Lessens Learned

I read a poem yesterday that made me wonder if life is a series of lessens or lessons?

Do painful experiences or lessons cause us to grow or withdraw?
Are the lessons learned
Or lessens learned?
Do we withdraw to minimize the pain
or redouble our efforts until we breakthrough
the pain
into our human potential?

Do we strain to attain
or refrain  from more pain?
Splitting headache

White Space Expanded

The literature scholar Alan Jacobs argues that we need to embrace “not a permanent silence, but a refusal to speak at the frantic pace set by social media.” He calls silence “the first option — the preferential option for the poor in spirit, you might say; silence as a form of patience, a form of reflection, a form of prayer.”

How I learned to shut up and be still Author Headshot
By Tish Harrison Warren

White Space is the blank space left around a PowerPoint, print on a page, or words in a lecture or sermon. It provides a respite from thick block of text, graphics, or words and allows us the chance to absorb what we have just seen, heard, or experienced.

After reading this thoughtful essay that someone shared from the New York Times, I realized that White Space could also be extended to our lives as well as our various activities.

“Candle Flame” by Sam Bald is licensed under CC BY 2.0
As Thomas Kildare writes, “Advocacy in support of the oppressed, the poor, the marginalized and the pursuit of peace requires action. Particularly in a democracy, we have a responsibility to raise our voices to call for a more just and compassionate society for all people.
But the practices of silence, contemplation and stillness are essential disciplines in Christian spirituality. If you survey the advice of the saints from the past two millenniums, a consistent piece of advice emerges: Shut up. Be still.
If we fail to engage in active practices, Alcántara says, “we risk becoming distant, aloof, and detached from the world around us.” But he also says, “if we fail to engage in receptive practices, we risk becoming distant from ourselves, offering living water to others while we die of thirst.” 
By Thomas Kildare

A (Self)-Educable Moment

I was getting my flu shot at a local pharmacy an tried to joke with the pharmacist giving me my shot .

“I’m being facetious when I say this, but this shot won’t turn me into a zombie, will it?”

His response wasn’t what I expected. “For some people, that is their belief system. You believe some things that you can not prove.”

“Sort of like religion,” I replied.

“I suppose,” he finished with a jab of the needle.

I had never thought about this as a belief system and I suppose for many people it is. America has a long history from the witch trials in Salem through the Scopes Monkey trials in 1925, where some people passionately believe in things that many do not.

Prior to today’s beliefs in the reality/unreality of the Coronavirus and whether or not Antifa caused many of the violent protests in the past year and a half, the one of the last times we had such with hunts was in the 1950s with Senator McCarthy and the Red Scare.

All of this as passed, until the next wave of hysteria arises. I hope that this wave subsides sooner rather than later.

The Comings and Goings of Friendships

Did you meet a new person today?
Were you glad when they left
Or hoped they would stay?

Not everyone will turn into a friend
for which we are grateful
from beginning to end.

Some friends aren't what we had expected
Friendships aren't easy
So don't feel rejected

Some of them bless us by staying awhile
They leave us fond memories
That can still draw a smile

Some of them make us glad when they leave
Not what we hoped for
Not what we perceived

Each one we meet as some potential
to teach us a lesson
Learn something essential.

Each person we meet is a blessing or curse
We hope they aren't bad 
But sometimes they're worse.

You Can’t Talk Sense to Your Inner Toddler

About age two, that previously sweet baby learns the power of the word NO! It may be followed by “Don’t touch that”, but once the child hears NO, he realizes that he must obey or refuse. Refusal seems the more instinctive reaction.

Fast forward to the teen years. NO returns from both parents and teens. Whereas the toddler results to tantrums, teens yell and slam doors or they go passive/aggressive with sighs, rolling eyes, and shoulder shrugs. “Whatever” becomes a standard response of disdain.

