I have a theory


Here’s my highly informed, incredibly insightful theory about what is motivating the irascible bloviator who leads the polls for the Republican party.  You ready?

The Donald has NO desire to become President of the United States.  None. I’m not kidding.

Have you seen the President’s salary? A measly $400,000 a year.  Donald probably spends more than that on hair care products!

If he were to become President, Trump would have to get up early every day and actually work.  He would have to be on call 24/7, and would be expected to take phone calls in the middle of the night.

Not only that, if he became President, Trump would be put into the difficult position of having to compromise with other leaders in order to keep the country running.  All evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, this is not a stupid man. He knows that Presidential power is limited.  He knows that if he had the job he wouldn’t be able to just bully his way through the four years putting up walls and bombing the shit out of people.

He knows full well that it just doesn’t work that way.

So why is he marching around on the campaign trail you ask?

For the free publicity, that’s why.  The man is a fame whore.  He had a book coming out, he wanted to boost sales, he wanted to see his face on the news.  He did not intend to actually become President! He knows its a totally thankless job!

What is my evidence for this theory, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.  When this “campaign” began, Trump sounded like himself.  Bombastic, egocentric, arrogant. Yucky but not completely insane.

However, with each successive week, his comments have become more and more offensive.  It began with his snarky statements about John McCain, remember?  “He got captured; I prefer people who don’t get captured.”  All the pundits had a nutty, and predicted that this was the “end” for Trump.

But his poll numbers rose.

Next he turned his giant mouth on Mexican immigrants.  It wasn’t enough to be merely snarky now; he had to go for fully offensive. All those immigrants, rapists and drug lords being sent up here by the Mexican government.  Awful! People were outraged, and some protested.

Everyone predicted the end of his campaign again….and again the numbers went up.

No matter how ugly, rude, offensive, dishonest, cruel or despicable his behavior has been, his poll numbers have gone up. What that says about our countrymen is a question that is beyond my feeble efforts at understanding.

But I truly believe, and sincerely hope, that it is driving Trump himself crazy.  I can just imagine him, after promising to “bomb the shit out of” ISIS. I can see him checking the polls, and telling his wife, “This should do it. We outta be able to go on vacation by next week.”  Then I can see the blood rushing to his head as he sees that he has gained even more ground.

“What the hell do I have to do to get these people to see that I can’t be President?  Jesus! I’ve insulted McCain, called immigrants a bunch of rapists, made fun of women’s faces, talked about a woman having her period on national TV! I’ve threatened war! I stood up and challenged a guy to stab me in the gut!  They think that’s the behavior of a world leader? Give me a break!”

“I’ve talked about building a giant wall across the continent without one word about who’d pay for it!  My God, what do I have to do? I said it was OK to beat up black protestors! I even made fun of a guy with a physical disability!  And STILL, they wanna vote for me? What the hell is wrong with these people?”

I can just imagine him, wagging a finger at his advisors.  “This was never supposed to go this far, believe me! This was supposed to be free publicity for a couple of months, that’s it! Now do something! Get me out of this mess! I need to get to one of my private islands to recharge as soon as possible.  What do I need to do to get these idiots to stop supporting me?”

I can imagine it. They’d all look at each other, helpless.  Then maybe one of them would cautiously clear his throat, fidget for a moment, and say slowly.  “Maybe if you pull out a gun at the next debate………..”




Earning a Living in the Modern World

Money, money.

How I hate you!  How I need you!  How I wish I had a big giant huge humungous pile of you that I could rely on for the rest of my life!


I’m a pretty typical modern human.  I need money.  But I refuse to bow down to the crass need for said money.

Here’s the thing.   I loved having a career where helping children was more important than getting rich.  I loved living modestly but comfortably.

I was proud of those years when I saved up for a pair of 6 dollar sneakers for the boys.  I lived frugally, and I made do.  I bought whole chickens and roasted them and served them to the family. Then I boiled the bones for soup and chicken pot pie.  I reused my ziploc bags.   I bought one pair of jeans a year and used them until the knees wore out.

