Wednesday, December 30, 2020

45 Years!


I married the love of my life 45-years ago on December 28, 1975 and it has been a wild and wonderful ride.


Although we went to the same high school, we never REALLY met there (okay, I punched him one time when he was a hall monitor and attempted to stop me from going to my classroom after the “switch” was over); we actually MET a few years later as volunteers in the NYC Auxiliary Police. I was already a member of our unit when he signed up and, as Personnel Officer, I had to interview him. He passed and was admitted into our unit… but neither of us liked each other, lol.


However, as time went on we did eventually go out on a date and we both seemed to enjoy each other’s company… he asked me out for the following weekend. Within two weeks, he proposed, I said NO (not because I didn’t like him, I just didn’t think I was ready) — he was “persistent” and the following morning we announced our engagement. Then I went away for eight weeks to work at a summer stock theatre, he drove up to visit me several times.


By the time I returned home everyone wanted to know if we had set a date, we hadn’t yet. On December 28, 1974 we attended a formal ceremony for my Dad at the local J.W.V. chapter, they were honoring him for his community service as the local Auxiliary Police Captain as well as his WW2 service in the Army Corps of Engineers. While there, once again Mark and I received a multitude of questions about the date of our wedding until we both just looked at each other, smiled, and responded “One year from today”.


We did start discussing what kind of wedding we wanted, I was all for a small Rabbi’s study with just our immediate families present. Although Mark was easy going, his father and one of my aunt’s made it difficult to plan something intimate. We wound up compromising on a guest list of 90 (approximately 80 showed), both of his folks were pleased, the aunt made arguments right up to the wedding (and no, she was not paying for it!).


The day of the wedding was… memorable to say the least. My mom was totally stressed dealing with the intrusive aunt, on the way to the catering hall my sister (my Matron-of-Honor) fell down a flight of stairs and we thought she had broken her leg; trooper that she is, she managed to pull herself together and promised to be able to “hobble down the aisle” for her little sister, and I hadn’t been able to reach Mark (before the era of cellphones) and we arrived so late that he had almost  given up waiting.


Everything was finally underway! We posed for an array of photos, and then the ceremony began. We were married!!!!! Then… my poor Mom, a diabetic, had a serious low-blood sugar reaction to all the stress and upset about my sister’s tumble and she wound up spending the majority of party time lying down in the bridal suite while my Dad took juices to her; she wouldn’t leave and go to the hospital. Finally, the end of the party came, my mom was able to be present for the latter half of the party and in time to see me throw my bouquet and leave with my new husband.


Maybe we should have realized that our wedding day was a forecast of our marriage with all of our ups and downs, but in the end we drove off TOGETHER excited about our new life. We weathered crazy downstairs neighbors, the deaths of all four parents (in a five year period), a few miscarriages, buying a house, the birth of our daughter, the preemie birth of our son, ups and down in jobs and finances, seeing both of our children grow into phenomenal adults and (after a few false starts) settle down in their own homes with loves that are terrific people, we survived a serious illness, and finally a retirement and move to a beautiful home not far from where we actually honeymooned.


In 45-years our love has grown, been tested, and shined even brighter with each new day. I am so glad that he was persistent on the night he proposed — I couldn’t imagine any other life.

I love you, Mark, now and for eternity.



Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Family Ties


For most of us, the lucky ones at least, growing up in a family setting (whether it was just parent[s] and you or a large extended family) was like you had whole world surrounding you with love and care. As we grew older sometimes we made “best friends” outside of our homes, but coming home always meant coming to a place where you always felt you belonged.


As we grew up and experienced teenage angst and the trials of young adulthood, tempers and words now and then caused arguments and tears — generally our parents forgave us the cross words we used in pain, our siblings might not have been so forgiving quite as quickly, but they still seemed to have our backs when it counted. Somehow as adults… and maybe parents of adults, we may lose that capacity to forgive the cross words so easily. And some even seem to forget the importance of family. That is sad.


Someone says a cross word in anger or pain, or maybe it was just a poorly worded comment with no malice intended, but suddenly it causes a family divide. And you just let it go, let it fester, while you wait for an apology that might not even be understood. Time passes, time that you can never get back and some even run out of time to make things right. When you realize there is no more time, no chance to hug that person again, no time to say “I love you”, that’s when you cry over your memories and especially the memories you were cheated out of.


Nowadays so many are taking mail-in DNA tests to find family that they may have never known existed, but somewhere along the line there was a break, a divide, people just drifted apart. While it is a great thing to find those long-lost family members, you can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to share the years before you found each other. Yet, even for those who crave those DNA matches, not all of them hang on to what they already know they have just because someone got annoyed.


Hang on to your loved ones because no one has forever. You can’t redo lost years; you can’t share memories that you were never together to share. And down the road when you realize how much you’ve lost, you might begin to question if waiting for that demanded apology was really worth it. There is a saying, “if you want a lot of space in your life, just be angry at the people around you,” and it could get very lonely. Even if you raised that child, realize that not everyone is going to think the same way you do. And even if your older parent seems to be annoying because they are so “stuck in their ways”, they are not always going to be there. Remember that siblings are often the first playmates you ever had and you’ve shared your lives and memories together.


