Thursday, December 27, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Casa Grande, AZ, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL

CASA GRANDE, AZ
Friday, December 28, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
N. Pinal Ave. & W. McCartney Rd.

Tony Fasline (520-426-0070) will hold his weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, December 28, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the corner of N. Pinal Ave. & W. McCartney Rd. in Casa Grande, AZ. Tony invites anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join him. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week:

In an effort to get a head start on the new year, I’m slowly beginning to tackle some serious organizing around this house. My biggest strategy to get rid of so much of the STUFF that tends to pile up in my space. The goal is three-fold, in order of difficulty:

  • Recycle everything that we no longer need and wouldn’t be of use to anyone else but which can be turned into something else. With weekly curbside pickup by the city, all we have to do is dump this stuff into the blue bins and put them out by Friday morning.
  • Give away whatever can be used by someone else in its present form. Fortunately, we live three blocks from the Goodwill store and collection depot, and there are at least three more of that type of thrift store within two miles of our house. We have no excuse not to share while supporting good causes at the same time. The hard part about this is part of the task is that we actually have to box the stuff up and Jim has to haul it over to the thrift stores. That requires a bit of work, but it’s a good way to get some good use of out a husband in his retirement years.
  • File whatever we can still use. This is by far the hardest part of the task. Both of us tend to be ‘file-by-pile’ types, which is usually the best way for me to remember where something is, at least in the short term. I’m always trying different ways to organize my files, and then I can’t seem to remember how I did it. I could use a secretary. Heck, I could use a WIFE!

Anyway, wish me luck on this task. At the same time, I hope to get some of my own actual work done as this project moves along. Perhaps if I could accomplish a miracle and make this place neat and organized once and for all, I could concentrate solely on my work with a much better attitude and more energy. Pity I can’t just wrinkle my nose, but I am still just an ordinary human being, no matter what some people think. Ah, well.

Join me in a vow to use our blessings, skills, and talents to build a society without poverty or war in which everyone is able to enjoy at least the basic benefits of prosperity and peace.

Meanwhile, send out your positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!
 

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, December 28, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, December 28, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the corner of Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.), Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!



PERSONAL

 

Well, as usual, I’m running behind, but still at least running! I’ll share a little more in my next post about the Casa Grande vigil, within the hour or so. Be sure to check back later.

Meanwhile, join me in a vow to use our blessings, skills, and talents to build a society without poverty or war in which everyone is able to enjoy at least the basic benefits of prosperity and peace.

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!
 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Casa Grande, AZ, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
CASA GRANDE, AZ
Friday, December 21, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
N. Pinal Ave. & W. Cottonwood Ln.

Tony Fasline (520-426-0070) will hold his weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, December 21, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the corner of N. Pinal Ave. & W. Cottonwood Ln. in Casa Grande, AZ. Tony invites anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join him. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week:

Just a week ago, few people had heard of Sandy Hook Elementary School, or even Newtown, the small Connecticut town that on December 14, 2012, became the scene of the worst school shootings in America, if not in number of victims, at least because of the tender ages of 20 of the 27 people murdered by a lone gunman.

If one scrap of hope emerges from this horrendous event, let it be that this is the massacre that people do not forget with the passage of time. Let this nightmare spawn the birth of an unstoppable movement that leads to:

  • sensible laws limiting private access to weapons and ammunition designed only to murder people with frightening efficiency;
  • a humane system to deliver effective long-term care for people with various mental disabilies;
  • an effective means for professional care-givers to report anyone they feel might be a danger to themselves or others.

When I hear anyone ask why God allows such horrendous events, I remember the wisdom that Robbie Parker (see video, below) shared the day after the Sandy Hook murders. First he acknowledged the shootings of so many victims, including his own daughter, as an Act of Free Will committed by the gunman. Then this wise physician’s assistant promised to use his own Divine Gift of Free Will to honor the life and memory of 6-year-old Emilie by comforting his own family and helping anyone who needs it.

We should all remember this truth whenever we’re tempted to blame the actions of a flesh-and-blood human on an Invisible Spirit Who only wants us to do the right thing throughout our lives.

Join me in a vow to use our blessings, skills, and talents to build a society without poverty or war in which everyone is able to enjoy at least the basic benefits of prosperity and peace.

Meanwhile, send out your positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, December 21, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, December 21, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the corner of Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.), Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!



PERSONAL:

I’ve been informed that until further notice, the Youngstown vigils will be held every Friday afternoon at this Downtown on the Square location. The peace group will join with several other groups that are standing up for various social causes, especially the ‘Faithful/Just Budget,’ so named because the current focus of our nation’s resources toward waging war by squeezing the poor and middle class to the max is so completely unjust.

On the other hand, the goal of the faithful followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ is to protect the welfare of those in need and provide every person with the means to enjoy a dignified life in peace and freedom. So if you happen to be in or near northeastern Ohio on a Friday afternoon, feel free to join the people who are standing up for the rights of all human beings all over the world.

Meanwhile, join me in a vow to use our blessings, skills, and talents to build a society without poverty or war in which everyone is able to enjoy at least the basic benefits of prosperity and peace.

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!
 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Appreciating the Cat-Prey Relationship


These two might be the cutest fur-babies on the planet,
but given half a chance, they’ll both follow their instincts
and dig their sharp fangs into a nice juicy mouse.





One of the great blessings of cohabiting with animal companions is the fact that it gives us a cat’s-eye view into the wonderful workings of nature. While we believe in protecting the earth and all its inhabitants as much as we can, we also respect the natural life cycles, including the marvelous science of the food chain among animals. That’s why we don’t get upset over the fact that our cats call the seed we scatter for the birds that daily visit our backyard 'bait.'

It’s not as bad as it sounds. Our two happily domesticated fur-babies mostly spend much of each morning sitting behind the sliding glass back door and watching the show outside. The birds that visit regularly are excellent flyers and very quick take-off artists. They don't even have to taxi down a runway to get an excellent head start on the occasional predator. They can quickly rise up out of harm’s way, just like little feathered helicopters.

If the odd bird does manage to get itself caught in the jaws of one of our pets, it’s usually carried inside for a foolish game the cats call ‘gotcha.’ Much to the feline’s chagrin, the sport usually ends with the bird escaping and flying around the house to land on the highest spot it can find. Then we have to tease it with a long stick while it flutters from one tall shelf to another, until it’s finally convinced to fly through the open back door, all the way to the safety of its home nest.

When the cats do manage to successfully corral their prey, it's either a mouse or, more often, a lizard, especially in the warmer months of the year. If we happen upon this scene indoors and the poor victim has already been dispatched to the great pasture beyond, we just scoop up the remains and put them out in the garden, where it will be eaten by bugs and fertilize the desert ground. In fact, my standard requiem prayer for each lizard stiff as I carry it to its sandy grave is: "Bugs you ate and by bugs you will be eaten."

On the other hand, if we discover that the victim still survives, we try to interrupt the usual kitty-prey play time by catching it ourselves and carrying it to safety outside. When we return to find our fur-child wondering why his impressive conquest was prematurely terminated, we try once again to explain that our home is as much a sanctuary for all creatures great and small as we can manage.


