Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mega Millions Jackpot 640 Million...

I woke up today a mega loser and I have only heard from other mega losers. I guess that means I have to start over again with the new jackpot? I guess my friends can’t deliver on their promises to look out for me if that win. Nope, I am in the same boat I was in yesterday morning at this time, but with a little less hope and some deflated dreams.

Everyone imagines winning the lottery and what they would do with the money. I heard from so many people yesterday who would try and do something really good with the money and help those in need. A jackpot that large could do an infinite amount of good. My friends and I were chatting about starting a charitable foundation with some of the money. A foundation would perpetually raise money for many causes and would last long after we were all gone. Of course everyone wants a new house or two, some new luxury cars we couldn’t afford before and to avoid relatives that haven’t heard from in ages. Everyone wants to help dear family and friends and with that kind of money you could set up everyone you know for life. You can make all your dreams come true, everyone you care about dreams come true, strangers in needs dreams come true.

Part of me has an evil side, I just can’t help it. I would get some great satisfaction from knowing that people who have thrown me under the bus, mistreated me or took me for granted, wouldn’t get a thin dime. Imagine how they would be kicking themselves for not nurturing the relationship they had with me and doing me wrong? Sometimes it might be cathartic to make a list of those who took advantage of us, hurt us, betrayed us or whatever and imagine how this jackpot could allow us have the last laugh, even if we didn’t follow through with it. I think it’s the Sicilian revenge gene that I inherited that provokes me to think this way.

You can really do just about anything with that kind of money, even half of it would go a long way. Maybe I would put up a billboard of myself, enjoying my new found fortune, across the street or very close by an “enemy’s” house, for lack of a better term. This way they could be reminded everyday about how well I have done for myself. For example, one of my ex-friends always wanted to live in France, so that billboard would have me sitting on the French Riviera being waited on. One of my friends recently had to leave a job working at the salon of an impossible owner, who gypped her out of her rightful pay. I dislike how the owner treated her, I would immediately see to it that a high end Spa & Salon was opened as close to her business as possible, fully staffed and equipped, offering tremendous discounts to get new customers and have my friend manage the business as part owner, giving her 80% of the profits once the business was thriving. It’s things like this that make me happy, even if only in my thoughts.

Who knows when the jackpot will get close to 600 million again, if ever? Until then we can still keep dreaming, keep hoping, keep playing and keep hatching revenge plots on the side.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

My older was always a brilliant student and excelled in every subject. She worked hard and had the discipline and study skills necessary to be an exemplary student. She graduated valedictorian from her middle school and got into a prestigious New York City high school, Townsend Harris, known for it’s vigorous humanities program. My daughter was a conscientious, responsible student and always did what she was told. From the first day she set foot in a classroom, teachers loved her and always had good things to say about her. Her high school wasn’t so easy. They made college look like a cake walk. It was extremely challenging, even for her. But she always worked hard and did her best.

One day she came home pretty upset. She was in an English class studying American literature. The teacher assigned them to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. My daughter read the assigned chapters at home. One day, she went to class and the teacher decided to go around the room and let students read passages from the book out loud. When it was my daughter’s turn, she had begun reading, but stopped abruptly when she saw the “N” word. She would not say it out loud, even though the teacher had given them all permission to say it for this reading exercise. She told the teacher she wouldn’t say it. She skipped over the word and finished her passage.

However, when she came home that day I could see something was wrong. She explained to me what had happened in class. She looked at me and said, “I don’t know what happened, but I just couldn’t say it, Mom.” I knew she was conflicted because she always followed the teacher’s instructions, and yet this time her sensibilities were offended and she did what she felt was right for her. In a split second she took a stand and made a conscious decision to follow her instincts and be true to herself. She didn’t want to say the “N” word, she had never said the word before and she didn’t want to have the word cross her lips for a reading assignment. Many other students read their passages without editing out the “N” word. She had heard it read many times before the teacher had gotten to her turn. She told me she didn’t like hearing it and she wasn’t saying it out loud. 

What could I say? I reassured her that she did the right thing and that I was proud of her for expressing how she felt and not doing something that went against her nature and her beliefs. She seemed more at ease about it after we talked. I knew my daughter and had she just gone along with the flow, like her other classmates, it would have bothered her even more. A lot more. She has never liked compromising her principles or her beliefs. She always stands firm in her convictions. That’s the kind of young lady she has grown up to be. 

It’s moments like these, that I recall through my blogging, that make me very happy that I decided to start this blog. It started as a little experimental joke and it has turned out to be one of my accomplishments. I have preserved many memories from the past that were fading away due to the passage of time and I have gotten the opportunity to share them with others, who have enjoyed reading about them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Dollhouse...

All this talk about racial profiling, racism, black and white triggered a sweet memory for me that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. When my younger daughter was two, she attended a preschool where she played and learned with children of all races and nationalities. A little over a year later, when Christmas rolled around, we were making our lists and she asked for a dollhouse. A nice big doll house! I never wanted to disappoint my children at Christmas and her request was not going unfulfilled. 

The unusual thing about my daughter’s request was that she specifically asked for a black family for her dollhouse. At first, I was a little surprised by it because I guess I came to think that most children would want a family that looked like their own, in our case white. So I asked her again, to make sure I understood that she wanted a black family for her dollhouse. She not only confirmed what she said, but insisted on it. Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of it except that of the friends she had made at school, she must have been closest to those who were black. 

I told my husband about her Christmas list and how she insisted she wanted a black family. We decided if that is what she wanted, that is what she was going to get. It was obvious to me she would have been very disappointed with a white family and I wasn’t going to do that by going against her wishes. Instead, I decided to get her both a black and a white family for her dollhouse. The house was big enough for both families to live there happily enjoying all the new furniture that cost us a small fortune.

My daughter was thrilled with her new dollhouse and her black family. She even was receptive to the white family moving in with them. She played with that doll house for hours every day. The black and white children played together. The moms cooked together. The fathers left for work together. They all watched television together. One big black and white family.

It was a brilliant idea that my baby girl had to insist on getting a black family. And I think it was a pretty good idea that I also got the white family. In playing with her dollhouse families, my daughter learned that there was no difference between the two families, except color. Maybe psychologists should study the effects of giving very young children dolls that are both black and white to play with. Children aren’t born racist, they are taught to be racist. Maybe if they start out as babies, playing with and nurturing baby dolls of other races, they might learn something from that and look beyond color when they are older? There is no reason that white little girls should play only with white dolls. I probably wouldn’t have thought of that if not for my daughter. I probably would have gone the traditional route and just gotten her the white family.

My daughter taught me something that Christmas that I will never forget. She didn’t just look beyond the color of a person’s skin, no, she looked beyond color and also embraced it. At three years old, her heart and mind were open and she knew intuitively that all people were the same. It wasn’t a matter of tolerance or acceptance, which are often referred to as the opposite of racism, and mean you recognize a “difference” and you are willing to accept it. My daughter didn’t see a “difference” and, if she was aware of a difference, she embraced it willingly and lovingly.

Maybe all children are born with an open heart, like my daughter, and just need a dollhouse and a black and white family to live in it in harmony? 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mid-life Malaise...

I wonder this morning how many people are really, truly happy with their lives? How many of us are wondering if there isn’t more to life; if we aren’t missing out on something; if we should be doing things differently; if we aren’t wasting all our time on things we think we ought to be doing and not on things we want to be doing? Life is short, shouldn’t we be making the most of it instead of feeling unfulfilled? 

