Monday, August 21, 2017

Keep Your Eyes on Summer

My title is not only the name of one of my most favorite Beach Boys songs but it’s very appropriate this summer. As a matter of fact, 2017 has seemed to be off schedule all year long! I can honestly say every month in Denver has been quite unusual in correspondence to its season and August has been no exception. Everyone’s talking like it’s autumn already and it’s not even close! The strong heat started right at the beginning of June for one, with no storms whatever. July was steadily hot and well above 90ْ, also, with few storms. August has been rainy at night and much cooler, overall, than June and July combined. That’s weird weather for August considering that it’s usually our hottest month.

Perhaps this total eclipse coming up has something to do with all of it. Denver is right in the path for an overhead viewing at 92% but I won’t be watching any of it. A partial total eclipse is a non-event in my estimation and its main claim to fame is that it will be really dark in the middle of the day for about an hour and a half. Yawn. Don’t be surprised if your dogs and cats decide to go to their backyard houses or favorite night time spot. They’re smarter than they seem. If by chance you insist on looking at what will be basically just darkness, be sure to take the ‘special glasses’ wearing to heart. Can’t get a hold of a pair? Then, please, at it don’t stare. (hee hee) Simple.

Remember when I vowed that I was not going to mow the lawn this year and that someone else was going to have to do it? Well, guess who got the so-called honors anyway? You guessed it. Who else but yours truly?  I’ve never felt so exhausted in my life! Avoiding the heat was impossible and you can’t mow at night. Let’s just say the latter isn’t a good idea. The other part of this is that it takes away from my writing time. Have you noticed West Somerset on my Word Press blog yet? Right. It isn’t there. It shouldn’t take me too much longer but it seems as if it’s taking me forever- face it! -but not because I haven’t put the effort in.
     As a matter of fact, I’ve written the thing nearly twice now. The first nearly completed final draft just suddenly disappeared from my computer without a trace in February after some extreme weirdness with my P.C. That is not the first time this has happened but I have vowed that it’s never going to happen again. What could be more frustrating than watching something that you’ve spent four months writing suddenly vanish? I honestly can’t think of anything worse right now and so I’m telling any type of malevolent miscreant or namby-pamby glitch that they better not touch this or something’s going to get hurt. Bad. When I show any signs of aggression in word, thought or deed you can be assured that you’ve pushed me over the edge of my good nature. You have been warned. 

     It may sound like summer has been a bummer but most of it has been much nicer than I expected. I’ve had a bit of a reprieve on extra duties around the house just simply because I’ve let some chores and extra work just go. You have to do that at times, you know. Most of my life I’ve been a live-for-the-moment type of person and this summer I let myself do just that. I’ve been catching up on the news and happenings and at my leisure rather than on the run. Here again, the heat may be partially responsible because when your body gets to a certain temperature you just have to sit down and do something that doesn’t involve movement of any kind. I’m getting good at it again. I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to stare off into space!
However, I would have you know that I’ve, in fact, been overflowing with ideas for writing projects for over a year and a half and getting overwhelmed with the amount of writing time I’ll have to do to get it all done. I thought my castles projects were overambitious! Whew! At one time my family thought I was going to become a hermit because I had a great place to hide and write all day. Those were the days! I need to get back to doing that and once I figure out how, I’m going to be unstoppable. Look out World!
At any rate, you can expect to see a fabulous version of West Somerset in the very near future. (Promise!) Along with all that you can expect to see quite a few sideline entries on all these ideas that have been fermenting, getting jotted down at odd moments and ultimately committed to a non-electronic apparatus which I’ll call the aide to my P.C. Hint: It’s called pen and paper! Yes, I still do that and this year it’s been done in the coolest place I can find- my basement! Bliss!
     Well, have a wonderful remainder of summer. It won’t be officially over until September 21st- or thereabouts- and you may get to see a whole lot more of my writing on castles and much more for the remainder of this year than you’ve seen in quite some time. It’s proverbial. Life gets in the way of art but to be truthful there is just no comparison to the reflected life. Both are worth living but you have to learn to balance the two and take your bliss where you can get it.

The Castle Lady

Saturday, April 29, 2017

In April...

