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Just an Ordinary Gal

doing ordinary things. Aging, art, books, beefs, Fort Lauderdale, media and social criticism, shopping, creativity, or whatever matters that day. And stop by my website Fashion After 50.

Updated: 2017-11-06T02:54:47.851-05:00


Charming Trompe-L'œil in Jensen Beach, FL


These charming trompe-l'oeil paintings surrounded one building's facade and decorated others in a small business area. The next shot is of a smaller building.This pleasant vignette is complemented by two actual chairs. I can imagine someone sitting with a cafe au lait and newspaper, waiting for a fantasy lover to descend.Finally, the front of the building in a long view. Jensen Beach has an attractive waterfront area, perfect for casual dining on a nice afternoon or evening. It's slightly north of Stuart, Florida. aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books politics Fort Lauderdale fashion over 50 women news media fashion polyester art journalism, media, culture tabloid newspapers Florida environment liberal politics teaching eBay[...]

Those Boys I Loved


Those boys with long legs and ready smiles and new beards

Those boys on the cusp of manhood, already there but too busy

Fighting wars or dissenting in the streets to notice.

Those boys who made it easy to spend an afternoon

With our bodies wrapped in sheets and music,

the taste of wine in our mouths and herbs on our breath.

I wouldn’t trade those boys for another past.

Those boys turned out well.

Those other boys, the ones who followed money

Dull boys, a chore to entertain,

Entitled, sometimes arrogant, always distracted by the world.

Those other boys weren’t interesting or fun.

They buy their wives diamond tennis bracelets

And give their mistresses credit cards.

I'm glad I spent my youth with those boys

The artists and eccentrics

And not with those other boys.

Last Stand of the Patriarchy & Return of the Mother Energy


The nation's leading misogynist, making a last stand for white supremacy and All That is Holy while he's at it, has been clashing with a warrior woman who has played a role on the world stage for feminism since her landmark speech, 'Women’s Rights Are Human Rights."

Anyone who thinks the first woman president will arise out of the pure ocean waters on a pearly clam shell, like the Brazilian Yemanja myth, is from Mars. Politics used to be called the art of compromise, which has become a dirty word. It shouldn't be. It's the knack of being reasonable to get the BIG THINGS done.

That Hillary might not have made nice with Bill's exes doesn’t phase me. I've gone crazy with white-hot fury in an affaire de coeuer once of twice. And Hillary had to go through betrayal in the public eye at the center of a political shit storm.

That information was presented to prove that she is not human.

But this isn't a bad thing. I don't want a president who is may have a fit of the vapors for personal reasons during World War III.

Trump is an old warrior,a relic of the days of the Playboy mansion, days that blessedly are no more. He is drunk on the grog of power and privilege that were his by birthright or so he has believed.

Mother Kali, dancing fiery circles around the bleary-eyed dying king of patriarch, blinds him with flaming swords of intelligence.

"How do you know this?" he mumbles, bewildered by the waning of his world.

Kali, the Indian goddess of destruction and creation, is no dingbat diety who wanders around the clouds in a diaphanous toga.

She wears a necklace of skulls. She makes and breaks civilizations. Robert Wilkinson writes, "The Part of Fortune is conjunct TransPluto on the degree of 'the liberating ordeal.' Divine Mother will be front and center tonight" at

This moment is a make-or-break moment in the history of one of the great experiments in democracy in human history.

I wrote most this a few days ago, before reading Wilkerson's analysis. Sometimes I seem to feel archetypal energies. I've been engaged with the feminist intellectual project since the Seventies, and archetypal studies since the Nineties. From my seat in the grandstand, this is a big playoff between Patriarchy and a New Feminized World Order.

If Hillary knows what good -- and I think she does -- she will incorporate Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren into her Administration in influential and visible ways.

Trump Rallies: A Dangerous Method of Inciting Mob Mentality


Trump's actions, should he win the general election, will be constrained by the legislature and judicial branches of government, argue people anxious about his extreme immigration proposals. How could a president of a constitutionally governed country seize control? When I say, "Let's review what happened in Weimar Germany," people object that conditions are not the same. This is whistling in the dark.Fear Is the Only Condition that MattersWhen people are scared, when they feel wronged, conditions are ripe for a demagogue strong-man to promise that he, and only he, can fix things. People in Germany experienced runaway inflation and felt humiliated by the constraining terms of the World War I peace treaties. Hitler effectively used rallies and the new mass medium of radio to deflect these fears onto one group -- the Jews. Propaganda films visually likened them to rats. This still works. Government-sponsored radio in Rwando incited hatred so successfully that neighbors went next door and killed people they'd known for years with machetes. The imagery that time out was cockroaches.Trump doesn't bother with analogies: "They're criminals. They're rapists." In the case of MidEasterners, they hate America. Cult Leaders Isolate Their FollowersLike any cult leader, Trump isolates his followers. He alone is the truth-teller. Illegal immigration and crime are much, much worse than the mass media state, Trump warns. Journalists are the "lowest form of humanity." He excludes respected news providers from his rallies.Fox News reinforces this view.The Mythos of Good Guys versus Bad GuysHe creates an ancient mythos in simple language: Good guys versus bad guys. The phrase is repeated many times. From Westerns to space cowboys and beyond, from war movies to spy thrillers, good guys versus bad guys is an easy narrative to follow. Narrative cannot be argued against with logic and reasoning. It is a different way of thinking about reality. The only way to combat the appeal of this message is with an equally or more engrossing story.The Legitimization of HateTrump gives voice to ill feelings were previously inchoate and hidden in many people. He is legitimized by coverage on all major media outlets. He holds prime time hostage on news channels by scheduling his rallies at that time and gains coverage on the 11 o'clock news on from mainstream carriers. More and more people are exposed to this white supremacists ideology and allow nagging racially-based resentments to rise to the surface. As the Trump phenomenon is legitimized, these beliefs become central to their outlook and sense of self.Hitler fascinated with rallies that were spectacles of marching troops, book burnings, and visions of a once- and future-great Aryan race -- Trump's people, white America.The Most Primitive Terrors Are Racially BasedHowever one may wish to gussy up fears of The Other in the guise of economic problems, these fears are rooted at a primitive level of terror – fear of the races blending. Miscegenation is a crime beyond contemplating for many Trump supporters, unless it's a white guy raping a black woman and denying offspring as his. Miscegenation laws were on the books during the lifetime of many people still living. Racial fears are at a tipping point, because the white race will no longer be a majority of the USA population in a few decades. "We have to take our country back" is about whites taking the country back from The Other.White people wake up with night sweats about this, as one multicultural analyst recently wrote.The Spectacle of Rallies and Risky Shift ThinkingFear this deep and primitive is aroused as Trump's mass rallies. Shoulder to shoulder with other rabidly screaming racists, I no longer have to hate my inner bigot.Risky shift thinking is what allows people to commit unspeakable crimes that they might not perform alone. People egg each other to be ever more daring. Consider, for example, the eruption of street violence after sports matches and the ever-p[...]

