Living in the Moment: Frida Kahlo and Life #MondayBlogs #FridaKahlo

Some time ago my husband and I went south to visit my 93-year-old mother who is spending the winter with my 72-year-old sister. I note their ages because in their presence I often feel like a 12-year-old, not the 59-year-old I really am. Believe me, the 59-year-old struggles to be free! To be honest, we had a very nice visit. Every time I see my mom, I marvel at well she is, both physically and mentally. My sister is well, too, but she supports Trump (enthusiastically) so enough said about that.

One of the high points of our visit was a trip to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Dali Museum. Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists. The exhibit was nicely organized with photos interspersed with paintings, drawings, and interpretative signs. An image of Frida and Diego Rivera was projected on one wall, making them larger than life, which, in fact, they were. A loop of documentary clips played in one corner of the three-room exhibit.

First, the photos:

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Some of you may know that Frida suffered much physical pain and disabilities in her life. She contracted polio when she was a little girl, which left her right leg shorter and thinner than the left. Then, when she was only 18, she was in a bus accident and suffered near fatal injuries: broken pelvis, ribs, legs, and collarbone, to name a few. Although she “recovered,” she experienced pain and declining health for the rest of her short life.




She had originally planned for a career in medicine. The bus accident changed all that, and though the accident left her with a world of pain, she left us with a world of wonder, color, and expression.

Some of the paintings in this slideshow are not for the faint of heart. Frida painted what she felt, what she lived.

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I hope you have enjoyed this visit to the Dali Museum and the Frida Kahlo exhibit.

On a more personal note, I am experiencing some “life events” right now. I know my blogging has been spotty and I am more and more AWOL as these events suck up my time and energy. All is well, at least on my home front, but I’m just … busy-busy-busy. Know that I will do my best to catch up with you all and that, at a minimum, I think of you all often.

Ciao, amigos y amigas!


Country Roads #MondayBlogs #gladtobehome

Ah, yes, I’m back, dear Reader.  Back to my home, my blog, my blogging friends who were (and are) never far from my mind, my furry four-legged friends who I don’t think really missed us as much as they missed getting more than two meals a day.  Then again, they might have missed our laps since our temperatures are a bit cooler these days.  This picture isn’t very good, taken with my camera in poor light:  Junior, our feisty, “I just wanna be outdoors all day”, male cat sacked out on my legs once the temperatures dipped toward the 60s.  Yes, dear Reader.  Our southern cats cannot abide the cold.


Junior crashed out on my legs.

We had a lovely trip overall.  Aside from a bit of rain at the beginning, we had clear, sunny days for driving up to north NY, to visit my family.  We gave ourselves plenty of time to drive so we had some flexibility with our itinerary, allowing us to make a detour to Gettysburg, PA, and to switch hotels at nearly the last minute when one day we realized we could drive further than originally intended.

I learned how to swim with whales, except these were land whales, or you might call them semi-trucks.  On interstate 81 there often were more trucks than cars.  Many times we found ourselves between two trucks with one truck cruising along side us on the two-lane road.  It was … interesting.

We had only one rainy day in New York, but we were visiting relatives so that was fine.  We spent time with my mother, who will be 92 this month, her remaining siblings, my sister and her husband, and two-thirds of their brood.

I met up with an old high school friend, someone I hadn’t seen or talked to in almost 40 years.  It was to be a quick visit but, four hours later, we still had plenty we wanted to say and learn about each other.  It was hard to say good-bye.

And much of the trip was filled with eye candy.  Autumn is my most favorite season, but often when we’ve gone home, it’s been in summer or late fall, after the colors have started to fade.  Our timing this time was perfect.  It wasn’t riotous reds and oranges all the way, but that was part of the fun.  We got to see some of the transition.  Each day we drove off from my sister’s house, another tree was starting to turn.

Believe it or not, I took very few pictures.  I was too busy enjoying the sights and often too busy driving anyway.  My husband, however, took this “movie” of our drive away from Saratoga Springs where we had just spent the afternoon.  Unfortunately, the movie is rather pixelated since it was taken with his iPad.  But you get the idea of what we saw.

And, finally, a song that always makes me think of where I grew up …

Top Ten Things Not to do When Taking Family Photos

Are you the family photographer? The one who is always asked to take pictures during a family reunion or wedding or holiday dinner? If you are, then read on for tips on what not to do while taking family photos. If you are not, then read on anyway for all the reasons why you should be glad you are not the family photographer. Enjoy, courtesy of John Howell.

