Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Saturday, December 28, 2013

C: Rock ‘n’ Roll Wisdom

don't stop believin'I am a baby-boomer/sixties-to-eighties-rock-lovin’ old person.  I am sitting at the computer listening to my Pandora “Dire Straits” Station.  (I have an opera station, too, so don’t judge me too harshly).

Along came the old Journey hit, “Don’t Stop Believing.”  It made me think of a post—inspiration!  You just never know how the Muse will strike, right? Journey said:

She Took the Midnight Train Goin’ Anywhere


These lyrics made me think about advice I wish young women everywhere would heed.  It is advice borne of my longish life, tinged with sorrow now softened, and of my very-long work as a divorce lawyer. 

Ahhhhh, if only they would listen to me.

As I age I am learning the importance of living life intentionally…making conscious decisions aboutinttentional 3 what I like, what I want from life, how I want to live it. 

So many of us, women especially (hang with me, here), just drift through days, taking life’s midnight train to anywhere.

We especially need to  be intentional in important decisions—like who we marry or with whom we choose to have a child; and, yes, being wary of listening only to the heart in these matters.

 intention 2

I know I have beaten this drum before, but it pains me that almost weekly I see women in hard situations because they settled.  They did not strive for the best. They did not hold out for all that life has for them. They waited for what came along to claim them and then just climbed aboard.  Big, Big, Big mistake…the train to anywhere can take you to a hard life.

Look at this picture, hand water- colored by non-artist me just for you.

fruit tree

See those luscious fruits on the tree?  (squint and understand they are meant to represent luscious). 

See the stick figure scratching his/her head trying to decide which one he/she will pick? 

Who are you?  Are you the picker, finding just the right fruit to fill your purpose?  Or are you the fruit, just waiting on some random picker to come by and snag you away to whatever fate he/she chooses for you?

And, if you are the fruit, are you placed high, peeking barely through the trees, something worth climbing and searching for?  Or are you the one hanging low, within easy reach for any picker passer-by?

Do you know that you have the right to set your own standards?  That exclusiveyou can be “exclusive?”  It is your life…make pickers understand that you are not within the reach of just anyone.

Living intentionally is good advice for anyone, so why am I addressing women?  For reasons that include:

  1. Pickers are mostly men.  It’s just the truth…change this! You don’t have to accept it.   You be the picker for your own life, and choose your fruit wisely.  Have some standards, some criteria.
  2. Women impact children more.  In our age of divorce, kids stay with moms.  Dads, if they are decent, visit.  Moms are primary shapers.  Even if you are fortunate and never have your family split asunder, you need to consider what influence your partner will bring to your kids.  Women, you owe it to your children to choose wisely who will father them; and you must model for them that they can shape their lives to a great degree.

If you are in the USA reading this, you have won life’s lottery of opportunity.  You are blessed to be able to make choices that many on this globe don’t have—don’t squander this.  Be intentional with your life.  intention 1

If you don’t heed this advice, then you run the risk of being what rocker Tom Petty said in 1991:

“A rebel without a clue…”

Be intentional in the way you live.  Especially be intentional in the most important decisions of your life. 

Don’t be the picked—be the picker.


PS – Preachy, I know…but it’s on my heart.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

C: Legacy of Bitterness; Lessons from the Pages of Real Life.

richer or powerJo and Jim did not have a perfect marriage, but it was a good one, Jo thought. They had been married 26 years and had two beautiful college-student daughters still at home. Each had worked with large companies for over twenty years. They did not make huge salaries and they were not wealthy, but they had no big monetary concerns and had decent retirement funds. They were conservative in their spending, and had enough to make the payments on the home they had lived in for the last 18 years. They lived a bit too much on credit cards. It was hard not to with two college-aged girls, and all four members of the family had cars. Thankfully, two of them were paid off, but they all had to be insured. Monthly payments took planning, but they were able to maintain a good credit score.

Jim's father lived alone about thirty minutes from Jo and Jim. He was a bit emotionally removed from his only child, but Jo did her best to include Ben in the family celebration times and she prodded Jim to visit his father at least monthly. Ben seemed to know this because he was a bit warmer to Jo than even his only child. Ben and Jim's mother had divorced long ago, and she had been deceased for over ten years. Ben just seemed to like his aloofness and, Jo and Jim knew little about Ben's business affairs. He had recently retired.

