Book News

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​This update was supposed to appear at the end of last week. Unfortunately, chaos happened. Taking down the tree, planning my daughter’s sleepover birthday party, avoiding politics and failing all contributed to not completing my writing the way I wanted it to.

I did manage in the days before the chaos to get some introductions and background info on both House and Wales. They are by no means complete, and they’re barely first drafts, but they are something and I plan on continuing little by little. These updates not only get the job done, it gets it started and it gives me something to post on those biweekly Fridays.

Stay on track and Accountability.

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Election Reflection – Executive Orders

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Wow. Where do I begin?

Actually, I should begin with what’s got everyone up in an uproar at the airports.

Immigration.

Refugees.

Five Year Old Terrorists.

And seventy-five year old grandmothers who’ve had a green card since 1997.

One of the worst things I’ve noticed about this Administration isn’t the blatant racism, the showy signings of Executive Orders without regard to real people, it’s the lack of discussion and basic knowledge of how things get done. Legally.

I don’t even mean discussion with me or the rest of the American people, although that would be nice. I’m talking about discussion with the appropriate departments who oversee these issues. The President comes and goes. There’s a reason that the civil servants who serve all Administrations are called Lifers. They’re not appointees. They’re not political hacks. They’re experts in their field.

And the President and his people ignored them to make headlines; to give us a false sense of security while making our lives and our world more dangerous.

I have no words for Steve Bannon. He’s said himself that he wants chaos. He wants to see the world burn. And now, with him on the NSC, we’re halfway there. He has no place there, not to mention no place in the White House.

I can’t think of anyone in this Administration who President Trump listens to who is a professional. Not one.

They’re all defensive.

They’re all dismissive of the American people, especially those of us in the actual majority.

Representative Ryan is spineless. As is Senator Rubio. Senator McConnell wrote the playbook on obstruction. He won’t like that we were taking notes. Moderate Republicans need to stand up and speak out.

We’re relying on Senators McCain and Graham to take care of the Russians and the refugees. They need allies.

Name calling has no place in the White House.

And a religous test goes against the tenets of our society and our Constitution.

No Muslim ban.

Block the actual terrrorists.

Ways You Can Help:

You can find resources on my page, We the People.

Follow the ACLU on Facebook.

Follow the Women’s March on Facebook.

They both have actionable recommendations that everyone can do regardless of their levels of involvement. Most importantly, speak out. Don’t get complacent. Rise up.

4-52 – Carrie Fisher

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Protest poster from the Women’s March on Washington. 1/21/17. Unknown to credit at this time.

I have long admired Carrie Fisher from the moment she appeared as a repeated hologram with Luke’s connection to her becoming mine. The long white robe, the cinnamon bun hair, the lower register of her voice and the slight rasp. She was a Princess but she wasn’t like any of the princesses we’d encountered before. She was the daughter of a Senator; her identity seemingly connected and overshadowed by her father and the other men in her life until we really met her.

She was the leader of the Resistance. She didn’t let her hair get in her way, and she wore it how she liked it. Her clothes and style never defined her. And neither could we.

That was true for her real life counterpart.

For me, Carrie Fisher, like Jamie Lee Curtis, Melanie Griffith, and later on Rashida Jones, was a bridge from oldtime Hollywood to a new generation of strong women from strong women. My mother watched Debbie Reynolds and Vivian Leigh; We both watched Tippi Hedron, and I watched Peggy Lipton and then their daughters.

Just when you thought Carrie was a one hit wonder, diving head first into drugs and promiscuity, she would come out with something else; something funny, something remarkable, something for all of us.

When I discovered that she was a writer, I jumped for joy inside my head. As a wannabe writer, I loved finding other writers, especially those that had done something else before. It can be done at any age, and Carrie was the epitome of doing it at any age. It also showed  me that it was attainable. Yes, she had some connections and people wanted to hear her stories that were somewhat autobiographical, watching her do it made it attainable for me too.

That is so important to a budding anything; to have that one person who you can look to and say, hey, that’s kind of me, I can do this. I got this.