I’ve dealt with these questions many times during the course of my life. Being dissatisfied with our lives doesn’t mean we lose sight of all our blessings. We can know we are blessed and still feel like something is missing. It’s not that we are ungrateful for all we have and are greedy for more. It could just be as simple as not really appreciating what we do have or that we have stopped pursuing our own interests and growing as human beings. We could be stuck in a rut and don’t know how to get out. One problem is that once you decide to have children, many of us tend to put our own needs at the bottom of the list to tend to theirs. That can happen with spouses and other family members too. 

But this morning I wondered, does it have to be an either or situation or can we do both? Can we be there for our children and for ourselves? I got into this mode of thinking for two reasons, one I found a book called The Happiness Project and two because I don’t want to go back to cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming. The Happiness Project has been on the New York Times best sellers list for 53 weeks. The author took a year to write the book as she documented the ways she found to bring happiness into her daily life. It’s full of tips on how to get started and how to find ways of making yourself happy.

Now I can and will say to anyone who asks me if I am happy, yes, I am happy. I’m sure many of you are happy too. But, can we be happier if we make some adjustments in our lives? Isn’t it worth trying? This book has me thinking and hopeful. Maybe there are some worthwhile things she has discovered on her journey that can make my life better?

I found a link which provides an inside look at some of what the author has written. It’s been along time since I have felt really good, excited, and happy. If there is a way to improve my quality of life I am all for it! I’m going to read those parts today and see if she makes sense. Why not? I have nothing to lose, but the time I am wasting cleaning the bathroom.

Browse Inside the book here: The Happiness Project

Monday, March 26, 2012

Painting With Dad…

Every couple of years my father would paint a couple of rooms in our apartment. He made it look like child’s play. It was nothing for him to do the ceilings, woodwork and walls over a weekend. He’d start very early in the morning on Saturday and by Sunday afternoon he was done. As I got older, I wanted to help Dad, it looked like fun. My brother on the other hand, never wanted to touch a paint brush and could care less about it. My father would let me do the woodwork while he was busy painting the walls and ceilings. I love it. He would say, “she should have been the boy and he should have been the girl.”

But, as I got older and married my husband, painting became more of a chore and hard work. When we bought our house over 23 years ago, we wanted to paint all the rooms and closets before moving in. We allowed the month of August to accomplish this. It was the hottest August I could remember at the time, so that didn‘t help. After a week of working, we were getting no where fast. My mother felt sorry for us. We were so inept for such a big job and didn‘t have extra money to hire someone to do it for us. My mother volunteered my father to help us. He laughed. He knew what he could do and he wouldn’t refuse. He came to the house and open a can of paint. In a couple of hours he had put on the first coat on the ceiling and walls. I would work on the woodwork like old times. By lunch time he had put on a primer coat to the second room. After lunch he went back to the first room and applied the second coat. I was still doing woodwork. My husband was in another room, trying to put on a primer coat. The next day we went back and my father had finished the second room in the morning hours. Then he went over the room my husband was trying to paint the day before. I was still doing woodwork! By the end of the third day, three bedrooms were completed, woodwork and all, because my father did the woodwork that I could not get to. The fourth day my father did the hallway, upstairs and downstairs. It was amazing how he filled that roller with paint and rolled it back and forth with ease. And, yes I worked on the wood work, while my husband painted the upstairs closets. On the fifth day, my father painted the kitchen and pantry. Those rooms were much smaller and he was able to give them each two coats of paint with ease. My husband and I would have never finished the painting if we had worked every day for 30 days. But, my father, who was 66 years old and retired, put us both to shame. He had practically painted the entire house in 5 days! He laughed when it was completed. He knew how much work he had saved us and that we would have never gotten it all done ourselves.

My father was an amazing man. He was as strong as an ox and always there to help whenever we needed him. His hands were big and rough from his work in construction, but he was as gentle as a lamb with my baby girls. His heart was as big as they come and he told us and showed us he loved us every day of our lives.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Father, The Aqua Velva Man...

There's something about an Aqua Velva man!

My father was a handsome man and he knew it. He looked especially distinguished with his mustache, kind of like Clark Gable. As for the rest of his face, it was always clean shaven and smooth. Well it was smooth for a couple of hours and then his beard would start to grow in. He had a very thick and rough growing beard. After a few hours it would feel like sandpaper. He shaved every day and when he was done he would slap on some of that ice blue Aqua Velva aftershave. He always smells so good. It’s been years since I thought of his after shave, but writing about my mother in yesterday’s blog, brought back memories of my father.

Aqua Velva wasn’t very expensive. Still my father used it sparingly. When my brother and I were old enough, we would save up our pennies and buy him bottles of it for Christmas or his birthday, so he would never run out. It was such a little thing, but he always made such a fuss over us for buying it for him. I never heard my mother complain about the scent, so I guess she liked it to. My mother wasn’t one to hold anything back, not even to spare someone’s feelings.

On Sunday mornings, after he would have breakfast and shave, my father would take out his writing folder. Though he always told me he left school in the second grade in Sicily, to work on his father’s farm, he managed to learn how to write. He hated writing, but most of his family remained in Italy when he came to America, and that was the cheapest way of communicating with them. Phone calls to Italy were rarely made because they were so expensive. In my father’s folder he had some pictures of his family that he would take out and show us whenever we were around. He kept his stationery and envelopes in there along with the special stamps needed for international mail. He would do his writing very early in the morning because he needed the peace and quiet to concentrate. I think those letters took him an hour or two to compose. He was very diligent about writing those letters throughout the years.  I guess he knew how much it meant to his sisters and his mother to hear from him. Then, when he was done, he would put on a clean shirt over his athletic undershirt, and take a walk to a nearby mailbox and drop off his letter. It would take a couple of weeks for them to get the letter, and another couple of weeks for them to answer and mail one back.

I found an old Aqua Velva commercial from when I was a kid. I had forgotten the jingle, but was soon reminded when I listened to it. “There’s something about an Aqua Velva man.”  And my dad, he was really something!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Mother Never Wore Perfume...

My mother never wore perfume. Not in the fifty years or so that I shared with her did I ever smell a scent that came from a labeled bottle of any kind. My mother smelled of Camay and Ivory soaps, of Tide detergent and Palmolive dish cleaner. Those scents, combined with her own natural scent, made for the sweetest combination of fragrances ever, exceeded only by the smell of my own new born baby girls. 

I can’t recall the first time I was really very much aware of my mother’s scent. It could have been the time I was sick and she wrapped me in the warm, light blue sweater, she wore all the time. It was soft and warm and comforting and the smell of my mother lulled me into sleep. I realized that no one smelled like my mother. Many people can associate their mothers with a certain store bought fragrance. My aunt wore Channel No. 5 all the time. But, there was no bottle of perfume that would ever capture the scent my mother wore. I would have to memorize it, because there was no way to recreate it. When she passed away, her magical scent would go with her. 

My mother probably thought perfume was too expensive and a waste of money. Even if she liked a fragrance, she would never buy it. But, anytime I wore any type of perfume or eau de toilet, she would make a face and tell me how bad it smelled. She would even boast that she didn’t need perfume, she always smelled good…and she did.

As for make-up, I can remember about a half dozen times she wore it for very special occasions. Other than that, she never wore make-up. She really didn’t need it, her skin was always soft and youthful looking. People never thought she was as old as she was because she didn’t show her age. She aged gracefully. The mischievous gleam in her eye and her smile were infectious. Her bigger than life personality captured everyone’s attention and won over their hearts. She didn’t need perfume or make-up. She was 100% all natural.