It was a shock to receive the call that Ben had suffered a heart attack in his front yard. A neighbor had seen him react to the pain and tried to render assistance, calling 911. Ben slipped away.

This was followed by yetmoney love another shock: Ben had amassed quite a hefty bank account. There was almost $600,000 in various assets and life insurance benefits awaiting Jim, his only heir. Their shock at losing a family member was softened a bit by this discovery. They had no idea that Ben was worth so much. They discussed the relief it would give them to be able to pay off their house at last and have no debt as they entered the years when they, too, began to think about retirement. Being cautious, Jo and Jim consulted a financial planner who gave them good advice.

The summer months approached soon after Ben’s funeral, and the family went on a cruise that Jim had purchased as a treat for "his girls" and in celebration of his youngest having graduated from high school. "No more high schoolers--only college girls!" Jim teased. The cruise had been purchased before Ben's death, so it had been a spurge for which Jo had to becruise persuaded over her caution at bending the budget. She knew that it would require a good long time of credit card payments to pay it off, but it seemed important to Jim, so she capitulated. Truthfully, it was the first thing she thought of with relief after their good fortune was revealed.

The cruise came and Jo was puzzled by Jim's lack of interest in her there. Not only was there no romantic move on his part, but it became clear as the week progressed that he was actually seeking time away from her. Jo felt near to tears several times when she particularly felt his coldness. Truthfully, the cruise turned into a nightmare for Jo. She could not wait to get home, thinking that the return to normal routine would return her husband to normal as well.

They got home late on Saturday night. After sleeping in on Sunday, the day was spent with Jim going to gather some groceries for the week and Jo rifling through the ton of laundry that needed washing and put away before both returned to work on Monday morning. There was little to no conversation. Monday dawned, and they parted for the work day.

That evening Jim strolled in after work and joined Jo in the living room where she was relaxing in front of the breaking uptelevision after the hard first day back after vacation. "Jo," Jim said, "I have decided I no longer want to be married. I have rented an apartment and am moving out. Please don’t make a scene--it won't do any good."

Jo could not believe her ears. Jim was leaving? Apartment? When did he make this decision? When did he have the time to rent an apartment? She was stunned, and then she was terrified.

The girls came home together as Jim was still packing. Jo, mercifully, had been able to hold herself together emotionally, later realizing that the shock probably was the reason why. She called Jim in and said, "Girls, your father has an announcement to make…" The girls turn with expectant looks on their faces.

Jim was visibly upset that Jo had commandeered the moment, but he said, "I am sorry but your mother and I have decided to separate. Wbad newse both love you very much and this has nothing to do with you--you won't even have any changes in your life. We know that this is the best."

He scowled when he heard Jo say, "Oh no you don't. I am not taking the blame for this, Jim. " Turning to the girls, she said, "This was not a joint decision, it was his decision. I never saw it coming. I don't want a divorce, but he has told me that there is nothing I can do to change his mind."

Unlike their mother, the girls became hysterical. They clutched at their father, railed at him and screamed that he was ruining their lives and breaking up their home.

It made no difference. "Someday you will understand. I will call you both in a day or two," he said as he went out the door.

The next day Jo was served with divorce papers at work--Jim had filed on his first day back from vacation without a word to her about it. Jo had the presence of mind to hire her own attorney immediately.

Jo learned that until such time as Jim put her name on his father's inheritance (which he had not done) it was not a part of the marital estate. This was strictly Jim's money. The negotiations began. Jo's lawyer asked for alimony and an unequal division of debt based on the huge difference in assets of the parties. The lawyer also advised that the chances for gaining these were "iffy" under Jo's circumstances. Jim instructed his attorney that, not only did he despise the idea of alimony, he wanted Jo to pay half of all credit card debts, notwithstanding the fact that he had so much more money.

As the negotiations went on, Jim nickled-and-dimed Jo to death. It was particularly divisionrankling that Jim insisted she pay a full one-half of the cruise cost since she had cautioned against it to begin with. Jim haggled with her over furniture items, demanding pieces that she knew he both had no use for and did not particularly like. He refused to pick up the rest of his personal belongings, leaving them for Jo to pack and store in the garage. Jo began to make plans to try to replace the living room furniture he seemed hell-bent to take. She worried about the girls having no sofa to sit on in their home.