     First, there were early daffodils which showed up the first day of April. Every day in this month has been a whirlwind of activity with personal appointments, outside work and housework with extra spring cleanings and decluttering the house from items to put up for an E-garage reality sale*. Then, later on, there was planning for Easter and the day itself. Earth Day was a day for doing outside work in earnest and I managed to find the greatest ground cover mulch with pine needle droppings from the tree I planted back in 1990 in the back ! Now I can defeat the weeds on a greater level, the mulch is naturally aromatic and I doubt that any weed is going to break through that stuff! Nothing under the tree did- that's for sure! (hee hee) Believe it or not, I've actually mowed both my front and back lawns already and we've practically had no real rain or snow through most of the winter. Go figure.
*(explained below !)
     E is also for me. Evelyn. Yeah me! I am one tired lady most of the time. Between kitchen, living room, laundry, salon, bathrooms, bedrooms (3 of 'em) duties plus office organization, studio straightening and cleaning and sorting through the garage, it's been decided that placing the mulch is the last bit of yard work I'm ever going to do. One has to draw the line somewhere and I feel I have finally met my match with it so someone else will have to take it on. Wish me luck in finding the right person for the job because if I find that one they will have a job for life!
     One way or another I always pull it out for baskets every morning. I've decided that while it may not be my raison d'etre, it is still a very important part of my day. I'll never give it up no matter what I am doing or where I happen to be. They do have basketball courts in England- I've seen them ! Eureka ! I've also decided to rejoin the human race in one thing. For years I've walked where I need to go most of the time and not just because my car is now 27 years old. I'm determined to keep gas guzzling to a minimum but sometimes you just have to take off and be somewhere else besides your home turf. Considering that I'm a travel writer, primarily, I'm going to travel more- one way or another. If I start there and gain some momentum I figure on accelerating that and go further and further afield. However, I'm not walking to England!

     E is also for Ella! Fitzgerald, that is...It's the 100th anniversary of her birthday and if you get a chance you should check out this link to see what I put up on my rock blog about her. It's not comprehensive but relevant to her current fame which has not waned. More musical artists, this year, are recreating her tunes than possibly any other jazz singer, ever, and considering that this is Jazz Appreciation Month it's very apropos and de rigueur that you visit her web site if you are even a little bit of a fan of jazz music. You'll be glad you checked it out. Here's mine:  and Ella's official web site:  
     Of course, this is all after the fact with this being the end of April. I guess that Nat King Cole song is absolutely right...
            Lost April...where did you go ? Like winter snow
I saw you vanish
Lost soft and warm, a memory not even time
can banish...
Here comes May,

        Check back often for a new widget to this blog which will be my E-garage and actual garage sale.
I'll be bringing my live sale to you with its own blog on which you can make bids with your (undisclosed) e-mail address.
Coming soon ! ! Details later...

Monday, April 24, 2017

We Definitely Need an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights Now!

     After seeing the news this morning about that poor woman aboard an American Airlines plane with children being brutalized by a male steward over whether she could stow a stroller or not, for me it hearkened back to a televised news item back in November of 2009 which completely appalled me at the lack of compassion or simple human decency on the part of those who work for airlines or airports for that matter. You can read it by clicking on this link to that entry which was a worst case scenario never resolved (as far as I know) even though someone's life was ended by the lack of compassion and downright neglect. That incident, which happened at DIA could have been avoided if someone had stayed with the removed passenger. It was a simple case of blatant apathy by people who are supposed to be serving people on their job.
     I feel the same about that doctor who was literally dragged off a plane recently down a middle aisle of a plane just because he refused to give up his seat. He was badly injured because of it and I'm not sure if an apology was made. One woman passenger couldn't stop screaming OMG over and over again but did that stop them? No. They continued to slowly drag him across the plane floor all the way out, making it impossible for anyone else to deplane or stop them!
     This is not new treatment, obviously. The man who went all out to defend the young mother the other day, Fierro, stood up for her and challenged the male attendant and was not met with anything but equal fire. The attendant should not be able to do what he did the other day ever again but Fierro should have a medal pinned on him for having some restraint while trying to come to the aid of a woman in clear distress. I would also like to add that one of the first rights a passenger already has is to never have to relinquish their packages, luggage or personal items to anyone. That is a regulation that was implemented after 9/11 for obvious reasons. They can start with that and keep going. Are we cattle or something ? Stop the madness !
Fuming again !
The Castle Lady

Saturday, April 22, 2017

FDR foiled by Trump?

President Trump is at it again with his new tax plan which could dramatically impact your earned benefits and the future of Social Security. That's because it may include a drastic reduction or elimination of the 12.4% payroll tax, which means Social Security would have to find another revenue source! In the long run, this disastrous proposal would cut off vital revenue for Social Security, as workers' contributions fund the program — and ultimately destroy the retirement security of millions of future beneficiaries.

