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. 

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Some coincidences are not really coincidences...

" Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time."
     Has summer seemed too long to you? With high digit temperatures reigning throughout the land I'd understand if someone said they wished summer was over. I had a wonderful fan bite the dust last night and groaned because I knew it only meant one thing. Replacement. Interestingly, however, I've coped better with the heat today than usual and credit my willingness to do my high activity of the day when the temperature digits were still pretty low. I had practically forgotten what an early summer's day feels like and I think I'm going to like this business of going back to dealing with summer the way it is- not that I have a choice but at least I won't have to retreat to the basement as usual. Not yet, anyway.
     There's something about summer that is God's (and nature's) way of telling you to slow down. Have a glass of lemonade on the porch without the aim of fixing something or cleaning up, perhaps. If stopping and getting lost in thought is some kind of crime then life is going to get mighty miserable. I say, let's all take a break and stop expecting to keep up a pace that the world around us expects but no longer wants to continue themselves. Summer exists for a good reason and when I figure out what it all is I'll be certain to let you know. This morning's musical fare consisted of listening to Brian Wilson sing, "In My Room", which always made me think of what it is like to just sit somewhere, unobtrusive- and watch the world go by while trying to solve the energy crisis in my head. It's always for something. Try it sometime. I think you'll like it.

Last wee at the beginning John Lubbock

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Once only imagined, now true...

What is now true was once only imagined.  - William Blake
Whatever may be said of dreamers and builders of the future we cannot refute that if those of the past had been discouraged from their obsessions and fervent or adamant quests this would be a truly impoverished world to live in at this point. We have never in history had such knowledge and expertise in technology readily available to us in common usage form as we do at the present time. We are truly blessed and those of us who are thankful or mindful of gratitude for these tools and devices are doubly so. However, technology is almost overwhelming for a certain demographic known as those who will not embrace the change or who stubbornly refuse to at least try to understand these advances. Ask anybody over the age of 80 who still say, "Huh?" when you ask them for their e-mail address. I have a certain amount of sympathy for them because I don't really embrace change readily- especially when I perceive that everything is fine as it is- and as long as it is working.
     It is wrong, however, not to recognize achievement and the desire of those who wish to improve this world in anyway they can. Indeed, such trailblazers as these should be commended, not discouraged or disparaged as though they meant to do harm. People will always pan those things they do not understand  or comprehend and so they must be encouraged toward understanding and not chided as if they just flubbed saying their ABCs. Nobody gets to the age of, say, 75 without having a few more bits of knowledge than the under 40 crowd who currently calculate their infallibility as quite high.
Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have faith in  people, that they're basically good and smart and if you give them tools they'll do wonderful things with them.
- Steve Jobs
     I believe my own fascination with technology started early but I haven't been one to charge ahead without reservations. For one, I remember my Computer Science major for a brother once telling me to wait to buy anything techno because in a few months nearly everything on it would be obsolete and I'd have to go through the trouble of trying to update something that would need to be replaced completely in the end. That type of advice sticks with you and besides I found him to be absolutely correct- so far!
     What's the answer then ? How do we reach the unreachable elders ?  I can't begin to answer that except with what William Blake said years ago. (See above.) If those who can use their imagination to bring us the world at our fingertips could find a way to urge humanity to forge ahead with this knowledge, then we will be on our way. I've always been a possibility thinker, however. I know that nothing is impossible to God but man needs a whole lot more encouragement than Tally ho ! Techno needs to get back into the realm of high touch so that those who drag their heels- for a good reason mind you!- can reach out and enjoy the miracle we're all experiencing. Maybe they'll stop saying, "Heck, no!" to techno.
Stay connected,
The Castle Lady

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ring a Bell for the NBA Playoffs 2016

You all have most likely figured out by now that I generally grow relatively silent on the internet when playoff season for the NBA starts. Also, that I'm not likely to emerge from my sequestered niche when I'm keeping right in on the action until it is over or almost over and a champion team has emerged. This year is a ringer for sure. Besides the fact that they have produced a unanimously voted MVP, broken long-standing stat records clear back to the 70s and risen to the top of the heap in an incredibly short period of time, the Golden State Warriors can add one more credit to their rep. They have changed the way any pro basketball game looks- from start to finish- forever
     I have watched basketball games from a very young age up to the present and the best action
I've ever seen on NBA courts has been within the past year and a half. Anyone who remains uninterested in pro basketball in the present time is missing out on some of the best sports action to be seen in the known world. I have become a true believer in this new basketball era since watching all the GSW vs. 'anybody' since the playoffs started in April. Right after the first game started with the Houston Rockets, Stephen Curry was seriously injured twice- ankle, then knee- and the MVP was out for the count of four consecutively missed games. One might think that GSW would get creamed and tossed away but the whole team is so in sync that it was almost as if Steph was still in the paint ! I have been wowed by every single member of the team whether I knew them before or not. Even
Green has grown on me and he always seemed to be talking even in the middle of a 3-point shot. Shall I sing, "Getting to know you" right here or what ? I hate that and you know it.
They all make three-pointers and alley oops like they've been doing them in their sleep since they were three and that's unbeatable. What has really blown me away during the regular season, however, is their superior defense. I noticed that during these playoffs against the Trailblazers, Rockets and Thunder that their defense seemed to be just not working that well. When I watched the games with the Trailblazers over again I realized that they were mimicking GSW's style. I started backtracking to several games I had recorded during the regular season and could see that nearly every team was mimicking their style. It has been said by many that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so GSW players have been doubly flattered by almost every NBA pro and that speaks well of this particular style. It's called basketball and it isn't new but it has definitely taken on a new life since last year and I hope these games continue to look as exciting and fresh as it has been since 2015.