Saturday, September 29, 2012

Loss of A Mother and Best Friend…

A friend of mine just lost her mother. I know how big of a loss she is feeling. It’s a wound that time doesn’t take care of; it’s a void nothing on earth can fill. My mother passed away six years ago and in a couple of days it would have been her 96th birthday. But, I don’t just remember her on her birthday or mother’s day. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her because she wasn’t just my mother, she was my best friend. I know I write plenty of blogs about her “eccentricities.” My mother was one of a kind. She was a real life, sit-com character. You couldn’t make her up. She was the best mother she knew how to be, she loved my brother and I more than anything. Did she make some mistakes? You bet she did, but she came from a dysfunctional family and it changed who she was. Does that excuse some of her behavior? Not really, but it sure helped me to understand why she did the things she did. She was/is my mother, I love her unconditionally and took the good with the bad. A lot of who I am today, I owe to her; and people seem to like me, so she must have done something right. I even like myself.

My mother did her best to parent, but she also wanted to be a “best” friend. I didn’t have many friends growing up. I chalk it up to my shyness. I often confided everything to my mother. Most of the time she already knew what I was going to say because she was a mind reader. But all the time she had the right words on the tip of her tongue to console me, to satisfy my curiosity, to guide me on the right path. My mother was intelligent, though she was only allowed to attend school till 9th grade. She possessed wisdom and common sense. If I had a problem, I could count on her for advice knowing she would not steer me wrong. I could trust her because I knew deep down that all she ever really wanted was my happiness. I knew, without question, that there was nothing she wouldn’t do for my brother and I, if it was in her power.

My mother was possessive and protective of us. She didn’t believe in “letting go” or pushing us out of the nest. I often joked that when I married and left home the telephone cord replaced the umbilical cord. She would call every morning and every night after dinner and sometimes in between. She could be too much at times, but that was her way and no one was going to change it.

My mother needed to feel “needed.” That worked out pretty good for me and my brother. He always got home cooked meals and his laundry done. My family would get fed every Sunday. She would all of our tailoring and mending. She would baby sit for me any time of the day or night. There were times when money was tight and she would “help” without being asked. She never wanted us to worry about anything. As difficult as she may have made life from time to time, she also made sure other times weren’t such a struggle. That’s because we were the center of her world, and we knew it. There was no way she could hear of a problem and not try to fix it for us.

And that’s not to mention all the times she was there for us in childhood. Whenever we got sick, she never used a thermometer to take out temperatures, she used her lips. One little kiss on the forehead and she knew we had a fever. “It’s not so bad,” she would say. Other times “we were burning up” and she would call the doctor, who made house calls back in the day. All the while, she would wipe us down with alcohol to bring down the fever and make sure we were comfortable. We never had to ask for anything, she already knew and had it in her hand. She brought us medicine around the clock, made sure we had tissues and water and only had to get up to use the bathroom. I hardly remember what it felt like to be sick, but I do remember what it felt like to be cared for so lovingly.

My mother was the kind of mom who was always hugging us, kissing us and saying “I love you.” We knew she meant it, even those times when she didn’t act like it. We knew it was unconditional. She might get angry about something, but she wasn’t going anywhere. It was a bond that could never be broken. Even now, long after she has left this earth, I feel her with me. I hear her voice in my head. I see her eyes sparkle and gleam when she smiles. And, somehow I know, she is looking down and smiling at me right now.

Why? Because I finally got it. No one can ever replace a mother or her love. She used to say, “you won’t understand what it’s like to be a mother till you have children of your own.” And that is very true. And I also learned, you can’t understand what it’s like to lose a mother, until she is gone and you can’t get her back. I will always miss my mom. She was the best mother in the whole world…for me.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Campaign Reform...

I have to admit that all this continuous campaigning gives me a huge headache. In the end, I can never recall hearing anything of substance. All I hear is bashing of the opponent. Where will that get us? Campaigning should be all about the issues and problems facing our country and a specific plan about how each candidate will tackle those issues. I don’t mean talking in generalities either. I want specific details. All this “he said, he said” business is just a waste of time.

I think there should be some campaign reform. I will be the first to admit I don’t know what I am talking about, but I am still going say something. First of all, there should be a limit or cap on how much each candidate can spend on their campaign. It should be an equal and reasonable amount of money, so that we hear more or less the same amount of BS from both sides. If they had a limited amount to spend, maybe they would be more creative in their approach to reach voters. They would have to pare down their rhetoric to what voters need to hear instead of “anything he can do I can do better” talk. They don’t have to jump on each other’s stupid remarks because the media already does a great job of accentuating the negative. The comedians poke fun at them and social media online run with the ball. You can’t miss a thing these days. So cap the amount of money spent, with an independent accounting firm keeping track of it all, AND tell us what we need to know with that money!

The next thing I would insist on is that candidates have to tell the truth. Not their version of the truth. Not a PR spin on the truth. The unvarnished truth or as close to it as they can get. We should require it and insist on it. It should have to pass Maury Pauvich’s lie detector test. Candidates should not be allowed to lie to the voters or tell half truths. How can we be expected to make an informed decision when all our information is fabrication? Back when our forefathers were running, things were simpler, and yet I’m sure there were some underhanded things going on when it came to elections. But look how far we have come? We have gotten so much more sophisticated at lying and covering things up. So clever at making scandalous things disappear. So masterful as to create illusions of heroes out of ordinary men. Why does it have to be so complicated? Maybe because we can no longer find an honest man with nothing to hide to run for office? Maybe if we found one he wouldn’t be able to win an election because it requires too much deceit?

