Indivisible ~ Rocking It

My local Indivisible groups had a march this past Saturday in Daytona Beach, Florida. This particular one was to support health care. To keep the ACA, to protect Medicare, etc. We had a great turn out of around 200.  Young. Old. Even some doggies, which was great!

My sign message is one of my greatest concerns……..the possible privatizing of Medicare. I’ve worked my entire life and contributed to this system. I do not want it privatized. I feel it works quite well the way it is. So I’m protesting Paul Ryan and any others who seem to think getting rid of Medicare is a good thing. It won’t be! 

To me, this is simply another example of those who have more, or who are quite comfortable with their own coverage (ie: Congress) and feel compelled to save money at OUR expense! THEY might have the best health coverage in the world……….but the rest of us? No! We do not! And to tamper with it is not a step in the right direction. Are you aware that there is an ambulance sitting outside of the Capitol…..24/7…..just in CASE one of them, when in session, might require the need of medical assistance. They don’t even have to call 911 and wait for arrival. Their medical emergency equipment is already there! And yet……….they want to privatize our Medicare? I think not!

And so….the fight goes on. And I am SO proud to be a member of the Indivisible group. Because we really rock!

See you here next time…………

Migraine vs Cost

I remember when I was a child my mother had terrible migraine headaches. They required her to rest in bed and lose a day or more out of her busy schedule. I was fortunate and have never had one. However, my daughter has had them since she was a teen. Research does show that they can be inherited. My daughter has been treated by a neurologist and does take meds. But this doesn’t result in being pain-free or completely eliminate the migraines.

So I was quite interested the other evening when the nightly news did a segment on a new med being tested. It sounded very good! It seemed this might actually prevent a migraine from occurring! Wonderful news! Except……..the price will be about $10,000 per year for the med! TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS! This is shameful.

And what really irritates me is why bother to even put this news out there? Can the regular, working person (trying to make ends meet as it is) truly afford something like this? Of course not! So why entice the general public? They did the same thing with a cancer med. Sure, President Jimmy Carter took it. And he seems to now be fine. But again, the price was astronomical! 

As a retired RN, trust me, I witnessed my patients trying to make a decision whether to buy food or purchase their very pricey, but much-needed meds. And I think it’s sinful! 

Pharmaceutical companies are making unreasonable amounts of money, while the general public either goes without to purchase their meds or goes bankrupt trying to pay for them. 

Health care and meds are a basic necessity of life. As vitally important as food and shelter. And yet……not everyone can afford them to increase their value of life. No, it’s not right. It’s just not right. Yet another reason why I’m a liberal Democrat. And with Price as our Sec. of Health………be prepared!

See you here next time………..

Audio Books ~

img_1514

Audio books have been around for a while. All six of my Cedar Key series are also in audio books. (And no, I’ve never listened to any of them) I’ve always felt neutral about audio books. I’ve listened to a few over the years and have always enjoyed them but somehow I always found myself drawn back to the written word. 

I listened to a few of the mysteries by Louise Penny and must say, I loved them! I loved the French accent of the reader and I could easily visualize myself hovering just over the shoulder of the character. And like many of my knitter friends, I loved the fact that I could knit AND “read” a book at the same time. I was always surprised how many of my readers contacted me to share this information. To tell me how much they loved that they could combine both their knitting and reading one of my novels with an audio book. But my print reading still outnumbered audio books for me.  Until recently……

When I did read the few audio books in the past, it always brought me back to Paris. Back to fun times, and good feelings, and a sense of well-being. When Ray worked at Charles de Gaulle and we rented a Paris apartment many times over many years, I lived like a Parisian. I was out and about early in the morning to do my errands. Visiting the market for produce, or the fromage shop for cheese or the wine shop for le vin. Or I might have planned to visit a particular museum to catch an exhibit or maybe just stroll the streets of the Left Bank, bringing forth thoughts and visions of Hemingway and F. Scott and so many others who loved Paris as much as I did. But most afternoons I’d return to the apartment, pour myself a glass of wine, take out the piece of cross stitch I was working on at the time (I hadn’t returned to my love for knitting at that time) and I’d turn on BBC on the radio. Because every afternoon they had somebody reading a classic. And I could listen and put myself right into the novel. I likened it to attending a play. The reader had a wonderful speaking voice, putting emphasis in just the right places, and actually changing the tone and style of various characters. And to this day, I still have warm memories of this time in my life.

