Wednesday, June 29, 2005

To Gettysburg

I'm going on vacation - all by myself. This will be a relatively new experience for me - going away on vacation alone. I've really only done it once in the last six years - and that was also to Gettysburg - although Mark did come to spend one day with me.

This time I will be in one of my "Meccas" all alone (my other "Mecca" is Glastonbury)- to do what I want, when I want. Not that I don't miss the company of friends or family (my favorite trip was to Disney World, Sea World and Discovery Cove with Heather) but when I go on one of my "Mitzi journeys" - it's really about the journey. It's about learning something about the place, the history and more importantly, Mitzi.

I am drawn to Gettysburg - have been for as long as I can remember. I've spent some time reading (more) and mapping out possible walking trips. I've reread a couple of the Mark Nesbit books on the Ghosts of Gettysburg. I dug out several books on tape about the Battle and it's aftermath to listen to on the trip down. I have my books and maps ready to go. I will be there on the 142 anniversary of possibly the largest battle every fought in North America - or maybe even this hemisphere.

A history of Adams County alludes to a previous battle on the same ground. Many years before white settlers founded the town that was to become a thriving crossroads of Nineteenth Century Pennsylvanian commerce, there was a large Indian battle.

Is it the land? Is it the lay of the land? General Buford recognized the lay of the land on that first day - July 1, 1863 - when he and his Union calvary galloped through town and to the western fields north of the Lutheran Seminary. There were several areas of "high ground" and from the first day the Union generals knew that any engagement would be won by the forces on the high ground.

So maybe it's the land that beckons the soldier and the seeker. The energy of centuries of combat and compassion. For the story of the Battle cannot be told - should not be told - without mentioning the sacrifice of the townspeople. Although only one citizen of Gettysburg died during the Battle - young Jennie Wade as she baked bread for the Union soldiers - all in the community of 2500 were forever affected by the aftermath.

The Armies of the North and the South both marched away after the Battle, leaving behind 50,000 or more casualties, including their dead. They left behind more than 6000 dead horses and mules. They left behind verdant fields decimated by cannon fire and death. They left behind a town and a people forever changed - the change felt to this very day. The townspeople of Gettysburg rallied to care for the men of the both armies - they housed and nursed the injured and comforted the dying. For the citizens of Gettysburg it didn't matter if someone wore a blue or gray uniform.

I believe that land soaks up the energy of people and events. Not only the energy of war and destruction seeped into the fields surrounding Gettysburg - but the energy of healing and forgiveness - love and caring. That was what the townspeople gave to the land - that's what continues to live on.

Maybe that's why Gettysburg is one of my Meccas. Not because of the Battle - but because of what happened after the Battle.

Not Pickett's Charge . . .

Let's just make one thing clear:
It should never be called Pickett's Charge. It really was Longstreet's Assault.

Longstreet has an historical black-eye from being blamed for Lee's loss on the Third Day and therefore, the loss of The Battle of Gettysburg. Some historians and Longstreet detractors feel that Longstreet should have forced his "to the right of the Union line" assault on Lee. Lee wanted to hit the Union line on Cemetery Ridge in the middle. Lee prevailed. Longstreet followed the wishes of his commander and began his assault in the afternoon of July 3, 2005.
Lee's forces were decimated and retreated to Union cries of "Fredricksburg! Fredricksburg!"

So being the good Northern girl that I am - Union blue running through my viens: Why do I take up the banner for justice for Longstreet? I just think that sometimes, it's not only the victors who write history - it's the losers who want to rewrite the loss. What's right is right.

Longstreet didn't lose the Battle of Gettysburg. Lee lost it. That idea was (and still is) a difficult one for some people to accept. Lee was a great general - so great that, on the eve of the War, Lincoln offered him the Army of the Potomac. But Lee could not see himself fighting against his beloved Virginia. Throughout the first years of the War, Lee's legend grew to super-human proportions. Lee could not do anything wrong.

But he did at Gettysburg. He didn't listen to his "old warhorse" - Longstreet.