It’s sad that I’ll never be able to smell my mom again. It sounds crazy maybe. Sometimes I can close my eyes and imagine hugging her and I will get the slightest memory of it. Unlike my mother, I have use different, lightly scented perfumes over the years. I have finally settled on French lavender scents. I use just a little. I want my girls to be able to have a scent to remember that they can associate with me. And if, after I’m gone, they forget the memory of what it was I smelled like, they can spray a little lavender in the air and remember and maybe even be comforted by it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Etch A Sketch Politics?

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this online this morning. In fact let me go back and look again in case I am not fully awake. Nope, I read correctly. Specifically, what Santorum said was that if he isn’t picked as the Republican nominee, then republicans should give Obama another term in office. I have to say, his thinking sounds good to me. I haven’t heard anything I like so far from anyone who is attempting to run against Obama in the election come November…until now. Santorum is making sense to me.

I’m sure Santorum isn’t making fellow republicans very happy these days, but he got my attention. What is Santorum’s argument against Romney and for Obama? Well, for starters, he says that Romney isn’t conservative enough. He is just slightly different than Obama and that’s not good enough. Then he calls Romney an “Etch A Sketch” candidate which he got from Romney’s own advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, who feels the fall campaign is  "It's almost like an Etch A Sketch," he said on CNN. "You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again." This didn’t go over well. “The remark reignited criticism of Romney as the type of politician who will say or do anything to win.”

Of course, Romney and many others, were not pleased with Santorum’s comment. Republicans, as a whole, I think would rather have any republican in office, than Obama. For instance, Newt Gingrich tweeted: "Rick Santorum is dead wrong. Any GOP nominee will be better than Obama." And Santorum didn’t just stop with that comment. He attacked Romney as someone who is not real and just says what people want to hear. I find this refreshingly honest. Maybe I will go back and listen to some of the other things Santorum has had to say?

Now if Romney is in the lead and winning because of certain things he has been saying, but in the fall plans to shake things up and start over, do we really know what his platform will be? What I find curious is that republicans, in general, do not like Obama’s health care plan, which was modeled on Romney’s plan, so why on earth would they support Romney? 

I find politics very confusing. However, I do understand how an Etch A Sketch works. You turn the two dials and the picture never turns out the way you imagine it. You have almost no control as you what will appear on the screen, try as you might. It’s usually a huge mess and yes you do have to start over all the time, by shaking it up. Is this what Romney’s adviser wants us to vote for? Will it be called “Etch A Sketch Romonomics?” I don’t know, I really just don’t know. What if Santorum is right? If Romney is the republican pick, maybe republicans should start supporting Obama. I second that motion.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mild Winter...

Mild winters are also for the birds!

Winter is over before it ever really began here in New York and many other places in the country. We had a snow storm October 28th I believe. I thought to myself and out loud, what the hell are we going to do if the snow is starting so early. Last winter was hell. We had a storm a week and broke records for the number of inches that had fallen. But, after that storm, things quieted down and nothing happened. November and December came and went without a problem. But, our worst months were still ahead of us. To my disbelief, no snow fell either of those months and the temperatures have been so mild that I might have worn my winter coat about 5 days all winter. It’s an amazing gift from Mother Nature for my family as snow storms wrack havoc on traveling and parking our cars. It’s been four months of fall/spring weather and I couldn’t be happier. Plus, many cities saved a ton of money on snow removal and residents on heating bills, and in this economy every little bit helps!

Well, for every piece of good news the media will gives us a dozen pieces of bad news. What does a mild winter mean for spring and summer. Frankly, I had my heart set on a cool summer. I remember a year like that, where the winter was mild and the summer cool. But, no one is predicting that yet. But experts are predicting that a mild winter means that we are going to see many insects making an early appearance. Some of these pests include termites, ants, wasps, hornets and especially mosquitoes and ticks which carry diseases. It also may mean that if plants blossom sooner, allergies will kick in sooner and last longer. 

It’s going to be eighty degrees here today. That is really unheard of in March. I prepared my air conditioner, just in case I need it to sleep. Most years the AC isn’t necessary until May or around Memorial Day. I am still trying to wrap my head around this weather. But, I have to wonder if we are going to “pay” for this easy winter in other ways? Will it affect our other seasonal weather patterns in the months ahead, like hurricanes, tornadoes, the fires in California? I hope not for the worse.

Meanwhile, today I am not complaining. My air conditioner is ready to go if need be. My shovels are packed away. I’m done with my winter coat and ready for spring!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Way Kids Think…

Kids say the darndest things!

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine on the phone (yes the phone, you all remember what that is?) and we were having a few laughs as I reminisced over some things my kids said when they were very young. I thought it would be fun to share them with you because I woke up thinking about these memories this morning.

When my older daughter was four, she used to run ahead of me on the sidewalk on the walk home from pre-k. I called her back to me many times and told her to hold my hand. The reason being is that the block was full of driveways and I was afraid if someone decided to pull out they might not see her. I tried to explain the dangers of her frolicking down a block full of driveways. I said to her, “Do you know what can happen if you get run over?” She looked up at me with her beautiful, innocent face and said matter of factly, “Yeah, I’ll get flattened.” Instantly, the images of many cartoon characters being “flattened” by vehicles came flashing to mind. Of course in the cartoons they just pop right back up and everything is fine. Needless to say we had a little chat about this mistaken impression of hers.

My younger daughter and I used to work on many little activities when her sister was in school. I created a weather wheel, similar to the face of a clock, for her and every day we discussed the weather and she would place the “hands” to the words and pictures indicating the weather of the day after we went outside and had a look. One day I said to her, “Look at the sky, it’s partly cloudy.” she looked up at me and said, “I see the cloudy, but show me the partly mom.” Sigh. I took her inside the house and drew some shapes and colored half the circle red, half the square green and half the triangle yellow. Then I explained how each of the shares was “partly” red, green and yellow and the idea clicked.

One day I was talking to my older daughter about stranger danger when she was in elementary school. I tried to explain to her that someone who is out to hurt children isn’t going to look any different than anyone else. In fact, someone might dress in a business suit and have a briefcase and walk into her school and ask her for directions. My daughter was always too smart for her own good. She looked at me and said she would know a bad stranger from a good stranger, she had a fool proof test. I said “Oh you do? Tell me what it is.” She said, “I’ll just ask them their name and if they hesitate I’ll know they are lying and they are bad people.” I said, “Really? I could make up a dozen names right now for myself, so let’s test this little theory of yours. Ask me my name.” She asked me my name and I replied without skipping a beat “Cynthia Baker.” She looked stunned. I said keep asking me and I will keep answering different names, it’s not a good test. But, that was the only way to convince her she couldn’t weed out the bad people from the good people.

One day I was in the kitchen washing dishes while the girls, ages 3 and 8 months, were in the living room watching their morning programs. Suddenly I hear my three year old yelling, “Mom, come quick, she’s killing me!” I stopped what I was doing, not being able to imagine how an eight month old could kill a three year old. I run into the living room to see that my baby had crawled on top of her older sister and plopped there, pinning her down to the floor and couch, so she couldn’t move. I broke out laughing as I removed the baby from her  sister and set her aside. The problem was that my three year old was petite and weighed about the same as my eight month old butterball, whose weight was more concentrated. It was really a hysterical sight.

I remember the day I brought my second baby daughter home. My older daughter was close to three and we had prepared her for the arrival of her new sister…or so we thought. We talked about the “baby,” we named the baby, we got baby things ready and finally the baby came. I put her down in the cradle and my older daughter went over to look at her sleeping. The baby slept for quite a while. I suspect she had her nights and days mixed up. Finally, my older daughter said, “Is that all she is gonna do? Sleep?” It was then that it registered with me that we had not done such a good job preparing my daughter for her little sister. I think she was expecting an instant playmate who would be ready to play Barbie dolls and instead she got this little sleeping, pooping, eating, crying baby doll that took up mommy’s time and attention. It all worked out, but if you are having a baby and need to prepare an older sibling, do a better job of it than I did.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trayvon Martin, RIP...

