150 Words, or Less #3 – Name That Tune.


Today is January 28, 2020.  UNICEF estimates that 353,000 babies will be born around the world before tomorrow dawns.  If it’s your birthday you are in good company with a few of the greats.  Johann Ernst Bach for one.  Johann Sebastian was his twin. Guess you could say they were born Bach to Bach.  Sorry about that.  And African explorer Henry Morton Stanley, who led the search for Dr. Livingston, and discovered the Nile as a bonus. The illegitimate son of Elizabeth Parry, he went by his father’s name (whom he never met) as Henry Rowlands until he emigrated to America, where he went to work for Henry Stanley, taking his name as a gesture of gratitude.  He fought for both sides in the Civil War, ending up in the Union navy where his love of adventure flourished. Expeditions to the Ottoman empire, the Congo and beyond followed. Happy birthday wishes, I presume.

150 Words, or Less – Up in Smoke


I grew up in a cloud. Back in the 1950’s and 60’s, everybody smoked. Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors – even the minister, inhaled. I doubt if I ever saw anything clearly – and I’m certain that I always smelled like a Winston.  Tobacco ruled. Fancy cigarette boxes, lighters shaped like large chess pieces and oddly molded ash trays were prized possessions.  There was no escaping it. Everyone on television smoked. Everyone in the movies smoked. Cowboys in white hats, black hats, jeeps and saloons all lit up the “tobaccy” as they tamed the wild west. Danny Thomas, Donna Reed, Jack Parr – you name it. Smoke was there. Bogey’s Casablanca was awash in it, adding to its intrigue with a magical, swirling haze.

It’s always been a right of passage for young people. I missed that voyage, having never tried it. I’m lucky I guess. Quitting looks really hard. Ask Bogey.




150 Words, or Less


The practice of texting and twittering has quickly replaced what is now considered “old fashioned” emailing.  Sadly, a message sent by pen and paper is now relegated to the attic – dusty, remote and antiquated.  Time, and type, both march on my friends. Handwritten correspondence has been obsolescing since man first etched a figure on a cave wall. Those clumsy hieroglyphics didn’t last long – who can spell hieroglyphics without a dictionary anyway?  But the move from cave wall to tree bark to parchment to the Gutenberg press sped up the ability to transmit our thoughts. And now, in an instant, we can express love with a tiny heart (in any color) and fling an insult with the popular poop emoji (it smiles). Seems hieroglyphics have resurfaced. And now grammar and punctuation is the new clumsy. That’s a topic for another time. Or type. Stay tuned.  And write your mother. In cursive.

Pretty Boy’s Bridge


I see a lot of posts, cards, books and thoughts on The Rainbow Bridge.  The place pets cross when they leave the earth.  Not being a religious person, I don’t see a heaven or hell as an option, but thinking that pets have a special place is appealing. After all, they are a lot more advanced than we humans. Seriously, their motive in life is survival. Not to cheat, kill, maim or ruin the environment for fun. They don’t start wars, pollute the earth, promote fracking, support the oil and pharmaceutical lobbies or vote against their own best interests.  So, a nice place to live, once they leave this earth, is probably more than fair.

There certainly is no shortage of pets. The industry is huge. Designer dogs and cats show up on my Facebook page every day, all decked out in fancy coats with fancy price tags. Ads for pedigree pups and kittens fill up half the page in the larger papers. Cute and expensive, they pose for the camera on pretty pillows, while their owners hope for a sale. No sale? Well, an early run across that bridge I fear.  In comparison, the shelter dogs and cats pose in cages, often with their noses pressed through the bars. They hope for a pat on the head, a kind word and a stable owner. They, too, face the possibility of seeing that bridge if they go unselected.  I wonder sometimes if it’s a four-lane.  It must be a busy place.

And then there are the pets that live with me.  Nothing fancy.  Just furry. Every single one was either a gift, or a squatter. That is, they showed up, and they stayed.  It was a simple as that.  I had no choice. Each with their own back story and a unique personality.  There was Festus, the lop eared schnauzer (and the only dog) who ran like the wind on three legs after my son.  Having failed as a farm dog, he enjoyed being a city pup, but not a a fan of the bath – or the mailman. Ginger, the crabby cat who loved the centers of pumpkin pies and my daughter was a tortie with attitude. She had belonged to a couple whose new apartment building wouldn’t allow pets.  So, she allowed us to adopt her. Kevin, the golden haired tom who was long on beauty, but short on brains, moved around with me several times.  His previous owner liked to enjoy a bit of reefer, and I think Kevin may have inhaled a bit too much second hand smoke.  He stared into space much of the time.

