12.04.19: “Contrary to what President Trump has said, Article 2 does not give him the power to do anything he wants, and I’ll just give you one example that shows you the difference between him and a king, which is the Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,” Pamela Karlan, a law professor at Stanford University, said during the hearing in Washington, using an example of how American presidents are not kings.

12.04.19: “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it,” Melania wrote.

12.12.19: “So ridiculous,” Trump said on Twitter. “Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

12.13.19: From FLOTUS press secretary: “BeBest is the First Lady’s initiative and she will do all she can to protect children…Their son is not an activist who travels the globe giving speeches.”

12.18.19: President Trump during a Wednesday night rally invoked his 13-year-old son Barron Trump while attacking Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “I could have Barron Trump go into Central Park and he’d get a crowd,” Trump said at the rally in Battle Creek, Mich.

REMINDER–12.04.19: “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics,” Melania wrote in disgusted response to a cogent analogy by a law professor.

12.19.19: What is the BeBest response to POTUS invoking the name of his thirteen year-old son at the 12.18.19 rally (The venue, which holds just about 6,500, was packed and overflow space was needed) to mock a presidential candidate? We are still waiting.

How to React

I took my year-old granddaughter Mae Elizabeth to a clown program at a library Monday afternoon. A preteen girl sat next to me with her mother while Mae walked among the kids seated on the floor, stopping to pat several older girls, feeling their long straight black hair. After the program, I told my seatmate that I admired her beautiful hairstyle, an intricate, elaborate sculpture of dreadlocks. The mother shared that her daughter said that Mae-by looks like a baby doll. My stomach lurched.

You see, Mae has alabaster skin, blonde hair, and big blue eyes. When I heard the dark-skinned mother of a dark-skinned girl compare Mae-by to a baby doll, I was reminded of Toni Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eyes, in which one of her African American characters, Pecola, thinks she’s ugly because she has dark skin and her eyes are not blue.  Pecola wishes for blue eyes because she thinks they would make her beautiful.  Her belief stems from the gifts of white, blue-eyed dolls she received throughout her childhood, none that looked like her. So–when this beautiful dark-skinned girl said my ivory-skinned, blue-eyed grandgirl looked like a baby doll, I was tongue-tied and had a sad tear in my eye.


Winter Musing

Sleep pattern disrupted. Wondering who is going to write the script for the Hallmark Movie based on the trumpshutdown. Premise: A woman owns an independent cozy tearoom in DC, specializing in a certain cookie she learned to bake as a child in a friend’s kitchen, a friend whose own grandchildren lived many states away. Business slows when government workers are furloughed but she can still rely on tourists who visit the museums as customers. Then the museums run out of funding and close. Enter interest of an international chain of restaurants. The chain’s chemists believe they have discovered the secret ingredients for the cookie, the chain has the money to outlast the trumpshutdown, and they send a rep to DC to try to buy the rights to the cookie, reminding the owner that they believe they can replicate it without her. Their plan is to start a cookie delivery service via robots that will deliver tea or coffee in reusable thermoses with a small burlap bag tied to them with twine containing ordered choices of brown sugar, cream, a lemon, or honey along with the special cookies. Angst and suspicion turn to love as the chain rep sits in the cozy tearoom and remembers the baking smells in his grandmother’s kitchen when he was allowed to lick the beaters. The rep’s grandmother comes to town, visits the tearoom, and becomes the fairy godmother with the purse who facilitates the romance and funds the delivery service using the original cookie, all the while allowing the rep to resign from the chain, the young couple to marry, and the three to run the expanded business from the original location. The movie closes as the three hang bunting on the shop and robots with a long line of customers in town to celebrate a replacement person in the Oval Office.

Ewww. Sickly sweet.


I miss “The Americans” TV show. So. What about this for an updated version?

It is the mid-1980s. Russian intelligence scouts Central Europe for espionage recruits and encounters a fairly attractive sloe-eyed young woman whose father is a member of League of Communists. The young woman, along with children of other garment factory seamstresses, had done some modeling of the clothing created from patterns made by their mothers. She later did some nude modeling. The scouts finance the beginnings of a university education then arrange for her to sign with an Italian modeling agency. The young woman leaves university after one year but attempts to gain fluency in five languages as the agency schedules international modeling jobs for her.