Although I do knit in the afternoon if I’m home, I normally have MSNBC on the TV to catch the latest update and to stay informed. And I’ve come to realize that I’m putting myself into overload. I recognized that I must maintain a sense of balance in order to avoid being overwhelmed. So sometimes I take this time to catch up on my recorded TV shows or watch Netflix. But last week I thought about audio books. And I decided to give it a try. I’m hooked! I truly love it. I can relax, knit and be taken into a wonderful story where my mind can wander and picture the scenes taking place. Plus, it reminds me of those meaningful moments spent in Paris on so many afternoons.

My first choice to listen to is the novel, I’ve Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira. It’s the story of the artists, Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas. And yes, the setting is Paris. And I am falling hopelessly in love with this audio book! The story is wonderful, the scenes are vivid and the reader’s French accented voice is divine. 

I think I’ll be listening to many more audio books in the days to come. How about you? Do you enjoy this mode of “reading” a book?

See you here next time………..

Discombomulated~

According to Websters the definition of discombulate is: To throw into confusion; upset.

I’ve always loved this word. As a child, I thought it was a humorous word and when I heard it, it made me giggle. As an adult…..I’m not giggling because since November 8, I’ve been experiencing the meaning of the word.

Following the election, like so many others, I felt as if my life as I had known it had been turned upside down. Topsy turvy. A definite sense of turmoil. I experienced a range of emotions, took a lot of deep breaths and finally came to understand that action was what I needed.  But I found it difficult to focus on anything.

I’m a huge knitter. I knit every single day. But although I wanted to knit, nothing appealed to me. I had a few projects in the works but they didn’t entice me. Finally, I heard about the Pussy Power hats and the pattern was circulating around Facebook and the Internet. It’s a mindless knitting project, works up fast and is for a good cause. Knitters everywhere were making them for the Women’s March in DC on January 21. It was just what I needed and I’ve now made 6 of them. But the best part is it got me over the hump…..it allowed me to focus again on other projects I’d been working on. And I’m still making the hats because they’re still being worn during various protests and marches. 

And reading…….I’m also an avid reader. But I couldn’t seem to focus on anything that caught my attention. Or maybe I was too busy reading the New York Times or Washington Post and other valid forms of news. I did attempt a couple of fiction novels…..Maybe it was me and my state of mind, but I found them trite. So I switched to some non-fiction……I found some of these more dark than informative. Then I tried history…..again, I couldn’t focus and it didn’t hold my interest.

And during all of this, I joined the national group, Indivisible. They eventually put me in touch with two local groups. We’ve marched, we’ve protested, we’ve sent emails and made a volume of phone calls to our Senators and Reps. I also joined the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and a group for immigration rights.

And you know what? Slowly, little by little, I’m feeling less discombobulated. I chose not to wallow in my grief, my fear, my sadness. But rather, I chose to get OUT there. To attempt to make a difference. And I’ve always maintained that getting out of ourself is what truly brings about change.

And so…..I’m now back to working on a sweater for myself, in addition to a beautiful shawl. I’m reading a pleasant and enjoyable novel…….Paris Time Capsule. I was hoping the locale would entice me. And it did.

So if you’ve felt upside down these past few months, what have been your coping mechanisms? How do you move on from the negative to the positive? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

See you here next time……

 

 

A Day of Love ~

001-500x326002-500x322

Happy Valentine’s Day! A day of love and maybe also some chocolate, champagne, terms of endearment and cards.  The above photos aren’t a Valentine card but rather a postcard given to my Aunt Marie from her then fiancee, Jim–who went by the nickname of Barney. As you can see, it was dated November 1944 and he wrote it during WWII, while he was in Paris, France. My aunt told me he had included it with a letter he sent her.  This card has always been so special to me and I now have it framed and keep it in my home, because both my aunt and uncle have passed away. When he wrote it, there would still be six more months before the war ended. My uncle returned home to Salem, Massachusetts and they were married in May of 1946. They had no children but had a marriage that spanned 57 years. And this card sent with love has now endured 73 years! That’s a lot of love!