Fiction Favorites

This list was inspired by looking at a number of photos that have been posted on-line recently.

a camera

Top Ten Things Not to Do When Taking Family Photos

10 If you are taking family photos, do not forget the background. If you do, at best you might have a stray person in the shot. At worst, you may have the perfect family park photo with a lovely backdrop of the trash receptacle.

9 If you are taking family photos, do not ignore what each person has in their hand. If you do, at best you’ll take photos which catch a bunch of red Solos. At worse, you may get a fine shot of everyone with red Solos as well as Uncle Jeff and his smoked turkey leg.

8 If you are taking family photos, do not let anyone pose without a shirt. If you do, at best you have to hope…

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Short short story: Sunday Dinner

This short short story was originally published on The Community Storyboard in May 2013.  With some minor revisions, I’m reprinting it here. 

Sunday Dinner

The child’s cry pierced my ears, and I thanked God again that I was too blind to see her tear-soaked red face.  Every Sunday they put me through this.  As an old woman, a matriarch, I’m supposed to be grateful.  And I cope well enough with the cacophony of patent leather shoes and Buster Browns tripping across my wood floors.  I cope with the sting and stench of my son-in-law’s cigar smoke, fighting for attention with the sour aroma of sauerkraut and kielbasa, my shoulders  constantly pressed and rubbed as if I needed a reminder that it’s another Sunday dinner with all my children and their children. (more…)

Why I Hate Facebook, But Love My Facebook Page

A couple of months ago, I created a Facebook Page.  You can find it here or click Like on the widget in the right-hand column (gotcha!).  Initially, I was hesitant to start a Facebook Page because I have strong but mixed feelings about Facebook in general.  I managed to avoid Facebook until a few years ago when I discovered that one of my nieces had started posting all her children’s pictures there.  I opened an account immediately.  Seeing pictures of adorable baby boys as they grow up was a huge incentive.  At that time, Facebook was fairly easy to navigate; that was before it started to emulate Twitter.

Over the years since then, I’ve accrued a fair number of “friends.”  A large majority of my friends are actually family (I have a lot of cousins).  The rest are former classmates, coworkers, former coworkers, and a few are friends.  Now, making these distinctions, especially between friends and coworkers, is not to suggest that I don’t consider my coworkers or former coworkers to be friends; many of them are.  In fact, I actually like everyone I’m “friends” with on Facebook; in many cases, I love them.  What makes my personal Facebook account awkward for me is the degree (or lack thereof) to which I can be fully myself.  The thing is:  my Facebook friends represent a vast spectrum of likes and dislikes, political and otherwise.  I don’t hide the fact that I am a “bleeding heart liberal.” (In reality, I’m more moderate, but compared to some people, yup, I’m a bleeding heart.)  Yet, I still feel uneasy when I express my political views, when I express myself.  I don’t separate the political from my personal life.  I don’t because I live the political everyday.  I have a government job so I know first-hand how political winds will affect whether or not I can accomplish my agency’s mission.    I’ve been a social worker, counseling victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, so I know first-hand how legislation can help or hinder a victim’s recovery.  I’ve taught college-level courses in composition and social work, so I know first-hand how university politics can ultimately shortchange a student’s education by not teaching him writing or critical thinking skills.  So, for me, politics is personal.

But I know that my views are not shared by every one of my Facebook friends, so I censor myself, at least I try.  I’m sure there are some friends/family members/coworkers who would like me to try harder.  And there are some friends whose views I totally disagree with.  I don’t ask them to censor themselves; instead, I simply hide their posts.  The downside of that is I then miss the occasional good news, latest baby picture, etc., unless I go directly to their Facebook page, which is not something I always remember to do.  There have been many times when I thought about just deleting my account altogether.  If any one of my Facebook friends really want to stay in touch with me, they have my email address or they can call my mom and get my phone number.  I’ve lived at the same street address for almost 22 years.  I’m not hard to find.

But those pictures of the little ones get me every time.  I have five grandnephews and one grandniece.  They live in different states so to see them grow up, I need to keep my Facebook account.

But I still think of closing my account and here’s another reason why.  Now that I have a Facebook Page, I feel lonelier than ever on my personal account.  My birthday last week came and went with only one person from my personal account wishing me a happy birthday and that was done through a direct message, not on my Timeline.  Yet, I blogged about my birthday and when the post showed up on my Facebook Page, it went “viral.” According to Facebook, it got the most Likes and was viewed by more people than anything I’ve written to date.  Now, I usually don’t broadcast my birthday.  I tend to keep it under the radar, but this year was special to me and I wanted to celebrate.  That so many in my blogging community celebrated with me was a wonderful experience.  That there wasn’t a peep on my personal Facebook account brought me up short.  [Caveat:  three friends from my personal account did Like my blog post on my Facebook Page and left messages.]