And though we completely respect the wildest instincts that are inherent even in the smallest and cutest creatures on the planet, when they happen to be God’s perfect little hit-kitties, we’ve got to lay down the law: The killing fields shall continue to remain outside the confines of our house.
 


If a cat sees you first and you’re not
fast enough, watch out, little birdie!



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Casa Grande, AZ, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
CASA GRANDE, AZ
Friday, December 14, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
N. Pinal Ave. & E. Kortsen Rd.

Tony Fasline (520-426-0070) will hold his weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, December 14, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the corner of N. Pinal Ave. & E. Kortsen Rd. in Casa Grande, AZ. Tony invites anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join him. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week:

 

I’m absolutely delighted to post this announcement that our peace-loving friends are back from their summer sojourn in Ohio. As long as Tony continues his faithful Friday afternoon vigils on various street corners around town, I’ll happily post notices of both the Casa Grande vigils and the ones that continue to be held each Friday afternoon in and around Youngstown.

Now, here’s a challenge to our neighbors who love peace: When I’m able, I hope to join Tony, and I’ll bring along my husband, Jim, as well. I can’t promise much, but I’ll do what I can. Meanwhile, I’ll keep you updated on where Tony will be each week and hope that you will also plan to stand with Tony and let people know that war is an outdated custom that we must eradicate from the planet.

If you’d like to find out more about the vigils and the cause of peace, feel free to call Tony at 520-426-0070. He’s a really nice guy and very easy to talk to. And he has a lot of experience over many years standing up for and helping people in need.

Join me in a vow to use our blessings, skills, and talents to build a society without poverty or war in which everyone is able to enjoy at least the basic benefits of prosperity and peace.

Meanwhile, send out your positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!
 

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, December 14, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, December 14, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the corner of Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.), Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week:

 

The good news this week is that my peace-loving friend, Tony Fasline, has settled back here in nice, comparitively warm Casa Grande, AZ, for the winter season, and he’ll hold his first vigil at the corner of N. Pinal Ave. & E. Kortsen Rd. tomorrow. I’ll post that notice in a few minutes, as soon as I write my weekly personal update as part of that post.

As long as Tony continues to hold his vigils here and I also have the schedule for the Youngstown vigils, I’ll continue to post separate notices of each one around this time each week. I’ll include my personal messages with the local notices, so watch for them as well.

Meanwhile, join me in a vow to use our blessings, skills, and talents to build a society without poverty or war in which everyone is able to enjoy at least the basic benefits of prosperity and peace.

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!
 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Civil Rights For All: Remember International Human Rights Day



Scene from one of the witch trials that took place in
Salem, Massachusetts Colony, in 1692.
The central figure in this 1876 illustration of the
courtroom is usually identified as Mary Walcott.



In honor of International Human Rights Day, I’m reprinting an article I originally wrote for my November 16, 2005, column in the Arizona City Independent/Edition and later included in my essay collection, The World I Imagine: A creative manual for ending poverty and building peace. It’s important on this auspicious occasion to remind people that all human beings have basic rights that must be acknowledged, respected, and protected.


My dictionary defines "civil rights" as "the rights, privileges, and protection given to citizens" (Oxford American Dictionary, pocket edition, 1979/1980). The book goes on to explain that the "civil rights movement" is "an organized movement to secure civil rights for blacks and other minorities in the U.S." (The italics in both definitions are mine!)

Many civil-rights activists need to check their dictionaries--and their hearts--so they can get their perspective straight on the issue of just who all those civil rights belong to. They seem to believe that only members of their minority group own the power to define which rights apply to members of other minority groups. Besides denying many rights to gays and lesbians, people involved in civil-rights movements have actually informed me, a person disabled by chronic illness, that people with disabilities have no civil rights--the Americans with Disabilities Act notwithstanding!

Sadly, this attitude is neither unusual nor new. The history of civil rights has always involved groups that fought to obtain their own rights, then denied those rights to others. Each November Americans gather around sumptuous turkey dinners to commemorate a group of religious pilgrims who left their European homeland to establish a colony where they were free to worship as they chose. Unfortunately, those same pilgrims adamantly refused to extend that right to others.

In fact, the Puritans of Massachusetts are probably best known for the witch trials of Salem, in which 19 people were executed and scores of others tortured and imprisoned when the false claims of two young girls incited the prejudices of that fanatical religious sect. And though the colony would have failed without aid from local natives, within a few years these immigrants were waging war on the same Indians with whom they’d celebrated their first "harvest festival" in 1621.

After America gained independence as a nation, abolitionists began fighting to free black slaves. On the other hand, most of the men and some of the women working for that cause refused to extend the same consideration to women, though the experience of most women paralleled that of many slaves and the earliest suffragists were also abolitionists. Thus, when the 15th Amendment was ratified, the law applied only to black men. It was another 50 years before women of any color gained the legal right to vote in national elections.

That’s why I’m not surprised that many people working for the betterment of people of color don’t understand that civil rights are inherent to every human being. Moreover, this narrow attitude is not limited to our own country.

Regarding the Third Reich, Martin Niemoeller explained, "In Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Though he acknowledged several different groups whose rights--and even lives--were abridged by that infamous regime, even Pastor Niemoeller ignores the minority group that Hitler’s minions targeted first. Niemoeller’s statement should have opened with this sentence: "In Germany, they came first for the people with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities, and I didn't speak up because I was healthy."

The sad fact is, many execution methods that were later used to murder millions of people in Nazi death camps were originally "tested" on small groups of people with various disabilities and physical abnormalities, such as dwarfism. Others with serious and even incurable medical conditions spent the war years in government "hospitals," where doctors performed cruel medical experiments that enhanced their suffering and often led to their early demise.

Those who claim that certain civil rights are the exclusive purview of their particular group and apply only to those who share a similar experience should remember the lessons of Nazi Germany. History is replete with examples of groups that were targeted, harassed, tortured, and eventually wiped out because others lacked the courage or concern to speak up for the rights of everyone.

In the world I imagine, society will protect all the inherent rights of every single human being, no matter their minority status. This can be accomplished only by eliminating the tool that people in power now use to perpetuate the conflicts between minority groups: poverty.

By limiting access to the resources that people need to enjoy a dignified existence, governments and businesses are able to exercise more control over the lives of the people in their sphere of influence. People and groups who are being manipulated in this way often view other individuals and groups who need the same resources in a competitive light, and vice-versa.

These people usually fail to understand that if people were to cooperate, and even join forces, with those they perceive as their enemies, they might be able to generate enough power to upset the status quo and spread the resources around for all to enjoy. Thus, poor people who fight among themselves for mere crumbs could become a mighty army for good and, with positive force, convince the government to help them work to end poverty forever.

Of course, poverty will end only when all the basic goods and services necessary for a dignified existence are available to every person on the planet at a cost of no more than half the amount earned by the lowest-paid full-time worker. When that becomes a reality, humans can finally begin to build a peaceful society where no one questions the rights of any other person, for the first time in the history of this planet.
 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, December 7, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Market St. & Midlothian Blvd.

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, December 7, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of Market St. & Midlothian Blvd., Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week:

 

This weekend, I watched a video on MoveOn.org’s Daily Share page in which Robert Redford urges people to support President Obama’s stand against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Redford’s message prompted me to write and post an article explaining why we have to invest in and develop all the clean green sustainable energy projects we can manage right now. We can’t wait another fifty or a hundred years. We’ve wasted enough time already.

