Friday, December 29, 2017

Don't Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle!

     What a year 2017 has been ! Mine has been up and down like a yo-yo but with victories being prevalent I’ve decided that this is life for now, not forever. If getting those victories means I have to deal with different problems for awhile then everything is working out for the better. Momentum might just get me a homer. Well, it’s easier to go with that rather than focus on bad stuff which will eventually just work itself out, anyway. My mother’s influence was always positive and she very seldom became unhinged over anything. Positive thinking and living is the better way. Also, Mom always said, “Whatever everyone else does- you do the right thing, anyway.”
     My greatest victory this year was defeating debt that looked impossible to surmount through 2015 and 2016. That is a big sigh of relief you just heard in the background. My rule of thumb has been never to get into more debt than you can pay off on any given month. It may sound strange to some but building credit is just as important as clearing the deck of finances. Having a good credit rating is akin to having those lines of credit with the bank. Those are good to have but generally a bit low especially for the needs of an average homeowner today. If you wanted to start a business, would you be able to finance it with the type of credit that is available to you?
     I have had clients tell me they have filed bankruptcies with a gleam in their eyes like they got away with something. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Just wait until they desperately need a loan or have to do something drastic like mortgage their house because of an emergency! The perceived risk factor by the potential creditor may put you into such a high interest rate that it could put you in the red for the rest of your life. And that’s if you get such a break because bankruptcies are usually anathema to creditors. Any credit counselor will tell you that because it’s true.
     There is no worse feeling than knowing that you worked as hard as you could only to find that because you made bad financial decisions there is no way out of a rut. I can certainly testify to that because I have spent most of my life literally working on clients hand and foot! The only creditor who will esteem your hard work is yourself- i.e. do you give yourself credit? - and maybe a friend or two. So your financial decisions are crucial to your life and livelihood in the long term. You may win the PCH sweepstakes but if you make financial decisions based on those suppositions you could really get yourself in a bind. You may as well gamble with loaded dice in Vegas!
      Being realistic, prioritizing the needs from the wants and plain old budgeting will back up your hard-earned cash. Being thrifty, couponing and going for the discounts on your i-phone also help but if you put too much or too little on your credit card you’re missing out on the best way to get control of your finances in a very real way. Only multimillionaires and billionaires can spend money like there’s no tomorrow. All those making $12,000 or less per year better learn their math and how to budget especially if you’ve started to spend money in an adult fashion. Your future financial status depends on it.

The Castle Lady

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Olaf's Frozen Adventure

Like everyone else that is a romantic I thoroughly enjoyed the first Frozen movie when it came out along with the wildly popular songs and even the merchandising of it- well, most of it anyway. I’ve never been one to go so far as to buy huge amounts of promotional products even if I really like a movie, group or T.V. sitcom, etc. Maybe it’s because the licensing companies always over-do it and everyone gets burnt out on anything that gets pitched to that degree and manner. Two weeks ago, while watching this new T.V. version, I suddenly realized I had my Olaf pajama pants on and my Frozen box of tissues beside me and was pasting Frozen stickers on a few of the Christmas cards I was addressing and started to laugh a little to myself. When the commercials came on I consulted my Frozen 2017 calendar while packaging patterns for Elsa’s and Anna’s outfits to send to my long-time friend in Russia- my Russian pen-pal, if you will.

I suddenly realized I’d overbought, perhaps, without even trying. These were items I had to buy anyway and it just seemed to me that it would be nice if they depicted my favorite characters from the movie. The Olaf pants are the warmest I’ve ever worn and we’ve been getting below 20 degree weather since the day before Christmas in Denver. Okay! The patterns were quite deliberate and so were the Frozen stickers but you have to remember that I’ve never carried on this way so you’ll have to cut me some slack if I have perhaps gone overboard.