 Logistically many families don’t remain together in the same locale and you may have to work a little to keep including each in your life. Between marriages and extended families, and when children or grandchildren come along, it’s hard to keep giving the same time to everyone, but make sure to remember to reach out. The effort is well worth it. Remember to tell your family members that you love them, pause and think before you let anger respond, share your thoughts, listen to theirs, and let them know how precious they are in your life.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Time for Unity


We, as a nation, have gone through (most of) a year of… Hell. Folks used to joke, LAST YEAR, about 2020 and “perfect eyesight — well we sure have seen a lot since January.


Legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant and his daughter were killed in a tragic helicopter crash stunning sports fans and leaving a mourning mother and wife. Our 45th president was tried, impeached, and eventually acquitted. The #MeToo movement encouraged many to speak about their sexual assaults (and rapes), and many survivors cheered when some big names who felt entitled to abuse innocent victims were finally served justice.


America heard about the first reported cases of COVID-19 on our shores; these spurred a lot of misinformation, prejudice against Asians, fear, hoarding, restrictions, lockdowns, fighting, and even a stock market crash. Police-involved deaths of several Black men and women, as well as the outspoken rhetoric of prejudice, spawned the Black Lives Matter Movement and instigated many peaceful, and some violent, demonstrations.


Meanwhile, many businesses closed (some permanently) due to COVID-19 related restrictions, many children “went back to school” via the computer, jobs were lost, and families were devastated financially. For those who were able to work from home, their homes became crowded business offices, schools, gyms and more. The name “Karen” became an insult for an angry, often middle-aged white, woman who lived a privileged existence and attempted to inflict her will upon others.


The sitting president of the United States came down with COVID-19, and survived, and other prominent Americans from politicians to actors and sports-stars caught the virus and some did not survive. Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent 27-years sitting on the Supreme Court and eventually died after a long struggle with Pancreatic Cancer; finding and appointing her replacement was a lengthy political struggle that led to a resurgence of the #MeToo movement. Beloved TV personality Alex Terek died of Liver Cancer after a courageous battle.


More than four-million acres burnt, and some still burning, in California and the western U.S. costing billions of dollars; firefighters from across the country flew in to help an area where the heatwave and Covid-19 caused complication during evacuations, hundreds of homes and structures were burned, dozens injured, and multiple firefighter fatalities were recorded.


We are halfway through December and celebrating the holiday season in a year where many family get-togethers were only virtual, where many restaurants are closed to dining, movie theatres remain dark, and few indoor recreational activities exist. America has lost more than 300-thousand people to COVID-19, families and friends did not even get to say goodbye to many because of quarantines. And numbers keep rising.


But now, halfway through December, a very contentious national election has seen its final result with the Electoral College, and progress begins towards a new presidency. Vaccines against COVID-19 have been approved and a limited number of healthcare workers are beginning to get vaccinated – more vaccine is coming and eventually the hope is that most, if not all, Americans will be vaccinated against this sometimes deadly and often disabling disease within the next several months.


Now is the time when Americans need each other, no matter what our political affiliations are, no matter what our ethnicities are, or our lifestyle choices, and no matter what our financial status may be. We have been through Hell and we are almost to 2021. Let us come together and recover, let’s work together and heal our nation, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who have suffered, and be a united America.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Eyes Wide Open


Many of us have the luxury of growing up “without a care in the world” — yet as life goes on and we face hardship or loss, our attitudes change, our priorities shift. It’s not only the sad times that change us.


Try to think back to your childhood; What were your biggest concerns? What were the things you were sure you knew all there was to know? How confident were you that you could handle anything that came your way? Hopefully, as a child, you were able to know love, you were kept warm and nourished, and your biggest problems were which toy you wanted to play with — I was indeed one of the lucky ones.


My parents weren’t rich, but they were extremely loving and made sure that my sister and I were cared for. Even if some of our “wants” were beyond their means, they made sure we had what we needed. One of my favorite playthings was a dollhouse made of a cardboard box and plastic toy rejects made at the company where my dad worked. My mom was disabled for as far back as I can remember, but she was always there to talk out our problems, to help us with our schoolwork and to teach us about growing up.


Eventually I did grow up. Life was different. My sister was married and a mom herself, and my dad had been sick and it scared all of us, fortunately he did recover. And I had met the man I fell in love with and we got married. Life seemed idyllic as we began our married life in a place of our own and even with job loss and an out-of-control downstairs neighbor, things were going well. Then life changed… a little more than one year into our married life both my husband and I had to bury our fathers less than three weeks apart. And less than two years later my mom passed away. No matter how old you are, when you lose a parent you feel like an abandoned child.


We pulled ourselves together as best we could and life went on. A house in the suburbs and we decided to grow our family. After two early miscarriages, our beautiful daughter was born. Life was wonderful, we enjoyed being parents and my mother-in-law was thrilled with her granddaughter. We tried again to expand our family and four months into my next pregnancy my mother-in-law died — and I miscarried again. Life continued changing. My doctor wasn’t optimistic about my getting pregnant again, but quite surprisingly, a positive test came back and at six-and-a-half months, we brought a beautiful baby boy into the world.