I have more things to say, and over time I’ll continue to write and post those articles. Meanwhile, I’m also trying to focus on my long-term project, a novel which will also support the message for ending poverty and war and building a society in which everyone is able to enjoy at least the basic benefits of prosperity and peace.

Join me in a vow to use our blessings, skills, and talents to build a society without poverty or war in which everyone is able to enjoy at least the basic benefits of prosperity and peace.

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Old vs. New Energy: Why the old arguments are just as dirty as fossil fuels

For the life of me, I cannot understand why so many people continue to argue against investing in green energy, especially when all the fossil-fuel apologists keep repeating the same old tiresome arguments. For instance, there’s the idea that green energy is a job killer. Give me a break!

JOB GENERATOR

It takes work to build and install solar panels, windmills, and the many other types of non-polluting equipment used to generate and deliver all that glorious power just waiting to be gleaned from the renewable resources and natural forces of our planet. Then there are all the people who will be needed to run and maintain green energy-generating equipment. Just what do the hordes of old-energy protagonists call those jobs? Chopped liver?

Green energy won’t kill any more jobs than fossil-fuel energy does. In fact, just as old energy powered so many new industries during the 20th-century, clean energy from wind, sunlight, steam, etc., will spur even more industries that are yet to be born, or even conceived, well into the future.

JOB KILLER

Actually, I confess that there are some jobs green energy will kill. As we switch from old energy to clean green energy over the years, there’s bound to be a diminishing need for the high cost of cleaning up the environment from all the damage now being done by filthy fossil fuels. This means our society will enjoy gradually lower rates of the vast range of physical ills now being triggered and aggravated by that same pollution. We’ll experience dwindling costs for treating asthma, heart disease, various types of cancer, and much, much more. Then there are all the lives that will be saved because fewer people will work in fossil-fuel industries who now die much too early, from job-induced illnesses and the more immediate dangers of explosions and mine cave-ins.

ATOMIC ENERGY

And all the arguments against fossil fuels go double for the most dangerous energy industry of all. Atomic power plants are more expensive to build than all the others, and there are more things that can go wrong with them. Most important of all is the fact that a single accident can destroy the viability of an entire region in mere hours, after the resulting poison in the atmosphere kills or sickens untold numbers of people. Why anyone would want to continue to use such a dangerous resource is beyond me. It’s about time our society stopped playing with the most volatile elements on the planet for nothing more than filthy lucre and turn to the least dangerous--and eventually, the least costly--of all the resources available for the benefit of mankind.

PRODUCTION COSTS

But what about the cost of investing in the development, production, and installation of equipment to capture and deliver power from wind, sunlight, and more, energy that’s now going to waste? Well, just how much money did it take to develop, build, and install all the power generation and delivery systems that depend on fossil fuels that will run out in the foreseeable future? Just what do old-energy propagandists think our industries and vehicles are supposed to do for go-juice once those fossil fuels do run out?

Oh, yes, they predict that oil and gas are going to last another century, and we’ll enjoy the benefits of coal (which they claim is ‘clean’ now, but more about that below) for at least another couple of centuries. But what happens after that? And what about the fact that long before these filthy resources completely run out, our society will experience more inconveniences and higher prices for the fossil fuels they now worship with such reverence? The fact is, there’s going to be a growing scarcity of those resources, and few but the wealthiest among us will actually be able to afford them anyway. If we haven’t already developed the requisite clean-energy replacements for all that dirty oil and coal by the time they do run out, all the modern conveniences we now take for granted will be totally useless.

‘CLEAN’(?) COAL

Lately, the coal industry has been paying a ton of cash to advertise that not only is coal going to last longer than any other fossil fuel, it’s also much cleaner than it used to be. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, their lobbyists are spending more wads of the industry’s profits to convince politicians that it would cost them too much to install and run the equipment needed to actually clean up their product,. They want the government to abolish regulations that require the clean-energy treatments they tout in their spurious ads. The truth is, they intend to keep on polluting the environment the way they always have. Coal-industry advocates don’t want anyone to put two and two together and realize how much they’re contradicting themselves. Owners and executives of coal companies simply do not want to be responsible members of society. It’s long past time we made sure they do nothing less than the right thing for a change.

ENERGY RATES

Then there’s the last--and lately, the most popular--argument that switching from dirty old fossil fuels to clean green energy is going to make electricity rates go up. This is the least valid argument of all. The current low rates of old-energy electricity and vehicle fuels are a direct result of the many tax manipulations that benefit fossil-fuel corporations and allow them to provide their products at lower rates while continuing to reap obscene profits. Similar tax support would allow the development and installation of green energy facilities. Even better, in the long run, the lower costs of running and maintaining these new, 21st-century industries would actually result in much lower rates than we now pay for fossil fuel products--even without tax advantages.

BUILD FOR THE FUTURE NOW

We must focus as much of our resources as we can toward developing clean energy right now, without delay. In fact, it would make perfect sense for all the old-fuel industries to start investing their ungodly profits in that effort. That way they’ll be even richer in the far-flung future than they are today. Otherwise, we, and the traditional energy sector, are headed for even worse economic disaster than anything experienced before. Not only must we make every effort to support the development of green energy industries, we must also do everything in our power to stop the perpetuation of the filthy, polluting old-energy industries that are now enjoying too much advantage in our economy and society.

That’s why I’ve posted the following video, in which Robert Redford explains why we must stop the oil industry from building the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline straight through the heart of our country:


 
 
Take action:
 
nrdc.org/energy/dirtyfuels_tar.asp

 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

'TIS THE SEASON . . . ?

I first wrote this article for my December 20, 2000, column in the Arizona City Independent/Edition. Two years later, I began an annual tradition of reprinting the piece in my column around the beginning of this holiday month. I hope these thoughts encourage people to think about the importance of remembering the needs of less fortunate people, not only during the year-end holiday season, but throughout the year.

Each year at this time we can do something we should be doing all year long, but it takes more effort at other times than in the waning weeks of the year: We can share some of our bounty with those less fortunate than ourselves.

I'm not talking about writing a check to a charity that spends almost as much on expenses as they do for the people they’re supposed to help. Now is the time when we can do something that genuinely touches people in need. In my opinion, two of the easiest choices available at this time of year are giving food to hungry people and donating to the Salvation Army.

No, this isn’t a rah-rah fund-raising plea, just my musings on the fact that it feels great to drop food into those big grocery-store barrels or stuff a dollar into the ubiquitous red pots--in spite of all the jokes about the incessant bell ringing. In fact, I can't fight the urge; I have to share an experience that made me smile the first holiday season after our move to Arizona.

Sitting in our car on a Saturday after Thanksgiving, I noticed a man chatting for several minutes with the lady tending the red pot in front of the grocery store. As she talked, she never missed a beat with those bells. Instead of the single-clapper school bell of many Salvation Army volunteers, she fulfilled her spiritual duty by shaking a ribbon sprinkled with jingle bells, reminding me of sleighs and reindeer. As she chatted, her hand never stopped its rhythmic movement, up and down, up and down, while her arm barely stirred.

