Class Meets Crass

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Cheers!

 

Dear Reader:

I’m watching CNN’s coverage from one of my favorite places: England, or more precisely, Windsor Castle. Everything about our mother country makes me happy: the tea, cream, museums, gardens, china, architecture…language. But, I digress. You know I’m an unapologetic Anglophile.

I am also in awe of the Queen. Now, here’s a woman who took the hand she was dealt and played it beautifully. Sure, there are perks to being a royal, but she’s 92 years old and still on the job! How many of us can say we could muster that amount of energy year after year to perform a job that we did not choose?

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Windsor Castle twice and, on one of those visits, I was lucky enough to see the Queen as she left for Royal Ascot. Today she is hosting POTUS there.  I can not help but feel sorry for her. I’ve read about her diet that includes four alcoholic beverages per day. I’d just like to say that I hope she’s being served a couple extra glasses today. I’d need a bottle to get through a meeting with the embarrassment that is our president.

Cheers to Her Majesty the Queen! Long live the Queen!

Michele

Guest Post: A Gloomy Fourth

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Dear Reader:

As the holiday weekend comes to a close, I’m reflecting on why I didn’t feel like wrapping myself up in the flag this year! No mystery. Adele, a blogger I admire, sums it up perfectly. Despite the fun in the sun, it was a gloomy fourth.

Michele

 

Teacups and Tyrants-Adele Fasick looks at people, books, and history

Those of us who are old enough may remember a little verse by Sarah Cleghorn that we heard in school:immigrant child

The golf links lie so near the mill
That almost every day
The laboring children can look out
And see the men at play.

That verse popped into my mind yesterday as I heard the news about Congressmen (and women) leaving Washington this weekend to go back to their districts for the Fourth of July celebrations. Some of them are no doubt headed for golf courses. And meanwhile we have thousands of immigrant children being held in detention centers, separated from their parents, wondering what will happen to them. While our representatives celebrate the past glories of our country, they have not taken the time or made the effort to fix the immigration system so horrors like this do not occur.

This has been a bad year for America…

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I’m a Bitch

 

Dear Reader:

I’d like to say up-front that I fully embrace the “bitch” within me. I’d add that I’m intelligent, opinionated and articulate. Those are the traits that often precede the label: “bitch.” Of course, I know that. People can be quite direct in calling out women like me.

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The late, great Bette Davis

If you share my personality traits, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’d bet in living rooms across the country, women were rolling their eyes in shared disgust when POTUS referred to Hillary Clinton as “such a nasty woman.” (I’m rolling my eyes and shaking my head as I write!) That exchange played out publicly on the world stage, but it plays out in small ways in the lives of all women who dare to assert themselves.

There was a tiny, creepy moment at the bar at AT&T Park recently. I had been waiting forever to order my Irish coffee amidst a mass of people. There wasn’t a proper line, but everyone was behaving well until it was my turn. A very tall, very large man approached the bar from behind me encroaching uncomfortably on my space and causing me to shrink both physically and emotionally. But, I’m a true baseball fan and I wanted to get back to the game and…IT WAS MY TURN! So, I said so, politely.

He answered, “Fucking BITCH!”

I was afraid, but I didn’t let it show. The bartender came to my defense and quickly made my drink.

Moments like that happen all the time, everywhere. Taken in totality, they are exhausting and demoralizing. They are not comparable to sexual harassment and abuse. However, they serve to silence and diminish half of the population. Now, that’s a bitch!

Michele

I Really DO Care: Five Ways to Help Immigrant Children

 

Dear Reader:

The First Lady chose the green Zara jacket pictured above to travel to visit immigrant children at the border in McAllen, Texas today. Yes, she was visiting the very children orphaned from their parents by her husband’s zero tolerance immigration policy. Her sartorial choice is completely baffling and frankly upsetting*. But, of course, clothing is beside the point.

Despite the president’s show boat event yesterday, thousands of children are still separated from their parents, with no plans yet announced to reunite them. The latest policy will keep families together….indefinitely in detention centers.

Only a day ago, POTUS used the word “infest” to refer to migrants crossing the border, many of them seeking asylum. I think the “infestation” that should concern every American is the one that took place in the White House on January 20, 2017.

I am heartened by polls that show that two-thirds of Americans find it unacceptable to separate children from their parents at the border. If you really DO care, dear reader, you have the power to do something.

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Michele

*If I were, Samantha Bee, I might choose a much stronger word. I am so angry!

