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Posts Tagged ‘Weather’

Fog Happens. That was the bumper sticker I loved on Martha’s Vineyard. To this day I have remained a bumper-sticker-free driver, although I do appreciate a good joke on a taxi. There is one company in town that adorns its taxis with snippets of wisdom, like this one: “Only dead fish go with the flow.” And you know that silver fish you sometimes see on a car that means the driver is a Christian? Well a friend gave me that fish with the word “Gefilte” inside; it stands above my desk keeping guard. My car shall remain fish-free!

This morning it’s hard to see your fingers in front of your face. Birds are grounded and the red tail hawks are not circling the backyard looking for vermin. I wonder if planes will be grounded too, and that has me worried since we are supposed to fly out of here today for our 37th Wedding Anniversary river cruise up the Danube. Fingers crossed the fog lifts and s&*t doesn’t happen!

For a person who doesn’t like to travel, I seem to be doing a lot of it. We are supposed to have WiFi on the boat so hopefully I will continue to blog.

I will be happy to take a hiatus from CNN. The fog of war continues as our brave armed forces “assist” the Iraqi forces in taking back Falluja. Trump continues to spout nonsense to Bikers in DC, many were Vets yesterday showing respect for the fallen as they cruised the monuments.

And don’t get me started on the gorilla and the toddler. Bob says they could have tranquilized the big guy, but I said he may have collapsed on the baby…we met a large animal Vet the other day at Starbucks. Pat is married to our small animal Vet. He tends to cows and horses all over the Shenandoah Valley and he told us they are “Wild” animals and cannot be trusted. That made me feel better, sort of. Still I turn away from the video. So, as much as I’d like to be all Dame Jane Goodall about gorillas, I’m sure the zoo did the right thing. Right?

Time for another cup of coffee, to clear my foggy brain, and make sense of the final packing checklist. To edit out the useless, and stick with the essentials. We always pack light, one carry-on each for any trip, of any length, anywhere. Bon Voyage!  IMG_4484

 

 

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Once, when I was writing for the Berkshire Eagle, a headline went something like this: “Sunshine for Six Days Straight!” True. Because of the topography, similar in some ways to Seattle, Pittsfield, MA was overcast and grey much of the time. That is, when it wasn’t covered in snow. Spring was called “Mud Season,” and summer was fleeting. I’m sure Climate Change has affected New England, and maybe it’s warmer and sunnier up there, but I’m pretty much done with this “Omega” thing that has Central VA stuck in endless overcast, cold, rainy days.

“Scattered Showers for Two Weeks Straight!”

When my sister Kay, and niece Karen came to visit, after my Nashville trip, the mountains did a disappearing act. I swore up and down they really were there, under that blanket of clouds, and I know they believed me. And all the old-timers are telling me not to despair, cause we need the rain, we’ll be happy in August when it’s triple digits…And I don’t need to wear a sun hat…another silver lining for this ex-waterfront counselor who gets a basal cell carcinoma scraped off her nose every few years.

Yes, this is the down-side to having a ski-jump nose.

Still, I’m getting Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). And I’m sorry to be a downer folks, but there is good reason: 1) I was alone for Mother’s Day – OK that’s not unusual, but it still hurts; 2) Two 90 year old family members were just hospitalized – they’ve been released but…; 3) Trump seems to have won the nomination; 4) The Love Bug has a cavity.

Oh and let’s discuss Prince for a moment. We advertise for laxatives on TV when our opioids make us constipated?! Hello! Prescription pain addiction is a huge problem that started awhile ago – remember Elvis? Let’s drag out all the experts, until the next celebrity succumbs, and talk about heroin addiction on the campaign trail ad infinitum. Until we stop waging a WAR on drugs, and treat this as I’ve said before as a Health Policy issue, we are the real enablers of this epidemic.

I know this does not seem like the end of the world list, and since I don’t like to use the term “First World Problems,” I won’t! But the rain has granted me more time to research the Flapper for my book. Where were the restrooms located in speakeasies? What was the alcoholic content of beer sold in drugstores? What kind of lighter was used to ignite cigarettes?! And since this is historical fiction I know I can just “make stuff up,” but I’d like to have a believable context to work around.

Maybe today I’ll throw on an anorak and head to the garden store for some flowers. The time to plant was last weekend, and I’ve been dragging my feet, since planting in a slow, steady rain isn’t my thing, but if I can’t actually see the mountains I might as well look out on some pretty pots. Maybe we should call Spring in the South “SAD Season?”