I first thought she'll be plagued with carpal tunnel syndrome by the end of the year. Then I had a truly wicked idea: I wonder if any of the generous people who spend December standing outside in all kinds of weather ever go stark raving mad from the sound of their own bells!

When I dropped my token into the pot, the bell ringer gave me a tiny card with uplifting Bible quotes, since their Christian faith drives these dedicated people. But the simple statement on the back touched me most deeply. Next to an artistic rendition of the familiar red Salvation Army pot and silver bell are the words: "Need Knows No Season." That’s true for hunger as well.

When we lived in Texas in the ‘80s, Houston grocery stores never put away the big red barrels, making it easy for shoppers to drop in a can of veggies or a bag of pasta all year round. But when I moved to Cumming, GA, in 1991, I was shocked to discover that this wasn’t the policy in other areas, even in stores owned by the same company.

Sadly, stores in most places collect food from shoppers one or two seasons a year. The rest of the time, food banks scramble to keep their shelves filled. Most people seem to forget that even poor people need more to eat than turkey and trimmings once a year.

When I mentioned this to a grocery manager in Georgia, he wasn’t too interested in the subject. "That's the way it is," he said. But how difficult is it for stores to do the right thing? If they kept the barrels out after the dawn of the new year, instead of stowing them away until the next holiday season, we could all practice more of the true spirit of giving that this season is supposed to be about. I'm sure the people at food banks would make sure all the extra food they received made it to people in need.

To give the devil his due, that store manager did tell me the "reason" he considered food barrels a "problem." He didn't like dealing with them even during the holidays because some people threw trash in them, instead of nonperishable items for the local food bank.

Well, bah humbug! It does take effort to do the job right, but it's not an insurmountable problem. Many barrels I've seen aren’t labeled as collection bins for a food bank; they’re just huge, often drab, metal cans. This explains why people mistake them for something other than a means to help their neighbors in need.

If that's the case, then why don't store employees or food bank volunteers mark the barrels appropriately? If collection bins at every store were painted bright red and stickers, visible from every angle, bore the names of the food banks where contributions are sent, then people wouldn’t mistake them for trash bins and they’d donate more food for poor people in the community.

Another problem is the location of barrels. I've seen them sitting outside stores, making them prime targets for pilfering. Some were next to courtesy booths, so they were obvious only to people with business there. Placing them between cash registers and store shelves, where people have to go around them to get to the registers, doesn't help as much as managers think. By the time customers finish checking out, they're thinking about getting home, instead of going back--and into the path of other shoppers--to drop something into the barrels.

The best place, in my experience, is just inside the doors where people enter and leave the stores. When barrels are placed so prominently, especially if they're brightly decorated so shoppers can really see them, people are more likely to remember to add something to their list before they pick up their own provisions, and they can drop items into the barrels on their way out of the stores.

I didn't come up with these ideas myself. Of all the examples I’ve observed over the years, this was the best of the lot. I can tell you that at least one store in Texas got everything right. I'm just smart enough to recognize a good idea when I steal it! And I'm not bashful about passing it along.

In that spirit, I offer this gift to those who like what I’ve written here: Please feel free to make a copy of this column and take it to the manager of your favorite grocery store. Ask them why the store doesn't keep a food barrel displayed, in a prominent and convenient location, all year round. And pass along my suggestion about decorating it so it’ll never be mistaken for anything other than what it is: a means for more of us to do our little bit to help our fellow human beings in need, as the Quakers say, "whenever the spirit moves us."

I wish that the season be joyful, whether you honor it through Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa, and I hope you have a truly happy new year indeed.
 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, November 30, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, November 30, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the corner of Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.), Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week:
 
How much faster the time goes by when one gets older. But I can’t complain. I am just grateful that I do have the time and blessings to continue to be productive. The best thing I can hope for is to be useful, to help make a difference in this world. And that’s why I continue to do the work I do, no matter how little I can manage to actually write each week.

This week I could only accomplish a bit of writing, while I was able to reach a goal with my sewing. I now have the warm clothes I need to wear during the upcoming chilly months in the southern Arizona desert. At my age, with my health situation, this is an absolute necessity. While most people around me are frolicking in shorts and t-shirts, I’m bundled up in extra layers. Brrr.

But now that I’ve reached this goal with my sewing, I hope to get much more writing done in the days ahead. I plan to be sitting at my computer, wrapped in my warm clothing, and write about the fact that we all need to do whatever we can to help make it possible for everyone around the world to have the blessings of food, shelter, health care, clothing, everything that we all need in order to enjoy the dignity of a life of prosperity and peace.

Join me in a vow to use our blessings, skills, and talents to build a society without poverty or war in which everyone is able to enjoy at least the basic benefits of prosperity and peace.

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!
 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, November 23, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Poland Rd. & E. Midlothian Rd.

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, November 23, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of Poland Rd. & E. Midlothian Rd., Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week:

 
I’m happy to say I’m getting more things done this week, both writing and sewing. And Jim has just finished with the refurbishing of our last rental unit, so the ad for a new tenant begins running in the local paper today. For anyone who’s looking for a nice apartment in the Arizona City/Casa Grande area, here are the details:



Living Room of Arizona City duplex unit

Arizona City duplex, 2 bedroom/1 bath, washer/dryer hookups, lots of storage, new carpet, fence, no smoking, pets okay but no dangerous dogs allowed, $420.00 per month with 1-year lease (includes water/sewer/trash), $400.00 deposit, Section 8 okay, 494-0437 (leave message).



One of two Bedrooms of Arizona City duplex unit



On this day when Americans stop to give thanks, let us all vow to use our blessings to build a society without poverty or war in which everyone is able to enjoy at least the basic benefits of prosperity and peace.


Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Kitty-Cat Lost and Found


Barack Obama Cat Jordan rests after his four-day walkabout


Over the past weekend, Jim and I went through what some would call a minor event, but animal lovers understand how heart wrenching the experience really is: Our younger fur-son, Barack Obama Cat Jordan, went missing for four days.

Our own little Obama is a beautiful black-and-white tuxedo cat that first walked into our house at 10:00 p.m. on November 4, 2008, exactly one hour after the human Barack Obama was declared the first African-American (who is also half white, don’t forget!) President of the United States. What else could we call the little cutie that our other two cats introduced to us as their own newest ‘resident-elect’ but Barack Obama?!

I confess that since he joined our little family on the very night our president won his first-term election, I entertained several weird ideas about what would happen to our own Obama if the human one had lost this year’s election. As far as everybody in our house was concerned, it was no contest. We wanted both Obamas to stay exactly where they’ve been for the past four years.

Fortunately, the feline Obama reappeared in our kitchen late Monday evening just before midnight and promptly attacked the food bowl as if he hadn’t eaten a thing during his four-day walkabout. He then proceeded to crawl into my lap and soak up as much mommy-love as he could get for the rest of the night.

Since he’s usually pretty quiet--one "meow" is a Shakespearean soliloquy for this quiet cat--I was delighted to hear the long conversations he shared with me through that first night back home. I assumed he was sharing every detail about how he’d spent the previous four days. Unfortunately, I don’t understand Cat and he simply will not speak English, so the language barrier prevented me from comprehending the bulk of his report.