Imagine This Woman as the Next President of the United States!

 

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Dear Reader:

Close your eyes and just imagine: POTUS is pregnant, unmarried and will take a six-week maternity leave. One could scarcely fathom this reality even before we elected the current resident of the White House.* But, now this sounds like a fairy tale even to the most optimistic, progressive, hopeful, or one might say, fanciful American.

But, here’s a news flash: just in case you don’t know her, the woman pictured above happens to be the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern is due to give birth to her first child today. She will be the first leader to have a child while in power since Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 1990. She was photographed yesterday at an agricultural show near the North Island city of Hamilton where some in the crowd couldn’t resist reaching out to touch her baby bump. (In that way she is just like any other pregnant woman!)

Ms. Ardern said recently that, “New Zealanders see this as a life event and not something that’s particularly going to affect my job.”

I’m not sure I believe that, nor am I inclined to want to believe it. Unfortunately, I think that comment falls into the category of something that women say because they hope to persuade the doubters and because they believe it’s politically correct. The good people of NZ did elect a woman, but I feel sure that she doesn’t represent the entire country any more than POTUS represents our entire country. Unfortunately, there are too many people in every part of the world who diminish the abilities of women.

I’d like to live to see the day when women in power are not the exception AND I’d like them to be able to strongly, publicly and confidently state that being a woman and a mother does inform their decisions. It’s hard for me to imagine a mother implementing a plan at the border to separate children from their parents as our president has. I can imagine a better world where women have the power to help other women and children.

I’m sending my very best wishes to you Jacinda.  And, I’m hoping that someday you’ll tell the world how motherhood changed you as a person and a leader. As a mother, I have  no doubt that you will be transformed in a way that only another mother can understand.

Michele

*My field of study in college was journalism and I detest wordiness but, as I’ve said before, I will NEVER spell out the president’s name on my site. His name will remain unspoken here.

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

Goosebumps and Tears

 

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Dear Reader:

I was riveted by CNN’s coverage of the March For Our Lives in Washington. My reaction was both physical and emotional. With goosebumps on my arms and tears rolling down my cheeks, I watched survivors speak with eloquence and passion.

Their anger and pain seemed to burst from the screen and fill the room. And yet, the intensity of feeling was tempered by resolve, strength and determination. These “kids” who were thrust into the spotlight, in a way they wouldn’t wish for and couldn’t foresee, are leading a revolution. They are not going to be cowered by the NRA or politicians or POTUS or anyone who might disagree with them.

As I watched, I remembered how powerful I felt as a teenager.  I was idealistic and opinionated and I wanted to affect change with my words. I was optimistic solely because I was young and strong, just as the Parkland students are. They are not plagued by doubt. Their youth allows them to believe that if the cause is just and the effort great, they will succeed.

After the news switched from the march to politics, I turned off the t.v. and felt surprised that my overwhelming feeling was one of hope.

Here’s to the kids!

Michele

One foot (ouch!) in Front of the Other (ouch!)

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Dear Reader:

This is the third day in a row that I’ve spent on the couch! Despite my recent Lazy Post, this is not like me.

Last week on November 8, I tried to forget what happened last year on the same day. But, it was time to acknowledge that I’d coped with a difficult year by agreeing to a second glass of wine and a decadent dessert a few too many times! And, I have 5 pounds to show for it. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I am in good company as both Stephen Colbert and Barbara Streisand have both blamed their weight gain on the POTUS.

Anniversaries can bring about reflection, and it came to me that we’ve (most likely) got another three years of this administration to suffer through. I may be able to accept a five-pound weight gain, but I’m not about to accept a twenty pound gain. So, I decided it was time to re-commit myself to my exercise routine …and to stop buying ice cream.

Next day,  I hit the gym. I hit the stair-climber; that was a mistake. I overdid it and spent Tuesday on the couch icing my overworked, arthritic left knee.

During my down-time, I took the opportunity to finally call the personal trainer my friend recommended many months ago. My goal is to improve myself, after all, not incapacitate myself!

“Don’t worry,” he assured me, “there are many things we can do without further straining your knee. I’ll meet you at the gym tomorrow.”

Next day, I woke feeling exhilarated with the Rocky theme song playing in my mind.  My knee was better after my day of rest and ice and elevation. I felt lighter and healthier, as a result, of simply making the right decision. I’d see the trainer in the afternoon and resolve to do better.