Through these modeling contacts, the young woman meets people of influence who arrange for her to use a quirk in a US visa. The visa allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. A specialty occupation requires the application of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of work experience. It is meant to fill technical jobs for which the companies cannot find highly-skilled, educated American employees (Years later, investigative reporters would search the archives to find out just how fashion models received an exemption to qualify for this visa).

The model/infiltrator moves to New York in the mid-1990s, associating herself with modeling agencies that expose her to glamorous parties with attention-seekers. At one of those parties, she meets the target her Russian intelligence handlers identified. He is with another date but an opportunity arises for her to connect. The target is more than two decades older than she and fancies himself charming and powerful. In fact, the target graduated from a good school through connections, skipped military service through connections, used money gifted by his parents to fail in many businesses, and cheating contractors, students, and workers along the way.

The woman becomes a permanent resident in the millennium, marries the target a few years later, then gains citizenship. The Central European model becomes the target’s whisperer. The target is malleable. He has been involved with criminal elements around the world, beginning in the 1970s and his involvement with Roy Cohn, he who is “synonymous with the rise of McCarthyism and its dark political arts.”  By the time the model and the developer meet, the target has been involved in decades of shady deals and threats against those who crossed him. Some of the money used and lost was from the funds funneled to him through his father’s “creative” real estate transactions since he was a toddler. Much of the later funds were loans from banks, though most stopped loaning to him when he failed to repay in full. Eventually, the target is financing his activities by laundering money for Russian oligarchs. His international branding deals facilitated by criminal activity open him to blackmail. The target continues to believe he is a self-made man.

Through a concentrated campaign by Russian intelligence, the target becomes President of the United States. The whispering continues. Target/POTUS invites Russians into the Oval, shoos out Americans, and shares international secrets. Target looks at US government agencies, asks the whisperer for a list of people antithetical to the goal of each of those departments and appoints the one to head them who will do the best to deconstruct, either through ignorance or calculated mismanagement. The whisper tells him unfounded tales about Montenegro because Russia does not want Montenegro to join NATO. When the Russian coup d’état fails and Montenegro joins NATO, the target shoves the Prime Minister of Montenegro at a public event caught on camera. The whisperer tells the target an obscure lie about Belarus that the target shares with his supporters as fact. The whisperer shares a skewed history of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that the target presents as fact.  And still, the target continues to believe he is a self-made man and shuts down the US government.



Fingers Crossed. 29 October 2018


Made the preliminary call to Royal Caribbean reservations yesterday to discuss the availability of an interline (airline employee) discount on a cruise itinerary that interests me. The answer is yes, but only as double-occupancy. Now waiting for a friend to consult her sources/resources. If all works, we will be on the ship 31 May 2019 for 12 days starting and ending in Amsterdam with stops in Skagen, Denmark; Tallin, Estonia; two days in St. Petersburg, Russia; then Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden. Ever since I visited beautiful Moscow with my daughter and her family some years ago, I’ve looked for a frustration-free affordable method to get to St. Petersburg which I’m told is even more beautiful. This may be it, with stops in other places I’ve never explored.

I’ve been to Amsterdam four times, two because it was the base for a high school graduation gift from my parents in 1966.  It is a base this time, too, but today I have something else in my soul.  Amsterdam is the city where the young girl Anne Frank lived, then died simply because she was Jewish. In the aftermath of the anti-Semitic massacre on Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh this weekend, my soul hurts. Squirrel Hill is another place I’ve visited several times and of which I have fond memories.