In the end, Jim did not want to go to Court--Jo's attorney was able to make him feel that he would look like a huge heel under the circumstances, and he did not want to fade that heat. Jo received a settlement that allowed her to live in their home, Jim waiving his interest in the equity, but she would have to refinance it. Out of her share of his retirement,credit cards she "paid Jim back" for her one-half of all the credit card debt.   He wanted to be absolutely sure that Jo paid every cent of “her share” of the “marital debt.”

He let go of the furniture items he had worried Jo about; the haggling was clearly harassment. He refused to agree on paper to continue to help the girls through school, and Jo was told that the law won't make him do so. He indicated to them that he will still help, so long as they meet all his criteria. He has shown little interest in spending time with them. Time will tell.

In short, Jo has exited this marriage with barely enough. She will make it, but it won't be fun.

Jim, on the other hand, has a swank new apartment full ofrich brand-new furniture and a huge television in the living room.

Jo's attorney asked her at what point she realized that Jim was a man of such low character. Her answer: "The day he walked in and told me wanted a divorce. Before that, I never would have believed that Jim would do this to me."  This is a common lament…

Jo and her attorney both theorize that Jim was reasonably happy in his marriage. Until their cruise (after he became rich), Jo never had any other inkling. The money, however, and the freedom it brought made Jim begin to think about a life he could never have had before his inheritance. He simply chose the single life. The money became so very important to him as a symbol of this fantasy life, that he haggled and fought with Jo over any cent of it she might get in the settlement.

it's mine

It was the inheritance.

It's the only explanation Jo can come up with.

In case you doubt it, the story is true.  Learn what you will from Jo’s story.  You just never know.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

C: Breakfasting Abroad

ramat rachelBack in 1999 my Son was graduating from high school.  He had a long-standing desire to visit Israel, and we decided to spring for a two-week family visit to celebrate his achievement. 

We did our trip ourselves—eschewing tour groups—and we traveled the country by means of a rented car.  We had many adventures and, now that I am recalling the trip anew, I may share some with you later, but right now what is on my mind is breakfast.  Breakfast on that trip sort of symbolizes for me a little breaking free from the “box” of my own acculturalization…at least temporarily, as you will see and as only now occurs to me.

During our initial days there, we stayed in a very nice kibbutz-run hotel called Ramatramat rachel grounds Rachel. That is an aerial view at the top of this post.  It is situated on a hill between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  Its grounds are gorgeous, as you can see better in this picture.

Our first day we arrived early evening exhausted from the overseas flight and the masses checking through customs at the airport.  We grabbed a snack for dinner and crashed.

The next morning, we were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for adventure.  We went downstairs to breakfast before heading out to see the sights.

ramat rachel dining hallThe dining hall was huge.  Here is a picture of a portion of it.  It served both the hotel guests and the workers of the kibbutz.  We found a table situated in the midst of visitors from the world over, interspersed with Israelis in uniform (mostly very young, both men and women).  The breakfast scene was surreal to me from the start, but then I viewed the foods.

There was one station that was full of American-style breakfast food:  Eggs, cereals, a toasting station with bagels, rolls, breads and butter.  There was no bacon or ham, of course, in deference to Jewish dietary laws.  An American could find a fine breakfast here.  But I noticed that this offering was the least- visited by the folks in the hall…

There were vast tables of saladred onion greens, big bowls of sliced red onions, cucumbers, beets, tomatoes, peppers, all sorts of raw vegetables.  Some were in sauce or vinegar; some were just left unadorned.  There were jugs of olive oil, vinegar and other dressings.

There was a long table full of marvelous melons and fruits.  One table held a display of fish in various forms of room-temperature preparation: smoked or pickled.  There was rice and grains I did not know…

I stood there amazed.  The majority of the folks there were filling their breakfast plates from these tables, building gorgeous salads, some topping them with smoked or pramat rachel breakfastickled fish.   They were walking way from the buffet tables with plates that look like this.  For breakfast?????  I could not help but gawk.

It was then that it occurred to me that not everyone the world over has separate, identifiable breakfast foods like we Americans do.  Many eat the same things, regardless of the time of day. 

Oh, I was (am) so very provincial.

And then it happened.  The sides of my cultural “box” flew apart when my  eyes lit on the olive table.  Olives are one of my olives 1very, very favorite foods.  I have yet to meet an olive I did not like except when something unnatural has been done to it, like stuffing it with something inappropriate.  And Israel is the place to go for olives, apparently.  There were varieties I had never seen—bowls and bowls of them.  I gravitated. 