I looked forward to the new Star Wars so I could see what Leia was up to more than thirty years later, but I also looked forward to how Carrie was doing. She was unstereotypical, unabashed, and unfazed. One of the more recent things I read from her on Twitter was a response to a comment from some troll who thought she hadn’t aged well. She said:

“Please stop debating about whetherOR not I aged well.unfortunately it hurts all3 of my feelings.My BODY hasnt aged as well as I have.”

and

“Youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they’re the temporary happy biproducts of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either.(sic)”

I needed those statements in a point in my life that they came and I was reminded of how much I loved and admired Carrie.

A few more of her gems:

Instant gratification takes too long.

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive.

There is no point at which you can say, “Well, I’m successful now. I might as well take a nap.”

I really love the Internet. They say chat-rooms are the trailer park of the internet. but I find it amazing.

I don’t think Christmas is necessarily about things. It’s about being good to one another, it’s about the Christian ethic, it’s about kindness.

I don’t want my life to imitate art, I want my life to be art.

I am a spy in the house of me. I report back from the front lines of the battle that is me. I am somewhat nonplused by the event that is my life.

I did the traditional thing with falling in love with words, reading books and underlining lines I liked and words I didn’t know. It was something I always did.

I don’t want to be thought of as a survivor because you have to continue getting involved in difficult situations to show off that particular gift, and I’m not interested in doing that anymore.

I’m fine, but I’m bipolar. I’m on seven medications, and I take medication three times a day. This constantly puts me in touch with the illness I have. I’m never quite allowed to be free of that for a day. It’s like being a diabetic.

Writing is a very calming thing for me.

Me, too, Carrie.

Thank you, and rest in peace. ❤

Tao of Carrie Fisher

Election Reflection – The New Administration and Accountability

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​I know that for a long time I didn’t write about politics. I’ve always been a political junkie. I can’t get enough of the news shows. I was on a first name basis (in my mind) with the likes of Peter Jennings, David Brinkley, Brian Williams. I would shout out comments at the television, ask questions, and generally need to know everything.

That  changed at the end of 2012. I was tired of the stress, of the politics, of the partisanship that came from the GOP. I know that there are some who say that the Democrats are just as partisan, but that’s just not true. We compromise. We compromise because the prize that we eye is the greater good. We do what’s best for the country. Take a quick look at the last eight years and especially the last year of President Obama’s term and how disrespectful Senator Mitch McConnell was. Even today, as Democrats are taking pages from his playbook, he, and his cronies whine about how we need to respect and unify with the President, despite the way they treated President Obama. I wouldn’t treat my dog that way, and now they have the nerve to ask of us what they were unwilling to do?

I’m not an obstructionist, but I won’t sit idly by and watch those hypocrites tear this country apart.

That said, I hope everyone is watching this first week of President Trump’s Administration. His staff is parading him out like a circus animal and he’s letting them. I do understand that each new Administration has its own priorities and executive orders are the beginning. They certainly were with Presidents Bush and Obama, but I don’t recall there being multiple ones daily. His base is cheering, but it is us, the opposition who are rising up and protesting. We’re saying NO MORE.

And it’s working.

Somewhat.

They tried to gut the ethics committee. We said NO. We used our voices. We. The. People.

They tried to silence the science community in the government. We said NO. They rescinded the gag order.

Senator John McCain has said no torture. We’re with him on that.

Senator Schumer said no rubber stamps on the Supreme Court. If they’re not  bipartisan, they should vote no. Replacing Scalia isn’t the problem; it’s the rest of the retiring justices.

I am trying not to rant. I will continue to try not to rant. It’s not easy.

How many things has President Trump gone back on from his campaign so far this first week?

How can we let him reinstate DAPL when he’s an investor? This is a direct benefit to him. He is not divested in his business. That can’t go on.

Canceling the National Endowment for the Arts? It’s pennies.

Voter Fraud? The only voter fraud I’ve heard of was the Republican who tried to vote twice and the President’s advisor, Steve Bannon, who is registered in two states.

Banning Muslims when most of our terrorists recently are homegrown?

Forget causation; it’s not even correlation.

Scientists are planning on a protest at the nation’s capital. We’re arguing about science. Science.