Yes. I’m a globalist, seeing myself as a citizen of the earth, embracing humankind. I took my first cruise a month after 9-11. During those 30 days, Beijing to Bangkok, I saw true HUMANITY. The majority of the passengers were Canadians. Most of them were from the English-speaking provinces. Instead of making it clear that they were Canadians to people in other countries who might mistake them for citizens of the United States, they wore dual-flag pins, US and Canada, in support of their neighboring country that had just suffered a major attack. I remember pushing my husband’s wheelchair through a night market in Thailand and having people walk up to embrace me and tell me how sorry they felt about the recent terrorist attack on the US. When I was in Europe after the 9-11, people said they didn’t agree with the president in office, but supported the people of the US.

Today I’m sad that this country in which I reside is not as humane as I’d hoped this many years after 9-11, that there is so little acknowledgment here that we just experienced the largest in history attempted assassination of two former presidents, a former vice-president, a former secretary of state, a former U.S. Attorney, a former CIA Director, a former Director of National Intelligence, three senators, an actor, and a philanthropist who all were verbally bullied and called out in mass rallies by the man in the oval office. Conspiracy theories abound—the stickers on the van were not sun-faded so it’s a Democrat plot, the Democrats probably sent the bombs, the Democrats probably paid him to send fake bombs, etc. But antipathy over the FACT of what happened—not so much.

Conversely, I am pleased that there is much recognition and horror that we just experienced the largest slaughter of American Jews. Indeed, Muslims held a successful go-fund-me for the families.

Yes. My fingers are crossed that this Baltic travel plan comes to fruition. But, more expansively, my fingers are crossed that the citizens of the world embrace each other, that we reach out to each other in friendship, and elect leaders who are inclusive of all.  We read today that a trump-like candidate won office in Brasil. What does that mean? Just days after the US—I repeat– lived through attempted assassinations of two former presidents, a former vice-president, a former secretary of state, a former U.S. Attorney, a former CIA Director, a former Director of National Intelligence, three senators, an actor, and a philanthropist who all were verbally bullied and called out in mass rallies by the man in the oval office, the President of the United States released another abhorrent tweet. Some of his followers don’t assess the mailing of bombs as horrific as the events of Pearl Harbor and 9-11. How can we live in a world where the President of the United States does not pick up the phone to reach out to the victims–some his predecessors–and to the people of the US to comfort? How can we live in a world where the President of the United States and some in his cabinet continue to hold meetings and rallies where bullies in the audience are not asked to silence their hateful, vile, false rhetoric? How can the President of these United States blame the media when reporting fact and complain that he is personally compared to hateful historical figures all the while holding rallies where he lies (170 during the second week of October 2018, alone), bullies, taunts, and embroils as those hateful historic figures?

No. Today, 29 October 2018, days after the worst attempted assassination of political officials, persons called out by name by the current resident of the office with no corners, the 45th holder of the presidency of the US tweeted:

There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open and obvious hostility and report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!

This is how another president, T. Roosevelt, reacted to an assassin: “This criminal was a professed anarchist, inflamed by the teachings of professed anarchists, and probably also by the reckless utterances of those who, on the stump and in the public , appeal to the dark and evil spirits of malice and greed, envy and sullen hatred. The wind is sowed by the men who preach such doctrines, and they cannot escape their share of responsibility for the whirlwind that is reaped. This applies alike to the deliberate demagogue, to the exploiter of sensationalism, and to the crude and foolish visionary who, for whatever reason, apologizes for crime or excites aimless discontent.”

My cousin posted this nice missive on Facebook yesterday and I immediately “liked” it: “Stop being Democrat or Republican. Be honest, have morals, show empathy, value integrity, Be a Good Human.” Although I have voted the Democrat ticket more often than not for about five decades, it is not because I think everything Democrat is perfect or right all the time.  I call it out when I disagree; yet, I may seem more partisan now to those who do not know me well. It has to do with my dismay with the current holder of the presidency and many of the things his supporters do and say, NOT with the Republican Party.  You know what they say, “Some of my family are … “

I’m actually rather conservative.  When I was in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, I noticed that an English-speaking daughter and father seemed confused about directions to a tourist site. I approached them and offered my copy of Rick Steves’ guidebook to help. I could feel the hiking-convertible-shorts-boot-wearing father “sizing me up.” I knew this was not the flirtatious look I experienced in my thin, no-facial-wrinkles days. I saw him looking at my twin-set, my pink-striped skirt, and down at my ballet flats and knew he was wondering about something else. I said. “I didn’t vote for him,” answering the question he did not ask aloud. I swear everyone in that huge square could hear his sigh of relief. We did not have a long discussion on politics, though we covered some topics. A longer conversation would have displayed my orthodoxy.

