared G reports on Glad Bags for Mouseprint.org


Can you imagine? He is 12 years old and this is what Jared G had to say:

Regarding consumery things, my mother taught me about pricing and labels, scams, deals, and other shopping paraphernalia, at about eight years old. My money opinions are simple. Your expenses should always be lower or equal to your income. 

Maybe we should have Jared running for President.  If a 12 year old can smell a rat, what does that say for the rest of us (like myself) who would have NEVER noticed.  Whew...wrap your head around that!

The message is clear, don't believe everything you hear, and question everything you see.

 That way, you won't be left holding an empty box.

You be the Judge

"I don't want to judge, because it is not right to judge someone," was a comment I made to my parish priest while I had a discussion with him on morality.

"Of course you can't judge someone," he said;  God is our judge, he will judge our actions at the end of our life."  You can, however, pass judgment on a person or situation," he continued.  "Because by passing judgment we look at our consciences and decide if an action was morally correct."

Frankly, I never looked at it that way.  Most people would sorely criticize me for making a "judgment" on their actions.  However, his explanation makes sense to me.

I understand we all have a moral compass that gauges how we are doing spiritually.  It is all too easy to blow it off and walk away from an unpopular subject, or to just not get involved at all.

A long time ago, a family member came to me with a very hard question.  It was regarding abortion.  She was pregnant and wanted my advise.

I told her that she "was asking the wrong person," because, I added " I do not believe in abortion".

I was pushed harder for an answer and I finally said "don't do it, you will be sorry.  This can be a very special time in your life, while inconvenient,  I believe you will regret your decision later."  There, I had said it.  It felt good, very good.

As it turned out 18 years later, it indeed was a very good decision.  She gave birth to a beautiful girl, who has grown up to be everything a mother could want and more.

The point is, I got involved.  It might have been easier to say nothing, or simply say, "listen to your gut."

Perhaps my parish priest is on to something.  People just don't judge enough anymore.  The new age folks like to say "there is no right or wrong, it just is."

We all know deep down inside of us there is a right or wrong.  Making hard decisions builds character, whether we like to admit it or not.  The issue is, passing judgment is not a popular thing to do.  It takes guts to express one's feelings or judge another's actions on right or wrong issues.

After all, I know I am judged every day for what I do.  Like it or not.  People just don't come out and TELL me that they think I did something wrong, but they think it nonetheless.

Maybe if we passed judgment on our family, friends and coworkers' more often we could avert many of the tragedies going on in the world today:

  • School shootings
  • Parents killing children
  • Drug abuse
  • Corporate theft

The list continues on.  

I don't know if I can tell my coworker that the mini-skirt she is wearing is way too young for her.
After all, I am passing judgment, aren't I?

Resume Wars

As if all the new technology we have available isn't enough to get you within reach of a headhunter, now we have to get through a new gatekeeper:  A keyword resume search.  Check this out: http://www.salary.com/headhunter-hiring-secrets/

It's enough to make you want to stop looking for another job.  It used to be important to have a professional looking resume, and there were always various formats professional resume writers' devised to get your resume  in front of  recruiters.  Now we have to deal with a mechanical recruiter!  If your keywords are not selected carefully, you're out of luck!

That just stinks.  So if you haven't gotten a bite on your resume in two years, now you know why.

I sometimes wish I were back in the Victorian Age.  No kidding.  Things were so much simpler back then.  Now, multi-tasking isn't enough when you take on a new position.  You are required to be able to stick a broom up your fanny and sweep the floor at the same time!

So you're not a contortionist?  Then get out of the job market.

I don't think employers can afford the luxury of looking for talent anymore.  That is way too extravagant for the skimpy budgets.    Here is what you need to know and do:

  • Handle as much as is thrown at you on a day-day-basis with an "I can do it!" attitude and smile
  • Be prepared to take on your job and your coworkers' jobs when they don't show up for work
  • Willing take a 25% pay cut when your hired because there are a lot of people who want this job
  • Prepare to work 60 hours a week without any bonuses because we need to bring up the bottom line
  • Be happy you have benefits, forget about your $200 deductible on your insurance
  • Go and take an "anything" job (which I did) to be able to eat and get no benefits
I believe if you want to make it in business you need to work for yourself today.  Employers are offering way too little and expect too much.

After all, you can always take a walk or finish early when you need a break.

Looking for a job in today's market is like putting a house up for sale, and it not getting an offer in a year.

Sometimes it is better to take the house off the market until the economy improves.