Virginia Inez, who arrived from New York searching for a new home to take over found Kevin an easy target  and was clearly the reincarnation of a woman I cared for (and loved dearly) as a nurse.  She was intrusive, nosey, noisy and limped – just like her name sake. A great cat. I still miss her. Chloe, the gorgeous long haired tortie who came with Larry would stare me down if I dared to sit next to him on the sofa. She also tried her best to bite my toes whenever I went to bed. She was by far the most beautiful cat I ever had. But she would not let me pick her up and petting her was risky.  Terrible waste of feline fur.  Then came our two-some.  Handsome, a loveable orange long hair and Pretty Boy, who got me to blogging today.   Most recently, Taco Tommy a/k/a Norman arrived here with a chubby kitten’s body and plenty of purrs, acting as though he owned the place. And, he did.  Looking at his orange hair and watching him play, we can’t help but think that Handsome may have sent him to us.  Maybe this bridge has two lanes…

Now, more about that two-some.  Handsome was left behind when the neighbors moved out – around twenty years ago.  He was a big, fluffy guy whose grooming abilities were lacking.  I suspect he was separated too early from his mother and never got the washing of the fur lesson.  He would mat up quickly and the groomers would have to shave various parts of him on a regular basis. It embarrassed him, I know. But dreadlocks on a cat are not a good thing.  He was a lover and would purr at the first stroke. Pretty Boy, or PB, came to us at about a year after Handsome moved in. At the time, PB was sporting a pink flea collar and a number of cuts and bumps – most likely due to the neighborhood bully cats making fun of his effeminate attire. He as not yet full grown – still a teen by cat adolescent standards. That was nineteen years ago.  He was a talker, much like his predecessor, Virginia. Both were sleek dark haired beauties. Neither had any use for dogs or catnip. I think they may have been connected somehow.

Larry, the official cat whisperer, was the first to feed them, which, of course to cats, is paramount to a binding rental agreement, with all manner of amenities such as veterinarian care, primo nutrition, a heated cat condo in the garage and plenty of pets and fuzzy toys.  They took to their new home quite nicely, staking out their own leaf pile nests next to the house, as well as the sunny spots on the deck. Each had their own food dish, but preferred to move between the two, taking turns at each bowl, lest one of them contain more than the other.  They tolerated each other, but roamed the yard separately most of the time.

On occasion they would team up and bring us “gifts.”  We would find the remains of what appeared to be a rabbit near the back door, with Pretty Boy looking proud, and Handsome appearing confused (a not uncommon look for him).  Other times, we’d find some squirrel parts and a mouse carcass or two on the deck. And fleas. But those we could handle, thanks to Dr. Stevens, their personal and always attentive veterinarian. We made many a trip there, with each cat wrapped in a towel. Cat carriers were not an option. Pretty Boy, the usual “tough guy” would object loudly and frequently during the entire trip and throughout the visit, while Handsome would utter a few weak “meows” while enroute.  There, they received the necessary “surgery” that male cats should have, various antibiotics for infections, medications for worms and the usual shots and such to keep them safe. Which brings me back to this bridge idea.

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do. No medicine will work. An aging feline body just doesn’t last. So, you make the decision. Having to put an animal down is not an easy task.  Especially when they snuggle close to you when you pick them up for that last ride.  Or, maybe they know and are grateful. Maybe. I hope so. Because today was one of those days that pet owners dread. But it’s something we must do.  I remember each one. I remember their quirks and what made them special. I remember the ones I was able to pet and talk to until they were gone.  I wonder if they ever looked back once they started across that bridge. If so, I hope they were happy.

Pretty Boy


Politics in the Time of Cholera


There are few, if any, news programs, columns, cartoons, T-shirts or ball caps that don’t offer a political comment or reference to the state of the country.  Talking heads on every channel deliver an ongoing stream of why and why not, arguing for or against the latest tweet, arrest, subpoena, rumor or photo opportunity.  In between, the continued diatribe are the political ads, selling their product and warning us of the dangers coming from the other side. The late night talk show hosts, who have long been a welcome respite from the daily grind of political jabber are finding it hard to stay fresh.  As the government scenario continues – ever more ridiculous and rude, their writers scramble to be more clever than the day before.

