Monday, July 17, 2017

Dear Angie: An Open Letter To A Congressional Candidate for MN-2

Dear Angie Craig, 

Angie Craig
I cannot say I was surprised to hear you will take another run at MN-2's congressional seat. In a perfect world, you would be an ideal candidate: you're sharp, erudite, and, dare I say it? funny. You've been a corporate executive, a leader in your field, and active in social justice. These are the attributes we want in the person who represents us in Washington. But this is not a perfect world.

In the letter you sent, you wrote the following:

As Democrats, we must understand better why we have lost these past elections. As I talk with voters, already it has become clearer that we must talk more about how we are going to bring back jobs to the United States and create economic opportunity for more hard-working Americans. We have to be clearer about how we will fix healthcare and acknowledge the problems with out of control costs for many families. I grew up without healthcare. There is no one who knows better if you can’t afford insurance, healthcare doesn’t exist.
If this is how you are planning to run, then we will have 2 more years of that buffoon, Jason Lewis. Your statement is a recipe for defeat. Let me explain why.

You lost by a narrow margin because you could not convince enough moderate Republican voters that you were the better choice. Not DFL'ers....but IR voters. This seat was a bronze statue to John Kline's butt. You did nothing to reach out to the fence-sitting voters that would bring them over to the side that would actually address their looming problems. Instead, the DFL ran you like you were the Anti-Republican and that was a total turn-off to those on-the-fence voters. 

If you are serious about winning the election, you need to form a non-partisan cadre to create non-political town-hall meetings to talk to the voters before you go on a listening tour. They need to talk about the different approaches to health care explaining BOTH the good and the bad on each side...and you know each side has both. To talk about the commercialization of the National Park System and how it impacts their lands. To talk about the EPA, FDA, and associated departments all of which have direct impacts on agriculture. Say what can work, and say what is less likely to work. Again, stress being fair, not black-or-white, liberal-or-conservative, right-or wrong. This is not a lecture; you need to learn as much from those voters as much as they need to learn what is at stake. Educate...don't indoctrinate....voters. 

And then, come into the room already knowing what they want.

You know exactly what I mean. The truth will set us all free.

The DFL has a golden opportunity to get real information out to the voters explaining what will happen next. Don't squander it with partisan poison.

Be fact based. No hyperbole. No dirt slinging, casting aspersions, denigrating, or anything that even hints of dirty tricks. Speakers can compare and contrast; present differences without politicizing. Tell the truth. I know that's a new concept for some. 

Questions must be answered in a blunt factual manner. Even if two people show up and get their questions answered, that's a victory because they will tell their families, "Hey, I went to this town meeting and this is what I found out." 

Whatever it takes to get the information out the door and into the houses.

Then you can go campaign all over the district to talk about differences in practical, fact-based terms. That's when you tell 'em what you think.
If you go after those IR people sitting on the fence in a way that does not mock, threaten, or otherwise belittle their political leanings, you will win. This is a Republican district and has been for many years, but the voters are not stupid. You need to change the mind of one voter at a time. Sling one single piece of mud, and it's over. 

Basics, Angie, the basics. Go back to the basic, bottom-line, unexciting truth. Don't whip 'em into a frenzy...that's transitory and useless. Educate the rural voters on stuff that impacts them directly: water, land, productivity, and food chain. 

Go back and rethink that web page; it's everything your potential new base will find condescending and a turn off. The cartoons/icons on the crowdpac issues page are insulting to the very people you need. 

You already have the Democratic votes in this district; it's time to go after the Republicans in a way that comforts and assures them their voices and concerns are not simply being heard, but they are being acted upon on their behalf. 

I really want you to win, Angie. Truly, I do.  But you have to want to win the minds...and hearts....of those Republican voters who are beginning to understand what Jason Lewis means to the health and well-being of the district. 

Run, Angie, run....but run with truth and honor. We, the People of MN-2 really need that right now.

Thanks for listening,
The WP

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If your House of Representatives seat needs changing,
focus on the moderate Republicans. 
Give them an honest chance to not be embarrassed. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Time To Wake Up And Smell The Manure

When I was a kid, someone gave us an LP record of The Red Army Ensemble singing patriotic songs. Of course, they were Russian patriotic songs. Mostly the songs were from the Bolshevik hit parade. Grandma Bessie used to ask me to play it for her every once in a while. Her perennial favorite was The Red Army Anthem, the kind that makes you wanna stand up and salute. This weird look would come over her face. Invariably, I would ask her why she listened to Russian propaganda when she vociferously hated Russia. She would patiently remind me (for the millionth time) that her family was socialist and they dreamed of a Russia free from the czarist regime. These were songs she and a brother used to sing in secret. 
These songs remind me there used to be a dream. Even if all the crazy people destroyed the dream, the dream should always be remembered.
It always sounds better with her Odessa hek'cent.  