Love comes in many different forms. Respect, compassion, giving, joy, sadness and so many other emotions are all components of love. 

So on this day set aside to celebrate love, I wish you a day filled with whatever might be the meaning of love for you. And when this day ends…….let’s all keep a bit of that love in our hearts.

See you here next time………… 

Let’s Talk Wine ~

img_0983

Are you familiar with this little gadget? It’s my new foil cutter to open capped bottles of wine. And its a life saver!

I’ve always enjoyed wine…..especially when I’m in France or Italy. I love a frosty glass of pinot grigio on a warm afternoon or a robust cabernet or pinot noir on a chilly evening. And champagne or prosecco? I enjoy any time! 

Years ago, when I was a young adult, the cheap wine (which I avoided after a few not pleasant morning afters) came with a cap. But a decent bottle of wine always had a cork. So I got myself a very good cork screw and over the years I became a master at opening a wine bottle with no difficulty. Now…..and I don’t have an answer as to why……..many of the upper priced, decent, wines come with a cap. I thought, “No problem.” How difficult can it be to simply unscrew a cap? Trust me! I’ve managed to rip my hand to shreds a few times. It’s not a matter of simply twisting off said cap. There is a metal foil around the cap and neck of the bottle. 

I recalled seeing a waiter in a restaurant using a little gadget for just such a bottle and went in search of finding that nifty little tool. It wasn’t easy. Neither of my local wine shops carried one! I know…..I was surprised too. Eventually, I found one in the wine section of Publix. And it fell apart on me after one use. So much for that. 

So last week I went to my favorite shopping spot, where I should have gone first…..Amazon. Lo and behold, there it was! This little gem to save my hand and open my anticipated bottle of wine. The reviews on this item were excellent. 

And so…..that afternoon when I had received the foil cutter, I excitedly went to open my bottle of wine……..only to find this bottle had a cork!

So stay tuned…..my review will follow. Eventually.

See you here next time………….

 

Slippery Slope . . .

I heard about the incident at UC Berkeley last week and recalled a potential event in Skokie, Illinois. It was 1977 and the Nazi Party of America sought to march in Skokie. The marchers were to wear uniforms like those worn by members of Hitler’s Nazi Party. They would have swastika armbands and carry a banner bearing a large swastika.

The Chicago suberb had a population of about 70,000 persons……40,000 of whom were Jewish. Approximately 5000 of those residents were survivors of the Holocaust. Needless to say, the residents of Skokie responded with outrage. They sought a court order in an attempt to stop the march, citing that it would promote hatred against persons of Jewish faith or ancestry.

I remember all of the news coverage this controversy aroused. It was one of those moments in American history when citizens throughout our country emphatically debated the meaning of the United States Constitution. I was 30 years old at the time, with not a whole lot of government information, knowledge, or life experiences behind me. I was appalled that this group would even attempt to do something so hateful! It was such a painful thing to want to do, so I felt it was wrong. Surely, they would NOT be allowed to have this hurtful march. 

However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represented the First Amendment rights of the Nazi. I was horrified. And I was young. And I certainly didn’t understand. I’ve always been a live and let live type person, but this made no sense to me. This case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court and the conclusion was that Skokie could not stop the Nazis from marching. I won’t go into the details here, but now, I absolutely agree with that decision. I agree that it was a horrific thing for the Jewish people to endure in Skokie. I agree that it was disgusting for the group to want to do this. And by the way….they ended up not marching in Skokie. By their choice.

But within ten years, as I approached age 40, I went back to study and read about this incident and I completely understood. I understood that we ARE a country of laws and above all else, the rule of law must and can prevail. And I am now a proud card carrying ACLU member.