On a recent visit to the Irish Parliament, the Minister of Defense proudly pointed out pictures on his wall of him with several well-known citizens of the United States, Democrats all. He said he assumed that because our group was in Ireland for a literary reason (we were there to advance a connection between the place where the only US Pulitzer-prize winning playwright wrote his last plays and the place from which that playwright’s father emigrated), we were all Democrats. I wish I could have sat down with him to explain that I personally feel that what is going on in the US right now is a breach between Democrats and the current holder of the Presidency and his personal supporters more than between two political parties. I would also share the conundrum that much of the funding of the arts in the US is by persons with whom I have political differences. I thank them for their financial support and wish we could come together on more of the rest

Yes, on 29 October 2018 my fingers are crossed. My fingers are crossed in hopes that this Baltic cruise goes on my calendar. My fingers are crossed in hopes that the US mid-term election next week ousts xenophobes, misogynists, prevaricators, and fact-obstructionists. And my fingers are crossed that we can be humans inclusive of each other, after all.





Remembering Our Remembering


When the Marywood Academy Class of 1966 met to celebrates its quinquagenary on the weekend of 27 August 2016, one classmate asked if there is still Truth at Marywood now that Veritas Hall is divided into storage warrens. Thirty-two classmates “saw the people gather” for the weekend. The Internet shows that our Tiger Lily, Belinda Barnes, came the farthest at 4,281 kilometers.

Upon my graduation from stewardess training, Mom gave me a pin, a guardian angel that sat on my shoulder.  She said it was to remind me that I am a “Marywood Girl.”   What is a Marywood Girl?  Cathie Andrea’s question about truth is a typically literate MG query. During a dinner speech, one classmate made a MG posit: “That is not the proper use of a gerund, is it?” On a tour of the facilities, we were shown a donated piece of art. Three classmates closest to the sculpture remarked, almost simultaneously, “That is reminiscent of Bufano.” During the weekend as we visited the homes of some of our local classmates, we were comfortable in rooms full of books and art and caring chatter, versions of our MG spaces in other parts of the world.

Festivities began on Friday evening at the home of the event organizer, Martha Pursley Peabody, who spent the last year reaching out to the 59 living classmates.  We hugged. We laughed. We ate.  We teased in the warm community Marty created for us.

We met at the Dominican Center on Saturday morning to share memorabilia (why did they make us wear those ugly uniforms?!?), for brunch, and for more hugs and laughs.  Sisters Mary Navarre and Lucille Janowiak (formerly our math and religion teacher, Sister Stanley) carried us into the afternoon.

Sister Mary looked into the history of the class of 1966 and, as if playing the role of Shakespeare’s Fool, teased us about our early 1960s era youthful choice of a class song, “No Man Is an Island.” Man?!?  Obviously, we did not know a revolution was occurring for women off-campus. Sister prompted us to think about our years at the Academy, how they shaped us, and how a woman with that background adapts to the 21st Century. Sister Mary talked about Marywood today, an inclusive community.  The chapel she showed us is not the chapel we knew. Gone are the barriers, physically and intellectually. We listened with memories of high school art classes, filtered now by the sensibilities of 2016.

Sister Lucille answered our questions about her life post ’66.  She also showed us a Power Point created to explain the evolution of The Prairie Habitat at Marywood, an homage to the Michigan that was once prairie land.  From Marty’s narration, we learned that volunteers created a home for pollinators, a preservation for threatened species, a viable seed bank, a space for contemplation, and an area for native plants that welcomes wildlife. Perhaps they also “plant the seed of friendship that will never die” of which we sing in our class song.
Note: Had that habitat existed in 1966, the girls would have been working in dresses, not slacks. Sister Lucille gave up a family celebration to celebrate with us, to listen to what we had to say, and to take us on a tour of the halls of the Academy as it exists today. Along the way, she heard whispers of, “The floors are the same,” “Remember when we …,” “I don’t remember that,” “Oh, did we do that,” and “Oh, yes; you did!”