When I met Son and Husband back at our table, I plopped down a plate full of an assortment of olives, a couple kinds of kibbutz-made soft cheeses, a hunk of fresh bread.  I chuckled at the popping of their eyes as I wandered off to grab my coffee and orange juice.  I was quite proud of my breakfast plate beside their mundane cereal, eggs and toast.

This is the breakfast I enjoyed each and every morning of my trip, to the thinly-disguised disgust of my fellow travelers.  They both like olives—just not for breakfast!

I smile as I think how seeing others partake of what were in my mind “unusual” breakfastolives foods gave me sort of a permission to explore and enjoy my olives each morning—and I did, indeed, enjoy these breakfasts.

I wonder sometimes how restricted my life is by my failure to think and move outside my cultural box, as I did in the matter of the olives.  It takes some exposure, I suppose, which most of us really can’t afford.

boxAnd, for the record, I haven’t had an olive for breakfast since I returned from Israel in 1999 and slipped back into the box. 

Kind of sad--C

Thursday, November 28, 2013

C: Can One Have “New Traditions?”

traditionI mean, Merriam-Webster defines tradition as:

a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time

So, is the term “new tradition” an oxymoron? (Dn. “oxymoron” is: a combination of contradictory or   incongruous words such as cruel kindness…my own suggestions are honest lawyer--I can self-deprecate-- or internal revenue service….but I digress.

We just had our first Thanksgiving Dinner of the season.  Today, Thanksgiving proper, it was Son, MIL and me.  The three of us had our own not-so-little feast so that we would have all those luscious leftovers.  And I think I may have started a “new tradition.” 

Fine Cooking had this recipe for mashed carrots.  Being a carrot-lover, I tried, it and we all loved it.  I am taking it tomorrow to Sister’s house for all my family to enjoy.  I thought some of you might enjoy it, too:

Carrot Mash with

Orange and Mint

Serves 4-6 (generous)

2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Kosher salt

1 oz (2 Tbs) butter

2 Tbs. heavy cream (mmmmm)

2 Tbs olive oil

1 1/2 Tbs. finely-chopped fresh mint

1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest or more to taste.

Splash of Tabasco

Boil the carrots until tender, with salt.  When easily-pierced with fork, drain into colander and let the steam rise for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat butter, cream, oil, mint, zest, 1/2 tsp salt and a dash of Tabasco in sauce pan over low heat until the butter is melted. Dump in the carrots.

For rustic texture (which is what I did), use potato masher until you get the consistency you like (I ended up added a tad more cream).

You can also put carrots through food processor before adding to the other ingredients to get the smoothest texture, as shown in the picture.

I’m tellin’ ya, this is scrumptious, and mine had a much richer orange color than this picture depicts.

I will be doing this one again.count your blessings

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and counted all your blessings.


PS.  You should go to the Fine Cooking link above and create an account.  I’m loving their recipes and the “recipe box” feature.

Monday, November 25, 2013

C: Pay It Forward at the Starbuck’s Window

starbucksA couple days ago Son was in the car with me.  We had both had a tough day and decided that we “deserved” a Starbuck’s treat.  This something I do not do very often, and after I had placed the order at the drive-thru speaker, I remembered why.

Your total is $9.98,” the voice announced.  ten dollars

Wow!  Almost ten Dollars for the two of us!  Yes, the coffees were “specialty” coffees.  Yes, Son had a baked treat, too.  But, still, it was more than I had expected.

We were in line behind two cars.  The topic of conversation as we waited was the above…expensive!

starbucks2When it was my turn, we rolled up to the window.  I had my ten-dollar bill ready for the clerk.   I could see our order awaiting us 

The sales girl smiled and said, “The lady ahead of you paid for your order!”

I looked up in time to see the white car pull slowly around the corner.  I could see the driver well enough to know that I had never met her.  I looked back at the sales clerk.

Did she say she knew me?” I asked, puzzled.

No, ma'am, she just asked how much your order was and then handed me the money.” 

She could see my bewilderment, so she added, “You know, this is not rare.  It doesn’t happen every day, but it happens often enough that none of us are shocked by it any more.  I think it’s nice.”pay it forward

And, she’s right.  It is nice. 

