Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wopila Kaniyeyapi

Happy Thanksgiving everybody !
Happy Thanksgiving everybody !
The Castle Lady

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Day After Kennedy Was Shot

My earliest toddler and childhood memories are surreal to me. I'm not sure when they became that way but it seems like my memories from that period of my life have always been wrapped in some type of haze. I can make a few summations about the phenomenon that would probably have psychologists and psychoanalysts running for their pads, pencils and their phones to call me. The earliest memory I have that is crystal clear to me is the Saturday after Kennedy was shot in Dallas. Being a mere five years old at the time, I got up and turned on the television to watch my favorite cartoons.
     Instead of watching my usual round of shows I watched a film of John F. Kennedy being shot over and over again. I waited patiently for hours, changing the channels and hoping that something would finally make it through the constant footage. One particular segment was a film taken from directly behind the car and at street level. I watched this particular clip on every channel I tuned in on and so the memory of it is as clear as a bell- a memorized vision so to speak. I watched as his head suddenly moved forward as if it had been pushed then immediately his head went backward with the same sudden, jolting motion. At that point Jackie had turned to him and her alarm was already evident and his head made another sudden jolting movement toward her. As I continued to watch, her reaction looked hysterical and before the film abruptly ends she was trying to climb out the back of the car perhaps thinking of her own safety.
     Many years later, books and films were written and produced which suggested otherwise from what I witnessed. The titles are almost endless but a few that I personally own are On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison, Crossfire The Plot that Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs and Best Evidence which was written by David S. Lifton. Even though two of these books claimed to be the inspiration for Oliver Stone's film JFK none of these extensively written and researched books correspond, completely, with what I witnessed that day in watching that particular film over many times. I'm not sure how many times I watched it but if it was fifty separate viewings I would not be surprised. I wouldn't be surprised if I found out that I watched more times than that and I couldn't count that high anyway. Not yet. My memory of what I watched says that he was shot three times and at three different angles. Eyewitnesses in Dallas shortly afterward stated that they heard shots come from the grassy knoll near the site but that would've been in the direction which his head never moved away from and if they had come from that area then Jackie would have been shot as well.
     I'm not trying to split hairs but it has seemed to me that nothing has been quite right about people ever since that day. I learned that no one is safe and that human life couldn't be more fragile. I learned that respected men in important offices may lie to save their own skin. I learned that a good man might have dangerous enemies. Perhaps everything that I experienced prior to that Saturday was a viewpoint about people and life in general that made for a secure existence and everything since then woke me up to a reality I have had to accept regardless of my finer sensibilities and aspirations. No wonder my memories prior to that day seem surreal. Everything changed after that and I knew for certain that nothing would be the same.
Respectfully submitted by,
The Castle Lady  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Complete Person

     Last year, in June, a Marie Claire magazine article stated that 32% of women in the U.S. between the ages of 50 and 55 were unmarried. It expounded on the world of singleness for women as being much more liberated from past conventions than at any other time in history. The stories of several women pointed out that they had not always been single or unattached but had found life better in a singular state than that of dating or being married. I enjoyed the article because I suppose it made me feel more reassured that all the questions and remarks I have fielded over the years about my singleness were now as outdated as calling someone a spinster at a certain age. I have taken that guff for granted all my life, so much so, that I'm not about to start worrying or caring about it now. I don't have a remembrance of ever feeling as if anything was missing in my life- from the time I was fifteen years of age up to the present- by not being engaged or married. Dating is still of interest to me so I am not a hermit-type and I honestly don't feel I need someone to accompany me to go anywhere unless they just want to come along for the ride or vice-versa for that matter. 
     Apparently, this is a concept that the rest of the world couldn't even fathom up to only a few years ago. Meanwhile, I have obliviously continued on with living my life- working, traveling, writing and checking out this ever fascinating world we live in without caring whether a male was by my side or not. I can go either way but I don't understand the imperative need of companionship. My singularity has reached a vintage that is heady, exhilarating and even empowering.
     After putting down the magazine I started thinking about where I'd seen indicators that someone might think I was not normal or for me to question myself of where I fit into society- bite my tongue ! How many of you out there remember the movie Jerry Maguire in which Tom Cruise (who played the title role) stated to Renee Zellweger who played Dorothy- these three words which took on a life all their own for chick flicks then and on into the future. They were: "You complete me." I remind myself that he said those words- not his girlfriend- who betrays herself by rejoindering, "You had me at hello."
     While the rest of sisterdom broke out in tears or even began to cheer I sat there with a totally puzzled look and asked myself, "Whaaat?" How does someone complete another person? If you are feeling shattered or incomplete no one is going to repair you with a proposal. I am going to say this here and now and I don't care if anyone likes it or not. If you do not bring a whole and entire person into a marriage relationship then you are going to be that relationship's weakest link. Furthermore, that relationship is not going to complete, re-solder or mend your broken pieces. Humpty Dumpty was left hanging by all the King's horses and all the King's men, remember?
     I don't think my resolve will ever be a popular decision. Remaining single is no picnic. It's difficult being chief cook and bottle washer to you and yourself alone but it does have its perks. However, this is not the kind of life for most people and I won't recommend it either. It states in the Bible that it is not good for man to be alone and I think that equally applies to women. You can carry something away from my elaborate tirade today, however, no matter what state you find yourself in- married, dating seriously, living together or precariously single. If a relationship isn't going well or you're thinking that being single might better suit you, be prepared for some soul-searching and being about the business of learning to like and then, ultimately, love yourself. Learn to listen to your inner dialogue. Examine your head and determine if you really know where your life is headed and if you want to continue the way you are or stop and do something entirely different. The possibilities are endless and it's one of the most wonderful aspects of remaining single. Goodnight- and good luck !
Completely wild about you !
The Castle Lady  

Friday, September 20, 2013

And the summer ends...