Lady Legend

JK Rowling
Joshua Lott/Reuters

JK Rowling is a writers' writer.  I put her right up there with:
  • Dickens
  • Hemingway
  • Shelley
  • Yeats
The woman has the calling.  She comes up with the most fascinating details in her books.  Who can come up with those kinds of details?

 Only  legendary writers.

There is speculation that she is going to roll out a crime fiction novel, specifically targeting adults: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/feb/24/jk-rowling-crime-fiction-clues?CMP=twt_gu
As you may have heard, I have a new book out later this year. Very different to Harry,  although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much,” she Tweeted this morning
Fingers are tickering on Twitter, her fans have already ralllied wtih her publisher (Little, Brown in the US) in promoting her book,  apt to be another best seller.

The woman worked for her fame.  I love to read about how she got where she is today.  The story about being on a train, and seeing a boy in the window, with big spectacles on.  

Harry was born.  

I envision her writing in her notebook with her baby in tow, in the Edinburgh coffee shop, day after day.   She speaks about how she let her house cleaning go to dedicate her spare time to writing.

Another sign of a winner, she has focus.  

While it took her a year or so to finish her first book, she never stopped writing.  From everything I have seen and heard about her, she always wanted to be a writer above all else.  Itt didn't hurt that she was a teacher, which gave her more insight and skill to take on this endeavor.

She is truly a legend in her own time.  

All my favorite writers' had to die before anyone appreciated their work. The idea of  writing about magic was brilliant. 

The fundamentalists' will argue about this, but most people are fascinated by magic and the mystical.  

Parents' did not give enough credit to children, thinking they would all go off and want to practice black magic after reading Harry Potter books.

And. if reading her books weren't exciting enough, the Harry Potter films put her over the top.  The special effects are the absolute best.  I felt like was flying on the broomstick with Harry!  

Not everyone thinks the next book will be a success, however.

I am putting my money on Rawlings.

Granada Boulevard

 Do you remember the excitement of shopping for your first home?

You got married.  Then came the babies.  You need more space.  It was time for me to look for my first home.

My head was in the clouds- the year was 1981- I was living in Miami, Florida; and my husband and I had looked a good two weeks, when we saw the listing.

This home was a find!  Reasonably priced at just $150,000,  in one of Miami's trendiest areas:   Granada Boulevard.  It was a grand, stately Spanish two story built in the 1920's.

It had a carriage house, and a detached, two car garage.  It had just been remodeled by an independent contractor and just come on the market.

The home was stucco-all white, with a black, wrought iron fence. and was nicely landscaped and manicured.   It had a  mystical curb side appeal.

As I walked up to the front door, the contractor introduced himself to us, and began rattling off all the upgrades.  I had walked maybe two or three steps into the house and found myself facing the fireplace.

I felt a ice cold chill as my eyes fixated on the area.  It was beautifully tiled and meticulously finished.  Everything looked lovely.  But I had an uneasy feeling.  I turned around and took two or three more steps to my right, I was now facing the kitchen area.

My knees began to shake violently.  I have never had such a feeling before.  It mimicked the feeling one has when you've just ridden on a roller-coaster.

Then, I noticed in certain spots, an intense icey cold chill.  My eyes focused on the stainless steel kitchen, a double oven, with with Spanish tiling.  Why was I feeling so shook up?  The chatter went on between my husband and the contractor, neither one seemed to notice my discomfort.

The contractor highlighted all the special detail put into the design.  We followed him around the the first floor bedroom, and then onto the stairwell.  It was there that it hit me.

 Something was in this house.  Someone was watching me.

 The moment I started to climb the stairs I felt the cold come back.  I felt these cold bursts of air in three places, the fireplace; kitchen; and stairwell.  The temperature in other areas of the home seemed normal, but in those areas, it was bitter cold.

At this point, I was hesitant to make the assent up the stairs.  My husband didn't even notice, because he was totally enthralled with the home.  The upstairs hallway felt sad, really, really, sad.

It was a deathly feeling, everything felt forlorn..  When we opened the door to one of the upstairs bedrooms,  the feeling intensified.  I  waited to get my husband alone to ask him if he felt anything.

We were now approaching the second upstairs bedroom.   It had a veranda outside of it.  I couldn't get to the outside door fast enough, I opened it and ran out to the wall on the veranda facing the street.  My husband was going on and on about how he loved the house.