I don’t know about you, but I appreciate knowing the truth, yet there seems to be nowhere we can find that. The truth is now in the eyes and ears of the beholder. Even today’s journalists and news media have abandoned the truth, probably for higher ratings and more money. Money is, after all, the root of all evil. So they sensationalize stories and report them, before all the facts are even in. Who cares if they are wrong? They will just print or issue a retraction, but meanwhile the story “sold.” We should demand more and be able to expect more from the press. Freedom of the press was not meant to spread lies, but to spread accurate information. It’s being abused.

Our country was founded on strong principles and values that have gone to hell in a hand basket. There are no more Walter Cronkites reporting the news. There are no more “honest” Abraham Lincolns running for President. We are told lies, we vote for the lesser of two evils. Something really has to change. The truth is a fundamental and necessary value that is lacking everywhere you turn today. Let’s get back to it…the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Friends and Politics...

Well another four years have rolled around and it’s down to the wire with the Presidential election. Everyone is digging in their heels for their candidate, the guy who is going to make things better for all of us. We all want the same thing, to see our country grow and thrive. A chicken in every pot and a roof over everyone’s head. Prosperity. We want peace in the world and for countries with long standing, historical differences to get along, but ironically as friends, we can’t even get along. There is unfriending and blocking and distancing going on all over the social media because people cannot just agree to disagree. Few can respect another’s right to have their own opinion. It’s a shame.

Let me tell you about my Republican friends. As I look at my friend list I can tell you that they are intelligent people; passionate about their views; religious in their beliefs; compassionate and caring souls; well intentioned; and most of the time I forget they we are on opposite side of the political forum. As for my Democratic friends, they are equally intelligent, passionate and caring people who would drop whatever they are doing to help someone in need. When there is no election, you can hardly tell the two groups apart. But every four years we have to decide on a new leader and politics can be a very divisive force, if you let it.

In the 2008 election there was quite a bit of division among my friends. It was pretty bad. I am not one to censor anyone or tell them how or what they should believe. I don’t take politics personally, it’s just a subject to discuss and debate. Some people do take it personally to the point of giving up friends and arguing with loved ones. It makes no sense to me. But there is one experience I had in 2008 that I would like to tell you about.

Back in May, 2008 I had a friend that I had met online in a forum designed to discuss American Idol. I was new to the forum, she was not. Someone there insulted her daughter in vulgar terms and no one in the forum would come to her aid or defense, but I did. I had two daughters that were around her daughter’s age and I knew how hurt she was. From that point on, we became friends. We chatted everyday. We even met in the city when she came for a visit with her daughter. I brought my daughters and we all had dinner. Then the election rolled around. We didn’t see eye to eye on anything, but I just took it for granted that it wouldn’t impact the friendship at all. So, when she mentioned that she was having some difficulty getting financial aid for her daughter’s last year of college, I immediately began doing research trying to find viable options for her. As I was scouring the internet for solutions to her problem, she was trying to organize “a posse” of our mutual friends to confront me about my political views. One Monday morning she appears online and types I need to talk to you. I am thinking it’s about her financial situation regarding tuition and I was prepared to help. But no, it had nothing to do with that. She had been sending out literally hundreds of emails over the weekend, trying to get people to join forces with her over my political views and posts. To say I was blindsided is to put it mildly. She aggressively ranted in IM, and I sat quietly, taking it all in. My brain could not comprehend what was happening. I was hurt, disappointed and angry. I felt totally betrayed. But, I didn’t lash out. I sat and thought about it. I questioned a couple of people to be sure I had come to the right conclusions about what had transpired. I felt like a fool. All the while I was trying to help her, she was trying to throw me under the bus with other friends; how does someone do this who calls you a friend? I thought about it for about four days. The trust was shattered, so what was left of the “friendship?” I decided to write her a long email telling her exactly what I thought of her. I told her that her definition of friendship and my definition were very different. I terminated the relationship, but really it never existed. She wasn’t who I thought she was, she was a real backstabber. She totally disregarded every good thing about me and focused 100% on my political views. To her that was all that mattered.

Politics addresses some very important issues that we all care about. We all have the same goal in mind, we want the same outcome for the country and its citizens. We just have different ideas of how to achieve these goals. In the end, no matter how each of us votes, it isn’t going to change who gets elected, is it? I live in a state that always votes democratic. If I lived in a swing state, my husband’s vote would cancel mine out. Either way, I have no significant impact on the election. How many of us do? Is it worth losing good friends over it? Is it worth creating hard feelings between loved ones? For me the answer is a clear and simple: no. Relationships should be built on what we have in common and not destroyed by our differences. Elections come and go. Good friends are hard to find and keep. If you have them, cherish them. And, may the best man win.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pilgrims & Native Americans Or Republicans & Democrats?

Last night I went to sleep and suffered from a terrible case of indigestion that I am blaming on the huge, rich apple cobbler cupcake, from Crumb bakery, I had at 3:30 pm yesterday afternoon. I was sleeping off and on and had a dream that makes it clear to me that I have been spending too much time reading about politics.

This morning I was reminded of my older daughter, when she was five years old and in kindergarten. We were sitting at the dinner table one night, and it was just a few weeks before the Presidential election of 1992. She asked my husband and I who we were voting for. I know I said Clinton, I think he may have too. My daughter burst out into tears, saying, “I don’t want President Bush to lose the election!” That convinced me she was going to grow up to be another Alex Keaton (from the show Family Ties), 100% Republican. However, two years later, when she was in second grade and seven years old, she came home to find new curtains on the windows. She was dismayed to say the least. “Why did you buy new curtains, the old ones were fine?” I answered because I wanted to change them, I answered. “Well do you know how many people are homeless? You could have given them the money you spent on curtains; after all we have a house!” Then I was convinced that my daughter had crossed party lines and was now a democrat. Funny what a couple of years can do.