There is no such thing as alternative facts. Facts are facts are facts are facts. The alternative is a lie. How can we teach our children right from wrong when this is the example they’re seeing.

My daughter asked me before the election about being forced to have a baby. She was ten. I told her the truth. No one would force her to have a baby if she doesn’t want one as long as I’m alive. Her response? What about when you’re gone?

She asked about World War III two nights ago.

My twelve-year-old son asked about 1984. I told him I think we have it in the basement, and he should check and read it. If not, we can get it for him to read. He’s not quite sure what it means, but he knows that people are talking about it and it is something to think about and ask about.

Last night, while we were getting ready for bed, watching Brian Williams’ The 11th Hour, she commented that she couldn’t understand or believe that girls were still fighting to be equal to boys. She doesn’t get it.

Frankly, neither do I.

We can’t belittle the President. We can’t pick on his spelling errors. We absolutely can’t disparage his youngest son who didn’t ask for this. We need to pick our battles. We need to pick the right ones, and we need to keep his feet to the fire.

We must hold him and his administration accountable. When they violate the Constitution as they’ve done this past week, we must call it out.

We must.

We will not go back. Not any of us.

Stand up. Speak out. Rise up.

This is everyone’s fight because it is everyone’s country.

If there are things happening that you simply do not understand, which I get; it’s a lot to ask for people to pay attention to the nitty-gritty of this daily, I would recommend Vox.com. They have a very good way of explaining what’s going on. Try them out. I find them fair.

The Neighborhood Drug Store

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​I don’t know how old I was but it must have been around high school or college; that young adult age before I could drive, and my mother asked me to run into Calvert to pick up whatever it was. Where’s Calvert? I asked. Next to the luncheonette was the reply. Now, the luncheonette wasn’t a luncheonette then, it was a five and dime, although in the 1980s it wasn’t a five and dime, and I don’t even think it was called that, more like a dollar store, but for a quarter or fifty cents. I think it was called Marty’s, but that was also the name of the luncheonette; when it was a luncheonette. I just can’t remember.

I tried to picture the row of stores where the luncheonette was the corner, the anchor, the first one you reached when you walked or biked through the labyrinth of suburban streets that led to this first bastion of civilization from the rows of houses set up in Levittown fashion.

Then my mother clarified: Kenny. She said it in the tone of someone speaking to a toddler who didn’t understand what to do with the sippy cup – Sink.

Oh! Kenny’s! 

Kenny was the druggist at the drug store where my parents got their prescriptions or we kids got ours when we were sick, which was almost never. He knew us all by name, and would just hand over our family’s prescriptions. There was no identification needed, no birthdate IDs, no signatures. He didn’t ask about our allergies; he already knew them. I was living elsewhere when he retired, but I was still sad. I don’t know where my parents went for their prescriptions when his store closed. I know that my mother had to get her insulin through mail order and that was a nightmare. It was never right. They had no concept of how that particular delivery system and how their way of dispensing it and refilling it was not only idiotic, it was absurd.

Kenny’s drug store was a small, square aisle-filled mecca of antiseptics, bandages, aspirin, aspirin substitutes, and whatever else he could fit. There were stationery supplies, a paperback book section, greeting cards, and more. If I recall correctly, he didn’t have much in the selection of gum. I’m almost certain that after Kenny’s, we’d take a detour to Marty’s and buy a pack of gum, look at the racks of magazines, maybe sit at the lunch counter if it was a special occasion. Very rarely, but sometimes, we would get an ice cream treat, a cone to take with us. He may have given us a Bazooka Joe piece of gum. I don’t think it was penny candy, but it couldn’t have been more than five cents.

It smelled like a hospital waiting room, and to get to the medicine, I had to walk all the way to the back of the store, to a huge, almost taller than me counter looming with Kenny behind it, smiling, wearing that bluish-white, collared short-sleeved pharmacist shirt, not asking what I needed because he saw me come in and it was already in his hand. I don’t believe there was a co-pay because I never remember giving him any money. It is possible that after the insurance, he sent a bill to my parents for any excess owed. There were no computers; only a big, metal cash register that clanged when the drawer opened.