"You don't feel anything?" I asked, raising my voice.  "What are you talking about?" he replied, half annoyed.   "There is something in this house!"  I went on to tell him about my experiences around the fireplace, kitchen and stairwell.  He dismissed it all, telling me this was a beautiful house, and that I didn't appreciate the beauty.

I was angry.  I left him on the veranda, and hurried down the stairs, into the car.  I didn't even have a look at the Carriage House or the garage.  I was too upset to stay in it any longer.

When my husband got back to the car, he started the engine and we didn't talk for about 20 minutes. When he did begin to speak, his speech became racy, and he began to plead with me to buy the house.

I told him that I NEVER could live there, I had the most horrible feeling.   He wasn't giving up anytime soon!  He put the flyer next to his bed.  For two days buying the house was the only thing he discussed.  On the second evening, we were in bed, my infant son was fast asleep on a balmy, Florida evening.

There wasn't a breeze outside, and our sliding doors were slightly ajar.  Suddenly, we were awakened by a booming, shaking sound.  The sliding glass doors looked like an earthquake had hit them.  We both screamed.  It was the most frightening feeling.  After about ten seconds, it all stopped.  It was very strange.

I shared the story with my neighbor the next day, and she told me she saw an orb of light on our terrace that evening, and thought it strange.  Exactly in front of the sliding glass doors adjacent to our bedroom.

My marriage was never the same after that experience.  Our happiness melted away as did our marriage.  I swore all the events were connected to that house.   I believe an evil entity possessed my husband.

I did some research about the house, and found out the the original founders of General Electric lived there, and there were some deaths or trauma associated with the home.

Want to know something else...even the address of the home was creepy.

At the time, I worked with a radio production person who was psychic.  He told me that I was picking up on something that was GOING to happen at the house.

I never did find out the exact details or history on that house.  However, 30 years have passed, and I haven't forgotten that horrible feeling or one detail about that experience.

I worked in Real Estate for over eight years in Colorado, and never once did I enter, show, or sell a  home in which I had a similar feeling.

And I pray it doesn't ever happen again.

Fashion Circa 1960's


I am a child of the 60's...The 60's might as well be the 1800's, it is now close to a half century ago!

I have the fondest memories of those 60's garage bands- those chilly Florida winters hitchhiking my way to fire stations, public auditoriums, armories to see my favorite bands.

While all my high school friends were busy flirting with the quarterback of the week at football games, I jumped ship and embraced the "mod "movement in England.  

 I made friends with girls a rival high school, and together we rallied round the rockers at the North Miami Armory.  It was a week-to-week drama, the Beatle wannabes, the fashionista's, the micro minis, the Mary Jane shoes, white tights, twiggy spider eyeliner, the "boy" haircut and more.                                                                            

How I looked forward to getting dressed for the occasion, sometimes a week's project!  I had a mad crush on one of the local bands,  I used to go shopping every week for a new "mod" outfit so I would look my "groupie" best.
     1970s Carnaby Street in London's West End - a focus for consumer spending.
My fondest dream was to go to England, because that was my world.  Music, my life, and nothing was more important.

One of the highlights of my adolescence was when the Queen Elizabeth I cruised into Port Everglades.

 A high school friend piled about 6 girls into her car and we drove up to Ft. Lauderdale to tour the ship.  It was there that I met my first boyfriend.

Much to my chagrin, he wasn't English!  He was from Ireland.  What a disappointment for me!  I loved everything English, but Irish?

We made a deep connection.  Every weekend after that, I would take my 'fish tailing' Corvair, and drove to Ft. Lauderdale to see him, or he would take the bus down to Miami to visit with me.  Through my relationship with him, I began to appreciate everything Irish and have done so since then!
These photographs Carnaby Street, London were taken by Arby Reed in 1968. The girl looking into the gleaming Roller shows us that this was before Carnaby Street was pedestrianised.

I finally did get to England after high school, and have been to Ireland twice as well.  I have to say the countries were everything I had imagined and more.

 When I first visited London, I couldn't get to Carnaby Street fast enough, this was the heartbeat of the fashion world at that time.  On my first trip to London, I celebrated my 21st birthday atop the London Hilton.  It had a revolving restaurant, and I can remember every detail.  It was absolutely fabulous.

I suppose we all have our favorite memories about growing up, regardless of the era.  I wouldn't trade mine for a micro-mini!

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Czech Memories


I am thinking back to the time I visited Czechoslovakia as a young newlywed.  Things weren't so peachy for their newlyweds' and people back in the 70's in the now Czech Republic. There was a very restrictive government in place at that time.

