Year: 2018

Politics

What the Feck?! U.S. Has 11,200 Immigrant Children in Custody!

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Dear Reader:

I’m a Samantha Bee fan, but I wasn’t watching the night she called Senior Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump, a “feckless cunt.” I wish I had been, because I’m interested in what my initial reaction would have been. I’ve had a few days to form an opinion and I’d like to share it with you.

First, I’m a lover of words, so let’s start with the word “feckless” as it isn’t common in everyday usage. The Dictionary.com definition is:

lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible

So first off, Ms. Bee was opining that the Senior Advisor to the President is not effective in her role. She was speaking in reference to Ivanka’s obvious inability to influence her father’s view on the issue of immigration. Bee was most likely considering the first daughter’s past statements that showed a certain understanding and even admiration for immigrants. Reference material includes:

A tweet from Ivanka in March 2015…

“We love this story about an undocumented immigrant who worked her way up on Wall Street,“she wrote. She even provided a link to the full story of the inspiring young woman; the link no longer exists.

Ivanka might “love” a good success story, but her father was obviously unmoved when he decided to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program (DACA) last September.

The following month, Ivanka attended Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit and was asked to comment on immigration policy. “I personally am of the opinion, and the President has stated, that we have to figure out a good solution that protects these innocent people, many of whom were brought into this country as children,” she said.

Ivanka is marketing herself as an advocate for women and children and she is fond of reminding us that she is a mother. She frequently posts beautifully lit photos of herself and her children and Samantha used her most current post as her t.v. screen background.  I think it’s a bit naive of Ivanka to expect people to separate the stark differences represented on her twitter feed to the pictures we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks of tearful parents telling horror stories of how they were forcibly separated from their children at our border.

On April 6th, Jeff Sessions and Kirstjen Nielsen, the head of Homeland Security (DHS), announced a zero-tolerance policy for immigrants at the border. Anyone who didn’t cross the U.S. border at an official port of entry would be criminally prosecuted, even  asylum seekers. Those travelling with their children would be separated from them.

READ PLEASE: THE OFFICIAL POLICY OF THIS COUNTRY IS TO SEPARATE ALL CHILDREN FROM THEIR PARENTS AT OUR BORDER. AS A RESULT OF THIS POLICY, THERE ARE CURRENTLY 11,200 UNACCOMPANIED IMMIGRANT CHILDREN IN U.S. CUSTODY. 

Asked to comment on the morality of the policy, Nielsen answered simply: “What we’ll be doing is prosecuting parents who have broken the law, just as we do every day in the United States of America,” she said during a recent Senate hearing. “The child, under law, goes to H.H.S.”—the Department of Health and Human Services—“for care and custody.”

Yet the network of child shelters overseen by H.H.S. is already operating at more than ninety-per-cent capacity. There’s been talk of sending children to military bases, where there’s more space. Beyond that, there’s no plan or policy.

There’s the context for Bee’s slur. Ivanka Trump is no longer simply the daughter of D.T. She is the Senior Advisor to the President and it’s fair game to criticize her. She has publicly communicated, more than once, her desire to help immigrants, women and children. And, yet those are the people suffering most under this administration. She’s either part of the problem or part of the solution. She gave up her position as a private citizen when she moved into the White House and began representing our country.

Samantha Bee was/is angry. (Samantha is also a mother, I might add.) I am angry. I sincerely hope you are angry too.  We are literally snatching children from their parents arms and discussing housing them at military bases! Read that again, please. Let that sink in.

Unfortunately, I am also a bit angry with Samantha. She’s a smart woman; she knew the use of the c-word would ignite outrage. I’m disappointed that she didn’t recognize that her language would push the important topic she was discussing into the background. I’d like her to keep doing what’s she’s been doing. (Truth to power!) But she should recognize that sometimes even a late night comedian shouldn’t say exactly, precisely what she thinks…neither should a blogger, or for that matter, anyone.

I’d say that the Senior Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump, is feckless, but I’d leave it at that. POTUS says what he pleases without regard for taste, decorum, honesty or humility, but every American should hold themselves to a higher ideal.

Michele

Family, Friends and Neighbors

Another Anniversary; Another Cup of Java!

