Thursday, December 20, 2012

5 Days Until Christmas! Oh, my!

Here in sunny South Florida you can tell that Christmas is coming by the traffic. Cars from Michigan and Montana, New York and Nebraska. Tourists driving rental cars, slowing down on I-95, not sure which exit to take! They're everwhere!  An old friend arrived Tuesday night and the Fort Lauderdale airport was an absolute zoo! Eghads!!! Jaywalking girls wearing boots and snow caps and fat men schlepping heavy coats and luggage!

I've got my shopping done, but nothing is wrapped. I'm going to wrap tomorrow. The house is decorated and looks lovely ... my darling husband strung new twinkle lights outside! The twinkle light reindeer aren't out on the lawn yet, but there's still time! Five days left until Christmas!

I've been watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel and listening to Christmas music at work and in the car. After the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday, I went into hiding.

I was just beginning to feel the Christmas spirit creeping back into my life after being gone for a few years, and the weekend of horror that unfolded on the internet and TV as the world tried to wrap its head around what happened scared me. I've been through a deeply personal tragedy where one person killed another and it's the most awful thing there is. I'm heartbroken for all the families and am saying extra prayers for them. There are too many of them. And, I'm saddened because I know. You never get over it. It changes everything forever. And, it takes years to learn to live with it without crying all the time.

In this season of Peace and Joy, I am saying my prayers for those people in Newtown, and holding on to my Christmas Spirit. For me, that's no easy feat. But, with just five days to go, I might just pull it off.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What's a good "Man Gift?"

Holy Cow!

Last Friday it was still November, and I was refusing to give into Christmas! I liked my autumn/Thanksgiving decorations just fine!

But, here it is now ... December ... and, the holiday season is staring me in the face. On Tuesday I delivered "little girl" gifts to Hope Outreach for a special family for Christmas. That's all the shopping and wrapping I've done for Christmas! So far. (And, it really is a joy to shop for little girl things!)

Lord! Lord! I don't know what to get my husband!!

New shirts, of course. Always a few new shirts. But, I'd love to get him something he wants and would use. He has every tool a man could possibly have. He said "NO" to an iPad. He uses his hand-held device for pretty much everything. And, he doesn't wear jewelry. I bought him a wallet for Christmas three years ago and it's still in the gift box in his closet. That was a successful gift, right?!

What, oh, what can I give this darling man that would give him a bit of joy?

Shall we surf the net for gift ideas?

Watches make for nice gifts. He might go for something like this little wood number ...

I just like this photo. The watch is cool, too.

My darling husband is from Germany and he loves his beer.
THIS is a very clever way to "gift" a six-pack!

These tortoise Wayfarer Ray-Bans have potential.
He might actually "LIKE" AND use these!

Watches? Beer? Sunglasses? Is this all the internet has to offer for "man gifts?"
The search continues ...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Is it a blog? Or, is it an on line journal?

This is my 101st Post on this blog. I think that is amazing. I don't know who reads it, because there aren't comments very often. I see the numbers in the stats. So, I think it may just be my own on line journal. Which really isn't a bad thing. Is it?

I use Facebook and Pinterest, but this ... my  little blog here ... this is different from those other "social media" outlets. It's by personal virtual space.

I'm off today in observance of Veteran's Day. Thank YOU to every soldier who made this life possible ... this life of freedom and this pursuit of happiness. My dad was a veteran, serving during World War II, so it's a part of my personal history. Thank you, every one.

I don't often get a whole day at home alone, so today was nice. Just me and the dog and the cat.

Caught up on the new ABC soap, "Nashvlle."

Crocheted a babushka scarf for Hallie.

So, here I am, the windows open, the dog snoring, a beautiful breeze blowing and I'm writing my 101st blog post!

How about that?!

I'm going to the doll room now. Going to mess around with the new photo box my darling husband made for me. I'll post about that soon!

It's a beautiful day in sunny South Florida and I'm happy to be here!

I hope you are, too!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day After Election Day

Boy! Am I glad that's over!
Clearly I will never make it as a political writer. I was just too busy with my job as an environmental educator to keep up with the hectic pace. You would think that writing once a day would be easy, but, I'm here to tell you: IT IS NOT! You've got to choose your issues carefully. Then, there's the research. Followed by the writing, proofing, adding images, checking links ... Whew! I get tired just thinking about it!

I think I'll stick to art, dolls and musings on life. So, thanks to those of you who read my humble political opinions. Now, let's get back to doing the fun stuff!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

5 Days to the Election: Let's talk money!

As we close in on the final days of the campaign for President, the message from Romney is clear. If we vote for him and he gets elected, he will create 12,000,000 jobs. 12 million jobs.  Yeah.   Right.

However, now that Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in the northeast, I suspect rebuilding and repairing the areas hardest hit will create at least half of those jobs. What a great "stimulus," huh? And, it didn't take a President to do it! Just some wind and rain!

I have said it before, and I'm going to say it again: It does NOT matter WHO gets elected in November. Not where the economy is concerned. Our economy WILL recover, regardless of who the President is come January 2013. It's already on its way to recovery. It took awhile to screw it up, and it's taken awhile to get it to turn around. But, it's turning. Things ARE changing and the economy IS improving.

What I'm most pissed off about is that it could have been different if it weren't for the hard-headed Republican jerks running around Washington passing themselves off as representatives of the people. That guy, Mitch McConnell? He's the one who said, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."    He said it in an interview prior to the mid-term elections in 2010. He said it because he and his cronies opposed what Obama was trying to do. But, instead of working together to find common ground and realistic solutions to the problems facing the country, he used his leadership skills to do just the opposite. I don't see him representing any people when he does that. I see him pursuing his own interests.

Granted, if you read the interview where the quote originates, you can see that he is speaking in a political context. He makes it clear that the goals of the Republicans couldn't be achieved unless Obama is defeated. What he didn't say, (but, I know this much is true) is that the health care law, often referred to as Obamacare, cannot be overturned if Obama gets another four years.

All the time, energy, money and creativity that have gone into undoing the President could just as easily been spent to fix things, couldn't it? Couldn't it?

Yes. It could.
But, it didn't work that way. And, when I seek to find out why, I keep running into the same crap. That Supreme Court decision that allows "big money" to give to the campaigns. THAT's a big problem. And, it's sure not doing anything to help improve our economy! Think of what that 2 Billion Dollars could've done to help the people! People like my brother who has been unemployed since 2009. All he wants is a job.

I've stopped listening to the commercials. I don't argue on Facebook anymore, either. It's over. I am worried about the outcome, but like everyone else, I'll have to wait to find out what the future holds.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

6 Days to the Election

We are in the final run to election day and no one can say who might win. According to all the polls (Gallup, Pugh, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, etc.), it's a dead heat between the two presidential candidates.

I like the poll with Hallowe'en costume shops. On October 24th, Spirit Halloween stores stated that, according to their records, the candidate who sold the most masks before Halloween in an election year won the election.

In 1996, Clinton outsold Dole 71% to 29%, and as we all know, Clinton won. In 2000, Bush 2 beat Gore 57% to 43% and, in his re-election bid in 2004, Bush 2 once again outsold his opponent, Kerry, 65% to 35%.

In 2008, McCain's mask didn't do too hot. His mask accounted for 40%, leaving Obama to sweep it up with 60% of the sales. And, if mask sales are any indicator, Obama will take it away again in 2012. As of October 24th, it was Obama 65% and Romney 35%.

Now, THAAAT'S my kind of poll research!

Friday, October 26, 2012

11 Days to the Election

  A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality. 

    ― Winston Churchill

I got into a bit of an argument on Facebook today. It started with the Sun-Sentinel endorsing Romney. In the course of 'arguing my case' with hard-headed Republicans, it occurred to me that regardless of who gets elected, the economy will recover. It's all the other stuff I'm worried about. 
As much as I want my brother to find a job after three years of unemployment and his impending eviction from his apartment ... after watching my granddaughter struggle to work full time and go to school ... seeing my daughter, college degree in hand, struggle with the student loan debt she acquired ... these things make me realize that it really doesn't matter who gets elected anymore. The economy will recover. The rich will get richer. And, unless one of us invents something akin to sliced bread, my family will forever be middle class. Which is okay with me. I'm only going to be around another thirty or forty years. But my kids? I'm not so optimistic for their futures.

I'm bummed out today. This whole election thing has me going around in circles. We've had stormy weather and now this. So, here's a cute kitten picture to make me and you feel better.

There's always tomorrow, right?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

12 Days to the Election: Political Ads & A Story

They are everywhere. On the television at home. 
America Deserves Better (Romney)
On the radio in the car. 
On the internet at work.
Political ads are everywhere.

Don't the marketing geniuses that put this stuff together (while making a slough of money!) realize that most of us know the stuff they keep saying over and over and over? Jeez.

I want fresh information. I want to know what I don't know about the candidates. And, I have been actively seeking such information. To my surprise, I found a story in my own neighborhood.

I have a new neighbor who is renting a house in my neck of the woods since early summer. He retired to sunny south Florida from the Boston area and is looking forward to his first winter here, minus the snow and cold. And, he shared a "Romney story" with me.  One I had never heard before.

This lovely man, who I will call "Henry," lived and worked in Boston his entire adult life and remembers the stories about Romney orchestrating the purchase of land for the Mormon church in a small community outside of Boston.  Belmont, according to my neighbor's recollection, was a community of upper middle class residents who liked the quiet and peaceful life they had outside of the booming city of Boston. The Mormons infiltrated the community by purchasing homes and, over a few years, succeeded in assembling a stockpile of land. It seems residents were not aware of this for several years because the Mormons operated quietly, not doing anything to attract attention to themselves.

At some point in the early 1990s, the Mormons decided they wanted to build a church in Belmont. At the top of a beautiful hill, according to Henry.  When the non-Mormon residents (many of whom had lived there for more than 20 years, he says) learned of this, they attended city council meetings to protest to their elected officials that building a church in that spot would change the character of their neighborhood and their way of life.  Those opposing construction of the church would learn that the city commission was not on their side. Somehow, the Mormons had managed to assemble the parcels of property necessary to build their church and, even a lawsuit wouldn't stop it. And, according to Henry, Mitt Romney was at the lead of this "business venture" on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. The same Mitt Romney that is running for President of these United States.

The January 2, 2000, Associated Press news story begins: "BOSTON — The 69,000-square-foot Mormon temple sits atop a hill, dominating the upscale residential neighborhood of single-family homes in suburban Boston. When complete, it will draw crowds of Mormons from all over the northeast and Canada for baptisms, marriages and other ceremonial events." To which I responded, "Oh. My."

Upon researching Henry's story (which I had never heard about before our conversation), I learned that the Mormon church is eager to build churches all over the world and Mitt Romney has been helpful to them in that regard. They're building one near my workplace as I write these words. So, I found myself imagining how it might be to have them infiltrate MY neighborhood the way they did the Belmont community ... and, I thought about how that would make me feel. I've lived in my home for 25 years. It's a quiet neighborhood, off the beaten path, tucked away from all the hullabaloo of tourists, a little piece of "old Florida." I cherish the peace and quiet and lack of traffic. And, I would be heartsick if that happened in my neighborhood, so I suspect that is how many Belmont residents felt back then.

Today, I ask myself and you: Is this who we want to run our country? I think some of you will say "yes." I hope most of you say "no." In 12 more days, we'll all be forced to make that choice.

Some of my references:

NY Times 10/16/2011- Romney, a role of faith and authority

Boston Massachusetts Temple, 100th operating temple

Mormon News' Coverage of the Boston Temple Challenges

Thirteen Days to the Election

All I had time to do was type this and the title.
Life does, indeed, get in the way of political ambition.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

14 Days to the Presidential Election

I am such a slouch here on my blog. Oh, yes. I have the best intentions. Intending to write once a week. Then, when too many weeks go by, I tell myself I'll write once a month.

Yeah. Right.

So, with 14 days until Election Day, I'm going to try a little exercise. I am going to attempt to write a comment each day until the day AFTER election day.

Today's comment has to do with last night's Presidential Debate. It was held here in Florida and I managed to stay awake for the first 45 minutes, napping, and awaking in time to catch the last 20 minutes.

I slept through the first debate, just like President Obama said he did. (You're supposed to smile at this.)  The second debate, I watched intently, thanks to a late cup of coffee. Yes, folks! Caffeine works! And, it was something akin to a good football game. You had to keep your eyes on the players!

This third debate was different. First of all, it was moderated by my favorite Sunday morning political talk show host, Bob Schieffer. The man has more journalistic integrity in his little finger than any other reporter I know. (Except maybe, Scott Pelley.) Second, the President and the Governor were seated; not wandering all over the stage. I found the Town Hall Forum a little disconcerting because of that. It was like watching two bullies in a school yard playing "King on the Mountain." And, finally, our two debaters were now seasoned. They'd done this. They knew it was an even playing field.

Except for one thing. Obama knows from his experiences as President what's REALLY going on with foreign relations. He's been in the "situation room." He's ordered bombings and shootings. He knows how it feels. He knows how it goes down. And, personally, I'd much rather have a leader who's done it before. There's something to be said for experience.

The thing that I found most exasperating was when Romney wouldn't answer the question. Any high school debater can tell you that FIRST you answer the question, THEN you provide support for your answer. He didn't do that. A lot. So, Romney got demerits on my debate scorecard. Charm will only get you so far in a debate. I thought President Obama did well in answering in a way that regular folks (like me) can understand. He didn't "dumb it down" as some have accused him of doing. He took some tips from Bill Clinton and made his answers understandable.

Some say it was a draw. I say Obama won. But, not by a landslide. So, now ... here we are ... 14 days before the election and we have to prepare to make our choice. Too bad we can't have them both. Obama for his community activism spirit; and, Romney for his business acumen. I believe our economy would recover by Valentine's Day if that were the White House team!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Stealing Words

Watching "Sunday Morning" and a story about plagiarism ... It reminded me of 1991 when I took the College Level Academic Skills Test (CLAST) and was required to "retake" the writing portion because I had obtained a perfect score and they suspected plagiarism. I had written about someone I knew who had suffered great personal loss.

My original score was later restored following the "retake" when it became clear that I could actually write. Back then, there were no computer programs to scan and compare my work to the work of other writers, so hard proof was essential to a fair decision.

I was never worried.
But today? That's a different story ...

Friday, August 3, 2012

De-boxing Fashion Dolls

Doll bondage. What a concept, huh? 

Walk down any Barbie aisle in any big box store and you'll see them. Playline dolls, collector dolls ... all bound to their boxes. I am looking at my newest acquisition ... "Katniss" Barbie doll (from "The Hunger Games") dreading removing her from her box. But! Remove her I will! She must be free!

Collectors ought to be able to sue for damages and mental anguish as a result of deboxing their dolls. Particularly Barbie dolls!  

If you collect Barbie dolls, you know about the injuries that can be acquired while trying to release them from captivity. Have you ever sliced a finger as you wrangled your trapped Barbie doll from her packaging?  Uh-huh. I thought so. 

And while struggling with Mattel’s idea of doll security, I find myself wondering about the child who has received a doll for Christmas or a birthday. What a nightmare for any child! It's imperative that a responsible adult assist in the de-boxing!  

I can remember when you brought your brand new Barbie doll home, slipped the lid off and lifted the doll out of her cardboard prison. I even found this photo on Flickr of Never Removed From Box bubblecut Barbies from 1961. You can see how easily the doll could be removed.  Wow! What a concept! Nowadays, it takes scissors, tweezers, needle nose pliers, and a whole lot of patience to free Barbie from her box.

Last year I discovered the Poppy Parker doll from Fashion Royalty and when I received her was immediately charmed by the box! The box lid is secured with soft pink ribbon tied in a lovely bow. You pull the bow and the lid opens very easily.  I love how the doll is gently tied to her liner with soft white ribbon. It took every bit of three minutes to get her AND all her accessories out of the box! Heavenly!

But, more recently, a new monster has reared its head. It began with the 1996 Holiday Barbie doll that I donated for a raffle. A lovely woman won her and seemed so pleased with her prize. She took the doll home and, not being a collector, she removed the doll from her box! Now, holiday Barbies are packaged to be beautifully displayed IN their boxes, and one would think she would be left that way. Alas! When this lovely lady removed her doll, the head fell off! She did call to report the mishap, and we asked her to return the doll for repair, which is what I will be doing tomorrow. {Poor beheaded Barbie!}

And, that's what got me thinking about it. De-boxing dolls, that is. I began de-boxing my dolls last year. I found I was running out of places to put them and I wasn't having any fun with them IN the box, so one by one, I freed my dolls from their trappings. Along the way I discovered that the rubber bands were dry rotted and the twist ties were rusted. These discoveries reinforced my efforts to get those girls out of their plastic cardboard prisons and I find I am enjoying my dolls even more!

I don’t think it’s necessary to attach a doll to a box in such a way that it almost requires destroying the doll in order to remove it. I’m sure Mattel has heard complaints about this. I’m sure they have justification for continuing the cruel and unusual punishment of Barbie and her friends. But, I think we are due for a kinder, gentler world of doll bondage, don't you? 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bohemian ~ what is it exactly?


a native or inhabitant of Bohemia.
(usually lowercasea person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.
the Czech languageespecially as spoken in Bohemia.
a Gypsy.
Bohemian artist Beatrice Wood who died at age 105.

I was looking through my pin boards on Pinterest and discovered some underlying themes. I like old stuff, vintage stuff, stuff that isn't matchy-matchy, stuff and people with character, clothes that look like you've owned them for a long time and homes that appear to have been occupied for a lot of years.

That's what I think of when I hear the word "bohemian." So, I decided to look it up and find out what it REALLY means.

Bohemia is an historical region in central Europe now identified as the Czech Republic. The word itself comes from the French, Bohême, and, in our society, one thinks of artists as being bohemian. 
I remember as a girl my parents had friends who were often referred to as bohemian. She was a painter and he was a writer for the local newspaper. They always looked different from everyone else in those days (1957-1963), so I guess the word was used correctly.

I think a lot of it has to do with money. Artists and writers often don't have well paying jobs, so they must make do with what they have. Their homes reflect their creativity in the absence of funding and their style is evolved from shopping second hand.

What's funny (to me) is how bohemian style has been embraced by the younger generation of today. Some say it's the 1970s influence, but I see it as a mirror of these tough economic times.

Whatever it is, I like it.

So, my Pinterest boards reflect a little bohemian spirit. 

For that reason, I've captured a few of my favorite images for your perusal today. 

I hope you enjoy seeing them! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sliding into August

It's been a wild and crazy month and, here we are, the last day of July! Oh, my!

This month was chock full of fun!

I provided the raffle dolls and table dolls for 'Tea with Barbie' at Old Davie School and enjoyed watching moms and dads and grandmothers with their little girls, all dressed in finery, some with tiaras, many accompanied by their Barbies, having fun in the lovely Barbie World we created on the second floor of the school!

We had "live" Barbie models doing a fashion show, and after tea was served, they returned to sign autographs! It was so much fun to watch little girls posing for photos with living Barbies, eyes filled with stars!  We gave away a bunch of Barbie dolls and Barbie-related items during the raffle. And, it was absolutely wonderful to see 248 people immerse themselves in the world of Barbie for a couple of hours! What joy!

The tea party was followed by the opening of Art Gallery 21 at the Woman's Club of Wilton Manors with an exhibition of artwork from eight local artists. I have lived in Wilton Manors for 25 years and have seen it change a lot over the last ten of those years, but the one thing we didn't have was a 'cultural center.' So, we're making one!

I'm not a painter or artist in the traditional sense of the word. I'm a community organizer. And, some of my art friends think that it's an art to start something from nothing, which is pretty much what we did. However, these kinds of projects ('Tea with Barbie' and 'Art Gallery 21') may have started out as my idea, but they no longer belong to just me. Other people have latched onto them and made them their own, and THAT's how it works! I call it 'cosmic velcro' when that happens!

And, the best thing? It's always way better than anything I could've imagined on my own! As you can see in the photo, Miss Lily Grace spotted the portrait her Uncle Carl had painted of her, and, lucky for me, I had my camera in hand! These are the delightful things in this life that make whatever we've done worth doing!

So, how's that for an end of July report?

I think it's pretty darned cool ...

Friday, July 13, 2012

What's up?

I haven't been writing much on my blog here lately because I am ...

dancing in my Jazzercise class.

smiling every time I walk into our home and see our “new” kitchen.

relieved to have my doll room organized.

enjoying the free time Manfred and I have together.

making so much progress on restoring some old Barbie dolls.

using spreadsheets to manage my finances.

finding it easier to not buy as time passes. (Thanks, Pinterest!)

feeling optimistic about my brother finding a job after almost three years of unemployment.

running as fast as I can to keep up.

spending time going through drawers of doll clothes.

using pencil instead of pen these days.

checking on the crape myrtle we planted in June.  (It’s blooming!)

pleased to have honored my doll spending freeze for three months.

loving my yard, a Certified National Wildlife Habitat.

preparing to open Art Gallery 21 at the Woman’s Club of Wilton Manors.

eating fresh mangos and watermelon in my salads.

sleeping poorly due to worrying about my daughters.

watching season one of The Newsroom with great anticipation.

spending today writing a script for Tea with Barbie next week.

planning on being joyful no matter what happens.

racing through the summer.

writing a blog post with some thoughts that need to be shared.

Monday, July 2, 2012

How it began ... (the story, that is)

It was almost 7:30 as Marley raced out the door, her arms laden with handbag, camera bag and briefcase. She jokingly referred to herself as a bag lady. She loaded the stuff into the back seat of her car, got into the driver's seat, retrieved her water bottle from her purse and placed it in the cup holder, then slipped the key into the ignition of her Saturn Ion, cranking the car to go.  It was a quiet morning and no one was on the street. She usually saw Peggy from across the street, or Lou from the corner house, out walking their dogs at this time of day, so Marley figured they were running behind this morning. She chuckled to herself as she pulled into the street, heading west toward Andrews Avenue. “Aren’t we all running behind?” she said aloud.

Marley’s place was located in an old Florida neighborhood with an eclectic mix of houses and multi-family homes; McMansions from the recent real estate boom and suburban homes from the 1940s mixed with larger cookie cutter houses built in the late 1970s. There was no direct route, so Marley had to wend her way through the narrow streets until she reached the traffic signal at Andrews and 21st Court. She looked north and south and saw no traffic at all, and, as she wondered how long she’d have to wait for what she considered the longest light in Broward County, she heard the click of the pedestrian crosswalk sign flashing red. Twenty seconds later, the light changed to green.

Marley turned south onto Andrews and drove her usual route … west on 13th Street, south on 7th Avenue, then west on Sunrise Boulevard. After seven years of driving to and from work in Davie, some 15 miles south and west of her home, she’d uncovered the quickest and least stressful routes and kept them to herself. There were a few things she was private about, and her travel route was one of those things. She didn't need all those extra cars clogging up her journey back and forth to work.
As she pulled up to the traffic signal at Seventh and Sunrise, the first thing she noticed was the BP station on the corner looked like it was closed. It was a 24-hour station and that seemed odd for a Thursday. Again, there was no traffic. Marley looked east before turning onto Sunrise, and as the car’s speed increased, she began to realize something wasn’t right. There were no cars on Sunrise Boulevard at 7:40 AM on a weekday morning. There was no traffic coming from downtown Fort Lauderdale. No buses. She turned on the radio, winding the knob to increase the sound. It was on a light station and Katy Perry was singing about fireworks.

She ran the red light at Powerline Road after she slowed to look both ways. No traffic anywhere. She pushed her speed up to 65 and blew through the school zone’s flashing yellow light and another traffic signal. The crossing guard was absent. No pedestrians on the street. No cars in Burger King’s drive thru. When she reached the I-95 overpass, she pulled into the left turn lane, put the car in “park” and left it running while she got out. She walked across four lanes of traffic and looked down onto I-95 southbound. Not a car or truck or motorcycle anywhere, north or south bound. All she could hear was the traffic signal changing. The airport located to the south was quiet and the skies were empty. She knew there were planes taking off and landing all day long because the airport served 23 million passengers a year. But, there were no planes anywhere.

Tri-Rail runs on the west side and parallel to I-95, and Marley watched, knowing the trains ran every 20 minutes.  She waited.

Three minutes passed and no train. Marley walked back to her car and fished around in her glove box, locating a pack of cigarettes. She found the lighter, lit her smoke and grabbed her cell phone, walking back across the road. Still no train. Still no cars. Anywhere. She stood and smoked and tried to decide if she was dreaming or if this was real.

The heat of the sun, now fully up, was real. She felt a light wind coming from the ocean to the east. The smoke in her lungs as she inhaled was real.

She listened. The only sound came from the traffic signals changing from green to yellow to red. She remembered how quiet it had been when she sailed to the Dry Tortugas those many years ago and said out loud, “What the fuck?” She looked at her watch. It was now 7:53 AM and still no train.

She swiped her smart phone and found her husband’s cell number. He was running the Swiffer around the kitchen when she left and she hoped he wasn’t already in the shower. He picked up on the second ring.



“Carl. Something’s wrong.”

“What?” She could hear the concern in his voice. Him thinking she’d been in a wreck.

“There’s no traffic.”

“Well. Good.” He waited.

She waited.

She turned and looked north, to see if a train or vehicle was anywhere in sight. “Carl, there are no cars on the road.” She took a breath.  “ Anywhere.”

“What?” This time his voice sounded like he didn’t understand what she said.

“There are no cars on the road anywhere. I haven’t seen another car or person since I left the house.”

She was waiting to wake up.

He didn’t respond. Why didn’t he respond? “Carl.”

“What?” Now he sounded irritated.

“Carl, get in your car and drive up here to Sunrise at I-95. Now.”

“I’m not dressed,” he said. Carl is very particular about his appearance and would never dream of leaving the house without being fully dressed.

“Carl, put on some jeans and shoes and drive up here! NOW!” She felt the tension rising.

“Let me take a shower.”

“No! Now, Carl! NOW!” Now she was yelling into the phone.

She heard the disconnect and clicked her phone off. She went back to her car, got in, turned the air conditioner on high and turned up the volume on the radio. The light channel was now playing an old Simon & Garfunkle tune. “Sounds of Silence.”  “How appropriate,” Marley muttered to herself. She kept hitting the scan key. The Rolling Stones on the oldies station.  Then, silence on the Spanish station. Silence on NPR. Beethoven on the classical music station. Silence, again, on another Spanish station. She hit the scan button to return to the light music station. Simon and Garfunkle were still singing. She waited. The song ended. She waited for the commercial or the disc jockey to give a traffic report or something. Just silence.

 “I must be dreaming. This can’t be real.”

She pulled out another cigarette and fired it up. She rolled the window down a bit and located her brother’s phone number on her cell. She hit the call button, inhaled the smoke and waited. It went to voice mail.

She hit the end button and searched for her office number. She hit the call button and put the phone to her ear. The phone rang five times and then she heard the answering machine with Cindy’s voice. “You have reached …” She hung up.

She got back out of the car and walked back across the road to the overpass rail. She tossed her cigarette down onto I-95 and watched it land on the road below. She watched as it rolled along the black top, drifting on the road, alone.

She heard Carl coming down the road before she could see him. His silver SUV emerged from the weeping fig trees that lined Sunrise Boulevard and then, just as quickly, he was pulling up behind her car. He shut the engine off and got out. Marley could tell by the look on his face that he was as weirded out by this as she was. Clearly he had done what she told him. He was wearing jeans and a clean white tee shirt and his Birkenstock sandals. And, he hadn't taken a shower yet.

“What the hell’s going on?” he said as he moved across the asphalt toward her.

“I don’t know,” she said quietly.  

He came to stand beside her. “Something’s happened, Carl. I don’t know what, but something has happened. Something really bad.”

They stood together on the overpass, looking down onto the eight lane highway which was usually bumper-to-bumper at this hour. “Have you been smoking?” he asked.

“Carl. Who cares? There’s no one here but me. And, you.”

“I thought you quit.”

“Carl! Pay attention!” She got so frustrated with him because he always focused on the wrong thing.  “Where are all the people? Huh?  Where are the cars with people in them, Carl?” She spread her arms and turned from side to side to get him to look around.

He looked puzzled, just as he looked when he saw her playing with her dolls. She looked up into his face, forcing him to look at her. “Where did they go?”

Carl walked away from her, back toward his car. “I’m going home,” he said, and got into his car, backing up to pull around her vehicle. She could tell by his actions that he was pissed. He always got pissed when he thought she’d been smoking.  As she walked back onto the road towards her own car, he made a u-turn at the signal, swerved around her in the middle of the road and sped down the road heading east, disappearing into the weeping figs lining the road. 

Marley got into her car and followed Carl's path. As she made the u-turn to go back east, she felt it in her gut. Things have changed. And, this isn’t a dream.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fine & Dandy!

Here's hoping you have a fine and dandy weekend!

Wishing fathers everywhere a day of love and hugs and kisses, too! I miss my dad, even though he's been gone since I was 20 years old. I think there are a few people in this life we never stop missing when they're gone ...

So, if your dad is still a part of your life, cherish every day you have with him. It's a gift.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wilhelmina's 30+ Model Search

One of my Pinterest boards is titled "How To Age Gracefully." The added copy reads: "In our world of scientific discovery, we now know there are things we can do to be fit and healthy until we're a hundred-plus years old. Sadly, our culture doesn't yet embrace the wisdom and beauty of age. I've decided to help change that. That's what this board is all about."

I cannot begin to tell you what a challenge it is to find ways to shape the public's perception of aging. As a "baby boomer," I know I am accompanied by a large number of women who have successful careers, are healthy and physically fit, and who have accomplished many things in their lifetimes. The roles women of our generation have played are varied, to say the least. They have played the roles of wife, mother, professional, public servant, elected official, volunteer and artist, to name just a few, and, in some cases, these women have had more than one career. I'm a good example of that last one. I'm on career number three!

So, there I am with my 'aging gracefully' pin board, trying to find images AND content to convey how cool it really is to be older than 40 (and, it IS cooler!) and an e-mail from Wilhelmina's Model Agency lands in my mailbox touting the "30+ Model Search." I went to the web site to take a look, and decided to vote for Isa A., age 65, pictured here.

She says, when asked "why" she wants the job: "I would love the opportunity to model for Wilhelmina to show all the up-and-coming baby boomers how great it is to be comfortable in one's skin at a later age, and how wonderful it can be to keep reinventing ourselves. We CAN stay healthy, sexy, intelligent, and confident, all with a great attitude."

Her words got my vote as much as her looks did. However, I do have a beef with Wilhelmina's Model Agency. As I paged through the 30 "semi-finalists," it seemed that the majority of them were 30-something. So. I counted. Sixteen are 30-to-39. Seven are 40-to-49. Five are in their fifties. Two, including Isa A., are in their 60s. Isa is the oldest, although I didn't know that when I voted for her. I like her style and she spoke to my generation, which is what I thought this was all about. Clearly, I was wrong.

To put women in their thirties and forties next to women in their fifties and sixties is not a good comparison. They are in two very different life stages. I can hear you out there, asking how the heck I know this! Because .... because, I have been those other ages and I remember very clearly where I was at 34 or 45 ...
Age 34

Age 45
Age 52

Age 60
For one thing, I was still wearing a bikini. Right up to my 55th birthday!

Then menopause arrived, as it is prone to do to women of a "certain age."

And, I'm thinking that this is where the rub comes in.

Hormones dictate so much in the lives of women. As adolescents entering puberty, our hormones are raging and all we can think about is how we look and what boys (and, other girls) think of us.

Around the late 20s and early 30s, we begin to stabilize and become focused on things like career and/or family. And, we pretty much stay stable until sometime in our late 40s and early 50s when we move into the menopause phase. (Which, by the way, is much like adolescence, occurring over a period of years!)

Finally, we get to what I affectionately refer to as the "Fuck You Fifties," because it is here, at this point in life, that we begin to accept ourselves and become truly comfortable in our own skin. And, it's not like we have a choice in the matter! Aging is something all of us must do.

Our mothers aged differently than we are doing. As "boomers," we have had the advantages of good nutrition and medical research, and we have reaped the benefits of multiple fitness programs. Whether you walk, swim, ride a bike, dance or hike, you've got to keep moving! Use it or lose it is really, truly true. Using our bodies is what keeps us youthful, in more ways than one!

I take issue with Wilhelmina's 30+ Model Search. Like the MORE Magazine Beauty Searches of years past, it was all about helping us to like ourselves once we moved past 40 years old. The fifties have been a mish-mash of media trying to adjust to women who won't go away, who still participate in all that life has to offer. Today, 10,000 "baby boomers" reaches 65 every day! EVERY SINGLE DAY for the next 19 years! So we are definitely a force to be reckoned with! (Marketers, pay attention!) And, I truly believe it is up to us to change the perceptions of aging we share in this culture we live in ~ to shape it so that younger women can see that there is so much to look forward to. Life is not over at 30. Or 40. Or 50! It's just beginning.

Like Isa said, "We CAN stay healthy, sexy, intelligent and confident, all with great attitude!" I don't know how to get that message to Wilhelmina's Model Agency unless I can scream it from the rooftops of New York City! Or, maybe, just here on my little blog and on my Pinterest "How To Age Gracefully" pin board. If you share my feelings on this subject, please! Chime in! Share! It's OK to age. It happens to all of us. We're not finished yet. So, don't act like we are!