     I don't know about you but I always feel a little wistful at summer's end- so much so that I have written poems about it. One in particular that I put up on the blog which is now hosted by Word Press comes to memory and is probably my most poignant. (Check August 2009 archives for the poem Goodbye to Summer.) The great thing about summer's end is that autumn happens to be my favorite season and it was always that way. This year the second half of August was so hot that when the weather changed to rainy and cold last week I started waking up refreshed and with all my zip back. I started a poem at the beginning of this summer which I thought would be a great muse catalyst and I rather waited for the poem to write itself- as I have done in the past. It's the newest entry titled The Designed World and I'm working on a translation for my French blog which will go up in a couple of days.
     Perhaps grief got in my way but most likely the delay happened because there is only so much leisure time for my mind anymore. It's unfair but true. I am now doing all the work that life imposes on us completely by myself and it doesn't leave much room or time for the work I feel is more important than grocery shopping or cooking and cleaning. Today I was thinking about the English platitude: two heads are better than one and now I think I agree with it on principle alone. Somehow even a small contribution in handling matters around the house or finances makes all the difference in the time factor and it feels more human. If you don't believe me try going it alone some time, if you don't already have that deal. It's not just the workload, though. I used to bounce quite a few ideas off my Mom just to get clarification. We were opposites in quite a few opinions and tastes but it helped me make decisions and choices faster. Go figure.
     At any rate, I always find that autumn gives me more energy, the natural odors and aromas smell fresher and the mornings more invigorating than at any other time of year. I wish I could find a locale that is like autumn all the time but I have a feeling that no such place exists. It is a time not a place. Soon it will be time to put away that lawn mower and go dance in the leaves.
     Heaven !
Enjoy it like I do !
The Castle Lady 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Secrets...Government or otherwise

     If the PRISM scandal didn't concern or scare you then you are officially the bravest, blindest or most moral person on the planet. I have been undertaking some serious contemplation on the issue of privacy and government spying. I felt this would be an excellent time to get into it by looking at the picture from a broader perspective. Here's something that has been completely reversed in my estimation. For as far back as the 60s or possibly longer, people have talked about government secrets. I'm sure the Rosenburgs made this side of the issue much hotter than it should have been- no pun intended, really ! From a practical viewpoint we don't want people who are privy to inside government information telling the rest of the world such knowledge. Our current security surveillance is technologically advanced with drones and other devices which we don't even know about, I'm certain. That is supposedly to keep us all safe- not knowing. Whether you agree with this or not is your privilege as an American citizen but believe me, most of us do not want certain data about how our government is run to be revealed to officials in foreign countries- allies or no. That classified information should remain just that for the overall good.
     The obvious disadvantage is that we may not be able to trust our government agents with this knowledge. History has taught us otherwise. If the Snowden deal hasn't taught us that lesson then we had all better start paying attention. Snowden didn't tell me anything I hadn't already suspected but I have a suspicious nature toward clandestine deals and subterfuge of any kind. He has brought to light downright deception on the part of the government- that's true- but he hasn't made me feel that his actions are of character, either. Almost every elected and appointed government official were willing to forgive him and that's where I part ways with all of it. Mistrust of the government on a broad scale started shortly after our involvement in Vietnam and I believe it has proliferated exponentially since then to a grand scale. It makes having a good and secure democracy nearly impossible.
     In situations of trust it is imperative that it be earned. No one trusts anyone or anything if they have proved to be anything but trustworthy on large or small issues. It is time for the people who have been elected to government jobs and offices to start showing true character by showing they are trustworthy. For many years, from the White House on down, the American people have tolerated lies and deception for too long and we must all do our part to get back on the road to trust by starting with the truth and continuing to walk in that path. I'm issuing this challenge to everyone, however. Trust begets trust and mutual gains can be had by showing respect to those who deserve it. Let your Bible be your guide.
It is no secret that I'm for doing the right thing!
The Castle Lady

Thursday, August 08, 2013

There are fairs and then there are fairs...

This past weekend I finally attended a book fair which has been held every year for twenty nine years running here in Denver. I have wanted to attend this two-day expo for many years, based on recommendations, but for some reason something else always came up. For 2013, I decided that nothing would stop me from going. There is a huge venue just outside the city off a main highway called the Denver Merchandise Mart (now just referred to as the Mart) where the Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair has been held (most likely since they started) and it's a great place for just such an event of this size. During the two day event  one has the opportunity to talk to experts in their fields of specialty. This year they had four confirmed speakers who were conservators themselves. I had a chance to talk to Karen Jones, a local book restorer, after her two hour workshop on book preservation. I needed some advice on the extremely rare book I purchased about the best way to restore it- being as how it is a 180 year old book whose pages still turn and is entirely legible with the images clearly visible and unmarred ! Other speakers gave lectures on conservations of textiles, paintings, decorative and historic objects along with the subjects of books and paper items. One, Christopher Lane, presented a short hour-long talk on how and why to build collections with emphasis on antique prints and maps.  
I knew pretty much what I could expect to see when I got there because I've heard about the fair from other attenders- whether they were regulars or not. If I nailed this one down to basics I'd say that this is the type of fair for people who really enjoy the arts, sciences and literature. An antiquarian's dream, basically. For me, every booth was intensely interesting with the exception of western and southwestern Americana which is more of a background interest since I am somewhat overexposed to those genres being a native Coloradoan. It seemed to me every medium and subject was touched on whether it is maps and cartography, rare, collectible or specialty books or post-cards- the latter of which has been a passionate collecting hobby of mine from an extremely young age. My collection is probably small by comparison to other life-long collectors but I have a very well rounded and international set, most hand picked by me from the areas in question. A small amount were gifts from other travelers who were thoughtful friends. A good portion of my collection are antiques bought from antique stores- even some historic view post cards which appear to be double images but must be viewed through a special lens viewer to make the subject appear three dimensional. They had several vendor booths there who had brought vast collections with them. I found out about a special post card collectors club there from one of the vendors and I think I'll go to their next event and check them out !
Other items you will see at such a fair are print artwork- both collectible and rare plus exotic and ethnic posters, framed art, ephemera and travel memorabilia alongside old travel brochures and ads. There were eighty-one exhibitors in all this year but I was only able to really get into half of those and went home reeling from the overwhelming amounts of materials I had looked at and perused. Having to walk away from so many things I would have loved to buy and take home was equally overwhelming. The one irresistible item, the aforementioned book, which will become essential very soon was wrought with beautifully lithographed photos of Ireland including many castles caught. It is in excellent shape and had been published in 1833. Later I found an interesting flaw in two pages of text that will make this a very rare book and worth quite a bit more money, eventually, after I restore it.
Treasuring each and every bit,
The Castle Lady