This offering from the White House, however, doesn't make you want to stand up and salute; it makes your wanna barf in your mouth. Make America Great Again sounds like the latest version of Leni Riefenstahl does The Young Americans

Not only is it musically banal, it lacks any modicum of truth in the lyrics. It's vile, grotesque, morally and intellectually bankrupt. The creators of this piece of drivel have shown their hand: they think We, the People, are blind, ignorant, and stupid. 

We, the People, are none of those things.

We, the People, fully understand that the G20 made the United States an international laughing stock.

We, the People, totally understand that our president was so unprepared for the summit his team forgot to book rooms. 

We, the People, are fully aware that Amateur Hour at the White House mistook the President of China for the President of Taiwan. You know...they all look alike anyway, right?
China's President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou

We, the People, also noticed all the participants in the chorus look alike. Coincidence? I think not.

This is a new low in propaganda. This is worthy of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. This video is everything we laughed at in the 50s, mocked in the 60s, and stomped on in the 70s. By the 80s, we were dancing to disco so we didn't care any more. 

We, the People are a diverse, multi-colored, multi-creed, multi-orientation, and multi-faceted collection of people who, when joined together make up a gloriously diverse national body. This video, on the other hand, is the ultimate insult to the American identity. It is the slap-in-the-face heard 'round the world....if/when the world stops laughing at us. 

If you are still buying into the bullshit, you're being played on a grand scale. 

Time to wake up and smell the manure, people. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Social Security is NOT an entitlement; We, the People, pay for it ourselves. 
Every week. Every paycheck. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Course of Human Events v. Tiny Hands


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America 
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Read the above again, very carefully this time. You will see it is a call for insurrection. No two ways about it. This document calls us to arms against a tyrant king living across the water. The first sentence says it all. The rest is commentary. 

We, the People, take for granted that the Declaration of Independence was written for and about something that happened over 200 year ago, and not about something happening now. This Declaration is the very foundation of our national identity. We look to the Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution to be the most basic layer upon which our bi-cameral system of checks and balances is built. 

I doubt the drafters of the Declaration ever envisioned a government gone mad like our current one. Surely, they believed they were leaving their fledgling nation of men like themselves, who spoke of grave responsibility...between demands for pins and sugar...with the expectation that those who participate in such discussions would be men of wisdom and intellect. No, women were not included in that initial conversation, although I daresay the wives had ample opportunity for input. 

And that's where we are heading back to now. There are precious few women in the cabinet, few people of any color. And no intellect to be found anywhere. This is by design, not some oversight. This is the condition of our current administration. Ben Carson and Betsy DeVos did not simply wander into the room. Teamed with the likes of Rick Perry and Jeff Sessions, you have a recipe for disaster. In the group convened to put the health care package together, not a single vagina was present. It was a room full of old white men stripping women of reproductive rights.

Our sitting president has requested voter rolls be turned over to his committee. While most of the information on the voter rolls is available in the public domain, not everything is. What exactly are the looking for? And to what use are they going to put our affiliations? Voter fraud is not nearly the sizable issue that is voter suppression. 

While you are sitting on the curb watching the patriotic floats go  by, ask yourself what you are celebrating on this July 4th. When the sky lights up with fire works, take a moment to remember that "the rockets' red glare" was not caused by Roman candles and Tiger Packs, they were bombs exploding as the battle raged. If that was the price of freedom then, are We, the People, prepared to pay the price now?

There has been much written of late about the mental status of this toddler-in-chief. Even his own party questions his ability to lead. And now he's going over seas for the G-20 and a meeting with Putin. Oh, to be a fly on that wall as Putin gives him his next set of marching orders. Regardless, one thing is increasingly clear: the man is a textbook case of narcissistic behaviors. His constant attacks on Hillary Clinton along with any other woman who has disagreed with him show him to be seriously unhinged. We're not talking about political discourse or an exchange of differing ideas; this is third-grade-bully behavior. And if that was not enough to make you wonder about his ability to have a relationship with anyone, much less a woman, his wife...whose cause is supposed to be anti-bullying, defends his wacko behavior, saying through spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, 
"...when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.”
Is that why we don't see much of Mrs. Trump.....because he punches back 10 times harder?