RNC National Convention: Day Two


Our nominees for tonight's Ass Awards:Dumb Ass (like all women who support this candidate) Sharon Day, Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee.  Sharon Day was elected Co-Chairman of the Republican National She has served the Republican Party at the local, state, and national levels for more than 20 years.Ass clown for hire -- Dana White, President, UFC Dana White is the president and business visionary behind the success of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). White has expressed his gratitude to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump for helping the UFC succeed.Ambitious Ass -- Governor Asa Hutchison, Governor of ArkansasAsa Hutchinson is serving his first term as Governor of Arkansas. This newbie would have a hard time saying no.Smartass Obstructionist -- Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas Attorney General -- First time woman or Republican Arkansas Attorney General. Rutledge has joined Arkansas with Texas and other states in challenging the constitutionality of the Obama Administration’s executive orders on immigration and in filing to protect personal property rights.Greedy Ass -- Andy Wist, BusinessmanAndy Wist founded the Standard Waterproofing Company in 1979. Beginning in his mom’s basement in Brooklyn, Andy grew the company into one of the largest roofing, waterproofing, and landmark restoration companies in New York City.Dangerous Ass -- Chris Cox, Executive Director of NRA Institute for Legislative Action. Chris Cox directs NRA’s nationwide legislative and political efforts. He has been at the forefront of efforts resisting Obama administration gun control initiatives as well as abuses of power including the Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious effort that knowingly allowed guns to “walk” to Mexican drug cartels.Insignificant Ass -- Natalie Gulbis, Golfer, LPGANatalie Gulbis is a professional golfer playing on the U.S.-based LPGA tour. Gulbis wrote a much-talked about piece on entitled “The Donald Trump I Know” in which she voiced her strong support for Donald Trump to become President of the United States.Assbrain -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell has represented the state of Kentucky since 1985, making him the state’s longest-serving senator. McConnell also serves in the Senate leadership; he is currently the Senate Majority Leader, and before assuming that role, he served an eight-year term as Senate Minority Leader.Major horse’s ass -- U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (WI-1)U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is the permanent chairman of the 2016 Republican National Convention. Born and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin, Ryan has spent his life advocating for real solutions that help increase opportunities for all Americans. He first won election to the U.S. House in 1999, and during his tenure, he has become known for his leadership on budget and fiscal matters.Jackass -- U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23)Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has represented California in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2007. A fourth-generation resident of Kern County, California, he grew up in a working-class family and ran a small business, Kevin O’s Deli. He has applied this background to his work on behalf of small businesses and positions on burdensome taxes and regulations.Fat Ass -- Governor Chris Christie, Governor of New JerseyNew Jersey Governor Chris Christie was a candidate for president in the 2016 Republican primary. First elected governor in 2010, he was re-elected to his second term in 2013. The governor’s top priorities include balancing the state’s budget, education reform, and changing the national conversation about drug addiction and treatment.Expensive Ass -- Tiffany Trump, Daughter of Donald TrumpTiffany Trump was born October 13, 1993 to Donald Trump and Marla Maples. Raised in California, she is the second-youngest of Donald Trump’s children. Tiffan[...]

Police 'Roid Rage and Violence: Another Factor in Brutality?


Use of anabolic steroids by police is an under-investigated factor relative to the use of force by police officers. In the wake of years of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police officers, and sometimes even citizens, for minimal or imagined crimes, it is time to consider whether ‘roid rage plays a part in the abuse of force by men and women sworn to protect the peace.Thiblin and Parklo (2002) coordinate steroid use with later criminal violence and anti-social behavior, but the same size was limited. International Business Times (2013) links police ‘roid rage to steroid abuse and gym use.The problem is so widespread, writes Sabrina Erdeley (2005) in Men’s Health that “the DEA has published a pamphlet called Steroid Abuse by Law Enforcement Personnel, whose cover depicts two uniformed officers surrounded by floating syringes” (para. 5).  Juicers in blue also states there is no evidence about how steroids may contribute to police brutality – because there is so little research going on.Erdeley has some examples that I can readily relate to recent instances of police brutality in the news – the feelings of physical omnipotence and super-hero strength endowing the officer with a sense of invincibility.Charlie Gillis (2008) in Canadian McClean’s reports on widespread acceptance of anabolic steroid use among police as necessary to maintain an intimidating muscular presence that further separates police from the communities they patrol. He quotes one law enforcement official as saying that every police officer should take one cycle of steroid a year.            Fogel (2012) even introduces a term to make the use of these controlled substances more legitimate – Vocational steroid use.             Arizona law officers and University researchers (Humphrey et al, 2016) write about the difficulties of monitoring the use of Schedule III drug.  Officers often believe they need to boost their physical strength with steroids to do their jobs well. Alcohol abuse is readily censured and penalized. But testing for steroids is expensive and not yet widely administered.ReferencesErdely, S. R. (2005). Juicers in blue. Men’s Health, 20(8), online. Fogel, C.A. (2012). Vocational steroid use: Reconsidering the effectiveness of a prohibiton approach [abstract in English trans.]. Journal of Social Research, 3(1), 25-26. Accessed at EBSCO. Gillis, C. (2008). When the police are on the juice. McLean’s, 121(23), online.Humphrey, K.R., Decker, K.P., Goldberg, L., Harrison, G.P, Gutman, J., & Green, G. (2016, July). Anabolic steroid use and abuse by police officers: Policy and prevention. The Police Chief: The Professional Voice of Law Enforcements. Accessed at Business Times. (2013, Jan. 23). Police ‘roid rage: Widespread corruption linked to steroid abuse and gym use. International Business Times, online via EBSCO.Thiblin, I.,  & Parklo, T. (2002). Anabolic androgenic steroids and violence. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica Supplement 412, 106, 125-128. Accessed at EBSCO. aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books politics Fort Lauderdale fashion over 50 women news media fashion polyester art journalism, media, culture tabloid newspapers Florida environment liberal politics teaching eBay[...]