     Let’s face it, Frozen Disney characters may be the most irresistible that they’ve ever created. Walt would definitely approve because he was a proven romantic. If you haven’t seen Olaf’s Frozen Adventure you missed out on something really special on T.V. that happens very rarely these days. The premiere of a Disney movie on T.V. rather than in the movie theaters first! I’d be willing to bet that Frozen may be the most watched since The Wonderful World of Disney first aired more than 50 years ago. Now there’s a program they need to bring back!

     At any rate, if they show it again before we go into the new year (they’ve shown it twice before Christmas!), please watch it with your kids or any you can pull off the street and get them to sit still long enough to watch it all the way through. This may be the best Disney has ever offered on T.V. and this particular Frozen installment was very heart-warming and just plain fun. The humor works for both children and adults and contains a great message for both, too. 

Recommended by...
The Castle Lady

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

It’s Just Another NBA Christmas !

I love the back-to-back games they have every year now on a regular T.V. network. This is the third year in a row now. It gives fans a chance to see what the potential championship runners for the year are up to and what’s what concerning the roulette wheel of trades and free agent changes. Kevin Durant’s move last year to the Golden State Warriors took everyone by surprise including myself but I’ve been aware of his talent as a player for quite some time. He’s actually a peer with LeBron but has chosen the humble road for quite some time. My how things can suddenly change! Humbleness cannot be faked, in my estimation, so my thoughts are that Durant needed a little more recognition and respect. Good for him. It doesn’t make him any less a hero but it makes him quite human- as we all are- and I nod my head in agreement. No one has ever earned MVP quite as much as he did last year and under the current circumstances I think he should receive the award again. Of course, that would be a contingent on whether the GSW make their way to the championships again. Judging from the last five games I think they can do it.

Stephen Curry has been curiously over-absent from quite a few games now and the camera spotted him in the audience about midway through Monday’s game (and very near the end) on ABC looking quite peaceful, happy and idle. Hmmm. As usual, all the Warriors were in their best form and won the game against their fiercest rivals, the Cavaliers. To be honest, when I watch these particular matches I’m torn because I like as many players on the Cavaliers team as GSW. There were a handful of rookies on both teams so it was particularly crucial to watch.

  Something I haven’t understood at all is the reaction that Kevin Durant is getting in his old hometown- OKC. What’s up with all the sass from former fans last year? It appears to me that Russell Westbrook is carrying a grudge but he should be quite happy with his line-up these days and they did win over the Houston Rockets by a five-point lead. When I saw that Carmelo Anthony had joined up with the Thunder earlier this season I went into shock because I know how much he persevered to join up with the Knicks years ago after being with our own Denver Nuggets for so many years. Conversation about him never stopped while he played for Denver but he also caught some flack by Nuggets fans when he signed on the dotted line for the Knicks. While watching that game on Christmas Day I noticed that his average shooting had gone down more than ten points since his Denver days. That made me sad because he was the holder of the highest shooting average in the NBA while he played here.

     Overall I liked most of what I watched and am looking forward to this season’s wrap up. I’ve learned to just enjoy the games because I truly don’t have favorites but I do appreciate a good, difficult basketball game full of three pointers, pass-arounds, ally oops and jump shots but very little dribbling. It’s too long of a road to Little Dribbling and wastes too much gas. Speaking of gas- whatever happened to Birdman? Oh, I almost forgot. thumbs up to Draymond Green for his sly-fast 3-pointer from downtown in the beginning of the last quarter on Christmas! 😜  

Monday, November 13, 2017

I Don't Like Friday the 13ths

     It wasn’t always this way. As a matter of fact, most of my life I have had the audacity to enjoy almost all Friday the 13ths with exceptionally good luck, prosperity and grand enlightenment. When I look back I recall seeing many a raised eyebrow and/or funny looks from people when I told them so. I’ve never been a superstitious person (and probably never will be) so I would regale people with my experiences with more relish than was appropriate but I like to be different- because I always seemed to be, anyway- and disappointing superstitions give me a grand buzz. Who-hooo! Another one knocked down like a stacked domino!
Why have I changed my tune? Well, my experiences have taken a turn for worse. My eldest brother died on Friday 13th back in 2006 and the whole family misses him because he was one of our outstanding members. Everyone liked him on a very basic level and he was our go-to person any time we had a problem that needed either more smarts or willingness to tackle an issue or work that seemed impossible or particularly difficult. He was also the most fun to hang out with or be around. Pat was generous sometimes to a fault and when someone is like that you come to depend on it, eventually. He was well-loved by so many people, very much like my mother.

