Monday, June 8, 2015


Dear Readers,

Since it is summer and the the living is easy (easier), I will take a break* from these regularly scheduled blog posts until further notice.

All the best,

*Break:  interrupt (a continuity, sequence, or course). "The blog broke the pattern of weekly postings." synonyms:  interrupt, disturb, interfere with

Monday, June 1, 2015

Summer foods

 It's June! What's on your summer eating list?
Fruit?  Pie?

Heirloom tomatoes?

Lemonade?  Brats?


Corn on the cob?

 Cotton candy?


Or a French Rosé?

All I can say is, "Yes, please."  What about you?  Have I missed your favorite?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Memorial Day, rightly, makes us pause in gratitude and respect as we think about those who have given their lives for our country.  In fact, the day makes us think about war and the system of warfare in general.  Warfare has become the “normal” state of existence, which, to me, is one of the greatest tragedies of our civilized world.  Perhaps we could use this moment of consciousness to shift attention to the idea that without war, we’d have no need for national mourning let alone for a day set aside for such a sad purpose.  Crazy thoughts, indeed!  How would we ensure safety and security in a violent world without war – or at least without the threat of it?

Enter a new paradigm – peace.  Informed peace.  Peace meant to replace the militaristic systems that encourage war and ravage populations across time and geography.  Peace fostered and led by a new sort of international leader – women.  The Institute for Inclusive Security lays out a women-centered philosophy for peace-building, one that is gaining momentum across continents as more and more women refuse to stand by and watch their communities and families destroyed by senseless warfare.  Take a peek at their ideas here and see what you think about their stated mission to "change the international security paradigm [because] sustainable peace is possible only when those who shape policy include women and other affected groups in the prevention and transformation of violent conflict."

Monday, May 18, 2015

Flower Fun

Spring makes flower freaks out of the stodgiest of us.  Who doesn't love getting out and seeing these friendly dears pushing their ways out of the ground to cheer us?  But, can you name your posies?  Take a look at the virtual garden I've planted for you and name the azaleas, bleeding hearts, bluebells, crocuses, daffodils, forget-me-nots, hyacinths, irises, lilacs, lilies of the valley, peonies, and tulips.  Too bad these aren't scratch-and-sniff images!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stairways to Heaven

In pursuit of quality titles for my summer reading list, I stumbled upon image after image of book staircases.  Imagine!  Given that the average staircase has 12 steps, as of today, my imaginary staircase would sport these titles (in alphabetical order):  Beloved, Jane Eyre, Lolita, The Age of Innocence, The Awakening, The Bell Jar, The Color Purple, The Great Gatsby, The Handmaid's Tale, The Joy Luck Club, The Scarlet Letter, and The Sound and the Fury.  

If you really want to decorate your staircase thusly, here is a site that promises to help you duplicate any book spine for just $12 a riser.

Which 12 books would you choose for your own stairway to heaven?

Monday, May 4, 2015


Some of us are celebrating spring, others are celebrating new jobs, new babies, new loves, or new homes.  Here, for your reading pleasure, are ten quotes about the art of celebration.  Which is your favorite today?

1. "Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can."  – Danny Kaye 
2. "The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it."  – Richard Bach
3. "There is no security in this life. There is only opportunity."  – Douglas MacAurthur
4. "Life is what you celebrate. All of it. Even its end.” – Joanne Harris
5. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
6.  "All of life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better." – Ralph Waldo Emerson"
7. “Life is far too important to be taken seriously.” – Oscar Wilde
8. “One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” – Gerard Way
9. “Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied and joyous. That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor.” – Paul Hawken
10. "Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words." – Plautus


Monday, April 27, 2015

Gender Benders

What is gender, anyway? In the past few days alone, I stumbled upon some public and private evidence of people pondering this phenomenon. Of course there was the Bruce Jenner interview where he explained to Diane Sawyer that he "is a woman." I also noticed a book featured in the New York Times Book Review, "The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell," by William Klaber, which chronicles the real story of Miss Lobdell's mid-19th-century accounts of dressing like a man (much like Fanny Fern did in the same era). On a more private front, a dear friend of mine gleefully told me about a gender-bender camping trip he went on where males and females switched clothing for the weekend and then discussed why and how this affected them. Lastly, I heard from a childhood friend who was horrified that her son's elementary school was strongly attached to hosting father/daughter "princess" dances and mother/daughter bowling outings -- despite outcries of sexism and heterosexism. (My friend suggested that the dance be a princess/prince dance, but her suggestion was shut down due to "tradition.")

Seems like it's getting to be time to deeply discuss this socially-constructed category meant to define us . . . and limit us. Are times a'changing, my friends? Is it just me, or are there more instances calling for gender bending tolerance and revision both in the larger arena of the public media, and in the smaller arenas of our personal discussions?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cattle Day Care

Driving along rural roads in Mid-Missouri this time of year, I am awed by one of the world’s most pleasant sights – baby cows (which, from a distance, look like Chocolate Labradors scampering around the fields). All the cattle mothers are out lately, enjoying the spring weather with their very cute youngsters. 

When I first arrived in Missouri, I was amazed to hear that cattle actually utilize a clever form of day care. One or two cattle moms stay in one part of the grazing field watching over the herd’s calves. The other females are free to go off and graze or to sun themselves in the grass, coming and going to feed their littles as they please.  The mother cows rotate child-care duties so each cow gets a break, a rest, and time to graze. Ingenious! And, too adorable for words. What behaviors in animals amaze you? 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Thaw

Latuff, 2007

When I went to Cuba in 2010 as part of an American Association of University Women delegation, our group heard the same mantra over and over from every group that met with us – “Please end the blockade.”  We were to take this message (a message, I've come to agree with) back to anyone who might listen.  It was clear that the U.S. trade embargo, enacted in 1959 after Fidel Castro and his brother Raul led a revolution that toppled US-backed President Fulgencio Batista, had more than served its purpose. The Castros, of course, went on to establish a revolutionary socialist state with close ties to the Soviet Union, and the cold-war U.S. was, understandably, on high alert, especially after the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

But, as so many Cubans pointed out to us, 1959 is ancient history in today’s geopolitical arena.  There are countries that pose much greater economic and political threats to the U.S. than Cuba does, and we willingly trade and talk with them.  Why the long-standing cold shoulder?  It was more than punitive.  People in Cuba were suffering, and not just because they couldn’t buy new U.S. cars.  Not only could no U.S. business trade with Cuba, but the U.S. forbid any ship from any other country to dock in any Cuban port before entering the U.S.  Foreign trade ships who did work with Cuba were forced into a charade of stopping at another foreign port, however briefly, before entering U.S. waters in order to keep on our good side.  And Cubans paid the price of this double docking duty.  Anyone who traded with them (and who wished also to trade with the U.S.) had to charge them extra.  What a lot of rigmarole.  Not to mention being overly taxing to the current economy of this struggling country.

Havana, Cuba, 2010

Here’s the good news.  President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met at the 7th Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, and announced more progress toward the end of their differences.  The meeting marked the first formal talks between the two countries' leaders in more than half a century, and both leaders expressed hope for, as President Obama put it, “a new relationship between our two countries." 

Cuban President Raul, as expected, called for the lifting of the US economic blockade on Cuba and the country's removal from Washington's list of state sponsors of terrorism.  The Obama administration is expected to remove Cuba from the terrorism list in the coming days, something Latin American and Caribbean leaders welcomed as healing for the region.

The embargo, hopefully, will be the next item on Washington’s agenda. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Winner in My Book

I woke up tired yesterday morning. Happy, but tired. I’d stayed up much too late finishing a good book, and I know you understand how much fun that can be. Which book, you ask? None other than Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, which rightfully placed as a 2014 National Book Award Finalist.

What can I say about this marvel? I was captivated from page one, although I was ready not to be. The story of a blind girl. The story of a Nazi radio whiz. Show me, I thought, in deference to living in the stubborn state of Missouri. Show me how to make that sort of story, those sorts of characters, work.

Hats off to you, Mr. Doerr. Your book has indeed impressed this writer. The book starts at a fast clip and gallops along until the end. Short, tense, lovely chapters. Intriguing, well-portrayed characters. A good dose of history, too – the book details the post-D-day bombing of St.-Malo, France, and the beginning of the end of WWII. What’s not to love? I suggest you delve into this wonder as soon as you can. Even if you lose a little sleep, I bet you’ll be glad you did.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Puppy Kisses

Even though I’m definitely a cat person, I like dogs, too. They’re loyal and playful, loving and spontaneous. But, aside from puppy kisses, I have never been a fan of dog drool. Whether being sprayed by a shaking dog’s slobber or licked as a friendly dog’s greeting, I almost always have the same reaction – get me to a sink.

Don’t hate me for my fastidiousness, though. It seems I could be compromising my health compared to the likes of you who might share your ice cream cone with your favorite canine. Researchers from the University of Arizona and the University of California-San Diego suggest that canine saliva contains essential probiotics that can make dog-owning families healthier than non-dog-owning (and, therefore, non-canine-saliva-exposed) families. Apparently, a study is being readied to confirm these results, and to better understand the link between contact with dog saliva and the reduction of asthmatic, allergic and inflammatory symptoms.

So, go ahead and enjoy those puppy kisses. And, I will, too . . . while I wait and hope for a similar kitty-kiss study.

Monday, March 23, 2015


By, Jacky Fleming
To tickle your funny bone (or maybe to irritate it), I've gathered up a gaggle of feminist comics, by some amazingly creative artists, for your Monday musing. Which do you connect with most?

By, Judy Horacek

By, Tom Gauld

By, Barry Deutsch

By, Corinne Mucha

Monday, March 16, 2015


 I'm a little late in getting on this bandwagon, but I couldn't be more supportive of the recent #likeagirl campaign, started by Always, and exploding like fireworks all over social media.  For years, to be told that one does anything "like a girl" was the gravest of insults.  Why?  Because the phrase supported the stereotype that girls do everything less-well than boys . . . simply because they are girls.

Check out this YouTube Video that nicely explains this stereotype, and which gives us good role models and examples for changing society's ideas about gender roles, expectations and assumptions.  Then, spread the word and help chip away at this common form of sexism.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Words of Wisdom

Today, my friends, is International Women’s Day – the annual holiday to promote equal rights for women. While women have certainly come a long way (baby), there is still much work to be done to ensure that all women are treated as equals to men and that socialized gender inequality is addressed. In the spirit of the day, I offer sage wisdom from wise sages. 
Pick your favorite, please.

1. “Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity.” – Gandhi

2. “The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.” – Charles Malik

3. “We've begun to raise daughters more like sons . . . but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” – Gloria Steinem

4. “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

AND “A woman is like a tea bag – you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

5. “The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.” – Susan B. Anthony

6. “Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of a man at twice its natural size.” – Virginia Woolf

7. “Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights.” – Hillary Clinton

8. “I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.” – B. R. Ambedkar

9. “The question isn't who's going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

10. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.” – Alice Walker

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Worth Quoting

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a good quote.  

Today, for your reading pleasure, I present you with ten little wonders I’ve stumbled upon lately.  

Which one speaks to you?

1.  I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than closed by belief. – Gerry Spence

2.  Money often costs too much.  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

3.  If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; if you want to be happy, practice compassion.  – The 14th Dalai Lama

4.  Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.  I will meet you there.  – Rumi

5.  Fear is the cheapest room in the house.  I would like to see you living in better conditions.  – Hafiz

6.  Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.” – Kahlil Gibran

7.  Trying to satisfy one’s desires with possessions is like trying to put out fire with straw. – Confucius

8.  The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

9.  The winds of grace are always blowing, but it is you who must raise your sails. – Rabindranath Tagore

10.  What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action. – Meister Eckhart 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Props to Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore in "Still Alice"
Don’t you just love Julianne Moore?  Her portrayal of an Alzheimer’s sufferer in *Still Alice not only won her the best actress Oscar, but helped millions of people better understand this devastating disease and its effect on countless families. Many of us are watching or have watched loved ones wrestle with Alzheimer’s and know the pain and frustration involved in the sad process. In the film, Moore’s character, a superstar linguistic professor, delivers a talk about her experience with early-onset Alzheimer’s – particularly devastating to someone whose identity was wrapped up tightly with her brain’s ability to function. In the talk she says, “I’m not suffering. I’m struggling . . . struggling to be a part of things, to stay connected to whom I was once.”  To me, that line best seems to sum up the experience of Alzheimer’s patients and offers a clue about how we can more compassionately begin to understand the disease from the inside. Struggling to be a part of things, to stay connected to oneself. It’s all any of us really wants, isn’t it?  That, and others’ compassion when we’re a little “off.”  So, today, I join many of you in raising my glass in a lusty toast to Julianne Moore and everyone involved in Still Alice for shining such an insightful light onto this relevant issue. Cheers! And, Julianne, if you’re reading this (HA), congratulations from one of your many fans.

*Still Alice was directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland is based on the bestselling novel by Lisa Genova.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Snow Day!

It's a snow day here in Missouri!

There's something about snow days that bring out the kid in everyone -- a "free" day to spend shoveling, cooking, eating, playing.  Even though I've shared this beauty before, I must share it again.  Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins nails the essence of a snow day in his poem bearing the same title.  Enjoy!

Snow Day
By Billy Collins
Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,  
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,

and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,  
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.
But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news

that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—

the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School 
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School. 

So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.

And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting, 
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.

Billy Collins, “Snow Day” from Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (New York: Random House, 2001). Copyright © 2001 by Billy Collins.