Hillary: Play that Woman Card!

Donald Trump did Hillary Clinton a favor yesterday when he accused the former Secretary of State, NY Senator, First Lady, Yale Law School graduate, Wellesley College graduate, and perpetual campaigner for children worldwide as playing the “woman card.

Her response, “If fighting for women’s healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the ‘woman card,’ then deal me in,– apparently one of the most popular quotes of the campaign to date, only serves to strengthen the differences between her and Trump.

I just finished listening to Hillary Clinton’s memoir Hard Choices, 515otzAA0oL._AC_US160_her book about her time as Secretary of State. I had previously listened to her first memoir, Living History,41zWbcsr8ML._AC_US160_ about her childhood, college, law school, and years as a First Lady. Having these lengthy books on tape made my drives (more often to Connecticut these days to my parents) go quickly and much more stimulating.

She faced the “woman issue” early on. Whether it her hairstyles or her pants suits, she was held to a higher standard than any man in the roles she held.

I also bought the books too, thinking I’d read them when not in the car. Though I didn’t—I’ve become too engrossed in switching between Ron Chernow’s Hamilton41G1MFH04PL._AC_US160_ and Stephen King’s 11/22/63, 51gir4MU+2L._AC_US160_I liked having the books to check on things I may have missed while driving and also to look at the photographs.

Keep playing this woman card, Hillary. There’s no one more qualified to be President of the United States.



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Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!I-Pledge-Allegiance-Poster-(4426)

The first official Earth Day was celebrated 46 years ago, in 1970. I remember we took a family camping trip to Massachusetts and attended an exposition of all sorts of inventions designed to save the planet, including geodesic domes created by Buckminster Fuller.

Back then, we drove with leaded gas, didn’t recycle and I’m sure did many more things harmful to earth. Science and habits have contributed greatly to our understanding of need to preserve our resources to continue life as we know it here on Earth.

When I first started teaching in the late 1980’s at what was then Project Link,  an alternative junior high school in Newark, NJ, the day began with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, and then the Pledge to the Earth:

I pledge allegiance to the Earth and all its sacred parts,
Its water, land and living things and all its human hearts
I pledge allegiance to all life and promise I shall care
To love and cherish all its gifts with people everywhere

 When I returned to this school last fall (and stayed only three months), I asked if students still recited this pledge. For whatever reason, it had been dropped many years ago. I’m saddened that this part of the school was lost, though students participate in community clean-up efforts and other outside endeavors. I liked the daily reminder that we’re the planet’s stewards and it’s up to us to stop pollution, climate change, and other destructive behaviors.

Today coincides with the first night of Passover, an apt pairing as each celebrate rebirth and new life.

It’s also my niece Ruby’s birthday. I remember when she was born and now she’s a wonderful young woman of 22. What a lovely gift to the earth!13012749_10207858081883197_1030092526868547423_n13010733_10207858093923498_2837635624799555206_n

I took a quick ride (21 miles) through the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and stopped to watch the swans. Every time I ride through here, I’m grateful to the forefathers and foremothers who had the wisdom to save this area from development. IMG_1292

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Prepping for Passover

In kitchens around the world this week people are planning and preparing for their Passover celebrations starting Friday, April 22. The holiday commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. The meal, the Seder, includes the retelling of the story, often accompanied by songs and traditional foods, particularly the eating of matzo, the unleavened bread the Jews made in their hasty retreat from Egypt. It’s the night we ask the Four Questions that begin “why is this night different from all other nights?