     The most recent disappointment with this calendar pariah was November 13, 2015. Doesn’t ring a bell? That was the day that five separate explosions and a massive shooting ambush at Bataclan Arena took place in Paris. For all those who have never visited Paris I can only say that the horrific attacks couldn’t have been perpetrated on more unlikely victims than the people and normally lucky visitors of Paris. A parallel equivalent would be the school bully telling a brother that he’s going to rape and kill his beautiful five-year-old sister. Devastating. 

     There was no warning, however. In addition, the nearly synchronized attacks, perpetrated by only seven actual assailants were carried off in the coldest and most calculating manner I can recall among the myriad of attacks which have occurred before or since- both internationally and in our own country. The attacks in Paris made my blood run cold but not with fear. Details only make it more insidious but even if it looks as if the terrorists are winning I can tell you that in truth they are not. I hope we are all preparing ourselves for these possibilities and many people will be ready if it should continue the way it has for far too long.
     Peace cannot tolerate such cataclysms for long. I place all my faith in a God who is bigger than everything we experience as humans, material or immaterial. He will move, when He has allowed as much time as possible for us to wake up and face His sovereignty, omnipotence and most of all His omnipresence. He will move and will not wait even a split second to intervene when the enemy rushes in for what he believes to be victory but will be his final defeat. Remember, it’s always darkest just before dawn.

The Castle Lady

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Fall Leaves...

Fall, leaves, fall
by Emily Bronte

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

Lengthen night and shorten day;

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow

Blossom where the rose should grow;

I shall sing when night’s decay

Ushers in a drearier day.

Love it!

The Castle Lady 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Yesterday was National Food Day...

     I made spaghetti last night and it made me think of this particular strip. Mind you, I tend to be a neatnik so I always manage to keep things pretty clean and I never slurp up a whole pile of spaghetti no matter how hungry I am. I always use my fork to wrap the spaghetti around and make a good mouthful of each bite. I also can't have spaghetti without Italian sausage. It doesn't seem right without it. So I have it going on when it comes to proper eating of this classic dish.
     To be honest, it's cleaning up after that is the real rigamarole. It's crazy what it takes to make a simple dish. I end up cleaning just about every pan, colander, frying pan etc. I own! Not only that but I promise you that if you do spaghetti dinners right you will be cleaning your kitchen for days if you're conscientious like me about getting everything clean. I don't have to wonder why I have never made a habit of eating a lot of spaghetti meals. As much as I love them I have to have my energy up to get to that! 
     I have to say this also: It's always worth it, anyway! Umumum um!

Just ask Addie!

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Is Summer Over ?

Not to worry. We have an interesting seasonal possibility in Denver called Indian summer which often comes when we most seem to need it. Indian Summers were more prevalent during my young years in this city but they seem to be making a comeback, especially this year. If you’re from back east or a part of the eastern states of the Union you may be wondering just what an Indian summer might be and it is simply this: A period of mild, warm hazy weather following the first frosts of late autumn, especially on the North American continent. At least, that’s the first definition according to Webster’s New Universal.
Denver has very early Indian summers and they can be quite pleasant in all honesty. Our summer evenings, as a rule, do not remain hot even if we hit high 90 to 100 degree weather but Indian summer evenings are quite cool and make air conditioners irrelevant through September and October. We never know how long they might last but sometimes clear up to Thanksgiving or even Christmas. No kidding. I think it’s because we have an arid climate, as a rule. Whatever we get you can bet it will be crisp. This entire year has been arid and I counted our snowfalls on one hand for 2017. I’m sure it would’ve affected the grapes if I hadn’t watered them quite a bit. Interestingly, I’m harvesting them now and after the fact of critters like raccoons, squirrels and various neighborhood filchers who leave messes behind.
I was still able to make 2 quarts of juice off of what they left me. Nice.
     At any rate, I can’t think of a better time to make the most of an Indian summer and just bask in it until I see it really is finally over. We’re so lucky to have the weather we have in Colorado and so I’m going to make the most of these so-called

…The Castle Lady

Friday, October 06, 2017

Smile though your heart is breaking...