Which takes me to my dream. Last night in the mist of tossing and turning, I dreamt about the Pilgrims and Native Americans (formerly known as Indians). It was clear, in my dream, that they were the first Republicans and Democrats. It’s a simplistic analogy born of the pains of indigestion, loss of sleep and too much reading. The Pilgrims were upset with the BIG government in England, which was trying to tell them what they should and should not believe in. The Pilgrims wanted religious freedom. Of course no one liked it that King George was also raising taxes and trying to control and punish those who disagreed with his official opinions. So, in 1620 they hopped on the Mayflower to come to America. They arrived tired, poor and weary, but there was no Statue of Liberty to welcome them, just a big old Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. The Pilgrims were down on their luck and struggling. The cold winter froze the housing market. Half the Pilgrims died because they ran out of medicine and had no health insurance. They made up the 47% of the Plymouth colony.

One day, in the early spring of 1621, a Native American “Democrat” named, Samoset, came to visit the colony. He spoke some English and offered his friendship. He could have told the Pilgrims, the land is bountiful, use your God given ingenuity and make it work for you. Instead he offered his help, which the Pilgrims were in no position to refuse. He educated the Pilgrims about the people and places in their new homeland. He introduced them to other Native Americans, like Squanto, who also spoke English. The Native American “Democrats” taught the Pilgrim “Republicans” how to fish, fertilize the soil, hunt and plant crops. He taught them which plants were safe to eat.  The Pilgrims didn’t even need Pell Grants for their rustic education; the Native Americans helped them all free of charge…much like today’s so called “handouts.” By November of 1621, the Pilgrims prospered with a plentiful crop, thanks to the help of the Native Americans. They planned a large feast, called the first Thanksgiving. The Republican Pilgrims said a very long prayer thanking God for His blessings and thanking Him for bringing them Squanto, the American Native "Democrat," who they said was God’s instrument and “saved them from hunger.”

If you don’t get my analogy, it’s ok. I had to explain it to my husband a time or two. If you do get it, I hope it made you laugh. It got me through the night and I wanted to share it this morning. Have a great day!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Mother's Wedding Band...

I’ve probably written before how my mother and father were first cousins and they married through the conspiring match making of her mother and his father. My mother was 36 at the time, my father 30. She lived in Brooklyn, he lived in Sicily. They had never met. My grandmother eventually convinced my mother to meet him and they took a trip to Sicily, where they married three weeks after their arrival. The rest is history.

However, I am not sure if they exchanged rings during their wedding ceremony. My father was a laborer and never wore a ring until after he retired. I don’t know if he bought it here or it was saved from the wedding. My mother never wore a gold band, as far back as I can remember, but she did have a wedding band. This wedding band was the only one I ever remember her wearing and she rarely took it off. This wedding band of eight small, 6 point diamonds, that was set in platinum, was the only one I ever saw on her finger. She loved that ring and with it came a story.

I don’t know how many times I heard the story of the ring, but enough times for me to still remember the details. Some time, while my brother and I were still toddlers, in the early years of her marriage, my mother went out to buy herself that ring. Apparently, what she had been wearing, if anything, wasn’t what she wanted. I guess if you wait till 36 to get married, you should have a ring you love. So she went to find herself one, and she did.

When she came home with the ring, my father was upset. I think the ring cost her a little over $200. My father told her she was taking the food out of our mouths by buying that ring. That upset my mother to no end and I’m sure she let him know it. You see, when my father came here he “didn’t have a pot to piss in” according to my mother. She had to even go out and buy him underwear! Before he was even in the picture, she had helped pay off her mother’s house with two of her siblings and bought and sold a couple of houses on her own, making a profit. She also worked for many years in a factory and saved her money. She was the one with savings! So when my father took issue with the ring…she took issue with him. Unfortunately, instead of the ring having a happy memory attached to it, it now had this story.

I can’t tell you how many times my mother described the ring to us. This ring has eight, six point diamonds in it and it’s set in “platinum.” We didn’t know what platinum was, but learned it was more valuable than gold. As proud and happy my mother was of that ring, what she said she really had heart set on was a one carat diamond ring. She always lamented about the fact she never had one. I wish she had gotten herself one, but she probably felt it cost too much money.

When I got engaged, my husband didn’t have a ring to present to me, and it was just as well. After hearing my mother’s story all through the years, I knew what kind of engagement ring I wanted. I told him we would go pick it out together, and I’m sure he was relieved at not having to make that decision on his own. A friend of mine knew a jeweler who sold rings on the side at a much lower price. I spoke to him on the phone and told him specifically what I wanted: a one carat, high quality diamond, in a platinum setting with a matching platinum wedding band. The jeweler brought a few settings with him for our meeting a beautiful diamond stone. We picked out the setting and had the rings made. Later I had them appraised and I did get a very good deal on them.

I’ve worn my engagement ring over 30 years now, the wedding band 29. I’ve never had to lament about my ring to my daughters, and tell them I wished I had a different stone or setting. I made sure they learned about platinum. I hope one day, when they get engaged, they each get the ring of their dreams. 

Today, my mother's wedding band sits in my jewelry box, along with other heirloom pieces, I will pass down to my daughters. I can pass down the ring, but not the memories it holds. I love that ring because when I look at it, it takes me back to my childhood and memories of my mother, and I miss her so much.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

60th Wedding Anniversary In Heaven

Today would have been my parents 60th wedding anniversary. Growing up it seemed their anniversary meant more to my brother and I, then it ever meant to them. My parents never celebrated their anniversary. It was just another day on the calendar. But my brother and I, from the time we were old enough, would always get them a gift to mark the occasion. I don’t know why. Maybe we were creating an illusion for ourselves.

My parents were not a happy couple. In fact they fought quite a bit. They were almost like Frank and Marie on Everybody Loves Raymond, except their fights were real. Some of their arguments were pretty bad and over such trivial things that I couldn’t even tell you what they were about. I think they were just incompatible or maybe my mother was just impossible to please.