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Justified Victim or Out-of-Control Vigilante ?

     Since a juror of the case has finally come forward I have decided I will not be silent on the issue of the Zimmerman trial- the biggest travesty which has recently gone through our judicial system in the U.S. Even if I throw out the obvious problems this trial presented- racial profiling, concealed weapon, unnecessary force, unlawful surveillance (i.e. stalking) or even improper jury selection, it is incomprehensible to me that a man could shoot and kill an unarmed person, go through a murder trial with admission of the actual crime and yet walk away exonerated. Whatever the decision of the jury, who were decidedly not peers to Zimmerman or Martin in any sense of the word, I have concluded that there was nothing in Zimmerman's actions that evening which can be viewed as non-prevocational behavior. I also cannot help but view Martin as a victim since he is the one who has been buried by a family devastated by the loss of their son. Up until the moment of confrontation with a stalker, Trayvon Martin had shown quite a bit of promise for his future. Those are irrefutable facts as I see it.
     If the evidence presented had been done properly then a totally different profile of Zimmerman would have emerged in my estimation. It would have been an open and shut case if all the evidence was presented and not just what was agreed upon by those who were only trying to win a case for their client. Trayvon was not present to talk to a lawyer about what happened that night so we can only go by who actually witnessed the event, firsthand or secondhand. The operators at 911 cannot interpret who was crying for help that night but the strongest witnesses put on the stand were those of two women- the mothers of these two men- queried of whose voice cried for help on the call. The jury and judge that presided needed the wisdom of Solomon for this one. Instead, there was a standoff. Both women say it was their son's voice. This illogical presentment of circumstantial evidence gives us a sense that the trial achieved nothing and should have been thrown out as a mistrial by the judge. Obviously, they weren't both telling the truth.
There is enough real racism in this world without making it up where it does not exist.
-Craig Silverman
     As it stands, Zimmerman cannot be retried in a court of law for the same crime twice. If this is allowed to escalate into another one of those civil cases- which could veer way off course- it may turn a clear case of murder into an issue of racial bias instead. This causes our country to be divided on issues that never seem to be resolved and especially in this case I feel that it is almost irrelevant. Placing this case on the burning hot plate of racial bias will most likely only skew the facts further, I imagine. As far as Zimmerman goes, I do not believe that the word innocent should be applied to someone who has taken another person's life. However anyone wishes to view this man as a person, he is definitely guilty of manslaughter- that is a fact that cannot be interpreted any other way.
Standing up for what I believe is right !
The Castle Lady
A man does not look behind a door unless he has stood there himself. - Henri du Bois

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Immigation and True Reform

     I've read all the commentary before the current Reform Bill was passed and have read quite a bit of the flak published since it was passed. The Washington Post writer, Rubin Navarrette recently wrote a long and comprehensive piece which came the closest to a proper criticism of the outcome concluding that we still need immigration reform ! That should tell you something. Let's back all the way up, however, and examine a few aspects no one even wants to look at anymore because it would mean that everyone failed to come up with an answer.
     The truth is that the original immigration bill worked because people came here not to change our government or seeking asylum but to embrace the country and its constitution, as is. We didn't have amendments then. What we had was a bill of rights and very few taxes. I lived in San Diego long enough to witness runs of illegal aliens across the Tijuana border, under cover of night, being systematically shot at by border patrol on the TV newscast nearly every night. If we only look at our Mexican border issue concerning immigration, however, we are doing a disservice to the people who come here with the express purpose of making the U.S.A. their home. They may not necessarily want to come here because our streets are lined with gold. Perhaps there is something back in the old country they can no longer abide and feel they need a safe haven. If so, they'll fill out the proper paperwork and do all the necessary matriculation to be able to stay here safe and secure. That's the theory, anyway.
     In recent news an Ethiopian immigrant known in Denver as Habteab Berhe Temanu was spotted by a fellow countryman, Kiflu Ketema, who recognized him as a former Red Terror prison guard who, as one of many, tortured and killed dozens of political prisoners throughout the 1970s. He made it to America and has been living here for more than a decade under an assumed name which was done with falsified documents using another man's identification to gain actual citizenship. His real name and background were exposed in Federal Court in Denver recently and after he admitted that his real name was actually Kefelegne-Alemu Worku and that he, in fact, had committed all the atrocities which  Kiflu Ketema had accused him he went on further to say, "I apologize for my errors. I simply wanted to live in America." Judge John Kane has urged him to withdraw an offer to plead guilty and to say he wants to go to trial instead. This judge is being kind to a man who, if he does plead guilty, will have his citizenship revoked and be deported to his country where he has already been tried, in absentia , and sentenced to death. Does this sound like the type of immigration reform that is desirable ? This man is not a legal citizen.
      The United States has gone through a series of immigration reform bills which have never been enforced in the truest sense. We have never spent enough money for the right or best border patrol and apparently no one thinks it's necessary to pledge allegiance to our country in order to be a bonafide citizen, anymore. Necessary paperwork to become a legal citizen is feasible for those who will go through the proper channels in order to do so. It also reduces the chances that felons and criminals from other countries gain access and credibility in our country. Ellis Island was the original station by which each individual coming to the U.S. was checked for disease and papers from the old country if they had them. (WOP originally was tagged to many Italians who came to the U.S. without a passport!)  Observing our official language has been eroded statewide and just by the sheer number of illegal immigrants- 11 million strong at current calculation- we have a language barrier issue that is unprecedented. The current reform bill will be the most difficult reform to enforce ever. What do you think the chances are that it will be enforced properly? Check into U.S. immigration reform history and you'll have the answer.
     In France the official language is so carefully guarded to avoid this problem that every bit of published or printed matter is sent to a control center in Paris for approval before it can be distributed anywhere within France's borders. They are serious about making sure that the official language of Le Francais is protected and enforced. Why is that important ? So that, no matter where you come from in this world, we can ascertain your sincerity of purpose in being here by making sure that you can be understood by everyone regardless of where you came from, your personal situation or state of emergency- if that applies. Official languages are kept for a very good reason and observance shows respect for the wishes of the majority of the people who live in said country. Personally, I won't even travel to an area in which English is secondary without learning the language good enough to be understood by the natives. It is a common old world courtesy and should still be observed in my estimation. It's polite if nothing else.
     Why don't we just go back to the beginning and start all over again? I'm buying my ticket to Ellis Island right now. English should be a cinch.
Bisous émigré !
The Castle Lady