We went through the ups and downs of their finding their way through their childhood and teen years. Our two beautiful children grew into amazing adults, their individual accomplishments and adventures continued to thrill us. Amazingly we both saw similarities to our four parents (they are named for three of them, a niece is named for the fourth), we admired their activism, their skills, and their compassion. Each had romances, some false starts, and (today) they are both settled down with wonderful mates. Seeing our children grow has been total joy.


Four years ago my husband suffered a stroke, he was rushed to the hospital, thank G-d survived and spent the next two months in rehab. I will never forget how, just after midnight on our 41st-anniversary, the doctor walked in with the diagnosis. I was devastated to learn that my wonderfully strong husband was disabled. Today, four years later, though he has regained several of his abilities, the effects of the stroke remain (which often frustrates him).


So in 700-words, this has been my life. My priorities have changed, wearing a fancy dress to a party is no longer the most important thing. Losing our parents, our miscarriages, 9/11, storms we literally weathered, my husband’s stroke and this pandemic has certainly helped me see what is really important. Having my family around, seeing my (grown) children’s happiness in their own homes, knowing they each have good people to experience life with, and still having my husband to grow old with… to quote the song, “these are a few of my favorite things”. Happiness is what you have in your heart, the memories you’ve made, the dreams you still look forward to.


In a poem by Linda Ellis, it’s said “what mattered most of all was the dash between those years” (between birth and death). I’d like to think that one day my dash will shine very brightly with my memories, my tears, my joys and the love I have always known.


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Holiday Greetings ~ Stop the Spread


Last week I spoke about seeing my family via ZOOM for Thanksgiving.  It was a wonderful success; not everyone was able to make it, but we did have a nice crowd. We were later able to touch base with the few family members whose work and other obligations kept them away.

As wonderful as it was to see faces and get to speak in real time, it also was very poignant. This is life now, MAYBE one day things will go back to “normal", but really what will our new normal be?

Will we ever feel safe hugging each other again? Will we see that friend that we haven’t seen in …forever and will we be able to hug and exchange kisses on the cheek? Will we be able to stand close, sharing secrets, and actually see a smile?

Whatever our new normal will be, it will never be the same because the last eight months happened. Sad, but true.  I'm sure we will find a way to deal with it all, but when we think about the way things used to be, we'll miss it.

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is behind us and we are coming up on Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's; once again our collective celebrations will be long distance. Yes, I am feeling a little sad, maybe a lot sad, but celebrating together puts our loved ones (and us, the seniors) at risk – and goes against the restrictions set by our respective lawmakers.

I'm not a happy camper…but, thank goodness for all of the instant messaging and virtual media available to us in 2020 (and soon 2021). As much as I miss the real feeling of my children's hugs, I would rather have more months of these virtual visits and the knowledge that one day we will all still be here to enjoy our moments TOGETHER.

However, as I sit here I am reading about the COVID rates rising all around us and these increases suspiciously coincide with both the Halloween and Thanksgiving festivities where some folks did have groups together without masks or social distancing. It’s sad to think that our precious moments with family and friends could have devastating consequences and illness.

But it is true, just today I heard of someone just finding out about a potential exposure he had on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving; G-d forbid, but if he is now positive, then anyone he spent Thanksgiving with is now exposed.

With Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve just around the corner, we need to remain vigilant and social distance even from those we love and care about — if for no other reason than we love and care about them. The sooner we can stop the spread, the sooner we CAN get together when we want to and not worry about our loved ones getting sick.

Let’s make 2021 a healthier and happier year than we’ve just had. We can do it.



Wednesday, November 25, 2020

And A Happy Thanksgiving to All


So tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, I will be hosting a family gathering for 31 people — via ZOOM. I’m hoping that most of my invited company will be able to stop by even just for a quick HELLO. I know that many are on different time schedules and have different responsibilities, some work from home and some work in the field, we are all over the country. I would be in complete bliss to see my daughter and son-in-law, son and daughter-in-law, Mark’s and my siblings and their better halves, our nieces and nephews and even grand-nieces and grand-nephews.


Years ago when our children were just young’uns and we weren’t spread out all over, we would meet at my sister’s home for a Thanksgiving meal; before we would begin eating we would go around the table saying what we were most thankful for. This year has been… strange and very lonely, and the pandemic is still raging. I am thankful that WE have made it to this time, that my family is safe, and I hope that all who are reading this also feel thankful for what they have.


 It’s been a hard year for so many. America has lost more than one-quarter-million lives, families have been financially devastated, hard-working business owners have seen their life-work dissolve, and we are still facing taming this horrible disease. My sincere condolences to all those who have suffered losses, please don’t think I have forgotten you when I feel thankful for all I have.


School children were raised on the stories of Pilgrims landing here seeking religious freedoms in the 17th century and one day sharing a friendly feast with the Native Americans they met and lived amongst — a fairy tale fabrication to explain the Thanksgiving tradition. The first National Thanksgiving Day didn’t happen until almost two centuries later and President Abraham’s proclamation didn’t even mention Pilgrims and “Indians” (as Native Americans were referred to since the original explorers thought they had landed in India).