My mother grew up with an alcoholic father who would come home drunk many nights and beat her mother. This is the “model” of marriage she had. My mother married my father, her first cousin, in a prearranged marriage that took place in Sicily. When my father got his papers together eight months later, he came to America to live with my mother and grandmother till he could get a job and a place of their own. Right in the beginning they had had an argument. My mother used to tell the story all the time of how my father raised his hand to her and she told him off. She told him if he ever hit her it would be the end. Then she went to tell her mother about it. No way was my mother going to be abused like she witnessed her mother being abused. And it never happened again either. 

I remember there were lots of arguments. They never seemed to get along very long. There was a stark contrast between the times of “war” and “peace.” When things were good, they were very good and when they were bad it was horrible. Once I heard my mother mention the word “divorce” and it made me sick. My father had no where to go if they ever split up. I was always afraid he would go back to his family in Sicily and we would never see him again. Even if he didn’t go back home, he’d have to move out into his own place. I worried, but needlessly, because they never did anything but talk about it. It taught me a lesson to make sure I knew who I was marrying well enough to know I could spend the rest of my life with him and never to subject my own children to loud, angry arguments.

My mother always put my father down. He could never do anything good enough to make her happy. I never understood it because even though he worked hard in construction all day in all kinds of weather, he would do the dinner dishes every night. On the weekends he would mop the floors, do some shopping, and help out wherever he could around our small apartment. He never had to be told or ask, he just did things that needed to be done. You would think my mother would have appreciated that about him, but she didn’t. And still they stayed together till my father died in 2000 just before their 48th anniversary.

I remember once my mother said to me, “Your father is a good man.” It was just that one time. I thought to myself, at least she knows it…deep down she realizes he is a good man. Too bad he couldn’t have heard it, even if it was just one time in 48 years.

Robin Roberts Battles Illness…

I haven’t watched Robin Roberts, 51, too many times on television, but the times I have she comes across as a beautiful, intelligent, compassionate human being. She is a featured reporter/co-anchor on Good Morning America. I have heard her talk about her battle with breast cancer and how she fought and survived. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She shaved her head and wore a wig on GMA, not to distract viewers from the show. This ordeal lasted from July 2007 to March 2008. 

Robin Williams was a 5 year cancer survivor by June 2012, but announced on the show that she was diagnosed with another very serious immune disease called MDS or myleodyplastic syndrome. This is a rare blood and bone marrow disorder. I saw her announce the news on GMA and saw the fear in her eyes and heard the quiver in her voice as she announced she would be leaving the show to fight yet another battle for her life. She put on a brave front, but inside she had to be scared to death. Robin’s sister, Sally-Ann, fortunately was a perfect match for the bone marrow transplant she would need as part of her treatment. Robin began her leave from GMA on August 30th, 2012 to prepare for her bone marrow transplant and to care for her mother. Her mother died a few hours after Robin began her medical leave. Robin delayed treatment to attend her mother’s funeral. 

“I find great comfort in knowing my mother lived an amazing life,” Roberts said in her blog. “To help me deal with my immense grief my family tells me momma gave me one final gift as her last act. She waited for me to get home on Thursday to say goodbye. She was there when I took my first breath and what a privilege to hold her sweet hand when she took her last breath...Momma knew she wasn't physically able to be with me for my bone marrow transplant. My siblings say mom wanted to spare me the agony it would have been if she had passed and I couldn't be there,” Roberts continued. "That thought was weighing heavily on me.”

Robin Roberts has a blog where she is chronicling her “Journey” with this latest battle for her life. Robin has had to undo chemotherapy before the bone marrow transplant and it’s taken it’s toll on her. I came across an article which quoted from the journal. Robin says to readers, “the daily chemo/treatment caught up to me by the weekend. My body is so weak but not my mind. YOU give me the courage to keep going.” 

I can’t helped but be touched by Robin’s story as it plays out in the media. She has had to fight not one, but two life threatening diseases.  Her story, her determination, is inspiring. So many people are going through their own difficult journeys right now. People I know and care for are fighting one medical condition or another. Where do we find the strength and courage to go on against all odds? From our faith? From the love, support and prayers of family and friends? From our own inner strength? I just don’t know. If I had to guess I would have to say it’s a combination of all of that plus our will to live.

Robin Roberts is a remarkable and inspiring human being who is stronger than anyone should have to be. Even at her weakest point she is writing to thank others for their prayers and encouragement. Her mind is strong. The mind can work wonders on the body. I pray for Robin and for all those fighting their own battles, that they come out the other side whole and healthy. 

May God watch over you and Bless you Robin Roberts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mitt Romney’s Father, George, On Welfare?

Yes, Mitt Romney’s father was a welfare recipient and, according to his son, Mitt, he was part of the 47% of the people who considered himself a victim entitled to government help. Can you imagine that? I wonder what his mom would say if she could hear her son belittle people who are poor, unemployed and down on their luck? His dad was one of those poor welfare recipients. Interesting.

George Romney was born in Mexico to American parents. Mitt Romney’s grandparents were Mormon and left the United States to practice polygamy, because it was illegal here. His grandfather is reported to have five wives, but his grandson, Mitt Romney, is a strong believer in “traditional” marriage. George Romney escaped from Mexico to return to the United States and, as a “refugee” from Mexico, he benefited from a “refugee fund” passed by Congress. It’s interesting to note that despite what Romney has to say about government handouts to people who DO NOT want to work, his father accepted handouts and then went on to start a very successful business. Don’t other people deserve the same kind of “help?” Not according to Mitt Romney's speech to rich campaign donors ($50,000 a plate.)