Those on the Right have chosen an outspoken game show host as their champion. They look to him to free them from the chains of bureaucratic tethers, keep the poor and needy out of their back yards and their wallets, and return America to the good old days when Ozzie and Harriett were the gold standard, and the gold standard was secure.  The Right has no room for those who are not straight, white or patriarchal.  To them, the melting pot is meant for fondue. Gays and transgendered should be in institutions; not in our schools, or in families, or in government.  Schools should be full of Bibles instead of accurately portrayed history books, creationism theories rather than proven science – and segregated into charter and other private schools – all paid for with tax dollars. Public schools must follow suit, but with far fewer dollars and shut away in urban areas where “those” students belong.  Brown v Board has been moved into the janitor’s closet.

All political parties run on fear. For the Right, it’s fear of becoming brown, or black, or of having to share the same doctor’s office with those on the lower end of the social spectrum.  Although the majority of those on “welfare” are white, those with more melanin are always suspect.  Keeping America white is their mantle – even as they embrace their scriptures, sing their anthems and genuflect. Keeping America male is as important as keeping it white.  Women are not to rule.  They are to reproduce.  To consider the possibility of a woman President is totally unacceptable.  Even if it’s couched with “I’d be okay with a woman – just not THAT one” it’s clear that females need not apply.

The Right side of the political divide also runs on loyalty.  Loyalty to the office.  Loyalty to the status quo. Loyalty to what works for them.  Right now it’s excusing a POTUS who is morally bankrupt, laws that continue to discriminate against women and other minorities and changes that leave our environment under attack.  Even the “Me, too” movement creates the question of what men are to do now.  How unfair that this is affecting the way men have to work, and play and behave overall.  Ozzie and Harriet made a television career on the premise of “boys will be boys” and that still permeates through most of America.

Then, there’s the Left.  Who they have chosen to save us is still in flex.  What the Left fears is vulnerability. Feeling as though they are the champions of all that is unfair, they do make an attempt to right those wrongs.  Those attempts aren’t always as courageous or organized as perhaps they could be (I’m being nice here).  The liberals of late seem to spend a lot of time and energy arguing and fighting over who will lead and how they will enact and maintain their yet-to-be determined platform.

The Left always fears their base.  A base that is as vulnerable as it is diverse. While the Left promotes the rights of union and non-union workers, those same employees will jump ship if they think new rules, true or not, will affect their jobs.  They want more affordable health care, but are slow to change what they have, no matter how expensive, if there’s a remote possibility that they will have to share in the cost later on.  They want clean air and water, but that means changing how they fuel their cars and heat their homes.  While that might cost more initially, looking at the long term benefits is scary. Predictable costs are less so.

They want safe streets and schools, but they fight any mention of gun control.  There was a huge outcry over the last president’s views on guns from all sides, as he was expected to take them all away.  Interestingly, that never happened.  Any change to the Second Amendment brings out panic in the streets, even though the majority of Americans just want sensible laws.  Mentioning how US gun deaths exceed those of other countries by leaps and bounds makes no difference.  As with the Right, the Left fears change as well.  Apparently active shooter drills in Kindergarten isn’t seen as change. Rather, let’s arm the school cooks.

The current Left reminds me of a composite of Nero, the Keystone Kops and Glenda, the Good Witch.  They are too busy infighting, wasting time on a Mueller like impeachment inquiry and platitudes to set an agenda.  Good ideas, good people, but no plan.  That we have so many on the stage, vying for the party leaders to swivel around on their chairs and press the buzzer, is very disturbing.  Seems as though game shows are the elections of the future.  As women’s access to birth control, reproductive choices, mammograms and pap tests diminishes, so does the outcry.  As the environment erodes and lobbyists purchase Senators, where is the Left?  If, indeed, there is reason to think our current administration is corrupt, why is a useable conclusion taking so long? I wonder, quite often, what the Nixon daughters must think.