After Trump, the Deluge? New Media; New Moment of Risk to Democracy; What Comes Next?


On bad days, I don't think it matters who wins the general election. The Trump phenomenon has gone too far; it is a groundswell of vile, belligerent, violent anger stirred up not only by the right wing media, but all corporate media's pandering to Trump."Get him out of here. Get him out of here," Trump bellows at anyone in his audience who disagrees with him. A woman protester was pulled out by her heels, according to one radio or TV news report I heard. Trump is the person so many people want to be president.I lived in Spain toward the end of the regime of Generalissmo Franco, the last fascist dictator. There was a Guardia Civile in the classroom of all law classes, a student told us.If the Guardia thought a discussion had become too licentious, he took the barrel of his rifle and pounded it once on the floor. It signaled all discussion must stop. So there was this uneducated civil servant, equipped with a gun and the power of arrest, deciding what could be discussed by the law professor.Are we headed in this direction, as a society, where the ignorant and narrow-minded dictate what others may think and say?I have read arguments that Trump is not a fascist, because he does not have an ideology of fascism -- because he has no ideology at all. No one thought Hitler was making much sense either, yet his rambling diatribes energized people, as Trump seems to do.Trump is a clown to me, but others seemed hypnotized. He works the media, he works people's emotions, and he does it well.It really doesn't matter whether authoritarianism comes from the left or the right or out of an undefined political nowhere full of slogans and meaningless promises: I'll be the best president. I can promise you that."Three political lions emerged in the immediate aftermath of the popularization of radio -- Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. All were charismatic speakers. A devastating world war occurred.Kennedy rode the crest of the relatively new medium of television with cool good looks, while people who heard his debate with Nixon thought Nixon had won. We lived through a Cold War then. Note: The expression, Apres moi, le deluge, is attributed to the Sun King, Louis XIV, whose spending excesses led France down a slippery slope to the revolution of 1789. The quotation also has been attributed to Mme. du Pompadour. aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books politics Fort Lauderdale fashion over 50 women news media fashion polyester art journalism, media, culture tabloid newspapers Florida environment liberal politics teaching eBay[...]

Deal with the Devil: Trump, Christie's Mob Ties


The video of Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, endorsing Donald Trump looked like a man with a gun being held to his back. The impression is so staggering, Christie defended himself to CNN, declaring he was not being held hostage. The notion of a gun being held to Christie, figuratively or literally, is not from left field if one has a firm grasp of the mob-related corruption in New York-New Jersey. I grew up in upstate New York. Knowledge of political-organized crime corruption is bred into us.I was a reporter at the Times-Union when the large Capitol complex was being built in Albany at the cusp of the Seventies. Everyone knew someone who worked in construction. The construction crews burned down at night what had been built during the daytime. It was common knowledge.  It was just damned hard to prove that the fire had not been started by night crews to keep warm and got out of control by accident.             To identify Trump as a builder in New York construction, and his less successful casino ventures in New Jersey, is to say that he has been in bed with the mob for a long time. Politifact, in a balanced, well-researched article, points out that Trump may not  have been happy to deal with the mob, has never been charged with a crime, and provides evidence of the longstanding ties.David Marcus, at the avowedly conservative The Federalist, reports:"The Atlantic City story starts with Trump’s purchase of a bar, at twice its market value, from Salvatore Testa, a made man in the Philadelphia mafia and son of Philip “Chicken Man” Testa, who was briefly head of the Philly mob after Angelo Bruno’s 1980 killing. Harrah’s casino, half owned by Trump, would be built on that land, and Trump would quickly buy out his partner, Harrah’s Entertainment, and rename the casino Trump Plaza."Author Wayne Barrett lays out a slew of suspicious dealings and associations.Trump Plaza’s connection to the mob didn’t end with the land purchase from Testa. Nicademo “Little Nicky” Scarfo (who became boss after the elder Testa was blown up) and his nephew Phillip “crazy Phil” Leonetti controlled two of the major construction and concrete companies in Atlantic City. Both companies, Scarf, Inc. and Nat Nat, did work on the construction of Harrah’s, according the State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation’s 1986 report on organized crime," concludes Marcus. Not coincidentally, Christie is New Jersey and literally has family connections to crime. It strains my credulity that Christie, with his fat ass stuffed on manicotti, has not kissed the ring of a mob boss or two. In fact, Christi complained that he looked like a mob boss in a photo on Time magazine cover. What can one say but, "If it looks like a duck, maybe it is a duck." Does it walk like a duck?The New York Times reports that Christie visited Tino Fumera, a mob boss and family relation, in prison. In 2002, he recused himself as New Jersey top prosecutor when Fumera was involved.  As with Trump, the connections span time. It looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, and in the endorsement video, I submit it quacks like a duck.Is it far-fetched to ask if what I shall genteelly call behind-the-scenes pressure was put on Christie to support Trump? It would not be the first time organized crime has been implicated in presidential politics. “In his 1997 book, The Dark Side of Camelot, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh alleged that the elder Kennedy eventually did meet with Giancana in Chicago, to solicit his support for JFK in the general election” (National Geographic History.             But the Kennedys had class and idealistic values, qualities Donald Trump lacks. Republican Party elders are saying they have to support this Fasci[...]

Bucket List with a Big Helping of Comfort and Stability


American popular culture has made it  fashionable to have a bucket list as a requiem for one's youth. And to then go out and do whatever crazy dang thing is on the list.