Java for Me and You
I wonder how many cups of coffee we have shared?!

Dear Reader:

It’s been thirty-four years since we said “I do” under a massive oak tree in my in-laws backyard in Fresno, California. On the Monday and Tuesday before the ceremony, high temperature records were set that still hold today… 107°. I knew we were off to a good start when Mother Nature blessed us with a pleasant 90° for our big day.

In the years since then we’ve shared domestic bliss and emotional turmoil. We’ve lost grandparents, parents and a sibling; created an amazing daughter; owned six dogs and lost three; purchased four homes and sold three and endured one high-powered high-tech career. Who knows how many bookstores we’ve visited or San Francisco Giants games we’ve watched?

We’ve nearly called it quits, too. But, it seems, our decision to marry at twenty-four years young wasn’t as crazy as it seemed to our parents.

The poet e.e. cummings captured what I feel for my husband and put the words on paper:

this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart) 

We’ve outlasted the oak tree and I’m hoping we’ve got another thirty-four years together.

Michele

P.S. As there is never any photo-shopping on my site, I chose not to retouch my husband’s thumb. He suffered his injury building the fence to keep Winnie IN!

Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

My Journey to Strong: Chapter 5

 

My Journey to Strong

Chapter 5: Six Months In and I’m Not Going Back!

Dear Reader:

Who’d have thought that there was an athlete inside of me?! Not me! But, I can’t imagine going back now. How do I love strength training and cardio workouts? Let me count the ways:

  1. I feel good.
  2. I look good.
  3. I haven’t fallen in six months.
  4. I can confidently scale stone walls in search of my Winnie.
  5. I feel strong, accomplished and proud.
  6. I’m having fun!

I can not think of anything else I could do that would yield those kind of results. And, I can not think of one thing I don’t like about it. Truly. I’ve become addicted to doing the right thing for my body!

It seems that training has brought out the best parts of my nature. I’m extremely competitive and intense and strength training gives me the opportunity to constantly work to best myself. It’s easy to measure my progress in time, pounds and reps.

On my first day, I could barely last five minutes at level 1 on the arc; today I’m burning more than 600 calories in 50 minutes on level 5. In the beginning, my knee was sore and my ankle swollen and I couldn’t imagine ever getting beyond the movements I was doing on the psychical therapy table. Soon, I graduated to resistance bands and weight benches. I impressed myself a couple of weeks ago when I sat down at the leg press and pushed through twelve reps of 245 pounds (noisy knees and all)!

Some of my progress is quantifiable with hard numbers, but I’m just as excited about the progress that I’ve made in areas of my life that are not easily measured. I just feel more comfortable in my own body. I’ve worked to strengthen my legs and my knees are now better supported. I have less pain, despite the arthritis. All of this makes me feel more confident when I’m presented with stairs or hills. Would it be an exaggeration to say I feel younger? NO!

I know that I’m not younger, dear reader. But, I also know that I am stronger. And, I’ll tell you, I feel empowered. There’s another benefit of my time in the gym. I have the energy and confidence to take on other challenges in the future. It’s not over until it’s over!

Tonight, I’m congratulating myself on six months of hard work. I’m also happily anticipating a strenuous workout tomorrow morning and a return to my regular four days a week in the gym. (There’s been a break in my schedule due to the holiday and the birth of my trainer’s son. Congratulations Jonathan and Britney!) 

Next up for me: deadlifts! I’ll let you know how that goes.

What’s your exercise regime? I’d love to hear from you.

Michele

Dogs, Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

My Memorial Day Cardio Workout

Winnie the innocent
What Mom?!

Dear Reader:

On any other Monday morning, I’d be killing it on the Cybex arc burning in excess of 600 calories in 50 minutes. But, Zone Fitness was closed for Memorial Day, so I took to the streets in my slippers and p.j.’s, blanket wrapped round my shoulders for modesty’s sake.

To be sure, this was an unplanned session of cardio. It lasted only 30 minutes, but it was more brutal and intense than anything I’ve ever done in the gym. It began just after I’d poured my second cup of coffee.

“Where’s Winnie?” was the rallying cry! When you live with three dachshunds always under foot, you develop a sixth sense that warns you when one of them is in trouble (of their own making)! We called for her and searched the yard, but it quickly became clear that she was gone!