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Snowden- Man Without a Country

     I remember my first English Lit class when I started High School. The story presented in that first day of class was Man Without a Country. None of the students could relate to it because every single student in class had been born in the country of the United States. After that first class I had a healthy respect for the fact that I was born in the 'greatest country in the world'. This was impressed upon me, and I'm sure I can speak for everyone in that class as well, by the fact that the teacher of said class ( his surname was Gulizia- Italian ) pressed the idea strongly into our heads that this could never happen to a United States Citizen unless you became a proven traitor to the country.
    Reading an article the other day comparing Snowden to Daniel Ellsberg made me shake my head. Later on, I did find a rebuttal to that idea and I was glad to see it. There is no comparison. (If you want to read the article just Google The Washington Post and Jonathan Capehart, the journalist that wrote it.) What I want to say here is that Capehart could've gone much further in many aspects. Daniel Ellsberg exposed the government through the Pentagon Papers directly to the government. He didn't hand the bureau he worked for to the man on the street for a nickel. He never left the country because he didn't do anything that would necessitate the need to leave the country. Neither did Snowden- an independent contractor, no less- until the rest of the world found out, after he went on the lam, that the U.S. was spying on everybody. You can thank Snowden for that. It's ironic that he has been cornered in Russia. They don't hate us, they hate him. Big difference.
     Can't you just hear all the South American presidents and dictators all snickering together and saying, "Tell him....hee hee hee...tell him....hee hee hee... we'll take him if he can get someone to provide him with a visa to get here. Haw haw." Instead of turning himself in, after he was basically spurned out of Hong Kong with a slinky, he makes his way toward Russia. I'll bet he thought that he couldn't be touched there. Now that Obama has gotten Mueller safe in his padded cell and sworn in Comey, who hates sneaky surveillance with a passion, I'm sure that they'll let bygones be bygones. Pay no attention to those files charged behind the iron curtain, Eddie !
     I hope this will be a good lesson to all who think they can get away with this type of treason to the United States. He's not a hero, folks. This one is a coward. This is the home of the free and the brave- not the running with a bone for their life.
Just my two cents worth,
The Castle Lady 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why Love is More Important Than Money

Love is the emblem of Eternity:
 it confounds all notion of time,
effaces all memory of a beginning,
all fear of an end.
- Germaine De Stael
     Let's face it, today in the techno modern world everyone believes that their physical needs are the most important aspect of living. It is important to take care of yourself, however, if we only look after ourselves we miss out on a deeper quality of life when we limit that care only to ourselves. We aren't even built that way. Our brains are equipped to handle a much larger load of complex problems to be solved than any animal you can name- no matter how smart you believe Fido or Fifi to be. We're wired to help- not ignore- one another.
     If you think about other people, who are (or aren't) a part of your life and what they mean to you and their contribution to your life then you will come to a better understanding of what I'm trying to convey. Many, you will find, are in your life for more intrinsic reasons than what they specifically do for you. I have counted my manicuring and nail clients as friends in many cases but our relationships were just a little bit better defined than most. I would point out that they started as clients first then we became friends. I'm sure that for most people, clients remain more at a distance while co-workers are the likely candidates for friendship. Remember that a good part of this is dependent on how you specifically develop close relationships. I'm sure everyone is different in this manner.
     Whatever philosophy you have kept or adopted in your life, everyone is aware of the Golden Rule. If you are not, it is simply this: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It's a good credo for people who seem to flounder when it comes to love relationships. I suppose, eventually, friendships you develop in your life which flourish more than others help you come to find and truly know the qualities of love. You won't have to speculate whether those particular relationships are true or not because you'll simply feel it in your heart. 
Needy is better than greedy,
The Castle Lady      

