A bright blue fall day prompts childhood memories. The summer in Kentucky has been long and hot with at least two heat waves that were more intense than most can remember. Until yesterday, we were experiencing a heat wave where the day. time temperatures were at least 20 degrees above normal. Even the animals seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when the temperatures finally dropped to something near normal yesterday. Perhaps the rains will come and wet this forest where I live. The few leaves that have fallen are a dry, crunchy brown.

The dry weather dictates whether or not we have a fire season this fall. It seems Mother Nature is going to err on the side of fire this year. This little area of the world has had no rain for many weeks. The Daniel Boone National Forest is so dry that you can even hear the raccoons walk. Frogs populated our deck last night because they know we water our flowers there. They came in search of water. We gave them an extra spray or two of the hose and they seemed to appreciate that. It’s disconcerting for me, at this time of year, to live in these woods.

Sitting on my deck last night, I remembered fall nights as a child at a home not far from where I live now. We would sit outdoors and listen to the whippoorwills. I haven’t heard one in years, even though I live in the country. Urban development has driven them away. I’ve only seen a few fireflies. My friend was usually with me on those warm autumn nights. I remembered him with such fondness last night. Eddie passed away recently and I so miss just knowing that he’s in the world. The Eddie I knew as a boy was good and the Eddie who was a man was even better.

Since Eddie left us, I feel fundamentally changed. It’s as if the last vestiges of childhood have slipped away from me. Without Eddie in the world, without the cousins I played with as a child, without my parents, the childhood I spent on that hill down the road seems very far away. A mystical, magical time that I must have dreamed. The hills behind our houses that Eddie and I explored together….those hills that are now red and gold in their autumn glory must have just existed in my imagination.

Is this what grief dictates? Does it strip away everything and just leave a shell? What is really left when your family is gone? Eddie was my family. When your friends start to go as well? Will those warm autumn memories of baseball in the backyard, cards in front of the roaring fireplace, and a warm feeling of friends and family ever wrap around us again?

Thanks to onedailyprompt.wordpress.com

Defunding Planned Parenthood and Government Welfare


When someone mentions the defunding of Planned Parenthood to me, I don’t dignify that comment with a response. The very idea of defunding an organization that has helped so many women is offensive to me. My feelings on this subject has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that some Planned Parenthood’s offer abortions. My feelings have everything to do with how much Planned Parenthood has helped not only women, but men, since its inception.

They offer pap smears that screen for cancer, a variety of birth control methods, including compassionate abortion in some cases, HIV services, LGBT services, services for men, and more.

Planned Parenthood offers general health services for low-income women. Women who are either receiving some sort of government welfare or, if they become pregnant with a child, will have to receive government welfare. Women don’t become pregnant by themselves. If Planned Parenthood is responsive to low income women, they are also assisting the men who are their partners. The men involved in an unplanned pregnancy might also need government welfare. The services that Planned Parenthood offers can keep a couple, not just a woman, off the welfare rolls.

The current Congress and President, as part of the conservative movement in the U.S., has been determined to defund Planned Parenthood on the federal level and turn whatever is left over to the states. This Congress and President also want to severely cut back the Medicaid program, our current version of government welfare. The two initiatives don’t seem to be compatible. Cut Medicaid and Planned Parenthood? Where are women and men who are low-income and possibly out of a job going to get health services, particularly in the face of a pregnancy? Where are low-income women going to get birth control services, along with family planning advice?

Does the conservative government really think that low-income women are just going to stop having children? They have to know that such a scenario is ridiculous. They will keep having children and the welfare rolls will swell. Emergency room visits will also swell as the women will have no health care options.

Does the conservative movement in the U.S. care? My thoughts? They will only care when it starts costing them money. They won’t care about the men and women they are hurting in the process.

Other posts by other bloggers:

Why We Need Planned Parenthood

What Gives White Men the Right to Take Away a Woman’s Right to Basic Health Care?

