Monday, July 9, 2012

I'm Back!

Well, after a two-year gap, here I am, back at the NEPAFollies. I'm still here in NEPA, and Follies of various sorts still abound. My old friend Tom Dobbler has been after me to start writing again, so this is for you and me, TD! I hope that some of the folks who just found me by chance or self-promotion are still out there, I honestly can't recall if I can reach any followers who hung on. My blog on facebook has been "time lined," and I can't find where fb put the actual written entries.
Honestly, I was hoping to garner some sort of professional attention (other than my shrink!) when I was writing the blog two years ago. Gain advertisers, make some money, something; but it didn't work out that way, so I had to devote my energy to a new plan. I honestly do love writing and researching and informing and helping people become enlightened, including me!
But after my lucrative turns at two wonderful, award-winning newspapers, I had to figure out how I was going to support myself for the rest of my life. Here in NEPA, salaries/wages are nowhere near what they were in Florida and New York. Truthfully, I was making more per hour working in a quick mart than I was when I was hired by a local paper, with the plan of me eventually becoming the editor.
As long-time readers may recall, my little family and I were forced to move out of our home and business by a state mandated road project. We landed a few miles up the road, in a lovely rental cottage near the northern banks of Lake Wallenpaupack. We rented from a seemingly nice, normal, honest couple who promised that we'd be able to live there in their sweet little cottage for at least "four to five years."
Their eldest of three had gone to college for the first time, and with two in high school and headed in the same direction, they needed extra cash. They had contemplated selling the cottage, but then saw my advertisement in a local publication seeking a year-round, long-term rental, and contacted me.
 I thought my prayers had been answered! Maybe those prayers were being answered, but it turned out, the answer would be in a very round-about, long, drawn-out way.
The following life period, from the time we began renting the cottage, up to now, has been filled with angst, change, soul-searching, reconciliation, forgiveness, joy, sorrow, letting-go, and of course, with me being me, more drama!
There has also been journeying onward and upward and toward greater prosperity, so stay tuned. I'm writing now because I simply enjoy it! I'm recovering from a miserable summer respiratory infection, so I'm about to jump in the shower and wake myself up. Then I'm going to listen to a good friend who is "appearing" on an internet radio show tonight at 8 p.m. on the Rock-n-Roll Ranch.
The folks who run the Ranch are a nice couple, they play some kick-ass rock, and the fellow has played with many of the famous of the classic rock scene. You can find it by Googling, I suppose. It's based in the Poconos of PA.
So, more about me and my latest adventures/lessons soon, maybe tomorrow. I hope you're glad I'm back here pecking away. I am!
Next up: Lizzie puts on her thinking cap (I've had it since kindergarten, so it's well-worn, but it still kicks in when it's important to!).
And of course, if any one has a current event they'd like clarified/researched, I'll entertain those requests, too. Take a look at my older blogs if you want to get a better idea of who I am.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Reader Question: "Do Muslims Build Mosques on Sites Where They Have Defeated an Enemy?"

