freshly pressed…wordpress lottery

From time to time, I take a gander at WordPress “Freshly Pressed” pages. Like tonight when I happened to see that another blogger had listed FP on her blogroll. The pages seemed endless. I don’t think I got past 9 or 10 of them. Each one contained 10 or more blogs, recognized as being the best on any given day. I think I perused the guidelines for winning a coveted spot once, but decided I couldn’t recommend my own blog. The Catholic nuns who’d taught me humility would surely roll over in their graves. God bless their souls, and mine for even thinking of self-aggrandizement.

But more importantly it seems a blogger must jump through certain hoops to be chosen. Can’t remember what they all were, but at my age, and with my limited knowledge of technical wizardry, I’m certain I wouldn’t make it through all the hoops. My arthritic back would give out. It’s like when I watch all those reality TV talent shows. I give the thousands who show up to audition a mountain of credit. I could do equally poorly as most of them, but they have one thing I don’t have…guts! Sometimes I must admit to many looking like idiots. But hey! To each his own; whatever makes their world go ’round.

So back to FP. For the life of me, and it’s getting shorter by the hour, though I’m in no hurry, I’ll never, ever in a million years figure out how to get on that moving locomotive. And I’ll soon be looking down the gun barrel of my 62nd birthday, so there’s no hope in h—k that I’ll be able to throw myself onto the train as it speeds by my hobbit hole.

So I wish all those with membership into the exclusive Freshly Pressed club a no-holds barred, hearty congratulations! I’m glad someone hits the lottery every day. “You’ve gotta be in it to win it,” as the saying goes. And those bloggers are obviously doing something right. I applaud their efforts, because blogging is hard work. But those of us with a passion…

reap its rewards…even when it’s not an FP award of recognition   …hugmamma.

Imported Photos 00529

daily post challenge: #188…can a camera truly catch a moment in time

In recent months I’ve gone crazy taking pictures. You might say I’ve run amok. That’s what my husband would say. I surely wouldn’t call myself a photographer. That sounds far too lofty for me. I dabble, just as I dabble in writing. Especially since I know very little beyond “point and shoot.”

My shiny, red, Canon Power Shot SD780IS Digital ELPH, is one bad boy when it comes to capturing “life in the moment.” It suits my purposes just fine. And whenever I look at the photos I’ve taken…I’m reliving that “moment in time.” Even if it’s 30, 40 years later. What more could I ask of my camera. What more could anyone ask?

…i’m sure you’ll agree………for your viewing pleasure………

…….hugmamma.  :)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

365 photo challenge: dull

while the skies outside are gray and dull…………………i’ve reason to celebrate

 …..my bff is coming for a visit…..during which there’ll be sunlight and moonlight every day…..because of her………………………………..hugmamma.  :)

365 photo challenge: attitude

i’d say this little one has the right attitude………………………………………stylish

…and sassy!!!!!………………………………………………………………….hugmamma.  ;)

tv genie…real life mom

Have just finished reading Barbara Eden‘s autobiography. Remember her as the genie in the bottle in “I Dream of Jeannie?” A favorite sitcom of mine at the time it aired in the mid-60s, I’m sure she was the fantasy of every young girl who wanted to be like Jeannie, and every man, young and old, who wanted to be her master, aka Captain Tony Nelson. Because I looked nothing like Barbara Eden, blonde, blue-eyed, I don’t think I was as fixated on her as I was on her cute leading man, Larry Hagman. I probably tuned in as often as I could to drool over his good looks. I thought the show was funny, although I liked it a lot better when Tony finally stopped running away from Jeannie’s advances. They made a cute, TV couple; I thought they’d make a great pair in real life too. But I guess I was wrong.

It’s obvious that Eden admired Hagman’s acting, and shared a lasting friendship with him, but according to her, he was like the Tasmanian devil…hell on wheels!

On one unforgettable occasion, when Larry didn’t like a particular script, his answer was to throw up all over the set. Nerves? Method acting? I didn’t stick around long enough to find out, but took refuge in the sanctuary of my dressing room instead.

In many ways, Larry was like a very talented, troubled child whose tantrums sometimes got the better of his self-control. The crew, however, quickly lost patience with him and vented their frustration by cutting him dead as often as possible and tormenting him however and whenever they could. Once when Larry demanded a cup of tea (as opposed to his habitual champagne), the crew, exasperated by his high-handedness and demands that a scene be reshot because he didn’t like that particular segment of the script, put salt in his tea instead of sugar.

When the unsuspecting Larry took a sip and spat the tea out in disgust, the entire set rocked with suppressed laughter from the delighted crew, who probably would have applauded if they could have, they so enjoyed humiliating poor Larry.

In real life, Eden was happily married to fellow actor Michael Ansara. Of Lebanese descent, he was two when his parents moved the family to America. She raved of him…

As far as I–and thousands of fans and love-struck female fans throughout the world–was concerned, Michael Ansara was a magnificent specimen of alpha-male masculinity. Six foot four and darkly handsome, with blazing brown eyes, a deep, resonant voice, and a powerful aura of strength and dependability, Michael was a Hollywood heart-throb with sex appeal to burn.

I think we get the picture. If Ansara had portrayed a genie competing with Tony Nelson for Jeannie’s hand on the TV sitcom, I wonder if Eden could’ve refrained from revealing to the audience which of her two suitors really had her in the palm of his hands?

I’m sure you’ve surmised that Eden and Ansara tied the knot. Seven-and-a-half years after marrying they were delighted to welcome son Matthew, a month before the premiere of “I Dream of Jeannie.”  ... with husband Michael Ansara and son Matthew - i-dream-of-jeannie photoBecause her career climbed while her husband’s nose-dived, Eden became the family breadwinner. For the most part the arrangement seemed to work just fine, for as she explained at the conclusion of her book…

The wonderful thing about my business and about my life is that I never know what’s around the corner. I’m very lucky to like what I do and to be able to work at it so happily and for so long. I’ve always considered my career to be a great joy and a great gift. I love it, and long may it continue.

But her career took its toll on her marriage, her son, and another baby boy as yet unborn. It was this chain of events that convinced me to share Eden’s story with you, which I’d intended to do yesterday, Mother’s Day. What she endured is a tragic example of a wife and mother who tries to do everything, to be everything to all people.

… Ten years into our marriage, I gave an achingly honest interview to a newspaper journalist about the problems Michael and I encountered in our marriage.

“My husband, Michael,” I said, “is becoming more and more annoyed watching me go to work every day while he sits home. He hates the thought of it. I don’t blame him. There isn’t a man around who enjoys the feeling that his wife is the breadwinner and brings home the bacon. I know it’s uncomfortable for Michael. What are we going to do about it? I wish I knew…All I’m sure of is that Michael would give anything to see our positions reversed.” …

Difficult or not, Michael and I had no plans to end our marriage, and we still loved each other as much as we ever had. Then in 1971, to our delight, I became pregnant with our second child.

Even their son Matthew was excited at the prospect of a baby brother. Good fortune seemed to bless her with more good news when she was offered the opportunity to tour America for 10 weeks in not one, but two musicals, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” and “The Sound of Music.” She signed on against her better judgment, for she was in her late thirties and was already feeling the effects of already having acted, sung, and danced “nonstop all over the country for so many years.” For once in her life she was “overcome by a burning desire to refuse not just one job but two.”

But Michael was not working, and if I didn’t take this opportunity, our family would go hungry. Although I knew in my heart that this wasn’t the case, against my better judgment, I agreed to star in both musicals and tour the country right up until I was eight months pregnant.

She took precautions, checking in with doctors wherever she toured, who were recommended by her L.A. physician. But upon finally returning home and being examined by her own doctor, she learned what no mother wants to hear.

My baby was dead. His umbilical cord had been crushed, and there was nothing anyone could do to save him. I say him, because the doctor told me that my unborn baby was a boy. The doctor also told me that in all his many years of practice, he had never encountered a case like mine.

Worse yet, Eden says…

I only knew that I had to carry my dead baby inside of me for six more weeks, because were the doctors to deliver his lifeless body before then, my own life could be endangered. In hindsight, this is a barbaric, outmoded medical practice, and thankfully it is no longer done.

Upon reading this, I recollected overhearing adults whisper of such instances when I was growing up. I didn’t know what it all meant, except that a woman had to carry the dead fetus the entire nine months. There’d be no shortcuts. Needless to say the ordeal took its toll on Eden, who unknowingly succumbed to postpartum depression. After 15 years of marriage she divorced Ansara who was bewildered by her decision. And in retrospect, she regrets not having sought counseling to save her marriage. For the consequences took its toll on their son. “But I still regret our divorce, because the repercussions it would one day have on Matthew would turn out to be cataclysmic. Had I been able to look into a crystal ball at that time, I would have stayed in the marriage until Matthew was an adult. but I didn’t.”

In 1974, Michael, Matthew, and I were living in our ranch-style home in the San Fernando Valley, a prosperous community of well-heeled, well-educated people. Little did we know that someone who lived close by, a wealthy hippie, a man with children of his own, was growing pot in his garden and smoking it with the neighborhood kids. I guess that particular person thought that what he was doing was fun, cool, harmless. If I ever came face-to-face with him, I’d happily kill him.

Fate is so strange, and I often ask myself this question: if Michael and I had lived in another neighborhood, not one where our neighbor was growing pot and handing it out to kids like some kind of candy, would Matthew have avoided becoming a drug addict?

But the reality may well be different. Marijuana can be an extremely addictive drug, and the addiction is intensified if a child not only starts smoking when he is extremely young but also has a marked genetic predisposition to addiction. Sadly, Matthew fell into both categories. Michael and I both had alcoholism in our respective families. Michael’s grandfather was an alcoholic, as were both my mother’s older sister and her brother. Matthew’s early addiction to marijuana easily led to an addiction to harder drugs later on.

Another factor, one for which I will blame myself to my dying day, is that Matthew was only nine when I asked Michael for a divorce, and he never really recovered from having his hitherto happy home broken up. …

…on the morning of June 26, (2001) all my worst fears came true. Matthew was dead. …He was just thirty-five years old.

Barbara Eden’s life continued in the same way that all our lives do…with its ups and downs. Although Michael Ansara remains the “love of her life,” she has found happiness with her third husband, Jon Eicholtz, a builder/developer.

a mom who tried to do it all…and in my estimation…remained a classy lady despite her tragic losses…hugmamma.

 

moms…more than…just

From Sylvia…..to me…..to you………………………………………………….

Happy Mother’s Day

  JUST A MOM?
 
 
 
 
 
A woman, renewing her driver’s license at the County Clerk ‘s office,
was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.  

‘What I mean is, ‘ explained the recorder,  
‘do you have a job or are you just a …?’

‘Of course I have a job,’ snapped the woman.

‘I’m a Mom.’

‘We don’t list ‘Mom’ as an occupation, ‘housewife’ covers it,’
Said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation,

 
this time at our own Town Hall.  
The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised,
efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like,
‘Official Interrogator’ or ‘Town Registrar.’ ‘What is your occupation?’ she probed.

What made me say it?  I do not know.  
The words simply popped out.  
‘I’m a Research Associate in the field of
Child Development and Human Relations.’

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and
looked up as though she had not heard right.  

I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words.
Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written,
in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

‘Might I ask,’ said the clerk with new interest,
‘just what you do in your field?’

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice,
I heard myself reply,
‘I have a continuing program of research,
(what mother doesn’t)
In the laboratory and in the field,
(normally I would have said indoors and out).  
I’m working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family)
and already have four credits (all daughters). 
Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities,
(any mother care to disagree?)
and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it).  
But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.’

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk’s voice as she
completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career,
I was greeted by my lab assistants — ages 13, 7, and 3. 
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model,
(a 6 month old baby) in the child development program,
testing out a new vocal pattern.  
I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! 
And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than ‘just another Mom.’  

 
Motherhood!   What a glorious career!  
Especially when there’s a title on the door.

 

Does this make grandmothers
‘Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations’

 
And great grandmothers
‘Executive Senior Research Associates?’  
I think so!!!
 
  I also think it makes Aunts   ‘AssociateResearchAssistants.’
 

 

Please send this to another Mom,
Grandmother,
Aunt, And other friends you know. 

 
 
 
May your troubles be less,
 
Your blessing be more,
 
And nothing but happiness come through your door!   
  

 

‘Do what you can to show you care about other people, and you will make our world a better place.’ — Rosalynn Carter

365 photo challenge: bias

a real shot in the dark…………………………………………………………………….bias

… an adverb… in a diagonal  manner…webster’s dictionary…….hugmamma.

proactive…against alzheimer’s

My friend Sylvia sent me a nice email which, among other things, expressed her concern that perhaps I dwell on the possibility of succumbing to Alzheimer’s more than I should. I’m certain the disease is not in her genes, for I’ve never heard her speak of either parent or any family member having died with it. Sylvia’s a decade older than me, and shows no signs of memory loss. Having done extensive reading about the disease, I know that she’s already got several factors in her favor for NOT developing Alzheimer’s.

Sylvia is a voracious knitter. Challenging herself with difficult patterns probably keeps her mind agile. She is a meticulous housekeeper and gardener. You could dine off her kitchen and dining room floors, and spread out luxuriously on her manicured lawn, while your eyes feast on the abundant clematis flowers that climb the nearby fence. The exercise involved is also good for the brain, not to mention the body. Finally, Sylvia relishes socializing. She and Jim traipse hither and yon to listen to the big band sounds of “Peach Tangerine.” She has belonged to the “Happy Hooker’s” knitting group for 20+ years, inviting the ladies to her home for an annual Christmas luncheon. And she goes above and beyond to help those in need, from family members to elderly neighbors in her retirement community. Sylvia’s got socializing down to a science which is great, because it’s a key ingredient in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Sylvia has taught me invaluable lessons on growing older gracefully…and keeping my mind healthy and happy. From what they’ve written, others have also given me useful information so that I can take a proactive role in slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s or perhaps preventing it altogether. I regularly share this information in the hopes that it might encourage others to take action as well. I don’t do it as a plea for sympathy, or to sound my own horn. I truly feel this disease, like others, can and should be addressed as early as possible. If there’s any cause for which I am fully committed, rather than “burying my head in the sand,” the delay or prevention of Alzheimer’s is the mother lode of all causes for me. I take a stand not only on my own behalf, but also on behalf of those I love, and who love me.

Cover of

Cover of Preventing Alzheimer's

Leeza Gibbons, one-time TV personality writes in the “Foreword” for Preventing Alzheimer’s – Ways to Help Prevent, Delay, Detect, and Even Halt Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Forms of Memory Loss by William Rodman Shankle, M.S., M.D. and Daniel G. Amen, M.D.:

If you’ve picked up this book, you’re probably scared. Or if not afraid, at least interested in what causes Alzheimer’s disease and learning whether you are at risk.

The reality is that we’re all at risk of having this “terrorist-like thief” randomly break into our brains and begin to rewrite our life stories. As Baby Boomers beginning to face our mortality, Alzheimer’s is the unwelcome stranger that reminds us of our vulnerability.

The good news is that we don’t have to be defenseless.

My grandmother lost her life because of Alzheimer’s disease. We lose a little more of my mom everyday. Before Mom was fully trapped behind the fog, she asked me to promise that I would tell her story and use it to educate and inspire. I am, but doing so often brings more questions than answers. She looked into the face of her mother at my Granny’s funeral knowing what her fate would be. I looked at Mom and wondered…What about my children, and what about me? Am I next in line to have my memories stolen?

When my three children ask me if I will get “it” I tell them–truthfully–that I don’t know.

Thanks to Drs. William Rodman Shankle and Daniel Amen, what I do know is that perhaps I can effectively manage my risk of getting the disease, and you can, too. Whether or not you have a history of Alzheimer’s or dementia in your family, your goal is to keep your brain strong and healthy. …

We all know that the “age wave” is about to crash in our culture and yet we are not at all ready. Even in the wake of President Ronald Reagan‘s death, there is still so much shame and stigma surrounding memory disorders that many families try to compensate and deny until they are bankrupt–financially, spiritually, and emotionally. Alzheimer’s is a disease that depletes and depletes, and it is never satisfied with the diagnosed individual…it wants the entire family.

It’s for this reason I created the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation. Our family was numb and paralyzed with fear when Mom was diagnosed. It was almost impossible to find the help and support we needed. Answers were scarce. …

Leeza's Place

At Leeza’s Place, our mantra is early diagnosis. We believe in memory screenings to get a baseline reading, against which any decline can be measured. We believe in educating our guests about the latest in alternative treatments to complement traditional approaches. We believe in being proactive against this frightening force. We believe in support for both the recently diagnosed and those who care for them.

That’s why I am so impressed with Drs. Shankle and Amen and their work. They are well-respected scientists whose work is world-renowned, but I also know them as kind, compassionate men who not only focus on how to tackle this disease, but on connecting with families who arrive in their offices with their breath knocked out of them, looking for a miracle. These two doctors will never try to talk anyone out of expecting a good outcome…they have seen it happen too many times. They have been the guiding forces toward success stories that may offer real hope against a dark landscape of despair. …

You are perhaps doing nothing short of changing the course of your future, and possibly someone else’s, by reading this book. Can you think of anything more powerful or important? It’s a popular notion that we must gracefully surrender the things of youth. Yes, we will lose our firm muscles and unlined skin, but memories should be ours for keeps. They are what resonate at the end of a life, sweetened over time.

We must do what we can to bolt the door to our minds so that our treasured recollections of those we love, where we went, and what we felt will be kept forever as a sort of “soul print” of our time here on earth. This book suggests options that might have the potential to lock out Alzheimer’s disease in order to do just that.

This image shows a PiB-PET scan of a patient w...

Image via Wikipedia

Under the heading “What the Brain Needs to Stay Healthy,” Drs. Shankle and Amen write:

Fuel
Just like any other living thing, a brain needs fuel to grow, function, and repair itself. Glucose and oxygen run the engine powered by your brain cells. Glucose is a simple six-carbon sugar. Unlike other cells in your body, your brain cells only know how to use glucose. Anything that impairs glucose delivery to brain cells is life-threatening. Oxygen is required to produce energy; without it your mitochondria will not produce enough energy to keep your brain alive. Because blood delivers glucose and oxygen to your brain, nothing must get in the way of blood flow if the brain is to stay healthy.

Stimulation
Although largely genetically programmed to turn on its functions at the right developmental age, the human brain also depends on proper stimulation to grow and develop throughout childhood and to maintain its functioning into old age. When you stimulate neurons in the right way, you make them more efficient; they function better, and you are more likely to have an active, learning brain throughout your life. …

The best sources of stimulation for the brain are physical exercise, mental exercise, and social bonding.

Physical Exercise
Physical exercise is important for brain health. Moderate exercise improves the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body and helps maintain healthy blood flow to the brain, which increases oxygen and glucose delivery. Exercise also reduces damage to neurons from toxic substances from the environment, and it enhances insulin’s ability to prevent high blood sugar levels, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes. Physical exercise also helps protect the short-term memory structures in the temporal lobes (hippocampus and entorhinal cortex) from high-stress conditions, which produce excessive amounts of the hormone cortisol (20). …The Honolulu Study of Aging found that untreated high blood pressure during midlife (40 to 60 years old) greatly increases the risk for dementia. …This study emphasizes the importance of regular exercise and proper treatment of any medical conditions you may have. …

Mental Exercise
Physical exercise has a global effect on the brain, but mental exercise is equally important. By mental exercise, we mean acquiring new knowledge. It is possible to use your brain without learning anything new, which in the long run is not terribly helpful. For instance, Dr. Joe L. reads mammograms all day long–reads thousands of them a year–and although he is working his brain every day, he is not actually taking in new information. Whenever the brain does something over and over, it learns how to do that particular thing using less and less energy. New learning–such as learning a new medical technique, a new hobby, or new game–helps establish new connections, thus maintaining and improving the function of other less-often-used brain areas. …

Social Interaction
One common source of brain stimulation that is often overlooked is interacting with other people. Social interaction is the fuel the brain needs to develop the ability to negotiate, cooperate, and compromise with others, to know right from wrong, and to know when to respond and when to keep silent. These highly complex human abilities are largely controlled by the tips of the frontal lobes. They start to develop before two years old, such as when the infant starts saying no to the parents. These abilities continue to develop at least until 50 years old, according to studies of brain myelination, and perhaps longer.

Child neglect has been associated with many brain-based developmental difficulties such as personality and learning and behavioral problems. Likewise, adults deprived of the company of others experience a clear negative effect on cognitive abilities, memory, and social skills. In studies on social connectedness in the elderly, it has been shown that people who spend time with others on a regular basis are cognitively sharper. In addition, their emotions are more even. Psychiatrists have seen time and again that people who are isolated commit suicide dramatically more often than those who are active in society. Simple social interaction stimulates particular neuronal circuits. For instance, there is a self-awareness circuit at the very tip of the frontal lobe. If its capacity is diminished, the person can no longer judge her own abilities. Self-awareness is maintained, literally, by being aware of oneself, and that is aided significantly by feedback from other people. If the circuits in the crucial areas of the frontal lobe aren’t being used, they atrophy, and the person’s social skills suffer.

Page 71 of the book carries “The Shankle-Amen Early Dementia Detection Questionnaire.” Listed are 21 short questions to which the answers are either “yes” or “no.” In parentheses are numerical scores. Upon completion, one is asked to total the scores for the “yes” answers.

Interpretation
If the score is 0, 1, or 2, then you have low risk factors for developing ADRD.
If the score is 3, 4, 5 or 6, then you should annually screen (see Appendix A) after age 50.
If the score is greater than 6, then you should annually screen (see appendix A) after age 40.

Following are the questions for which I answered “yes.”

1._(3.5) One family member with Alzheimer’s disease or other cause of dementia

10._(2.1) High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)

Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United Stat...

Image via Wikipedia

As you can see my score is 5.6 indicating that I should test for memory loss, which I will be doing. Coincidentally as I write this post, there’s a Larry King special on TV, “Unthinkable – Alzheimer’s Epidemic.” Among other guests speaking of their experiences with family members who had Alzheimer’s are Leeza Gibbons, Laura Bush, Angie Dickinson, Ron Reagan, and Maria Shriver. Contributing to the piece are the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, as well as doctors, scientists, and other experts in the field. Larry King underwent testing, including an MRI, to see if symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s could be detected. He came away with a clean bill of health as far as they were concerned.

β-amyloid fibrils.

Image via Wikipedia

The message of my post, and Larry King’s TV special, is to recognize and accept the potential for Alzheimer’s. But more importantly, it’s that we should be aggressively proactive in remaining out of its debilitating grasp for as long as we are able. For once its tentacles take hold, there’s no escape…ever.

preferring to be the aggressor…and not the victim…hugmamma.  

weekly photo challenge: wildlife

does this qualify as wildlife?…………………………………………………………………….

i’m a bit terrified of this photo…of sitka…hugmamma.

public enemy #1..obama?

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve a stack of articles cut from the Wall Street Journal which I’d wanted to share, eventually. Upon review, I toss those that are no longer relevant. You can imagine my surprise when I came across the following from 2/14/11, which begs the question “In light of recent events, what say you now?” And I mean specifically as it pertains to President Obama’s loyalty to America?

Obama Isn’t Trying to ‘Weaken America”
by Michael Medved

Some conservatory commentators may feel inclined to spend President’s Day ruminating over Barack Obama’s evil intentions, or denouncing the chief executive as an alien interloper and ideologue perversely determined to damage the republic. Instead, they should consider the history of John Adam’s White House prayer and develop a more effective focus for their criticism.

Oil painting of John Adams by John Trumbull.

Image via Wikipedia

On Nov. 2, 1800, a day after he became the first president to occupy the newly constructed executive mansion, Adams wrote to his wife Abigail: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”

More than a century later, Franklin Roosevelt ordered the inscription of these words on a mantel piece in the State Dining Room, inviting serious consideration over the extent to which divine providence responded to the earnest entreaty of our second president.

In terms of wisdom, some of Adam’s successors who “ruled” under the White House roof most certainly fell short. James Buchanan comes to mind–or Jimmy Carter.

When it comes to honesty, skeptics might also cite heaven’s mixed blessings, reviewing a long history of presidential prevarication. Richard Nixon almost certainly lied about Watergate, as did Bill Clinton about his amorous adventures.

But in the deeper sense that Adams longed for “honest men” to occupy the White House, the nation has fared much better: Those who rose to the highest office worked hard, took their responsibilities seriously, and sincerely pursued the nation’s good–in order, if nothing else, to secure a positive verdict on their own place in history.

Even the most corruption-tarred presidents, Ulysses S. Grant and Warren G. Harding, agonized over the demands of the office and drew scant personal benefit from the scandals involving unworthy associates. They both retained the profound affection of the populace while they lived and drew massive outpourings of grief at their funerals. Both (especially Grant) have begun a recent rise in the estimation of historians.

President John F. Kennedy and daughter Carolin...

John F. Kennedy may have suffered from sex addiction (and a host of other secret maladies) while Franklin Pierce drank heavily in the White House (in part in mourning for his 11-year-old son who died before his eyes in a train accident two months before the inauguration). But neither man ignored his duties, and both had previously demonstrated their love of country with courageous military service.

In short, the White House record of more than 200 years shows plenty of bad decisions but no bad men. For all their foibles, every president attempted to rise to the challenges of leadership and never displayed disloyal or treasonous intent.

This history makes some of the current charges about Barack Obama especially distasteful–and destructive to the conservative cause.

One typical column appeared on Feb. 5 at the well-regarded American Thinker website, under the heading: “Obama Well Knows What Chaos He Has Unleashed.” Victor Sharpe solemnly declares: “My fear is that Obama is not naive at all, but he instead knows only too well what he is doing, for he is eagerly promoting Islamic power in the world while diminishing the West.”

These attitudes thrive well beyond the blogosphere and the right-wing fringe. On Jan. 7, Sarah Palin spoke briefly on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, saying, “What I believe that Obama is doing right now–he is hell-bent on weakening America.” While acknowledging that “it’s gonna get some people all wee-weed up again,” she repeated and amplified her charge that “what Obama is doing” is “purposefully weakening America–because he understood that debt weakened America, domestically and internationally, and yet now he supports increasing debt.”

Cover of

Cover of The Roots of Obama's Rage

The assumption that the president intends to harm or destroy the nation that elected him has become so widespread that the chief advertising pitch for Dinesh D’Souza’s best-selling book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” promises to “reveal Obama for who he really is: a man driven by the anti-colonial ideology of his father and the first American president to actually seek to reduce America’s strength, influence and standard of living.”

None of the attacks on Mr. Obama’s intentions offers an even vaguely plausible explanation of how the evil genius, once he has ruined our “strength, influence and standard of living,” hopes to get himself re-elected. In a sense, the president’s most paranoid critics pay him a perverse compliment in maintaining that his idealism burns with such pure, all-consuming heat that he remains blissfully unconcerned with minor matters like his electoral future. They label Mr. Obama as the political equivalent of a suicide bomber: so overcome with hatred (or “rage”) that he’s perfectly willing to blow himself up in order to inflict casualties on a society he loathes.

On his radio show last July 2, the most influential conservative commentator of them all reaffirmed his frequent charge that the president seeks economic suffering “on purpose.” Rush Limbaugh explained: “I think we face something we’ve never faced before in the country–and that is, we’re now governed by people who do not like the country.” In his view, this hostility to the United States relates to a grudge connected to Mr. Obama’s black identity. “There’s no question that payback is what this administration is all about, presiding over the decline of the United States of America, and doing so happily.”

Regardless of the questionable pop psychology of this analysis, as a political strategy it qualifies as almost perfectly imbecilic. Republicans already face a formidable challenge in convincing a closely divided electorate that the president pursues wrong-headed policies. They will never succeed in arguing that those initiatives have been cunningly and purposefully designed to wound the republic. In Mr. Obama’s case, it’s particularly unhelpful to focus on alleged bad intentions and rotten character when every survey shows more favorable views of his personality than his policies.

Moreover, the current insistence in seeing every misstep or setback by the Obama administration as part of a diabolical master plan for national destruction disregards the powerful reverence for the White House that’s been part of our national character for two centuries.

Even in times of panic and distress we hope the Almighty has answered John Adam’s prayer. Americans may not see a given president as their advocate, but they’re hardly disposed to view him as their enemy–and a furtive, determined enemy at that. For 2012, Republicans face a daunting challenge in running against the president. That challenge becomes impossible if they’re also perceived as running against the presidency.

(Mr. Medved hosts a daily, nationally syndicated radio-show and is the author of “The 5 Big Lies About American Business” – recently out in paperback by Three Rivers Press.)

A couple of things come to mind in reading this article. One is that Palin speaks plain, but she doesn’t make sense in an arena larger than the bubble in which she moves. Secondly, I think she and Limbaugh are two of the cleverest people around. Why would they ever change their platforms when they have a following for which Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Beyonce would sing their hearts out. Even sweeter, Palin and Limbaugh are laughing all the way to the bank. Why should these two give up the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg? They aren’t dummies!

One final observation is that while conservatives like Palin and Limbaugh abhor Obama personally and politically, there are liberals who abhor him just as much because he’s not annihilating those same conservatives. I’ve seen extreme-left blogs whose writers have turned their backs on the man they elected, because he hasn’t stampeded over anyone getting in his way to effect all that he promised. It seems Obama shouldn’t spare the sword, and  he should definitely take no prisoners. Off with their heads!

I know of no person in a relationship, any relationship worth its weight in gold, who doesn’t believe in compromise. Why is that so impossible in politics? In the current environment it feels as though the populace is neither conservative nor liberal, but rather we are either venutians or martians. We look different. We act different. We don’t even speak the same language. Sadly enough, it may be that Barack Obama has been the catalyst to this unearthly event…a black man…a muslim name……………………….      no right to be America’s president.

sad…but maybe too true…hugmamma.  

self-publishing…quality still matters

I recently attended a lecture about self-publishing. Quite a few were in attendance. I’d not realized how many wannabee writers are out there. Of course there were probably a handful of published authors in the mix. Already speaking when I arrived was self-published author Nathan Everett. He had quite a lot to offer about the design of the self-published book, so that it will closely replicate one that’s hot off the presses of an established publishing house. I liked that idea because I’ve seen a couple of self-published books that resembled pamphlets. I didn’t think they were worth the $8 or $10 asked. I love books, but they need to be worth their weight in cold, hard cash, especially in the current economy.

Cover of

Cover of Twilight (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Everett was a good speaker, so good in fact, that he convinced me to purchase his book Steven George & The Dragon. At a hefty price of $15, it sucked me in because of its well-designed jacket. Reading the first few paragraphs also convinced me that Everett’s self-publishing efforts were well worth the price. Or so I thought. The following day I settled into reading the 171 pages of fantasy. I’d not read this genre since childhood. Sorry. I’ve NOT gone ape over the Harry Potter or Twilight books, although I enjoyed the films. I’m inclined to read celebrity biographies, another kind of fantasy. But where I relished the aforementioned fantasy films and bios, Everett’s book was disappointing.

The upside of self-publishing is obvious. A writer can get his work out to readers without using middlemen. That, in turn, allows her to keep most of the earnings, a small percentage going to the company enlisted to do the selling. The downside may not be as blatant. Just because everyone can self-publish, doesn’t mean everyone can write well. I don’t think I’ll purchase another of Everett’s books to see if his writing gets better as he goes along. That’s too expensive a venture for my pocketbook. As it is, I’m not certain I can make it past the first chapter of his dragon book. See if you agree with me after you read the following sample from Steven George & The Dragon.

Once upon a time, there was a dragon-slayer named Steven George. He could not remember whether he had volunteered for the task or had been chosen. He did not know when he would be called upon to slay the dragon. He did not even really know what a dragon was–aside from the fact that it was fierce, and to be feared, and it breathed fire. He knew, however, from his earliest memories that he was the one who would one day slay the dragon. …

The dragon–Steven assumed–lived high on a mountain on the other side of a wide river. Steven had often seen plumes of smoke rise from its peak. Dragons breathe fire. There was smoke on the mountain. Therefore, the dragon must live there. If Steven could just figure out how to get across the wide and treacherous river, he could walk up the mountain, slay the dragon, and be home in time for dinner. But there was no way across the river. So Steven planned his strategy carefully. Exactly 10,230 steps downstream, an equally wide and treacherous river joined the one near his village, and became even wider, more treacherous, and impossible to cross. Steven determined to walk upstream until the river narrowed or became shallow enough to cross, and then he would come back downstream on the other side to the dragon’s mountain.

Steven was ready to shoulder his pack and step off his front stoop–the first step of his journey–when his sweetheart approached.

Phoenix Dragons

Image via Wikipedia

“Steven, dear, I’ve packed you a lunch,” she said. She handed him a small parcel wrapped in oiled skin and looked at him lovingly. “So now you are off to slay the dragon. My hero. All my life I will pine away on our doorstep, dreaming of my brave dragonslayer. People will nod their heads when they pass and say, ‘She loved Steven George the Dragonslayer.’ Poets will write of our love and how you rode off to meet the dragon to protect your village and your love. I am so proud of you.”  

 What was even more disconcerting was the counting of steps as the hero made his way in search of the dragon.

…looked sadly at his sweetheart and took step number one. Two, three, four, five, six. Steven always counted his steps. As long as he knew how many steps from home he was, he knew where he was. Steven had counted the steps to the river, the steps to the pastures, the steps to the field. Steven had counted the steps between his home and his mother’s home. He had counted the steps around the village long-house. Knowing the number of steps he had taken was a comfort to Steven. 14, 15, 16, 17.

Steven walked at the steady, measured pace of 80 steps per minute. …As he moved forward–35, 36, 37, 38… He walked on through the village–51, 52, 53, 54. …as he walked through the village–69, 70, 71. …and continued counting only his footsteps–91, 92, 93. …as he stepped boldly out of the village–103, 104, 105.

And that only took me to page 4 of the book. I may attempt another try at reading Everett’s writing, but probably not in the near future. I credit him with making a living at book designing, as a paid consultant, and book selling. I guess the beauty of being responsible for the total package means the writer can find his own niche among readers. And truthfully, I think that’s the hard part…for either self-published or traditionally published books.

Complete set of the seven books of the

Image via Wikipedia

 Mr.Everett did indicate that his book was intended for an audience of 13-year-olds. In my opinion that age group is more sophisticated and discerning than either Everett or I were at that age. Youngsters these days are masters of the internet, and totally captivated by J.K. Rowling‘s literary master-pieces. I don’t see them reading about Everett’s Steven George.

I had a similar experience with another self-published author a few years ago. My husband and I met the woman on one of his business trips. We had dinner with her and a traveling companion, a young niece. The woman was writing a piece about my husband’s company for AAA magazine. Early in the conversation she told us that she’d just published a book. I don’t think she mentioned that it was self-published. She explained that it was a children’s book, whose idea was spawned from her relationship with her own toddler.

Upon returning home, I went in search of the title at our local Barnes and Noble. A clerk helped us locate the book. Upon seeing it on the shelf I immediately knew it had been a self-publishing effort. Rather than a substantive book, it was a pamphlet. The jacket was mint green with a simple drawing on its cover of a child. Leafing through the pages, I felt no excitement, only monotony. The illustrations lent nothing to the story. Even $5 would have been too high a price for me to pay. I don’t recollect what the actual cost was. I returned the book to its shelf, and left with a disdain for self-published books.

Nathan Everett’s book demonstrates how far self-publishing has come in the design and appearance of the finished product. Purchasing his book was influenced more by my wanting it to serve as a model, when I decide to self-publish my own work. In that regard, I know I’ll reap the benefits of the $15 spent. I consider it a small investment. But the biggest gain already realized is knowing what’s written between the covers, had better justify going the whole 9 yards to self-publish.   

just because it can be done…doesn’t mean it should…and that’s the $64,000 question…with which i’m still wrestling…hugmamma.

reality dancing…not up to the task?

DS boxshot

Image via Wikipedia

I wasn’t surprised when I came across the following information about celebrities who sign up for Dancing with the Stars. They are indeed no match for the real thing, real-life professionals who dance for peanuts by comparison, and not for a paltry 6 weeks, more like 32 to 52 depending on the generosity of patrons who contribute to dance company budgets. And some celebrity dancers complain about the meagre pay they receive for their pain and sacrifice, only $150,000!!! Whatever would they do if they had to dance for a living???

‘Dancing With the Stars’ is one of the more profitable shows on TV, making hundreds of millions each season through ad revenue, but, how much of that bounty is going to the celebrity contestants?

“When you sign up, every contestant gets $150,000 for 6 weeks rehearsals and the first two shows,” an insider with knowledge of the arrangement tells me. “Then every week you survive you make an extra $10,000 then $20,000 then $30,000 and so on, so the winner takes home $350,000.” Which sounds like a huge amount of money, but not to one past contestant, who complained to me this week about 12-hour work days and “ridiculous” amounts of “stress and strain” on the body.

“The show doesn’t pay for massages or anything else,” the former contestant, who is not part of the current cast, alleges. “The amount of physical stress and strain they put your body through, rehearsing six days a week, eight hours a day, is ridiculous.”

My source said “I have never worked so hard in my life” and described one particularly busy performance day: “Our call time was 6:00 AM and we were rehearsing with the band by 8 and then live on the dance floor that evening. That’s a 12-hour day.”

123412_2230

Image by trhnlhi via Flickr

And although I agree it doesn’t feel right that the cast of ‘The Jersey Shore‘ earn far more than Kirstie Alley and crew, I say welcome to the real world, where we pay for own massages too!

Follow @NaughtyNiceRob on Twitter!  

what’s the appeal?…our fondness for celebrities…rather than real artists…hugmamma.

365 photo challenge: locate

When visiting Irvine, California last year in Orange County, we were able to locate this fantastic restaurant which served excellent Mexican food. It also boasted one of the longest bars around……………………………………………………..

they also served up some great margaritas!!!……………………..hugmamma. :)

a tribute…to my mom’s legacy

Happy..Happy.. Mother's Day :-)..

In a couple of days we’ll be celebrating moms. What they mean to us; what they do for us. My mom has been gone a number of years now. But there’s never a day that passes, when I don’t remind myself that “because of my mom, I can endure this struggle.”

While she was alive it seemed my mom and I were always engaged in our own struggle. Up until Alzheimer’s completely overtook her mental capacities, she was forever willing me to do as she wished. Perhaps I was too much like her, for I had difficulty bending to her will, especially after becoming a wife and a mother. Although I was her youngest, I felt I deserved respect as an adult having to make my own way in life. I was footing my own bills now, and picking myself up after life smacked me a blow to the head. This became even more apparent when I moved away from family in the islands, to reside permanently on the mainland. I think I learned early in life that I needed to take care of myself…without whining.

So whether or not my mom intended to give me the strength to endure, I learned by osmosis. She did it, so I do it. And because I do it, my daughter does it. But I must admit she does it with a whole lot less…whining. I like to call it venting. I like to get things off my chest with good friends, including my daughter, and hubby, of course. Now that I’m blogging, you naturally hear some of it as well. But you’ve always the option of…tuning me out.

My daughter’s recent experiences have served as a reminder of the strength instilled in me by my mom, which I have obviously passed along. My daughter’s dance season began with a sabbatical during which she returned home here for medical treatment. After 2 months, she was able to rejoin her ballet company. Cast in a couple of wonderful roles, she was elated to be dancing again in February. As she geared up for the final performance of the season last weekend, my daughter broke her hand in a freakish accident during rehearsal. While stressful, physically and emotionally, she carried on as cheerfully as possible. The beginning of last week she learned her apartment was mildly infested with bed bugs.

Bedbug

Image via Wikipedia

Advised to strip the place of everything except the furniture in preparation for treatment she, with a broken hand, but with the help of a friend, did just that. Renting a storage unit in which she placed bins and trash bags full of her belongings, and boarding her cat at the vet, my daughter has now been waiting almost 2 weeks for her apartment to be treated.

Management is dickering with 2 pest control companies about the price. Meanwhile my daughter is boarding here and there with friends because she doesn’t like the thought of being live bait. The rep from the second company consulted, suggested my daughter sleep in the bed where a couple of bug larvae were found so that the infestation would not spread to other areas, since the bugs would go in search of her blood. You can imagine her reaction! He went on to say that she needn’t have emptied her apartment of its decor and her clothing. Caught in the middle of 2 supposed experts saying opposing things, who should she believe?

Unfortunately management of the apartment complex is in the same quandary, and my daughter is the guinea pig in its efforts to devise a game plan going forward. With bed bug infestations throughout the country being widely broadcast in the media, I wonder why there was no best case/worst case scenario in place with the apartment complex‘s regular vendor of pest control?

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY.....

Image by Daisy.Sue via Flickr

With a broken hand, and living like a nomad, my daughter maintains an upbeat attitude about her life. She’s rehearsing a piece she’s choreographed for this weekend’s show with trainees of the company; she’s been a model in a photo shoot for the company, albeit minus the hand splint which she’s now sporting; and she happily accepts invitations out with friends which often includes a place to bunk for the night. As a beacon of light on the horizon, my daughter will soon be reunited with my husband and me for some much-needed R and R. I promised that she and I would “tie one on” when she got home.

Mother & Child, Coc Ly Market

Image by Hanoi Mark via Flickr

Any mom who cherishes her child can appreciate that what my daughter has been through makes my spirit go limp. At my age, I don’t even have the fire to take on the adversaries anymore, at least not as I did in earlier decades. I have my husband to thank for that. In our household wiser heads now rule, for which I’m eternally grateful. For it has meant that, unlike my mom, these, my later years are free of the kind of stress she inflicted upon herself through negativity. And that I truly believe, is a key component of Alzheimer’s. I may still not escape its grasp, but I maintain control over the number of factors that might contribute to eventually being overcome by the disease. So while I still have my wits about me, I’ll continue to fight the good fight. That’s something else with which I can gift my daughter.

giving thanks…for what my mom has given me…and what i’ve been able to give my daughter…and for the legacy that will most certainly… live on…hugmamma.

Wild Roses Mother's Day Card

Image by Flora Powell via Flickr

in the aftermath…#4

6 World Trade Center

Image via Wikipedia

This, the final post in the series, speaks directly to how Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda came to undermine their own efforts in waging war against America. They like others who use their own people as pawns to acquire what they desire, at any expense, proverbially “shot themselves in the foot” and “cut off their noses to spite their faces.” How is it that many with power feel they can forever hold an axe to their victims’ necks, without realizing the possibility, however slim, that the axe will ricochet cutting off the head of the one wielding it? I think working at long-term compromise to satisfy everyone’s needs is truly better for everyone’s health, welfare… and survival. Easier said than done…but worth a try. Better than the alternative…don’t you think? 

The Slaughter That Muslims Could Not Ignore
by Reuel Marc Gerecht

Like all fundamentalists, Osama bin Laden was attuned to the past. When his speeches weren’t about the economic decline of America, they recalled Islam’s classical age, especially the rise of the Prophet Muhammad through the Rashidun (“rightly-guided”) period, which ended in 661.

Bin Laden saw himself as an Islamic Martin Luther: a protestant who was willing to go to war with the Muslim world‘s Westernized, U.S.-aided kings and presidents-for-life. He hoped to arouse, by the strength of his example, a global movement that would drive the U.S., the cutting edge of the West, out of the Muslim world. Showing American feebleness would bring the inevitable collapse of the unrighteous and the restoration of a more virtuous age.

He sustained himself for so long in the Middle East and Central Asia because lots of Muslims–especially in powerful places in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan–were sympathetic to his cause. For a time, he tapped into an angry, shameful intellectual current among Muslims, who after World War II were increasingly immiserated by their ever more lawless rulers. 

The Westernized police-states (Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya) and the corrupt “Playboy” monarchies (Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, Jordan and Morocco) all became breeding grounds for violent fundamentalism. And even among most Muslims, who did not drink deeply of this creed, the spiritual depression and conspiracy-mongering of these societies made bin Laden an admired celebrity, if not a hero, since he at least scared and hurt the all-powerful United States and openly belittled the detested autocrats.

Muhammad: The Last Prophet

Image via Wikipedia

Historically, Islamic societies have had a fairly high tolerance for the use of violence for a just cause. Bin Laden knew well the line of thought that sees rebellion against unjust rulers as a moral obligation. This was a defining theme of early Islamic history, when Muslims as a community wrestled with what constituted legitimate authority after the death of the Prophet Muhammad.

Among the Arabs, Princeton’s Michael Cook has written, “political and military participation were very widely spread, far more so than in the mainstream of human societies–whether those of the steppe nomads, the later Islamic world, or the modern West. It was the fusion of this egalitarian and activist tribal ethos with the monotheist tradition that gave Islam its distinctive political character. In no other civilization was rebellion for conscience sake so widespread as it was in the early centuries of Islamic history; no other major religious tradition has lent itself to revival as a political ideology–and not just a political identity–in the modern world.”

Twin Towers, New York

Image by Guillaume Cattiaux via Flickr

Bin Laden, who believed that only the most virtuous had the right to rule over the community, was undone by his love of violence. He pushed it too far: Slaughtering innocent Africans in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 was tolerable since the targets were American embassies (and black Muslim Africans were too far from the Arab world to compel a scathing moral critique). Killing American sailors on the USS Cole in the port of Aden was praiseworthy since no modern Muslim power had ever so humbled an American man-of-war. And destroying the Twin Towers and punching a hole in the Pentagon was just astonishing.

But then came the slaughter that could not be ignored, as al Qaeda affiliates started killing in Muslim lands. The suicide bombers who hit Casablanca in 2003 and Amman in 2005 made an impact. But the war in Iraq was bin Laden’s great moral undoing.

Iraq was supposed to be where al Qaeda and other “good Muslims” broke the American back. Instead the carnage there, carried in all its gore by Arabic satellite channels, produced a backlash. There was a limit to the number of Shiite women and children that Sunni Arabs could see murdered. Blowing up hospitals, mosques and shrines–even Shiite ones–became too ghastly to sublimate into an acceptable war against the Americans.

Al Qaeda had helped to provoke one of the worst bloodlettings in contemporary Arab history. Voices within Islam began to rise against its ruthlessness. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s intellectual, knew that his kind had gone too far but there was little that he or bin Laden could do once the jihadist beast had been let loose.

In Iraq, al Qaeda effectively became a takfiri movement: Holy warriors “legitimately” slaughtered other Muslims because they deemed them no longer Muslim but kuffar, infidels, who may be killed in conflict. Bloody takfiri movements can outlast one inspirational leader, but they never win.

It’s entirely possible that if the Taliban win in Afghanistan, al Qaeda could get a new lease on life. The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban movements have absorbed much of the ideology that ignited al Qaeda in the early 1990s. The operational support–free passage and refuge–that Iran gave to al Qaeda before and after 9/11 is probably still there if al Qaeda can organize itself into an effective strike force, especially against Saudi Arabia. And Zawahiri has long been Tehran’s favorite Sunni holy warrior. He certainly has the ability and perhaps the means to maintain al Qaeda’s global networks.

Libyan community protest in Dublin (3)

Image by Tom Szustek via Flickr

But networks must be nourished. If this spring’s great Arab Revolt continues–if the brutalized societies of the Middle East can establish more lawful, representative governments, if their ethics can recover from the years of powerlessness, shame and conspiracy–then al Qaeda will surely lose its future among the Arabs.

It may raise its head now and then. If it could get its hands on the right type of weapons and the deranged young men to use them, it could still kill on an impressive scale. But the group will most likely wither, perhaps rapidly, as Sunni Arabs construct a moral universe in which militants cn no longer compellingly call upon Islamic history to justify rebellion. Bin Laden understandably loathed democracy: It’s the end of the political and ethical order where his world makes sense.

(Mr. Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is the author of “The Wave: Man, God and the Ballot Box in the Middle East”-Hoover, 2011.)