Regardless, great psycho-pundits seem to agree the kind of behavior 45 exhibits on a routine and regular basis is, in fact, due to inadequate ...hand size. His lack of ....finger length and thickness... causes him to lash out in a manner that would seem to express a desire to enhance or enlarge manliness, when, in fact, it does the exact opposite. His constant denigration of women, of intellect, of scientific achievement, of simple facts, of We, the People...speaks of a man who believes himself to be so inferior that he must tear down anything and everything in order to make himself appear grander. This methodology fails. 

Which brings me back to the Declaration of Independence. 

Our current administration has set the nation on a course designed to undermine our Constitution, and that includes the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Amendments. The Cabinet is populated itself with know-nothings, fools, and charlatans. The leadership of Congress has demonstrated its desire to pander to the 1% with a healthcare sham that would leave millions uninsured and without access to medical care. This is not "libtard" propaganda, this is every accounting office in government as well as most health care organizations. This is the same administration that today moved to cut off heating subsidies to low income households "claiming it’s no longer necessary and rife with fraud. People needn’t worry about being left in the cold, he says, because utilities cannot cut off customers in the dead of winter." (From the Associated Press, July 3, 2017) This is patently false. 

We have a government that harms its own people. We can either continue to bend over and take it, or we can just say NO. 

That call to insurrection I mentioned earlier? It works both ways. And that ad put out by the NRA?  

Same thing.  Just so you know. We are getting the same message. And we get it. 

All this because the guy has ....tiny hands. 

By the way...share this blog. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day
Grownups don't let kids play with fireworks and explosives.
We want them to remain intact. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

When the Oppressed Become The Oppressors

I had a very different blog already written for this week, but you won't see it. Instead, I want to take a moment to remind my readers that Jews remain on the bottom of the shit heap in this country. It doesn't matter if the first daughter has signed on to the blue-and-white bandwagon, Jews are still Jews and they remain the most reviled subset in this nation. 

And here you thought it was the Muslims. Silly you.

And silly me. 

A couple of things happened this weekend, just as I was getting ready to go see Wonder Woman. On the surface they may not appear related, but in fact, they really are. 

While Jewish rainbow flags were carried without incident at the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago, that was not the case at the Dyke March held on Saturday in Little Village. There, Jewish marchers were told the rainbow flag with a Star of David in the middle made some other participants feel "unsafe."   
JTA: Chicago lesbian march bans ‘Jewish Pride’ flag as offensive:
Organizers of the 21st annual Chicago Dyke March told the women that the rainbow flags with a white Star of David in the center would be a “trigger,” or traumatic stimulus, for people who found them offensive.
A Dyke March collective member told the Windy City Times that the women were told to leave because the flags “made people feel unsafe,” and that the march was “anti-Zionist” and “pro-Palestinian."                                                                                               
The flag was a rainbow flag, not an Israeli flag. Can anyone tell me how a rainbow flag with a Jewish star makes anyone feel unsafe...except the Jews marching beneath the banner?

At around the same time I was reading about the Dyke March, a friend sent me a link to an opinion piece in ESSENCE magazine: OPINION: Why Supporting 'Wonder Woman' Is Dangerous For My Black Feminism And Liberation. I read the article several times, and I understand most of what she is saying, and can understand why she is saying it, except for the personal attack on Gal Gadot:
When I first saw these iconic Black women express their laudations of Gal Gadot, who is pro-Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and a former combat trainer with direct ties to the oppression of Palestinian people, I thought of the longstanding and tacit requisite of upward mobility that requires Black people to distance themselves or abandon those of us without social influence, political clout, or financial security. I think about how we are left to scurry for scraps as we survive in a White supremacist world that sees us as disposable while our faves engage in behaviors that are antithetical to our Liberation.
Which is scarier? Wonder Woman...
...or Jewish woman?
This wasn't about the color of her skin or her talents as an actor, this screed was about her being Israeli and doing her compulsory military service. This was about Gal Gadot, the Israeli, not the actor. I know there is much discussion these days about cultural appropriation, but this is not that. The writer's issue is with Ms Gadot's nationality. I am equally certain if Ms Gadot was serving in Pakistan's armed forces, or China's, or the United Arab Emirate's armed forces, all nations with human rights issues....she would not be making the same argument.

But all is not well in the State of Israel, either. We have our own class of Jew-haters with which to contend.