I remember enjoying a delicious lunch in the Czech Republic, and then asking what was the meat?  It was  "Venison" , I was told.  I had never imagined eating deer meat.  It wasn't as appealing as the steak I have just finished.

Every town we passed through had the distinguishable iron and sickle on the side of the road.

I remember a young man boarding our bus, so young that he still had acne.  He carried a rifle along his back, and asked everyone to display their passport.  Our tour bus was so humid and hot, and we were asked to endure that, (with the doors and windows closed), until one hour later when he checked everyone out.

We sat there in resolute, going through our personal items to oblige the young man. That was the then Czechoslovakia.  If not for the grace of God, and the men that fought for us, this would be the United States.

Upon arriving at our hotel, we were warned by our tour guide NOT to discuss anything political in our  rooms.  Can you imagine?  The rooms might be bugged.  It was totally unfathomable to me.  Coming from the United States and going into a country were you were not free to discuss politics even in the privacy of one's room!

The hotel had not changed in decor since the 30's.  All the furniture smelled of  mildew, and was worn and tired, like its' country at that time.  I joked that our hotel elevator operator looked like Count Dracula.  He had black,slick hair, parted down the middle.  the only good thing about the hotel were its' drink prices, less than a dollar for mixed drinks! Amazing.  That was a synopsis of forlorn Czechoslovakia circa 1977.

Touring Czechoslovakia was a hidden treasure of art.  I marveled at the old city square clock, with revolving animated ornaments, that rotated on the hour, a must see for any tourist.  And then there was the priceless crystal, a serving tray could be bought for $10.00 back in the day, and one was free to bring back as much as one could carry!

I never will forget the mixture of fear and wonder that I felt visiting that country.  Before it was liberated, before it was the cosmopolitan and trendy city it is today.

So it seems appropriate, to recognize the great sacrifices made for us, by young men that gave up so much - so we can enjoy good food, family and an enviable quality of life.

Somehow a simple thank you isn't enough.  The best gifts we receive can never really be given back.

 There is no way to make up for the gift of freedom.

During the Viet Nam war, I wrote to service men on the "Sea Tiger."  A group  of girls in our high school passed out names of men that wanted a pen pal.    I felt so good writing them, and to know they looked forward to receiving my letters.  I pray that every one of them made it back home safely.

So it is, with great humility, and not nearly enough appreciation, that on this day I whisper;  "thank you."

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Writers' Pain

I now understand why I never seriously pursued being a writer.  It is too painful to write.  Just writing my blog takes it all out of me.  I believe this because, to write good stories or copy, there has to be some measure of truth for the reader.  People have to relate to what you write,  and to do that - one has to bare it all for readers- which I find extremely difficult.

For example; I always destroyed my diaries, and all my personal journals.  I thought:  What if I get in an accident?  Someone will actually FIND and READ these things.  So I got rid of them.

 In conversation, in contrast, I have no trouble sharing personal information with everyone-  a not so becoming trait.  There is a finality about writing , putting the pen to the paper, and once it is written- you are taking a stand on issues.  There is no flexibility after that.

Maybe I figure at this point of my life, what the heck, that it doesn't really matter what others think of me, so I can let it all hang out.  Truth is:  writing is cathartic for me.  I feel cleansed after I finish.  Although at times I must admit, I don't want to go through the process.

It was far easier to interview other people.  When I was in college, and I got to cover concerts of Cat Stevens, Rod McKuen, Donovan.  Oh, and I forgot the late and great Danny Thomas.

  I felt so polished, and, best of all I had the protection of my editor, who would go over my copy with a magnifying glass.

These days, I have no Editor, and my eyes aren't all that good,  I can't guarantee flawless copy. but I do my best to make it appealing and readable.

 But the glamour is gone, I can only share what I have experienced in my lifetime with my audience.  It may strike a chord with some, and not even warrant a "click" for others.

So I continue writing, I don't have any fun concerts to cover anymore, I can't sit down with the likes of Danny Thomas, or Donovan or other celebrities that I got to interview back in the day.

However, I am well aware I am just one pebble in a sea of  blogs, and few are  probably reading what I have to share anyway.  This makes the process much easier!


I have been betrayed.   I was betrayed all along.  I didn't want to look at reality.   My shrink told me that I am grieving. This was just a stage that I was going through, not unusual, part of the process.  I wish someone could just rewire my brain, fix it so I never remembered meeting "A,"  erase all the memories.