Disclaimer here: I have been a Democrat since the early 1970’s.  As one of those cookie munching, tree hugging lib-tards that garner so much flack from the other side, I have great difficulty with those who support the current man in the Whitehouse, and any of his minions. But I find myself saying that some days, being on the Left is more than frustrating. Not enough to leave the party, but more than enough to take it to task when I feel it needs a “whack.”  Loyal as an Alt-Right Republican I am…

We didn’t get where we are overnight.  And much of what we see now has been in place since our founders snubbed their noses at King George.  Racism, sexism, religious interference – a Civil War and hindered voting.  Much of it was diluted, for awhile. But these things are as American as the proverbial pie. However, now it’s exploded, and it’s not pretty.  Oozing out like lava, our transgressions are showing. We clearly are a divided nation.  And not for the first time. Holding hands and attempting to listen isn’t working.  It never has. Polarized as we are, it’s hard to see us sharing ideas, let alone tax dollars.  If the tall one was correct, a nation divided pretty much screws itself.  I feel that, until we do our own research from all sides, refuse to be persuaded by Russian or other propaganda (how stupid ARE we?) and look at things long term instead of what’s ahead next week, we are more than divided. And pretty much, screwed.

Presidents’ Day Mattress Sales


I always chuckle at the ads for mattress sales that abound on Presidents’ Day.  Really, why?  Wouldn’t it be better to offer reduced pricing on flags, or maybe apple pie?  But however you celebrate it, it might be good to remember how the whole day started, by George. Well, not by him, but for him.  Since he was the most revered at the time (after all, he helped put that other crown wearing George in his place), the good citizens of this nation bequeathed him a day, at least in the District of Columbia, and paid homage to his greatness. January 22nd used to be his big day, and as a small kid, I remember learning about him on those slates I used in grade school.   Abraham Lincoln was more to my liking, however. I think it was George’s wig that bothered me.  And the photo of him in that boat, standing so straight, made me nervous.  Abe seemed more genuine, what with the book return and all.  So I think I enjoyed that day off even more.  But by the time my kids were in school, and the slates were replaced by real books, it was decided that the third Monday in February be reserved for a Presidents’ Day celebration.  It was done due to something called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which created special, three-day weekends for our nation’s workforce.  At least most of them (doctors, nurses, EMTs, firemen, farmers and the coast guard need to report to the office). This, I suppose, led to the idea of big sales. After all, people weren’t working, so they must be encouraged to go shopping.  Still, the mattress concept escaped me.  Until I did some research on a few of our country’s top leaders.  Now, it’s quite clear.

Lots of bedroom action for some of these guys.  Even George, our first leader, was not exempt.  Apparently, his feelings for Martha weren’t all that romantic. She had a whole lot of money in her purse, while George had little to offer outside his wig. He had been in love, for real, with a certain Sally Fairfax, who he left behind once he started creating our country. Word has it that he sent a love note to Sally, on his honeymoon, no less, admitting his affection for her, rather than for Martha.  Whoops! Martha was not pleased. And neither was Sally’s husband. George’s life with Martha went on, but I bet she checked his mailbox frequently.  Good think he didn’t have twitter.

Others, who could certainly be considered cads were:

Thomas Jefferson, who fathered five children with Sally Hemmings, a slave that he brought back from France.  He did recognize her, and the children.  His wife, not so much.

Warren Harding, preferred being liked over being respected, and had a penchant for weak women.  His great love was purported to be his best friend’s wife, Carrie. Having extra executive time, he was caught having sex with an aide in the Oval Office closet and fathered at least two children, one with one of his campaign workers. Visits to New Orleans might find him in a house of prostitution, and he bragged once about his two chorus girl conquests, named Maize and Blossom.

Woodrow Wilson, one of the architects of the United Nations (and terrible racist),  blamed his need for extra marital affairs on his wife’s chronic depression.  He soon bedded a woman named Mary, and did little to hide their connection.   That relationship lasted until  he found pleasure in the arms of another woman, a widow named Edith.  Rumors about his extra marital affairs were abundant and upon his wife’s death, his eagerness to connect with Edith was unrestrained. A common joke about town was “What did Edith do when the President proposed?”  Answer: “She fell out of bed.”

James Garfield gets a double “cad.”  Thought to be obsessed with all things sexual,  it was rumored that he engaged in cold showers to stifle his urges.  He chose an asexual wallflower for a wife, hoping that would also help him behave.  Unsuccessful at being virtuous, he carried on with a number of women, including college students and young reporters.  His unfaithfulness wilted his wallflower wife, and she became reclusive and sad.