Son and I talked about it a good bit as we drove down the road.  It did, indeed, lighten our spirits.  It was not the money—yes, ten bucks was a lot for a caffeine treat, but not that much.  It made us feel better than even the ten dollars justified.  It really was a lot of good will bang for that lady’s bucks—all ten of ‘em.

It inspired us, and we both resolved to do it for the person behind us next time we drive through.  In fact, both of us said we would do it soon—a special trip to Starbucks just to do this kindness.  We both crave the goodwill warmth we felt and know that it will be even warmer when it is us doing the giving.

So, I guepay it forward 2ss, it actually will be double the kindness if we follow through, because we won’t likely be together in line for a while.  So there will be two purchases borne of this one act of kindness.  Nice multiplication.

I think this kind of spontaneous joy spreading is especially appropriate this time of year!


P.S. - It’s nice to know it’s okay etiquette  to check first on total amount—I’m afraid paying for someone making a run for the whole office would break me!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

C: Dumbed-Down Nation?

walmartYesterday I had occasion to be in a part of town I rarely visit.  I noticed that Wal-Mart had put in a “Neighborhood Market.”  Wanting to grab our Thanksgiving turkey and ham, I decided to give it a try.

I was so pleased.  The Market was about the size I remembered the new “supermarkets” of my childhood.  I confess that I resist going into Walmart Superstores because of the size—Want dog food?  It is waaaay over to the other side of the store. 

But this smaller version was great.  It had everything I needed and all within fairly easy reach. 

Our holidays are different this year.  I will be cooking for MIL, Son and me on Thanksgiving Day.  We have promised to indulge MIL with her footballgonavy while I sit before the fire, listening to her urge Navy on to a goal and working on my rag rug.  The next day we will go to my sisters for my family’s feast.

As I passed one of those mid-aisle displays, I grabbed a couple of bottles of sparkling cider for our little Thanksgiving Day celebration.  At the checkout stand, the checker (a young girl in early 20’s) picked up the bottle and said, “Hmmm.  Is ciderthis alcoholic?”

Before I could answer, the sacker (a woman in her 30’s) answered, saying, “No, it’s not alcoholic—it’s diet.”

Before I could say anything, the checker said, “No, I don’t think it’s diet, I think it’s alcoholic.”

Sacker:  “No, read on it.  It says right on the label that there is no alcohol, so it’s diet.”

Checker:  “Oh, you’re right!  No alcohol, so it must be diet.”

Sacker:  “Right.  It’s diet because there is no alcohol.”

I can tell you that I was fairly speechless.  I simply do not follow the logic of this exchange.  I finally got my word in edgewise:  “It is neither.  It is non-alcoholic, but it certainly is not diet.

To which Sacker, ever vigilant to be correct, answered:  “Are you sure.   I thought that diet ones were not alcoholic and non-alcoholic ones were diet.”

Huh? Still, I was lost.  “Nope.  It is neither.”

I left, wondering how these two were going to make it in life—not my problem right now, but I think it could be a societal problem in the next fifty years or so (maybe less).

Are we dumbing down our populace?

This reminds me of my sister’s drive-through window experience as she ordered the half-dozen chicken nuggets (a food she has given up completely after watching Jamie Oliver’s show about how they are made—ugh!)chicken nuggets  The speaker reply was “We don’t sell them in half-dozens.  You can pick six piece or nine piece…”

My sister decided she’d go with the six-piece item.

Or how about my bank teller not long ago who was completely clueless what to do with a check made out to “cash.”  Don’t they have teller school???

And speaking of dumb, it runs to both ends of the financial spectrum.  This week I saw a quote about Wal-mart attributed to Paris Hilton.  “What’s Wal-mart?  Do they sell wall stuff there?”  (Do you think she was kidding?) 

This may be just lack of exposure on Paris’ part, after all, why would she ever have occasion to shop in Wal-mart? parisalthough you’d think she would have sometime.  And her vast wealth means that she stands to affect the nation’s policy far-and-away more that I will ever do.

Reminds me of reading a Jackie Kennedy bio wherein they discussed her total cluelessness about the cost of things. I remember an episode where she was being chastised over the food budget.  She was quoted as saying “Well, how much can a can of green beans be?  Three or four dollars at the most!”  And this was in the 60’s.  I have never thought of Jackie as dumb, but certainly she was out of touch with the rest of us ala Ms. Hilton.