This presumably shows character.

I did as many of the dang crazy things I could afford when I was younger. Quite a few are X-rated and others I refuse to acknowledge because my answer may incriminate me. My adventures have been naughty enough so that I am not going to tell them, and on the other side, sufficiently intellectual and fantasist to bore you.

A bucket list, it seems, benefits from the inclusion of extreme sports — parachute jumping, rock climbing, deep sea diving — as proof one is going to live every moment.

Even packing off to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in India is acceptable, showing adventurousness and intercultural curiosity.

My bucket list does not have an extreme sports or jaw-dropping excursions. I will jump out of an airplane wearing a parachute the day a terrorist points a gun at me and says, “Jump or I’ll shoot.”

My bucket list is simple.

I want to live in a house in Florida where I can have dogs. I want to have two or three, and I want to rescue dogs, particularly poodles.

I would love to have purebreds; they are such a joy. But at this point in aging and maturity, I feel called to relieve some suffering.

I want the house to be energy efficient, secure, in a neighborhood with some businesses and nice vintage homes, perhaps a few mid-century modern buildings that are such a delightful part of Florida architecture.

I want to be part of a dog training and/or rescue group, attend Jung and Sufi events here and on the Eastern seaboard, perhaps other places. Find someone with whom to attend jazz concerts.

I’d like to visit a friend in England, visit Glastonbury and other places known for their ley lines, get into Ireland and Scotland, explore for a month at least. Visit France one last time. Not sure if I want to return to Spain. Would like to see Jung’s home in Switzerland and experience that country.

I’d like to make a good friend or two.

I’d like to spend more time on my health, make exercise a priority.

Get away from the TV. Spend more time with music, reading, writing.

The simple life.

Real Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas: Recollections & Rant


            Merchants have turned the 12 days of Christmas on their head, with popular culture -- movies and ads – depicting the 12 days preceding the holiday as the most important times to express consideration and get busy with that shopping.  Traditionally, The 12 days of Christmas follow the birth of the child Jesus. It took the Three Wise Men – shadowy figures from East of Palestine – that long to reach Bethlehem after the star appeared to guide them on the so-called Holy Night.             This night was fixed at December 24, to co-opt the pagan rituals. In early times of winter celebration, feasting in the lord’s castle or the village continued until Jan. 5, the Feast of Epiphany or Little Christmas as it was called in the ethnic community where I was raised. On this night, the myth holds, the Wise Men reached Bethlehem to complete the cycle of rejoicing following the birth of the new king.              12 Nights of Socializing In my father’s extended family, and my mother’s smaller local family, there was much visiting in the evenings during the 12 nights of Christmas. The men returned from work, generally factory or crafts jobs; the family had dinner. Then the children were bundled into snowsuits, and we set off in the dark, chill night on icy streets. Or relatives might ring the bell about the time we finishing cleaning up after supper.             In that case, we children were expected to allow ourselves to be hugged, answer questions civilly, open any gifts in the presence of the givers and say “thank you” as sincerely as we could manage as kids, no matter what our personal opinions might be. Then we might go to our rooms, which were not equipped with televisions.  A television was a space-consuming piece of furniture and the focus of the living room. Even radio was not available until my teens, when cheap Japanese transistors came into widespread, affordable use.        The Social Protocols      Certain visits were obligatory. Visits to grandparents and/or get-togethers with siblings occurred on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Less close connections were attended to during the week. Nieces and nephews were expected to visit their aunts and uncles, bringing the children to meet the great-aunts and –uncles. Godparents had to be visited, or the godparent might visit the child’s home. There didn’t seem to be a pecking order on that. In general, it was expected that families with young children and older people were less mobile, so they would be visited. In general, younger people visiting older ones showed respect.             Conversation often centered on family. Conversations included keeping track of marriages and – rare in those times, divorces, as well as births, illnesses, children’s education and antics, and gossip about mutual acquaintances. In addition to information sharing, one conversational ploy was known as fishing.  Direct questions about many things were rude. If one suspected that a woman had died her hair to cover the gray, or someone’s child was getting into trouble, one might volunteer some information that would anticipate a similar self-disclosure from the other person. If I wanted to know if cousin Holly’s child was failing in school, I might volunteer that one of my children was struggling with math or English or some such. Inquiry could be deflected by focusing solely on the inquisitor’s situation: “I am sorry to hear it.”       &nb[...]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Becomes Stylish Actor with Good Taste


I was not impressed with Joseph Gordon-Levitt when I first saw him in Third Rock from the Sun, a loony sitcom about aliens reporting from Earth.I thought that Kristen Johnson, with those long legs and great timing for wise-ass combacks, would be a force to be reckoned with. I was wrong.Photo from is Gordon-Levitt who shines these days.Slight of build with a face more cute than handsome, Gordon-Leavitt endows the crazy cyclist messenger in Premium Rush. He inhabits the character with a cocky taste for danger that makes this most mundane job as exciting and dangerous as climbing Mount Everest.He pushes this ability to capture both sweetness and risk-taking in Brick, a film that reminds me mightily of Dealing or the Berkeley-to-Boston  40-Brick Lost-Bag Blues, an early Michael Crichton effort under a pseudonym with his brother Douglas. In both, students assume noirishly adult lines and lives.Brick lacks the good-natured humor of Dealing, but the world has changed a great deal since those simpler times of the Seventies. It improves upon it with the subtle cleverness projected by Gordon-Levitt and some catching dialogue.It is disconcerting when high school students act and talk with the worldliness of characters in a Sam Spade novel. Despite the milieu, it is well done.Gordon-Levitt pulls it off. Writing of his role in an earlier film, the San Francisco Chronicle noted he "embodies, more than performs, a character's inner life," according to Wikipedia.Stephanie Zacharek at Salon similarly praised his ability to create a "spell  in subtle gradation," also quoted at Wikipedia. Gordon-Levitt adds elegance and sophistication to this worldliness in the shadowy (and disturbingly violent) comic book adaptation, Sin City: A Dame to Die For. He plays a supremely self-confident gambler, again pushing against the qualities that he seems to seek out in independent and studio films alike. I've only seen the trailers from The Walk. It appears that Gordon-Levitt once again inhabits his character, based on Philippe Petit, who actually made the daring performance on a high wire between two New York skyscrapers.It is interesting to see a young actor emerge into a formidable stylish. I hope I'm not wrong when I predict Gordon-Levitt will pick up a well-deserved Oscar one of these days.aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books politics Fort Lauderdale fashion over 50 women news media fashion polyester art journalism, media, culture tabloid newspapers Florida environment liberal politics teaching eBay[...]