In the beginning of it all, I was enthralled.  But as aspects of the relationship began to rear their ugly head, this terrible insecure feeling began to creep up on me.

I was dating an alcoholic.  I thought I could make it go away.  I kept trying for two years.  I was courted with three dozen roses for my birthday, taken to the finest restaurants, I could even invite my closest friends along, I was living like a rock star.  I thought.

Things began to go from fabulous to horrible.  Days would go by and I didn't receive a call. Pills would be missing from my cabinet.  Wine was missing from my cupboards. I could never count on him.

 We were invited to a wedding of a close family friend, who lives in Las Vegas. He agreed to attend.  As time wore on, it became apparent that he had no intention of going.

 I was miserable and disappointed.

Looking back, I remember a comment I got early on when I expressed my need to hear from him, and that I needed him to be there for me.   His response was matter-of-fact: "I am not capable of that."  So why didn't I listen, why did I hang on to false hope?

I decided to go into therapy and I was told to make a list of all the qualities I admire in a man so I did:

  • Loyalty
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Tall
  • Handsome
  • Compassionate
  • Reliable
  • Successful
  • Generous
  • Sense of humor
  • Family oriented

I showed him the list..."none of that is me," was his response.  You think I would have gotten a clue.  I continued to carry on with this man off and on for two years.  I saw the ugly side of things, including the pills (which he insisted were for his attention deficit disorder).  Escorting him to AA meetings, and then having him disappear into thin air- to later find him an empty building- with no excuse. Was he there to pick up pills?  What kind of drugs?  I was numb.  But I was drawn into this web of deception, and would not try to escape.

I pleaded with him to get to the Alcoholic Recovery Center (ARC) to dry out.  He agreed, and I heard nothing from him for three days.  When I did get a call on the 4th day, he was very cavalier about his experience,  He laughed (uncharacteristically) that it was "rough."  Later that night, we argued when he told me that "I cannot live alone, I am getting a roommate through AA".  I thought this was a terrible mistake, that he needed to go into rehabilitation, not get a roommate!

The next day, I went to collect him for church, and there, big as life, sat an attractive, middle-aged woman that  he apparently met at the ARC over the last three day stay, whom he invited to his home!  Stunned, I asked:  "Who are you?" she responded that she was a friend of  "A'"s.

 I was devastated.

 I got to church and just broke down in front of my friend and confidant, our parish priest.  Of course, I was warned time and time again, that this was not the man I should be seeing, that nothing good could come from this.

Seven days passed and I finally received a call from "A."  "I know you met my house guest," he said.  "She will be staying with  me for a few days."  I was mortified.  Later the following week,  I ran into "A" at the gym, he raised his voice when I confronted him (an obvious sign of guilt).  He maintained that this woman was just company, a friend, someone to help him get by and share expenses.  Bull____.   How could someone do something so hurtful?

 I still did not understand that alcoholics only care for themselves.  That they are narcissistic at best, and down right criminal at worst.  They will do anything to advance their cause (to stay high).

I  made one last attempt to help "A" get back into the mainstream; but, no surprise, my efforts failed.   He called me a couple of times, but I never responded.  Fast forward seven months, I got news through an a friend that he and his new beloved (the same friend from the ARC), had a blow up and he was in jail, and she was in the hospital with an emotional breakdown.

A part of me said, great, payback is a bitch! Another part of me prayed for them.  Yet still I ache, it hurts, I still hold onto false hopes.   At this point, I just pray to forget the whole experience.  I still count the months' hoping that by next month I will forget.  But I don't forget.  My mind still replays the good times back to me.  I fight back by telling myself it is over.

If I could just believe that.

Senior Fashionista

(Getty Photo)

Imagine: You are 96 years old, and you've spent your life traveling the globe;  places as far away as Ghana, Ethiopia, and Nigeria to help support women's issues.  You're inspired by the culture and dress. You love helping people and are featured on a blog for senior fashionista's in their 70,'s 80's and 90's!  You take your place at the front row of Joanna Mastroianni's fall fashion show at Lincoln Center, and there you die.

That was Zelda Kaplan's final fashion statement.  I can't imagine a better way to die!  Doing what you love, drawing your last breath after taking a look at a designer dress you admire.  Do you think that's where we get the term "breathtaking?" http://www.stylelist.com/2012/02/15/zelda-kaplan-dead_n_1280450.html?ref=stylelist&just_reloaded=1

The story gives new meaning to the term fashionista.  Ms. Kaplan wore African prints, and other exotic African frocks inspired by the culture she loved, and that loved her back.   According to The New York Times, she examined issues on women's rights of inheritance and created awareness regarding female genitalia mutilation.  She visited scores of African villages and became their mouth piece- advocating for a culture that could not speak out for themselves.