Then came the pandemic which has turned many adults back into teens or toddlers. “You’re not the boss of me,” they metaphorically shout to anyone that recommends or mandates ideas ranging from masks and social distancing to getting a vaccine. Instead of the passive/aggressive response of many teenagers, they respond with fistfights on airplanes, sermons from pulpits and government buildings, and disregard for previously respected scientists and medical professionals. The only winner is the mutating COVID virus.

I'll do it when I'm ready
You're not the boss of me
You'll never be able to show me
 things I don't want to see

Why do you always tell me
the things I need to do?
You can talk till the cows come home
you're message will not get through.

I'd rather die than listen
to things I know aren't true
At least what I read on the Internet
is not advice from you.

This is supposed to be
the land of the brave and the free
So I'll keep on doing just what I want
'cause you're not the boss of me.

I'll continue doing
what I believe is best
Even if it kills me
But I'm willing to take that test.

To the Fool on the Hill

Day after day, alone on a hill
The man with the foolish grin
Is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him
They can see that he’s just a fool
And he never gives an answer

But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round

Dear Fool,

Today your alternate sense of reality might not be so gently judged, unless you are in politics.

Between COVID, politics, woke/cancel culture, and race–with the exception of race, many of the old litmus tests like nationality, religion, and values seem to have been thrown out the window or onto the compost pile of history.

Elite at one point was a typewriter size that got 12 characters to an inch, while Pica was 10 characters to an inch. We could all agree on that.

We still have self-proclaimed purity tests that measure what agrees with our versions/visions of what is right. Perception has replaced fact about what is true and what is not.

I can like what you say, but if I do not endorse everything you say then I am against you. That is one type of purity test–when is enough sufficient?

Superman stood for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” But we don’t agree on what any of those things mean anymore.

Fool, do you have anymore room on that hill?

Thanks. I’m asking for a friend.

“The Fool on the Hill Has Stepped Away” by garlandcannon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Why Does Everyone Like Canadians?

I was just watching a Trevor Noah from the Daily Show skit about Who Hates Who. It was funny and seemed to be fairly accurate. He was emphatic about identifying who hated who but would not get into the why. He said that everybody hated the United States because we had invaded some countries, overthrew government in other countries, bombed several countries but even the countries we had liberated from the Nazis in World War II now seemed the hate us.

He finished by saying “Nobody hates the Canadians,” while he donned a maple leaf hat. That reminded me that I have heard several Americans say in passing that they will say they are Canadians when overseas to avoid the stigma of being from the United States.

Is it because Canada:

  • Invaded fewer countries
  • Has a national health care system
  • Has a dryer, gentler sense of humor than the United States
  • Is generally less prejudiced except for the French/English issue although the nation is bi-lingual
  • Doesn’t overthrow other countries’ governments
  • Are usually a polite people
  • Seldom has mass shootings
  • Treats its indigenous people much better
  • ???

Circular Logic

The government needs to do something about this COVID virus.

They recommend wearing a mask

That infringes on my rights and freedom.

Are you maintaining social distancing?

That’s another infringement.

Are you staying home?

Heck no! I have the right to go wherever and whenever I want.

Are your kids participating in hybrid or distance learning?

No, I’m paying taxes so my kids belong in school–period.

Will you get a vaccine?

No way. I don’t want to the government injecting something weird into my body.

The government just passed the new stimulus bill.

I don’t have direct checking so if I get it at all, it will take months. The government hasn’t even gotten my unemployment benefits straightened out. I’ll say this again, the government needs to do something about this COVID virus.

Circular logic

The wheels of conspiracy theories operate much faster than the wheels of government.

Live in the Time of Coronavirus, Pt 22: First Anniversary-What Would You Include?

The traditional 1st-anniversary gift is considered to be paper, while the modern gift is a clock, which commemorates the passage of time over this important first year.

What artifacts would you include on the first anniversary of COVID?

  1. paper mask
  2. shot record of COVID vaccinations
  3. COVID test results, perhaps showing luck or virtue
  4. snips of the changing political and social views on mask wearing
  5. changed work schedule or filing for unemployment benefits
  6. pictures of friends and family that you have not seen for a year
  7. cancelled event tickets
  8. programs for events never attended
  9. invitation to your first post-COVID gathering
  10. take-out menus
  11. 2020/21 calendars showing how empty life was, except maybe for medical appointments and Zoom meetings
  12. diary (see calendar entry)
  13. copies of all of the COVID jokes and toilet paper memes sent around by people desperate for a reason to smile or even laugh
  14. election memorabilia
  15. collection of recipes used this past year
  16. pictures of the garden or other hobbies you took up this year
  17. lessons plans from home schooling
  18. list of lessons learned
  19. changing or morphing political/cultural opinions
  20. new books read or streaming platforms watched

2020 in Hindsight

According the calendar, 2020 began on 1 January and ended on 31 December. Trump dominated the year. The year may have begun in September 2019 when the House first moved to impeach him and ended on January 13, when the House moved to impeach him again. He is the first president to ever be impeached twice.

Like the of the previous impeachments, (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton), the presidents have been accused of impeachment, but never found guilty in a Senate trial. The outcome on this one may follow that trend.

In 2020, Trump both exceeded and met my expectations. When he was surprised by someone asking him if he knew that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had passed, he replied that he did not know and called her “very great lady.” In that instant he made no disparaging comment about her. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Almost every other time, he met my expectations, even on January 6 when he encouraged the crowd to storm the Capital and Pence to throw the Electoral College results.

On that day and since Vice President Pence has exceeded my expectations by acting the way that most of us hope that a President would act.

December Holidays to Celebrate–Part 2

Chanukah begins Thursday evening, December 10, 2020 and continues through Friday, December 18, 2020.

Chanukah is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and fried foods.

The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication,” and is thus named because it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple ). Also spelled Hanukkah (or variations of that spelling), the Hebrew word is actually pronounced with a guttural, “kh” sound, kha-nu-kah, not tcha-new-kah.

The Winter Solstice is December 21. The next winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere occurs on Monday, December 21, 2020 at 5:02 a.m. EST. It’s the astronomical moment when the Sun reaches the Tropic of Capricorn, we have our shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere in terms of daylight. Regardless of what the weather is doing outside your window, the solstice marks the official start of winter.

Roots Day is December 23. No, it is not planning on where to plant your live Christmas tree.

National Roots Day on December 23rd encourages families to delve into their family history, heritage, and ancestry.

Each year during the holidays is an ideal time to collect family information. While families gather around the table telling stories and sharing memories, someone is sure to be the family historian. It is entirely possible a grandparent, parent, aunt or uncle has already started a family tree and will share with other family members.

December 25 is Christmas.

Christmas (or Feast of the Nativity) is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.

Did you know: In 567, the Council of Tours “proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany as a sacred and festive season, and established the duty of Advent fasting in preparation for the feast.

October 30 is National Speak Up for Service Day

Speak Up For Service Day on October 30th recognizes the importance of young people to be actively involved in community service. Too often, the good deeds of young people go unnoticed by their communities. Speak Up For Service Day gives recognition to the overlooked. It serves as a reminder to tell others about the contributions of young people to their communities.

This year seems like a particularly good time to recognize this day. Young people are taking an active role in this year’s election by serving as poll workers, urging people to vote (for whoever the candidate maybe), going door to door or making phone calls urging people to vote, etc. With many seniors (the normal poll workers) afraid to come out because of COVID, the young people are filling a vital role as an unprecedented number of Americans turn out to vote in what has been called the most important vote of a lifetime.

History from the National Speak up for Service Day website.

The Speak Up For Service Project’s history began in 2003, when the Fargo, ND Lions Club initiated a public speaking contest for area high school students in honor of Laura Christensen Espejo. Laura devoted her life to improving the health care services available to the less fortunate in the Fargo community and Peru, the country of her husband, Lucho. Lion Robert Littlefield coordinated the contest on the local level. Soon, he was launching it as a statewide initiative while serving as District Governor in 2010-2011.


Rosie the RiveterDuring WWII, I can became We can as exhibited in the popular Rosie the Riveter poster. Seventy-five years later, as we mark the anniversary of VJ Day,  there is  not much we left–it got we-weed away.

The almIghty I has become I CAN do almost anything I want  whether it benefits me or anyone else.  Whether it’s


  • wearing a mask,
  • maintaining social distancing,
  • peaceful protest,
  • voting on legislation that may move this country forward

we have become so locked in our I Can isolation that we will harm ourselves, our country, and our future.

It takes us a while to get used to anything that might preclude us from doing what  we want, whenever we want:

  • Wearing seat belts
  • Smoking in restaurants, bars, grocery store check out lines, and on airlines
  • Wearing shoes and shirts in a restaurant
  • Giving everyone an equal opportunity to
    • vote,
    • apply for jobs and higher education
    • marry whoever we’d like
    • live wherever we can afford

But most of us get there eventually.


June 10 is National Iced Tea Day

Our air conditioner is dying a slow and painful death.  The company can not replace it until Tuesday, June 16.  Meanwhile, we are going old school

  • fans
  • iced tea

It does make me wonder how people managed in the days before electricity when they also wore a lot more clothes than we do today.

From National Today.Com  Tea has been around forever, but iced tea didn’t burst onto the scene and win over America’s hearts and minds until 1904. In that year, visitors to the St. Louis World’s Fair were greeted by exceedingly hot weather. Tea plantation owner and merchant Richard Blechynden, who was present at the fair, took advantage of the situation by selling chilled tea drinks (instead of hot tea) as a cold refreshment. The rest is history. On June 10, we fill our glasses with iced tea (sweetened or unsweetened—that’s your call) and celebrate National Iced Tea Day.

On hot days, one of my favorite things to make is sun tea.

According to  Simple Recipes

Put 4 to 8 tea bags into a clean 2 quart or gallon glass container (4 teabags for a 2 quart container, 8 tea bags for a gallon container). Fill with water and cap. Place outside where the sunlight can strike the container for about 3 to 5 hours. Move the container if necessary to keep it in the sun. When the tea has reached its desired strength, remove from sun and put it in the refrigerator. You may or may not want to remove the tea bags at this point. I usually don’t.

I’ve found that the tea can brew in the shade if the temperature is warm enough. Although I like to make Tazo’s Green Ginger Tea, any type of tea bags will work.


Library Days to Celebrate in April

school library monthApril is School Library Month. School Library Month is the American Association of School Librarians’ celebration of school librarians and school libraries. Every April school librarians are encouraged to host activities to help their school and local community celebrate the essential role that strong school libraries play in transforming learning.

School closures have made celebrating School Library Month a virtual experience.  Things that school librarians may have been doing include:

  • Helping teachers prepare syllabi
  • Providing as many online resources as possible
  • Networking with public libraries to share resources and inform their students on what is available to them
  • Hosting  a virtual story hour or providing a recommended reading list
  • Encouraging their students to use the library when school resumes

April is also National Poetry Month.  I’ve been writing and publishing a poem a day–sowriting-in-greece far I’ve got poems for the first half of the month.  How can you celebrate National Poetry Month?

April 10 was  National Sibling Day.  Some siblings have co-written books; others have written books independently.  Famous writing siblings include the Bronte sisters and Jacob and Wilhlem Grimm  of Grimm’s Fairy Tails.  Pauline Esther Friedman and Esther Pauline Friedman (also known as Dear Abby and Ann Landers) were famous identical twins and advice columnists.

Bronte sisters as painted by their brother

National Library Week

is April 19-25.
The theme for National Library Week (NLW) 2020, “Find your place at the library,” was chosen before the emergence of the global pandemic. To acknowledge our altered landscape, ALA flipped the script a bit on the theme. “Find the library at your place” highlights how libraries are offering virtual services and digital content their communities need now more than ever.

national library workers dayNational Library Workers Day is April 21.

National Library Workers Day was first celebrated in 2004.  It was started as a way to raise support for better benefits and salaries at a time when they had been stagnant for years. National Library Workers Day Continues to promote increased benefits and wages for the services provided by library workers every day.

The month ends with Preservation Week, April 28-May 2.
preservation week 2020

Do you know about the Library of Congress’s Veteran’s History Project?

The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.

When I volunteered at the University City Branch of the San Diego Public Library, I got to interview several people for the Veteran’s History Project. My practice interview was with my own husband. I also got to interview veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and cold war veterans. It was a fascinating experience.

Live in the time of Coronavirus, Pt 7–I’ll Drink to That

“U.S. sales of alcoholic beverages were up 55 percent in the week ending March 21, according to Nielsen. Spirits sales were up 75 percent in the same period, wine sales were up 66 percent, beer sales up 42 percent,” reports Cyril Penn on WineBusiness.com. “What’s more, Nielsen said online sales of beer wine and spirits were up 243 percent versus the same week the year before.”

In Virginia, libraries, schools/universities, courts, and the DMV are all closed indefinitely. However, the states’ Alcohol Beverage Control  (ABC) stores are considered essential along with grocery stores,  pharmacies, laundries and dry cleaners, gas stations, etc.  I guess the state has to make money somehow.

Virginia, a former blue law state, has loosened the requirements on who can offer take-out liquor–breweries can now offer deliveries, many wineries are offering free shipping, and restaurants can sell their bottles of wine to go at discounted prices.

One the other hand, many distilleries have switched from making spirits to hand sanitizers.

Corona Virus--liquor shores

Corona Virus-Possible Drinking Problem

Is your wine cellar or beer stash still intact?  What is your favorite tipple during the pandemic

Corona Virus--Alcohol (2)


Twitter Power

All the little birds on Jaybird on loved to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet.--“Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day

TwitterTwitter or Tweets have come a long way since this song was released by Bobby Day as a single in 1958.

According to Lifewire, Twitter is used for

  1. Connecting people
  2. Sharing Information in Real-Time
  3. Marketing in business
  4. Educational tool

It can also be used to share Misinformation in Real-Time.

From Wikipedia–Twitter diplomacy, also “Twiplomacy” or “hashtag diplomacy“, is the use of social network and microblogging website, Twitter, by heads of state, leaders of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), and their diplomats to conduct diplomatic outreach and public diplomacy

Donald Trump may not have been the first person to use twiplomacy, but he has become the poster child for its use.

Accidental AdmiralHowever, in 2011, Admiral James Stravitis, then the supreme allied commander at NATO, caused a “diplomatic stir by sending out a tweet to the world explaining what I would recommend to the twenty-eight ambassadors later that day.  News organizations picked it up and soon the story of ‘the first war whose end was announced on Twitter’ was making the rounds.”  from The Accidental Admiral by James Stravridis,  USN (Ret.) ( Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2014), p. ix

On March 21, 2016, Brian Mastrioni at CBS News wished Twitter a Happy 10th Birthday by writing  “Tweet-worthy Milestones from Twitter’s First 10 Years.

Gayle Osterberg wrote on December 26, 2017 “In 2010, the Library of Congress announced an exciting and groundbreaking acquisition—a gift from Twitter of the entire archive of public tweet text beginning with the first tweets of 2006 through 2010, and continuing with all public tweet text going forward. The Library took this step for the same reason it collects other materials – to acquire and preserve a record of knowledge and creativity for Congress and the American people. The initiative was bold and celebrated among research communities.”

That changed to:

The Library now has a secure collection of tweet text, documenting the first 12 years (2006-2017) of this dynamic communications channel—its emergence, its applications and its evolution.

Today, we announce a change in collections practice for Twitter. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the Library will acquire tweets on a selective basis—similar to our collections of web sites.

Twitter had outgrown even the Library of Congress’s ability to archive its public totality.