The reader question: "Do Muslims build mosques on sites where they have defeated an enemy?"
The answer: read on . . . Once the seat of Orthodox Christianity, Agia (Hagia) Sophia was converted into a mosque within days of the conquest of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul, Turkey) by Ottoman Turks in 1453. Among the alterations made during
the Basilica's transformation into a mosque:a cross atop the dome was replaced with a crescent, minarets (slender towers w/ balconies where the Islamic faithful are called to prayer by the muezzin) were erected, an icon of Jesus Christ within the dome was gilded over, the altar and icons were removed, and mosaics described as "irreplaceable & majestic" were plastered over. According to one source, "," during its 553 years of "captivity" by Muslims, many Ottoman Sultans "showed particular interest in embellishing and maintaining Agia Sophia as a mosque."
Today, the once great Basilica is a government-owned museum, convention center, concert hall & tourist destination.
Obviously, the above-question arose from the battle of words and philosophies surrounding the plan to build an Islamic Community Center two blocks from the site where the World Trade Center once stood.
Honestly, my first reaction to the plan was "OK, if you want to build an Islamic Center, then match it with a Christian Center, a Jewish Center and a Nature Center." Or how about an Inter-faith Center, funded, created, maintained and shared by multiple religions/philosophies?
Then I learned that Daisy Kahn, executive director of The American Society of Muslim Advancement, and the spokesperson for the pro-Community Center sector, is supported by Rabbi Joy Levin, executive director of an NYC Jewish Community Center.
During an ABC interview conducted by Christiane Amanpour, Kahn & Levin spoke glowingly and in unity about a Muslim Community Center with a swimming pool and other recreational amenities, a gathering spot for yet another America-as-melting-pot community - its families and its people. The Community Center was beginning to sound much more secular and innocent than a foreboding sign that America is indeed being infiltrated and conquered by Muslims.
This, of course, was too good to be true.
My mental brakes slammed on with accompanying screeching in my head, as Amanpour asked the question, will the Community Center's features include a place of worship with loud calls to prayer several times each day?
Kahn's non-answer was that of course, there will be a place to pray within the Center. She never confirmed or denied Amanpour's "loud calls to prayer" query. I was actually surprised that Amanpour let that slide. Unless, of course, I missed something. I'll have to go back and re-watch the interview.
Personally, in my opinion, the sound of a muezzin calling Muslims to prayer multiple times a day would be a slap in the face to anyone touched by the terror attacks (remember, a parking garage was blown up years before 9/11- in the 90s?) on the World Trade Center- and that's pretty much anyone within a two-block radius, and arguably, all Americans.
I believe the better part of valor for all concerned, the Muslims, the Jews, the politicians, the public, would be to construct an inter-faith center that's board of supporters/directors would include equal representatives from any religion/philosophy that would like to be involved. An interfaith prayer room could certainly be included, decorated with a cross, a Star of David, a crescent, Buddha, a Goddess image, and hey, let's not forget NYC's many citizens of the Hindu faith.
But this isn't about my opinion. As a journalist, I'm charged with truthfully and accurately presenting both sides of an issue, and leaving the decision in the hands, hearts and minds of each and every individual reader. So from here on in, that's what I'm going to do - just the facts, as far as I was able to research the facts, presented truthfully and without bias, regarding the question: Do Muslims build mosques at sites where they have defeated an enemy as a sign of conquest?
I felt this question was likely a loaded one, requiring careful research. I began by Googling the question, and was led to anti-Muslim blogs, where one writer, self-described as someone who had lived and conducted business in the Middle East, cited several examples of incidences and sites where Muslim conquerors have built mosques.
The anti-Muslim blogger named the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as having been constructed near the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site, as a symbol of conquest; St. Sophia's Basilica in Istanbul, Turkey as being replaced by the principal mosque of Istanbul (this statement by the blogger contained erroneous "facts", as the Basilica was not dedicated in reverence to St. Sophia, but to the meaning of the word "Sophia," which is "God's wisdom," with the Basilica dedicated in reverence to Jesus Christ. The blogger also stated that "St. Sophia's" was destroyed for a mosque, leading readers to believe that the Basilica no longer exists. It was not destroyed, as the structure itself still stands, although altered and no longer used as a Christian Church.); the blogger wrote that the Cordoba Mosque in Spain was first a Christian cathedral; that a Pagan pantheon in Mecca had been taken over by Mohammad himself; that the Church of St. John in Damascus was destroyed for a mosque; and that the Babri Mosque in India was built by demolishing a Hindu Temple at the site of Hinduism's Lord Rama's birthplace.
I first researched "St. Sophia's," or accurately, Agia Sophia.
As previously stated, the anti-Muslim blogger's claim that Agia Sophia was razed in favor of a mosque is not true. The Basilica was taken over by an Islamic conquering army, and all signs of Christianity that could be obliterated were. But the structure stands today, and many of the Christian-Byzantine features have been restored. One source stated that a room is set aside inside the structure for use by both Muslim and Christian workers for prayer.
The use of Agia Sophia as a mosque ended along with the Ottoman Empire, and in 1934, the modern Turkish State turned the Basilica into a museum. The Free Agia Sophia Council of America describes the Basilica as a "Holy site . . . brutally violated," by both Islam's followers and the modern day Turkish government.
Free Agia Sophia's mission is to restore Agia Sophia to a functioning Church of the Orthodox Christian faith and to reestablish the Byzantine Basilica as a "Holy house of prayer for all Christians of the world and the Basilica (seat) of Orthodoxy that it was before the conquest of Constantinople by Ottoman Turks in 1453."
The history of Istanbul's Blue Mosque, that was erected opposite to Agia Sophia more than 1,000 years after the Basilica's first existence, should be noted. One source revealed that the Blue Mosque was built by Sultan Ahmen I, with construction beginning in 1609, not because the Sultan was a fierce conqueror, but to placate Allah (Islam's incarnation of God) because the Sultan had not won any notable victories. The construction of most mosques was funded by the spoils of war. However, the Blue Mosque had to be funded with treasury funds, as Sultan Ahmen's spoils of war were paltry. The Blue Mosque does stand on the site of a palace of Byzantine emperors, facing Agia Sophia, which at the time, is described as having been the most venerated mosque in Islam.
On to the story of the Cordoba Mosque in Spain and the claim that it usurped a Christian cathedral. The anti-Muslim blogger I found during my research also pointed out that the name being floated for the Islamic Community Center near Manhattan's Ground Zero is "Cordoba House," described by the blogger as a site of key significance among the history of Islam's conquests of things-Christian.
Cordoba, Spain is the site of the capital of the Islamic Empire in Spain and is the place where Islam established its first Caliphate in Europe. A Caliphate is best described as a jurisdiction or a territory, ruled by a Caliph. The last of the Caliphs were Ottoman Turkish Sultans. In Cordoba, the Grand Cordoba Mosque was erected where a Visigoth Christian Church stood before the Visigoths were defeated by the Muslims.
I'm going to throw in my opinion here, which may be supported by historical fact. Calling the Visigoths "Christians" in the truest sense of the word -all loving, all forgiving, self-sacrificing, as Jesus Christ was - is akin to calling a Great White Shark a guppy. The Visigoths were an Eastern Germanic tribe best described for purposes of common understanding as barbarian/warriors - one of the groups of Goths - who ravaged Rome and established a kingdom in present-day Spain and southern France.
The Visigoths were "Christianized " in the latter half of the fourth century, but theirs is often described as a less-than loving, charitable, peaceful incarnation of Christianity. Many varieties of Christians are less-than literally Christ-like. That does not negate the fact that the Muslims did indeed build a mosque on the site of the Visigoth's cathedral upon defeating them.
So yes, naming the Islamic Center intended for placement close to Ground Zero is honoring and recalling an important site of Islamic conquest where a Christian house of worship was razed and replaced with a mosque.
Agia Sophia was not destroyed in terms of its actual structure, but it was altered significantly for conversion from a house of Christianity to a mosque, after a major Islamic take-over of a Christian Empire.
So yes, historically, it can be said that Muslims build mosques on sites of Christianity that they have conquered.
Next week, we'll take a look at the history of mosques usurping other religious/philosophical sites in Jerusalem, Mecca, Damascus, India, and at the prophet Mohammad as a champion of the downtrodden among his people, a man of God and as a warrior. I'll also delve into the record of Daisy Khan's controversial husband.
Until then, be well & happy. Strive to understand your neighbors as you would have your neighbors understand you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Life is Good & I'm Thankful!

When life is good, it's very good. I'm watching my big orange creamsicle cat becoming mesmerized by the rainbows my crystal projects in abundance each afternoon around this time. FYI, orange creamsicle means he's orange w/ creamy, lush white fur. I sometimes refer to him as "the Pelt," as he's blessed with a luxurious coat, but a brain that only kicks in sporadically. My little Bootsie-kitten is much smarter than her brother Bubbah.
We're in our new home, and it's a delight! It's just up the road from a lake, near my son's school, surrounded by nature. A flock of wild turkeys make a regular pilgrimage through our yard. Deer, chipmunks, skunks and other forest creatures abound. The Commonwealth has yet to produce the compensation it has been promising for more than a year for eminent-domaining our former home , property and business, but life is still good, and as always, we've survived.
Theorizing that one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar, I shall wait to complain loudly about the Department of Transportation's abysmal handling of our situation until after we receive compensation.
I suppose at this point I should explain, as simply as I possibly am able to, the events that have occurred since I landed in Pennsylvania 3 years ago..
We moved to Pennsylvania in July 2007, following my brother's death at age 49. My brother had lived with my mother from the day he was brought home as an infant, he never left her. This was not healthy, to put it mildly. Following my father's death in 1979 at age 49 (I'm not looking forward to turning 49!), my mother and brother formed a strange, financially disastrous alliance. My mother lost the really beautiful house my father left her, blew all his insurance money, blew all the money she made as a registered nurse (they make very good money) supporting my brother's many failed attempts at being a business man.
She systematically vilified either me or one of my sisters on a rotating and regular basis over the past 30 years, with my brother's encouragement. I should have left my mother far behind on many occasions, but I loved her unconditionally and blamed all of her problems on my brother.
Upon my brother's death, she cried and moaned to my sister that she needed me. I was happily in Florida at the time, having just 3 years prior survived the death of my children's father with no help or support from my mother. I begged her to come to Florida to help me emotionally support my two then-teenage daughters and my 6-year-old son. She refused. She didn't attend his funeral either. A nice message to send one's supposedly cherished daughter and grand children.
Any how, because I loved her unconditionally, I moved to Pa and tried to help save her home. She had bought the home 9 years earlier for $90,000, and mortgaged it up to $245,000, once again supporting my brother's failed attempts at maintaining a livelihood (she worked as an RN until his death, when she was 76.). She paid for a travesty of a wedding to a real slut/grifter only 9 months before he died. (My sisters and I paid for our own weddings).My brother's wife turned out to be a complete fraud. I found evidence that she may not have been divorced when she married him. I found evidence of a meth lab in their closet ( an entire bedroom converted to a closet- wow.) I found e-mails to other men that were written during their 9-month marriage. I found sexually explicit photos the wife had posted on the net.
In March 2007, my brother was told to have a cardiac catheterization as doctors suspected his arteries were blocked. Being a tried and true know-it-all, my brother refused. Now I ask you, honestly, if as an RN your beloved son was given such advice by doctors, would you not insist that he heed that advice? As a new wife, wouldn't you insist that your husband of only 6 months heed that advice? My bother was dead on a client's front lawn 3 months later. He wasn't found for more than 24 hours. The wife had been to the client's home before, but claimed ignorance of its location. Fishy, to say the least. He lay dead, only a block south of I-84, and his wife couldn't find him. Hmmmm . . .
When I arrived in Pa, less than a month after my brother's death, the wife/widow had traveled to a Mexican resort to swim with the dolphins. The mortgage on my mother's house was several payments in arrears. My brother's "step son," a young adult who totaled a car that was in my mother's name and had a job, but didn't contribute, was living in the house, treating my mother like garbage.
So, me being me, I cleaned house. Through legal channels, I banished the wife/widow and the step son. My mother hid in the back portion of the house as her daughter-in-law removed her belongings under my watchful eye. I made the undertaker who was hounding my mother to pay for my brother's funeral back off by reporting him to the state licensing board for harassment. My mother ended up in tears every time the undertaker called for his money. The only payment made on my brother's funeral was made by 2 of my cousins, if Irecall correctly, about $2,000. The wife/widow held an extravaganza that left her owing thousands to the funeral director. This was after my brother lay dead in the rain and mud for more than 24 hours.
I did not attend, but several of those who did said it was obvious he had begun to decay and that an open coffin wake was wildly inappropriate and ghoulish.
The house was disgusting. My brother had 4 or 5 unneutered male cats caged on a kitchen porch. The stench of cat waste was overwhelming. He had the parlor of what should have been a charmingly renovated 100-plus-year-old farm house jammed with tools.
Although my mother and brother had lived in the house for 9 years, and had remortgaged the house at least 3 times, the house was not insulated or ever improved by them. The downstairs toilet was falling into the basement.
I found a fraudulent appraisal that was signed by my mother, stating that the house had more bedrooms, bathrooms and other amenities than actually existed. I found evidence (listed in his own hand) that my brother was wanted in two states for road rage, reckless driving and assault-related incidences.
Somewhere along the line, my mother had turned into Ma Barker. A sociopath who created a son who was destined to fail because she always provided him with a home, money, excuses and businesses to run into the ground. I never saw what a horrible person my mother was when my brother was alive. But in the aftermath, I saw her for the narcissist she really was and is. Needless to say, my mother and I parted ways.
In truth, I decided that I could not save the dilapidated old farm house. I decided that we should move out of the house and let the bank or mortgage company have it back. It wasn't hard to decide in the dead of winter, as the main water pipe burst and flooded the living area in the freezing, uninsulated house.
We moved to a house with plenty of storage and a large attached garage (heated) in which my mother would be able to go through decades and decades of mostly junk. She was a hoarder, and it was important to her to go through everything we removed from the old farm house without pressure or stress. She never did.
Although she and I co- signed a two-year lease, my mother decided, three days after I returned from the hospital and heart surgery, that she needed to move out. She never said a word to me. She left like a thief, only telling my significant other that she was going to stay with her friend for a few weeks to give me a chance to recuperate and adjust. She never said a word to me-never. We never spoke again. I was held responsible for the balance of the two-year lease.
I fell into a deep depression that I am just emerging from.
My S.O., I and my son moved yet again to the house we just left. It was at the intersection of two rural, but well-used by would-be hot rods and high-revving hogs, highways, but it was spacious and a really nice house, a home. It didn't help my depression that another move was looming on the horizon.
We first met with DOT representatives more than a year ago. They came to our condemned-for-a-road-improvement-project home and told us not to fret, that the Commonwealth would pick up the moving charges, find a comparable house for us, and compensate us for the eventual loss of our livelihood. The house was attached to a business the S.O. was partnered in.
We were never told that we would not be compensated until after we moved, so obviously, I didn't set funds aside for moving, which is very expensive and stressful- I know. I've done it numerous times in the past 10 or so years.
The Friday before the moving date, at 3:32 p.m., a representative of the DOT e-mailed me to inform that no compensation would be made until after the move.
I almost lost my mind. Here we were, promised compensation and support for more than a year, and at the last moment, having the rug pulled out from under us.
I was distraught.
But, we sucked it up, and with some financial help from my daughter, Lauren, we survived and are thriving.
It's amazing how the human spirit endures. I'm happy, really happy. My son and my S.O. are happy, too. I'm thankful for the lessons I have learned during this odyssey that began with my brother's death. I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted. I don't have to fret about living in a condemned home any more. I am free. I can breathe easy for the first time in many, many years.
Hopefully, this wonderful state of being will hold for a few more years, and maybe longer. Stranger things have happened!
Thanks for reading. It has been very therapeutic to get all of this off of my chest. I shall never speak of the really horrible parts again!
If you have an honest , truthful, healthy relationship with one or more of the people in your life, thank God. The unhealthy relationships take a very deep toll, but even the most horrendous of experiences teaches lessons if one is willing to learn!
Blessed be all!
Be well & happy!
I'll strive to get back on a regular schedule.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Is Immigration Obsolete? or Revolution of the States!

I first started noticing it in the late 1970s/early 1980s. One day, without fan fare or much comment, a grown woman began delivering the newspaper in my home-neighborhood. It was the beginning of the trend that saw adults, mostly single mothers and immigrants, willingly and eagerly filling the jobs that had traditionally been filled by American teenagers, American college kids, and able-bodied young American men & women who for whatever reason chose to labor manually and outdoors.
The woman was a fair-haired, non-accented, fair-skinned blond, most likely not an immigrant. Her four or so young sons swarmed across my neighborhood's well-manicured lawns and pristine gardens, loudly and raucously helping their mom deliver papers, and support the family. The presence of these young, but non-immigrant hoodlums in my fair, well-located neighborhood ruffled the feathers of many of the stoic housewives. There were rumblings about the "fat blond" being one of those single mothers of questionable moral fiber.
Having years before ventured out into the more intriguing and colorful neighborhoods of my hometown, blondie and her thundering hoard of brats came as no surprise to me. I was darkly amused by the distress of the housewives, rather enjoying the spectacle of "the wrong side of the tracks" clashing with not simply "the right side of the tracks," but "south of the highway" and "waterfront" to boot!
Little did I know it, but having delivered penny savers a few years earlier with my best friend, I was about to become a relic. My girlfriend and I, who held the route because she was among another dying breed, kids who feel obligated to help support the family, seemingly were among the last kids on Long Island to hold a coveted paper route.
The times they were a changin', and the needy, uneducated, immigrant adults were moving in on the territory of kid's/young adults jobs.
And as time marched on and prosperity changed our world, the trend continued, erupting all over the landscape of my home-Island and the rest of American Suburbia. The lion's share of "job-stealers" quickly became immigrants. Where I lived as a young wife/mother/adult, on the east end of Long Island, the immigrants were primarily Vietnamese and Latino.
These folks sucked up the jobs that traditionally had gone to students in the summer with lightning speed - landscape assistants, gardeners, house cleaners (a job I held all throughout my high school/college years), bus boys, prep cooks, errand-runners, beach cleaners, the list goes on and on.
And perhaps because the east end is more liberal, "live and let live," artsy-fartsy than the rest of Long Island, many of the immigrants flourished and became the masters of their own businesses. The man who cut our lawn was a well-spoken (still accented, but he learned English), family-oriented, reliable entrepreneur who immigrated from Vietnam.
But for every immigrant who realized the American Dream of business and home ownership, I'll surmise that there were 10 more milling around in the parking lot of Southampton's 7/11, (my Town of East Hampton didn't allow convenience and fast-food establishments!) blighting the landscape and pissing off the good tax-paying citizens. And I'm sorry, those folks were a big oozing sore on what others had worked so hard to build, fund and enjoy. Where is it written that a new wave of immigrants has the right to screw over all the previous waves? And we're all immigrants.
Before my parents moved "south of the highway" my family lived in a more-northern neighborhood, in the same town, that began as farm land. The chief farmer - a Dutch immigrant - sold my parents his house. Irish immigrants established their homes and a large horticultural nursery behind the neighborhood. Italian immigrants, all related in some respect, built their neat ranch houses with the plastic covered, museum-quality first floors and living quarters in the basement in a cluster down the road. The Nieves, with their two lovely, college student daughters neatly, proudly and quietly lived across the street. As did the Sepulvedas, who built their high-ranch when I was about 9 and were wonderful neighbors. I played with their son Emile. I got off the bus and went to their house after school during the hour or so that my teacher-father's and evening shift nurse-mother's work schedules crossed.
Mrs. Sepulveda eagerly and graciously taught me how to cook Latino style. For one multi-cultural day at school, sick and tired of the comparatively bland Irish, I enlisted Mrs. Sepulveda's guidance, whipping up Latino food with flare. She let me wear her brightly-colored and decorated, beautifully swirling, festive dancing skirt.
There were the Rodriguez's whose daughter I played with, and the Mercados. The Mercados were trouble causers, but every neighborhood has them.
The point I'm making is I'm no stranger to diversity. But occasionally witnessing and often hearing reports of the Southampton 7/11 immigrants peeing in the parking lot in broad day light and remaining if they weren't chosen by a work crew and getting drunk in public, well that was more than a bit much. And if you're a woman, or even a young girl (sick!), try to walk by a group of Latino workers without feeling that you've been verbally raped. Many immigrants before these men, my grandparents and great grandparents among them, learned to adapt to American society, traditions and mores. These brazen men never attempted to adapt. They didn't see Americans regularly peeing in parking lots, getting drunk in the 7/11 parking lot during week days, or verbally raping women.
I believe that everyone deserves a fighting chance. Sincerely, I do. I'm not a privileged brat. My Dad died young, before I was out of High School. Although he worked hard and left our family comfortably, my mother was careless and blew and lost everything - including the house south of the highway, within 15 years of his death. She doted on one child and acted as though he was her only financial responsibility. She blew my dad's sweat and tears on buying her one child cars, motorcycles, supporting his everyday needs and wants, at least 2 businesses - you get the picture. No one paid for my college or bought me a car. No one (but me and my husband) paid for my wedding. No one ever left me money. I was kicked out of my mother's house because her "only child" resented that I had a boyfriend (twisted) when I was going to college (getting there by bus) with a broken foot and working the 11 p.m to 7 a.m. shift at my hometown's 7/11.
My husband's financial history is the same as mine. Yet we managed to own two houses and make a pretty nice life in a visually beautiful and socially safe location for our kids.
The point I'm making here is I'm not a privileged snob. I've worked for everything I've ever had. I would likely dissolve into a puddle of pudding if someone gave me a hand in any substantial way, financially speaking.
My point is also that once my kids were grown and out seeking jobs, they had to compete with illegal immigrants. Only two generations after my grandparents, the American landscape has changed drastically, with hard-working parents seeing their hard-working offspring unable to secure summer jobs, because perhaps immigration has become obsolete.
And I won't even get started on the manual-labor friendly and/or jobless-because-of-the- economy adults who can't get jobs because of illegals.
Enter the state of Arizona, present day America. I just can't fathom that OUR Justice Department, with OUR President's blessing is suing a state for simply cleaning up its own, although not self-inflicted, problem. The waves of immigrants past whose children and grandchildren have toiled to build and fund the state of Arizona deserve protection from lawbreaking-criminals who cross OUR boarders illegally. It's that simple. Once again, OUR tax money is being used against us. The power and the money WE GIVE builds OUR GOVERNMENT. The state of Arizona is doing what the federal government couldn't and/or wouldn't - the state of Arizona is protecting and serving its AMERICAN CITIZENS.
And I say "hurray!" for Virginia's Prince William Board of County Supervisor's Chairman Corey Stewart. Prince William County already boasts strict immigration law, with officers required to check the immigration status of suspects in custody. Mr. Stewart wants to enact that law state-wide, and encourages other states and municipalities to follow suite. He reasons that if enough state governments stand up for the rights of AMERICAN CITIZENS, the federal government will be too busy trying to reign governments in to focus primarily on suing Arizona.
Sadly, times, circumstances and needs change.
It's time for the states to exercise their power and sovereignty and to start a lawful revolution.
I am the granddaughter of immigrants. I know that many Americans shunned and were sickened by my grandparent's presence. But that was a different time. They were creating jobs and opportunities, not stealing them. They were becoming citizens legally, not deliberately engaging in criminal activity. They were staying in America till death did they part, not milking our country for all she's worth and blowing town, so to speak.
I turned to the sonnet, "The New Colossus," as I considered that immigration might indeed be obsolete. Better known as the poem engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty, "The New Colossus" was written in 1883 by 34-year-old Emma Lazarus. Ms. Lazarus was a native New Yorker, the descendant of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who settled in New York in Colonial times. She lived and wrote the sonnet in a time when the term "Zionist" had yet to be created. She believed in an independent Jewish nation, but there was no word yet to describe her convictions.
In the sonnet, Ms. Lazarus writes of the statue standing at a harbor that "twin-cities frame." She's referring to Manhattan and Brooklyn, at the time, still separate cities.
Ms. Lazarus was a writer who caught the attention of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The two corresponded until his death.
She created word phrases that I doubt any 34-year-old today would be moved to or able to create. Her writing style is beautiful, but ancient.
She died shortly after returning from a trip to Europe of what is guessed to have been lymphoma. An educated woman, living in one of the world's shining cities, corresponding with a literary genius of the time, yet her cause of death is hypothesized about, but unknown.
That's because Ms. Lazarus, pictured in a neck-high, long,black dress, hair conservatively swept up behind her head, is of a different time and place. A different America where far fewer people took advantage of the bounty and broke laws and behaved disgustingly.
A younger, more fluid America, still able to bend under great weight and responsibility without breaking. Our America is not the young, unbreakable America. Our America is older and used up by the greedy and calloused.
I leave you with Ms. Lazarus's' words for Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's creation, "Liberty Enlightening the World," a gift from the people of France to the people of America more than 120 years ago, memorializing the two country's great friendship forged during the American Revolution.
"The New Colossus," a sonnet by Emma Lazarus, 1883
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beckoning hand glows world-wide welcome;
Her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she with silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
So beautiful, but sadly, no longer applicable, I think.
Is immigration obsolete? What do you think?
Be well & happy. Get behind the Revolution of the States!
I nearly forgot to address the related rantings of the right-wing talk-radio posse.
Recently, I heard a couple of the right-wing radio heads going on about President Obama stating in a speech that the American people raised funds for the Statue of Liberty. Naturally, and wrongly, the radio heads were bashing Obama for rewriting history. Sorry radio head right-wingers, Mr. Obama was correct. The American people agreed to raise funds to build the statue's pedestal, as the French citizens raised funds for and made a gift of the statue itself. In fact, the above sonnet was specifically written to be auctioned off at a fund-raising event for the pedestal.
Maybe you wildly ravenous right-wingers would earn some credibility with the truly knowledgeable if you knew what the heck you were talking about. But I suppose it behooves you to preach lies to an uninformed audience. I know you are simply masking your racist tendencies with your rants!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Born on the Third of July

Happy 12th Birthday, Gabe! He celebrated with his brother, Stephen . . .

Scott and lots of yummy bbq - try Martha Stewart's peach-glazed chix on Delish . . .

Water wars, fireworks, family & friends . . .

a very sweet girl . . .

a choc/ van/ strawberry cake (with peanut butter chips!) expertly decorated by Aunt Claire . . .

It was a wonderful celebration of a great year that saw Gabe on high honor roll in the first 1/4 and honor roll for the second and fourth 1/4s- and receiving the President's Award for Academic Excellence! Now on to Junior High and being a teenager!!!

Happy 12th Birthday, Gabe!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Will You Survive?

Fresh from the morning news, I have to continue to wonder what the heck is going to wake people up in large enough numbers to make a difference.
A charter boat captain of 25 years blew his brains out, distraught over the oil disaster's crippling effect on his ability to make a living and by his recent employment with BP. He ended his life where he lived it; in the wheel house of his boat in the town of Gulf Shores Alabama. I've been to Gulf Shores. I've known many boat captains, charter and otherwise. The captain chose to leave two minor children, 11 and 12, a wife and an adult daughter. I feel as though I knew the guy. I feel deeply sad and frustrated.
Adding insult to unspeakable injury, I then read a piece about Mariah Carey owing a NY veterinarian who traveled to California to care for one of Carey's 4 Jack Russell terriers close to $30,000.
Readers know that I believe in being a responsible pet owner. I believe in caring for pets, spaying/neutering, etc. But come on, in this day and age, how can we stand for a celebrity we made famous and rich - or any one for that matter - spending $30,000 on a dog for one month of treatment when there are babies and children and mothers and fathers dying right this second, and every second, because of starvation, pollution, the oil spill, drug wars, dictators - as I've gotten so used to saying I could go on and on . . .
Thirty thousand on a dog when we haven't even taken the initiative to be responsible citizens of the planet, and I'm referring to the facts that we are still oil-dependent, endlessly-consuming stuff we don't really need, star-struck to the point of uselessness, irresponsible fools who can't even clean up an oil spill in a timely fashion - or have the balls to exert enough power over big-business to prevent the carelessness and deception that led to this spill. Day after day, we forsake our planet, we forsake ourselves, having given "the keys to our kingdom,"to those we have made powerful and rich and famous. WHEN WILL THIS STOP?
As previously stated, I could go on and on about politicians sucking the power out of the masses who put them in office. U.S.A. Today reported in Jan. 08 that the movie, TV and recording industries gave $33.1 million to federal candidates and parties in 2004. Names such as George Clooney, Tyra Banks, Chris Rock, Larry David, Ed Norton, Jennifer Aniston and Will Smith are among those who help line the coffers of politicians. The celebrities scratch the backs of the politicians, and vice-versa. They're all living in luxury and oozing power, and we the fools are allowing it to happen as our planet dies and we head closer to disaster every second.
Prior to the oil rig explosion of 4/20, Goldman Sachs and Bp's Tony Hayward both sold off large blocks of BP stocks - that's called insider trading - more of the rich and powerful scratching each other's back to their benefit and to our and our planet's extreme detriment.
Now there's news of a judge who engaged in insider trading related to BP.
Instead of continuing to hurl statistics and news items at deaf ears, I'll share some thoughts I had regarding the future of John and Jane Q. Public - that's you and me.
Last night, I watched the movie, "The Pianist." The story centered around the true account of a Polish pianist of about 30 years old who was caught up in the horror of the Warsaw Ghetto from 1939 until Poland's liberation by Russia at the end of WW II.
I was both amazed and horrified by the main character's family's' (and neighbors') acceptance of the horrors the Nazis subjected them to. First, the family was forced to hide its money and few valuables because a restriction was put on the amount of wealth a Jew could hold. Then, the family was banned from walking on the sidewalks (Jews had to walk in the gutter) and forced to bow to Germain soldiers on the streets and endure spur-of-the -moment and random public beatings. Then, they were forced from their homes, rendered helpless and useless by a lack of jobs and resources within the "ghetto" they were herded into like sheep to the slaughter. They were forced to walk the streets of the "ghetto" among corpses and the dying. They were starved, beaten, randomly attacked and murdered, and finally shipped off to "labor camps," like cattle and to their mass deaths.
The main character escaped and lived alone and hidden by sympathetic neighbors. To put it bluntly, he sucked at survival, and only survived by chance, not by his wits or skills. Although he managed to survive, this urban man with little knowledge of survival skills nearly died because he couldn't open a can without a can opener. He was discovered by a German officer because of the racket he made trying to open the can with fireplace tools. He then dropped the can, allowing its vital liquid to spill out on the floor at the feet of the German.
He certainly brushed close to madness, because he didn't have a clue regarding simple self-preservation.
I thought to myself, "Wow, when the planet is stagnant and fruitless , when there's no more electricity or oil, when there's not enough food to feed the masses, the people I see everyday, my children, my neighbors, are all going to be as clueless and as useless regarding being able to survive as the urban Jews were at the hands of the Nazis."
Think about that. Let it sink into your brain and take up residency there for a while. Think about how you and yours will - or likely will not survive - when our resources are depleted and our planet is dead.
What will you do? It's likely coming in our life times. What will you do?
Like the charter boat captain from Alabama, will you end your life where you lived it and in despair with no hope for the future or for your survival. Will you suffer and die in your home, among your family, in your place of employment? Or will you rise up now and do something to change the inevitable?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Reader Request: Address the Oil Spill, Part 1: DO SOMETHING!

Gulf Coast pelicans wait to be de-oiled. Wonder how many will survive?

Thanks to the "Daily Beast" for this poignant image of a pelican attempting to overcome its oil-soaked state and take flight on Queen Bess Island, Louisiana.

When a reader speaks, I listen. I also love hearing from you all!
Reader & follower (and really old friend, I'm talkin' Junior High School) Thomas Dobbler asked via facebook: "Hey Liz, how about this for your next blog? 'Where are all the entertainers lining up to get the oil spill stopped & cleaned up at BP's expense?' "
The line doesn't seem to be forming anywhere that can be pin-pointed, Tom. BUT don't despair, because as readers know, my lines aren't always the straightest or the simplest, but they always have a destination, a point, and a purpose. I guess my lines make up tapestries of thought, and hopefully, truth and solutions.
Let's start with what I know from experience, or simply by perusing the morning headlines.
  • I know that the oil spill's residuals have reached Pensacola, Florida and will soon soil & smother the entirety of Florida's Gulf Coast, the Keys, and likely the Atlantic.
  • I know that several, if not many, celebrities live along the path of that ill-fated current. When I worked at a newspaper (circa 2004) in Vero Beach, FL, on the state's mid-Atlantic Coast, I interviewed John Walsh (America's Most Wanted/ Center for Missing & Exploited Children), who also has/had a residence in Vero. I know that Gloria Estefan (apologies if that's misspelled) lives and has/had business interests in Vero. Arlo Guthrie frequents an Ashram (place of prayer & retreat) a stone's throw from Vero, in Sebastian, Fl. I'm guessing he may have a residence nearby, too. Vero Beach is known as "Dodgertown," the winter home/training camp of the L.A. Dodgers. Port St. Lucie, just south of Vero, is the winter/training home of the N.Y. Mets. I did a stint at the paper's Daytona office, about an hour, maybe an hour and a half if memory serves, up the coast. Auto racing finds its roots on the lovely sand beaches of Daytona (more accurately, neighboring Ormond Beach). It blew my mind, coming from L.I. where beach driving is restricted and frowned on, that anyone -and I mean anyone - could drive on the beach in Daytona. So the race car circuit (NASCAR) and its enthusiasts should have an interest in keeping that beach oil-free. John Travolta lives in Ocala, a fairly straight line west from Daytona, in the middle of Florida, but not far from the beautiful Gulf Coast. My daughter worked at a popular sushi restaurant in Ocala, and waited on Travolta and David Cassidy. Maybe the former partridge lives nearby. I know that Jerry Springer has a house near Sarasota on the Gulf Coast. Tiger Woods, Jimmy Buffet (about - meaning any day now - to open a resort near Pensacola!), Tom Petty (a Gainesville native), you get the picture.
  • I know that entertainers, public figures, sports personalities, etc., all care about the Earth, don't they? I know they care about their fans. I know they are grateful for their talents, their fortunes, their ability to use their fame to help others and to champion causes.
  • I know that people, both regular Joes and Janes and the famous, use the press to further their causes and to bring attention to themselves. Whether its a 4-H bake sale, a book sale to benefit a local library, a gallery opening, a benefit Polo Match for a children's charity, a resort opening, a concert, or a political campaign or cause, people turn to the press for support and coverage.
  • I know that people write, pay attention to, ponder and heed letters to editors of newspapers.
  • I know that many people believe that all things happen for a reason. I'm beginning to see (thanks again, Tom) that the reason for this oil spill is clear. It's time for regular people to take a stand. It's time for Joe and Jane Q. Public to hold the celebrities WE MAKE FAMOUS and the politicians WE ELECT accountable for the glory we have bestowed upon them and for the trust we put in them and for the fortunes we have helped them amass. It's time for the regular folks to stop aimlessly paying taxes and watching programs on TV and buying music and movies and products that make the famous and powerful and greedy more famous and powerful and greedy. It's time for us to stop offering our sons and daughters as easy and endless fodder for the war-machine that distracts us from the great, big giant joke that's being played on us and at our expense. Its' time to say "Stop, enough is enough." It's time to start glorifying ourselves and holding ourselves in high esteem and empowering ourselves and paying attention to ourselves and lining our own pockets and saving our own world. Stop being lulled into oblivious submission by People Magazine or celebrity tweets or Paris Hilton's latest hairstyle or designer puppy or the bimbo de jour's umpteenth plastic surgery. What you are submitting to is the destruction of your prosperity, your life, the lives of your descendants, your planet - and it's time to stop! Seriously folks, this may very well be the common man's final chance to save our world. God helps those who help themselves. And the politicians and the famous have been helping themselves to our blood, sweat, tears, prosperity, climbing on our broken backs and stepping on our blistered hands and on our furrowed brows long enough. Wake up! It's time for us to take control of our own destinies and responsibilities as citizens of planet Earth. If we don't, you can sure they'll (the famous and powerful) all continue fiddling - and laughing at you and me - as Rome burns.
OK, this is what I'm going to do as step one in this process of taking back our world and taking responsibility for our own fates.
I'm writing a letter to the editor of every newspaper in Florida ( and other places where I know the famous live and play, such as my former home of East Hampton, NY, where I also was a newspaper reporter), putting the politicians and celebrities on notice that we the people expect them to start really and truly giving back to us and to our world.
I'll be , and I am here & now & TO YOU, calling for a boycott of television and its advertisers (I survive without it- I have for two years!); of buying music; of going to, buying, renting, paying to download movies; donating to political campaigns; following stars on twitter or facebook; reading and buying celebrity rags such as "People," etc.
I'm also calling for a boycott of BP and its subsidiaries, which include: Amoco (owned by BP), Gulf stations in south east U.S. (BP owned), BP Solar (includes Lucas Energy Systems and Solarex); ampm convenience chain; Aral (BP's retailer in Germany); ARCO (BP owned in western U.S. and West Coast); BP Travel Centers in Australia, which include Wild Bean Cafes, McDonald's (yes, the Golden Arches), KFC (yes, the home of the Colonel), Nando's and Krispy Kreme; BP Connect and Wild Bean Cafes in the UK (in partnership with Mark and Spencer as "M & S Simple Food," ), Europe, U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, Bosnia/Herzegovina; and in the U.S. being transitioned into ampm convenience stores. Also, BP Express, BP Shop, BP2Go, CASTROL OIL and lubricants (yes, the Castrol many of us use), Air BP & BP Shipping, The Standard Oil Company. And let's not forget BP's top institutional stock holders: State Street Corp.; Fidelity Management & Research Corp.; AXA Financial, Inc.; UBS Warburg, LLC; Morgan, Stanley, Dean Witter & Co.; Barrow, Hanley, Mewhinney & Strauss, Inc.; BANK OF AMERICA Corp.; CITIGROUP, INC.; First Union Corp.; STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE Company.
I will be making form letters to editors of newspapers that "call out" celebrities and politicians, and boycott information available to readers. If you'd like a letter/information packet, e-mail me at
More tomorrow regarding celebrities, politicians, what seems to be pre-explosion/spill/ April 20 insider trading of BP stock by its CEO and by Goldman Sachs, political contributions, what BP is paying up and the government help it's receiving to expedite the claims process (of course, a multi-billion dollar company can't possibly process claims in an efficient manner without the help of the government - SAY WHAT? Can you say "RED TAPE?" I feel another hand in my pocket!!! and the like.
In the mean time - DO SOMETHING!!!!!!!!!!!
Sources:; Jacky Jasper Hollywood Street; MSNBC; The Daily Beast