My husband and I ran to the driveway to begin our rescue mission while our daughter, home from school for the weekend, changed from p.j.’s to street clothing.  Tom headed left. I went right and flagged down a car just as he rounded our corner. I didn’t know him, but he knew enough about me that I didn’t have to tell him the breed of my dogs!

“Oh, I’ve seen your doxies,” or did he say “heard your doxies”? It’s all a blur. “I have a dog; I understand,” he continued.

He offered to drive, slowly, around the loop that is our street and search for my girl. My belief in the kindness of strangers is so often validated.

I continued down the street, alternately yelling “Winnie” and explaining to any passers-by that my dog was loose, and very tiny. About 20 frantic minutes after the realization that she was gone, I felt the first tear slip down my cheek. I began knocking on doors. People can be very sweet when presented with a strangely dressed, very sad neighbor at their door. No one had seen her, but everyone would watch out for her. A few even joined me in the street.

It would be about another 10 minutes before my husband found our pup and sent our daughter out in the car to look for me. I learned he gave her simple instructions.

“Don’t come back without your mother!”

Back in our family room where our day had quietly begun, my husband described what he’d learned about Winnie’s great escape and brief adventure. I must describe the geography of our home for you to fully appreciate her great feat.

Our house is below street level, so our garden is terraced. Stone walls divide each level. Our little one had jumped four 18 inch walls (we knew she could do that) and a 2 foot metal fence (we didn’t know she could do that) and then tunneled under the bottom of the fence to arrive in our neighbor’s back yard. She didn’t stop there, though. She tunneled further to pop up in the next neighbors yard and had just left and crossed the street when the man who offered to help me spotted her from his car and called out to my husband.

My husband called out to Winnie, who obviously knew she’d been a bad girl. She turned and ran away from him, but thankfully back the way she’d come. She arrived in our yard to my husband’s great pleasure (or displeasure)?!

Dachshunds were bred to burrow and they are known to be trouble-makers. Our Winnie is an overachiever in both areas! Thankfully, this is a story with a happy ending, but I also think it’s a cautionary tale to anyone thinking about acquiring a dog:

There are dogs and then there are dachshunds…beware!

Michele

P.S. On a positive note, I did get in some cardio…and my husband will be getting his workout after he returns from Home Depot with cement and lumber to build a bigger, better fence!

Flowers, Inspirational Women

Coco Chanel’s Favorite Flower Blooms in My Garden

camellia
My husband, displaying a perfect white camellia in our garden!

Dear Reader:

Even a brief visit to a museum tells the story of the close relationship between artists and flowers. In fact, the memory of some painters has become entwined with the blooms they admired. We will forever associate Vincent Van Gogh with the sunflower, Georgia O’Keeffe with the poppy and Claude Monet with the water-lily.

But, painters are not the only creative people to draw inspiration from the garden.  French designer and business woman, Gabrielle Chanel, loved the beautiful, short-blooming camellia or Chinese rose. Nearly 50 years after her death, it is still one of the most instantly recognizable emblems in all of Chanel’s accessories, clothing and jewelry.

How did the camellia become such an integral part of one of the most successful fashion houses in the world? It is thought that the Madame became entranced with the flower after reading Alexandre Dumas’ ‘La Dame aux Camélias’ (The Lady with the Camellias) as a young girl. The heroine of the story always wore a camellia. The flower’s symbolic value was also important to the designer. In Eastern culture, the white camellia represents purity and longevity. Coco also appreciated the fact that the camellia is without scent, and, as such, didn’t interfere with the perfection of her signature scent, and my favorite perfume, Chanel No 5.

I’ve always loved fashion and recognized designers as the artists they are. I do not live a haute couture lifestyle, but my admiration for Chanel’s style aesthetic has influenced my fashion and style choices throughout my life. She believed in simplicity, elegance and comfort. She was the first designer to suggest that women dress with their daily routines in mind. She radically promoted the notion that woman should, first and foremost, dress to please themselves.