This is just another 'backdoor' attempt to cut Social Security and we believe the American people should know how this plan would undermine the fundamental earned-rights nature of Social Security. Workers pay into this system their entire working lives with the expectation to be able to utilize this sum as a supplement or as their complete retirement funds. Eliminating the payroll tax would make Social Security vulnerable to devastating budget cuts and privatization schemes as the funds used to pay for this program would now have to come out of general revenue. (Something FD Roosevelt would have never approved because he wanted to make sure that politicians could not eradicate this benefit to aging Americans.)

If  President Trump moves forward with this radical scheme it would break a promise he made during the presidential campaign not to touch Social Security!! That's why the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare is working to ensure every American understands the consequences of this proposal and putting pressure on members of Congress to reject any budget or tax scheme that jeopardizes current and future Social Security benefits and makes them compete with all other federal programs for funding.    or you can call 1-800-966-1935  for more information



                                                                                              The Castle Lady


Thursday, February 23, 2017

100 Years Old- at 23

     Carson McCullers wrote The Heart is a Lonely Hunter when most of the world (and especially the American south) was ruffling its feathers against the racial tensions boiling in the south and boiling over in the north American states. The story was set in small town Georgia in the 1930s and rocked the literary and readership public with well-drawn misfit characters and bewitching sensitivity of humanity at its best and worst in June of 1940. In addition, she was a mere twenty three years of age and the wisdom and writing craft showed well-honed talent more befitting someone who might have been writing for four times as many years. In short, she was an immediate literary sensation with a best selling book when most people that age are still trying to figure out their smart phones these days.
     Last Sunday, what would have been her 100th birthday is a milestone year. She died of a stroke at 50 but her voice and keen insight lives on in all her writings, many of which showed the same sharp eye into the inner person of her characters. Her masterpiece will always be her first title but she went on to write several novels: The Member of the Wedding, Reflections in a Golden Eye and more. She was also a poet, playwright and short story writer with a big collection anthologized years ago and with a recent LOA collection of all her works, out this year. This new collection also features a memoir of her life in the south, a teleplay and essays she wrote and even travel writing pieces!
     Back in 2004, Oprah Winfrey championed her book as a classic and it has enjoyed resurgence ever since with a new literary crowd. I imagine that Oprah perhaps spied herself in Mick, the teenage girl who is making her way to adulthood with an intensely personal search for beauty- in herself, the world and others around her- with alternating success and failure with each encounter. Her mind opens like a wildflower to a friend in a deaf/mute man and their relationship stays neutral while they seesaw out of emotional control together. All the other characters swirl around them in a morass of the tensions of the times, the depression and conventional to curious southern ways. The abrupt and sad end to the story has a  poignancy you will not easily forget.
     It was set to film in 1968 with some known and unknown Broadway and film actors with Sondra Locke in the role of Mick and Alan Arkin as the most convincing deaf/mute ever portrayed on the screen, in my opinion. He received his second Academy Award for Best Actor in this role. The music is brilliant, overall, with the less prominent characters excellently acted by Stacy Keach, Percy Rodrigues, Cicely Tyson and Chuck McCann. However, the film altered the story in an homogenized fashion to the film-watching public of the day and that marvelously alliterated narrative of McCullers pen doesn't translate quite to the screenplay. Instead, we get an attempt to convey the feelings that the book incites by other means and it was successful for the cinema. This is one of those novels which must be read and then read five more times to discover the layers of meaning and pathos. 
     If you enjoy literature in its purest form you owe it to yourself to obtain a copy and read it undisturbed for the full length of the book. I was riveted at 17 and forty years later it is almost like reading it anew.
      Yep. It's that good.
The Castle Lady    
The mind is like a richly woven tapestry in which the colors are distilled
from experiences of the senses
and the design drawn from the convolutions of the intellect. 
- Carson McCullers

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Memories of Mom on a Memo

Since my mother passed on, late in 2012, I have been systematically and doggedly going through financial records to make sure that personal information stored on them remains private and it has been quite a job. Most people get help with these mundane tasks but I have worked alone at it for more than four years now. I have made incredible progress considering that life goes on and I have to take care of myself and a family dwelling as well. One of the perks has been finding and saving the treasured poems, small essays, inspirational writing and downright sermons amongst papers that shredding may have obliterated. Early on I found out that I was going to have to go through every bit of the records to save these wonderful writs which have become mementoes to me. It was Mom's birthday very recently and so I thought I'd share this one I found recently with my readership because it was very typical of Mom's political and personal views. She shared these with everybody along with her faith without changing a word and very openly. I've always been more careful about my opinions but I certainly admired her outspoken ways.
     It was her most attractive feature.

   Happy birthday dear mother. Looking fine as usual !
The Castle Lady

Friday, January 20, 2017

The first thing he does when he gets to the Oval Office...