In his latest move to insure the destruction of the State of Israel, Netanyahu told the Jews of the Diaspora to basically drop dead. In a less-than-astounding move, the prime minister of Sinat Chinam caved in and surrendered conversion recognition to the haredi, instead of recognizing pluralism in Judaism as he had seemingly promised.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted on Sunday to advance a bill that would bar government agencies from recognizing conversions to Judaism performed in Israel outside the Orthodox-sanctioned state system.                Ha'aretz - June25th, 2017

Now, if you're not Jewish, and have no Jewish converts in your family, this is meaningless to you. But, if you are a Jew-by-choice (as opposed to a Jew-by birth) this is a big frickin' deal. Just as Jessica Fishman, the incredibly strong woman who wrote CHUTZPA AND HIGH HEELS describes. No one tells the story better than Jessica, and for reasons I both understand and cannot fathom, she remains in Israel in spite of this never-ending stream of humiliation dished out by that hateful coalition behind Netanyahu. Of course, that coalition is made up of people who do not fight in the IDF, work, or contribute to the national economy. They are not so dissimilar to the mullahs who enforce Sharia in Muslim countries. In fact, they have more in common with them than they do with most of the world's Jewish population. 

And speaking of mullahs, the Iranians unveiled a little display in Teheran: a countdown clock beginning at 8,411 days.... the number of days before which they say Israel will be destroyed. Apparently, this is based on comments made by Ayatolla Aki Khamenei in 2015 when he predicted there would be nothing left of Israel by 2040. Y'know they may not have to wait that long. If Netanyahu continues the trajectory he is on, Israel will do itself in. 

As I write this, Jews are being increasingly singled out for hatred by other groups who consider themselves oppressed. When a LGBT function tells Jews to go home because they are identifying as Jews, I want to ask why is hatred of us okay? Where is their complaint about Muslims countries where LGBT people are tossed off rooftops, thrown into prisons, or decapitated because they are whatever. When I read the paragraph included in the Invest/Divest section of the Movement For Black LIves platform questioning Israel's right to exist in safety, I want to ask why aren't they going after Somalia or Central African Republic or any other country where militias are actively performing acts of genocide? I want to know if they noticed Israel has free speech, a free press, and a society where all religions (except Judaism) are practiced without impediment? 

Why us? What have we, this teeny-tiny fraction of world population, done to them?

It's much too easy to hate; Jew-hating is always in season. Yeah, we have moments when we can relax, but that time is rapidly disappearing again. We're getting it from all sides. Those who consider themselves oppressed find it easy to blame someone further down the rankings than they are. And we, my dear readers, are currently at the bottom.

Maybe it wouldn't feel so isolating if we had Israel as a place to go. Right now, however, I'm thinking that might not be the best place for a Diaspora Jew. 

Maybe now is the time to ask, What is Plan-B?

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you are part of We, the People,
you have a civic obligation to actively care about what happens here. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Beer, Politics, and a Little Talmud Thrown In For Fun

First, let me admit I was a little overwhelmed by the response to last week's episode. There are a few comments posted beneath that blog, but over a hundred readers took the time to send a real email. I  was blown away by the things people said, all but 2 were very positive, encouraging, and downright lovely. I had email from all over the globe. Go figure. Thank you all for the kind thoughts; every single one is greatly appreciated.

Someone...and I know who you are....asked me to write about Judaism and beer. Well, there's Jewish stuff below, but for the beer part, I have 2 words: SPOTTED COW. You can only get it in Wisconsin, not even in Minnesota, and as far as I'm concerned, it's worth the shlep to Hudson for a 6-pack. I am a long time Guinness stout fan, but there is something unmistakably delicious about Spotted Cow. End of beer part. 

I'm not ready to pull the plug on the blog, but I am thinking about how I am going to handle the ongoing debacle that is American politics. There are days I think people in the White House wake up and say," what can I do to undo something President Obama did?" That is not productive thinking. There's got to be a better way to get around that sinking feeling that there are no facts. Not alternative facts, or flights of twitter fancy, but hard, cold, blunt, unembellished facts about where our government is going and what our expectations are regarding our government.

The health care bill being crafted in secret is scary. The deconstruction of the National Parks and Monuments Registry is scary. The removal of most funding for arts and culture is scary. Promulgating the belief that the coal industry will rise again and the nation will resume its coal consumption is scary. I won't even mention how scary not having FDA food safety inspections is. (See Georgia peanut butter salmonella outbreak.)