But here I am, supposedly in my golden years.  I was pushed out left teaching much earlier than I should have.  So my pension is way less than it should have been.

And I need money.

And you can’t make money staying home and being a nice older lady and reading a lot and cooking for your dogs.   I know.   Crazy, huh?  Why can’t I make a decent living by keeping my leather sofa basically dirt free?

So.  Here I am.

Faced with a dilemma.

I need to earn my keep. I’d love to think I could write the Great American Novel, but I’m not completely delusional.

I have chosen a slightly easier path.

I am going to accept ads on my blog.

Please don’t throw tomatoes!  Please don’t stop coming here to read my wonderfully pithy insights!   I couldn’t help myself.  I may be a huge supporter of Bernie Sanders and a confirmed Socialist, but a person’s gotta eat, right? And so do her dogs.

So I’ll keep on writing, and I’ll keep on lighting up with joy every time one of you tells me that you read my words.  But sometimes I’ll include a little promo for a product or two. Or three.

What can I say?  Capitalism has won this round.

But I’m still planning to wear my Bernie shirt every single time I leave my house.


Magic Words

Magic book with magic lights

Oh, don’t you wish that there were magic words?

Wouldn’t it be just wonderful to have magic phrases that could bring peace, healing, love, rest?

I wish that our world contained real wizards.  Men and women of such wisdom that they could simply say those magic words and hearts would be made whole again.

In a world that seems to have gone so wrong, I wish that there were special words to make things right.  I wish that I could open an old and dusty book, placed high on a wooden shelf in a long forgotten shop.  I wish that I could turn those ancient pages, slowly, and so carefully.

I wish that I would catch my breath in wonder, and run my finger slowly and carefully under those magic words.

Don’t you wish that with me?

Don’t you wish that somehow we could turn to those around us who are in pain, and that we could whisper those special words that would mend the terrible wounds in their hearts?

I do.

I wish that there were magic words.

I wish that I knew them.

Wishing all of you peace and safety and laughter and love. Wishing you a home without strife, a country without war, a kitchen without hunger, a group of loving friends and family to embrace you.

Wishing you magic words to heal you.


A History Lesson


Many years ago, when I was a young High School student, I learned about the terrible events in Nazi Germany.  I remember reading about the creation of the Jewish ghettos, and I remember reading about the way that the Jews were singled out and made to feel separate and inferior in Germany in the early 1930’s.

I read about Adolf Hitler, and his rise to power.

I was about 15 or 16 years old.  I learned that the average German didn’t seem to push back as Hitler rose to power.

I couldn’t understand it.  I thought to myself, “If I had been living in Germany in those days, I would have stood up for the Jews.”

When I got older, I read more about the events of WWII.  I read “The Diary of Anna Frank”.  I read the memoirs of Elie Wiezel.  I saw photos from Auschwitz and Dachau and Bergen-Belsen.

I was sure that if I had lived in those horrific times, I would have spoken out loudly and clearly against the actions of my government. I would have denounced Hitler with all my might, I told myself.

And still more years went by.  I went to college and majored in Russian language and Political Science.  I got a job as an interpreter for Jewish Family Services, where I helped to resettle Soviet Jews in the Boston area. I mostly worked as a medical interpreter, taking elderly Russian Jews to doctors’ visits at Beth Israel Hospital.

There I heard first hand accounts of life in the camps.  I saw the numbers tattooed on those old arms.  I listened in breathless horror as one woman told me her story of running through the forest, pregnant and carrying a toddler on her hip.  She was shot in the face, but the bullet did not kill her. She kept running, dragging her sobbing little son through the woods until they both collapsed.  She pointed to the ragged scar on her face.  She introduced me to her now adult son.

“If I had been there,” I told myself, “I would have fought against those damned Nazi’s with every ounce of my strength.”

I remember asking one Russian Jewess about those terrible times. “But how did the Nazi’s get so much power?”, I asked her. “How did they rise without anyone opposing them?”

She smiled, and nodded her head.  I can still see her solemn smile.  “Медленно”, she told me in Russian. “Slowly. Little by little.”   I didn’t understand.