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Daily Baskets

     Rarely, if ever, do I actually write about myself on this (or any other) blog but today will be different. You'll have to forgive me if I seem a little whimsical and funny but seeing all the humorous aspects of my situations has become a habit. Think of it this way- at least I'm not so conceited that I can't laugh at myself. As it is, I can't help it. Laughing out loud at photos of myself, people ask me what I think is wrong with the photo. Usually, if I'm smiling or laughing- it just looks so goofy to me. At any rate, I wanted to write very briefly about my seven year foray into the addition of adding baskets (as in, basketball) everyday along with my daily walk. I've been walking on a daily basis every morning since the summer of 1983 and feel that it has kept me in good shape. Most people mistake me for being twenty years younger than my age so I must be doing something right.
     Back in 2006 someone asked me if I ever played basketball and as a matter of fact I used to try to play basketball with my brother and his friends because we had a mini-basketball court in our backyard and my brother did take the time to show me how to get the ball in the hoop. Well, after getting knocked around quite a bit by boys (most, several years older than myself) I soon gave up. So, seven years ago my mother bought me a basketball for my birthday, at my request. I don't know what she thought of it but she didn't hesitate and it's been my morning routine ever since. One specific thing happened that I didn't realize until I saw a photo of myself. As a matter of fact, it's the photo alongside the header of this blog. My arms suddenly had tone and definition and had slimmed down considerably. This, after I had tried everything I could think of to get the heaviness out of my arms. My workouts had consisted of hand weight lifting involving some exercises I had found in a magazine. Nothing much changed. I added weights to my wrists when I worked out until it felt like my hands were going to fall off. Still nothing. The only thing that worked was baskets and it turns out to be a thousand more times pleasant to do than anything else I'd tried.
     This routine has not been without its trials and tribulations. I've had men come by and insist that they're going to show me how to throw the basketball right. ( While they miss basket after basket, LOL!) Then, there are the kids. They instantly believe that I owe them a chance to try out my ball and generally come close to throwing it in the lake. One old woman's dog tried to gnaw holes in my ball while she laughed at his antics. Needless to say, the dog almost ended up in the lake instead of my ball. I could go on and on but you get the idea. Most people would have given up on doing this with all the adversity encountered. I am so glad I have stuck to my guns and kept bouncing my ball up the street. However, you must connect with the ball. You must become one with the ball. Try using it as a pillow at night.
     Now, I know what you're going to say. Why didn't you make it into the WNBA if you're so good at this- but if you just read the above you'll have to understand that the WNBA didn't exist when I started playing originally and gave up too soon if the truth be spoken. The confidence I have gained from doing this everyday is tremendous. I may look like Phyllis Diller out there for all I know but I feel like Wonder Woman. It's all worth it even if it never puts a dime in my pocket. However, I wouldn't mind getting into some kind of tourney like the one above. Hello ! ! Ka-ching !
     In closing, I highly recommend this for women especially because our upper arms rarely get the kind of exercise that shooting baskets afford. You could try knocking things off of high shelves and trying to catch them but I think that's a whole lot more dangerous and possibly stupid. You might risk looking stupid while you're doing baskets but if you go early no one will know or see and the results will have you not caring how you looked while you were getting there. Grace comes with it eventually, believe me. One day a teen-age boy stopped me and told me it looked like I was dancing from a block away. What do you think of that ?
Two out of three- average,

The Castle Lady 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Playoff Muse

Last Saturday I watched the second game of the NBA Playoffs with the Knicks vs Pacers and was amazed that so many former Nuggets players- including Melo the Man himself - were doing so poorly offensively. That was a shock to me because with these guys, defense was usually the struggle and certainly not offense. In the mean time, the Indiana Pacers were rebounding and making baskets like crazy. The Knicks trailed by at least 11 points through the entire game. I've been reading the stats pretty closely this year and the Pacers record caught my eye. I don't ever remember such a great win record when it comes to the Pacers so you can imagine how surprised I was to see it. Well, for the first time on Saturday I got to see with my own two eyes what is going on with them and it's a fabulous and fantastic reversal to their past decade. Even Hansbrough was showing maniacal defense strategies and I'm wondering what has gotten into all of them !

     As you can see here they repeated the deed on Tuesday again!
I won't say I'm not disappointed that the Nuggets made it to the Playoffs again this year only to be defeated for the championships so early. How could I help but be disappointed? This has been happening year after year no matter who is on that roster and how well they have or haven't been playing during the season. Nor do I think Coach Karl is the problem as the sports journalists love to point out each year. His record is impeccable. It's the players- face it. Do they get Playoff nerves or just clam up when they know what's at stake? Maybe they have fear of success issues. If that's the problem I wish they'd get over it. Maybe they need to go to the Knicks/Pacers Playoffs and start taking notes.
Seeing Birdman a part of the Heat makes it all worth it, though...
Hail King James,
The Castle Lady 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Amendment 64 is a Pot Boiler

     Of all the bills brought forward for the public to vote on, none has been quite so convoluted, precarious and downright nonsensical as Amendment 64. For one, the way it was originally voted in as a help in the form of so-called medical marijuana was obviously a ruse on someone's part. My suspicion is that whoever started this measure in the beginning had an ulterior motive. Sure enough, when the smoke cleared over the issue and the outcome was unanimous in its passing the truth came out that they wanted to be able to smoke it for recreational use as well. No one spoke out against that as reprehensible and so here are our feds trying to figure out what to make of this deal. Money would be my guess. Are you surprised ? I'm not.
     I've been hearing this 'legalize it' malarkey since I was a preteen and apparently the pot-heads finally got their way even though they had to get downright deceptive to do it. Pot-heads are notorious liars. As a matter of fact they'll do anything to justify the fact that the stuff is noxious, brain-dulling and addictive. There- I said it. Addictive. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. Ask any pot-head you know how long they've been smoking and no matter what their age it will be approximately 75% of their life thus far. It also explains why most people my age are dying of heart-related illnesses or unknown illnesses in droves. Personally, I hate the crap. It stinks worse than cigarette smoke and makes you stupid and slow. What kind of medicine would you call that ?
     Here's another thing for you. Most pot smokers don't drink because they believe alcohol will kill you. They are right on one count but they think it's alright to smoke a joint and then get in a car and drive. Let me ask you this: Would you rather your cab driver just had a couple of sips of beer or just finished a joint? Think that one over for awhile. How about the guy that is driving the plane you're about to head out on ? A pilots license isn't going to save you when he stoops to retrieve his butt on the cabin floor and sends the plane nose-diving for earth.
     Eight former DEA leaders have urged Attorney General Eric Holder to file a lawsuit arguing that Colorado and Washington's new marijuana laws are illegal and should be preempted by federal law. Yeah. So our legislators and senators can get back to some infinitely more important issues like the assault weapons ban and federal budget issues let's all agree that we need to repeal it, arrest all these bums and get back to straightening out this country. Anybody with me out there ? 