Coal Mining, Appalachia, and Alternative Industries


I’ve written several articles on the plight of the Appalachian people and the occupation of coal mining always comes up. Many coal miners cast their vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. They will see no long-term benefit in their chosen occupation. It is a fact that Donald Trump dropped a regulation that stopped coal mine owners from dumping waste water into rivers and streams. It is also a fact that since he became President, a deep mine about 60 miles south of Pittsburgh came online. That mine contains metallurgical coal, not thermal coal and 90 percent of the coal mined in the U.S. is thermal coal. What’s more, this mine, the Acosta mine, was planned in September of 2016, long before Trump’s election. It created about 100 jobs.

Since Donald Trump became President, about 1300 coal mining jobs have been created. Even if he drops coal mining regulation after regulation, it will only stem the tide of the loss of coal mining jobs temporarily. The rise of natural gas as an alternative source of energy has seen to that as has automation.

Donald Trump could do something to help coal miners. He could support retraining of miners and give tax breaks to alternative energy manufacturing corporations if they would locate in coal mining country. Former coal miners need stipends in order to feed their families while they learn new occupations. Firms like wind farms and solar companies could be promised tax breaks if they would locate near where the miners live. Those would be positive things that the President could do for the miners instead of making them empty promises. Alternative energy firms need tax breaks to locate in coal country because geographic access is difficult.

There is one thing that coal miners could do to help themselves. They could relocate. I understand their wish to stay in the place where they are, where their family is. My mother’s family came from Appalachia and I spent 27 years teaching Appalachian young people on a university level. Sometimes, you have to make hard choices and one of them is that you do not sit and starve in place. You learn the lessons of the past when there was an out-migration from Appalachia to find jobs.

Unless the world changes in a way we don’t expect, coal mining is a dying industry. If you are a miner or former miner, don’t die with it. There is something better out there for you.

Trump’s Empty Promises about Coal Mining

Self-Esteem: Renew New Year’s Resolutions for the Children


“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” – Leonardo da Vinci

When the New Year rolls around, people think of New Year’s resolutions,
renewal of old resolutions, and making real changes in their lives. The quote above by Leonardo da Vinci is well-taken. You can’t sit and wait for the things you want to happen to you. You have to go out and make them happen and sometimes, that is not particularly comfortable. It takes courage to go out and get what you want and accomplish something while you’re doing it. The act of doing just that is what builds real self-esteem and helps in the renewal of old New Year’s resolutions that never came to fruition.

We seem to have a problem in our society with self-esteem. For a number of years, parents have been told to praise their children. To tell Johnny and Susie how wonderful they are, how good they do in school and in all their extra-curricular activities no matter if it is true or not. The predominant thinking is that if not only parents, but teachers and other adults, praised and rewarded children for whatever they did, whether it was really good or not, it would build their self-esteem.

Parents, coaches, teachers were to tell the children that they were beautiful, smart, and talented in every area of their lives even if it wasn’t true. Schools, sports activities, and cultural activities (piano lessons, dancing, to name two) started awarding blue ribbons and trophies to everyone instead of just the winners of competitions. Everyone became a winner! The thinking was that this would build the children’s self-esteem.

The human mind is smarter than this. Children knew that they weren’t always winners and that this false self-esteem that had been instilled in them was built on a house of cards. They had enough experiences in life to find out that they weren’t always smart or beautiful or talented and that sometimes they failed. They had not been taught how to handle failure. The result? Lowered self-esteem due to something called life experiences.

Our children have been taught that they are wonderful and think they can sail through life. That makes them narcissistic, entitled, and lacking in motivation. They don’t think they have to DO anything. They have low self-esteem and tend to have poor relationships because they think they don’t deserve any better. We have failed our children.

The children need to be taught that in order to showcase their talent and beauty and intelligence they actually have to do something. They have to accomplish something. Accomplishment is what will give them a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem. If a child comes in last in a race, they shouldn’t get the blue ribbon. If a child fails a test, they should get a failing grade with encouragement to study hard to bring up that grade. Like Leonardo da Vinci said, accomplishment means you go out and happen to things. You don’t wait for things to come to you. That is what builds real self-esteem.

Let’s renew our New Year’s resolutions to care for the children in our life by encouraging accomplishment in order to build real self-esteem. That is true for ourselves as well. #amwriting #amblogging #writing #NewYearsResolutions #selfesteem


Relief: The Politics in the U.S.


Today, Elizabeth’s Creativity Challenge asks the question, among others, about what would cause relief for the current distress in our fellow citizens given the current situation in the world. To provide my take on that question, I’m going to narrow the question to the United States.

The American Psychological Association actually coined a term for the stress many of us felt during and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election — election stress disorder. The APA cited people who were terribly distressed after each debate and then more than distressed after the election and who are having trouble recovering from that. First, a disclaimer. I personally believe we have reason to be distressed. But, we can’t have an entire country walking around unable to function for however long Donald Trump is in office. We have to be productive for ourselves and our country. That said, here is the APA’s prescription for at least some relief.

None of us in the U.S. have ever witnessed anything like the Republican primary debates nor the debates between President-elect Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. My highest stress moment (and there were a lot of them) was watching Trump stalk around on the stage (Debate 2) right behind Clinton but in view of the camera looking very predatory. Perhaps it didn’t affect men as much as women. It affected me a lot. I knew then that he should not be President. There were various high stress moments for all of us who were not Trump supporters.

What do we do for election stress disorder relief? First, the APA asks us to consider what actually happens in our brains to cause such stress. The primitive parts of our brain are associated with safety, security, and other factors cave men and women had to worry about. Those are the parts of the brain that came to life when I saw Trump stalking Clinton on stage, obviously to intimidate her. Other things might have caused  your primitives to spring into action.

Other parts of the brain react with empathy, compassion, and more adult emotions than the primitive emotions. Some of us have been able to access these emotions regarding the political situation in the U.S., some haven’t. The APA found that a full 52% of the U.S. population is suffering from election stress disorder, including both men and women.

What do we do to find some relief? The same things we do to find relief for anything that stresses us. Turn off cable news! Now! You can’t do anything at all about what’s happening. Practice relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga, for example. Get some exercise. Aerobics helps me more than anything because it burns off that stress. Go about your work and your life. Read. Preferably fiction. Something that will take your mind to another place and time. See your friends and don’t let politics get in your way. Who cares if they are Trump supporters? They are still your friends. Don’t talk politics with them.

These things are all we can do in the short run. There is one more thing. Run for political office. There aren’t enough young politicians out there and I’ve noticed a real scarcity of young politicians, particularly Democrats. If you don’t run, you can’t make a difference. If we saw young, dedicated politicians ready to run for office, it would be a relief for all of us. #amblogging #amwriting #writing #creativitychallenge #politics


*American Psychological Association, Psychology Today, Election Stress Disorder

Post in response to Creativity Challenge #38



A Reply to “Academia, Love Me Back” by Tiffany Martinez

Between 1981 and 1988, I was trying to do something similar to what Tiffany Martinez was doing in her essay, Academia, Love Me Back. I was trying to earn a doctorate degree. Tiffany was trying to earn an undergraduate degree on her way to a graduate program. The degrees we were trying to earn don’t matter. The discrimination both of us faced in academia does matter. The reasons we faced that discrimination matters. Tiffany alleges that academia is broken and her essay is current. Tiffany, academia was broken when I was trying to earn my doctorate between 1981-1988. It was broken because of discrimination. You faced the same discrimination I did. You just faced it 35 years later. That is quite an indictment of academia and a legitimate indictment.

I entered a doctoral program to earn a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) in the Fall of 1981. That was 35 years ago. I find it terribly disturbing that what was broken in academia 35 years ago has not yet been fixed. Tiffany, you faced discrimination because of your last name and because you are a woman. You say it was because you didn’t look like everyone else. Of course, that is true.

As for me, I am a white female who was in my late 20s at the time I entered the doctoral program. I was of American descent (Northern European). I did look like most other American women. What I did not look like was a man. In 1981, few women entered my field, the field of finance. It was seen as a man’s world. Only one other woman was in the finance program with me. Sometimes, I felt I was treated like a pet. Even worse, I had to work twice as hard as the men in the program for half the credit. Why? Because I didn’t look like everyone else in the finance program. I was female. I couldn’t possibly conquer finance. Bear in mind. Tiffany, you are facing exactly the same problem 35 years later.

I want to give my fellow finance students in that program credit. The men who were my fellow students were wonderfully accepting. There was no discrimination there. We studied together. We socialized together. I made lifelong friends who are still very much in my life. It was the administration and the professors in the program who discriminated. Not all of them and I don’t want to indict all of them. But enough of them to cause a problem for me.

You might have expected this 35 years ago. Women had just begun breaking into fields that had typically been male-dominated. I suppose one could say that it was more understandable then. Thirty-five years have passed and women are in many male-dominated professions. We have had a woman run for President of the United States. What are we doing discriminating against a female student because of her appearance and her last name?

My biggest problem came when I was finishing my degree. The last step in obtaining a doctorate degree is writing a dissertation and defending it to a committee of your professors and an outside reader. There was an older, very traditional professor on the committee. It was well-known that he did not think it appropriate for a female to have a doctorate in finance. I knew he would vote against me when I defended my dissertation. I was very prepared but I was also scared to death.

I defended my dissertation and stepped outside the room as asked. I don’t know exactly what happened in that room, but I knew that my dissertation chairman was on my side – a more progressive, younger professor. Some time passed and my dissertation chairman stepped out and congratulated me. I had to really control myself to keep from crying with relief.

The time I spent in the doctoral program were some of the best years of my life – and some of the worst. Yes, I faced discrimination but I also had support from my fellow students, mostly male. It disappoints me greatly to think that, 35 years later, a female student like you, Tiffany, is facing the same discrimination in her quest for higher education. I, too, love academia, Tiffany. I, too, wanted it to love me back and went on to become a college professor myself. I tried never to judge a student based on anything but their work.

Tiffany, keep on fighting. Your fellow students will help you. Most professors will help you. There are bad apples in every bunch. You ran into a bad apple who is still caught in the discrimination mindset. Academia needs students like you. Students who will speak out. Students with your credentials. Students with your smarts. Academia will eventually love you back. It is like most institutions. Very slow to change. #amwriting #amblogging #writing #academia

Flint Michigan Water Crisis: Don’t Forget About Flint


A lot of press was given to the Native American Standing Rock Pipeline Resistance, which has now been resolved. Some press has been given to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but we don’t seem to know quite as much about it. The Standing Rock protest was being held to try to protect their water supply. The Flint, Michigan water supply has already been severely contaminated.

The Flint, Michigan water supply was contaminated beginning in April, 2014. Flint switched its water supply from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River. The Flint River was treated improperly and the pipes in it leached lead into the river which made its way into the drinking water. Between 6,000 and 12,000 children have been exposed to lead in their water. An outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease in the area is most likely the result of the contamination of the water supply. Ten deaths resulted.

By June of 2015, Virginia Tech tested Flint’s water and found that it had almost three times the amount of lead in it that water had that the Environmental Protection Agency classified as hazardous waste. Children were getting sick with rashes and mysterious illnesses. Lead has a particularly bad effect on the nervous system.

The President declared a state of emergency in Flint in January 2016. Criminal charges have been filed against some officials who were involved this situation. Some were involved in what amounted to a cover-up.

At this time, the Flint water supplied has been switched back to the Detroit supply though it takes a long time for the lines to be clear of lead.

Not enough attention has been paid to Flint and the children of Flint. What is going to be done about those 6,000-12,000 children who have been exposed to very high levels of  lead? Since lead is a neurotoxin, it causes behaviorial delays, lowered IQ, and developmental problems. These issues can’t be reversed. The proper diet can decrease the absorption of lead so parents are being given information regarding mitigating the circumstances somewhat. Of course, switching water supplies back to the old one is also necessary and has already happened.

Unfortunately, the crisis in Flint is still ongoing and has not had the positive ending that the Standing Rock crisis was able to accomplish.#amwriting #amblogging #writing #Flint


O Holy Night – A Personal Note


I just heard my favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night. It makes me think about the true meaning of Christmas, minus all the commercialization. It also makes me think about my dad. That’s why I marked this blog post as a personal note. It’s very personal. All the beautiful, spiritual Christmas songs remind me of my dad. He was a beautiful, spiritual person who loved Christmas and made me love Christmas.

So why am I writing this blog post? My family and friends wonder why I can’t enjoy Christmas anymore. Maybe this personal note will help them understand. I haven’t been able to enjoy Christmas since my dad died many decades ago. I’m sure many think I should be able to get past that by now and get back to enjoying Christmas. How I wish that were true. You see, my dad was Christmas to me. He taught me the Christmas story, much more than Sunday School or church ever did. He got up with me in the middle of the night to admire the tree he decorated with me. We looked for the star in the sky together. He always smiled and was jolly with me. He taught me to smile and laugh and have fun and, of course, enjoy Christmas.

Then, he died. At Christmas. He was younger than I am now when he passed away. He knew he was going to die even though he had only been ill for six weeks. He had been in the hospital for a few days and when we got back to the family home after he passed away, he had left presents for all of us. They weren’t there when we took him to the hospital only a few days before. Don’t ask me to explain that. We buried him on Christmas Eve when it was 19 degrees below zero and the snow was one and one half foot deep. I’ll never forget when they played Taps, as he was a veteran, and the men who were freezing and who were his friends and were determined to serve as pallbearers anyway.

His brother, my Uncle Billy, was here for the funeral. He came from Detroit and, given the weather, it was not an easy trip. He came for me. He stayed in a local motel and he took me back there after the funeral and got me drunk. He knew what I needed. To get drunk and cry. I wish it had been a permanent solution.

For a few Christmas’s after that, I tried. I really did. My mother was still alive and I tried for her, but I realized that she was not a “Christmas person” and it was not necessary. I quit trying and haven’t since. Every year, I tell myself I’m going to try. I never do.

I acknowledge Christmas in my own way but always very privately. I listen to the spiritual Christmas songs like O Holy Night and I always play piano at Christmas but only those songs. I take a wreath to the cemetery. I celebrate the birth of Christ. I also celebrate and grieve the death of my dad. He was a man who lived life to the fullest. I’m very much like him and have often been criticized for that, probably because I’m female. But, that was another lesson my dad taught me. Not to care what others thought and said and to live my life to the fullest.

Another legacy my dad left that not many people know about is that he was a writer. He didn’t try to make his living as a writer as he had his family to support and that would have been almost impossible then. I have some of his writings that I cherish. I also cherish that he gave me his gift, at least a part of it. He was better than me.

In four more days, my dad will have been gone 33 years. It feels like yesterday, just like it does every Christmas. I will go to the cemetery, play my songs, and remember how he used to sing Ava Maria in an operatic voice. I will hope that Christmas is over soon.

#amblogging #amwriting #writing #Christmas

The Place I’m Most at Home


Finding Your Place

I didn’t see the ocean for the first time until I was 23 years old. I had always known something was missing from my life. Until I saw the ocean, I didn’t know what it was. Suddenly, I knew. It doesn’t matter what ocean. Any of the oceans. As long as I can see that big body of water with no end, I’m at home.

I was born in a landlocked state and was never around water much, except the smallest of ponds and lakes, until I went to the ocean the first time. I could try to explain why the ocean makes me feel at home but I wouldn’t be successful. There are lots of things I cannot explain through the spoken word. There are very few things I cannot explain through the written word. This is one of them.

But let me try to jot down a few of my thoughts. The ocean makes me feel that, no matter what happens, life goes on. It represents infinity to me and that is comforting. Not that my own life is infinite, but that life itself is infinite. In what have been the darkest times of my life, I have craved the ocean, going to the ocean, sitting by the ocean, submerging myself in the ocean, hearing the ocean’s waves crashing against the rocks, even just looking at the ocean. It soothes me if I’m upset. It gives me hope for the future.

Maybe the explanation is very simple. I believe we all originated from the ocean. Maybe going to the ocean really is going home to me. Maybe it just soothes my soul. #DiscoverWP #amwriting #amblogging #writing

Threat – Trump and the Russian Connection


The Challenge here is to use your creative talent to bring light into the current distress in the world around you, in whatever form that talent takes. Please remember that we are reaching out to a world that is facing upheaval and possibly a great number of changes. Let us reach out to that world and bring it the lessons we have learned by becoming artists and writers. “The word for this challenge is Threat.”

As both a writer and a U.S. citizen, the word “threat” has been in my vocabulary lately. I think many Americans have had that word in mind in recent weeks and even months when we think of the political situation in our country. The current administration has found out that Russia hacked the 2016 Presidential Election communications which may have affected the results of the election. Even if it did not affect the results of the election, it is alarming that Russia could have such easy access to computer records in our country.

The question is how do we know this is true and how is it a threat to the U.S.? That Russia did, indeed, hack into the computer records of those who had access to private election records. That Russia is a threat to the security of the U.S.

U.S. intelligence agencies were able to get evidence that Russian agencies tried to hack into the White House and the State Department. They also tried to hack into campaign  officials for the Clinton campaign. They did this by sending out thousands of phishing emails and hoping someone clicked on them. John Podesta, campaign manager for Hilary Clinton, did. They targeted Clinton because they thought if Trump won the election, he was more likely to lift sanctions against Russia.

What is President-Elect Donald Trump’s connection to Russia? Trump has sold many high-end condos in New York and Florida. Russians seem to like Trump’s condos. He and his children have also traveled to Moscow to discuss building condos and other business dealings in Moscow. Nothing much came of that. Trump did make many powerful friends in Russia, including the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, since he has been not only interested in Russia but very complimentary of the country.

How is this a threat to the U.S.? First, U.S. President’s, according to the Constitution, are not supposed to profit from their relationships with other countries. There is a definite conflict of interest here. Second, if you factor in Rex Tillerson’s appointment to the position of Secretary of State, it appears that a foreign country has captured a number of U.S. interests given that country’s relationship with the man soon to be our President and with the man  soon to be our Secretary of State. Rex Tillerson is a former Chairman of Exxon/Mobil and possesses much insider information about our oil and gas industry.

We must understand why this is so serious. Russia is another superpower like the United States. They do not have the same value system as the U.S. It is an authoritarian society while ours is a republic. World War II ended in the 1940s. It is now 2016. Generations of Russia’s have lived under Communist rule . They do not understand a market economy or a republic. Putin is a former KGB (Secret Police) officer.

The entire explanation for the animosity between Russia and the U.S.deserves its own blog post. But, briefly, after World War II, a Cold War began between the two superpowers. There were no diplomatic relations. There was constant fear, on both sides, that someone would push the red button. But, the Cold War eased in 1989 and gradually diplomatic and trade relationships between the two countries were established. There is, and has never been, trust between the governments and no understanding between the people.

If it is true that Russia has American secrets and did, indeed, try to throw the American election to Donald Trump, it is alarming and a threat to our country. Vladimir Putin does not wish us well. He wishes Russia well. Chances are, he considers those concepts mutually exclusive. If Donald Trump is either ignorant of this or complicit, that, in itself, is a threat.


#amblogging #amwriting #writing #Russia #politics

*This post is in response to Creativity Challenge 26