Why I Miss Kyra Sedgwick in "The Closer"


The Closer is in reruns, and this gives me a chance to watch details of techniques that I didn’t notice when my goal was to follow the mystery.tvguide.comKyra Sedgwick’s expressive face must surely be one of the reasons her character is so appealing. I loved her as Brenda Lee Johnson, a tough-minded police chief detective who didn’t mind stepping on toes in her single-minded pursuit of truth. She’s brash. She forgets dates with yummy Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney) of the FBI, and he love her anyway most of the time.She makes tough decisions. Won’t cooperate with her? She will plop you down in the middle of a gang war, making sure your homies believe you’ve been a snitch, and if they should kill you – well, karma’s a bitch.She smart, almost too smart for her own good. By turns charming and threatening, she is famous for closing the tough cases by eliciting a confession from the perpetrator when the evidence isn't enough to secure a conviction.And brave. Did I mention brave? She may be scared, but like a good soldier, she does not let fear dictate her actions. Throughout it all she looks terrific.  And oh those expressions that move across her face when she savors a luscious chocolate, oozing with marshmallow or caramel, at the end of a long day. It is a face of utter sensuality and bliss. Or when she flirts. Or pretends she's going to apologize and then turns the apology into an evaluation: "I am so sorry that you are incompetent to do your job."Brenda Leigh Johnson was not a super hero. She was a believable older woman character of strength and shortcomings in roughly equal measure. She struggled, she wasn’t always a good person, but she was always authentic.She lived her values.Brenda Leigh Johnson, I miss ya, baby.aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books politics Fort Lauderdale fashion over 50 women news media fashion polyester art journalism, media, culture tabloid newspapers Florida environment liberal politics teaching eBay[...]

Free Verse: Growing Older


One thinks for a momentAt the beginningThat life will be orchestras playing at weddingsCake and bridesmaids’ bouquetsNights a little tipsyOr filled with hallucinations of a garden of stuffed animalsThe roar of an expressway like a waterfall in the distance.Driving in cars to airportsTo pick up luggage filled with grass.Boys who want to run their hands up your leg.Sweet kisses, deep and filled with longingAnd lust.One thinks this will last forever.Enjoy being young, we are told.We can see the physical changes.The bodies grown wrinkled,A bit stooped, Slower, a bit musty.But it’s not the body changes that dim the orchestra And the street lamps wetly off the pavement.One stares with far-off eyes into an unknown distanceWondering where the others went who came beforeAnd wandering off darkling into the everylasting night.We’ve heard the orchestra beforeDanced our dances.No more young men who want to run their hands up my legs.No more sweet kisses that last until dawn.Only night.Only the fading strains of the orchestra that is getting ready to pack its gear.aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books politics Fort Lauderdale fashion over 50 women news media fashion polyester art journalism, media, culture tabloid newspapers Florida environment liberal politics teaching eBay[...]

Quaint Lake Worth Has Art Deco Supermarket, Shops, Restaurants


On my most recent day trip to Lake Worth, I discovered Publix has given its supermarket an Art Deco flare, in keeping with many of the historic homes in that city.Even the loading dock has decorative elements. Notice the Key West style home in the rear at left. I love the colors of our subtropical environment. This block of shops once housed a Church of Religious Science that was a source of great support and friendship during my early time in South Florida in the 1980s. Facing toward City Hall are the great trees in which I often observed a large flock of parrots make their evening stop.I noticed this shop door on the main street; do people really need to be coached to experience gratitude? I enjoyed seeing this Christmas village in one shop window. It reminded me of the one I inherited from my mother and grandmother. I gave it away some time ago, when it back pain made it too challenging to put up each year.Murals seem to be cropping up everywhere. I caught the next two in Lantana, slightly south of Lake Worth. One is on a Greek restaurant on U.S. 1.The patriotic mural, declaring Freedom Is Not Free, was on the side of a municipal recreation center building. aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books politics Fort Lauderdale fashion over 50 women news media fashion polyester art journalism, media, culture tabloid newspapers Florida environment liberal politics teaching eBay[...]

Gluing Fabric Is Much Easier than Upholstering Doors


Upholstering the old-fashioned closet doors in my living area proved a big task, covered here.

For the bedroom doors, I tried a much easier, efficient, and economical process: I created panels and hot-glued them to the 7.5-foot panels.

Burlap has a nice heavy texture and it is easy to create straight lines, even without a proper fabric cutting table, which I don't have.

Just pull a thread. If the fabric is loomed straight, you end up with straight lines. This is relatively easy with a coarse weave, but it takes a bit more time than writing the sentence.

The fabric panels create a more modern, plain feel that I like. The slight bubbles in the top photo are less noticeable on the tall door as a whole. Moreover, the closet is in a narrow alcove, so one really doesn't often step back to view them as I have here.

This bottom photo shows an uncovered door. I have only this one left to do.

I steam-ironed the burlap, and I used a loose stitch around the edges to create a neat edge line.

I would not recommend this in a child's room or for anyone who is rough. I slide the doors gently on the tracks, using only the handles or the raised edges.

