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Somewhere around this time, half a century ago, my existence in this realm began. Newlyweds and Valentine’s Day and all…

This being a milestone year I’ve been thinking a lot lately about things like accomplishments, unfinished business and future things. Thinky things.

Thinky things.

I like to think about this being the time that my parents were happy.

It was the only time, so far, that I’ve been to Canada. And with Canada’s draconian behaviour of late, I’m not planning on going again.

I was born in the snow and cold. (Well not literally, like my mom was inside the hospital.) But is that why I’ve always loved the snow? Is there a genetic reason why I love the snow? A geographical one? Or just a generic one?

I loved the mountains, even before I ever saw them in person. They were the subject of many of my juvenile drawings and again in my adult art class experience with Beverly years later. Mountains with pine trees with a log cabin. I need to live near them.

My first painting, circa 1993, after my first visit to Alaska.

Is all of this coincidence?

I’ve been on a health kick recently. Which has been building for quite some time. Trying to improve my overall feeling of wellness, increased energy, etc. They all say everything is harder to do after 50, so… Best get to it!

This phase of life has me seeing my first born graduating highschool and eventually moving out on her own. Of course I knew this day would come. I’ve tried teaching her all necessary skills and instilling what wisdom I have to impart. And yet I find myself wondering how we got here, quite so fast. It’s hard for me to imagine daily life without her right here, with me, in my house. At the same time I’m looking forward to having an adult child to experience life with. I’m excited for her and all the new things she will get to experience.

Then the second one will follow in a few years… And before I know it, they all will be out in the big world on their own. Whatever will I do with myself?

Oh, I have plenty of ideas.

But I’ll think about that tomorrow. Along with those other inevitable things I don’t want to think about right now.

So thanks to my Mom & Dad for giving me life. Thanks to G-d for bringing me to this season, and with HaShem’s help, I’ll get through it.


I have been blessed in my life with many a fine friend and some really special family members, it’s true. Some of which I get to spend infrequent time with but when we do it’s always over the top. Stevie was one of those.

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Steven Michael, aka “Stevie” was my first cousin once removed on my maternal grandmother’s side, the son of my Uncle Cliff and Aunt Ella Belle. He was always jovial, had a smile on his face and something ornery up his sleeve.

He used to drive a flashy little sports car. In my teen years this was important. Who am I kidding, this is still important. When he would come up to visit his mother and we’d all get together, there were Scrabble and Yahtzee games and hours of funny stories and silliness. He and my Mother had a special bond.

He was an outspoken fella. But he would sit and dialogue with you, even if you had a different opinion (even if you were wrong he might say, lol).

Steve was a great guy. A kind heart.

He loved Jesus.

Believed in liberty.

A freedom fighter.

He crossed oven into his rest this morning at 12:50 AM CDT. He is missed already. He joins his parents, his daughter Jenni, numerous Aunties and Uncles, countless loved-ones.

He leaves us behind, those of us who loved him as family and friends. Those who will carry Steve in our hearts and share him with the rest of the world in a myriad of different ways, until we join him.

Blessed memory.

When All That’s Left Is Love
(by Rabbi Allen S. Maller)

When I die
If you need to weep
Cry for someone
Walking the street beside you.
You can love me most by letting
Hands touch hands, and Souls touch souls.
You can love me most by
Sharing your Simchas (goodness) and
Multiplying your Mitzvot (acts of kindness).
You can love me most by
Letting me live in your eyes
And not on your mind.
And when you say Kaddish for me
Remember what our
Torah teaches,
Love doesn’t die People do.
So when all that’s left of me is love
Give me away.

GoFundMe for Steve’s final expenses.

Photo credits: Steve’s friends, family and himself.


This is my new most often used word I think. At least in the last couple of days. Nationalism, sounds like a nice little word. We are a Nation, being citizens of said Nation, we’re American Nationalists… right? What does it mean really?
Nationalism is in its simple definition is a belief, creed or political ideology that involves an individual identifying with, or becoming attached to, one’s nation. I would argue that most people believe that Nationalism is simply a feeling of pride, loyalty or protectiveness for their own country. Many folks would say that they are Nationalists, or Patriots.

Not so bad. Or is it?

Nationalism can be a powerful means of achieving goals as a country. Nationalism can also be a tool of manipulation by the leadership of a group or nation and can lead to grave violence.

The dark side of nationalism.