Lincoln’s proclamation, made in the middle of the American Civil War, referred instead to “fruitful fields and healthful skies… which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come”,  he continued “invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens” and finally asked for the “Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”


The fanciful story of grade-school primers and Charlie Brown movies gave a vastly different meaning to Thanksgiving than President Lincoln’s apparent interpretation. I believe Lincoln was reminding us to be thankful for the things we DO have, and not just the ideals we wish for. It would also be befitting to say thank you to the indigenous people who lived here before our European ancestors arrived, we’ve built our homes upon their lands, often just taking and not asking.


 We should say thank you to every man and woman who has served our country in every one of our Armed Forces. And especially as this past year has shown us, we need to be thankful for all of our healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers who have kept us safe, treated us, cared for us, and enabled many of us to exist through this trying time.


It is a good time to remember all the little things we should be thankful for, the challenges we’ve survived, and the strength we have to keep moving forward. And especially, thank you for allowing me into your lives through my words.


Thanksgiving 1993

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Art Imitating Life

Many of the new TV season’s dramas have incorporated A LOT of real life into their stories. We have so much more than just actors wearing masks and TV-news footage of protests and riots. I have to give kudos to the writers and the actors who represent not only some of what has been happening the majority of this past year, but have also effectively evoked the emotional impact it has had on all of us.


I know there are many more shows than the ones I am mentioning, but I was riveted by shows like Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy, the Chicago trio (Fire, Med, and PD), SWAT, and All Rise. Each one of these dramas showed real life situations, frustrations, tragedies and emotions. None of these shows had mere news reports running in the background, they had characters LIVING through the same things that Americans, and folks all over the world, have experienced since the early part of 2020.


So is this entertainment? What happened to the beauty of escapism? … Don’t worry, there are still plenty of funny and entertaining shows for those of us who just want a break from life.


As a writer I, and many of our ilk, have been taught that stories and characters that the reader can relate to are the most engrossing. When a writer uses real life in her writing it is also a wonderful opportunity to make people think and maybe even possibly strive for solutions. That was what I tried to do when I wrote my book Hyphema about a Pakistani immigrant who just wanted a life with her family, an American husband and their infant son, and the racism they encountered. I also tried to reach out to the social perception of assault victims and the PTSDs they suffer in my book Bartlett’s Rule. In Courage of the Heart I presented a male sexual assault survivor and the social attitudes that belittled his experience.


My efforts to make people THINK are just (excuse the cliché) just a tip of the iceberg compared to some of the drama on our nightly television sets. The actors are doing remarkable jobs bringing us into their lives and the emotions they feel, the writers are providing challenging scenarios that truly can be the basis for discussion and hopefully attempts towards healing.


Yes, there are some of us who definitely need a break from the real life drama we’ve been living, and there is no harm in taking time for self-care, but when you are up to it, watch some of these dramas and hopefully get on board with rebuilding, healing and acceptance.


We’re a week away from Thanksgiving and many of us are feeling cheated once again as we keep distance from loved ones, or worse, realize those loved ones who are no longer with us. I hope and pray for comfort and calm for each of you. Please take necessary precautions against this dratted disease — yes, wear a mask and maintain social distancing, stay away from crowds.


I’m not being chicken when I ask you this and I know very well how hard it is to be separated from family because of COVID. This Thanksgiving holiday my husband and I are hoping to at least “see” our grown children through some audio/visual app, we won’t be seeing them in person because, simply put, they are first responders and they’ve been out there taking care of those who have fallen victim to COVID so they are quarantining themselves to protect us.


Sending healing thoughts for everyone’s health and a huge thank you to all of the first responders and essential workers who have given so much for the rest of us.


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Value of Street Smarts


I genuinely believe that the smartest man I ever knew was my Dad. Before joining the service and then marrying my Mom, the highest level of education he had was 8th grade; he was the product of a broken marriage where neither parent really took much responsibility. After the war (WW2) he went back to earn his GED and later went to a trade school to learn to be a Tool and Die Maker.


In addition to his profession, he was a wonderful husband and took care of my Mom (she became disabled a few years into their marriage), a great father raising two daughters and teaching them, even way back then, that they were as good as ANY man or woman, he was a community leader and Auxiliary Captain at our local police precinct. Daddy didn’t have the opportunity of a fancy education or letters after his name, but he always seemed to know how to do the right thing.


Through the years there were some who actually looked down on him because of his humble beginnings, the fact that he worked with his hands, and he wasn’t interested in putting on a show to impress others. My Dad truly was a hard-working man. Maybe if he had a college degree or a monied background he could have climbed some corporate ladder or even opened his own business… but he always provided for his family and he was always there for his children.


As Auxiliary Captain in the NYPD, he had impressive leadership skills, he always knew when to listen and never belittled anyone, but you knew he was in charge. He was methodical in thought and really “read people” very well. I know there were extreme times when my Dad lost his temper, but most times he was always controlled and welcoming. His family, my Mom, my sister and I adored him, we respected him — he was our hero.


I told you about my Dad because so often I’ve heard people look down on others who have not had Ivy League educations or who  took pride in getting their hands dirty to do a good day’s work. Daddy was one of those special people who had an enormous amount of “Street Smarts”, otherwise known as common sense. Some, SOME people who have fancy educations also are gifted with common sense but there is no guarantee that the two will go hand-in-hand. To be honest, if it only has to be one or the other, I prefer the street smarts.