I’m hosting a group of friends on Friday, most who aren’t Jewish. I don’t know if they’ve been to a seder before or not. I love the holiday foods (including my mother’s matzo ball soup)  and enjoy the cooking involved. I’ve tinkered with the Haggadah, the Jewish text that details the order of the seder and explains the symbols, to make it more inclusive of all people seeking freedom. In addition to the traditional symbols on my seder plate, I’ll add an orange, a symbol created to represent any people who feel marginalized. Spitting out the seeds (perhaps not literally) is meant to remind us to rid ourselves of hatred and prejudice. I’ve added some modern plagues, like hunger, pollution, and bigotry to the traditional list of 10 that were inflicted upon the Egyptians. When we sing “Dayeinu,” the song that celebrates the many miracles of Passover noting that any one of them alone would have been enough, I’ve added some verses that address contemporary issues. I hope my guests like it!

On Saturday, we’re traveling to my sister Madeline’s, for dinner, and also to attend the World Premiere Concept Opera, I am Anne Hutchinson/I am Harvey Milk, written and composed by our friend Andrew Lippa.  The production weaves weaves together the lives of 17th century women’s rights activist Anne Hutchinson and 1970s’ gay rights leader Harvey Milk. An apt celebration indeed.





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High School Musicals: Remembering the Lyrics

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This week I visited my parents in CT and attended my niece Dasha’s high school musical performance of Cinderella, where she played the Fairy Godmother. Seeing my brother earlier in the day, I asked him if he was excited and he admitted he was a bit nervous. My sister in-law later in the day expressed the same sentiment. Watching them anticipating their daughter’s performance and beaming with pride was nearly as much fun as the performance itself.

Driving home after Dasha’s wonderful performance, mom and dad reminisced about their own musical experiences in high school. They’d each been in Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, (different schools, different states), and remembered every line that sang. I too remembered making the chorus in my high school’s production of Carousel as a freshman. I sang “Where is Love” from Oliver for my audition and still remember every line from Carousel. By my sophomore year, I joined the backstage crew, helping to operate the lighting.

During elementary school, my parents took us to the local high school productions. I remember seeing Annie Get Your Gun and South Pacific, and thinking the students seemed so grown up. A local friend always took her kids to high school shows — the tickets are much cheaper than Broadway and offer high quality entertainment.

I remember returning home while in college to see my sister Madeline and her best friend Wendy play the strippers in Gypsy. My sister Naomi and I attended and still convulse with laughter thinking of how they looked, acted and sang.

In middle school, our eldest son was the mayor in The Music Man and our second son was in Guys & Dolls. In high school he played his trumpet in the Peter Pan pit orchestra and our daughter spent a couple years helping with hair and makeup until tennis took priority. I also volunteered to help with sewing costumes and enjoyed the “sweatshop” atmosphere where sewing machines lined a hallway and students appeared to try on their altered costumes.

I share my brother’s and sister-in-law’s pride in Dasha and their passion for her  school and its community.

What school musicals were you in? Do you remember the song lyrics?


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Hiking Havasupai

We might never have heard of the Havasupai Falls  had it not been for our guide from last spring’s hiking and biking trip in Utah,  who raved about this majestic place.

The falls are part of the Grand Canyon, but not part of the national park as the land is owned by the Supai Tribe, who manage the tourism associated with the waterfalls. There are only three ways to get to the falls: hiking, helicopter, or horses.

We chose to hike the 10 miles down and 10 miles back, spending a day in-between exploring the falls and swimming.

Organized by Arizona Outback Adventures, the trip included the transport from Scottsdale, AZ, a 5- hour drive to the trailhead, all meals, tents, and camping supplies. We brought our own sleeping bags and daypacks and opted to pay a bit more to have our bags carried in by the mules.

It’s the best of both worlds. The splendor of the Grand Canyon: breathtaking panoramas illuminated by brilliant sun, crisp air and starry nights; and the magic of the falls: blue-green water, thunderous sounds of the river providing a natural symphony, and deep pools for swimming and jumping.

I haven’t backpacked or camped in many years and while I didn’t carry a heavy pack, I stuffed my daypack with all sorts of anti-inflammatory pills, moleskin for blisters, and a whole roll of toilet paper. I wanted to be prepared.