Mitt Romney says that the government should not help people become successful or build businesses, they should do it on their own, without any government assistance. Yet, it was okay for his father to accept assistance and then go on to become successful? Does the word hypocrite come to mind? Why shouldn’t others get the same benefits and assistance that George Romney did; the assistance that helped him get back on his feet and become successful? After all some might say that even Mitt benefited from that help indirectly with his private education and first house paid for by dear old dad.

You know, many of us or our loved ones have had to take some kind of government assistance at one time or another. My father worked in construction, as a laborer. You will never on this earth find a man who worked harder for the money he made. He went to work sick, as long as there was work. But he worked outdoors. Certain weather conditions made it impossible for him to work. Cement would freeze in winter. Sometimes there was no work, but he checked with the union every day. So my father had to go on unemployment many weeks out of the year, not because he wanted to, but because he had to, to support his family. He paid into the system and when he needed it he collected benefits. I would never look down on my father for accepting unemployment. It wasn’t by choice that he did. When I listen to the insulting remarks of Mitt Romney it makes me sick to think he is talking about my father. In fact, right now it brings tears to my eyes. And now I learn that his own father accepted assistance. If he has no regard for his own father, how could he, why would he, have any for mine or the many men and women who would rather work than be on assistance of any kind?

Mitt Romney comes across as cruel and heartless. He doesn’t know what it is to be poor and and to go without. He is out of touch with the majority of Americans, even those who intend to vote for him. How they chose to ignore that is beyond me. What more is there to say?

If you want to hear Mitt’s dear own mother talk about welfare, I’ve posted the video for you. Not sure she would vote for her own son. Also I came across about bit of irony, when asked for his tax returns, George Romney immediately provided 12 years disclosure saying: "one year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show, and what mattered in personal finance was how a man conducted himself over the long haul." Mitt's father set the bar high for financial disclosure. Mitt Romney has only provided two tax returns.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kate Middleton Royal Victim of Paparazzi

Of course the first royal victim was Princess Diana. The paparazzi hounded her literally to death. Two young boys were left without a mother. The world lost a great humanitarian. When does it end? Where do we draw the line? Nothing was learned from that tragedy. Nothing is sacred.

Poor Prince William. First he has to endure the death of his beloved mother. There is no one to be punished. There is no crime committed. But his mother died racing away from relentless photographers in a car chase that ended her life in Paris. Now he has to deal with the invasion of his own privacy and more importantly, that of his wife, Kate Middleton. Kate’s nude pictures are in countless magazines and websites, worldwide. Now that we have the internet, images become globally viewed in an instant. The Italian magazine who got the pictures did a 26 page spread on all her pictures and promise to release even more. What is there to do?

It really disturbs me that this couple, who were in a very private location, alone on a huge estate, were able to be photographed, in their intimate moments, without their knowledge and consent. There are still no laws on the books making this a crime? Maybe because it mainly affects the rich and famous, no one cares enough to do something about it?

It’s one thing if a celebrity is making an ass out of themselves in public and another when they are in, what they believe is a private location. What kind of zoom lens have they created and to what distance can they take pictures of unsuspecting subjects? It really is disturbing to me the lengths they will go to, to get the most embarrassing pictures possible to publish.

I’m not sure what anyone can do to prevent this from happening in the future or what laws can be passed to punish photographers who invade people’s privacy. I suppose if you just take off your clothes in your own house, with the drapes fully drawn, you might be safe. I guess the Royal family can hired people to remove the images of Kate from the internet. But that’s small consolation because they are so widespread in distribution that they will always and forever be out there. They are probably saved in thousands of computers across th world. If Kate becomes Queen of England one day, they will certainly resurface. If she has a baby, you can bet that next to her picture with the infant there will be her nude picture. It’s disgusting. She will have this hanging over her head for the rest of her life. She will have to explain it to her children. She has no choice really in the matter. If she doesn’t, surely they will find out on their own or through friends.

Just what we needed too, more tension in Europe between England and Italy and France.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dr. Phil “Talks” To Dina Lohan

The previews were a train wreck! I had to tune in. I have always blamed Dina for the state of affairs Lindsay is in today. Now Dr. Phil wants to see what part her parents played in her troubles. Dina has four children. She has the nerve to talk about her husband’s issues, let’s see what she reveals about herself. Good luck understanding this because much of it is incoherent, thanks to Dina.

Dr. Phil starts the private interview. She has never had an in-depth interview about who she is. He wants to give her a chance to tell people who she really is.  She went to NYU and was a dancer major. She wants to cut the filming before they even get started…she is fascinated with the cameras. She says she feels like she is on a date with Dr. Phil. She talks about her ex-husband Michael, he was a nice guy, he was a trader in the stock exchange. She got pregnant a week after her honeymoon. She had doubts the day of her wedding of whether she should have gone through with the marriage. She says he was never abusive before the marriage, but the abuse started during the honeymoon. He threw a Bible at her head. She didn’t expect the abuse to continue. They were married 19 years, but only together 7 years. He was in jail for insider trading. She was physically abused while she was pregnant. Dr. Phil wants to know why she had three more children with him. Dr. Phil reports Michael says he only hit her one time and everything else she said was fabricated. She says he is lying. She asks to stop the filming again. Dr. Phil brings up the time Michael came to her house and forced his way in. How did he get in the house? She says he broke in. It was a nightmare. Everything happened so fast she couldn’t call for help. She wants to go home now. Dr. Phil says do what you want to do. He thinks she needs to talk about it. She finds it hard to talk about horrific situations. He asks what does she want to talk about? She says whatever is on his list. He asks how Michael's abuse affected Lindsay? She says he never mentions their other three children. He says she uses Lindsay financially for money. Dr. Phil is getting frustrated, she says wants to set the record straight and now she doesn’t want to talk about anything, she is reaching for words she doesn’t even know the meaning of. She says she is being scrutinized by "you people." Dr. Phil takes offense, he can’t understand what she is saying. Now she says she is guarded. He wants to know why she is there? She isn’t speaking the way she normally would.