Happy Veterans Day to my Dad and all of those who have served our country.


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over


So America’s 2020 Election Day is behind us… at least the voting part. Ballots are still being counted and we may not have all of the results for a few days. So we wait, not necessarily patiently.


No matter which presidential candidate you voted for, one of the two major candidates or a third party, electing our next American president is an important event. And there were many other races as well for state and federal positions, local mayors and governors and don’t forget a few referendums in some locations.  Every person who cast a ballot was part of a very important process of our democracy. It’s really a very heavy responsibility.


This year’s election was complicated because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most states made voting by mail an easy option. There was also “Early Voting” to try to keep down the election day lines, but there were long lines in almost every case both for the early voting and on the actual day of voting. Mail-in ballots also gave their share of consternation with delays, stories of lost mail and concern about alleged voter fraud. No wonder so many would-be voters have been complaining of tension headaches for the past week or so.


According to the United States Constitution, voting is a right and a privilege. Many constitutional amendments have been ratified since the first election. Surprisingly voting was never made mandatory for U.S. citizens. And also surprisingly, there is NO statement in the U.S. Constitution that does state, inexplicably, that our citizens have the RIGHT to vote. But there are inherent rights granted to our people and individual states included the right to vote. The original folks who could make decision regarding our leadership were landowners, and then MEN, and later specified that all men were allowed to vote no matter was their race was. Finally somewhere around 1919 women were finally allowed to make their preferences known and vote as well. It’s been a long road and many people fought for the right to vote.


And yet even in the year 2020, some people don’t bother to vote. Why not? There are a few who can’t vote because of religion. Then there are some who simply are not interested in the candidates or races. The most common reason given for not voting is “What difference does my one vote make?” Since states are permitted, within reason, to decide their own voting rules and regulations, some people don’t meet the requirements easily — someone may have missed the registration deadline, or they don’t have the necessary documents (including residence) to prove their identity and/or eligibility. Unfortunately, there are some (relatively few) cases that seem to be voter suppression such as not making polling centers convenient to certain populations. People may become disenfranchised when the person they want to win loses. There are even some who simply are not interested in casting their votes because they don’t like the candidates running or they don’t know enough about a referendum.


I like knowing that I have had a say in the government where I live, even if it is just one tiny vote, even if the candidate(s) I voted for didn’t win, and even if it means getting up early to stand on a line to cast my vote. Next year, or even for the next primary, think about voting. It may not be in the Constitution, but it is a privilege.





Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Family and the Pandemic


In the last eight months or so we’ve all had an extreme case of separation, separation from our extended families, our friends, our jobs, and a way of life where we felt (more) carefree. COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and it looks like, unfortunately, it’s going to continue interrupting life as we wish it would be for a while yet.

 For years I watched some of my extended family deal with their military children overseas and wondered how they could contend with that time and distance separating them. My children and their spouses live within a few hours from where we live, all four are in first-response and health/wellness, and I consider myself lucky having seen each of them (in person) two or three times each since February.

 So how have we coped? It really hasn’t been easy. Fortunately all of our immediate family and most of our extended family have gotten used to various visual and audio means of communication; of course there have been phone calls and emails as well. We watched, via the power of the internet, a niece get married, and a few months later a nephew tied the knot. We enjoyed a multi-household abbreviated Passover Seder together via ZOOM, and our daughter and son-in-law broke the Yom Kippur fast with us through the same online app.

 And we’ve had the opportunity to attend community board meetings and a few interesting seminars. I even got to attend my first ever Romance Writers’ Conference virtually! So we’ve had interaction beyond the occasional trips to the supermarket (where I feel like a bandit adorned with my mask!) and our routine doctor visits which have graduated from tele-visits to the office. With both of us retired, we haven’t had to deal with routine office work; except for the first-responders in our family, most of our working relatives have been working from home — we’re lucky in that several of our extended family have been able to maintain at least some of their employment.

 I can’t help but think back to my childhood and wonder how we would have survived without so many ways to virtually interact, or how my folks would have dealt with the concept of home-schooling my sister and me without online learning. How did folks and families survive the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic? Today in 2020 the separation stings… but the lack of communication venues more than 100-years before was so much less than today. I can’t even imagine. Right now I just want to hug my kids.

 And yet, even with all of our advances, so many of us are battling with depression and feelings of isolation. Even when we are outside, we can’t come near others, many grocery stores still have six-foot reminders on the floor. When we say hello to someone, we can’t even see their mouths because of our masks. I certainly am NOT advocating that we do not use masks or social distancing, more than 225-thousand deaths prove that we need to do whatever we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones. But even when we are near others, the feelings of loneliness are enforced. Many of the things we used to do for enjoyment and socializing are now taboo, or at least severely limited… no movie theatres, limited restaurants, or other leisure activities. Everyday we seem to hear of another business closing permanently because they couldn’t survive the necessary shutdowns. It’s just sad.