Here are two sisters, with identical noses, dodging raindrops! Kay was like another Mother to me, it’s like I had three moms growing up. Forgive me, it’s my Blue Period. And thanks to Karen Bisset for the picture – her company is fabulous btw! http://www.fromthecradle.biz/about-us.html13151762_788085601326885_8141167915272270988_n 2

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Spring brings daffodils, now my lilacs are beginning to bud. And along with showers, we can anticipate windy conditions. What we didn’t expect was downed power lines for Great Grandpa Hudson’s 90th birthday party. The restaurant luckily had a back-up generator for lights and stoves, while the crush of 80 people supplied the body heat we needed as temperatures outside dropped.

The wind followed us south; power lines were down on one side of Cville. Bob had to batten down the hatches of his hot tub and lock the screen porch door. I retrieved some deck furniture from the woods. We sit facing the Blue Ridge, so the the western wind can be relentless. This morning, not only can I hear the wind roaring like a train in a valley, freezing temperatures have returned.

The wind is a precursor to change. It sweeps everything clean in its path. It whips dirt into our eyes, and makes us catch our breath. We lean into it in order to stay standing, our sense of balance is in jeopardy. And since the release of leaked Panama Papers, a treasure trove of information about secret hiding places for the money of the world’s most elite, many king-pins may actually tumble and fall.

The Panama Papers comprise the biggest leak in history, involving 11.5 million documents from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm. The documents implicate a dozen current or former heads of state, as well as scores of other politicians, celebrities and businesspeople, in owning offshore accounts that could help them conceal their wealth or avoid taxes.      http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-china-panama-papers-censorship-20160405-story.html

At first I thought, who cares? We all know how the uber-rich avoid taxes with high-priced lawyers and accounts in Grand Cayman. But the reaction of China is telling. Their department of propaganda, oops excuse me “information,” immediately released a bulletin telling all new media to stand down. Do not report on the Panama Papers, or else. “Find and delete reprinted reports on the Panama Papers,” according to a circular leaked on Tuesday by the California-based news website China Digital Times. “Do not follow up on related content, no exceptions. If material from foreign media attacking China is found on any website, it will be dealt with severely.”

So the supreme leader of China has been implicated in hoarding wealth, along with his brother. Only China, teetering on the brink of democracy, could so succinctly censor information. Right?

Then I heard about the DC Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey operated Pamela Martin and Associates, an escort agency in Washington, DC, remember her, she supposedly killed herself a few years ago. But her lawyer, Montgomery Blair Sibley, is now threatening to open his Pandora’s Box of names and phone numbers, implicating so he says, some of our presidential candidates in a scandal. He actually started a self-funding site since he’s been disbarred after his days in the spotlight.

The Madam’s records had been sealed by our courts, but Sibley thinks we’d like to see them…which raises the question – exactly what is censorship? Oh the humanity! http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/04/04/_d_c_madam_lawyer_goes_to_supreme_court_to_release_escort_phone_records.html

Sibley must go through the courts to have the gag order surrounding the D.C. madam’s phone records lifted if he wants to release the information legally. Palfrey herself is deceased, and therefore cannot weigh in on the controversy. Just two weeks after being convicted on a plethora of charges related to her escort service, the D.C. madam was found dead in her mother’s shed, hanging with a rope around her neck. The cause of death was officially ruled a suicide, but there was speculation by many, including North Star Report, that the D.C. madam was killed because she knew too much about too many high-ranking clients.

Sounds like an episode of House of Cards! I could care less who was in the Madam’s little black book. But I suspect if the names are released, the American public will care quite a bit. The mighty wind that tossed a world-famous blond comb-over into the GOP, may sweep out the pompous, holier-than-thou candidates.

Let’s hear it for those investigative reporters who keep plugging, who hang on tight in a storm. They brought the Catholic Church to its knees in Boston, they delivered a world-wide laundry scheme to us via a Panama law firm, and now who knows? They just may save our republic. Here is Ms Bean, hiding from the sun, before the winds came.

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Have you or anyone you know lived through a natural disaster? The closest I came was the “once in a hundred year flood” that happened right after we moved into our mid-century modern ranch on a tributary of the Shrewsbury River in NJ.

Except that we luckily had flood insurance, friends who took care of our kids until we were able to fly back from a medical conference, and only lost a car and an HVAC system. The Corgis were stashed in the laundry room, which was thankfully above the water line. We had the resources to recover, and we were lucky.

But last week Bob spoke with the Bride and Groom as a tornado swept through Nashville. They had bundled up the kids and the dog and were hunkering down in their basement. Bob can plug into aviation weather tracking and see the path of the storm on his laptop. It was right above downtown Nashville. As sirens blared, my daughter led her family through a pretty complete soundtrack of the Love Bug’s life.

And when it was all over, I saw the pictures of the devastation that same storm system delivered to a small, little known part of the world. It’s a landscape with majestic magnolia trees and more historic, antebellum homes per square acre than any other place in the Deep South. Holly Springs, MS is where my sister-in-law grew up and where my brother Mike died. And it was the epicenter for that tornado.

Now I never ask you for anything. Week after week I say my peace about family, or politics, or “whatever is on my mind” as Bob likes to say. But that tornado wiped out the girlhood home, a farm belonging to a friend of my brother’s family in Holly Springs. Shelby is a beautiful soul. She was so close to my family at Walter Place, that she helped care for my brother when he became seriously ill. When I first met her, I thought she was an angel in disguise. She wants to become a nurse, and is currently working as a vet tech. Her parents are the salt of the earth, who were left homeless the day before Christmas Eve.

So if you feel so inclined to give a little something to those in need before January First, a friend of Shelby’s family has started a Go Fund Me account, “Kivelle Family Tornado Relief Fund” https://www.gofundme.com/u3g6xfw4

Her parents didn’t have any luck in the face of that tornado. Their MS farm was erased from the earth. But her Dad was a Union worker, as many small farmers need to have two jobs, and his Union buddies have started this fund to help them rebuild and recover. I like to know where my money goes for a good cause, and this one is about as good as it gets.

I love you Shelby, and thank God your family members are safe.   947035_10208598182494010_6736234418063270556_n

 

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Let’s break down the controversy around Hillary Clinton’s email debacle shall we?

But first, spoiler alert; I have just one email address and only one internet server, Century Link. Customer service seems to have not evolved since AT&T ruled the world because Century Link recently promised to boost our signal’s connectivity speed from 8 to 18 gigs (is that right, a gig? we replaced the old modem after another thunderstorm, but is it bandwidth or the router??). You can see how knowledgable I am about wifi – but a promise is a promise. And I was looking forward to instant internet gratification.

Anyway, they failed to show up twice and followed up with an automated call telling us we lived too far out in the sticks to upgrade! Thanks so much.

With just a little digging, I’d like to share what I found out about Hillary: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31806907

A)  She only had ONE email account while she was at the State Department!

And she says her motivation for this was “convenience.” I foolishly thought she had two, one for government and one for private stuff, like planning her daughter’s wedding, which we know can drive one to drink during the day. Not me of course.

She relied on this server, home to the email address hdr22@clintonemail.com, for all her electronic correspondence – both work-related and personal – during her four years in office.
She also reportedly set up email addresses on the server for her long-time aide, Huma Abedin, and State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.
She did not use, or even activate, a state.gov email account, which would have been hosted on servers owned and managed by the US government.

OK, so this server isn’t in Chappaqua, it’s in a closet in Colorado but who cares? NOBODY hacked her emails while she was in office….this bears repeating since some country DID hack the State Department and  US Postal Service’s official server after she left State in 2014. And this cyber-warfare will only get worse in the future. Forget about embarrassing Sony emails or cheating husbands on that Ashley site, we’re talking serious espionage issues here. Has anyone said a small server in a bathroom closet in Denver may be more secure than the behemoth government site? No, they jump to the conclusion that it’s less secure, but where’s the evidence?

I get wanting the convenience of just one device – she now carries about four around in her bag – and I also get that she wasn’t breaking any rules at the time. Tech rules are fluid and fast changing. After the cyber attack in November of 2014, President Obama signed into law the “…Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments, which requires government officials to forward any official correspondence to the government within 20 days. Even under this new law, however, the penalties are only administrative, not criminal.”

B)  Hillary is NOT the only person to use private email for business. It was well known that government issue Blackberry phones could not juggle different accounts at that time :

Colin Powell, secretary of state under President George W Bush, told ABC he used a personal email account while in office, including to correspond with foreign leaders.
Outside of Washington, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush relied on a private email address (jeb@jeb.org). Like Mrs Clinton, he has selected which correspondence to make public.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, also a Republican presidential aspirant, faced questions over his staff’s use of private email addresses when he was Milwaukee County executive.

C)  So what’s the problem?

She complied with the current law by forwarding all official correspondence to the correct government agency where it was automatically archived. She could not control what emails came into her account – a fact that is tying me up in knots currently as I try every morning to unsubscribe from Pottery Barn Kids and Shutterfly. Hillary sent or received 62,320 emails during her time in office, which makes my head hurt. Still a general in the US intelligence community, Charles McCullough, told Congress during the Benghazi – yes you heard it right – hearing he had sent her TWO emails that were later classified “Top Secret” – now can you decide what appears in your inbox every morning?? Go ahead, I dare you!

It’s my opinion that she is being crucified, compared to Nixon and a certain cheating general, for political reasons. When she swiped her hand at a reporter, in a gesture to indicate her annoyance and limited understanding of wiping clean a server, she was revealing a certain imperious nature. It was a “staying home and baking cookies” moment, a “let them eat cake” affectation that will bring about her downfall. She is so close. It would be a shame if she doesn’t talk directly to the American people. She was hoping this email thing would go away, like a pesky mosquito. But we all know you can lose your vision when one of those buggers bites you.

The Fog of Politics

The Fog of Politics

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It was 8 degrees this morning on my perch of the Blue Ridge. This is nose-hair freezing, eye watering, finger numbing cold, even if we still lived in the Berkshire Mountains. Which we don’t; we moved in part for warmer weather. But mostly to be closer to our daughter. Then she moved, to pursue her ER residency, to the ice capital of the South currently known as Nashville. And we’re all wondering why we didn’t follow the Rocker to LA right about now!

He texted us a weather report for the week – party sunny and 70s all week out there. Which is great since the band is on the Left Coast touring. They started out in LA at the Echo Tuesday night and a little birdie told me it was “…packed to the back.” Guess you can’t say, “…standing room only,” since everybody stands and rocks out all night. To check out their tour dates, and download “Cry Wolf” just skip ahead to their website: http://www.parlormob.com

“It’s the first thing we’ve produced ourselves with no outside involvement from anyone else for about 10 years, since we made our first record,” said guitarist Dave Rosen. “We didn’t really have any concern for anything else other than exactly what we wanted to do. So, we went a little crazy, basically.”

Imagine that, artists writing, recording, producing their own music. Bob was asking me if I ever heard of the Brill Building, sometimes called the Glass Building, and I said, “Nope.” So naturally I got a little history of music lesson. It’s located at 1619 Broadway and 49th Street in Manhattan, at the heart of the Theatre District. While we all know about the Motown sound coming out of the Hitsville Studio in Detroit, and Country coming from the Ryman, New York was doing music this way in the 50s and 60s.

“After its completion in 1931, the owners were forced by a deepening Depression to rent space to music publishers, since there were few other takers. The first three, Southern Music, Mills Music and Famous-Music were soon joined by others. By 1962 the Brill Building contained 165 music businesses.”

In essence this was called vertical integration. If a songwriter was looking for an artist and a publisher for their song, this was the place to be. In fact, “There you could write a song or make the rounds of publishers until someone bought it. Then you could go to another floor and get a quick arrangement, lead sheet for $10, get some copies made at the duplication office; book an hour at a demo studio; hire some of the musicians and singers that hung around; and finally cut a demo of the song. Then you could take it around the building to the record companies, publishers, artist’s managers or even the artists themselves. If you made a deal there were radio promoters available to sell the record.” http://www.history-of-rock.com/brill_building.htm

So before the internet, artist/songwriters needed all these middlemen, to get their music off a napkin and out to the public. Carole King had a cubby in the Brill Building, so did Neil Diamond, Paul Simon and Burt Bacharach. The power was in the hands of the publishers, not the artists. Today we have Pharrell Williams, the perfect example of a singer/songwriter/band/member who now runs his own multimedia company, hat and all. I mean I’d be happy too, wouldn’t you?

Happy touring boys, wish I could be at the Vegas show!

at the Echo

at the Echo

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This post is early because chances are I’ll be buried in snow tomorrow, and our generator only powers the heat and the lights in the main part of the house. Which means my office will be down and wi-fi will be out.

Forecasters are predicting another “historic” snowstorm for VA. Like the kind we had the year after we moved into this mountain abode.

But this time Bob is home; he hasn’t camped out at the hospital and left me alone for days on end. When we lived in the Berkshires and the kids were little he did shift work, so he was home a lot. Which was good since we had to feed our woodstove all the time, especially when a Nor’easter hit and dumped 2 feet of snow in one fell swoop. I remember when the VA contractor asked us if we wanted wood burning or gas fireplaces in this little house, and we looked at each other and said “Gas” simultaneously. Bob is sure he wrecked his shoulders cutting and stacking many piles of wood on Windsor mountain back in the day.

I’ve heard there’s a shortage of snow boots in the North East. If I didn’t get the kids their boots and snow suits and mittens and hats in August, I was out of luck. We couldn’t order online in the 80’s, all we could do was go down to the main street in Pittsfield, MA and search by hand. We used to have ice skating Valentine’s parties on our pond, it was expected, this snow and ice. New Englanders are always prepared. Kids built snow forts while they waited for the school bus. We were a hardier crew. Or is it just my memory? Am I starting to sound like that old timer who walked 20 miles to school, through rain and snow and ice?

The snow has just started and I’ve got to finish some laundry and get dinner under way. Hope all of you stay warm and safe over the next few days.

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