What a role model! Instead of giving up on life, this woman took on tough challenges at a time in when most of us are researching Assisted Care Centers!  While far younger women might have given up on living, Kaplan was out forging new territories on women's issues to landscape.

If I can embrace Ms. Kaplan's philosophy, I would be able to put aside self interest, selfish motivations, and, at the top of the list: worrying.  I am inspired by this woman.  For today, at least, I am NOT going to focus on my AGE, my capabilities, my (lack) of job opportunities, my love (what?) life.   It is too easy to get caught up in my own narcissistic needs.  

Her philosophy about life was summed up as follows: "One must be interested in the world, not oneself only."

49 degrees 56’ North and 41 degrees 43’ West

Here she lies, unparalleled by none, when time stood still for 2228 souls, many of which did not complete the transatlantic crossing. Unsuspecting. vibrant, and hopeful immigrants looking forward to a new beginning in America. These passengers were prepared for the cruise of a lifetime aboard the "unsinkable" Titanic.  According to  Titanic Stories:
The Titanic collided with the iceberg at about 11.40 on 14th April. She sank below the water at 2.20am the next morning. A ship which had taken three years to fully construct was sunk in less than three hours.
This video brilliantly documents what it would have been like to be among the passengers on this immortalized ship.  It is beautifully executed and gives us a window into the decrepit remains of the elegant luxury liner. http://www.the-titanic.com/Journey/Wreck.aspx

I once worked with a woman who swore she was a reincarnated passenger from the Titanic.  She shared with me that she had recurrent flashbacks of people and visions of the ship she could not have known. 

Imagine all the magnates aboard, going about their business nonchalantly on this voyage, unsuspecting, unaware of the impending danger.  Who was destined to live or die?

I remember when the Denver Museum of Science and Natural History had the Titanic recreated for a venue a few years ago.  The ships interior hallways were so authentic, recreated meticulously to mirror what passengers experienced when strolling to their cabins.  One got the feeling of opulence, a time when no expense was too great, or furniture and appointments too costly, for those who purchased their first-class passage on the vessel.

It saddens me to look at this video, to see what time has done to all the crystal, steel, antique furniture- not to mention passengers' shoes- enmeshed in the bottom of the ocean's unforgiving floor.

To follow the Titanic's tragic story is a never-ending mystery; there is always new information and items recovered by different expeditions.  She was created for pleasure, relaxation and enjoyment; but fate had another plan for her, as her memory outlives the sweat and steel with which she was constructed.

Get the Lead out of my Lipstick!

Ever since I can remember, I was always told I look a little pale, and I should put on some lipstick.  There has always been rumblings about the dangers of lipstick and lead.  Especially reds. 

After I have my breakfast in the morning, and brush my teeth, I see a ghostly, freckled figure in the mirror.  Not at all attractive, just pasty and white.  It makes me want to sleep with lipstick on.  I fumble through my makeup kit, and pick out the brightest colors of the rainbow to wear.  That's what I look best in.  I wish I could get away with the natural look, like all those gorgeous models, and the lucky ladies that have olive or oatmeal complexions. 

All my favorite brands are full of lead.  "Not to worry", said my trusted confidant - the manager at the gym I patronize- as she laughed it off with me this afternoon.  "You'd have to literally eat half the lipstick for lead to have an impact!"

What's a girl to do?  I know what this girl is going to do, I am not going to miss a beat, I want my raspberries, oranges, roses, hot pinks, to stay right in my makeup kit so I can be armed after I finish my coffee.  Yes, and I forgot to mention, I am a lipstick "eater."  Not more than 5 minutes after I apply my lipstick, and am smacking my lips together and ingesting it!  Does that make me more vulnerable?

Have a look at what http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/lipstick.asp snopes had posted as far back as 2003.  Here's a peek at what the Washington Post had to say about 400 lipsticks: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/400-lipstick-brands-contain-lead-fda-says/2012/02/14/gIQAhOyeDR_story.html.  Now you can decide if you are going to do some pairing down yourself.

Wait...I hear a knock at my door.  I'm putting on my mandarin honey-orange before I open it.

I Will Love You 'Til the Money Runs Out...