I assumed that I would have known how to fight back against my leaders at a time of extreme xenophobia.  I thought, for some reason, that I would have been able to articulate a reasonable response to government officials who tried to rally the country against a helpless minority.

I was so sure, so very sure, that I would have stood up against the Nazi’s if I had lived in German at the time of their rise to power.

And now here I am, living in the age of anti-Muslim fervor.  On a day when my own Governor wants to stop Muslim refugees from finding safety in my state.

Here I am, living in a time when those who seek the highest office in our country use the same kind of anti-minority, xenophobic, “us vs them” rhetoric that once shaped events in Germany.  When one of the leading candidates for President makes up lies about Arabs and Muslims, blaming an entire community for the fear that so many Americans feel every day.

And I find that I am nearly powerless to speak out.

What can I do?

I have written to my Governor, to my local paper, to the White House.  I post my opinions on Facebook.

I write here, in this tiny, inconsequential blog, in a desperate attempt to make my voice heard.

I abhor the fear mongering that is part of this Presidential Campaign. I hate the lies that are being told by the likes of Donald Trump and Ben Carson.  I am afraid of the direction that my country is taking as we face the unrest and violence that is coming from the Middle East.

I want to believe that I can stand up against this horrific racist rhetoric.

But what can I do?

I am screaming, but I don’t think that anyone care hear me.

Tempest Tossed



“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

No words of mine could possibly say it more eloquently.  THIS is the true spirit of the United States of America.  I am so saddened to see that my own Governor, Charlie Baker, and so many other elected leaders, have chosen to ignore these words.

Living in the moment

In the past few years, I have tried very hard to learn new ways of thinking, new ways of being.  I have tried to make myself a more positive person, and I’ve tried very hard to get control of my attitudes and moods and reactions. I have tried so hard to be calm.

Life is a stressful journey! Sometimes I find myself so swept up in the worries and frustrations of the day that I lose my ability to enjoy that day. I find that  my mind gets stuck in one narrow groove, like the needle on an old phonograph, playing the same irritation over and over and over until I find myself unable to sleep, unable to unclench my jaws, unable to take in a good deep breath.

I’ve tried to learn how to be mindful.  To be awake and alive in each moment. I’ve tried to force myself to notice the beauty and the grace all around me. I have tried to let go of the petty frustrations that really have no meaning.

I’ll be honest, though; when I was still rushing off every morning to my classroom, I found it incredibly difficult to achieve that level of mindful acceptance of each moment that I craved.  I found myself reaching for artificial and forced moments, just so that I could cross the words “be mindful of beauty” off of my to-do list.

Do you know what I mean?  There were days when I would be stuck in a snarl of winter morning traffic, worried about my literacy lesson for the day, anxious about every lost minute that meant I’d be behind in my copying and filing.  I would think the words, “Be mindful!” and force myself to look out the window at the slush covered roadside. “OK! A blue jay sitting on a pine branch!  How lovely!” and I would put a tiny check mark on my internal list.

Its just that I didn’t really live that moment of grace; I simply observed it and noted it, then moved on.

I never did truly achieve that goal of gentle mindfulness.  I never really managed to be fully present in every moment.

Until now.


Now I spend my days looking into this face, into these beautiful eyes. Now I have someone to teach me how to be truly mindful.

Ellie soaks in every part of every minute while she is awake. She gazes in awe at the colorful glass chimes that hang in my window.  She listens to the dog’s bark as if it is the most fantastic sound in the universe. She is riveted on my face when I talk to her in words that are pure nonsense. Every second is a new adventure for Ellie. She is totally attuned to every puff of air, every change in texture, every new color.  A bird flying off the feeder makes her open her mouth in awe.  The feel of cool air on her bare skin makes her crow and coo and wiggle in pure delight.

And when she sleeps, she goes so deeply into that secret place inside of her that her whole being is engaged in the miraculous act of resting and renewing.  I can almost hear her body growing as I hold her close.