Another James, this one Buchanan, was the first and last bachelor president.  His one and only fiancé died shortly after he called off the engagement, and her family blamed him for her youthful death.  Broken hearted syndrome. Womanless, he took in Senator William King, and the two of them were together for 23 years.  His staff referred to the couple as Buchanan and his wife, and to King separately as “Aunt Fancy Pants.”  After William left the US for France, the letters exchanged were said to be very affectionate, but all were destroyed by Buchanan’s family, in hopes of curtailing any rumors of his sexual orientation.

Grover Cleveland goes beyond “cad” and into “disgusting.”  One of three presidents married in office,  his wife was 27 years his junior. And to make matters worse, she had been his “ward” since age 9.  Apparently he bought her baby carriage. Talk about creepy!  His history was pretty awful as well. At age 17, he raped a young woman and then threatened to ruin her further if she told anyone.  The assault left her pregnant and he arranged, upon the child’s birth, to have her admitted to an insane asylum and put the baby in an orphanage.  Lucky for her, the asylum director realized what was going on and released her. She never did see her baby however.

FDR and Eleanor had a “working partnership”, rather than a “working marriage.”  Eleanor’s very own social secretary was her husband’s mistress.  Their own daughter Alice was complicit, often arranging time for the two lovers to be alone.  Franklin wanted to be free to marry his paramour, but his mother, who controlled his wealth, threatened to pull all his funding should he leave Eleanor. So, they stayed together, but separate.  Eleanor, who claimed that the whole ordeal made her stronger, took on a companion, and she and a female reporter named Lorena lived together in her half of the Whitehouse.  FDR didn’t mind, as he was busy getting in and out of bed with his new assistant, Missy.

Dwight Eisenhower, who helped defeat the Nazis, gave us our interstate system and put “In God We Trust” on our money in response to those heathen communists, was not too busy to fool around in the bedroom. His long time affair with his secretary Kay Summersby is well documented.  When the war ended, he asked General Marshall to relieve him of his military duties so he could divorce wife Mamie and marry Kay.  Marshall refused, and Ike and Mamie stayed together, in name only.  I suspect she tossed all the “I Like Ike” buttons from her collection.

JFK’s escapades are well known.  He was probably the most prolific in the bedroom – back problems and all, of any president. His conquests included female Whitehouse staff members, wives of gangsters, women reporters and movie stars – among them Angie Dickinson, Kim Novak and of course, Marilyn Monroe.  In his short term he did a lot for this country.  And quite a few in the country did a lot for him.

Lyndon Johnson, a Civil Rights champion and one of the homeliest presidents we’ve had, must have had other things going for him in the boudoir.  One of his lovers was married to one of his major supporters, and he fathered a child, named Steven, by another woman. He refused to support the woman, or the child, and refused to ever recognize his son.  So prolific and daring in his sexual conquests that, after Lady Bird interrupted a tryst on the Oval Office sofa, his staff installed a buzzer system so he could be warned of her arrivals.  He was quoted as saying “I’ve had more women by accident than Kennedy had on purpose.” Nice guy. Not.

Rumors of affairs surrounding George Herbert Walker Bush have been written up in various newspapers and are chronicled in a book called The Powerhouse. Political aides have stated that he was “served” in many capacities by a political aide named Jennifer.  The family vehemently denies any of these rumors and call the book pure fiction.  I personally think he loved his son’s second in command and ruling brain, Dick Cheney, more than anyone. But, I digress.

William Jefferson Clinton’s escapades are legend and are brought to the surface frequently.  Probably one of the most skilled diplomats we’ve had, he can certainly get a couple of “cads” as well. Jennifer, Monica, etc., etc. still keep the tabloids full. As with FDR and Eleanor, he and wife Hillary seem to make it work somehow.  Your heart’s not good, Bill. Be careful.

The current resident in the Whitehouse has a history that, to me, combines many of the antics of his predecessors.  Garfield and Buchanan quickly come to mind.  He is precedent setting, however. Except for Reagan, who was divorced once, the new guy has a trail of ex wives, porn stars, beauty contest contestants,  news reporters and models who all have stories to tell.  Pay offs, hidden tapes and tell all books and magazine articles abound. And televised bragging rights to sexual assault is easily found on you tube. Too many “cads” here to list. Creepy. Bigly creepy. Biggest ever.