Semi-Retirement, The Fork in the Road, and Choosing Truth over Comfort


Recently I have realized that I have saved enough to revert back to being an adjunct professor. I enjoy working on the Fashion After 50 website; I have additional online teaching possibilities that I don't fully use.But I like comfort. I like the extras that working full-time allows, even when the restrictions -- no vacations except a week (five days) after every four-month term,  have to punch a time clock like a kid on her first job, responsibilities that crowd out my creative work and make it more challenging to exercise -- cramp the possibilities of growing fully into who I am.As so often is the case, a serendipitous nudge seems to point in a certain direction. Writes Alice Gardner, in her wonderful little book, Life Beyond Belief, Everyday Living as Spiritual Practice:"If there was one factor most responsible for the continued awakening of those who seek the truth, it would have to be that of consistently choosing to seek truth over the comforts that appear to be available along the way."Each stage of development that we move through has its own kind of comforts inherent in it and we may be tempted to settle for those comforts instead of some far-away-sounding spiritual destination that mind isn't even sure exists. (p. 129) "By what means can we avoid these kinds of diversions?"There is, of course, not a method, but only a cultivating of an awareness of our deepest intentions and a willingness to look inside ourselves to find our own most authentic responses to each moment."If there was anything that might be called a method to deal with how to make the little decisions in life without compromising truth for comfort, it would be to unearth this internal navigation system [that each person has] and be true to it and to ourselves in all of the little day-to-day decisions that come along, as well as the occasional major decisions." (p. 130)That seems to be an answer of sorts, and I have a timeline for easing back into adjunct work in a way that will cause, hopefully, the least financial disruption to my goals.  frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="//®ion=US&placement=0979243505&asins=0979243505&linkId=5GIV3K4DXSPHKHNZ&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066C0&bg_color=F5F5DC" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;">aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books politics Fort Lauderdale fashion over 50 women news media fashion polyester art journalism, media, culture tabloid newspapers Florida environment liberal politics teaching eBay[...]

Venice, Florida, Flea Market with Unusual Architecture


On a recent trip to Venice, Florida, I spotted this beguiling dome-roofed flea market.

Whimsically painted in turquoise and aqua, it looks like a fun place to stop.

I love the remnants of kitschy Old Florida, fast vanishing from our landscape of strip malls, parking lots, and neat subdivision homes where dogs are not allowed.

The dome stretches behind the front structure a good way. The sky the day I took these photos was miraculous.

Fish Depot: From the Ocean to You


Fish Depot in Boynton Beach is the best fish market in South Florida. I drive up from Fort Lauderdale with my cooler.

By the time I get there, the selection may be depleted as you see here.

You might think that this old-fashioned method of refrigeration wouldn't be as good as coolers. But that is far from the truth. People like me come from all over to Fish Depot on Federal Highway (U.S. 1).

When I lived closer, I often saw fishermen driving up with a boat on a tow to offload whatever they didn't want for personal use at the back door of Fish Depot, shown here.

If I recall right, the unusual structure once housed a neighborhood bar, way back in the early 1980s.

I like the whimsical windmill design. Kitschy structures like this once dotted South Florida, calling out to tourists making their way South on U.S. 1.

Most have fallen to wreckers and been replaced by trim subdivision housing.
Besides having the best fish, Fish Depot has this cool mural to hide the dumpster.

Why do I love living in South Florida? Let me count the ways.

Banish You Guys, A Scourge on the Language


The ugly, low-class phrase you guys has become the most common way to address listeners.I have heard people with master’s degrees address a group of educators – all with advanced degrees – as you guys.I have heard highly-paid business professionals of mixed gender, all in suits, addressed as you guys.Game show announcers and media commentators with seven- and eight-figure incomes call listeners you guys.Some of my students are so baffled by this turn of events that when I ask them not to use you guys in formal speeches, they ask, “What should we call a group of people then?”They were surprised that the English language already has a perfectly good word for addressing a group of people: you.Once known to every elementary school child that you was both a singular and plural form of address, this has become obscure, esoteric knowledge. Decades ago, the Modern Language Association and the American Psychological Association acted on research that demonstrated gender-exclusive language has a constrictive effect on people’s abilities to imagine non-gendered roles and characteristics for women.This is especially true for young children who take what they hear literally. If doctors are referred to as he and nurses as she, they assume those are the roles they must fill. Gender-inclusive language became preferred.Women were often told that when a word such as mankind was used, of course it included them. I am pretty sure that if the convention had been to refer to all people as "whitekind," only ignorant racists would argue that people of color should simply know that of course the word included them.Today the word guys is freighted with traditionally masculine attributes such as watching football, drinking beer, and ogling women. So it is even more offensive to call any group you guys when it may include people born male who choose not to self-present as traditionally masculine.I am on a one-woman crusade to stop this scourge on the English language.I have asked colleagues to please stop referring to a group that contains me as you guys as I am not now, have never been, and have no intention of becoming a guy.I quietly suggested to a department assistant director who supervises a small group of women, all highly accomplished and most with master’s degrees, that it is disrespectful to refer to them as you guys, as she often does as meetings.I have edited my own speech so that this phrase, as catchy as the flu, does not disgrace my own address.I penalize student speakers – just a little, just a reminder – who use this phrase in formal speeches.There is a perfectly good, simple word in the English language for addressing any group of males, or females, or both, or any mixture of males, females, hermaphrodites, transgenders, bisexuals, and the coming generations of cyborgs, chimeras and clones – and that word is YOU.It is sufficient.aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books politics Fort Lauderdale fashion over 50 women news media fashion polyester art journalism, media, culture tabloid newspapers Florida environment liberal politics teaching eBay[...]

Catfish Dewey's: Neighborhood Joint with Great Service, Lots of Carbs, Less Flavor