The Castle Lady    

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Grizzlies vs. Nuggets on the Ides of March

     A lot of people watched this game but I'm sure the following stats are going to stun you if you watched on March 15th. Given that the Nuggets are headed for another round of playoffs for the championship, I'm not sure if this bodes a true shot at winning but I won't be so skeptical to say it doesn't. My question to you would be this: Does history repeat itself? I never was superstitious but coincidences never escape me and I'm not quite sure who said this but it's often true: There are no coincidences. We'll see.
     Anyway, on this particular night, the Nuggets won by a seven point margin and were at their 11th game on a winning streak and broke the Memphis Grizzlies winning streak of 15 games. Doug Moe was in attendance at the Pepsi Center and he was asked for his memories concerning this momentous occasion. He drew a blank but as a matter of fact it was 30 years ago- to the day- ( March 15, 1983) when the Nuggets had won their 11th consecutive game! Additionally, the Nuggets tied the second-longest streak in franchise history on that Friday.
     Ever notice that mid-March always seems to bring some kind of miraculous breakthrough for the Nuggets no matter who's on the team and how they're playing at the time? Perhaps Doug Moe wields some kind of special leprechaun magic that he keeps to himself. I wouldn't be surprised. All I know is that the Nuggets played so hard it has been tagged as the biggest win of a season full of big wins according to the experts. When you get a chance you can check out the following link for some more information about this phenomenon. I hope it gives them more incentive to take these championships by storm and win.... win.... win ! !  
With winning kisses,
The Castle Lady

Friday, April 12, 2013

Yogarate- The New Exercise Regimen

     All kidding aside, I have been practicing this discipline for most of my life now and it's the best stress buster in the world. I am now in better shape than I was in my teens or my twenties and being this flexible helps you keep your bones and muscles healthy for far longer than would be the case especially when genetics are waged against you.

     If you feel that Yoga may not be challenging enough for your already rough and tough routine I can tell you that there are certain forms of Yoga that will help you build even better. The above pose is a modification of the headstand and is much easier on your shoulders and head. I much prefer it and I can do this pose on my papasan.

     On the tree pose above I like to bring the leg all the way across the opposing leg and up to increase the flexibility challenge for the knee. For the upper body I bring the praying position for the hands all the way above my head to challenge my core muscles. This will also challenge your balance in this pose which is crucial in all the standing poses. Don't forget to breathe in regular, long intervals.

With much love and support for your success,

The Castle Lady

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Have You Talked to Your Conscience Lately ?

      Recently, on one of my morning walks the above question just popped into my mind while I was mulling over another grief episode concerning my Mom. It has come to my attention, over these months, that if anyone was truly close to my mother, during her life, it was myself. I can unequivocally state that we were best friends above all else. I could tell her anything and I don't remember ever being chided by her for my thoughts- no matter how far they strayed from being friendly. Only one time did my openness come under the heading of friendly fire and she weathered it with unbelievable grace and blinking. I remember apologizing to her later for being too brutal and she openly forgave me without saying anything recriminating. It occurred to me that I might be wrong about her, after the smoke cleared. It certainly taught me something about my conscience.
     Everything I am about is conscience and seeking to do the right thing in the right way. My conscience is in my blood and this is probably apparent to some people that I associate with and not to people who know very little about me. When I meet people for the first time who don't know anything about me I read them and their thoughts like a book but that comes with a price. They used to say a person is 'wearing their thoughts (or heart ) on their sleeve.'  That's good but it can also be dangerous. Trust is the main issue and it is sorely lacking in 2013. People don't talk like they used to and neighborhoods can be more about keeping one's distance than finding loving brotherhood with your next door neighbor. When people distance themselves from their conscience they have no compass for compassion and empathy with other people. How can you know someone's intentions when you are clueless about your own ?
     If I may go even one step further, you can know yourself very well- inside and out- and still not really understand someone's motivations, heartaches or trials. I remember being personally outraged by people discussing crime cases in the news as if what they were reading had to be the real truth or those who went with the general consensus of guilt adamantly. When I questioned such people I discovered that they hadn't really contemplated their ideas at all and had blindly followed the thoughts of the crowd, repeating almost word for word what had already been said on the news or erroneously reported in the paper. Errors are rife everywhere and on the internet, if you don't mind my saying so.
     It may be said in a flip or serious manner that people no longer have a conscience but I beg to differ. I know everyone has a conscience but I think many people have punched the mute button and simply forgot to turn it back on. If it really bugs you maybe you ought to stop for a minute and really listen to it. You might be surprised at what it is saying to you.
With best wishes for a healthier you,
Happy Easter from
The Castle Lady

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Just One of Those Days...

Big smile.

I keep watching J.R. Smith's big moment from more than a month ago. You know the one from January 3rd...

I'm having one of those- all day I hope. Have a good night !