So, if you’re in the market for a new mattress, there are many places that have what you need.  Whether you want firm, soft, heated, padded, single, double, queen, king or super king, they are available. And all at a reduced price.  Just don’t accept any trade ins from Pennsylvania Avenue…sorry, that’s really creepy…



Hearts and History: a love story for all time


Note – I had published this a year ago.  A bit late for the holiday, but for those still celebrating true love, here it is again: The fourteenth of February will soon be here. A day for roses, chocolate, flowery greetings and a whole lot amour.  A little research shows that it was all because a valiant Bishop by the name of Valentinus bucked the Emperor Claudius’ edict that soldiers were not to marry.  Apparently this dastardly ruler felt that too much lovemaking and such would weaken his army’s ability to fight his many enemies.  Well, Valentinus thought the whole thing was hogwash, and married many a couple in secret.  He was subsequently arrested, jailed and executed on February 14th.  Prior to his death, he sent a love note to his jailer’s daughter that closed with “from your Valentine.”  Hence, the start of a romantic holiday.

During the Middle Ages, hopeful suitors drew names for their sweetheart of the day, and pinned the notes on their sleeves, awaiting the chance to win their affection. Hence, the term “wearing your heart on your sleeve.”  Later, during Victorian times, it was bad luck to sign your valentine, making guess work part of the mystery.

In 1537, King Henry VII made February 14th an official holiday.  Coincidentally, Henry ended the War of the Roses.  Which are also popular gifts for this day.  So popular that over 189,000,000 are purchased for sweethearts.  The red rose was the favorite of Venus, the Roman Goddess of love.  She and her lover, Mars, created Cupid, the arrow wielding cherub who is often depicted on valentines. Be careful with your color choice, however. While red indicates love and passion, pink signifies a wish to be sweethearts and yellow signals “let’s just be friends.”  Choose wisely to avoid sending the wrong message.

Candy is another Valentine’s Day offering.  It’s a billion dollar business, with over 35,000,000 heart shaped boxes of chocolates purchased for the day.  Englishman (and Quaker), Richard Cadbury produced the first box of valentine chocolates in the late 1800’s, before he made his famous eggs.  Some say his business was prompted by the advice from doctors at this time, who prescribed chocolate to cure love sickness and melancholy. Even Casanova favored chocolate, claiming it was a powerful aphrodisiac.  Today, over 40,000 people are employed in US chocolate factories.  And, the episode of Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate wrapping assembly line is rated as one of the most viewed sit coms ever.

But it’s not always about the chocolate.  At the same time Cadbury was churning out his famous confections, Necco, Inc. was creating its own candy hearts here in the US.   Producing eight billion a year, with the original 45 sayings, bags of these delights are found in most candy jars in America. It’s been estimated that if you line up a year’s worth of these colored candies, they would stretch from Arizona to Rome, and back again. And, with a shelf life of five years, they could keep love alive (and dentists busy) for many years to come.

Which brings us full circle to Bishop Valentinus’ message of love.  Valentine’s Day is second only to Christmas in money spent on paper greetings. One billion cards are purchased each season, pleasing the recipient and the US postal service. The first patent for the valentine was given to a woman, Esther Howland, in 1844. Eventually, earning over $100,000 annually,  she became one of the very few female entrepreneurs of the time. Most of her original employees were women, who worked from home, and were paid “liberally” for the times.  Known as the “Mother of the American Valentine” her cards were fanciful and often contained intricate designs.  Sadly, in spite of her amazing works, she never found true love and marriage.

Hallmark came later, in 1913.  The Hall brothers denied rumors that they invented Valentine’s Day as a way to increase their sales, always giving credit to Ms. Howland, and of course the infamous Bishop’s disrespect for Emporer Claudius. However, their company sells over 145,000,000 of the 150,000,000 valentines sold each year, making them the biggest producer of such love notes in the country. Procrastinating lovers need not worry. Fifty percent of all valentines are purchased with in the six days prior to February 14th.  And then, of course, there are the next-day, half-off sales…

The Victorian era of secrecy didn’t last long and the majority of valentines are signed.  It’s believed that the X in XOXO, which stands for “kiss” came about in an age when most of the lower class were illiterate.  People signed documents with and X, and then kissed their mark to show their sincerity, and respect for the Christian Cross.  The O is believed to come from the Jewish custom of signing an O, rather than the sign of the cross, for the same reason.  Others believe that the O appears to reflect an image of two people hugging. In any event, “hugs and kisses” is a popular greeting year round.