To hold a baby, I have learned, is to be finally free of every other thought or worry or idea.  No words pass through my brain when I am breathing in her breath.  No fear or anxiety touches my heart when I feel hers beating against me.  I hold her close.  I feel her fingers touching my neck. I look at the perfect tiny crescents of her lashes, at her rosy lips, her tiny nose. I can think of nothing in those moments except for her: Ellie.  Our Ellie.  All I can do is sit and rock and feel the love that shakes every cell of my body.

This is true mindfulness, I am sure.  Nothing in the universe matters to me at moments like this. I am wholly open and receptive and so incredibly grateful for the beautiful gift that is this little girl in my arms and in my life.

Ellie is teaching me to live in the moment, and I am so grateful to have her as my teacher!



Thoughts on those who seek refuge

I am basically a very cowardly woman.   I am afraid of big crowds of people; I don’t like the feeling of being squashed in among strangers with no way out.

I am afraid of physical pain. I do not ski or snowboard or ride roller coasters.  All of those activities give me an overwhelming sense of fear.

When it comes to anxiety about my children or my grandchild, I can bring myself to the point of near hysteria just by waiting for a blood test result. I am scared when my kids are on the road in snowy weather.  I am afraid when they travel.  I lie awake an night worried that they will become sick, will break bones, will crash or fall or use drugs or be mugged.

And I am terrified of guns!!  Really, truly terrified. I am afraid of thieves with guns, angry neighbors with guns, strangers with guns, accidental shooting of guns.

When I was still teaching fifth grade, I reacted in total shock and horror to the events at the Sandy Hook School. I bought little magnets for the doorframe in my classroom and those of my close friends, just in case a crazed gunman came in and I had to lock my door quickly. I worked out possible reactions to an attack, trying to think of a way to save my students. I placed a broom near the door, imagining myself slamming the handle into the kidneys of an intruder.

I am a truly fearful person.

But I try very very hard NOT to let my fear rule my life. I try very hard to hold onto facts and to live my life based on the reality of the threats that face me, rather than my own overblown terror.

For example, I am scared of guns and of a gunman shooting up the movie theater or the mall or the classroom where I am spending my time.  But I refuse to let that fear keep me out of those places where so much of life takes place.  To do so, to give in to that fear, would be to give up far too much of myself.  Every time I venture into a crowd to go Christmas shopping or to see a concert or to teach a class, I have to remind myself that the odds of something terrible happening are truly miniscule. I force myself to react to the reality and not to the fear.

I refuse to become an agoraphobic. I refuse to huddle in my house, afraid of other humans.

And when it comes to the safety of my children, I have spent the last thirty years pretending NOT to be afraid.  I didn’t want to stop my children from climbing on the jungle gym, or sledding down the steep slopes.  I didn’t want to instill my fears in them, knowing that to do so would be to stop them from living fully.

I am afraid to fly; good Lord, I remember the horrors of 911, the Shoe Bomber, the downing of flight 103 over Lockerbie.  Air travel has real risks! But if I give in to that fear, I won’t ever go to Germany to see my friends. I won’t ever visit my Italian roots or walk on the moors of Scotland.  I refuse to allow my awareness of the dangers of flying to stop me from living my full life and meeting new people and seeing new places. I refuse to give in.

So now, faced with the question of whether or not I believe that my country should accept refugees who are fleeing the wars that rage across Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen…….Well, I am afraid!

I am aware that some of these people could be terrorists. They could be sneaking their way into the US in order to do us harm.  This is a sad but very real truth of our lives in 2015.

I am afraid.


I try very hard not to let my fear shape my life. I try very hard not to let my anxiety constrain me or change the way that I live. I refuse to shut myself or my family away from the opportunity to make life better for other humans.  To do so, to turn my back on families who are suffering, would be to turn my back on my truest self.

I look at the statistics.  How many of those who attacked Paris were refugees?  All of the identified attackers were European Nationals. None were refugees. (Paris Attackers Nationalities)    And I think of the 9/11 attackers, all of whom came to the US legally, but none of whom was a refugee.  I think of the Tsarnaev brothers; neither they nor their parents were in the US under refugee status.(Tsarnaev BrothersSnopes on Tsarnaevs).