Plenty of people are out there publishing real-fact information with the hopes that people, especially our congress-people, might read a bit and get a better understanding of what actions are being undertaken on their behalf. There must be a belief in some kind of tipping point, that place where people begin to wake up to what's happening around them. I'm not completely sure I trust that concept, but is there a better idea out there on how to mitigate the damage?

But wait; there's more.

One part of this conundrum that really has me worried more than everything else is the delegitimization of individuals and the media. Now, we all know every administration yammers on about the press, the correspondents, and even the magazine essayists who cover politics. It is equally well known that a primary step in establishing totalitarianism is control of the press. That's why we have a First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
During this  Monday's press gaggle, however, the White House prohibited recording video or audio footage. This is strange. There was nothing major in today's briefing, other than the usual requests for the White House to explain what it's doing. You can read the transcript for yourself. White House press briefing 06/19/2017. Why this gaggle? Why these reporters? What was the White House afraid of today? I couldn't figure it out. 

Unless it's establishing a new normal.

Barring the use of recording devices underscores the administration's desire to control information in the press. This is not healthy, and it is certainly unconstitutional. So, how do you get around that nasty little problem of the Bill of Rights? You use the freedoms it guarantees to undermine everything around it. 

The undermining began with a lie about Barack Obama's birthplace and citizenship. Born in Hawaii (which was already a state at the time of his birth) to a natural-born American citizen and her non-citizen husband, there is nothing, NOT ONE THING that would call into question his citizenship. But the lie was told and the rest is the world's biggest bull-oney snowball.

The administration has learned from that lesson and is using it. Quite well, actually. They take a little, throw-away statement, and lob it into the instant media universe, then sit back and wait for all the fun and fireworks. Doesn't matter who they're attacking. The deed is done. 

Tonight, in my Talmud class, we were studying Bava Metzia (Chapter 4, 58B) and read the following:
R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: Verbal wrong is more heinous than monetary wrong, because of the first it is written, 'and thou shalt fear thy God,' but not of the second. R. Eleazar said: The one affects his [the victim's] person, the other [only] his money. R. Samuel b. Nahmani said: For the former restoration is possible, but not for the latter.                                                
I'm sure you're wondering what this has to do with anything. Well, all things considered, this is an important distinction in today's political stratagem.

There's the shitter-twitter stream for your consideration. It almost always denigrates a specific person. That comment is broadcast and read by millions. Whether or not the statement is verifiable and certified true does not matter; the person attacked has no real recourse in defending oneself. The allegation is out there and there is precious little anyone can do to stop the damage. 

Often, it's the suggestion, not the fact, of impropriety that does the damage. Even if proven to be false, the rift is created and belief in what is real is suspended. The endless barrage of alternative facts from BOTH sides of the political spectrum destroys reputations to the point of no recourse. Ever notice how when the stream has nothing else to say, it blames Hillary Clinton for something, anything?

So going back to the one thing we know for certain is a lie, and starting this ball rolling down the hill. That defamation has damaged who we are as a nation, who we are as a people, and worst of all, who we are as inhabitants of this planet. We have allowed verbal wrongs to become common place. We have allowed the stream of verbal wrongs to shape who we are. 

It would take an act of G-d, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or whatever deity to which you subscribe, to get We, the People to pull our collective heads from our asses and begin actually looking at what we're being handed. But it has to happen. Democrat and Republican alike, we need to understand what their plans are for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. If you are counting on Social Security for your retirement income and Medicare for your senior health coverage, you cannot afford to ignore the reality that it is already under the microscope for cutting. 

If we don't read this stuff....if we don't bother to find out what they are pushing through congress, we have no recourse. Millions of We, the People, may find themselves without the guarantees their parents' have. Right now, even the GOP side of the senate is having second thoughts about the AHCA bill. If we sit idly by and ask not what our nation's legislature is doing, then We, the People, just get to eat it up with a plastic spoon. 

(For your amusement: We asked 8 Senators To Explain What The Health Care Bill Is Trying To Do.)

Here's the very bottom line: when we choose to allow our government to diminish the First Amendment and put out only the news they want us to hear, then we have already stopped being Americans. That undermining of the First Amendment is the very tip of the iceberg on which we are currently sitting. Once that is negated, it's over. The rest is just sad, sad commentary.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you want to lift your own spirits, grow herbs. 
Even in a pot, the scent is restorative.
There's basil,lavender, chives, mint, rosemary (not in the shot)
with a strawberry pot, a blueberry pot, and a cherry tomato,
just for fun.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

I Shall Wear The Bottoms Of My Trousers Rolled

This afternoon, my Medicare acceptance letter arrived. I will be 65 soon, and turned in my official application about 10 days ago. This means I'm about to be very old. 