Whoa!  I just read an interesting article on http://www.salary.com/survey-results-for-love-or-money/ regarding how love is connected to money.  Not that we haven't all suspected it in some relationships.  But really, a study conducted on how much you love equals how much you make? 

I can't say I am not bowled over when a former boyfriend gave me three dozen roses for my birthday...what happened to less is more?  Apparently over 2,000 people were surveyed and there are some eye-opening results about how love and money are connected.

I always joked that I married the only poor Jew in America...because if there are 100 men in a room, and I would have an opportunity to pick out my favorites, they would not be the wealthy ones! 

When I was a young woman, I had the opportunity to fly away "anywhere in the world" with a man 30 years older, and all I could think about is "I can't kiss him with those dentures!"  There is no way I could put a bag over his head and do it for God and my country.  So, I did the honorable thing, I "gave" him  to a girlfriend.  Who, much more attractive and clever than myself, wasted no time in scurrying him off to Paris, returning with a brand new wardrobe and quickly marrying him not long after.

Okay, I did feel a bit envious when she turned up on the cover of Women's Wear Daily sporting a designer dress with all the bling.  Honestly, to the day I know it could not have lasted, because if I don't get that butterfly feeling for someone, it just won't fly for me.

So it is fitting, on this Valentines Day, that I will be sitting home tonight, with my Great Pyrenees and parrot, in front of the television set without a box of chocolate!

I never thought I could say this, but guess what?  For once I am okay with that.


I have a love-hate relationship with technology and social media.

Having observed and participated in social media over the last few years, I have made some observations I want to share.   While there are many, many benefits to social media, I believe there are vulnerablitlies for advertisers, businesses and spin doctors in the race to get audiences to "like" their product or service.  Moreover, to some, the process is not intuitive, impeding the communication process itself!  Given this analogy,  social media might be counter productive to those markets.

We are on overload.  So much information is thrown at consumers, with many of them not knowing how to navigate to find their way through the milieu.

New technology is introduced into the market everyday.  This, in turn, out dates the products consumers' purchase. (Okay, I hear your 'duh'). However, with the economy in a crunch, many people just may opt to forgo that new purchase or future purchases and adopt a "wait and see" attitude with regard to new product roll out.  Just when one has mastered some new software, there is an updated version to learn all over again.  You know the drill.  

Understanding demographics and psychographics, I am well aware that most advertisers allocate a great deal of money targeting the 18-49 segment.  And yes, they are the ones having the love affair with technology.  For those companies targeting that group, it is working well for now.

Are businesses evaluating and targeting those consumers who can't navigate the web?
I can't hear them clicking "like" or "unlike" to what is served up on company social media pages.  I am afraid we are leaving these folks feeling exasperated and frustrated given the stimuli to which they are exposed on a daily basis. 

There is much to be garnered from a quality-versus-quantity approach in pitching your product.  However, it is not cost effective to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Statistics tell us that seventy-five percent of Internet users embrace social media. : http://techcrunch.com/tag/emarketer/.

Every business wants to get buy in from the consumer.  I reflect on whether companies waste too much time and money on measuring and metrics instead of looking at the bottom-line in generating income.

 Uh-oh, I see a lot of "dislikes' on the horizon.

Out of Time

I had dinner with a friend in town from Ireland.  Our friendship goes way back to when I had my children, over thirty years ago.  I gave her all my maternity clothes when she became pregnant shortly after.  When my son and I went to Ireland, she invited us to a lovely dinner in Dublin.  As a side note, her husband was my very first boyfriend!

While he and I rarely speak, I delighted in befriending his wife, Monica.  She is from Central America, where my father had a business.  Her husband (my boyfriend at that time) went down to Nicaragua work for my Dad.  It was there she met Colin, her husband to be.  

It comes as no surprise that when I found out she was coming out to Denver, we made plans which included my son. We had dinner at one of Denver's finest restaurants.  Everything was going well, and then we got into conversations about our adult children.  I  must have gone on way too long about my frustrations about my son, when my friend interrupted and said "this is not your time, it is his time."  Wow, what a punch. 

I wasn't ready for that one.  It isn't my time anymore.   The most thought provoking  comment I have ever heard.  I thought long and hard before I answered, and couldn't come up with much more than a grunt in response.
This is not what one wants to hear when you are still looking to get back into a career, still feeling vital, going to the gym on a daily basis, trying to take care of oneself. 
But the hard reality is, it is as true as it can get.