After the talks and tours at Marywood, we gathered to hug, to laugh, to eat, and to chat away the afternoon in the home and garden of Marcia Boehm Carbines. It was hard to tear ourselves away but we knew Marty had arranged more for us back on campus.

The evening began with hugs, laughter and hors d’oeuvres in the sunlit Aquinata Hall Atrium. The sounds of our senior class play emanated from a DVD player.  We then moved to the Dominican Center for more hugs and laughs, another menu planned by Marty Pursley Peabody , and tables decorated by Peter Pan—er—Mary Celeste Stewart with flowers, embroidery, and a DVD recording of our senior play at each place. Paul Yhouse, who worked backstage and later married our classmate Liz Orlyk, made the original DVDs for the cast members several years ago when he held a memorial for Liz.  Classmate Sister Phyllis Klonowski recited a blessing. Mary Orley Roper read a list of the seven classmates who already crossed.  Joni “JIBBER” Beemsterboer read notes from classmates who sent missives regretting they could not join us.  After Sister Lucille took a photo of the attendees, several broke into an impromptu rendition of the class song “No Man Is an Island,” just as we did that evening 50 years ago on closing night of “Peter Pan.” This time, with Sister Mary’s Shakespearean teasing in mind, the lyrics changed in a manner Joan Baez would approve: “…We need one another, So I will defend, Each [one] as my [sister], Each [one] as my friend. I saw the people gather, I heard the music start, The song that they were singing, Is ringing in my heart. No [one] is an island …”

Those classmates who stayed in town met in small groups on Saturday evening and subsequently.  Several attended Sunday Mass in the chapel at The Dominican Center.  The sermon of the day was about an event when a usurper sat in the place of honor. The Class of 1966 may have squirmed although we knew the “RESERVED” signs on the seats were actually meant for us.

Is there Truth at Marywood now that Veritas Hall is a storage space?  If truth is “conformity to fact or actuality,” Marywood meets the definition in 2016, evidenced in its embrace of all people at its Masses, within its walls, and its erection of the Prairie Habitat as tribute to our threatened environment.  And what is a Marywood Girl, anyway?  The Academy Class of 1966 portrays her as an erudite woman who hugs, who laughs, who sings, and who cares about community.  We thank Marty Pursley Peabody and the women of The Dominican Center for bringing Truth and The Marywood Girls together on the weekend of 27 August 2016.

Another Theater Group? I’ll Never Afford to Retire!

The Bay Area is hosting many events this year commemorating the 50th anniversary of “The Summer of Love.” But 1967 was more than “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” There was a dark side. This well-written, gripping play covers one of them; the fight against racial discrimination. It is told from the POV of those living the inequity. Set in a family-owned bar in Oakland, we meet a woman from Louisiana uncomfortable with the anger she sees arising from those fighting the bigotry in the Bay Area; a young man who chooses UC Berkeley over Morehouse, hoping to work the system from the inside; a family grieving the loss of a black son fighting what they believe to be a white man’s war; a man running a business and providing jobs in an oasis of normality; two young women coping with loss and looking for their place in a time of race wars and a nation involved in a foreign war; a young man trying to find himself after his best friend dies in the foreign war that he first talked about joining, then didn’t; and Huey Newton. The program had no information about the actors; therefore, my next task is to research them online to find out where we can see them next. They are all SO good at their craft. “This Land Was Made” runs through 6 August 2017 at Brooklyn Preserve, 1433 12th Ave.Oakland, CA (street parking). It is the fourth in Ubuntu’s five-play season. I have 108 theater tickets so far this season; I regret that it took me so long to discover Ubuntu. We wanted to stay around to tell the cast and crew how much they impressed us but we needed to get to Berkeley to another play. We will be back to support Ubuntu in future projects.