I remember the terror that was brought to so many people, so many little innocent children, by the Oklahoma City bombers.  They were not foreign. They were not refugees.  They were not Muslims. They were just like us.

And I remind myself that I can’t avoid all danger.  To live is to face risk.  To walk among other human beings, to reach out in friendship, is to risk our hearts, our minds and in many cases our lives.

I drive on the highway every single day with barely a thought! My risk of death on my daily commute is far, far greater than my risk of being shot in a mall.  I understand these facts, and so I go on and live my life.

The world is a dangerous and horrific place for so many people! So many mothers,  young women just like my daughter, are running in terror to save their babies from war and famine and slaughter.  So many millions of families, grandmothers just like me, are desperately fleeing in the hope of saving themselves and their children and their grand-babies.  They have nowhere to go.  They have no homes, no safety, no jobs, no way to care for those they love exactly as deeply as I love my own.

How can I possibly let my fear of possible danger keep me from offering a hand to these people? How can I let my government shut and lock the door as these desperate people beg us for safety?

Tomorrow, I will call Governor Baker of Massachusetts and urge him to accept as many refugees as we can take.  I will call the White House and urge the President to do the same.

Because I have no desire to live my life in fear of my fellow humans.  To do so would make me something less than fully human myself.

Feeling Way Too Judgy


You know, I really do love Facebook.  Getting back in touch with old friends from decades past, chatting with people across the globe, sharing jokes, seeing what everyone had for dinner.

It’s all good, right?

The only problem is, now that I have Facebook, I am finding myself even more judgy than I used to be.

I mean, I’ve always been opinionated. I’ve always had strong ideas.  But I used to be able to at least listen to other people’s opinions! I used to be able to think about other points of view.

Back in the old days, I had to actually have a conversation with someone before deciding that I was morally superior to them.

Now? I can pass judgement on family and friends in five seconds, just by looking at the most recent memes.  A red paper cup?  Let me at ’em! MY view of the red paper cup is the superior view!!!!

Syrian refugees?  I just have to scan someone’s quickly written status and I am ready to label them as cold hearted, unloving, mean spirited poopie heads.   I am so morally and ethically superior, because I have a different reaction to the immigrant crisis!

Never mind the fact that I know full well that some of the people with whom I disagree are kind, generous, thoughtful and giving.  Never mind the fact that I completely understand that each of our individual reactions to events in the world are colored and shaped by our personal experiences.

And never mind the fact that I have never had an actual refugee family knocking on my door and asking for safety.

Facebook lets me instantaneously judge.

Maybe some of the power of this new social media is that it allows us to feel so good about ourselves as we look with scorn at others in our newsfeed.

Who knows?

All I know is that I am not a prophet, or a seer, or a saint.  I am not better than the people who come to different conclusions than mine.

And maybe, just maybe, if other people out there can take off those silly black robes and really listen, we’ll all be a little bit safer.

Let’s take a brief time out……

I can't help it......

I can’t help it……

Sadie, aging far more gracefully that some of us.

…….I’m old.

Let’s just take a brief respite here, shall we?  We may be on the very brink of World War III.  Paris may be burning. The climate is wrecked, the Presidential candidates are a bunch of crazy assed ego maniacs.

I know.   The world is a mess.

But let me digress for just a moment, will you?

You see, in the midst of world crisis and the possible annihilation of humanity, I have a bigger problem.

My dogs are currently producing the kind of flatulence that can peel paint, etch glass, melt solid metal and cause human eyeballs to combust.

Holy methane.

It all started when Sadie began to decline and lost the muscles on her face. This was, of course, closely followed by Tucker having a bleeding mass on his spleen and needing emergency surgery.  Within a week, we went from being the parents of two healthy, hearty dog-food-eating mutts to the grieving parents of two dying little canine angels.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that both dogs came through their ordeals and have lived to poop another day.