Behind Kenny were the rows and shelves of medicine that he put into the bottles, printed the labels before he stuck them on, and then placed in the bags waiting for the customers; all done by hand. Sometimes, the labels were even crooked.

After we moved upstate, after I was married, and after Kenny had retired, we were looking for a pharmacy. They weren’t called drug stores anymore. Our landlord recommended a local place. It had been a local place for about seventy-five years, maybe more. We went there. The mayor was our pharmacist. His oldest daughter was on the soccer team with our oldest son. His neighbor, the mom of our son’s friends, was also a pharmacist there as well as School Board member. He is now an Assemblyman for the state. It was similar to Kenny’s, but not quite the same. We still go there despite living about fifteen miles away. I like the familiarity. I like that I have John’s phone number and he’s talked to me about saving money on my co-insurance at the end of each year. Although, one bone to pick would be that I have a hyphenated name, and they can never remember that the first part is not my first name. Come on! It’s been twenty years!

Still, I think I go there instead of the grocery store or the big box stores like Target and Walmart because it does remind me of a time before, of quality goods, of neighborliness, and care taken with the medicine that is there to save our lives and help us live longer and better. It’s just a little extra friendly that we could all use in our daily lives.

Obama Book Club

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As a writer, I am drawn to other writers and their processes. It is one of the main reasons that I follow pepole like Connie SchultzWil WheatonNeil Gaiman, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Another writer who I follow and get inspiration from was also recently the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

I’ve titled this based on Entertainment Weekly’s  article with a comprehensive list of Mr. Obama’s book recommendations.

Last week, he spoke to the New York Times about how reading and writing was his secret to surviving those White House years.

Beginning today, and for at least the next eight weeks, I will share one his book recommendations. I will also share if I’ve read it or if I plan to read it.

It was recently revealed that President Obama gave his oldest daughter, eighteen-year-old Malia a Kindle filled with books. I actually did this for my mother-in-law a couple of Christmases ago. It’s a wonderful gift for any avid reader. One of the books he put on it for her is The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing.

That is my first book suggesetion to you.
I have not read this book, but with my introduction about writers, and this book being about a writer and writing, I thought it a perfect initial choice. I have already added it to my reading list for when I get my next Amazon gift card.

3-52 – Called

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We Are Called. David Haas.

January’s spiritual was hard to come together. I planned on posting yesterday, partly because it worked with the loose fifty-two week schedule in my mind, and partly because it was my mother-in-law’s birthday, her first since her passing in June.

As part of my own religious awakening, I had mass said for her, as I’ve been doing for another friend’s birthday and death anniversary since 2011. I thought it would be a nice way to get the entire family together and send their thoughts to her, assisted by the rest of the congregation. Yes, I do believe that. My family typically doesn’t come to church with me, and that’s alright. I invite them, and I will continue to invite them. It’s my faith. I can only share it.

The woman I usually sit with was behind us – we were too many to share the pew this week, and she was thrilled to see my family. She was grinning ear to ear, and pat my husband on the back. She is lovely, and for her and me and many others being here regularly is more than obligation; it is joy and peace and centering to get ready for the rest of the week.

There is always something that comes out of nowhere and shows us the interconnectedness of our worlds, our spirits, and our being.

Yesterday was also the Women’s March on Washington. Many women couldn’t go for economic reasons, travel reasons, personal reasons, and marches began to be organized across the country, and then across the world until there were marches and protests on all seven continents. In Chicago and Washington, DC, there were so many marchers that they couldn’t march, so they stood. Together.

With signs.

With pink hats.

Rainbow scarves.

Pro this, pro that, and anti too.

In Washington, there were zero arrests. ZERO. How do you have over 700,000 people on the Mall in DC, and have no one arrested for anything? It’s remarkable. I think it’s unprecedented, but I don’t have the hard figures so I’m only guessing from hearing about these types of things.