If you are a vacationer who wants to visit a seafood restaurant where the locals go, add Catfish Dewey's to your Fort Lauderdale things-to-do list.You will need a rented car or plan for a taxi ride that, in my experience, could easily be $30 or more.No local restaurant has been able to equal the fried oyster po' boy at King Neptune in Port Salerno, but I keep trying.My first choice was the 15th Street Fisheries. On this sunny South Florida Sunday, I could think of worse things to do than eat on the water. The parking lot at the marina is small, and the line for valet parking was long.So I turned around. I don't like crowds when I eat. I headed along to Catfish Dewey's restaurant in Oakland Park.I figured it would be a family restaurant; all-you-can-eat catfish usually is, and I had plenty enough of that in Georgia. I don't bother with AYCE menus, because my appetite is small. Quality matters more than quantity.The first dish was conch fritters that arrived along with my iced tea. These were perfect -- warm and tasy. Conch can be tediously rubbery. The serving was generous, probably around eight. I couldn't finish my portion.The coleslaw arrived next, piled high -- so high, I had trouble forking it up from the small, shallow side bowl. It lacked seasoning, but I give this Florida restaurant props for the generous portions.Some eateries skimp on the slaw, and I can't understand that. Cabbage is cheap. The owner of an Italian restaurant once told a friend that one secret of his success was generous portions of spaghetti. "It's cheap," the restauranteur explained, and diners love you for it.Catfish Dewey's subscribes to this philosophy.My waitress -- and I'm sorry I didn't pay attention to her name because she deserves a shout-out -- was solicitous without being obtrusive.This is not the kind of restaurant where the server introduces herself and acts as if you are going to be BFF from then on. You are more likely to hear, "What can I get you, hon?"She kept my tea full, got the tartar sauce I asked for promptly, and delivered the check in a timely way without even having to catch her eye.The oyster sandwich and old-fashioned southern greens I got (kale, I think) were also generous. There were seven or eight juicy plump oysters on the roll, lightly battered and fried exactly as the menu promises.I prefer more seasoning on everything, so I dumped a lot of Louisiana hot sauce on them before dipping them in the tartar sauce, also not spicy enough for me. I skipped the huge role.The greens were not the most flavorful I've ever had -- low in salt and not enough bacon or pork fat or whatever it is that makes this dish often taste so good.Catfish Dewey's is a large dining hall with rustic red-check tablecloths and wood floor. Plenty of people were eating when I arrived toward 3 p.m. I prefer to eat when the crowds are light, so my timing was excellent. There are always cars parked out front when I drive past, but there is more parking in the rear. Cars in the parking lot is a sign of a potentially good restaurant. I have tried a few restaurants whose parking lots are empty; invariably, people were avoiding them for good reasons.Many Americans like restaurants with plentiful if somewhat bland servings. I cannot fault Catfish Dewey's as a seafood Florida restaurant that is easy on the pocketbook and has good service. Even though I prefer spicier food, Catfish Dewey's is an experience worth recommending among Fort Lauderdale things-to-do.aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books politics Fort Lauderdale fashion over 50 wo[...]

DIY: Casters for A Small Pantry Cabinet; Saving An Insulated Wheeled Bag from Extinction for $0


I love a little pantry cabinet that I picked up for $40 in a thrift shop nine years ago. It is a perfect space saving idea for my small kitchen.The problem is that the swing-out shelf doors need three inches of empty space on either side, making it hard to find the right spot for it. The pantry slides into the folding-shelves by leaving the bottom two shelves up. I also bought the folding shelves in a thrift shop. I stack two, instead of using a baker's rack for open storage. This gives me six shelves instead of the typical three or four on a baker's rack. The shelves are narrower, making storage more accessible and a better fit in a galley kitchen.As the photo shows, the doors will not open, however.That's why I installed casters on the bottom. As long as I had it upside down, I put three screws into the backing which was coming loose along that bottom edge.With casters, I can slide the cabinet forward when I need to access my canned goods, tea, and other dry goods. Then I can slide it back into its nook.Unfortunately, the wheels made the pantry just a tad too high so that the top shelf would no longer fold down. Simple fix: I shoved some sliders under the bottom of the shelves. Sliders are intended for putting under furniture when moving them. Now the height is perfect.Installing the casters was easy peasy, so I moved onto to fixing an insulated food bag with a saggy bottom.This project required some creative problem-solving.The bag cost less than $20 and was designed to fold into a narrow profile for storage. It has toted a lot of weight it was never meant to carry over the past decade.I picked up some scrap molding at Home Depot.The boards are shown along the back of the freezer bag along the pull-up handle. Right below that handle, there was another break where two boards meet but had no support. You can see how I cleverly used two curtain rod brackets to provide stability. They are just below and to the side of each wheel. I placed the curtain bracket edges toward the bag--see close-up photo. Knowing me, I would rip into a bare shin with one of those if the edges faced out. I used a washer under each screw to compensate for the slightly raised bracket edges. See photo.I had hoped the scrap molding wood could support the bag's bottom. This wasn't feasible. The original bottom was two wood sections with nothing but quilted bag between them and an interior square cardboard panel. No wonder this poor bag was sagging!Neither scrap strip was wide enough to screw into both of the original wood sections, yet they were too long to use in the other direction. Instead, I used two shim strips that I had on hand. I inserted them under the torn vinyl cover and screwed them into the existing wood construction.I sealed the opening with a hot glue gun and added a piece of heavy duty laminate. I took the photo on close-up setting so it looks a lot messier than it is. Remember, this is on the bottom of the bag toward the pavement, where no one can see it.___________________________________________With the main repairs completed, the scrap molding came in handy to stabilize the inside. I hot-glued the strips into place.The bag has a fold-down bottom for the expanded dimensions; this covers the wood under-floor. The bag no longer folds, but it hasn't been used in the slim-line configuration for years. Plus, I can probably get a few more years' use out of this handy bag -- and all the things I used to fix it (except my time) with FREE. Free is good!aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books pol[...]