Responding to a valentine is not always possible.  Consider the city of Verona, Italy, the home of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  This town receives over 1,000 valentines every year, each addressed to Juliet.  To date, neither she, nor Romeo have cared to respond.

A few other bits of valentine trivia to contemplate:

  • Teachers get the most valentines, followed by children, mothers, wives and pets,
  • the average number of wedding proposals on this day?  220,000,
  • the average number of weddings on this day? 6,000 (mainly in Nevada),
  • groundhog day was originally celebrated on February 14th,
  • both Bell’s patent for the telephone and Fleming’s for penicillin were introduced on this day,
  • valentines and anything red are banned in Saudi Arabia,
  • John Barrymore, Jack Benny, Hugh Downs, Frederick Douglass, Jimmy Hoffa (where is he?) and Florence Henderson were all born on valentine’s day,
  • the League of Women Voters was created on this day in 1920, and
  • Richard Nixon ordered the infamous wire tapping of Democratic headquarters on February 14, 1971.

Share the love my friends.  And remember, chocolate is good for the soul…Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.








A Call for Bud Collyer


For those of you who don’t remember Bud, he was the original host of To Tell The Truth, a 1960’s game show that kept America glued to the TV each Tuesday night. A celebrity panel was challenged to guess whether or not various contestants were telling the truth, or if they were spinning tall tales. We all guessed along with celebrities such as Orson Bean, Kitty Carlisle, Johnny Carson and Tom Poston while being entertained by their simple banter and enjoyable back stories. I suppose the success of such programs is to blame for the never-ending barrage of today’s strange reality shows where people dare each other to eat cockroaches in the middle of a studio jungle to emerge as the Survivor, injure themselves on dangerous obstacle courses to shouts of “big balls” on Wipe Out and court, marry and divorce strangers in record time on the Bachelorette/Bachelor phenomenon. And then there is the sing along venues where judges insult and/or cry over eager would be rock stars with a relentless display of cheesy, cloying mutual admiration.

But back to Bud. We need him. Or something like him. Desperately. Why? Two words. Presidential campaign. Yes, the scourge of reality TV has firmly entrenched itself into the political process. Candidates appear to fall in and out of love with their constituents, while claiming they have cornered the votes of women, minorities, unions, the Pope, Joe the plumber and the cast of Minions. They set off on dangerous courses by expounding on issues of female anatomy, scientific research and various forms of math, fuzzy and otherwise.  And, of course, foreign affairs, including all the wars for whom no one is responsible. These types of questions usually get bounced into the waters below.

But to tell the truth? Well, for that we have the Donald. Polls claim to show that he’s loved because he says it like it is. And the number of people who seem to enjoy his hate spewed diatribe seems more scary than the man himself. When I see them gathered in front of his podiums I’m thinking “these are the same people who went to Woodstock – who protested the Viet Nam War – who applauded the resignation of Nixon!” and am instantly sad.  And worried. What happened to these people?

To compete with the millionaire mogul, the other panelists are going to have to ramp up their display of dislike for women, minorities, veterans, the working poor, people who wear glasses, rape victims and each other. Perhaps they will even disavow any affection for the Minions. And while they are screaming out their tunes, they will have to make certain Putin actually loves them best while keeping their college records firmly out of reach.

With most of them spending their mostly inherited wealth, the main sponsor, Koch Industries and various PACs won’t need the seductive woman in the Viagra ads to get viewers to buy into all of this. All any of us have to do is check the Facebook posts that flash by every few minutes, claiming that Hillary is actually Amelia Earhart and that Huckabee is a Belgian born Jew. Who needs Charles Kuralt? We’ll soon have at least 9 new Fox News commentators once this circus ends to tell us what we should know and whose on the latest hate list.

Bud would be amazed, wouldn’t he?  I just hope that America comes out as the Survivor here.

Bruce vs Barbie


As with many of us  media addicts, I’ve been following Bruce Jenner’s journey to become a woman since it began. I suspect I deduced it early on, when he appeared post Botox, with gently layered highlights in his hair. His inner struggles and pain at living in the wrong gender is something that doesn’t create any empathy on my part; but rather sympathy, and I can only imagine what he must have endured. At least he had his trophies.