The Castle Lady

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Separating the Sheep from the Elephants

      I read something recently that made me retract an early aspiration to have a memory like an elephant. With the original saying the connotation was a positive one with the idea that never forgetting something is an asset to living an intelligent and productive life. Just seeing the same animal in a different situation can really open your eyes. The following is an account in a newsletter from my real estate man:
     Backstage at the circus, a visitor noticed the elephants were kept in place by nothing stronger than a thin rope that tied one leg to a stake in the ground. Puzzled, he asked the trainer what prevented these awesome, powerful animals from just snapping the rope.
     The trainer described how the elephants are tied with a strong rope from a young age when they're much smaller and weaker. They get so accustomed to the fact that they can't break free, eventually they stop trying. When they're fully grown, they never attempt to pull themselves free because they have such powerful memories of the strong rope.
     This impressed me so much I read it over several times, then I realized why. People are like this with sin. Most people don't consciously choose to sin- no matter whether of the ten commandments or the more than three hundred other laws which the Torah outlines and addresses as perhaps more subtle but no less destructive rebellions against God. The truth is that when it comes to sin we are first tempted, then perhaps goaded and eventually trapped in sin. In Galatians 5:1 it states: Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
     Jesus read from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue of his home town of Nazareth:
        The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted; To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. ( Luke 2:18 )
     I'm certain that Jesus must have emphasized the words- proclaim liberty to the captives- because being set free from sin is the strongest key we have to living a victorious Christian life and the very Kingdom of Heaven. Being spiritually free is the most exhilarating freedom. Your mind is no longer a doormat for name-calling. All your past sins have been forgiven so you don't want to go back to them or have them in your life. The slate is clean and you can start afresh without any encumbrance of the past and any folly which stopped you before including memories of the past life of sin.
    To close I thought I'd use a poem I found in the magazine Meggido Message which was attributed to anonymous:
Have you become a prisoner of your mind?
Has it built bars of steel, with you behind?
Have anger, fear and worry forged the bars
That keep you from the glory of the stars?
You've bound yourself- old hurts and vain regrets,
Old failures that the stronger man forgets;
Oh, show your strength ! Cast off the ball and chain !

Forget the past! The future lies ahead!
Before you like a dream life's vista spread.
You can be free, it all depends on you !
With thoughts you mold your life, the things you do.
Material circumstances, ill or well,
Are just an outgrowth of the thoughts that dwell
Within your mind. Heal now those ancient scars
And keep before you the glory of the stars! 
The Castle Lady
with bundles of glorious valentine kisses !

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Advice

Gifts are great but they tend to get eaten up, wither away or get put away in a box and forgotten. My best advice is simply this...


Hugs and kisses from
The Castle Lady

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2012- Phew!

     Without writing a long drawn out newsletter of the problems or even my current situation I wanted to tell everyone what the past year has been like and it seems that the old adage may be true after all. It's simply this: a picture is worth a thousand words.

The year started out something like this:

and ended up more like this:

 and I'm still trying to get it all untangled.

The Castle Lady

has plenty of resources ! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Norway- A Year in Retrospect

The United States has had more than its share of gun violence this year. I don't really have the desire to list all of it but I thought it might help get more of this into perspective to take a look on the other side of the world where they are grieving still at the tragedy in Norway. On July 22, 2011 a right-wing extremist picked up an assault weapon and killed no less than 77 people- eight at a Government building by bombing and 69 summer campers on Utoya Island. Most of his victims were mere teenagers. For this heinous, premeditated attack that was clearly a case of political terrorism he received a sentence of only 21 years this past summer after he made sure he was declared sane before he went to trial. Instead of showing any remorse over this act he was allowed to speak at the sentencing. He basically told everyone that his only remorse was that he didn't kill more people and apologized to his 'militant nationalist constituents' for not achieving an even higher death toll.
     This is the true profile of what I call a monster in society. They are not dangerous to themselves- only those who disagree with them or they perceive to be some type of threat. A pretrial assessment that this man is sane, however, is a travesty that becomes a necessity when we realize that there are certain criminals who cannot be rehabilitated with any assurance that they would be safe for society. I cannot even begin to understand how someone becomes this evil and I'm sure that in some ways I don't want to know. We can't afford not to try to understand, however. It has become too prevalent, persistent and rampant.
     I'm not that interested in stopgap procedures for trying to curtail an epidemic that is out of control. Gun laws are in many ways so insufficient that it seems to have no effect. We already have gun laws in the U.S. and yet it didn't stop this from being a record breaking year for all types of gun violence. When I read about the trial this past summer in Norway there was an article on the shoot out in New York City (between a lone gunman and police in which 9 innocent people were shot just by being in the line of fire) right next to it. Obviously, guns do not stand trial- but people do and should for these acts, premeditated or otherwise. Should we take guns out of the hands of the police force? Then what ?
     Perhaps gun laws should be studied a little closer for the actual uses and more control should be exerted on gun makers- particularly those who make assault weapons. Instead of having several factions as separate entities, fighting over civil rights specters, we should have all (gun makers and owners, law enforcement, politicians, law makers and victims of violence) come together to make agreements about how we're going to deal with the fact that too many innocent people are being blown away by guns that were intended for war. This makes more sense than letting only people who feel more secure by owning guns to lead the way with the NRA and other gun rights coalitions. Obviously, gun laws affect all of us so we should all have a voice in what types of laws are dispensed by our government. It's the only right and fair choice for a democracy.
     Remember the 70s adage When guns are outlawed then only outlaws will have guns?  This is not passé. It has become a reality. Let's all vow that in 2013 we're going to turn violence around and start dealing with the people who perpetrate it. It's imperative that we do it now.
Sincerely submitted by
The Castle Lady