Racism is alive and well and living in America. Trayvon Martin is not. Trayvon was killed in cold blood and buried by his parents while his killer is free to sit in his living room recliner, drinking beers and rooting for his favorite sports team. A friend of mine alerted me to this story yesterday and it haunted me all night. My blog cannot do justice to this case and it’s times like these I wish I had a larger readership. This is a story that everyone who lives in this country should be aware of, should be talking about, should be demanding that swift action be taken. Trayvon’s name should be a household word. It should enrage our sense of injustice. Let me tell you what happened, if you haven’t heard.

On February 26th, Trayvon Martin, a black, 17 year old boy, was returning to his father’s fiancĂ©e’s house after going out to buy some skittles and iced tea. When he got back to the gated community, George Zimmerman, the racist neighborhood watch volunteer and vigilant, spotted him and began following Trayvon. At the same time, Zimmerman took out his cell phone and called 911, reporting Trayvon as “suspicious.” Trayvon, who was wearing a hoodie, pulled it up and started walking faster, because he was being watched and I suspect he was afraid. Zimmerman was on with 911 the entire time and eventually caught up with Trayvon. Trayvon was also on the phone with a friend, who has told authorities what was happening at the time. Trayvon asked Zimmerman why he was following him. Zimmerman asked him what he was doing there. The next thing Trayvon’s friend hears is someone being pushed. Trayvon screamed for help many times. Other residents made 911 calls and his screams could be heard in the background. They were too afraid for their own safety to go out and help. The next thing they heard was a gun being fired and Trayvon was dead. George Zimmerman is claiming self defense. Trayvon was 17, unarmed, without a record and weighed about 150 pounds. Zimmerman was 28, armed, with a record and weighing in at about 250 pounds. Trayvon is dead. He was hunted down like an animal because he was black and killed by a single bullet. It was a cold blooded murder. The 911 tapes have it all recorded. Yet Zimmerman has not been arrested. They even have Zimmerman making this racist comment on tape:

“After being told not to follow Martin, you can hear Zimmerman saying "these assholes, they always get away" and whispering what sounds like "fucking coons" or "fucking goons" at the 1:52 mark. Zimmerman and dispatch end the call after he asks that police call him when they arrive to the scene.”

Why hasn’t Zimmerman been arrested? The evidence is as clear as day. He targeted Trayvon, it was a hate crime. Where is the outrage of everyone in this country? Of every parent who has an innocent child? Thankfully, I see that the case has gotten so much attention that it will be investigated by several agencies including the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the FBI. 

There has to been some justice for Trayvon Martin and his parents. So, though I normally never ask that you spread the link to any of my blogs, I am asking readers to do so today. Let’s make others aware of this hate crime and the man responsible. Let’s help get justice for a boy whose life was taken because of the color of his skin.

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Joseph's Day...

Pasta con sarde

My father’s name was Joseph and he never failed to celebrate his saint’s name day. I recall how he made a big deal out of it like it was his birthday. He always considered it a special day. I had forgotten all about this until I was talking to some people of Italian decent and they started wishing me a Happy St. Joseph’s Day. Then memories of my father came flooding back to me.

I can still see him preparing the special St. Joseph’s Day meal in the kitchen or our small apartment, for himself. My mother was never into “saint’s days” and she never got involved with his cooking. When my dad cooked something, it was always for himself She wouldn’t even taste it. The special dish for St. Jospeh’s Day is “pasta con sarde” or pasta with sardines and fresh fennel. He would go out to the fish store and buy the sardines and bring them home to clean and cook. All the while he was cooking, he was laughing and anticipating this delicious meal. This big celebration of St. Joseph is mainly a Sicilian thing. And, we were taught to wear red. My father brought many cultural things here with him, when he immigrated here after marrying my mother.

“St. Joseph's Day is a big Feast for Italians because in the Middle Ages, God, through St. Joseph's intercessions, saved the Sicilians from a very serious drought. So in his honor, the custom is for all to wear red, in the same way that green is worn on St. Patrick's Day.” 

There weren’t many things that made my dad happy. He was a simple man. He worked and provided for his family. He enjoyed a good meal. I hope he is having his pasta con sarde today, in heaven. I love you dad.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Truth...

One of the first and most important things my mother wanted to instill in my brother and I was to always tell the truth, no matter what it is. She promised us if we told the truth we wouldn’t get into trouble. She said that telling a lie was worse than anything wrong we could possibly do. We believed her. When we did something wrong, our conscience would bother us and we went to her with the truth and promptly got yelled at and punished. When we protested that we told the truth so as not to get in trouble, she would answer “This is nothing compared to what I would have done had you lied.” Consequently, since we didn’t know how bad it could get, we still told the truth and took our punishments. Still it didn’t seem fair. And yet, I raised my own girls with that same line of thinking because it seemed to work for us. It also worked on my girls. I always told my girls the truth and expected the same in return. It was just understood.

Of course children don’t really understand how telling the truth is not just about being honest and forthcoming and owning your mistakes. They won’t fully understand how telling the truth builds trust in your relationships till years later. It’s hard to get that concept across at an early age. And, Lord knows, we want to be able to trust our children because they aren’t always going to be in our care 24/7. At some point they will go off to school and interact with others and things will happen. You want to be able to believe your child and trust that what they tell you is in fact the truth. It’s very hard to defend a child that is prone to lying, or to trust them to do the right thing. I think it was very wise of my mother to make telling the truth an important issue in our family, and it was a value we learned before setting foot in school.

As I grew up I have met and gotten to know many different people. I appreciate those who are straight shooters and tell the truth no matter what it might be. I feel like I can trust them and have confidence that if I ask them their opinion I am going to get the truth. Some people like to go around the bush before getting to the truth. I really never cared for that approach. Maybe they are trying to be tactful or sensitive, but sometimes their message is lost or watered down in all their finesse. I prefer that they deliver their message bluntly than tip toe around it trying to make it sound better. Others are just liars or they exaggerate the truth until it is unrecognizable. I don’t tolerate lies well. I would never trust someone who makes a habit out of lying or twisting the truth. They are being dishonest and untrustworthy and you really can never believe anything they have to say, so why bother continuing a relationship with them? 

Another thing about telling the truth to someone is to consider your intentions. I always feel that if my intentions are good, then the person needs to know. I would feel terrible if I withheld information and something bad were to happen. I would feel responsible. I would rather the person were angry with me for telling them the truth, than for something bad to happen because they didn’t have all the information to consider. That is the personal rule I have used my whole life and so far no one has gotten angry with me.

The main thing I live by is “the truth always comes out.” It doesn’t even make sense to lie in the first place. You not only have to keep track of your lies and have a good memory, but in the end the truth will always reveal itself. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Justice for Tyler Clementi

Tyler Clementi was a freshman at Rutger’s University in New Jersey and jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge in September 2010. It’s been big news here every day since it happened. Why did it happen? What made this young man take his own life? If you aren’t familiar with the story, Tyler was gay and had an intimate encounter with another man in his dorm room. Tyler’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, thought it would be a good idea to set up a webcam to record the encounter, without Tyler’s knowledge. Then Ravi texted and tweeted other students to tell them to watch. When Tyler discovered what had happened, he was so distraught and humiliated, that he took his own life.