Sadly, when daybreak arrived, he disappeared again, only to show up late the next night. Once we realized this kind of behavior was threatening to become habit, we decided to lower the boom and shut the cat door for the next 10 days. A veterinarian in Georgia once told me it takes that long for cats to imprint a new home, so they wouldn’t be so apt to take off for parts unknown, especially a former home--or for strays like our cats, a previous life.

Of course, this edict was not passed down without protest. The first time Obama and his older ‘brother,’ Punkin, discovered they were locked in, they made their feelings very clear. But it’s for their own good. Still, no matter how much I explain that to them, they refuse to accept my wisdom. Typical children!


Unhappy about being under 'house arrest' with his 'brother,

Punkin Cat Jordan wants to go on walkabout too
 

Perhaps it’s fitting that I share this story on Thanksgiving Day. Jim and I believe in giving thanks every day of the year, and as vegetarians, we never gorge ourselves on turkey, or any meat at all. Instead, we try to spend our lives showing consideration for all the wonderful creatures on our beautiful planet, and for our earthly home as well. And we try to use our blessings to help build a society without poverty or war in which everyone is able to enjoy at least the basic benefits of prosperity and peace.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why Not Green?

During most of 2008 I wrote several articles on green living for my column in the Arizona City Independent/Edition. As part of that series, the following article was published in the October 8, 2008, edition of that paper.

 

‘Green living’ is ‘in’ now, thanks to people like Al Gore, who was sounding the alarm on global warning for decades before it became popular. Jim and I heard his message years ago. Back then, we were doing small things to help, but it wasn’t enough. We still have a long way to go. Becoming green is a step-by-step process; it doesn’t happen overnight.

No matter how popular it is to fight global warming, there are still nay-sayers, especially among powerful people who, sadly, stand squarely in the way of progress. I fear that they could be signing a death warrant for many species on the planet--including, eventually, the human race.

That’s why we’re involved in this effort. Actually, I made up my mind to join the ecological fight over fifty years ago. In the summer of 1958, I witnessed an example of why we must be careful about managing our natural resources.

Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, I loved going with my family to swim in Lake Worth, east of the city. In the early ‘50s, Lake Worth was a nice place for families to swim, picnic, and just hang out. When we lived in Ridglea on the east side of town, we went up there several times each summer, but after we moved to Handley on the west side in December 1955, we didn’t get to the lake much at all.

Then one day we took a trip up to Lake Worth, just to spend a day in the country. For some reason, we didn’t wear bathing suits, which we would have done in the early part of the decade. Maybe our parents knew. I never did ask them about it. But it turned out to be an eye-opening trip.

Though it was a bright summer day, there weren’t many people around. I understood why after we left the car and started walking toward the lake. I first noticed that there was a different odor to the air than the fresh country smells I remembered from earlier days. The closer we got to the water, the more I could smell it, and it wasn’t pleasant.

Upon reaching the water, we realized the lake was much smaller than it had been before. Fort Worth was always going through alternate spells of too much and too little, floods and drought, so a shrunken lake wouldn’t be that much of a surprise. But it was the condition of the water and the beach that shocked me.

The water itself was dark and dirty looking, not like the fresh, clean water we used to swim in. It looked so bad we weren’t even tempted to wade in, which we would’ve done, even if we hadn’t planned to swim. On that day, we didn’t even want to walk across the beach, which was littered with trash and dead fish. Even the soil, the former lake bed, didn’t look or feel like good old Texas dirt. As an outdoor kid, I knew good dirt when I saw it, and this wasn’t it!

The entire area had a doomsday feel to it. Even vegetation surrounding the expensive lakefront houses looked sick. The entire scene had the pall of death. I don’t know whether it was pollution or neglect or just all the trash that had been dumped around there. It was probably a combination of all those things. The lake and the land around it was dying, and something must be done to bring it back to life.

We didn’t stay at Lake Worth for long that day, and it was the last time we went there. The next spring, we moved to Littleton, CO. I haven’t been back to the area, except during a couple of subsequent moves when we drove straight through the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex without stopping.

I do know that since that fateful day, things have changed for the better. Apparently, people took charge of the situation and cleaned up the lake. I discovered this while watching an episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger" and saw Chuck Norris visiting a house on the shore of Lake Worth.

The area was beautiful again, the lake clean, and all the houses surrounded by lush lawns and thriving trees and plants. I’ve since checked the internet and found that Lake Worth is a thriving resort community now. That would’ve been impossible with the lake I’d seen in the summer of 1958.

That’s why I have no doubt that no matter what other factors affect the environment, positive human involvement is vital. Besides, it’s the one factor we can control. We have the choice to ignore the obvious and kill this planet, bit by bit. Or we can nurture it and help it to thrive as a wonderful ‘mansion’ for the enjoyment of the entire human race. It’s up to us.

I plan to be among the positive inhabitants of this planet, our virtual home. I hope you’ll join me in that effort too!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, November 16, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, November 16, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the corner of Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.), Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week:

Since I last posted an announcement for the Youngstown peace vigils a couple of weeks ago, I’ve taken small steps forward, making progress with several projects on my personal agenda. At the same time, our nation took a giant leap forward that should make anyone who loves peace and respects everyone’s rights proud to be an American. Granted, it’s not perfect and there’s still much work ahead for all of us to do, but at least we didn’t move backward--again!

Four years ago, we elected the first African-American to be president of the United States. Many people believed, or at least hoped, that we’d finally shed the last vestiges of hatred and racism that had plagued our country since before its founding. The feeling of euphoria generated by such romantic delusions lasted only until the first tea-partier publicly shouted the hateful slogan: "Take our country back." Two years later, Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives and Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell loudly announced that their single most important goal was to make certain Barack Obama would be just a one-term president. Since then, their obstinate obstructionism has prevented the entire Congress from being able to pass any positive measures.

Of course, now that the voters have re-elected Barack Obama to be the first two-term African-American President of the United States, we can only hope that conservatives will actually realize and accept the destructive nature of their reactionary policies that threatened to destroy not just this country, but the entire planet. At my age, having been witness to these continuing struggles through nearly seven decades, I’m experienced enough to balance my naturally sanguine nature with a healthy dose of wariness. We will see.

And we must each continue to do our part to build a better world--without poverty and war. That is why Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan was not Yes I Can; it was: Yes WE Can!

The only way to fulfill the 2012 slogan of Hope and Change is for all of us to Just DO It! Now, LET’S GO!

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!
 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, November 2, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, November 2, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the corner of Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.), Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week:
 

This week I’ve been reasonably productive, but I have a couple more life things to get through before I can get back to writing on my novel. Maybe by next week. We’ll see. Meanwhile, this week I had an all-important annual medical test, and we took care of our semi-annual civic duty.

VITAL MEDICAL TASK
Today I crossed my mammogram off my to-do list. Or as I like to call it, my annual ritual of booby-smooshing. My mother and her mother had breast cancer, both when they were past the age of 70, and I’m fast approaching that milestone. I make a point of keeping a close eye on ‘the girls,’ just to catch any trouble so I can deal with it swiftly and effectively.

As an old registered nurse who began practicing before World War I, Grandma was not a fan of ‘old school’ doctors, so she didn’t go for help when she first discovered a lump. Once she began receiving medical treatment, at my mother’s urging, it was much too late, and she eventually succumbed to the disease.