The difference is that on my Facebook Page, I am a writer and everyone I Like through that page is a writer.  That’s my focus.  On this blog and through my Facebook Page and Twitter account, I stay pretty focused on writing.  I have nothing to censor and I can be totally myself.  It’s ironic to me that, through my blog, I feel more myself than through any other media.  And I don’t feel lonely.   Yet, I do, at times, on my personal Facebook account.

There’s been many discussions about loneliness and Facebook, studies done, reports published (like this one from the Atlantic Monthly).  My husband cites these studies as one reason why he doesn’t and will never have a Facebook account.  Being a shy, sensitive introvert, I do become easily paranoid (“Nobody likes me!,” “I’m persona non grata and I don’t know why!”).  Thus, I have to remind myself that this problem with Facebook is of my own making.  I should know better than to think that “silence” on my personal account indicates anything.  The dark side of social media is that your expectations get raised beyond reasonable levels.  Before Facebook, I was tickled by every birthday card I got, and I didn’t think about the ones I didn’t get.  A bit more effort goes into selecting and sending a card whereas with Facebook all you have to do is point and click.  And so we (at least I) have a tendency to expect more from people now then I did pre-Facebook days.  And that’s simply not a fair expectation.

I started off this post thinking I had every reason to feel unhappy with my personal Facebook account.  But now I realize it was my own unreasonable expectations that have caused my unhappiness.  I’ll keep that personal account because it’s a great way to see the kids in my family grow, see my mom with her great-grandchildren, occasionally exchange political views with like-minded comrades, and keep track of my wealth of family and friends.   My Facebook Page is for the writer that I am now and the author that I hope to be.

Caring for Your Writer – 10 Easy Steps for Friends & Family

Too good to let this slip by. Copy the link and make sure your friends and family read this 😉

Word Savant

Congratulations!  You are now the proud owner of a writer!  Your writer will perform amazing tricks for you, such as spending hours and hours by themselves working on something that they may never finish. Or, accumulating a small collection of editors who thank them for their work but it’s just not right for this publication.

You may be wondering how to feed and care for this moody and reclusive creature, who is “writing a novel” but won’t tell you what it’s about.  Writers need specialized care, so here are 10 easy Do’s and Don’ts to take care of this special breed.

  1. Do give them a minimum of 1 hour of writing time per day.  For many writers it may be more, but this is the minimum for a writer to stay healthy.  Also do not make your writer feel guilty about this.  It is really hard for them…

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Can Facebook please all its users all the time?

I’m starting to think that it’s not Sunday unless the New York Times has an article on Facebook.  This week’s story gives a pretty balanced view of the latest controversies with the young whipper-snapper, the absolute latest being Facebook’s lovely (not!) new layout.

But, first, what’s great about Facebook?  Well, the opportunity to rebuild families, as in the case of Karen Haber, whose relatives were torn apart by the Holocaust; and the chance for someone like a schoolteacher in Denmark to friend his prime minister and then get the guy to come and speak to his class of special-needs kids.

What’s not so great?  The fact that too many users still don’t adjust their privacy settings, leaving their profiles (and virtual underwear) out there for anyone and everyone to view.  What’s wrong with that?  Read the story about the guy who got fired for what he wrote in a status update or the kid who got nailed by his dad for underaged drinking.  (After reading this article, I immediately checked my settings to make sure they were still at “Only Friends.”)

People have to take responsibility for their own reckless behavior on the internet, but a poor vision (in this case, by Facebook itself) just exacerbates the willfulness of some to bare all, even the most mundane: “Chris Cox, 26, Facebook’s director of products and a confidant of Mr. Zuckerberg, envisions users announcing where they are going to lunch as they leave their computers so friends can see the updates and join them.”  I don’t know about you, but most of my Facebook friends would not be able to join me at lunch even if they wanted to because they live in other states!

Sigh.  I would be very sad to see Facebook become a glorified text-messaging system or just another Twitter.  Right now, it’s so much more for me:  I stay in touch with friends and family who are scattered across the US; I can follow my favorite writers as a fan; my blog is seamlessly updated to my profile so friends who wouldn’t otherwise visit my blog, can still read my stuff; and I can follow other blogs.  All in one application.  I just hope that Mr. Zuckerberg doesn’t lose sight of the real utility of Facebook.

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