Today is World Smile Day so if you're feeling a little blue or it's been difficult all day just remember that everyday should be World Smile Day. My grandmother used to say,"Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone." There's a lot of wisdom in that and it happens to be true. So let's use that as a springboard to put a little more happiness in our lives.

Also, remember that it has been said that it relaxes your face to smile even if it doesn't feel like it at first and it's been scientifically proven that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. Sounds like it's a good idea to smile. Try it tomorrow. Why not ?

Monday, September 04, 2017

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Beavis and Butthead rise again...

I don’t know how many of you remember MTV’s first animated show Beavis and Butthead but I’m willing to bet you’ve seen enough of it to realize that their mentality covers quite a span of several generations of ignorant American teens on the loose and wreaking havoc in unbelievable ways. Now, mind you, this type of silly adolescent behavior is not new and has been going on even before the 1950s but besides proliferating, exponentially (in many ways I won’t go into quite as yet) I have not seen the like so much as what we might see on America’s Funniest Home Videos or South Park- just this year. An imitator of the so-called ground-breaking Beavis and Butthead, South Park came after the Dumb Duo and was rather sophisticated by comparison!  

     Am I surprised that grown young adults are pulling the same antics, such as what Roman Atwood puts up on You Tube? This one gets paid for every 1,000 views of all these dangerous shenanigans he video records- mostly from his car- and is becoming rich for staying stupid. Yes, this deplorable state of the world’s sense of adulthood is making out big for getting hurt, pulling mean and evil pranks and then sitting back and laughing at it all as though it’s a positive and good act. Lunacy.

     This year I have seen more real-life copy cats on roadways, bike paths, steep stone staircases, etc. with anything from skateboards, makeshift go-carts, handsprings or just about anything that may not move. I wonder why safety and using your brain effectively has lost its appeal for normal human existence? Some of what I’ve seen involves adults my own age! As far back as High School I have wondered to myself if certain individuals I knew (or was only casually acquainted with- wink!) would ever make it past twenty years of age- for any number of reasons. I myself tested the boundaries of the laws, natural laws and supernatural laws but all that was pretty much over by the time I was fifteen and was an owner and driver of my own car.

     I know why this nonsense continues and no one seems to want to put an end to it. We’ve been laughing at all of it. Nothing eggs on a prankster more than wallowing in the nonsense and laughing. It’s time to sober up and stop laughing at people getting hurt, accidentally or purposefully hurting themselves. Reality doesn’t bite but a barbed-wire fence does! Stop giggling at people destroying things and other people. What is the humor in that, I ask?

     Tracing this back to the origins of this lunacy, I remember going to see the first Gremlins movie. If you haven’t seen it, check it out on Netflix or wherever you might get 80s classics. The film was pitched at kids but adults were telling me to go see it. As I watched these somewhat cute and cuddly beings begin to turn into evil killers and children laughing at all the mayhem they perpetrated I knew that I had hit a fork in the road with humanity. I remember telling every female client of mine not to take their kids or grandkids to this movie unless they were willing to set them aside afterward and tell them that it was reprehensible behavior and not a bit funny. Maybe only half of them took me seriously but I have noticed that people in my own age group are into some wacky type of tawdry culture. Laughing at idiotically dangerous acts and being the instigator of them is a brand new type of izzat which wouldn’t make a lick of sense to our parents or even someone much younger. Personally, I wish they’d all grow a brain and stop the nonsense. This world is violent enough without that garbage and these people are definitely old enough to know better. The best thing I could say is, “Grow up!” I have now said enough.

The Castle Lady

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