But the result of a huge portion of our population being either ill-educated or of the “ruling” class (yes, their money has a lot of impact) being so out of touch with us middle-classers spells a huge problem to me.  It is why you will never see me in a voter-registration drive—if they can’t get off their duffs and register themselves, like I did, then I don’t want them voting and making policy…

I just fear that we middle-classers will be squeezed between the ill-educated voters at one end and the out-of-touchers on the other into policy that is not good .

Well, that went unintendedly political.  I’m done.


PS – speaking of ill-educated, I have to point out that I don’t think “unintendedly” is actually a word, but it sounds so “right” that I’m leaving it. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

C: Prayers Against Distractions

churchSo, it had been a hard week; hard enough that my little car did not move all day Saturday.  I just stayed home, piddling around the house.  When we left for church Sunday morning, I found my purse—and my dead phone—right where I had dropped it Friday night.

I was looking forward to a restful time of worship Sunday morning.  MIL and I slid into our pew just as the music began.  It was good.

As the music subsided, Pastor moved to the front to begin his sermon.  As he did, I reached into my purse to find an ink pen, inveterate note-taker that I am. 

As I fished around, my thumb landed on something soft, and then I felt it pierce some unknown object, squishing.  I yuckcould feel something cover the end of the thumb, squeezing up under the nail, soft, wet, downright slimy.

I jerked the hand out to find my thumb and part of the hand covered with a gooey, gross mess.  I sat in the pew horror-struck as my mind tried to comprehend exactly what had happened.

Then the smell hit and my brain made identification—it was my uneaten Friday banana.  I had slipped it into my purse on rotten banana2Friday as I had left the office, and it incubated all day Saturday  until on Sunday morning—overripe for the popping-- it was burst open by my hand in the middle of the church service.

I peered into my purse to see the damage and to find a Kleenex (no such luck). It was a mess.  I wiped my hand on my pants leg—what else to do?

The preacher started us off with a prayer, and this is what he asked of the Lord:  “Please help us clearrotten banana1 away the distractions of last week; the distractions of financial trouble; the distractions of work…”

So help me, I added my own prayer: “And the distraction of knowing there is a rotting banana oozing forth in the purse beside you…”



Saturday, November 16, 2013

C: Autumn Smiles

autumn2Does it seem trite to write about the season, autumn?  Today I am feeling very grateful for the season.  It is brisk and beautiful out, and it caused me to stop and think about what I love about autumn:

  • Pots of soup on the scoyotetove
  • Coyotes yapping more than usual
  • Warm afghans on the couch
  • Wood neatly stacked on the back porch
  • An excuse to light a firefireplace
  • Hearthside chats
  • Color of its own, not found in other seasons

autumn3These pleasures are enough to chase away the gloom of darkening days and slow-arising mornings. 

Each season has its own pleasure, but autumn seems to me to be the most peaceful.  Summer and Winter are extremes that my aging self is finding harder and harder to tolerate. 

Winter sometimes has hushed beauty, but it is interspersed with hardship.

Spring is gorgeous, of course, but it seems so busy with thespring bursting of new life and volatile weather.

For me, autumn marks the end of my relentless mowing tasks and summer heat.  It is a time to rest and await the winter.

Hope you are all feeling this, too. 

Peace, C.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

C: Consanguinity, Your Word for the Day

vocabOkay, boys and girls, here is your vocab word for the day:


Kinship characterized by the sharing of common ancestors

I learned this fancy word in law school.  It is important in estate law to determine inheritances. You need to know how folks are related and who is “closest” to  a dearly-departed.  For example, it is critical when you have to ferret among the clamoring long-lost relatives who want to claim pots of gold left by childless, eccentric old aunts who died among dozens of cats and such.

Yes, yes, I learned all this esoterica in law school…haven’t used it since. 

I had occasion to reacquaint with a cousin yesterday.  K is the child of my father's cousin, which made her What??? to me?  Consanguineous, to be sure, but how else to describe our familial relationship?

Being the smarty-pants lawyer that I am, I knew about and, therefore, consulted the "Tables of Consanguinity."  There is one below for your viewing pleasure (feel free to whip it out at Thanksgiving for figuring out who’s who in your own family):


After furrowing my brow over this table for a while and, not being an estate lawyer, nimble in the ways of kinship, I gave up and googled the question:  "What is my father's cousin to me???" 