Why are you here?, says Dr. Phil. She says are we rolling? He wants to ask questions and have her answer them honestly. She is obsessed with the cameras and that’s all she talks about, not her life. Dr. Phil says she is dodging questions and deflects everything. He says she knows the cameras are on, she is stalling, dodging his questions. It’s all a fraud. She has made herself look phony and inauthentic and that doesn’t show who she really is. He just wants an honest answer to his questions, he provides a safe place for people to talk about their feelings. He says she is flitting around, she says it’s not true. So far I have watched 25 minutes of the show and nothing has been answered and she is barely coherent. She doesn’t want to talk about the hard things. He says why are we here, she answers I don’t know.

He says so we’re done, there is nothing to talk about. She says he is in his "little tie and little shoes." He says what the hell does that mean? He says she was abused on her honeymoon, when she was pregnant and she went back and had 3 more children, why? She thought he changed. He didn’t want to go to counseling with her. He is going to read off some things from a card that Michael told them and she can respond. She never worked, she collected 20% of Lindsay’s money for managing her. He says she collected welfare while he was in jail even though his family supported her. She says they did not. He says she took money and commissions from Lindsay by lying to her. She denies all Michael’s lies. Dr. Phil says Lindsay has made some bad decisions because she started in show business at a young age. How much of Lindsay’s problems did Dina learn from the media? She says she had to read it and cry about it. They go through the list of Lindsay’s problems. She keeps talking over Dr. Phil. She says if Lindsay was in New York five of those things wouldn’t be on the list. People are under a microscope in LA. Dr. Phil is more frustrated.

They discuss alcoholism and addiction in their family. He asks if she is going to be okay.

Now Dr. Phil wants to get Michael’s side of the events. He wants him to have an opportunity to respond. She said Michael looks at Lindsay like the goose that lays the golden egg. He says it’s Dina that goes after her money. Dina says he is a drug user, he says yes before they got married, he doesn’t drink and do drugs. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, he says of Dina. Dr. Phil plays the tape. Michaels says she deflected every question Dr. Phil asked. He says one time he came home late and she hit him with an ice tray and he hit her back, that one time. Dr. Phil says Dina doesn’t take any blame at all for Lindsay’s addictions. He asks what he thinks of Dina’s behavior? He says she need an intervention and a rehab. He is concerned about her influence on the children.

There is another woman on the show who is saying he is the father of Ashley Ann, her daughter. He has never acknowledged his daughter. She was married and had an affair with Michael. She had her husband take a paternity test and he wasn’t the father. The woman wanted him to know that Ashley was his child. Michael never had a paternity test done, but believed she was his daughter. When she wants child support, Michael denies the child is his. Ashley has never met Michael. They play a tape of Ashley for him, she just wants the truth, she doesn’t want to be part of his life. Now that she sees who he is she doesn’t want anything to do with him, but she wants to know if he is her father. He says he will take the test and give her the answer she is looking for.

Now the show is over and I have an enormous headache. A waste of an hour, but I was compelled to watch. Nothing was accomplished except the paternity test for Ashley…maybe…because Michael is also a liar! Then Dr. Phil comes back and says Michael will do the paternity test IF it is done on television. Ashley wants it done privately. Who knows if it will ever really get done. Poor Lindsay Lohan, what chance did she have with parents like these two?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wicked…A Story of Friendship!

After years of wanting to see the Broadway show “Wicked,” we finally got tickets thanks to AARP! They offered half priced tickets for two weeks, bringing the price down from $300 a seat to $150. I couldn’t resist. It’s been ages since we have seen a Broadway show, and my husband wanted to take me on my birthday last month, but I could not see spending $600 for two seats for three hours of entertainment. That’s why, when this offer popped up, I couldn’t resist. And I loved the show! I think it was worth every penny of the half priced orchestra seats. It was nothing short of spectacular.

Now for the story…so if you plan to read the books or see the play there will be only spoilers coming. Of course, the play is much better than my synopsis!

So after years of watching the Wizard of Oz we have a prequel to explain the history of the witches, Glinda (the Good Witch) and Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West). The “girls” meet at a private boarding school and are as different as night and day. Glinda is shallow, popular, obsessed with her gorgeous looks and Elphaba is green, plain looking and intelligent. They loathe each other. But, through Glinda’s self absorbed need for attention, she manages to unknowingly “volunteer” become roommates with Elphaba, much to both of their disgust. When everyone begins teasing Elphaba, the make her angry and a great wind blows through the school. The head mistress realizes that she has special powers and offers to privately tutor her in sorcery so that one day she can work with the Wizard. Glinda had aspirations of learning sorcery too, but she did not demonstrate the same potential. She has a hissy fit for not getting her way.

A little background. Elphaba’s mother had an affair with a man who gave her a green potion to drink. She becomes pregnant and the baby is born green. Her “father,” the mayor of Oz, hates her and she is mistreated and abused by all who know her. Her mother has a second daughter who is confined to a wheelchair and Elphaba takes care of her because their mother died in childbirth. The only reason Elphaba is being sent to the private school is to look after her younger sister, Nessarose. However, the head mistress says she will care for Nessarose in her own quarters and Elphaba will room with Glinda.

A big dance is coming up at the school. Glinda already zeroes in on the school hunk, Fiyero, a prince. Elphaba knows she will not get a date because everyone finds her repulsive. However, one of the munchkins has fallen head over heels in love with Glinda. To get rid of this pest, she tells him she needs a “hero” to ask Nessarose to the dance, and of course, he jumps this chance to score points with Glinda. Nessarose is thrilled and tells Elphaba not to say any more unkind things about Glinda. Elphaba, seeing her sister so happy, tells the head mistress she will not take the sorcery course unless Glinda is also allowed to do so. Reluctantly the head mistress goes to Glinda and presents her with a wand, telling her Elphaba insisted she be included.