Nobody thinks of winter when the grass is green. - Rudyard Kipling
Claiming a mandate that does not exist, the congressional majority is rolling out proposals that will slash Social Security and Medicare benefits, and set in motion the privatization of these vital programs. These actions will hurt current and future beneficiaries counting on earned benefits for a healthy and secure retirement.

     At 9 a.m., yesterday, before Trump's inauguration at noon today I heard Tom Price on NPR news tell the Senate in his very first confirmation hearing that he couldn't promise seniors that he wouldn't cut Medicare or Medicaid. The Senate should reject him as Secretary of Health & Human Services because he is basically showing himself to be an enemy of the people's  right to the benefits they've worked all their lives for and need. He may have been appointed by Trump but the people are speaking out everywhere against what was done today.
     As the National Committee has been warning for years, all Americans have a lot to lose if these radical proposals become reality. President Donald Trump shows few signs of honoring his campaign pledge not to touch Social Security and Medicare despite what he says and does. His cabinet appointments speak all too loudly about his actual intentions for these vital programs most notably Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price (who hasn't met a benefit cut he didn't like) and Rep. Rick Mulvaney (SC-05) (a so-called fiscal hardliner) director of the Office of Management and Budget has stated "we have to end Medicare as we know it."
     Where does that leave us? No Affordable Care Act- no Medicare or Medicaid slashed ?
      In the last Congressinal meeting, House Social Security Subcommittee Chair Sam Johnson (TX-03) introduced a devastating bill targeting Social Security to slash benefits, raise the retirement age to 69 and reduce ( read: not raise ! ) Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs). COLA was created to help retired people keep up with inflation. Anticipate that this bill will be reintroduced in the new Congress very soon. House Speaker Paul Ryan is eager to advance his plan to end traditional Medicare by privatizing it for the benefit of gigantic insurance companies. Privatization will lead to skyrocketing premiums and reduced coverage for beneficiaries tossed into the private insurance market.
     With the bill that Trump signed today, repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and jeopardizing the health care coverage of 30 million Americans, real improvements to Medicare are at great risk. While the groundwork is quickly being laid in Congress to repeal and replace so-called Obamacare, no alternative option has been developed yet by opponents of the law. Apparently, it was more important to end what we had than to come up with a better or viable alternative.
What's the good news?  Well, the National Committee (second link on the top) endorses the "Seniors Have Eyes, Ears and Teeth Act " introduced by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40). This important bill will help millions of Medicare beneficiaries who need vision, hearing and dental care, which are not covered by Medicare.
  Paying for these services is a hardship for many Medicare beneficiaries, half of whom live on fixed incomes well below $24,150 per year; yet, these services are critical to healthy aging. Medicare households spend on average 15% of their income (over two times more than younger households) on health care, including Medicare cost sharing and services not covered by Medicare. This bill will improve the Medicare program for current and future beneficiaries, and we urge Congress to demonstrate real leadership on this issue.
     Don't sit idly by and watch these people dance all over your life. Call your senators, congressmen and anybody you can get ahold of and tell them you don't like what was done today. Your future security will depend on it.
The Castle Lady 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bloggers Unite...

We've been dissed by a cartoonist ! Check out the following:

     I would just like to personally put forth that a good portion of the liveliest information I find on the internet is usually on blogs and not necessarily the forums who dish the so-called facts. I'll let my own work on my blogs be the self-evident proof that I'm right and the creators of Crankshaft and Company are dead wrong. Some of the nicest and best people I've become acquainted with on the internet have been through our mutual blogs. For me, the haters died off a long time ago. I think I had one in all these years and I reported him and then he was no more.
     Blogging may be the most fun I've ever had with my writing. You can write pretty much what you want, when you want and if you suddenly decide you don't like or want it up yourself you can always edit or delete what you wrote, along with an apology for doing so- or not. You are in control. You can put up your photos and replace or remove them at will. Nobody can put something up on your blog without your consent and they can't mess with what you've posted either. If you don't like their comments you can delete them with one click.
     My best friends are other bloggers. We support each other by putting forth encouragement and words of support. We can help each other improve our writing and even, at times, supply the always important function of being a muse. Most importantly, we all have something important to say- contrary to what Mindy thinks- and we can express those important words in our own way. If you agree with me click the LIKE button or leave a comment. We've been insulted and we should tell the world...
I've got something to say...
and I'm going to say it my way !   