 As we are heading into the holiday season we’re once again trying to juggle. Big family dinners are probably not going to happen; even if we feel safe enough to have some family together, we need to be wary of including some who might be quite vulnerable. Maybe we’ll need to turn to ZOOM again in order to share? Those of us whose major concern might be choosing between ZOOM or Facebook Rooms to share this holiday season need to remember there are those who have lost loved ones, who are in danger of losing their homes, or might not be able to put a holiday meal on their table.

 If you or a loved one is suffering from “COVID depression/anxiety”, take care of yourself and those around you (easier said than done?). Be sure to reach out to your family and friends, especially those who might live alone or feel more isolated from their loved ones — pick up a phone, send an email or do a “drive-by” and wave through the window. If you are able, think of others, send a pizza to an on-duty ambulance crew, or a boxed dinner on the doorstep of a neighbor who needs help. Helping others can help you to feel better. Get involved with activities in your own home, play board games, watch a movie on TV together, and look for on-line seminars and video tours. And if seems really too much for you, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, or 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish.


We will get through this.




Wednesday, October 21, 2020

To Vote, to Vote, Perchance to Vote


 In just under two weeks, Americans will go to the polls (or will have mailed in or walked in their ballots) to vote for several candidates, most importantly for who will be the next President of the United States. It’s a heavy burden on each of us. Anyone who follows me on social media knows who I support, but this post is not about WHO – rather it is about YOU.


I recently posted the following on my Facebook page:
     I remember, in 1960, one of our neighbors sitting on the front stoop of the Bronx building she lived in and crying her eyes out. My parents stopped to speak to her to find out what was wrong... she wanted to vote for JFK but her husband told her that if she didn't vote for Nixon she had to leave their home.
     My dad told her "when you get into that polling booth, who you vote for is YOUR business, no one else's..."
     In 2016 I heard a father screaming at his daughter over a cell phone (standing in the center of CVS), apparently she made it known she wanted to vote for Clinton, he screamed at her that if she didn't vote for trump she could pack her bags that day.
     It truly doesn't matter who you vote for (well it does, but I am not trying to make THAT point), YOU have to vote for the candidate YOU choose.
     Whether you are in a booth or filling out a ballot, you have privacy and NO ONE has the right to tell you how to vote - certainly NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO THREATEN YOU IN ANY WAY.
     Even if your polling place has "observers", YOU NEED TO VOTE FOR WHO YOU WANT.


Your vote DOES count. A lot of folks cry that it doesn’t, that the Electoral College actually elects our president. There is SOME truth to that as we saw in 2016 when the Electoral College did NOT declare the popular vote winner as president. However each state is assigned a specific amount of electors (supposedly something to do with population) and the popular vote of each state decides WHICH electors will cast a vote. Even if the vote is close then the electors vote for the majority candidate. There are many arguments calling this system archaic, but for now it is what we are stuck with.


Understand though that the ONLY and very few times the Electoral College disagreed with the popular vote, the popular vote was CLOSE, VERY CLOSE (considering the percentage of votes against the people who voted). So your vote, along with others, DOES decide who the Electoral Collage from your state chooses. Unfortunately, especially in national elections, third party candidates have not historically shown enough strength. Those votes in effect do not help decide the Electoral College count. If 100 people vote and 46 vote for candidate A, 44 vote for candidate B, and 10 vote for candidate C (third party), then candidate A will receive the Electoral College. So even if 8 of those C votes were people who absolutely did not want A but thought B wasn’t perfect, A would win because those 8 votes weren’t enough to give any strength to C.


This year between the pandemic and fear of violence at the polls, as well as some areas closing polling places and creating longer lines, getting your vote in may seem more challenging. Remember though that whatever time you need to take to vote, or distance to drop your mail-in ballot at an authorized receptacle – well this vote will have a major impact on the next four years of your life. It is extremely important to make your voice heard.



A state-by-state guide to voting in 2020

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Religion and Interpretation


No one practices their faith exactly the same way as the next guy, and I’m talking about the SAME religions. Everything is subject to interpretation. There’s an old joke in Judaism (my own faith) that goes, “If you ask two Rabbis you’ll get three opinions.”


Almost every religious reference, NO MATTER WHICH ONE, is accompanied by “…and by this, it means…” (no wonder TV commentators think they can tell the viewers “this is what you heard”). In their defense most religious volumes have been translated from their original language to the current language of the people. It’s a well known fact that you can lose a lot in the translation.


If you read scripture or religious tenets OF ANY FAITH, you can really find yourself horrified at some of the writings.

·       “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” [Deuteronomy 21:18-21]

·       I decided to order a man to lead the prayer and then take a flame to burn all those, who had not left their houses for the prayer, burning them alive inside their homes.[Bukhari 11:626]

·      Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.[Matthew 10:34-35]

Are you cringing yet? These are just three of MANY examples from the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Quaran.


The other day, on Facebook of course, someone posted a meme that showed a picture of Judge Amy Coney Barrett (a Catholic) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (a Muslim) which was headed, “When her religion is a problem, but hers isn’t”… My response was an innocent “Religion shouldn't matter in either case.” Another FB member (whom I don’t know) responded abruptly about how violent the Quaran is and “Muslims have been fighting Christians since Mohammed!!”