It is not unlike passing the family treasures on to your loved ones;  you have to eventually fade out of the picture and take a not so comfortable seat in the background.

Somehow I equate that with being useless.  And thank you, I rather walk then be seated!

I don't want to fade out like an old Audie Murphy movie.  I want to be in the mainstream, doing the things I love - working at my dream job, being involved- circulating with people.

The scenario reminds me of the scene in the "Wizard of Oz" where the bad witch gets water splashed on her and cries...she is "fading" and withering away.

Another good friend. Megan, has recently retired. I asked he how she is enjoying her life of leisure and her answer surprised me.  "I am going crazy," she said.  This retirement thing is not at all what she anticipated.  Not that she has nothing to do, but it is the drudgery of having to do the same things day after day, and not coming in contact with as many people, or, in her case helping people that she found so much joy in while working.

When I first started my blog, over three years ago, all I wanted was a job.  I found a little temporary position, that has thankfully lasted over two years.   While the people are wonderful, and I pay my bills, it is still a contractor position.  No sick days.  No vacation pay.  In short, no benefits.  You see I still have this goal, (to own my home) and I won't give it up. 

Okay, so what if I don't get my career back? Do I then live in the shadow of my children's lives?  Do I have to then become dependant on my children?  This is very frightening to me.

Of course, I want to celebrate their achievements, marriages, children, and be there for them in any way possible. 

However,  I don't want to loose me.

It is not that I am in denial- I am looking at old age on the horizon- I am honestly not ready to accept the reality.

I might be ready tomorrow, or next week, or a year from now, but not today.


Clever as I can be...

You know that Brooks and Dunn ditty " How long is long gone you gonna be?," that about sums up  my attitude about the job market...At best it is frustrating.  Everyone says we are in a recession, I'd bet everything that we are in a depression.  It wasn't all that long ago that one could find a great job in four months or less.  In today's market you're lucky if you find one in 40 months! 

I work in an environment where I have met ex-business owners, business executives and other professionals- all with the same tale to tell-  they had to find a job, any job to keep their head above water.   These are people that have made a good deal of salary, now having to accept contract work and hourly jobs in order to put food on the the table.

Only the cleverest of people will succeed , and that means having to stay abreast of all the changes in the industry.  You can forget about finding a decent job at all if you don't have intermediate to advanced technical skills.  Employers now want an employee that not only can multi-task, but field different jobs outside the scope of one's expertise to get the most bang for their buck.

You see, I was always naive enough to believe if you can sell yourself, and have excellent visionary skills, and can sell your company's niche' to the market, that you have a solid footing in business.  What a primitive, outdated way of thinking!

It wasn't all that long ago that I accepted a position with a developer with the caveat that "everything has changed...marketing is now priced based.  Image based advertising doesn't have a place in the market now.  It is all about price, value, more for your dollar. "

To get ahead, in today's market, you have to do it yourself.  You have to make a list of every single thing that you can do well, and make a list of everything that that the market needs and fill that niche.'   I don't think it necessarily means you have to have money for a start-up.  If one's concept is strong and good enough, there are people that will buy into your idea. 

I know what I have to do, I just have to go do it...Because if I plan to wait until I find my dream job, I will be waiting a long time.

An Apple for all...

I never owned a Mac.  I still struggle with the differences between the I-POD and I-PHONE.  But I had nothing but awe for Steve Jobs.  It is times like these when I really have to stop and collect my thoughts, or just say to myself "go figure."

Go figure why such gifted people are only on this earth for such a short time, and make such an impact.  Go figure why the ones that just take up space are here way too long.

I heard Steve's Stanford University(2005) speech this morning, it was as if he spoke to me personally.  I have never been a risk-taker to any degree.   The biggest risk I took was dumping $60,000 into my Real Estate business which I ultimately lost.  I admire the man's zeal for never giving up on his vision, and going for the all or nothing route to success.   It is not surprising that is the story for all successful people.  Fear, intimidation, caution are just not part of their make up.

It is all to easy to look back in life and say "why", instead of going forward and saying "why not?"

To hear Jobs talk to those students about doing everything you want now, because "we are all naked" and going to die puts it all into perspective.  CAUTIOUS, for what?  is it going to change anything?  AFRAID of what?  There are no grants in extension of time to spend with loved ones.

I can't help but wonder what's next for Apple.  I know there will always be some more surprise technology.  I am sure Steve Jobs took his inventory and has lots more in store for us.

Somehow eating an apple will always seem a little sad to me...