When the girls meet back in their room, Glinda is touched at Elphaba’s generosity and decides to give her a makeover. There is only so much she can do. She loosens the braids in her hair and adds a little hair clip. She put’s lipstick on her lips and teaches her how to coyly toss her hair. Of course she can’t change the color of her skin. From that point on the two become close friends. So that when the head mistress tells Elphaba she is going to see the Wizard, Elphaba takes Glinda along with her.

At the castle, the mild mannered wizard appears. He wants Elphaba to try a spell from his book. He tells her his monkey loves birds and wants him to fly. He doesn’t tell her he has dozens of monkeys behind the curtain. Elphaba casts the spell and the monkey grows wings. The wizard then shows her all the other monkeys have wings. However, he is keeping them in captivity and that makes Elphaba angry. She is very pro animal rights. She leaves with the book of spells by casting a spell on the broom and defying gravity. Glinda remains with the wizard and Elphaba is declared the Wicked Witch because she knows too much.

Meanwhile, Glinda proclaims herself engaged to Fiyero, who is secretly in love with Elphaba. He has never stopped searching for Elphaba, who finally shows up seeking help from her Father. Nessarose tells her he has died and she is now the Governor of Oz. Nessarose is very unhappy. She accuses Elphaba of helping everyone but her with her new powers. Elphaba opens the book and casts a spell which allows Nessarose to walk. Nessarose is still unhappy and Elphaba realizes she could never please her. Elphaba goes to the wizard’s castle to release all the winged monkeys. She runs into Fiyero there and they runaway together. After a supposed night of love making, Elphaba gets a strange feeling that her sister is in serious trouble and she must go to her. She discovers her sister is dead because a house fell on her. And, what’s worse, her shoes (the ruby slippers) are gone! She is very upset. Little does she know the head mistress and wizard had something to do with the demise of her sister in order to lure her back to OZ. And rumors have been circulating that she is so wicked would melt if she comes in contact with water.

Elphaba returns to the castle and is holding Dorothy captive in order to get her sister’s slippers. Glinda goes to her to try to talk her into releasing her. They realize how each of them has helped the other grow and become a better person. They say good bye. Elphaba gives Glinda the book of spells. Dorothy throws water on the Wicked Witch, who appears to melt. However, she doesn’t really melt. She escapes to a prearranged destination, Fiyero’s castle, where they live happily ever after and no one knows where they’ve gone.

I loved the play and have left out many, many things. I hope you get to see it one day as a play or movie, or even read the books. I am planning to read the books now myself because I am sure so much had to be left out of the play!

Song from finale:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Luxury Resort Hotels…Vacation Part 2

Loew's Royal Pacific Resort

Well to continue with our little family vacation I am going to report on luxury hotels. We stayed at the Lowe’s Royal Pacific Resort, a 4 star hotel, on the property of Universal Studios, for convenience. The theme of this hotel was Hawaii and, when we got there, a man came running out to give us each a lei. Very nice touch! At the front desk, they asked my husband if he wanted a complimentary newspaper delivered every morning and he said yes. Check in went very smoothly and all our questions were answered about park tickets and express passes to the parks.

We go up to our room, with two queen beds, and I find the room is very small with barely enough room to walk around the beds. A table and two chairs crammed into a corner that could hardly accommodate them, let alone anyone who wanted to sit there. They were right up against the dresser so there wasn’t even room to maneuver. I would have expected a larger room for the sake of comfort and luxury, which is what we are paying for.

On the dresser were four boxes of expensive “snacks,” clearly labeled by price ($10 for 3 ounces of cashews) and two $7 bottles of water, for our convenience. I was afraid to use the Keurig coffee maker because it didn’t specify if it was complimentary or $10 a cup. I didn’t want to ask the concierge and look like a pauper either.

It seems that luxury hotels charge guests for everything. They nickel and dime you every step along the way. Nothing is a courtesy. For example, for me to make a local phone call to arrange for transportation back to the airport, they charge $1. My husband ordered a turkey club sandwich at the pool which was priced at $15, AND the bread wasn’t even fresh! He told me that at the end, so I couldn’t very well complain about it, but I did remember to put it in my survey comments. The wifi in the lobby was free, but in your room you would have to pay $10 a day for the privilege to use it there. Let me just say that the room was about $300 a night, so I would have expected some of these things to be gratuitous. I guess rich people don’t care how they spend their money, but we do. Ordinarily we would have stayed at a more spacious, wifi and local calls for free Holiday Inn, but we wanted the close proximity to the parks since we only had four days. Holiday Inn also provides less expensive meals and they are just as good. An all you can eat breakfast buffet at this place costs $20 a person. I ordered from the menu instead and got two eggs, toast, bacon and potatoes with coffee for $10...which I considered a bargain. Breakfast for four, without the buffet, ran us about $65 with tax and tip. I think that’s a lot of money for eggs, but we haven’t had a vacation in a long, long time. I tried not to let getting royally ripped off bother me too much.

We never did get the complimentary newspaper every morning either. My husband went to the lobby every day and got it himself. No big deal. The hotel advertises several dining rooms, but because of the low occupancy this week, they neglected to inform us they would not all be open regular hours. We accommodated this inconvenience by eating at the parks before returning to the hotel for the evening. The Hard Rock Café, the larger, closer to the parks, more expensive resort, had a more varied and reasonably priced menu. It was situated where we board the water taxi to get back to our hotel. We took advantage to that to have our dinner there.