In order to reach their new levels of health, they have had to endure several trips to the Chinese Herbalist/Acupuncturist Vet.   This woman is like a young, gentle wizard. She looked at their tongues, felt their pulses, asked about their preferences, and put them on a regimen of Chinese herbs.

She also suggested that, if I really wanted my furry children to be healthy, I should cook for them.

So I do!  Home cooked chicken, rice, oatmeal, squash, carrots, liver, beef……The dogs are absolutely thriving!  Thick, shiny coats! Happy dispositions! Extra energy!

And farts that could clear a stadium in two minutes.

Paul and I have started to sleep in a room with two kind of air freshener, an open window no matter the temperature, scented lotion on our hands and faces…….  And yet we wake up every night from the gagging gaseousness of the doggie output.

What the hell.

If we shut the door and keep them out, they both wake us up by whining, scratching, yipping at our door.   If we let them in, we are doomed.

We have been feeding them probiotics, feeding them several small meals as opposed to one or two large ones, giving them yogurt, walking them before bed, washing their rear ends with scented soap…….

To no avail.

And here is what I have come to believe.

If the US Army could somehow manage to capture and then disperse this toxic smell, every terrorist in the world would curl up in a ball and scream “Bring me lavender!”

Sorry to end suddenly, but its time for me to smear on some Vicks under my nose, insert the nose plugs, and rub rose oil on my pillow.

Pardon my political rant


Pardon me, I beg you.

I completely understand the fact that I have become a sweet, docile Nonni, the chubby old lady who rocks her darling Ellie to sleep and gives her a bottle and walks her around this bucolic country neighborhood.

I have sworn to myself that I will step back from the political activist world, (in my blogging at least). I will hold my tongue. I will not use words like “liberal” or “conservative” or utter the D or R labels.  I have sworn to be non-partisan, but today’s events have overruled my very best intentions.

Paris is under siege at this very moment. Paris: the City of Lights.  The City of Lovers.  Isis is bombing, shooting and holding hostages. The war between the west and Isis has come to a place that is known for its gentle hospitality, its love of wine and music, its embrace of the arts.

The world has come to a very, very dangerous place.

I will absolutely not make any attempt to explain how this has happened.  I will not weigh in at all on any foreign policy issue that may or may not have lead us to this terrible place.

I am not a military person. I am not a diplomat. I can make my ill informed guesses about the middle East, but I am smart enough to know that I do not truly have anything to say on this subject.

How to stop this type of terrorism is a question that is simply far, far beyond my feeble areas of expertise.

But here is what I do feel duty bound to write:  I believe that it is incredibly important for me to acknowledge the limits of my knowledge.

I believe that it is incredibly important for us, as Americans, to elect a President who can also recognize the limits of his/her expertise.  I believe that we have a serious duty to elect a President who IS in fact an expert of international relations and international law. Or at the very least, we must elect someone who will listen to those who are true experts on this incredibly convoluted matters.

Right now, at this moment in time, I am the mother of three young adults and the grandmother of one fragile little girl.  I want them all to live in a world where peace is a possibility, no matter how faint.  A place where reason has at least a chance to triumph over bombast.

And this is why I must write this post.

I am absolutely horrified and sickened by the words of Donald Trump, a man who seems to truly believe that he is an expert on every topic in every area.  This is a man who believes that he is capable of single handedly solving every complex problem that faces the entire world.

And how would Mr. T solve all of these deep and complicated problems?  To quote the man himself, although I am very reluctant to do so, he would “bomb the shit out of them.”

This is a man who finds it acceptable to call people “stupid”, “fat”, “ugly”.  He routinely uses simplistic and meaningless words like “nice” and “crap” and “OK”.

This is a man who truly believes himself to be smarter than anyone else on earth. He truly believes that he can bully and insult his way to world leadership.

Tonight, as I sit here watching the terrible news unfolding from Paris, I am very very afraid.

But let me be very clear: I am more afraid of how the world will look if Donald Trump become President than I am of terrorists striking a major European city.


If you reading this, and you are a Trump supporter, can you please try to explain to me what it is that you see in this man?  What is it that makes you believe that he would be a reasonable and thoughtful world leader?