Ethel Mae’s Garden: A Mother’s Legacy

Grief and gratitude, hand in hand

The past few months have marked a series of family anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, and celebrations. There were parties, gatherings, and projects that brought us together. We affirmed our bonds with each other ­— across generations —  in our laughter, our stories, family traditions, and shared experiences — the nature and nurture that created our family. The person at the center —  the heart of our family — was our father’s wife and soulmate, his best friend — our mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Ethel Mae. We are all flowers in her garden. Continue reading

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The Toilet Zone: Duck & Cover

Note: This the fourth installment of The Toilet Zone, a commentary series on the Trump presidency.

“Your silence will not protect you.” ― Audre Lorde

We are approaching the first six months of the Trump presidency. While I write, during the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, Trump met for the first time with Russian President, Vladimir Putin. After a brief public press event, they convened for over two hours behind closed doors. It’s been reported that Trump opened the meeting by confronting Putin on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. As was to be expected, Putin denied it. Representatives for each leader who were in the room, told different stories describing the tenor and tone of the meeting. No surprise. Continue reading

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Random Topics II

Mansplaining, Man Buns, and Manspreading 

I introduced the first installment of Random Topics for Mixed Metaphors, Oh My! in October 2015 as follows: “As a blogger, I mine my daily life for topics to write about. I set out to find something timely and meaningful, something that my readers can relate to, a universal message or lesson to discover in my lived experience.  I’m often left to choose from the mundane, or subjects that pique my curiosity. When this happens, the only common theme is the randomness of my choices. Today, I offer three random topics with absolutely no connection or relation to each other at least that I’m aware of at the outset of this essay. Perhaps as I write, I may discover the subtle relationships that bind them together. Life is like that.”  For the most part, the same is true for this new offering in the series, Random Topics II, except man is at the root of every story. It could be more precisely titled, Almost Random Topics.   Continue reading

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I Need to Pay Attention to What I Resist

“Where there is power, there is resistance.” ― Michel Foucault

There are many tools for living that I’ve acquired over the years from parents, mentors, school, books, films, spiritual practices, and recovery from substances and unhealthy behaviors. I’m most grateful for the latter, which saved my life. Today, we are faced with challenges in personal, social, and political spheres. Now, more than ever, I need to pay attention to what I resist.  Continue reading

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With a Little Help from My Friends

“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
with a little help from my friends”
— Songwriters: John Lennon/Paul McCartney

It’s the Memorial Day weekend. There are many traditions associated with this holiday. From Wikipedia, “Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May. It marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its unofficial end.” Continue reading

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The Toilet Zone: A Government of Men

Note: This is the third installment of The Toilet Zone, a commentary series on the Trump presidency.

“The Tweet speaks for itself.” — Sean Spicer

Just over a week ago on May 4th, I had carpal tunnel release surgery. It occurred on the same day the House of Representatives voted to forward their proposed bill to the Senate, H.R. 1628, The American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA) to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare). My sister Tami, my post-surgery driver and support person and I watched television while we waited for me to be rolled into the operating room. We switched channels between a show featuring men pulling pranks on the unexpecting public, adult cartoons, and the House of Representatives vote live on the AHCA. There wasn’t much thematically separating the three narratives. All three shows could alternatively be entitled, “Men Behaving Badly.” Continue reading

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Music to My Ears (and Heart)

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” ― Bono

Today is the 100th day of the 45th President’s new administration. Many of us are weary of his Tweets, Executive Orders, his incompetence, narcissism and probable untreated mental illness, his misogyny and prejudice, and his lack of understanding how government works and who government represents. As I’ve written before, I probably spend too much time watching cable news and the parade of talking heads, the circus of Trump’s cabinet and Republican Congress, and reading fake news, social media posts, and online opinion pieces. Like many others, I periodically take a break on Facebook and look at videos of babies, jumping goats, mischievous cats and cucumbers, and dogs who talk or do other incredible feats. This week I also played a Facebook game by listing 10 concerts, nine of which I attended, one that was a lie. It helped me survive this week of political madness. Continue reading

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Filmgoer’s Dispatch: 2017 Wisconsin Film Festival

“Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our life time…” ― Martin Scorsese

The first signs of spring in Madison, Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Film Festival premieres in theaters on the University of Wisconsin campus and near east and westside neighborhoods, usually during the end of March and early April, the terrace chairs return to the UW Memorial Union, and the first Dane County Saturday Farmer’s Market arrives. Continue reading

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The Toilet Zone: Truth & Lies

Note: This is the second installment of The Toilet Zone, a commentary series on the Trump presidency.

“Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler—for the liar—than it really is, or ought to be.” — Adrienne Rich

This is not how I prefer to spend my time: reading and monitoring the daily news and social media, compulsively watching cable network talking heads, and blogging about our 45th President, his family, the Republicans, the cabinet, and the white-men-in-suits minions. I’ve created this series to inoculate myself, The Toilet Zone, a virtual letting-go device, a way to flush or cleanse my brain of the toxic waste and shit storm created by the diverter, distorter, and misleader of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Continue reading

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The Itchy Restlessness of Spring Fever

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  ― Mark Twain

It’s true, I came down with a case of spring fever again this year, beginning in February — the symptoms were clear: itchy restlessness, daydreaming, and questioning the choices in my life — wondering what the future holds for me. Desires and appetites grow stronger. I begin to wear clothes outdoors that are inappropriate for the weather, light jackets, short-sleeves, go sockless with canvas shoes or sandals with snow underfoot.   Continue reading

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