What about all those Germans, good citizens who stood by and said nothing while Jews, Christians, Blacks, Asians, Romanis (aka erroneously known as “Gypsy”), Gay-Lesbian-and-Trans-gendered people, physically disabled individuals, those with opposing political views, other religious peoples, Soviets, Ukrainians, Poles, and I am sure others…were systematically murdered, are those Germans who said nothing partly to blame? (BTW, I would have been one of those who Hitler would have exterminated, would you?)

If you are a proud American and you move overseas, you see yourself as Patriotic and staying true to your roots. A good thing right? Yet, if you are say, from Mexico, and you move to say, America, you are less than loyal for keeping your Nationalism/Patriotism to your home country. You are an interloper at best, a traitor at worst. Someone to be exiled. Double standard much?

History tells us that Nationalism can lead you straight to the gas chamber. When people are in despair they look for something to believe in, often this is Patriotism or Nationalism and is often attached to or merged with a religious or philosophical ideal. The belief that we as a people will “Stand United”… or we will prevail over challenges and disaster and that “God is with us”. The German people needed such after the effects of the Great Depression. Hitler was all too willing to oblige with a system of promoting nationalism via propaganda to the ultimate end of vilifying entire people groups, down to exterminating them based upon a philosophy. An extreme example you say, not going to happen here.


Hitler used the media as his highly effective propaganda machine. We are greatly influenced by the media in our own country. There are two main camps, the conservative news sources and the liberal news sources, then there are the other sources such as social media. Both main outlets are suspect by the opposing view-point. Both have been shown to manipulate the news, reporting opinion over fact. Neither can be trusted in my opinion and are simply propaganda machines. One must really research anything reported these days to see what the real truth is. And many of us simply don’t have time for that.

Remember what happened September 11, 2001? Yeah, United we Stand, how can any of us forget. We remember what we were doing the minute that the news hit the airwaves. We were shocked. Time seemed to stand still. Toby Keith has a song entitled “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue/The Angry American” that the charts loved that embodies the common feeling of the day. We went to war with “extremists” yet if you get down to it, we went to war with Muslims. An entire ideology that spans several people groups. Ah but you say, this is different, they attacked us. “They” attacked us. Who is “they”? There were 19 Al-Qaeda extremists. Did we just vilify an entire group of people based upon the acts of these 19 men? But, but, there are a lot of “buts” with this example, and some I cannot argue with. So let’s try another…

For Nationalism to be successful we have to define that Nation… with borders. Cross my borders without permission and you are trespassing, breaking the law, an alien in my Nation. An illegal alien. Say illegal alien (or often just illegal) and you automatically envision a darker skinned Mexican National. Yet Mexican Nationals are not the only people crossing our borders without permission. People from over 75 countries around the world have been documented crossing our borders illegally, much more in number than those haling from Mexico. Have we not vilified an entire people group based on propaganda? (The propaganda being that *only* Mexicans are coming here to “mooch off” of our social benefit systems. Propaganda is defined as information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.) Many also despise these folks due to their own form of Nationalism, speaking their own language, being proud of and displaying their own flag(s) and insisting that we honor their heritage as well. Pushy aren’t they? But if you support your own Nationalism and don’t support another’s individual’s right to their own form of Nationalism, what does that make you?

I believe that Nationalism is a slippery slope which often leads to violence, dare I say evil? History is replete with such examples. This is the “dark side of Nationalism” which I speak of. I urge caution to unhindered Nationalism. It takes critical articles about America and its endeavors to keep this in check, including those aimed at our military. Actual journalism and not opinion. We as a vigilant people must check ourselves, check our Country’s actions. If we are viewed as aggressors, we should investigate the reason. We must be our own Internal Affairs force. If we don’t like negative press, perhaps we should clean up our collective act?


The road to hell is paved with good intentions… or so they say.

I’ve had them in the past, felt that I was trying to be “helpful” and voiced my opinion, when what I should have done was asked “how can I pray for you?” or “can I help you in any way”… Instead of offering my thoughts on what they should or shouldn’t do.

Ever happen to you?

Yeah, it’s happening to me.

I understand why, but it’s still hard to accept.

I guess that maybe my bereavement doula training has offered me even greater insight and wisdom in this regard. No matter how much information we think we may know about a situation, if you haven’t walked in the shoes of the person experiencing it, you cannot fully understand. You can try to, you can empathize, you can be supportive, or you can say hurtful things with your good intentions. The power of life and death is in the tongue, use it wisely.