I was kind of taken with the idea that the women’s march was being held on my mother-in-law’s birthday. It seemed fitting. I don’t know that I’d label her a feminist, but she was really beyond labeling. She was eighty-two when she died. She didn’t drive, didn’t even have a driver’s license. She had no internet in her house, no computer. No cell phone. Didn’t know how any of that worked. No cable until a few years ago. Her camera was a disposable Kodak that you buy at the counter in CVS or Walmart when something momental came up, like grandchildren.

It makes it sound as though she was an elderly woman.

She wasn’t.

Far from it.

Up until getting hit by a car in 2013, she was more active than I was, not that that’s saying a lot, but she was hella active. She traveled several times a year, by herself, by long distance bus. She walked everywhere or took public transportation, usually the county bus. When our kids were born, she was on the first bus north the two hundred fifty miles to help. And man, she helped. She cooked, she cleaned, she took the other kids on walks and to playgrounds. 

She spoke her mind. No filters.

She was an amazing cook and seriously could take whatever was in your cupboard and make a gourmet meal out of it. No lie. I use her Christmas dinners as a model for my own (at my husband’s request). This was the first year mine was perfect. I think she must have been there adjusting the temperature, adding the right amount of pepper or garlic or steadying my hand to avoid over seasoning. The onions were to die for. The meat itself was perfectly cooked, rare enough for my husband, well enough for me. Perfect.

When she was a girl growing up in Belfast during World War II, there was rationing, where she learned how to do without, and how to do with whatever was available. As a teenager, she left home and went across the world to Australia – the Outback – Alice Springs, much more desolate than it is today. She worked and she lived with others who she’d never met before. She went to India and Afghanistan, and worked her way to the United States where she met a man, married, and had three children.

She was still adventurous, and I see her light every day in my daughter’s eyes, her clothes, her attitude. Why can’t I wear a party dress to the comic store? The question hanging in the air with her nose wrinkled and brow furrowed. The day my mother-in-law died we were visiting her, and she loved my daughter’s new shirt. Seventy percent off, and fuschia and orange from Eddie Bauer. I made a mental note to pick one up for her, so they could match on our next visit.

For her cremation, we looked for the most outlandish, brightest, orange-colored outfit that we could find. For the memorial, I wore fuschia, and my daughter wore orange. We were all brightly attired in honor or her brightness, and still, she outshone us all.

At yesterday’s Mass, the processional hymn was We Are Called. You can see the words in the picture above, but I’ll reiterate them again below because they perfectly encapsulated the March on Women, the independence of women honored and celebrated, sung and danced by and to.

We are called to act with justice
we are called to love tenderly
we are called to serve one another

If we remember these words, whether sung in church or said in our minds, we can persevere and move forward. Always forward. We can get through whatever we need to so long as we act with justice, love tenderly, and serve one another. Remember mercy and compassion. And remember those women who’ve gone before us to pave the way. We are all marching in some way to make things better for ourselves and our children. Equal rights are not given.
We all go across the world to a strange land, and we do whatever it takes.

We march.

We march.

We rise.

We stand up and we speak out.

And we don’t stop.

I wanted to take my daughter to the gathering in our state’s capital, but it conflicted with my mother-in-law’s mass. I was able to send my spirit to Washington along with my name on a sign, from a Gishwhes colleague who wanted to bring us all with her. How appropriate to the March and to Gishwhes. I had one friend in Seneca Falls, home of Susan B. Anthony. I had one friend in Chicago. My Instagram was filled with the L.A. march. Gen and the boys in Texas.

We’re not coming. We’re here.

All of our spirits have come together to say we’re here, you will listen, we’re not going back, the resistance is now.

Resist Peacefully – Compilation

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The day before the Inauguration I posted a series with different ways to peacefully resist the incoming Administration. We may feel powerless, but we aren’t. We are the people.

Here is a compilation of those links in one place:

We The People Resource Page (this website)

One – Graphic from Unitewomen.org

Two – Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda

Three – Call out hypocrisy – Contact Congress

Four – Call it out – Contact the Executive Branch

Five – Defend the Press

Six – Graphic from Mary Engelbreit

Seven – The Women’s March on Washington

Eight – We Won’t Go Back

Nine – My Personal Oath from the ACLU

Ten – Inauguration 2017: Know Your Rights from the ACLU

The Women’s March on Washington – Posters