Indeed there have been many religious wars through the centuries and ALL of our spiritual texts do contain items that seem callous or violent. But, it is my opinion, that every human being, while respecting the main preaching of their chosen faith, must decide on what kind of a life they want to live. No matter what you call your higher power, HE (or SHE) has also given commandments to love your fellow man, to always strive to be better, and to make this world a better place.


Surely we’ve all sinned, sometimes by error and sometimes in anger. But really, are we that different from our fellow beings. We feel pain, we love, we cry, we bleed, and in the end we ALL die.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Friendships and Other Interests


No two people are living the same life — actually if they are there is something truly “suspicious” going on. We each have our own priorities, likes, dislikes and responsibilities. Some may have family members that another person doesn’t (spouse, children, siblings, etc.) and therefore interests and obligations may not be the same. But… what is the same is the desire to live one’s life, enjoy even the little things, to know love, to want happiness, and to truly feel alive.


When someone has a problem, whether or not that predicament is as important to you, doesn’t mean that you know how much someone else is allowed to feel or not. And your experiences, no matter how similar you believe them to be, are NOT the same and that other person does not need to react, feel and believe the same way you do. What is even worse is not really caring how the other person feels and not even trying to.


YOU are entitled to be thrilled with the joys in your life and even to share your enthusiasm with others. You need to remember though that you are not the only person in the world, not everyone has to be enthralled with your joys or the things that excite you. At the same time, you do not have a right to minimize another’s joy and enthusiasm. Friendship, love, caring — it’s all give AND take. It’s being considerate of someone else’s feelings.


By all means, share your joys, but don’t let it reach the point where you are literally shoving your happiness and blessings upon someone who may be made to feel less for not having what you have. Accept that everyone comes from a different “place” and yours is not the only one that matters. If you and a friend are talking (is it really you AND?) about everything that makes YOU happy and then that friend wants to share some of his own joy, take the time to listen just as they did for you.


Think about it honestly. How would you feel if the person you call friend lets you know they just aren’t interested in the things that you hold most dear? Take the time to think of others… and yes, if necessary, eliminate (or at least reduce) those from your life who take you for granted.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020



Who cares if you hurt grieving friends and families so long as you can sell your newspapers, right?... That attitude gets me so angry.


I’ve been a journalist for a number of years, for the most part I stay away from hard news coverage. Why? Because I got tired of editors who just wanted headlines, no matter how graphic the image was.


A freelance photographer that I know was shooting pictures for a local newspaper, he captured some great shots of a house fire with multiple trucks and firefighters in action. The editor asked if anyone died or at least got injured. The photographer said, no, they got everyone out safely. Editor’s answer, oh, nice pics but we can’t use them, nobody wants to read about that.


The truth is though, sensational headlines DO sell newspapers. Emotional and revealing soundbites DO attract viewers to the local TV news program. Many people thrill to the most intimate and gruesome details about the latest car accident, or violent attack, or natural disaster. Maybe… maybe they don’t think it’s real, maybe it’s just another Hollywood movie…


Mouths water over every detail, until it happens to your friends, your family, or you. Near the community where I used to live there was a terrible car accident this week, two young people lost their lives. The first newspaper article I read gave the facts, it identified the individuals and told a little about each, then it gave an account of the accident. It was enough detail. A little later a Facebook friend sent me another newspaper’s article; this one was graphic. This article detailed the victims’ final moments with graphic descriptions, it was almost written like an excerpt from a horror novel.


Today I saw Facebook posts of friends who had endured this second article. Although they all had been saddened by the deaths of their friends, reading this second, very graphic, article left them in anguish and tears. It pushed them beyond mourning for the losses, the account had horrified them, left them with mental images that will forever haunt. What was the need of that detail — oh yes, to sell newspapers?


If you want a horror story there are plenty of books and movies to binge on. Let those editors know that there is no need, no desire, for horror stories in the newspaper.


May the victims of this accident Rest in Peace — and may their families and friends find comfort and strength.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

My intentions were…



I finished reading Mary L. Trump’s book “Too Much — Never Enough” a while ago. My intention had been to write a book review to post on my Potpourri blog, but I cannot in good conscience write something UN-biased after reading this. I decided instead to write a bit of commentary and allow myself the leeway of my opinions.


Mary L. Trump is a highly trained clinical psychologist and the niece of America’s 45th “president” (and I use that title lightly). No, I am not a Donald Trump supporter, but then there have been other political figures that I haven’t been in favor of and yet never felt so …strongly about.


Yes, I am aware that Mary Trump has written this book from HER perspective, but perspective by itself doesn’t mean it’s false. So many of the things she wrote, specifically about her family history, really gives credence to so many of Donald Trump’s shortcomings. She goes into detail what his childhood was like and in so many ways I guess you CAN blame some of what he became on his parents, especially his father.


Donald Trump was one of five children, three sons and two daughters, and they were all starved for affection from a mother who was “distracted” and a father whose only real interest was money. Although Donald was the second son and therefore not originally destined to take over the family business, he learned early on that he could gain his father’s approval by “always coming out on top” no matter how much he hurt others. At one point he was sent to a military academy, not to be a soldier, but because he was completely out of control at home.