Tyler was a talented violinist. He had just told his parents that he was gay only a few days before attending Rutgers. His father was supported, his mother very disappointed and withdrew from him. Before Tyler even got to campus, his roommate, Ravi, had been doing searches on him online to see who he was. He said Tyler appeared to be gay, socially inept and poor. When Tyler and Ravi moved in together, Ravi texted friends that Tyler was shy and awkward. Tyler texted Ravi about using their room on a couple of nights in September. Ravi witnessed Tyler with an older man and decided to set up his webcam before leaving the room. The camera was angled to view the area of the room where the bed was. Ravi recorded Tyler kissing a man on that occasion and Tyler complained to his resident assistant about the invasion of privacy. He wanted a new room with a different roommate. Tyler also made complaints to others, but nothing was done. Then, Ravi’s recording of the second sexual encounter, was more than Tyler could stand. At the time Tyler was at the George Washington Bridge, Ravi had sent him an apology message…too little too late.

Ravi was arrested and prosecuted for many counts concerning this incident. The dozen or so counts include: invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and evidence tampering. The trial concluded yesterday with a guilty verdict. He will be sentenced in May to a number of years in prison and possible deportation to India. That’s what comes from harassing, humiliating, and driving a sensitive young gay man to his death.

If Tyler hadn’t taken his life, maybe Ravi would have went on to finish his education and have a career here in the United States. Maybe he would have be reprimanded by Rutgers for his actions, maybe not. In other words, Ravi wouldn’t have suffered any type of punishment really had Tyler just complained. Tyler, on the other hand, would have had to finish his education with a cloud over his head, not knowing how many students viewed Ravi’s handiwork or who they were. But, Tyler did take his life. That’s what brought all the attention to this incident. That’s what raise the concerns over the seriousness of this offense. It seems someone always has to die to shine a spotlight on many crimes that society wants to sweep under the rug. How many young gay people have to kill themselves before something is done? Tyler complained after Ravi’s first recording. There should have been swift and immediate action taken. Ravi should have been sanctioned by the school or maybe expelled, and maybe the second incident would never have happened. But no, it wasn’t taken seriously, giving Ravi another opportunity to record and publicize an even more intimate encounter for the sake of humiliating his roommate all over campus, and causing Tyler to take his own life.

Maybe Ravi thought of it as a kind of practical joke at the time? I can’t imagine what was going through his head. I’m sure he got a thrill out of it and a few laughs too. But, he isn’t laughing now and he won’t be laughing for a long time. He basically threw his own life away with his hateful actions. There goes his education and career, his life here in America, his and his parent’s dreams for him shattered. This act will follow him the rest of his life. He is going to be punished with jail time and possible deportation.  And, he can go on living with the thought that his intolerance cost a young man his life. I can’t imagine having to live with that.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Power of Faith...

I’ve always noticed that in times of trouble or when we are struggling, faith plays an important role in getting us through those times. It’s not just faith in a higher being based on any religion, though that seems to be the most common way we view faith. We hear some bad news and we start to pray, having faith that our prayers will be answered or miracles can happen. But, if our prayers aren’t answered, we say it wasn’t in God’s plan. And we persevere with that thought. If a loved one loses their battle with an illness, we grieve and, at the same time, have faith that they are in a better place and no longer suffering. But there is a lot more to faith than just the religious aspect. Faith plays an important role in our lives.

Faith is necessary to get us through the hurdles and to have a fulfilling and productive live. Faith is what gives us strength. It helps us believe that things can, do and will get better. Faith teaches us that nothing is impossible and things will turn out for the best at some point, if we don’t give up and believe they will. When we have faith, we believe in a good outcome and we work towards that with mind, heart and body. We can make things happen, even through our subconscious actions, if we believe we can. Many doubters say, “I will believe it when I see it.” But those with faith know they will “see it, if they believe it.” 

There is no limit to faith. How many things has the human race accomplished through perseverance that were once thought to be impossible? How many of our own prayers have been answered? How many of our goals have been achieved because we had faith in ourselves? Faith is really an invaluable resource that makes us resilient and able to keep fighting even when we feel like giving up. 

Everyone has faith, but some of us use it the wrong way. Some have faith that nothing they do will turn out right and it becomes a self-fulfilling negative prophecy. But if we use faith in a positive way there is no limit to what we can accomplish. Faith helps lessen worry and anxiety, and gives us confidence and power. We just have to focus on the things we can do, not worry about the things that are out of our control. Be opened minded and think positively and good things will happen.

I think I have always had faith in myself and my abilities without really realizing it. I have been fortunate in life to have people I can trust and have faith in as well. Of course, my faith in God has gotten me through many a life crisis. I don’t think we take time to consider what a tremendous impact faith has on our lives. If we did, we would focus on it more, cultivate it, and make it work for us and not against us. Just food for thought.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Laughter Is Healthy...

I didn’t know what to write the last two days, but the words sense of humor and laughter kept ringing in my ears, so here I am to see what I can make out of it. I love to laugh, like anyone else, but I never gave humor much thought in terms of health until I was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago. That was when I wanted to try everything and anything to fight this disease and I heard a story of someone who did nothing but watch comedies and cured themselves. Of course it could have been coincidence, but who knows and who cares. Laughter may have played a role and it sure as hell couldn’t hurt. I would rather be laughing  through my condition than spend every waking minute crying over it. I vowed to only watch television shows and movies that would make me laugh.

The day I had to break the news of my diagnosis to my girls, who were 13 and 16 at the time, was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. After telling them about my condition, I had planned to put on all my cds of the “Honeymooners” so we could spend the rest of the day all laughing together. It didn’t work out that way. The girls were probably in shock and terrified and they went off on their own, to resume normal activities, probably in denial over what they heard me say. I wanted to allow them the time to process the information, so I didn’t push it. Instead, I started watching only comedies from that point on. I rarely watch anything else, even till today. And, eight years later I am still watching reruns of Friends, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Golden Girls…and All In The Family, whenever I can catch it. 

Laughing has some very healthy effects on the body, which I didn’t even know about. It lowers blood pressure for one thing. High blood pressure runs in my family and my temperament, so I could use that. Apparently, it also helps to work out several muscles in the body too like the abdomen, diaphragm, legs, back and respiratory system. It can help reduce the stress hormones like adrenaline. It increases the response of tumor killing cells like Gamma-interferon and T-cells. It helps fight off respiratory infections and reduces colds. It increases memory and learning. And, it has been found to improve, memory, alertness and creativity.  Ten to fifteen minutes of laughing can burn up to 50 calories. It lowers blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. It helps with relaxation and sleep.  That is an awful lot to gain just by enjoying yourself laughing, don’t you think? 

Obviously, laughing improves the quality of life and if you believe in it’s additional effects you may even benefit more from a steady diet of it. It certainly improves our moods and emotions. It can even energize us. There is no down side to laughing, but there is a lot to be gained from it. And think about it…so many great comedians live to be 100! George Burns, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Betty White, Phyllis Diller, just to name a few. Maybe there is something to this laughter business that science hasn’t tapped into?

 Let’s not wait around to get a prescription for laughter! Laughter is the best medicine and you can start self medicating now. Go out and buy or rent your favorite movies or tv shows and watch as often as your time allows! That’s my advice to everyone.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

American Idol Sob Stories...

I’ve watch American Idol for years, 11 years to be exact. Every year, without fail, some contestants come to tell their heart wrenching stories. And while I sympathize with their situations, I never thought it was fair to the other contestants to give some an edge because they have endured hard times. It is a singing competition, but people’s voting can be influenced by many factors and sob stories are definitely on the list. Let’s face, no one cares how they get their votes and stay on the show, the important thing is to get as much exposure as one can while there. So even the pity vote is a welcomed vote.