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Improving Your Memory

       One of the most common complaints I hear from the people around me is that they have trouble remembering important information such as names, dates and even in the process of doing household concerns from room to room (i.e. I came in here for something but now I can't remember what it was). I occasionally have trouble remembering people's names if I don't purposely use my secret device for memorizing. It's so easy almost no one would think it works. When I first hear a name I repeat it in my mind and try to associate it with someone of a similar or the same name. Then I make up a sentence in my mind using that person's name and if it rhymes, all the better. Then I make sure I repeat the person's name before I leave their presence and it reinforces my being able to repeat it when I need to say it the next time I see them. The reason why it works is because you engage different parts of your brain in the process of engaging your memory resources. You'll find it is not so complex once you try it but consciously making an effort to go through the process of remembering requires practice just like everything else. Some people are referred to as having a lazy mind if they don't utilize these efforts. To me, it's just making memorizing a good habit.
     Last year I came across an article written by Madonna Behen who also has a systematic way of improving memory. Her seven points are good and even seem a little unconventional which may help or hinder you depending on the way in which your brain memorizes data and images. Her technique is the result of interviewing experts on cognition and aging but much of the following has more to do with tapping your brains resources than trying to beat the clock on a so-called aging brain.
     Her first point was basically to paint mental pictures. She interviewed a self-proclaimed world memory champion by the name of Ed Cooke to tackle remembering names. His advice was to make the memorization process as vivid as possible. The examples were the following:
        To remember the name Andrew Bush you can picture a bush with lots of hands in it. To memorize the name Martin Van Buren you could visualize a Martian in a van that's burning !
     Rather flamboyant ways work for some but not for everyone. It may be worth a try for yourself. Get back to me on that !
     Her second point touches on learning large bodies of text that you may need to take tests with or it's crucial to keep the details well in your mind. In this case she says to switch things up which means to convert the reading material into a typeface that you don't necessarily use much or even like. The reasoning behind this tactic is that by being a little more difficult or challenging to read it will make you focus better on the actual material. Apparently a study done by psychologists at Princeton and Indiana University did various studies with adult groups divided into two. One group read in a popular typeface and the others in fonts that were unfamiliar to them. The latter mentioned group did significantly better on tests of the material than the first group.
     This may not work at all for people with dyslexia. Apparently, it's enough of a challenge reading plain, ordinary text because of their visual to brain disorder so the preference for plain writing may be crucial to understanding at all. If you have any reason to suspect that this is a problem you may want to be tested for dyslexia.   
     Thirdly, verbalizing data such as names can also be extremely helpful- as I mentioned in my own technique- because it aids in strengthening the neural connections in our brains. She quoted a Pomona College psychologist by the name of Deborah Burke:
     "The reason names are so problematic is that there's no way around it, while with other words you can usually substitute something else."  She cited rehearsing the persons name and speaking it out loud as a way of reinforcing memory.
     On the fourth point she used an old adage of use it or lose it. Exercising the brain in other ways than the norm and making it a challenge can help immeasurably. One way to do so is by taking up learning new languages- not just one other. If you are bilingual, adding another language is optimal and increases your overall use of language in the same way playing a game of scrabble can increase your use of one. This also helps strengthen connections in our brain.
     Her fifth point chocks up a notch for social media especially if it involves one-on-one communication. Book clubs are extremely beneficial but she also mentioned online communication, which obviously involves texting rather than oral communication, such as Twitter and Facebook. I have amazed myself a couple of times IM'ing to people in quite a few different languages. Even though I am not verbally fluent in Portuguese I have had no trouble with online chatting with my friends in South America. It's clear that there's something to this which no one has made obvious. Apparently, though, written communication, according to Madonna, increases language production.
     The sixth way is something no one would even guess. It's simple. Go for a walk. Backed by Gary Kennedy of Montefiore Medical Center in New York, Madonna wrote that exercise helps the brain sprout new connections between neurons, simply put. It is especially true in the part of the brain called the hippocampus which controls the working memory and it is the part that is most susceptible to problems from aging. Studies have suggested that regular exercise might slow or prevent memory deterioration. The University of Pittsburgh study for adults in their 60s basically took brisk, 40-minute walks three times a week and scored better on memory tests than the same age group who were sedentary. 
     Lastly, the best deal was getting a good night's sleep. If you do such things as cram for tests you may be doing more harm than good for your education. The backfire to this sort of stopgap scholarship is that it can leave you fuzzy minded and unclear in your thinking. The other problem is that interrupted sleep can also impair your abilities and cause other problems physically. Getting a full eight to ten hours of sleep was not nearly as effective as less sleep time without interruption.
     In a sidebar to Madonna's article there was a special comparison list to determine if you or someone you love may be experiencing the beginnings of Alzheimer's disease. On a split between true signs of the disease and normal age-related changes it lists Alzheimer's characteristics as:
        Poor judgment and decision making, consistently.
        Inability to manage a simple budget.
        Losing track of the date or the season constantly.
        Difficulty having  or following a conversation.
        Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
     Typical age-related changes would involve occasionally making a bad decision, missing a monthly payment but rarely, forgetting which day it is and remembering it later. It is also normal for those approaching advanced age to forget words or which word to use, specifically and losing or leaving personal effects behind occasionally. My own criteria involves seeing anything unusual in the behavior that would indicate a drastic change. My mother used to call her own children by each others names sometimes crossing into the other genders! She might call me by my sister's name but my brother could also be called by her name as well and she was a young woman at the time. She was the typical absent-minded, artistic genius. She never did cross over into Alzheimer's but many of the things she did and encountered in her life would have indicated that she had early Alzheimer's. At any rate, getting lost just walking around the block should make bells go off.
     I hope this was helpful and if you have any other suggestions or ideas feel free to put them in the comments.
The Castle Lady
with the latest advice !