I was in New York over the weekend. The occasion was bittersweet on a couple of levels.

From the moment I picked up the rental car and made that right onto the Belt to head east, I was home. Navigating the Belt into the Southern State was second nature. I didn't have to think about what lane to be in or whether getting off at Merrick Avenue to go to the butcher in East Meadow was better than getting off at Bellmore Avenue. I knew. I knew I had to drive all the way around the little shopping center to park by the butcher. I knew. I didn't have to think. And I knew how to cut behind what was once the Associated to take Jacqueline Avenue instead of trying to make that funky left onto Columbus Avenue to go to what had, once upon a time, been our house. I didn't think; I just knew.

Thank you, T.S. Eliot
My cousin and I managed a quick walk on the beach Friday afternoon before Shabbat. Even my feet felt at home. Sand is the  best foot massage on the planet. I rolled up my pants and marched into the surf. The water, salty, cold, and frothy, smelled like beach. My beach. It was perfect. I wish I could bottle that scent. All of me relaxed. The wet, the scent, the cold feet...the whole package... that sense of coming home...even if just for a fleeting moment. Everything I'd been carrying on my shoulders went out with the tide.

Coincidentally, Friday night was Ziggy's yahrzeit, marking 8 years since he had the poor form to leave the building. I decided that as long as I was on the island, I would go say kaddish on Shabbat morning at my home shul. I let my old next-door neighbors know I was coming, and they assured me they would be there since it was the Rabbi Rosenbaum Memorial Scholar-in-Residence weekend. And thankfully, they were. Sitting in that pew, facing the bima where 40 years ago, come July 2nd, Ziggy and I stood under the chuppah, with the afore mentioned Rabbi Rosenbaum, to be married. Who could have imagined the roller coaster we were about to get on?

Equally coincidental, the pew in which we sat was almost immediately to the right of my family's memorial plaques. I could see their names from where I sat. All but Grandpa Ben, mom's dad who died in 1936, danced at our wedding. For better or worse, some of the most important things in my life happened at Beth-El, and sitting there, in that spot, was much more emotional than anticipated. 

The month of May was rough this year. I was grieving the loss of my husband, and my parents, all rolled into one. All that hard work I was too busy to do while I was caring for everyone else still had to be done, and I was finally doing it.

The whole reason I was in New York was to unveil my folks' headstone. My bro and I decided to do one unveiling for both, since they died only months apart. The usual suspects gathered minus a few who could not make it to NY, but gather we did. Tradition dictates what we place a stone atop a headstone when we visit a grave, so I asked everyone to bring a stone from home...and to decorate. Stones had been sent from Milwaukee, Minnesota, and California. Some were painted, some had messages written on them with Sharpies, but all were from the heart. We said the traditional prayers, we sang Psalm 23, we talked, we cried, we mourned....and then we went to lunch. 

We had gone to Ben's Best on Queen's Boulevard after both Mom's and Dad's funerals. And we went this time, too. As I looked at everyone at the table, I was relieved to have everyone there. My two remaining aunts, both of whom live in Florida, were at the table. One is 93, the other 88. How many more times will I see them? How many more times will I get to sit with my cousins and laugh about stupid stuff? Truth is, I love being with them and I have missed so much being so far away.

And I will miss more because my life, for better or worse, is here on the tundra, not on the beach I love so much.

The other, more difficult truth to accept is that with the unveiling of that headstone, a significant chapter of my life has closed. My old life is really over. I am not responsible to or for anyone, not even a dog. My obligations are done. Going forward, I get to be Savta when I'm needed, but I'm not in charge and that's fine with me. I get to make choices for me. 

Which brings me to this blog. 

A recent correspondent wrote, 
I think there can be too much religion in some of your blogs. You might be causing some readers to tune out. Consider toning it down.
Really? My best email comes from the "religious" blogs. Go figure.

But that said, I am tired of writing about politics. So for the next few weeks, I will be trying to figure out what I'm going to do with this, where I'm going to go. If you have a thought, toss it over the fence...either as a comment or an email to

Meanwhile, I am working on the last round of edits for LINGUA GALACTICA...the new novel due out soon. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
There is no manual for grieving, and no one can tell you how to do it.
Allowing yourself time and space when your heart is broken
is the kindest thing you can do for you.