His oldest brother, Freddy (also Mary’s dad), had interests in things other than his family real estate business and for a while actually seemed to be making an outstanding life for himself and his family. But he was terribly discouraged and badgered for his choices (Donald did his more-than-fair-share of the badgering) and eventually gave up his dreams and his wife and children, and became obsessed with alcohol. And yes he drank himself into bad health and eventually an early grave. His family’s lack of emotion and concern over the oldest son’s death is unimaginable, that’s a whole other story.


Donald became the heir apparent and although he tried to emulate many of his father’s successes, his father had to repeatedly bail him out and covered his errors on more than one occasion. (By the way, Donald’s father was able to start his business from money left to him from HIS mother, neither was exactly self-made.) Donald Trump grew up with wealth and financial security in a basic mausoleum of family love and warmth.


It was indeed a very sad upbringing and explains a lot of why he is so nasty and tears down others, and especially why he doesn’t seem to respect most females. But Donald Trump is not the only one to have such a stunted family life, he is not the only person in the world to have been neglected; most adults who have gone through this trauma have chosen to get help in dealing with life. Instead he has embraced the “only one winner” philosophy and seems void of compassion and obsessed with his own self-manufactured “greatness”.


While I certainly was not part of his growing years or the circles he hung out with, I personally know of people who were cheated out of payment for services he demanded. I grew up in NYC when lawsuits were filed against Donald and his father for discrimination (lawsuits which were “settled” with money and NOT vindication!). And I know of people who worked in offices he dealt with where he looked down on females and made them feel “uncomfortable”. Mary Trump’s book only confirms so many things I heard about him long before he entertained the idea of running for President.


The book is certainly an eye-opener and I would imagine that one of his supporters would be highly offended. I still hope that everyone would read it and perhaps explain some of what, who, we choose to vote for or against.


And this, my friends, is why I couldn’t write a fair book review…



Thursday, September 10, 2020

9/11 Nineteen Years Later


Nineteen years ago, September 11, 2001, 2996 people,
2996 HUMAN BEINGS, lost their lives.
There have been innumerable losses since due to
and exposure to the toxic dust.

Ceremonies and memorials conducted at the WTC in New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania are all being modified because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In Shanksville PA the ceremony will be without music and victims' name will be spoken by just one reader. At the Pentagon no families will be in attendance, all victims' names will be played on a recording and only Military leaders will be present. And in NYC, there will be DUAL ceremonies — no names will be read at the World Trade Center site; however a few blocks away the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Tower Foundation will allow families to recite their loved ones' names. Earlier this week FDNY held a "limited attendance" ceremony to honor those who have died since 2001 due to toxic dust.

Although originally cancelled, the twin blue Tribute in Light beams WILL be displayed. The Stephen Siller Foundation is displaying memorial lights at the Flight #93 site and the Pentagon. 

This year MORE THAN EVER we need to remember and #NeverForget the sacrifices and horrendous losses suffered that bleak Tuesday in 2001.

As a former Rockland County NY resident, I have always listed those
local residents that we lost on 9/11/2001

Ø Janet M. Alonso 41 Stony Point NY
Ø Calixto Anaya Jr. 35 Suffern NY
Ø Japhet J. Aryee 49 Spring Valley NY
Ø Richard E. Bosco 34 Suffern NY
Ø Sgt. John Gerard Coughlin 43 Pomona NY
Ø Welles Remy Crowther 24 Upper Nyack NY
Ø John D' Allara 47 Pearl River NY
Ø Bernard D. Favuzza 52 Suffern NY
Ø Thomas Foley 32 West Nyack NY
Ø Andrew Fredericks 40 Suffern NY
Ø Robert Joseph Gschaar 55 Spring Valley NY
Ø Dana Hannon 29 Suffern NY
Ø Capt. Frederick Ill Jr. 49 Pearl River NY
Ø Farah Jeudy 32 Spring Valley NY
Ø Joseph Marchbanks Jr. 47 Nanuet NY
Ø John Marshall 35 Congers NY
Ø Patricia A. McAneney 50 Pomona NY
Ø Robert Garvin McCarthy 33 Stony Point NY
Ø Robert William McPadden 30 Pearl River NY
Ø Luke G. Nee 44 Stony Point NY
Ø Gerald O'Leary 34 Stony Point NY
Ø David Ortiz 37 Nanuet NY
Ø Lt. Vernon Allan Richard 53 Nanuet NY
Ø Thomas G. Schoales 27 Stony Point NY
Ø Mohammed Shajahan 41 Spring Valley NY
Ø Gregory Sikorsky 34 Spring Valley NY
Ø Catherine T. Smith 44 West Haverstraw NY
Ø Robert W. Spear Jr. 30 Valley Cottage NY
Ø Loretta A, Vero 51 Nanuet NY
Ø Benjamin Walker 41 Suffern NY
Ø Weibin Wang 41 Orangeburg NY
Ø Steven Weinberg 41 New City NY
Ø Capt. David T. Wooley 53 Nanuet NY

To view a full memorial list of 9/11 victims go here:

To view a list of law enforcement officers from 10 agencies, go here
(includes those who have died from 9/11 illnesses)

To view of list of FDNY officers who died on 9/11, go here:

To view a list of all Emergency workers killed in the September 11 attacks, go here: