Monday, June 26, 2017


I am thinking that there are several types of people when it comes to gifting for birthdays.

1. Those who do not want anyone to make a fuss and who only want time (at any time during the year) with those they love. (This is me.)
2. Those for who have everything and pretty much accept they will not get anything they need but remain gracious anyway.
3. Those who are clear about what they would like for their birthday. (Some are kind enough to give a range of items to cover financial boundaries.)
4. Those who want the same thing every year. (My hubby wants either an outdoors hike or a fishing trip.)
5. Those who would just like you to "fuhgeddaboutit."
6. Those who make an evaluation on what you gave them either in cost, time spent, or accurate targeting and therefore you have to give the gifting some thought.

My son-in-law is number 6, not in a cruel or mean and judgemental way. But if you hit the target he is effusive and if you do not he is mildly polite. He is also a blend with number 2 in that he can afford almost ANYTHING he wants and usually goes out and buys it the minute he tells you he wants it. In other words, he is hard to gift.

He and I have the love of theater and cinema in common, and this year the Smithsonian had a lecture (2 weeks before his birthday) with Ann Hornaday, the cinema critic for the Washington Post.  He was happy and loved the fact that I did not tell him what it was, and he loved the puzzle of spending an hour on his phone trying to find "happenings" in D.C. on that night while he was waiting for us to join him for dinner downtown.  (The night before he and my daughter attended the Bono concert in Virginia, so you can see the standards I was up against.)

He did not find the "event" via phone search because the Smithsonian lectures are not really geared to the Millenial demographic, so I told him what we were going to do at dinner.

The lecture was fun and she name-dropped everywhere, let us in on behind the scenes gossip and promoted her book which my son-in-law bought.

The additional cool part was that venue was in the Navy Memorial building.  I did not know it existed, had never been there, and now would like to return and explore the area another time.

This lecture ended while the night was still young, 

so we went out for $12.00 a plate desserts!

As you can see, the plates are MUCH larger than the desserts.  Not sure what the reasoning behind that was, but this town has people who make lots of money!

Hit a homerun this year.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Post Father's Day

Hubby, on the right a month after his knee surgery.
My husband's father's day was filled with activities and love and fun even though we did not leave the neighborhood and the heat was unbearable. We all get along these days, although our politics brought some tension in the past.  Thanks to Trump we are all on the same side.

I was not close to my father although I loved him very much.  I am sure that makes you raise one eyebrow.  My Dad was a quiet and reclusive man and when he lost his hearing in later years, that meant he was frustrated and talked to me even less.  So there is a small shadow hanging over Father's Day when I think of my Dad and my guilt.

My son has wanted for almost two years to become a father and it does not look like that is happening after spending money and going to the doctor.  They do not talk about it and there was some easing in that yesterday when they actually dropped a phrase or two about probably not having kids.  The day was packed with folks, so I did not poke and pry at that tender bit of news. I imagine this was a tough day for them, even though they work at spending time with my daughter's children.

My husband has a friend who was working hard at getting his life back together and starting a new tourist venture in the South Pacific.  He had nine children.  He was 44 and passed away last week from a sudden and totally unexpected heart attack.  That family is working hard at getting through Father's Day, I am confident.

I am sure that there are families that have perfect relationships and that had a love-filled holiday where everyone had lots of homemade food and were thankful when they sat down to eat, or shared a hole in one with their dad, or hiked a cool mountain trail with their dad, or even just shared a beer.  But there are lots of folks for whom this day is a bit of a trial and I raise a glass of wine to them.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Three Questions

When I peruse the Internet, it is to me very much like taking a tour around the world and getting to meet some of the smartest people on the planet, and it makes me count my blessings. As much as the Internet is criticized for being invasive, a time waster, a tool that keeps us from being face to face with others, like any new tool/toy/distraction/technology there are both good sides and bad sides to its existence and we are the deciders for how we use it.

As a child growing up I remember reading how television reduced families from talking to each other and introduced outside influences that interfered with parental ideals. Television was going to dissolve family life as we knew it--- the same television that let us see John Glenn on the moon, and saved me in grad school with Laugh In, and these days bringing many exotic and brave and energetic people into my home as my world grows smaller with age.   There were conservative and religious families in my small town that carefully limited their family viewing time and devoted the rest of their evenings to reading the Bible, singing songs, or playing board games. My parents were not religious and I guess they did not fear we would be changed by the outside world anymore through television than we would through growing up and facing those life changing questions on our own.  The TV was on perhaps more than off in the evenings (all of us worked hard in the summer at jobs to save for college), but my two brothers and my two sisters  (one who passed from cancer many years ago) and I grew up to be contributing members of society, with stable marriages honed by acceptance and compromise, and while sometimes divided by politics, still keeping a good sense of humor most of the time.  The mistakes we made in life were from the culture of our communities as much as the culture of television.

I feel the same about the Internet in that you can dwell on the angry, vitriolic, scary, amazing news or you can go to the slow and in-depth studies on the issues and the sharing of ideas and memories of amazing writers/journalists and begin to understand why you may feel the way you do and ways you can change or adapt to those ideas.