Jupiter to Stuart: Discovering Wild Places As Old Florida Vanishes


It is hard to find places with a vista uninterrupted by development in South Florida, like this birding sanctuary in Jensen Beach.It is right off U.S. 1. No one was there on this hot September Saturday.One of my favorite things-to-do on a beautiful blue-sky day is drive north to discover things I've never seen or that have changed since last I saw them.My first September in South Florida, 1982, I was surprised every time I went outdoors the palm trees and heat.I traveled from New York State on Labor Day weekend, 1982, accompanied by the annual snowbird migration; it seemed as if every fifth car on that great flyover route, I-95, had a northern license plate.I would soon learn that September can be one of the hottest months of summer, the autumnal equinox that ushers in Fall notwithstanding.There is a shaded picnic hut for bird watchers well down the trail; I doubt you can see the tiny speck in this this photo.In this direction, you may see some high-rise condominiums just on the horizon line.The first time I saw this area, it was so undeveloped, one followed foot trails between the sea grape bushes -- particularly nice one left -- and scrub palmetto to the ocean. We emerged from the dark canopy to the stunning vista of sky so blue it hurt the eyes and sand as white as salt.L'Ombre, my Doberman Pinscher, mistook the sand for snow. He threw up a snoutful and chomped down to eat some, as he did with snow.But Mother Nature had played a cruel trick on him and was about to pay another.He ran to the ocean to get the sand out of his mouth, only to be confronted with another thing he had never before encountered -- salt water. Poor doggie.But he loved the beach and to swim in the ocean, something none of my other dogs ever did. They feared the water and hated the hot sand on their feet.The next set of photos is from a detailed mural with sections in relief, in an arcade leading to a small hole-in-the-wall bar and little gift shops. I think this is Port Salerno, but I'm not sure.The first photo blends trompe l'oiel with a real potted plant. Other depictions are a sailfish, a popular sport fishing catch; underwater scene with mermaid, and a school of fishes under the gift shop window.In an art gallery just around the corner from the arcade, I found beautiful art that captures the South Florida ambiance I love. Some of the photos turned out darker and more shadowed than I could rememdy.This mermaid sculpture is a lovely piece for home that would need to be larger than mine to accommodate it.The charming watercolor depict the insouciance of a Florida that is decades gone and never to return.On the way home, I took a wrong turn and wound up in an area that seemed deserted -- even of cars. It is unnerving to think about being stranded miles from anywhere on a road for which I don't know the name and could only be sure that I was driving generally East.Assuming there is cell phone coverage -- and I wasn't -- how would I tell the tow-truck to find me on a road off the Kanner Highway with a sign pointing toward I-95?At first, the fields had cows grazing; after a mile two there was what you see in the photo. I like knowing there are still wild places in Florida -- even though this looks like second growth -- but I don't necessarily want to live or be stranded in such a place.aging love, life, loss baby boomer women books politics Fort Lauderdale fashion over 50 women news media fashion polyester art journalism, media, culture tabloid newspapers Florida environment [...]

Warehouse with Artistic Mural Captures Eye of the Hurricane


Even our warehouses are better in Fort Lauderdale.

This ordinary gray cinderblock warehouse is probably will not be on any tourists' list of things-to-do in Fort Lauderdale.

Located on a street parallel to Dixie Highway, the muralist made the best of the dull gray exterior by using it for an eye-of-the-hurricane scene.

I like the energy of the storm and the way the palm trees are shown bending in the wind.

So far, we've escaped any hurricanes, but I learned this morning on the Weather Channel, that 49% of all hurricanes hit the East Coast USA in September. And 82% come in September or October.

I remember some doozies late in the season. Wilma, for one, had schools closed in November. Tropical Storm Irene, later upgraded to hurricane, knocked down our fence and closed roads.

Going back to the Eighties, I remember the time a tanker washed up in the back yard of Palm Beach socialite Molly Wilmot. She fed the Venezuelan crew finger sandwiches and adopted their cat. If you are intrigued, you can read her 2002 New York Times obituary here.

Customer Service Lacking When US Postal Services Charges But Doesn't Deliver


The first time the U.S. Postal Service shrugged off a confirmation tracking claim, I figured it was an anomaly best forgotten. Today I learned USPS Priority Mail is a scam. The customer service philosophy, "We don't guarantee anything."

Case in point: On July 31, I sent an Priority Mail envelope from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa .

Today is August 7. The tracking information at shows it was scheduled for Aug. 3 delivery, and there is no updates since then. The recipient contacted me yesterday to let me know the packet was long overdue.

What does the USPS say about this? "We don't make any guarantees." And there is no refund.

I could drive to Tampa and back with time to spare.

Four or five years ago, I sent a $90 textbook using Media Mail with a tracking confirmation number. It was not only delivered to the wrong address; it was delivered to the wrong city to an address that had no resemblance to that of the addressee.

What did USPS customer service say? The equivalent of, "Well will you lookee that?"

"Are you going to do anything about it?"

"What can we do?" they shrugged.

I'm not a legal scholar, but isn't there a law against tampering with mail that is not your own? Perhaps the mail carrier could go up to the door and ask for the package back.

What about that sign in the Post Office that says 2-day Priority Mail with the price. I looked and looked and I couldn't find anything that said, "No guarantees."

Isn't that sign an implied contract?

USPS fraud is occurring, it would seem, every day with no help for those of us who are dumb enough to believe what the signs say.

Ernie's Barbecue: An Institution Best Avoided If Ketchup Is Not Your Idea of Good Sauce


Ernie's Barbecue has become a Fort Lauderdale institution of local popular culture during its half-century-plus in operation. Somehow, I strayed onto websites that suggested it was the top ribs joint in town and should be high on the Fort Lauderdale things-to-do and restaurants to sample list.

I don't look for ambiance in a barbecue restaurant. Ernie's has some Florida murals, an interesting floor that may be terrazzo and looks like it needs a thorough cleaning, and the ever-present TV screens of the sports bar.

The first sign that this would not be a meal to remember in a good way was the menu description of the ribs threatening it would be "smothered" in sauce.

I've come to favor Memphis and St. Louis spice rubs. But I've got nothing against a good sauce, either. I've sampled some of the best in Georgia, can whip up my own with a complex layering of flavors that includes the subtlety of leeks, and I'm not against Bone-Sucking Sauce in a jar in a pinch.

Ernie's sauce was all but inedible. Lumps of diced onions that had not been cooked thoroughly enough to dissolve floated in a mixture of catsup and vinegar. I couldn't scrape enough of it off the ribs fast enough.

Slaw was served in a tiny cup. C'mon folks, cabbage is cheap. Why be stingy?

The Bahama bread was okay. On the plus side, real butter was served, and the ice tea was strong and flavorful.

The waitress was indifferent, and the barkeep could barely pry his eyes off the TV long enough to summon her.

Like the fast-food restaurants that litter the American landscape, Ernie's is another example of Americans insensate palates. That it has such a long history proves the bankruptcy of popular culture food preferences. You can find plenty of poor reviews along with the raves; I recommend trusting the former.

Ernie's is located at 1843 S Federal Hwy (US 1), just slightly south of 17th Street with its Causeway, on the West side of Federal.