Before I started this post, I looked up the definitions of “female” and “male” and didn’t find anything noteworthy, but found that the Oxford dictionary refers to the term “womanism” as relating to white women, while Merriam-Webster links it to black females. No wonder we get confused.

While I pride myself as being one of those liberal, cookie munching, tree hugging bleeding hearts, I gotta say that while this whole Bruce/Caitlin thing is great for transgendered, sadgendered and wronggendered people,  his new persona is a bit disturbing to me. Why? Because if he really wants to be a woman, why does he have to emulate a Barbie doll?  Haven’t we suffered enough from Barbie’s influences?  Hasn’t this tiny waisted, large busted glamour girl passed her anorexic, made up body into our society long enough? Isn’t there a serious image problem among our teens and Botox, tummy tucking adults? Why not resemble women who really made a difference in the world?  Why not fashion himself to look like Indira Ghandi? Barbara Jordan? Lucretia Mott? Juliet Gordon Low? Germaine Greer?  He’s obviously getting his fashion tips and ideas about womanism from his step-daughters. Now there’s a bunch to emulate..

On the other hand, I suspect that his close association with his step children has provided a safe haven of sorts. To their credit, they all seem to have embraced his struggle and showed steadfast support – as well as create more good press for themselves. Even the sound of his new name fits in with all the “K” kids in his expansive family.

Next month he is set to receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the ESPY awards. Courageous he is, and this honor is well deserved. Courageous because being female is still difficult in many ways.  Wage discrepancies and civil and property rights are still an issue for women everywhere. For instance, we are still paid less than men for the same work, still pay more for our health insurance than men do, and continue to serve longer terms in prison than males for the same crimes. Even the politicians feel they should have a say in our sex lives.  In short, it’s not easy being female. Maybe Bruce’s willingness to come over to our side will put the very idea of gender into the forefront and lead us, finally, to gender equality. I, for one, think he’s one damn brave person. And I am cautiously hopeful that he won’t disappoint us.

As Caitlyn, I do hope Bruce has found happiness. But have to ask her:  Please, can you do something for the millions of women everywhere who can’t, or don’t want to emulate Barbie; who seek only a good, safe and fair world for themselves and their families? You have the the courage – and the trophies to prove it.

That, and maybe a little less blush…

Resolutions 2015


I realize that to gain any success at blogging, it’s important to blog often. The blog police recommend once a week, usually on the same day. A weekly system, I’m told, is designed to keep you inspired and in some instances, to collect some followers. It also helps you remember your log in and password information – or at least where you wrote them down. You’ve been warned.

In going over some of my previous posts, hoping inspiration would spontaneously recur, I found my list of resolutions that were created last January. I kept them simple on purpose so that any feelings of failure would be short lived – or easily explained away. The outcome was a bit mixed. One resolve was to contact old friends, which I did (well one, anyway). Although it didn’t lead to any face to face encounters, it felt good to reconnect – even if it was just in print. Another promise was to see more movies at a real theatre. I failed there, seeing just one. Philomena. A real sob fest. Now I can’t enter a theatre for fear of having a host of angry nuns snatch children out from under me. Yet a third wish was my charm. It was to laugh more. I suspect that was my biggest success. That is, if you can count laughing at yourself.

This year, I’m ramping it up a bit. I resolve to blog at least twice a month (or fortnight as they say in the UK – thanks Acorn), floss every night and nap every afternoon. Then, if that works, I may try a short stint at the gym and increase my exercise from that of a South American hanging sloth to that of a pampered American house cat. That way, I can still nap. I also plan to read more, Facebook less and clean out one closet each season. And stay away from surgeons. Far away.

Looking back at 2014 I can count a new hip and a new kitchen as big events (the former not nearly as much fun to show off as the latter – nor as requested). I spent time with my wonderful children and grandchildren, my three “soul sisters” in sunny Arizona and traveled South to help my big sister celebrate her 80th birthday. I also added another room to my crafting emporium in the basement (often referred to as the underground tsunami) so I have more space for my ever burgeoning supply of paper and ink. I also lost a very dear friend. Too soon. He had a way with words like no one else. Thanks, John, for all your inspiration. We miss you.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, productive year for us all. And naps. And sloths, wherever they hang.