So this incident last week at UC Berkeley….he was a Breitbart speaker, he’s absolutely a racist, misogynist, white supremacist. But……free speech can be a slippery slope. One cannot have it both ways. He’s disgusting and his values are so far removed from mine. However, when it comes to something like this, I say don’t attend, don’t watch, don’t listen, etc. But……….free speech and upholding that First Amendment MUST prevail.

See you here next time…………..

Separation of Church & State

For the record…..I was raised Catholic. I was sent to a Catholic school for 8 years. Not so much for religious reasons, but because my parents felt they offered a more advanced education. And once I became an adult, I understood that it was to also build on the moral compass that I received at home. And it did. The nuns made sure of this! Yes, they were strict. Bad behavior was not tolerated. We attended mass five days a week before school started. We studied Catechism and it was a major subject that we got graded in. We collected pennies at home and had a little box the school provided. This was for the Missions. So we learned to give back and help those who had less. Overall, I’m glad I had those formative years. I think they served me well in many ways. However, my parents were not overly religious. So at home, I always felt comfortable questioning a lot of the religion I was studying. Like the immaculate conception. Turning water into wine. Walking on water. In all honesty, even as a child, much of seemed more like a fairy tale to me. 

When it came time for high school, I begged to attend the public one. And after much thought, my parents did allow me to attend Salem High. However, when I married and had children, I chose to also send them to the local Catholic school for 8 years. For the reasons above. But once my kids graduated, organized religion became a matter of choice for them. I felt I had given all three a good education and good guidelines, which hopefully, would serve them well. And it did.

And by the time I reached age 30, I had completely drifted away from organized religion. Again, for many reasons. But the groundwork had already been formed and I found myself questioning religion even more as the years went by. And by the time I reached age 40, I had swapped organized religion for spirituality.  But in the early 80’s, during the Reagan years, something happened politically that had me thinking back to grade school. To a time when we studied separation of church and state. I still recall how emphatic the nuns were to make sure that we understood this! That this separation was in our Constitution and it was vitally important. As an adult, I marveled that at a Catholic school our teachers were adamant about this subject. I had grown up with neighborhood kids who were Protestant or Jewish……they might designate they were Lutheran, or Episcopalian or Baptist, but most of the time they just said they were Protestant. But in the early 80’s, all of a sudden I was hearing the term “born again Christian.” I’ll never forget my mother calling me to ask what this was. I had no idea. The term Christian had never really been used in regard to religion. But as the 80’s went along, more and more this term was being used. And within 10 or 15 years, strangers were telling me to “Have a blessed day” and many small businesses made sure the public knew they were “Christian.” All of a sudden, everywhere I turned I was being bombarded with Christian radio stations with Christian music, Christian book stores, hair salons, even restaurants. 

I’ll never forget when I first began to see people in restaurants join hands, and pray out loud before they began eating their food. I did not see this in a religious way at all. I was taught you pray at home, you pray in church and if you prayed in public, you did so silently, to yourself.  So I have always felt that these people, praying out loud in a restaurant were really saying, “Look at me. I’m a Christian. And I’m really a much better person than you are.” I will never understand why they must publicly make sure the rest of us understand this.

And with all of this said…….religion is a free choice, or at least it should BE. So my irritation is when these Christians go out of their way to force their beliefs on ME. Their beliefs on birth control, abortion, gays, women’s rights, etc. The rest of us are not telling them to feel the same way about these issues as we do. Not at all. Nobody is forcing them to accept birth control, gays, etc. They have a choice to accept it or not, but they do NOT have the right to tell the rest of us we cannot have this choice. And when it involves the law? THIS is precisely what separation of church and state is. It’s in the Constitution. 

But unfortunately, slowly, over the past almost 40 years, that part of the Constitution is being slowly eroded. Separation of church and state has lost the true definition. And with the current Administration, this part of the Constitution becomes more and more concerning to me every single day.

See you here next time……………….