Now, not all of these stories are going to be true. Some may be exaggerated for good measure, some told with tearful eyes, others are just bold faced lies. This season, season 11, we have a contestant who apparently made up a story saying his father abandoned him and his mother 10 years ago and has only resurfaced now, because his son is on the show and might make it big. Jermaine Jones told producers he was very upset that his father picked this time to come back into his life. He says his father Kevin Jones was a lousy father and Jermaine wanted nothing to do with him. 

Well today’s media being what it is, investigates every story, either to confirm or refute it, and they did so with Jermaine’s story. They managed to contact his father, Kevin jones, who said the story was totally false. He says he has always been involved in his son’s life and even had dinner with him Wednesday and Thursday of last week. He was even sitting in the audience cheering him on.

I guess the producers of American Idol didn’t do all their homework and Jermaine’s story just may have gotten him a spot on the show. But all the drama should be eliminated and everyone should be treated the same. They should spend more time singing and less time for background stories. If they give us background information, it should be the same information, like what city and state the contestant comes from, how old they are, what do they do for a living etc.

Let’s see if the lie backfires on him this week. I’m sure show executives and maybe the judges are feeling duped, made a fool of, and his fate may be sealed. Maybe he will be eliminated this week. Frankly, as far as I am concerned, his voice is very deep and I never cared for it. I think by virtue of his limited range, there are going to be very few songs he can sing well.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Flip Flop Toaster

Many years ago, probably before I was born, my aunt Vi had a flip flop toaster. For those of you who have never seen one, it has two sides that can be opened and close to monitor the darkness of the toast. My aunt’s toast was the best. She never used anything but Italian twist bread, heavily coated in sesame seeds, to make her toast. The bread toasted golden on the outside and stayed soft on the inside and the butter would melt into it. Everyone who had it loved it. 

When we went to visit my aunt Mary and cousin Maria over Christmas holidays, we all reminisced about my aunt Vi’s toaster and her delicious toast. It’s funny what you remember from your childhood. My aunt Vi died 30 years ago, but we all remember the toaster and how the sides squeaked each time she opened and shut them to check on the toast. My brother recalled how My aunt Vi used to make 2 slices of toast for my mother every day and wrapped it up in tin foil for him to take up to my mother every morning.

After that visit, we came home and my brother went online to find one of those toasters to buy for my cousin Maria. In no time he emailed me a picture and asked what I thought. It was almost exactly like the one my aunt had all those years ago. He ordered it and it sat in my house until yesterday. Yesterday we went out to visit my aunt Mary in the hospital. Before we went to the hospital, we stopped at Maria’s house with the toaster and the fresh Italian twist bread I bought for her. I can’t tell you how thrilled my cousin was when she opened the box and saw that toaster inside. She went on and on about it. Then I handed her the loaf of bread. She wanted to start making toast right away, but we wanted to see my aunt and not put her through any trouble, so she saved her toaster and bread for later so she could enjoy it. 

We walked over to the hospital across the street together. My aunt Mary, in her 80’s, has been suffering from pneumonia and now a sepsis infection. Last weekend my cousin Maria thought her mother wasn’t going to be able to fight it; this past weekend my aunt was sitting up in bed joking. We stayed about an hour and then my aunt wanted to sleep. We walked back to our car. Maria invited us in for toast, but I told her we would have it on our next visit, if it came the way she remembered it and I would bring more bread. We said good bye and planned to get together for Easter.

A couple of hours later my brother’s phone rings. At the other end he hears a crunching noise. It’s our cousin Maria, munching on some nice Italian bread toast, telling him how good it is and how much she is enjoying it. He was happy to be able to give her the toaster and revive some precious old memories.

I hope we can all get together for Easter. I don’t know what will be on the menu, but I know one thing for sure…we are all going to have some of my aunt Vi’s toast.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What’s Going On In My Life?

We aren’t just going to change the clocks today, in my house. We are going to be going through a lot of changes in the next few months. Let’s see, if I can remember all the things that are going on with me and my family. Some things keep me up at night, some things will be over soon, others I can’t even mention. But here is a sneak peek into my world…when I am not blogging.

I am still mothering two 20 something daughters. They still like home cooked meals for dinner, breakfast in the morning and lunches to go. They like to be taken care of when they are sick and advice when they ask for it (unfortunately for them, they get a lot more advice than they want). My older daughter is busy looking for another job. Sometimes I’ll do a job search during the day and send her some ads that look good. My younger daughter will graduate college in two months! She has worked so hard, weekdays, weekends and summers, and I can’t wait for it to be over for her. Hopefully, she won’t have a problem getting a job in her field, of clinical laboratory scientist, and at a hospital where she likes the staff.

My husband has been taking graduate classes in history the past few years and he will be graduating with his M.A. in a couple of months too. He will also be taking an early retirement June 1st. Then he may take some time off before starting to work elsewhere. He has been working very hard for a lot of years because the Board of Educations fails to hire the number of people they need to do all the work that has to be done. He goes in early and stays late, just to try to get more done, without any added compensation. He really could use a much needed and overdue break.

We are hoping to sell the family home this year. It’s the home we have raised our girls in. I’m not sure what kind of home to buy next. I just want to downsize everything and live in a quieter part of the neighborhood. I am looking forward to that, but not to all the throwing out and packing of our possessions. It seems so overwhelming to me. Some days I wish I could win the lottery and just walk away from this house and start over, from scratch, elsewhere. I think the whole thought of this process is what keeps me awake sometimes, in addition to all the changes we are all going through. There will be a lot of transitioning for everyone and adjustments to make.

I dream of the day when the girls both have jobs they are happy with and my husband and I can enjoy the “golden years” settled in a new home. I would just love to take classes at college and do a little traveling. Maybe I can do more with my writing. I have been writing quite a bit and really enjoy it. I think I might try a writing class and see where it takes me. You never know what wonderful things can happen when you follow your passions in life. Opportunities and experiences present themselves that you would have never anticipated. That is what I have learned the past year and a half or so. That is what I am going to keep focusing on in the future.

So when I’m not busy complaining or venting in a blog, that’s what I am doing instead.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Givers And Takers...

I consider myself a “giver” by nature. I think it’s something I learned from both my parents. If a friend or family member needed anything, they were always there to do whatever they could to help. They would talk about ways to help others at the family dinner table. It wasn’t a lesson they intended to teach us, it was just the way it was. They never sat back and did nothing when there was something they could do. I don’t remember them ever saying no when someone asked them for a favor. So when my aunt had to work and needed my mom to watch my cousin, she did it willingly. When her older sister needed to go to the hospital everyday for six months to visit her son dying of cancer, my mother was right by her side. When my aunt needed to visit the cemetery on every holiday, my father got up early, picked her up and took her there, every time. The list is endless.

My parents weren’t too good at taking. They hated to ask for favors of any kind from anyone. If God forbid they ever needed something from someone, they would feel obligated or indebted to them. When someone did something unexpectedly nice for them, they could never repay them enough for their kindness and often went above and beyond what the other person had done for them.  I grew up learning about giving and taking from my mom and dad. 