I began the day with a few errands and it was in the parking lot at the grocery store that I tripped and came crashing down. Hard. I had twisted my right ankle and scraped my left knee. I was lucky my husband was there to pick me up and get me home.  We applied an ice pack and I called the personal trainer to reschedule. And so I spent another day on the couch.

When I woke this morning, there were no theme songs playing in my mind. I knew I’d be spending the day on the couch…again. The dogs were happy enough, though. They spent the day draped all over me.

As they say though…one day at a time! And, one foot (ouch!) in front of the other (ouch)! I’ll let you know how it goes at the gym next week.

Michele 

One Veteran’s Story

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Mike enjoying the view from the porch

Dear Reader:

My husband and I had just finished watching Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War the week before I visited the Avila Valley Barn with my daughter and her college friends. I passed a man in a baseball cap that read: Vietnam Veteran as I entered the property.

I looked at him and said, “Nice cap,” and gave him a thumbs up. It was, I suppose, a rather awkward way of acknowledging his service, but he responded with an open smile.

After I shopped for fresh produce, sampled apple pie and selected pumpkins for my seasonal table, I felt compelled to join the veteran on the porch. I sat down in the rocking chair next to him and said hello. Mike and I began an easy conversation about the fine weather and pleasures of Avila Beach.

Then I began the conversation that I really wanted to have with him by asking if he’d seen the Burns’ documentary. He had not, but he readily shared his story with me. He had just entered high school when the war began, but he said he somehow knew that he would end up in Vietnam.

After graduation, he received a scholarship and attended The Boston Conservatory of Music. Mike was an opera singer for two years… until he was drafted. He was discharged a year later after he witnessed the death of two others standing very near to him. His injuries, both physical and emotional, remain with him. It seems the after effects of Agent Orange have been the most troublesome to his well-being.

“The folks at the VA keep telling me I’m not long for this world,” he told me. “But, I don’t put a lot of stock into what the government says.”

His distrust seems justified.

“My wife and I just settled into the home of our dreams,” he continued. “It’s a small house with a huge garden that my wife loves. And, I’ve finally found some peace.”

I asked what had become of his musical career and he answered that it was another “casualty of war.” After many years of struggling with life on a daily basis, Mike discovered that he had the patience and skill needed to work with disabled children.

“I’d have never known I could help so many kids if I hadn’t served,” he concluded.

I left the barn that day with tears spilling from beneath my sunglasses. My thoughts turned to Mike again this weekend as we celebrated Veteran’s Day. I certainly hope the VA doctors are wrong; I hope Mike has many years to enjoy life in his new home and garden.

Michele

A Band-Aid for My Bleeding Heart

Dear Reader:

Never say never! How many times have we all heard that expression? At the ripe age of 57, I’ve learned just how true those words are. During the past week, my bleeding liberal heart has been assuaged by …Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker and John McCain. Surprising? Yes! But simply shocking:  I was also comforted by the thoughtful words of President George W. Bush!

I strongly disagree with the politics of all four of these men. But, they voiced what I have wanted to scream from the rooftop since POTUS entered the political arena. This is not normal! This is dangerous! This is sad! This is demoralizing! And, this is embarrassing!

Way back in the 1990’s, Mark Singer of The New Yorker wrote an in-depth profile of a real estate mogul . He concluded that the man had achieved something remarkable:  “an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.” Alas, that man now resides in the White House. I do not sleep well.

Another truism…my least favorite:  life is not fair. I’ve always had trouble with this truth. I can not wrap my mind around the fact that a man with no honor has been rewarded with the highest office in the land.

Pundits are quick to point out that President Bill Clinton did not behave in an admirable way, at all times, in the Oval Office. History has chronicled the exploits of President John F. Kennedy. Ken Burns just brought a recording into our homes of President Lyndon Johnson acknowledging that the war in Vietnam could not be won many years before he sent more troops in to fight and die. We are still suffering the aftermath of President George W. Bush’s unjustifiable and unnecessary “crusade.” Politics is an ugly business and history is as imperfect as the worst of us.

And yet, we learned of the sins of past presidents after their actions. Our current president did not even attempt to hide who he is. He clearly, loudly and proudly told us all that he is a bigot, a misogynist, an ignoramus and an egotist. Then we elected him.

I like to imagine I have a crystal ball and I can see the future. It allows me to write history. In my book, the couragous women and men save us from the lies and hate and insanity. I’ll just keep telling you, dear readers, as a way of telling myself:  Truth will be told. Democracy will survive.

Michele