There have only been maybe three times that we took the extravagant route with luxury hotels. The first time was on our honeymoon in Hawaii. I remember a little balcony outside our room with an ocean view and we watched the sunset as we had cocktails. They served every meal with sweet, delicious pineapple too. They provided bath robes and all kinds of amenities that I wasn’t expecting. The second time was in Cape Cod for our 25th anniversary. The room had a Jacuzzi in it, a fireplace and canopy bed. It was spacious and beautiful. The only thing I could complain about is that we were in a rush to leave at the end of our stay and my toasted English muffin took over 45 minutes to get to me. The reason being that our server took off for an emergency and they did not replace him or let us know until I started complaining. Of course they didn’t charge us for breakfast, but they ended my little trip on a sour note. And this last time, at Universal, we decided to go with luxury and convenience.  All in all, I don’t think luxury hotels are worth it, even if you can afford to throw good money away.

We all have dreamed of being rich and staying at expensive hotels and eating at the finest restaurants. I’m not so sure we would be happy. It sounds good on the face of it. They want you to feel like you are getting pampered and your every need is being met. I’m not used to my every need being met so I wouldn’t know how to use these places to my advantage. What I am used to is getting what I paid for and not being made a fool of. When I see $15 for a turkey club sandwich, I think this is outrageous! Unless of course, they just went out and shot the turkey that morning, roasted it all day and carved it up to put in some nice, homemade, freshly baked bread. Then, in that case, $15 would be more than reasonable. When your whole hotel is wired for wifi and I have to pay $10 a day to use it in a small room that costs $300 a day already, then I don’t feel pampered, I feel screwed. Just make the room $310 and throw in the damn wifi, would ya?

I really think Holiday Inn gets you the best bang for your buck and I have yet to leave one of their hotels dissatisfied or feeling robbed.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while. I miss it. As you all know, my younger daughter graduated in May and then studied two and a half months for her state licensing exam, which she passed at the end of July. I wanted to take a family vacation, but I needed to wait until after the exam. I came across this “package” to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure in early August. We had been there over ten years ago, before they added Islands of Adventure. My daughter had said she would like to go there and I wanted to make her happy, she deserved it. The package was for 5 days and 4 nights at a resort hotel (another blog on this will follow) on the premises of the park. Everything, except food, was included Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure. We all needed to get away, and away we went.

The week of Labor Day is a very slow travel week. Airports, hotels, and even the theme parks were virtually empty. I know it’s because school is open, but things pick up again next week, so I’m not sure why, because school is still open. Never-the-less, we lucked out because it was convenient for us and there were virtually no lines on any of the attractions. We saw everything two or three times in both parks and had time to enjoy the pool at the hotel. If you go there during this week, you only need two days to see both parks. They are not nearly as big as Disney World. 

At Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, there are quite a few 3D motion simulator rides. I really enjoyed those for the most part. The 3D animations have improved so much since the last time I was out there. We went on a Simpson ride and you actually feel like you are on an episode of the show! The motion simulator car you ride in makes it feel like you are on a roller coaster. It’s amazing what they can do to make you feel like you are going up or dropping. Since I can’t tolerate real roller coasters any more, this was the same kind of experience without the motion sickness afterwards. There were about three of the outrageous roller coasters that do loops and turn you upside down, but we skipped those. My younger daughter is the only one who can tolerate them and she didn’t want to go on them alone. I almost broke down and went on one with her, they were always my favorite, but the thought of feeling sick for hours in the hot humid sun made me think better of it.

At Islands of Adventure there is a Harry Potter section. It’s pretty impressive the way they designed the buildings. There was one ride there that was very popular. It was crowded and we waited until we got there early one day to go on. My husband and I decided not to try it. It sounded rougher than the other 3D motion simulator rides. There was a 30 minute wait. The girls went in and my husband and I found a cool spot to wait by the gift store. After 45 minutes we are expecting the girls to come out. Instead, a British woman passing by tells me the ride is broken and they don’t know when it will be fixed. I start to get a little panicked. The girls don’t have their phones because you have to check everything before getting on. After waiting a full hour, a woman from Ireland says 5 members of her family went on the ride an hour ago and haven’t come out. I told her neither have my girls. She proceeded to tell me this ride broke last year while her son was on it! I’m thinking what are the odds that this ride breaks twice while this woman from Ireland is at the park with her family??? It must breakdown quite a bit. I run around to the entrance to demand some answers. Are people on the ride and when will it be fixed. The guy tells me no one is on the ride and he has no idea when it will be fixed. I go back to my husband and the Irish lady and tell them what I learned. I console myself that the girls will use common sense and come out if it takes too long. Meanwhile, a lot of people are coming out in droves. They don’t want to wait around wasting their day with the uncertainty of the ride. After 75 minutes the Irish woman is reunited with her family of five, who tell her the ride is fixed. I am still a little anxious. Five minutes later both of my girls exit. They tell me they were near the front of the line when the ride broke down and were waiting for it to be fixed. That turned out the be a good decision, because that was the highlight of Islands of Adventure.

I have to say that many of the 3D rides had some very scary elements to them. I’m not sure too many young children would be happy, but I didn’t see anyone crying either. There was a flume ride and a white water raft ride that gets you soak and wet too. I never remember to pack shorts that will dry out quickly. We are always wearing denim and they never dry! All in all it was a great little getaway for the four of us. 

On the last day, as we leave to take the water taxi to the entrance of Universal, my younger daughter says to me, “Oh, I just realized it was MGM Studios that I wanted to go to.” My jaw dropped. MGM is connected with Disney World and is a whole other theme park. “You picked a fine time to mention that,” I reply. I was thinking that if she had maybe realized it sooner we could have taken transportation over to MGM for a day, since we had seen all of Universal. Not to mention the fact that I asked her more than once to look up Universal online and check out the attractions she wanted to see. Her response, “I want to be surprised.” So there you have it! Surprise!