I learned that when you are a giver, you get joy from helping and making others happy. Giving is it’s own reward. I do it because I want to and because I can. I find that when I hear a sad or unfortunate story, my first impulse is to think, what can I do about this to help. And the thing is, no matter how remotely removed this person may be from my life, even just a stranger online in the midst of a crisis, their problem sticks with and I will do what I can to find a solution. There was one time for example, a woman whose medical insurance ran out, but who had to get some tests done before her doctor would issue her new prescriptions She couldn’t afford the tests and she was worried sick over it. A friend of mine suggested Quest Diagnostics and I went to look it up. Quest works with people who don’t have insurance and are financially strapped. I found the information and passed it on to her within minutes and she was happy and relieved. I had put her mind at ease and she had hope. If I hadn’t, her story would have bothered me long after I signed off the computer. 

Of course, with people who are closer to me, I will even try to move a mountain, if that is what it takes, to help them out. A friend of mine told me recently, she has the ability to see people’s weaknesses and she said, “Yours is that you care too damn much.” I don’t know if caring too much is a weakness unless you run into people who take advance of your caring, who take it for granted, who exploit it, who don’t appreciate it, and who want to drain you of all you have to give. Fortunately for me, I haven’t run into too many people that abuse my good nature and, if I do, I think I would be smart enough to extricate myself from the relationship. I find, as I think about those people who are close to me, that I have family and a community of friends who have the same weakness as me, they are giving to a fault. And it’s very reassuring to know, that in times of crisis, you have people you can turn to, who will drop everything they are doing, and make the time to help you in your hour of need. I don’t make it a habit to ask for help. I rarely do. But I went through a difficult time a couple of years ago and my friends didn’t let me down. They listened to me talk things through and offered great advice and helped me get through it and come out stronger. That’s when you find out who your friends are, in times of trouble, not when life’s a bowl of cherries.

I’d rather be a giver than a taker any day of the week. I get joy from being able to give. I get peace of mind. I get much more from the act of giving, then the person on the receiving end ever does. My parents taught me an invaluable lesson that I hope I have passed down to my own girls.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Having Children Changes You…

Once you take the step into motherhood, you can never go back.

As I think back to before I had children, I remember myself as being a different person. For one thing I was a lot more willing to take risks or be adventurous. No one depended on me and I didn’t depend on anyone. As a young adult, with an education and a job, I was pretty self sufficient. So what if I wanted to try sky diving? It wasn’t a big deal. I also had the mentality that nothing would happen to me, like many people in their early twenties do. This attitude lasted even after I was married and until I got pregnant. Then I started changing.

I became a lot more cautious. I no longer just stepped off the curb before the light changed and I even waited to see the cars come to a full stop, I didn’t assume they just would. I used to sleep like a brick before having children. But after I had them my sleep was much lighter. I could hear the tiniest peep in the next room and jump up and be there in seconds. My consciousness of dangerous things around the house heightened. I put locks on the kitchen cabinet doors. I got gates to put at the foot and top of the stairs. I purchased those little protectors for the electric outlets. I couldn’t be too careful.

I couldn’t stand to watch movies about missing children or terminally ill children. Before children, of course hearing these things would bother me. But, after having my own children, I could immediately relate and be aware of the fear these poor parents were going through. I would feel anxious and sick to my stomach at the very thought something like this could happen to my own children.

Before children, I might have been a little reckless when driving. I may have exceeded the speed limit now and then, when I thought it was safe to do so. After having children, I followed all the traffic laws, used more common sense and took extra precautions. My kids were always in a car seat and after that they had to have a seatbelt on. They don’t even know how it feels to ride in a car without be belted in. It’s just the way it is.

I used to do things on my own timetable, whatever worked for me and my lifestyle. After I had my girls, my schedule worked around what worked best for them. I always made sure they were able to eat and nap at virtually the same time every day. They had a consistent routine. I did my things while they slept and napped. As a result, my kids were, for the most part, happy, healthy and well behaved. They rarely cried because all their needs were being met.

I went from not talking to anyone outside the home, to being an extrovert and talking to everyone. I talked to other mothers with children around the same age. We compared stories, tips, what stages our children were in, all kinds of things. Somehow you turn into a lioness, watching over your child and making sure no one does anything to hurt them, even remotely.

After you have children, you never go back to being independent and carefree. Your focus is always on your children, no matter how old they are or how perfect their lives may be. You are forever changed and there is no going back. Ever.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So Disappointed In Patricia Heaton…

Everybody might still love Raymond, but Patricia Heaton isn’t coming across so lovable these days. Patricia Heaton, a long time conservative, decided to go on a tweeting rant agreeing with Rush Limbaugh’s comments concerning Sandra Fluke and then making a few of her own. She has since deleted the comments and apologized when fans took to a rant of their own and tweeted her back. If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know where I stand on this issue already. I think all women should be able to get birth control from their insurance providers and no one should determine whether a doctor’s prescription for treatment is moral, before filling that prescription. Birth control is used to treat many medical conditions that women suffer from and in addition, prevents pregnancy. Preventing pregnancy is the responsible thing to do if the alternatives are abortion, bringing a child into the world that one cannot afford to provide for, having a child and becoming dependent on society to finance its needs etc. 

I am surprised that Sandra Fluke, who is speaking out in behalf of women’s health issues, is being so harshly condemned. The criticism against Sandra Fluke has become a very personal attack. What she says is intelligent and valid. I find it impossible to see the viewpoint of her opponents. Some are saying that the birth control is being paid for by taxpayer dollars from the government. That is not my understanding. President Obama wants insurance companies to provide free birth control to all women. My understanding is that religious institutions and their insurance companies will decide if they will cover certain prescribed medication, such as birth control, based on whether or not it is moral. That is outrageous. All women should be able to fill their prescriptions without being judged and often the prescription for birth control has nothing to do with being promiscuous or the government footing the bill for sex. Attacking Sandra Fluke’s moral character, because she is speaking on behalf of the 99% of women who have used birth control at one time or another in their lives, is beyond wrong. Here is what Patricia Heaton had to tweet to Sandra Fluke:

"Hey G-Town Gal: Plz let us also pay for your Starbucks, movie theater tickets and your favorite hot wings combo deal at KFC! Anything else?"

"Hey G-Town Gal: If your parents have to pay for your birth control, maybe they should get a say in who you sleep with!" Instant birth control!"

"If every Tweaton sent Georgetown Gal one condom, her parents would have to cancel basic cable, & she would never reproduce -- sound good?"

"Hey GTown Gal: How about only having sex on Wednesday? (Hump day!)."

"Hey G-Town Gal: turn your underwear inside out! Then u only have to do laundry every 2 weeks—saves on detergent & trips to Laundromat!"

 "G-Gal: you’ve given yer folks great gift for Mother’s/Father’s Day! Got up in front of whole world & said I’m having tons of sex- pay 4 it!"

And then she had some insight: “Tweatons...I crossed the line w/@SandraFluke. Don't agree w/her views, but I was not showing Christ's love.”

Gee ya think? I think this is appalling. Now Heaton is also apologizing, not because she is sorry, but because she has to do damage control. She doesn’t want advertisers pulling out of her television show, “The Middle.” No. Neither she nor Rush Limbaugh want their shows pulled off the air, so they are backing down from their comments. Will it work? I know I don’t accept insincere apologizes. Anyway, I hope that Patricia Heaton’s daughter, if she has one, doesn’t one day need birth control for severe menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding or irregular cycles, severe acne, unwanted excessive facial hair, ovarian cysts, mood swings or migraines related to PMS and other health issues. Maybe Patricia can afford to provided birth control for her, but would she want her daughter so harshly judged? She may find herself singing a different tune. 

Now can we get back to discussing the economy, gas prices and creating jobs? 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Texting, Driving & Kids...