That’s why her daughter, my mother, was so diligent about going for treatment the moment she discovered a lump in her breast. As a result, she had a simple lumpectomy. The cancer was so small and contained at that point that she didn’t need any further cancer treatment for the rest of her life, nearly 20 more years. With all the other medical complications I have to deal with, I have to be as diligent as she was. Which makes me think of the other vital task Jim and I both took care of during the past week.

VITAL CIVIC TASK
We voted. We filled in our early ballots and put them into the mail in plenty of time so they will be counted. I’m proud to say we both voted for Barack Obama and Joe Biden for President and Vice President. We also voted for the Democratic candidates for the other state and national offices, especially Rich Carmona for Arizona’s second Senator, and the return of Ann Kirkpatrick to the House of Representatives, where she belongs.

The reason it’s so important to keep the current administration in the White House, the Democratic majority in the Senate, and to bring the Democrats back into control of the House is that the Medical Care Act must be preserved and improved. This momentous victory for President Obama is one of the most important and moral laws the United States has implemented in decades.

Although so-called Obamacare isn’t quite the universal coverage that must be the eventual goal everywhere in the world, it is a vast improvement over the old system in which profit-greedy insurance corporations held the power of life and death over people who paid them for health insurance coverage and then were denied payment for necessary medical care. To say nothing of the millions of people who couldn’t even afford any kind of medical insurance and were even denied access to state Medicaid benefits.

If the Republicans win this election and gain control of the Executive and/or Legislative reins of the country, there is every reason to fear that they will dismantle the system that allows most Americans to have access to necessary medical care. That means insurance benefits will be further gutted, medical costs will continue to skyrocket, and tens of millions of people will become disabled and sickly from conditions that could easily have been prevented with timely intervention.

The cheapest and most effective health care systems in the world are the ones that provide care for everyone that needs it, when they need it, paid for through a single payer. Why the GOP can’t understand that is beyond me. But they will not be distracted from their reverence to the ‘religion’ of filthy profits bled from human misery.

And they have the audacity to call socialized medicine ‘immoral.’

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Girard, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
GIRARD, OH
Friday, October 26, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
State St. & Liberty St.

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, October 26, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of State St. & Liberty St., Girard, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week:
 

Well, the good news this week from our corner of the world is that I’ve been able to get my brain focused just enough to actually write a brand new chapter for one of my works in progress, one of three novels that have been well enough begun and could actually be completed by early next year if I can keep the old gray matter on track for the next few months or so. I’ll let you know each week whether that miracle continues to occur. And if it does, I’ll share more information about the project.

Meanwhile, prayers, positive thoughts, and possibly even a little magic certainly can’t hurt, can they?!

The other side of the news ‘coin’ is that in the last couple of days, Jim brought in mail for me to open and sort that included requirements for me to fill out a total of four--count ‘em: FOUR!--different forms, each of a different type, each for a different purpose, and each requiring different levels of agonizing, painstaking labor!

The trouble is, on the list of activities I really love to be engaged in, filling out forms is in a dead heat, tied with spending money at the next lowest level of enjoyment. Both happen to be just one notch above the worst activity in the world: writing checks. In fact, the reason I really hate writing checks more than just about anything else in the universe is that it involves a unique combination of those two other loathsome pastimes: spending money by filling out a form.

That’s why modern conveniences like debit cards, and even a credit card, on occasion, have really taken much of the sting out of spending money. That’s because swiping a card, especially when somebody else, like a cashier, does it for me, it just leaves me with that money-spending part, not the form-filling-out bit. So, if you ever see me sweating over a checkbook one day, have pity on an old broad who is just trying to survive her anxiety. And if I am actually writing that check, that means I’ve at least got a few pennies to spend!

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, October 19, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, October 19, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the corner of Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.), Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week:
 

As time moves on, so do our lives. Jim is still trying to get our last vacant rental unit back into rental shape, with the help of dear friends. We hope it’ll be occupied by the dawn of the holiday season. Positive thoughts and prayers for that, please.

We’re enjoying the last half of the baseball postseason before the long four-month drought when we’ll sorely miss watching our favorite sport being played. Sadly, the Diamondbacks didn’t make it all the way to the last hurrah this year, but we reveled in some really great moments throughout the season anyway.

Our beloved team wrapped the season with a .500 record, but several players had great stats for the year or at least some spectacular moments in particular games. Some did well enough to be in the running for annual MLB honors, but they might not get enough votes for the awards. Players are misjudged when their team doesn’t even make the postseason, and too many people in the rest of the country dismiss the D’backs as not quite ready for the Bigs, despite their 2001 World Series win. All this doesn’t change the fact that since the Diamondbacks joined the Majors, several of our players have shown potential for future Cooperstown residency. Anyway, Jim and I just like to watch them play!

Meanwhile, temperatures are dropping in sunny southern AZ. While it’s a bit of a shock to my delicate system--I’ve always been a complete summer person and can’t tolerate much chill, both inside and outside of the house--the weather here is nice enough to attract the annual influx of snow birds, northerners who escape snow country for our mild winters. We call it our nine months of ‘paradise.’

We’re eager to see the arrival of a couple of special snow birds in the next couple of months. I’ll be happy when I can announce that Tony Fasline will bring his faithful vigils for peace to corners around Casa Grande during the winter months. Watch this space for news of that blessing.

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Hubbard, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
HUBBARD, OH
Friday, October 12, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Rt. 616 (Hubbard Rd./S. Main St.) & Rt. 304 (Liberty St.)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, October 12, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of Rt. 616 (Hubbard Rd./S. Main St.) & Rt. 304 (Liberty St.), Hubbard, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 

This week: 

Well, last week I put my plans to be more productive in writing, virtually speaking, and as I predicted at that time, God laughed. I guess I shouldn’t be upset about that development. It could mean the relationship between a woman planning and a riant deity confirms the existence of the Mother God who enjoys the antics of Her earthly creations.

To reality: After an appointment with our primary-care doctor tomorrow morning, the week will come to a close with all those loose threads that had earlier eluded order now neatly tied and tucked. Next week, a brand-new fresh month as well, and no one knows what the future holds.

So, I’m just going to end on that note. September was the sort of month that could be called "interesting," as in the ancient curse: "May you live in interesting times." At least one has no right to claim boredom." So, I will wish better on all the world, and sign off until my next post, sometime between new and next week . . . maybe!

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!
 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Austintown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
AUSTINTOWN, OH
Friday, September 21, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Rt. 46 (Canfield Niles Rd.) & Mahoning Ave.

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, September 21, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of Rt. 46 (Canfield Niles Rd.) & Mahoning Ave., Austintown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!


This Week:


I’ve been sticking to my plan to write and post at least a couple of articles on this blog each week. Meanwhile, I’ve also been organizing my notes for one of the novels that have nagged at my creative brain cells for far too long. If I can get that going too, I’ll probably try to do one article and a couple of chapters every few days.

Then of course, there’s that age-old saying, "Man plans, and God laughs."

Of course, nothing was said about how a woman fits into that paradigm.

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

And if I don’t manage to finish and post the article I hoped to have done by tomorrow, I wish everyone a positive and hopeful Peace Day, September 21. Keep on sharing and spreading the message that we must end poverty in order to achieve true peace throughout the globe.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Republicans Fear Most

 


Republicans fear the Goddess
in every Woman and her Cats
 
 
Earlier today I was reading another article on cnn.com discussing the Republican campaign against women’s rights, and I happened to see something in a photo that made me think of my cats.

Hmm.

So I made a little note, found the perfect picture that’s safely in the public domain, added a bit of text, and . . . Voila!
Check it out:


What REPUBLICANS Fear Most
PUSSIES They Can’t CONTROL
 
Feel free to share this message as far and wide as you can. We all have to make as much noise as we can to stop the GOP from doing everything in their power to move us back to the nineteenth century, or worse! There are many things we can do, but the most important action we must take is VOTE!


On November 6, be sure to vote against dragging our nation backward in history.


Better yet, contact your local official who manages voter registrations--in Arizona, it’s county recorders--and sign up to receive early mail-in ballots. They’ll let you know when to expect ballots in the mail for every election throughout the year. Then when the big envelope comes, study the candidates and issues, mark your ballot, and put it right back in the mail as quickly as you can. That’s the best way to ensure that you don’t miss voting on election day and your vote will be counted.


And to the Goddesses and their cats: Let’s all keep up the fight against the oppressors!


Forward to VICTORY!





Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Defining the real 'Elite'

Elite: a group of people regarded as superior in some way and therefore favored (Oxford American Dictionary, 1980)

Among the elite would be owners of sports teams, corporations, dressage horses that compete in the Olympics, i.e., people with tons of money and outsized bank accounts in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, etc.

Wait. Don’t Republicans hate the ‘elite’? Obviously, they’re confused about the true meaning of the word ‘elite.’

But just in time, Rick Santorum explains it all for us. He said " . . . we [conservative Republicans] will never have the elite, smart people on our side."

Ah, now that makes sense. Anyone with a working brain cell is obviously not going to vote for any of those anti-intellectual Republicans.

Thank goodness we were warned!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, September 14, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, September 14, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the corner of Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.), Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!

 
This week:

We finally signed another tenant to our vacant rental house in Arizona City. That means I can finally get back to my real work again, writing about my dream of a world without poverty and war. Meanwhile, I would be remiss if I didn’t give some reasonable attention to the momentous choices ahead for the country in early November.

I’m old enough to remember a time when one could vote for the person rather than the party. Sadly, that option disappeared almost overnight when Grover Norquist gained so much power over an entire party beginning in the 1970s. I hate to make this sound political, because I really never believed in the assumed obligation so many people have to the group ethos. My driving principle is to preserve and protect the basic rights of every human being. As I wrote in my book, The World I Imagine: A creative manual for ending poverty and building peace:

" . . . conflicts are bound to occur when laws and their application deny the rights of people based on gender, age, skin color, economic class, physical or mental disabilities, or other superficial and irrelevant factors. However, putting an end to poverty would no doubt improve the tendency of people and organizations to respect every individual’s civil rights, no matter their station.

"That is why in the world I imagine, no law would conflict with the inherent rights of any person or group, and no law could be enacted that benefits any person or organization to the detriment of any other individual or group of people."

So I’m going to continue writing, no matter how much or how often, whenever I can. And as I have done for the past three decades, I will reserve my vote for Democratic candidates and continue to do so until enough people associated with the Republican Party stand up for true conservative values, which includes staying out of the private lives of free citizens.

Then I’ll consider voting for people who truly want to use the power of their office to assure that everyone enjoys an equal opportunity to partake in the fruits of prosperity and peace, regardless of the politician’s party membership.

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

“Rizzoli & Isles”: Sending wrong message about disabled vets

I tried watching "Rizzoli & Isles" off and on from the beginning but couldn’t help feeling the show was ripping off too much from the far superior "Bones," one of our absolute favorite crime series. But finally, the last part of the episode entitled "Welcome to the Dollhouse" made me start asking myself why I bothered to watch "R&I" in the first place.

What bothered me was the final scene in which Jane (Rizzoli, played by Angie Harmon) learns that Casey (Sgt. Major Jones played by Chris Vance) was severely injured in the war. He tells her he doesn’t want to be in her life until he’s a ‘whole’ man again. Then he hobbles away on crutches while Jane watches with a look of pitiful suffering.

Give me a break!

The message here is that disabled vets should be hidden away and not mix with ‘normal’ people. It’s an age-old prejudice. Society has always tried to make disabled people hide from the outside world. I know, because I’ve suffered from several hidden disabilities just about all my life, and the majority of people who learn about my illness treat me with the same type of discrimination.

Before people discover the truth of my illness, they enjoy my company. But when I have to explain that my condition prevents me from being able to perform or socialize to the extent they demand, they almost consistently turn their backs on me. Some people even try to punish me for the ‘crime’ of being disabled.

And the situation is no different for people with overt disabilities like that dramatized on "Rizzoli & Isles."

I confess, I tried watching the show for several more weeks, hoping they would change course on this misguided plot development. But I finally realized the producers of the series are demonstrating the same mean-spirited bigotry toward people like me, and most of the disabled veterans of Bush’s wars of choice, that has been practiced throughout history. That’s why I refuse to watch any more episodes of "Rizzoli & Isles."

I hope other people who understand the importance of this negative message regarding disabled people in general, and disabled veterans in particular, will consider not only tuning out the series, but contacting TNT, as I will with this message, to let them know how wrong-headed this message is.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, July 20, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, July 20, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.), Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!



This week:
We’re still looking for a qualified tenant for our latest vacant unit. If you live in the Arizona City/Casa Grande area and are looking for a really beautiful home to rent, take a look at the video and get in touch with us at 520-494-0437. As you’re looking at the video, note these two things:

  • The property now has a chain link fence, which will come in handy if you have children or pets.
  • Ignore the rent amount listed in the detail posting on the video, since we’re resetting the amount of the rent we want to charge. If you like the place, call and we’ll be happy to discuss that detail with a qualified tenant.

Now, enjoy the video and dream about living there yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx6X629-mkA

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, July 13, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Immaculate Conception Church, 811 Oak St.

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, July 13, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of Immaculate Conception Church,, 811 Oak St., Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!


This week:
We thought we’d found reliable tenants for the last of our rental properties, but apparently personal problems led the family to abscond without notice, leaving us with a vacancy on our hands again. If you live in the Arizona City/Casa Grande area and are looking for a really beautiful home to rent, take a look at the video and get in touch with us at 520-494-0437. As you’re looking at the video, note these two things:

  • The property now has a chain link fence, which will come in handy of you have children or pets.
  • Details posted on the video fully explain the features of the home and rental arrangements, except that, in the current market, we’re rethinking the amount of the rent we’ll charge. If you like the place, call and we’ll be happy to discuss that detail with a qualified tenant.

Now, enjoy the video and dream about living there yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx6X629-mkA

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, June 22, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, June 22, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of Downtown on the Square, (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave.) Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!


This week:
Now that my creaky old sewing machine is home from the Little Sewing Machine Hospital, it’s purring like a little kitten! (Mama really missed you, baby!) I’m now happily creating more fashion flair for my wardrobe again. Well, a robe and some roomy muumuus anyway. At least I’ll be comfy, if not such a sharp dresser. Hey, at my age, almost anything qualifies as a great accomplishment!

Also this week we signed the last tenant we needed to fill up our rental units again. Pretty soon I should be able to concentrate more of my brain power back on sharing ideas via this blog. So watch this space. I’ve got plenty of half-finished pieces that just need to be tidied up and posted. Hold out great thoughts for that.

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Salem, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
SALEM, OH
Friday, June 15, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Giant Eagle & Salem Plazas

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, June 15, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of Giant Eagle & Salem Plazas, Salem, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!


This week:
This afternoon, my old sewing machine came home from the Little Sewing Machine Hospital, but I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet after its latest round of TLC. But later this evening, stand back! I’m gonna sew up a storm again! (I really missed you, baby!)

On the other hand, now that we’re finally into the best season of the year, my brain’s functioning so well that I’m taking care of several tasks on my long-ignored to-do list. So my own writing has been sparse lately. But once I knock a few more of those tasks off my agenda, I’m looking forward to concentrating on some serious commentary, and maybe more fun stuff too. Stay tuned!

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the Universe

If you're like me, you really love comfort food, those ooey-gooey victuals that are not so much bad for you as that they're packing more fat and calories than nutrition. Still, once in a while you've got to indulge, because these foods are so great for the psyche!
When I was a kid, a grilled cheese sandwich and a chocolate malt did the trick for me. Two pieces of toasty white bread with tons of melty processed cheese oozing out, and a tall, frosty glass of thick, chocolatey whipped ice cream. Every time we ate at one of those ubiquitous diners that dotted the Texas landscape in the fifties, my folks knew I was going to order a grilled cheese sandwich and a chocolate malt.

Still, no short-order cook in the Lone Star State ever knew, then or now, how to make those dishes as well as the man who ran a tiny little eatery in a classic stainless-steel diner on the outskirts of San Angelo called Burley's.

I will never know how Mr. Burley produced the creamiest, most perfect malts I have ever tasted, but he was a master of the art. Even better, the secret to his best-in-the-universe grilled cheese sandwiches was obvious, so when the "slings and arrow" of life get to be too much for me, I can duplicate his feat.

To begin with, Mr. Burley would assemble the sandwich ingredients the same way everybody else did, slathering butter on two slices of white bread with the dry sides flanking a slice of American cheese, but instead of tossing this concoction on the griddle, buttered sides out, he--and here's the secret!--grilled the sandwich in a waffle iron.

Now that I'm well into my second half-century of life, I have to watch my cholesterol, so I don't do this kind of thing very often. Still, the recipe can be tweaked in different ways to satisfy anybody's diet requirements or restrictions. For one thing, there's no meat involved in the basic recipe, but you could fancy it up by throwing in a bit of ham or bologna, if you like, and call the sandwich grilled ham or bologna and cheese, instead of just grilled cheese.

Vegetarians who eat dairy, like me and my husband, can stick to the basic recipe, but we can lower the cholesterol damage by using a low-fat substitute for the processed cheese slices and brushing the bread with a little olive oil instead of butter or margarine, and wheat bread works instead of white. Besides the olive oil, vegetarians who don't eat dairy can use a cheese substitute made from tofu, such as Galaxy brand veggie slices, available in several delicious flavors in the produce section of most grocery stores.

According to my internet research, there's no more Burley's Diner in San Angelo, nor does anyone named Burley live in that West Texas city. But even though he might no longer be there to whip up the best malts and grilled cheese sandwiches in the universe, Mr. Burley's legacy will live on in our kitchen and, after this article appears in print, maybe even a few others who read this article.

Until you've enjoyed one of Mr. Burley's heavenly concoctions, you cannot know how good crisp waffled toast and gooey melted cheese can taste. Why, even the crust is delicious. What a master he was!

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, June 8, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Elm St. & Madison Ave.

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, June 8, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of Elm St. & Madison Ave., Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!


This week:
My old (1963) Singer sewing machine is in the Little Sewing Machine Hospital right now, and I miss her a lot! I’d been on a pretty hot stitching roll for almost a month, and now I’m ‘dead in the water’ on that front. So, after I say a little healing prayer, I’ll occupy myself with other things on my agenda for a couple of days, and maybe by early next week I’ll have my trusty old machine back and running full-speed again. Great thoughts in that regard!

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, June 1, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave)

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, June 1, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of Downtown on the Square (Federal Plaza E. & Wick Ave) Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!


This week:
Well, I finally got the first bit of my own writing done and posted the article here this morning in which I sort of spoof the birther issue. Besides that, I’ve been doing some serious sewing that I just hadn’t been able to get to for several weeks, at least. It all feels good. And now that we’re easing into that legendary Arizona summer heat, my brain should be able to focus enough for me to keep up this level of productivity for much of the next few months. I know, it’s the other way around for most people. But give me that desert summer warmth and I’m just as happy as if I had good sense--as my late mother-in-law was wont to say. So, I’ll keep on posting these notices through the season, as long as I know what’s going on up there in Youngstown with Tony Fasline and his peace friends. And I hope to alternate with articles and reports of my other accomplishments. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, one finger at a time on the keyboard, and miracles will happen!

Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!

Birthers: Looking under all the wrong rocks

Okay, let’s just imagine, for the few fantastical seconds it takes an intelligent person who can actually read properly spelled English words to digest this message, that the so-called ‘birthers’ are actually correct. Just suppose the person that most of the world’s population consider the duly-elected President of the United States was really born in Kenya and is, therefore, ineligible to hold the highest office in his ‘adopted’ country.

If that were actually the case, then the conspiracy theorists are looking in the wrong place for proof of their suspicions. Instead of harassing Hawaiian officials in an effort to prove that original and certified state documents, along with historical newspaper notices, are all phony, they should be heading to the Dark Continent. If they're right, then that’s the only place where they have any chance of digging up any record of the birth of an offspring of the senior Barack Hussein Obama. A smart researcher would concentrate on births in Kenya between, say, January 1, 1960, through December 31, 1962.

In addition, a true detective would also be looking for the record of Stanley Ann Dunham’s overseas travels during that period of time so that her foreign-conceived child would have been born in her husband’s country of origin. Just saying.

Obviously, the fact that none of the birthers are taking any of these logical steps is proof that their mutant brain cells prevent them from any level of reason beyond the utter hatred that leads them to wage unholy war against the first African-American President of the United States.

It is something to think about.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Peace Vigil, Youngstown, OH, and surrounding area:

PEACE VIGIL
YOUNGSTOWN, OH
Friday, May 25, 2012
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Midlothian Blvd. & Southern Blvd.

Ray Nakley (330-506-1999) and Ron Dull (330-518-9881) will hold their weekly Peace Vigil this Friday, May 25, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the corner of Midlothian Blvd. & Southern Blvd. Youngstown, OH. They invite anyone who is interested in showing their support for ending conflict in the world to join them. Hold out positive thoughts for that!


This week:
Another week, a few more steps forward. We’ve just signed tenants for the manufactured home I’ve mentioned on this blog before. Since they’re moving to the bigger home from one of our duplex units, we’ll be looking for a tenant for that place next month. Still, we’re very happy about this development. Otherwise, I’m taking care of little administrative things. I hope to clear this list in the next couple of weeks or so, and then get back to some of my work, sharing my thoughts on this blog. Stay tuned!
Positive thoughts and, for those who are believers, prayers for all the suffering souls all around the world!