Chanel loved the ease of black and white punctuated with stripes and loads of faux pearls. With the stroke of her pen and the scissors that famously dangled around her neck, she transformed men’s wear into elegant, feminine clothes for the modern woman. She also gave us the little black dress (LBD) back in 1926.

If you too love Chanel’s aesthetic, but not the price tag, I recommend these classic Coco inspired pieces at Target (TGFT!):

You might enjoy a fun little book celebrating the best of Coco. And, last bust not least, if you’re not lucky enough to have a garden of camellias like me, don’t worry, you can order a bouquet of artificial camellias.

I cannot deny the beauty of the white camellia, but I reserve my greatest affection for pink roses. And in the spirit of Coco Chanel, my favorite flower inspired me to create a pink shed and then a blog…from the pink shed.

What’s your favorite flower, dear reader?

Michele

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

A Princess is Born

 

Dear Reader:

The only way to watch a Royal Wedding is live on the BBC! The alarm went off at 2:30 a.m. and the preparations began. We put the kettle on, of course, and prepared proper English tea and (im)proper cucumber sandwiches.

We imagined it would be wonderful in every way, but could not have anticipated the palpable feeling of love and joy emanating from across the pond. As our country mourns another senseless school shooting, the Mother Country serves as an inspiration.

Cheers to THR the Duke and Duchess of Sussex!

Michele

 

Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

Wonder Woman and Superman Spotted in Monterey, California!

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Dear Reader:

In a rare photo-op today at Zone Fitness in Monterey, California, Wonder Woman and Superman appeared together. It seems Wonder Woman was under the impression that she, and only she, would be the focus of the shoot. But, Superman had other ideas.

“Wow, he just photo bombed her,” one young fan exclaimed!

“I’d expect that from the Flash,” said another.

Wonder Woman, however, was unperturbed and warmly introduced the Man of Steel as her “favorite Justice League colleague.”

“Ladies,” she said, “I am a singular wonder, but I’m also a good team player!”

The event included an impressive demonstration of crunches, curls and squats followed by the inspiring story of Wonder Woman’s pursuit of strength. Premier Protein shakes in banana (WW’s favorite) were served following the Q & A portion of the show.

Batman, upon hearing of Superman’s surprise appearance, reportedly announced he may be in the neighborhood the next time his female cohort appears. Stay tuned to this site for further updates.

Michele

P.S. If you’d like to feel like a superhero (or just dress like one),  you can buy a WW t-shirt at Target!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry, Family, Friends and Neighbors, Quotations

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Dear Reader:

My favorite people are the people who begin conversations with a question…this question: “How’s Natalie?” This gives me the opportunity to communicate straight from the depths of my heart. And, it immediately puts a smile on my face, because my daughter is my favorite topic.

I remember a strange encounter at Noah’s Bagels when Natalie was about four years old. I noticed a man at a nearby table watching us enjoy our cream cheese covered  indulgence. On his way out, he looked at me and said he thought it was nice to see a mother and daughter so obviously enjoying each other’s company.

“Oh, she’s my greatest joy, ” I remember answering.

He corrected me. “Well, your husband must be your greatest joy or you wouldn’t have her.”

If I ran into that man today, I’d tell him the same thing. Indeed, I love my husband, still. But as Alice Thomas Ellis so succinctly put it:

“There is no reciprocity. Men love women. Women love children. Children love hamsters*. Hamsters don’t love anyone; it is quite hopeless.”

Being a mother is, at once, both the most humbling and the most rewarding experience of my life. I will never consider it anything less than a miracle. It will always be the choice I am most proud of. It will always be the responsibility that drives me to be the best person that I can be.

It’s so easy to go on and on about what makes my daughter special, but I’ll just say that, despite all of her accomplishments, it is her kindness and generosity that I am most proud of. As I’ve watched her grow into an adult, I am so comforted to see her display a quiet, resolute strength and a deep understanding and acceptance of herself and those closest to her. She is a young woman who I both enjoy and admire.

I’d like to thank her for letting me “drop by” to enjoy a donut with her and her roommates. There is no place I’d rather be today than sitting across the table from my girl at SLODOCO dipping a maple bar into my latte.

Happy Mother’s Day, dear readers!

Michele

* When I repeat this quote, I change hamster to dog. Kids loves dogs and dogs DO love them back!