And there discovered that my father's cousin is my first cousin once removed. Therefore, my father's cousin'confuseds child (K!) would be my second cousin. (Oh, lawzy!  I won’t even get into the “removed cousin” thing…).

K is "long, lost"  in the sense that we have not seen each other in, literally, years.  This is unfortunate and amazing since I like K so very much.  Our fathers were close, important to each other; and it seems we could make a better effort at being the same.  We are, by google-map, only 16 miles apart.

Why do we lose contact?  I don't know.  Chalk it up to time, as in never enough.   But it felt good to reconnect for the hour or so we were together. K brought up a shared childhood memory that I had often thought about and questioned whether my young mind had fabricated…but, no, K was there, too, and had found the experience as significant as I did.  I had not remembered that she was there, but I am grateful for the independent witness this provided to my memory.

dnaI discovered that there must be some strong strains in the old DNA.  K, like me, is “crafter,” although I suspect she probably actually finishes projects, unlike yours truly.  And, like me, she loves words.  She is a blogger, too.  Go visit her at thepolkadotskirt.net. 

So, there is, truly, a kinship.

Being with K felt like going home in some way.  Hopefully we can keep it up.  C.

PS – probably something K and I WON’T be sharing is some pot o’ gold from a long-lost relative…the luck factor has never been that strong in our family lines!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

C: Disconnect to Connect

This video has so much to say....

Technology.  It is supposed to ease our workload--it makes me accessible to clients 7 days a week unless I use restraint.  Call that "easier?"  Nope.

Technology.  It is supposed to "connect" us.  I think this video makes a strong case for the opposite.  Handwritten letters and mailed invitations have gone by the wayside to be replaced by emails and evites.  Timelines for Facebook have taken the place of check-in or report phone calls.  Facebook posts have all the transparency and sincerity of Christmas newsletters. 

We are robbing ourselves of community.

I think technology is great...if we have the smarts and the discipline to tame it and make it work FOR our good, not against it.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

C: RANT REDUX - The Dangers of Uncertain Trumpets

Well, we're at about a week and a half since Secretary of State Kerry all but declared an operation of "limited" intervention against Syria, only to have the President publicly do a trajectory change...it's only gotten worse in my view.

I awake this morning to this "crawl" across the bottom of the screen: "Russian and Chinese warships being moved to the Syria coast."  No one's talking about it on the news shows, but the crawl got my attention and raised my hackles.  You can do an internet search on this, or go right to this CBS source or to this  page.  Yep, the Russian and Chinese are beefing up their presence in the long wait between the President's first signal and while he weakly vacillates in his resolve.

I also saw this morning his chief of staff saying that the reason the President went to Congress for approval (a bit late the day), was that he cannot honestly say that there is "imminent" danger to the US from the Syrian situation.  Well, knock his arguments for intervention down another notch, then.  Why is he talking about this PUBLICLY?  Why wasn't this discussion done before he made intentions to bomb Syria known?  Why announce the decision and THEN go back and ask Congressional permissions.  Weak, weak, weak; and, I'm afraid, internationally laughable.

This amid reports that our only "ally," France, has done an about-face, too, announcing that it will await a full UN report before joining any move against Syria.  Who can blame them?  If our President is unsure, why should they throw their hat into that wobbly ring?  Here is a report on the French.

Why is this happening?  I'm no foreign relations expert, but here's my feeling:  Our President has blown an uncertain trumpet.  When you blow the battle trumpet, you need to be ready to roll.

1 Corinthians 14:8 says: Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle (NIV).

Who, indeed?

I have been flipping all around my cable television channels, watching both cable reports and the network shows.  Pundits and "experts" are debating the pros and cons of striking Syria (notably, not mentioning the Chinese and Russian ships).  For me the issue is much larger: Can we follow this leader into war? 

All this debating should have been behind them by the time Kerry went to the podium on this.  Our President has shown himself weak, and he has embarrassed us.  I can almost see the Chinese and Russians scheming to further humiliate him by moving their ships to Syria. 

Here's the thing:  Are we willing to go to WWIII over this?  I submit that the answer is "no."  China knows that; Russia knows that.  In the end I predict we will tuck our tail and sit back.  The President has put us in that
kind of position.

So, the issue for me is not whether we should intervene in this horrendous Syrian situation.  The issue is whether we have a leader who could lead us in that endeavor.

These are trying, fearful times for our country that do not bespeak our greatness.  C
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