What I loved – aside from the incredible scenery- was talking to the various people hiking and camping. The site attracts people of all ages from all over. And I loved being off the grid. No phone service. No electricity. Just for a few days.

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NC GOP to LGBT: Gender-Specific Restrooms

Those of us with siblings or who’ve had roommates, whether family or not, know what it’s like to share a bathroom, sometimes even with members of the opposite sex. We’ve waited our turn for the toilet and shower, slipped on other’s towels, wiped toothpaste smears from sinks and cleaned hair from drains. Boys with sisters know about sanitary napkins and tampons; girls with brothers know to check that the seat is down.

I’d venture that includes a majority of us.

Now North Carolina, in its haste to join the national GOP mud-slinging circus, has passed a bill barring transgender people from bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates.

This blatant slap in the face (or should I say rear-end?) to civil rights has quickly drawn criticism within the state and nationwide, eliciting protests from several corporations such as American Airlines, Apple, Facebook, and Google; organizations like the National Basketball Association, universities like NC-based Duke, and the city of San Francisco, where Mayor Ed Lee banned city employees from traveling to North Carolina on public business.

Promoting discrimination can’t be good for North Carolina.

Unisex bathrooms have already become prevalent in many bars and restaurants. Really, what’s the big deal? When behind the stall door, no one really cares if the seat is up or down and most users just want to do what they need to do and return to their table or barstool.

My ex-brother-in-law used to kid that my sister would return from the Ladies Room with five new best friends.  Let’s hope North Carolina repeals this repressive law and everyone can be a friend—no matter their gender—in public restrooms.


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Taking the Piercing Plunge

A Dear Abby letter in the paper this morning caught my attention. Two daughters are embarrassed because their 44-year-old mother had her nipples pierced and delights in showing off her embellished breasts to their friends.

The day before, I’d taken the extra piercing plunge, adding another hole above the lower-lobe site of my original piercing years ago. I chose to add only one piercing, to flaunt a tiny hoop. I can’t really explain why I wanted this done; but it’s a big “0” birthday year and perhaps that makes it significant.

I had to wait until I was 13 to get my ears pierced. A friend of my Aunt Anne’s had done my mother’s on a visit to Tucson, Arizona and my mother, quite comfortable in a science laboratory, felt confident she could pierce mine.   One evening, after the supper table had been cleared, she announced she’d do my ears. She lit a match to sterilize a needle, made two nearly even dots on each ear with a pen, iced my ears, and poked through, first one then the other. I must have had a pair of gold studs that she put in. I never had an infection, and have worn earrings ever since.

Years later, my daughter got her ears pierced at a jeweler, turning down my mother’s offer to do her ears.

My sister Madeline has had an extra earring hole for several years and recently went for what’s called a “daith”—an ear piercing that passes through the ear’s innermost cartilage fold. She got it because she’d read this form of piercing, acting similarly to acupuncture, could relieve the symptoms of migraine headaches, which she suffers from periodically. She’s finding that the triggers and symptoms are definitely less severe. images

Walking with my daughter in NYC’s East Village yesterday, I’d mentioned I was interested in an ear piercing.   As we strolled, we saw what appeared to be a rather upscale piercing place—really a fancy jewelry store that offered piercings.

The saleswoman showed me photographs on an iPad to help me select what I wanted and then I completed the necessary paperwork and signed away liability. Times have changed since my mother poked my ears in the kitchen.

The piercing technician made sure I’d read the cleaning procedures, verified that the tools were sterile and wore rubber gloves. In seconds the act was completed, and I walked out with a tiny rose gold hoop that has to remain in place for about 6 months. IMG_7362

The ear is a bit sore and I have to watch when I take clothes over my head. The earring is small and hardly noticeable. I’m not sure it adds anything to my overall looks, and not so sure I’m any “cooler” with it. I may or may not keep it; or maybe I’ll get another one day– but I promise I’ll stick to my ears only.




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