I have been reading articles from a site named "The World Economic Forum" and recently read an article written by Paolo Gallo, Chief Human Resources Officer, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, Geneva.  He wrote an article about his father teaching him about growing up and suggested three questions to ask yourself at the end of the day to help you live a purposeful life.  This works while you are young and also if you think have just a few short years in the future.  It works for me.  These questions are:

1.  Have you learned something new?
2.  Are you helping others?
3.  Do you love what you are doing?

The full article is here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

On My Shoulder

I have been away.  Actually, I have been here but mentally away.  I just realized a day ago that I have been using two outdated software packages, while having purchased the upgrades, which for some weird reason were never installed.  I only recognized this when things got a little buggy.  So since I could not find the original downloads, I am spending a few days getting passwords to the commercial site changed, finding order numbers, serial numbers and completing downloads, and having no idea if I answered PC version number questions correctly.  Today I will spend time seeing if files I have saved will indeed recognize this new download and let me work.  The good side to this is that I have noticed new quick shortcuts to the software that I was not using!!

I just love computers, don't you?

Oh if you are wondering about the Blue Birds, they are still visiting and leaving calling cards at both the front and back of the house!!

Monday, June 05, 2017

Inside Today

Busy this past weekend with helping the community learn about growing food and organic gardening and teaching children to plant seeds.  Sometimes you see the magic sparkle in a child's eyes and you realize you have sparked another future gardener!  Working in the earth for many of us is better than therapy or legal medication.

I learned this week that I cannot walk and sneeze at the same time!  I injured my little toe and now am trying to sit and ice it and pretend I am a slug.  (It takes very little pretending.)  I have posted on my other blog another reason I am inside case you are interested.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Thinking About Stuff

There seem to be two philosophies of how we approach the lives of others in this world and how that applies to our resources.  

There is a group of people that do not see wealth they have made or inherited or found as something that is due to them wholly because of their efforts or the result of having good genes.  God may have provided this wealth as an opportunity to lead change for the better.  It is a power that they can use to help those who need help because others lives did not go so well.  If they do not believe in a God then they look at this wealth as a responsibility and opportunity to do something good in the world in addition to creating more wealth.  These people see themselves as part of a huge tapestry of humanity.  They may see themselves as a leader, but also as a part of the whole of mankind.  Humanity that is good, bad, or indifferent.  They want to help weave this tapestry into a better pattern and see their wealth and power as a tool in that direction.  They look for problems to solve outside their daily professions or sometimes within their professions.  Wealth is, of course, a hugely indefinable thing.  Someone who earns $30,000 in his first job may think that driving for Meals on Wheels and paying for the gas and car maintenance out of his tight budget the least of a contribution he can make to those who do not have an income or cannot get out to get food.  A man like Tom Steyer who is a hedge fund manager worth 1.6 billion sees his opportunity in funding (hugely) environmental programs to keep people on the planet healthy while fighting the corporate energy companies that do not care about climate change, even though the CEO's believe it is happening. 

The second group of people are those that see their wealth as their right.  It is due to them because they were born into a family of amazing hard-working and smart people.  OR they got their wealth because they knew how to work the system to their benefit.  They were SMART.  They do not think there is such a moral measure as a "fair" deal.  You win or you lose and that is your opportunity or your failure. They are part of the good gene pool and they think those in the poor gene pool cannot really be helped.  It is a Darwinian view that most are poor because they are stupid, lazy or weak.  The losers are drug addicts, criminals, or not able to adapt to our changing world fast enough.  This second group put their money into more growth or put it away in offshore banks where the socialist governments cannot "tax them to death."  They can be the man who makes $30,000 in his new job and spends a portion of that hard-earned money on a few guns to keep him safe from the "others" that do not fit into his gene pool such as that loser neighbor next door who is some weird religion and untrustworthy by his odd behavior.  They can also be the billionaire who runs for office and is not interested in being part of any group...Republican or European allied network or ANYTHING.  The billionaire who owes his power only to himself and never sees himself other than a leader of others.  He is smart enough to decide who wins and who loses and it sure as hell is not going to be him on the losing side.

Then, of course, there are a bunch of folks in between walking the tight rope trying to balance being good with being safe and with being financially secure and with keeping someone from killing them for disagreeing with them.  At least that is my take on it right now.  Maybe I am oversimplifying.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

United We/They Stand

Last weekend among a few Mother's Day things that I did, I visited several embassies with my son and daughter-in-law. It was the European Union Embassies Open House.

This year they celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, which was crucial to rebuilding Europe after WWII. They are clearly "grateful to the United States for our unwavering support of European peace, unity and prosperity". And they are celebrating the 60th birthday of the EU, which all began with the Treaty of Rome!  Twenty-seven embassies participated, including Britain, which was a bit of a surprise.  The event was from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM, so we were able to hit only a few of the countries.

There were food bites, cultural singing and dancing, and fun costumes.  Many of the embassies had experts more than happy to talk about their areas of expertise. 

I learned from one handsome man in Uniform at the Italian Embassy all about the Carabinieri in Italy and its extensive global mission.

The Italian Embassy was quite modern indoors.

Those Embassies that were actually open did have security, which went smoothly and with a smile.

I was able to see where the large wet umbrella goes in a $440,000 Roll-Royce at the British Embassy.  I asked the tall handsome man if he came with the car and he smiled and said "That could be arranged."

The Brits put out a Downton Abbey style table and some tall beauties.

I saw wonderful costumes of historic figures such as Pola Negri at the Polish Embassy and soldiers at the Latvian Embassy.

At the Latvian Embassy they were handing out all sorts of informational materials and when I asked if they had a list of their authors who had been translated into English the woman disappeared back into the Embassy and brought me a book of short stories, a book of poetry and the Ambassador to discuss literature!  Unfortunately, I was too polite to ask for a photo.

A day well spent, I would say despite the cold and damp weather.  A very important union and only those who know their history can understand its importance.  Now I want to visit Latvia!!