When it comes to driving, you just can’t be too careful. Something can happen, that requires a fast split-second response, that can either save you or cost you your life. Kids don’t get that. I was reading a heartbreaking and tragic story yesterday about a young college student who was texting while driving. She was killed. Her final text was: "I can't discuss this now. Driving and facebooking is not safe! Haha." 

Taylor Sauer, 18, was driving home in January, to visit her parents in Idaho, and while driving she was texting her friend about the Denver football team. She was going over 80 miles per hour in Interstate 84 when she crashed into a tanker truck that was going up a hill at 15 mph. She died instantly. Her cell phone records show she was texting every 90 seconds during her trip. Taylor knew she was doing the wrong thing at the time, she even said so in her text. But, kids think nothing bad can ever happen to them. Idaho is one of 13 states that does not ban texting while driving. But, even if they had a law in place, are kids deterred from texting?

Taylor was an honor student. She graduated from high school with a 3.9 GPA and was class salutatorian . She was active in community service. She played softball. And even with all her intelligence, she stills thinks, like every other 18 year old, that she is invincible. Now all her parents want is for Idaho to pass a law banning the use of texting while driving. They are fighting for this just two months after their daughter’s death.I can’t imagine how devastated they must be. I am including the video of the story below, which includes what Taylor’s parents are trying to do the change the law and prevent any more deaths due to using devices while driving.

There are many stories just like this one. Passing a law may deter some students, but not all. Kids need a visual. The school system needs to educate students long before they get their license about the dangers of using cell phones in any way, while driving. I tell my own kids not to play with the radio dial or pop in their cds while driving. The reason is that I noticed they would take their eyes off the road for a split second to see what they were doing. It made me nervous and I begged them not to do that unless they were stopped at a red light. As long as the car is moving, you need to focus your attention 100% on driving and what’s going on around you. You can’t be too safe. I just hope they are listening to me and get it. I hope they read this blog and watch the video. No parent should have to go to their 18 year old’s funeral because they made the mistake of texting or talking on a cell phone while driving. No parent should be told their child will never walk again or suffered brain damage because they spent a few seconds texting and crashed. There are no do-overs. You can’t turn back time. The damage is done. There are enough risks to driving, without adding more dangerous and unnecessary ones to the list.

Maybe, if you have a young driver in your family, you should let them watch the video and have a discussion that could save their life today.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Beyonce Breast Feeds In Public…

Beyonce was out having brunch with her little family, when her daughter, Blue Ivy, got hungry and Beyonce breast fed her at their table, in public. This stirred up a another conversation about women breast feeding their babies in public. It shouldn’t even be news because it is not against the law for mothers to nurse their babies in public, but of course it’s even bigger news because Beyonce is the mother in question. This long ongoing controversy would have nursing mothers take their infants to a public restroom to feed them, rather than make a public display of it. I hadn’t given the issue much thought before, but now I have and do not see what the problem is. 

Besides being a natural act, it’s not against the law to breast feed in public. I always here people against it referring to “whipping out the breast” as though nursing women are going to strip down and become topless. Others call it nasty and lewd. This is just not the case. there are bras designed to open and just expose part of the breast, so the baby has access to it. Nursing mothers often carry a light blanket to place over the baby’s head and their breast, while the baby is being fed. Nothing has to be exposed. It can be done discreetly. There are even garments created for this purpose shown in the photo above. Babies benefit greatly from mother’s milk and a new mother should be able to make that choice without having to be confined to her home from six months to a year or longer. We are just an intolerant society, resistant to change. 

Maybe someone famous, like Beyonce, will cause us to talk about this issue and re-examine our positions on it. Maybe many women who are choosing not to breastfeed because of the reactions they might get, will reconsider. Maybe people will get educated about breastfeeding and it’s value to infants and feel differently about it. 

I guess I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. When I visited Boston a couple of years ago, the streets were full of homeless people sitting or laying down on the sidewalks. I find that a much more disturbing and unacceptable public display than a nursing mother. Maybe people who object to breast feeding in public should channel their time and energy into generating funding and housing for the homeless and let mothers go about doing what they do best…nurturing their children?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sandra Fluke Responds To Limbaugh...

Here is the woman that Rush Limbaugh called a "slut" and a prostitute because she dared to go to the US Congress and speak about women's reproductive health issues and their right to have them. Sandra Fluke is a law student at Georgetown University and she took this responsibility upon her self, to speak on behalf of women and their access to birth control. At one meeting, she was declared unqualified to speak on the issue of religious liberty and birth control, while 15 men were permitted to do so. It seems Congress thinks that men know what women's health care needs are better than they do. However, she was able to voice her concerns at a Democratic hearing. Rush Limbaugh used the defamatory words to describe this intelligent young woman, even though we have the right to free speech, just because he disagreed with her position. He used his radio program, which is aired on 600 stations and reaches an audience of some 20 million people, to insult this young woman's character. His choice of words is appalling and degrading to women everywhere. I read that several advertisers are choosing to longer buy spots on his show. I hope they all pull out. I just may go find out who the hell supports his show and boycott their products!

Now religious institutions want to decide which medical treatments women should be covered for under their insurance based on moral judgments. Congress voted and, "The 51-48 vote killed an amendment that would have allowed employers and insurers to opt out of portions of the president's health care law they found morally objectionable. That would have included the law's requirement that insurers cover the costs of birth control. Democrats said the measure would have allowed employers and insurers to opt out of virtually any medical treatment with the mere mention of a moral or religious objection." Seriously? Who is anyone to pass moral judgment on medical treatment and the use of birth control?

The way I see it, I would rather young women use birth control than have abortions for unwanted pregnancy. To me that is the responsible and moral thing to do. Young women delaying pregnancy until they can afford to have and take care of their own babies is something we should be encouraging. Young women, married or single, in college or those just starting out at jobs, have good reason to wait before starting families. Without birth control, many would get pregnant and either opt to abort the baby, give it up for adoption, keep it and struggle financially, maybe have to drop out of school, or be dependent on tax payer dollars for assistance. Do we really want young women to drop out of school to raise babies instead of finishing their education and becoming tax paying contributors to society? Women using birth control are taking the responsible and moral approach for themselves and society if they are trying to prevent pregnancy and, besides that, it's no one's business why they need birth control, it may have nothing at all to do with pregnancy.

Just for the record, birth control pills are used for many medical reasons, not just preventing pregnancy. Birth control pills are used to alleviate very painful cramps during a women's menstrual cycle. The pain can be so debilitating that it can cause them to take time off from school or work, and the pill is used to treat that condition. Some women suffer from very heavy bleeding or very irregular cycles that can be as short as 22 days or as long as 38 days. Heavy bleeding leads to a loss of iron, which can lead to anemia. The pill is used to treat those conditions. The pill is also used to treat moderate to severe acne because it controls hormonal activity responsible for the condition. Some women have an excess of male hormones that causes hair growth in unwanted places, such as the face, and the pill helps prevent new hair growth. If a woman suffers from ovarian cysts, the pill prevents new one from growing. The pill also helps prevent the excessive mood swings or migraines related to PMS. Some women find that low-dose birth control pills can help control perimenopausal symptoms and keep periods regular. So the pill is used to treat many conditions that have NOTHING to do with preventing pregnancy and everything to do with WOMEN' HEALTH. Why should men care if birth control isn't provided by insurance? These conditions do not affect them. Why should religious institutions and insurance companies decide that birth control isn't moral? Of course contraceptives should be covered by insurance companies for all women equally. To think otherwise is ludicrous.

If you want to listen to what Sandra has to say about Limbaugh's personal attack on her, I have posted the video below. I really do not understand how anyone can listen to this man. I really don't. Thank God this young woman is taking on this challenging issue. I see big things for her in the future.