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Lay Down Your Arms

Optimism is a political act.
Those who benefit from the status quo are perfectly happy for us to think nothing is going to get any better.
In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience.
- Alex Steffen, The Bright Green City
I have experienced a politically divided nation for as far back as I can recollect. My introduction to politics was seeing the president of the U.S. assassinated by gunfire with media in full view. I was so young that I was unaware that I was witnessing a volatile political act. Shock was what I felt but I knew nothing of it. No wonder I see the world as being full of danger! Violence has only exacerbated since that time and often I've wondered how bad it will get. How many children's minds will be tainted with unnecessary fear?
     Optimism is essential to living bravely. We make a bold statement when we step out firmly with an optimistic outlook and approach to living. This would be despite the prevailing circumstances. In the song Grand Old Flag, Americans are described as the free and the brave. These two attributes have walked hand in hand on our land since the war of 1812, through the bloody Civil War and on into the Civil Rights Movement.
     We will always have to fight for freedom bravely and with optimism. It is our tradition as U.S. citizens and will prevail as long as we are willing to die for other people's freedom as much as our own. It is how we fight that makes the difference. However, fighting back with weapons is mutually fatal and futile. In the 70s a popular quote was repeated often that  'fighting for peace was like making love for virginity.'
     Bravely facing down aggressors is where peace begins. Laying down our arms is how peace will prevail. I've never heard anyone say that they regretted not shooting someone.
Lay down your arms for peace.
The new and improved...

Conflictos empazar en el corazon. - Evelyn Wallace

Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer Struggle 2016

Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-
a desire, a dream, a vision.
- Muhammad Ali
This is going to read a bit odd but getting through this summer has been one of my most difficult struggles ever and on a particular level I never would've expected. The reason why you haven't seen much on this blog until now hasn't been lack of subjects, boredom or writer's block or even writer's cramp. I've written more by handwriting this summer than I ever have in my life and my hands are fine except for sheer exhaustion. There. I said it. I'm exhausted from all the hard, physical labor I've been doing and it's been tripled and quadrupled this summer with extra work needing to be done around the house, more yard work, reorganization of just about everything in my house including moving furniture and equipment from downstairs to upstairs and vice versa all by myself. What I need is a house person. You know, like a house boy only politically correct. Here's the kicker: In the past I've been completely physically exhausted and then sat down to write and been just fine to think, edit and rewrite to my heart's content and completely in my element. 
     Now when I finally find time to sit down and write, I find that exhaustion is affecting my thinking. That's new and unwelcome. I've never known anything like this and I don't want to know it, either. This isn't happening because I don't like hard work or can't do it. I can do it and I don't mind hard work or at least I never have in the past. I'm digging in my heels because I don't want to be so exhausted that I can't think to write. That's where I draw the line. Here's the additional problem: quitting the heavy labor isn't an option.
     Not one to give up, I'm certain there's a solution and it would be something like this: Make a million dollars on my first castles book then hire someone to cook three square meals everyday and clean up after. Then, I would hire someone to make my yard look like a showcase home. I would have someone come every day to clean my house from top to bottom and do my laundry, fold it and/or hang it up and put it away. Having someone do all my shopping would be a bonus that would finally liberate me to sit down and just write for eight or more hours a day. Of course, I wouldn't give up my exercise in the morning which consists of yoga stretches followed by a swift walk up to the park, slam dunking 20 out of 30 basketball shots at the court and then coming home to write some more. That only takes about 45 minutes- tops.
     If there is any extra time after writing I could then take the time to rebuild a manicure/pedicure/nail clientele that doesn't exist for me anymore. Believe it or not, I really have enjoyed the profession I worked for three decades of my life before I watched my clientele dwindle away before my eyes. Either people don't care about the way their hands look, in the present day, or they don't have the money. No amount of discounting seems to work for these Asian discount salons. Most of them are empty, except for rows and rows of empty desks and two or three techs sitting around and watching TV. While I worked at storefront salons, including my own storefront, I don't think my client chair was ever empty. I worked ten hour days when I owned my storefront salon and never even thought about the amount of time I put in because I loved making women beautiful and helping them feel good about themselves. I guess that's out of vogue, too, but not for me. I can't go more than a week for manicuring my nails and I'd never give up the pedicures I do on myself at least once a month. If women have given this up even after years and years of being faithful clients then I can only think that they do not prioritize for themselves any longer and don't care what kind of details are in the look. Some hairstyles I've seen appear to have that philosophy!
     I will forge ahead with my dream of one day gallivanting the planet, doing site inspections any where castles can be found and writing about them and possibly showing them off on my own TV show. After that, putting them up on my web site will be done by my faithful and trusty web master who will turn my web site into a dream come true for myself and all my internet fans. You might even need an app to be able to buy my books at my web site! Bliss ! Another Cinderella dream achieved. Even though we both might be laughing now it will be followed with a sense of awe.
     I've always achieved everything that I've truly wanted to- believe it! I know I can achieve it. I've done that before.