It was Longstreet's Assault - not Pickett's Charge - but it was Lee's decision.

And it took 100 years before Longstreet had a statue at Gettysburg. Such was his infamy.

If Lee had listened? Well, who knows?
But he didn't and Longstreet took the blame.

Remember: It was Longstreet's Assault.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Can you say RACIST? The saga of Oprah and the Paris boutique

I don't give a crap that Hermes is apologizing.
I don't give a crap that she is the most recognizable black woman in history.
I don't give a crap that she had ordered thousands of dollars worth of designer bags (probably the reason for the apology).

I give a crap that the store did NOT let a black woman inside.
I give a crap because the French set themselves up as "Oh, so much better than you barbarian Americans."
I give a crap because I'm freakin' tired of this crap.
So what if someone's black, or yellow, or brown or red or . . .even fat like me. If I can afford to buy your crap, let me in the f---ing store.

If I'm in the damn JUNIOR section at Boscov's, do NOT give me the stink eye and tell me the "Woman's Section is over there." I just may be buying something for a friend.

I've been told by black friends that sometimes sales people follow them around a store - especially if it's an "upscale" store. Hmmpf! "Upscale" my ass!

Can you say "Wynona Rider"? Oh, sure - Hermes would have let little, white Wynona in.

I wonder if Hermes is thinking of opening a store in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Scoping out guys at B&N

I love going to the local Barnes and Noble early Sunday morning. I get a venti latte, gather up an armload of magazines and slip into a back table. I sip latte, puruse articles and people watch.

This morning was just like that until he walked into my line of vision. He was tall and slightly overweight with a lot of lovely white hair and a trim white beard. He was a cutie. I usually don't notice guys that much- maybe I'm getting immune as I age. But I noticed him. He was walking around the magazine racks and eventually went out of sight.

I went back to reading Civil War Times - an interesting article about Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Little Round Top that was not a Chamberlain-bashing article - for which I was grateful. I hate to read articles bashing him and "Old Pete." They did what they had to do inside the Fog of War. And besides, most of the articles are written by people many years removed from the Battle of Gettysburg. Yes, I'm a history geek. And if you don't know who "Old Pete" is (or was) - google him.

So my almost-love-affair with Joshua Lawrence intruded into my guy-watching. I finished the article and the latte, gathered up the magazines I was buying, separating them from the ones I needed to put back in the rack. I thought, "Maybe I'll walk around and see if he's still here."

I left the magazine area and passed a rack of new hard backs. One had caught my eye when I had first walked into the store. "The Historian." I picked it up, read the inside flap and, with a sigh, placed it on my to-buy pile of magazines. I then walked to the check-out line.

I didn't think about the cute guy with the white hair and beard until I got home.

Oh, well - interest in the male of the species had been side-tracked by a book.
Story of my life. I've been side-tracked by books since I could read - and when I found out I could also write, it just got worse.

Maybe that's why I hate throwing out books. They're stable - always around - and never break up with me.

Quote on a B&N mug: Booklovers never go to bed alone.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Terrorist or Someone You Know . . .

. . .and maybe love?

Which one is more likely to harm, or even kill you, if you are a woman?

I think you already know the answer. You see the news reports daily - and they don't just come from Aruba or Los Angeles or New York - but in your own town. A woman is injured or killed and the person who committed the crime - a husband, lover, ex-husband, ex-lover. Her children may also be victims - if not directly but for the rest of their lives in the memory and loss.

One in three woman in the United States will be the victim of violence against her. Most of the perpetrators are family members or friends. Think of two of your friends. It could be one of them - or you. And the violence could come at the hands of someone you may love or know and trust.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence recently formed a demonstration at the Capitol to urge congress to pass stronger anti-domestic violence measures. Of all the initiatves on the Hill today, this is the one that will most likely affect all women directly.

Please call or write your Congressman or Congresswoman and tell them that you want stronger measures to prevent this real threat to our family values.

"We have seen the enemy and it is us."

Friday, June 17, 2005

Creating Energy

This is not a post about wind farms (great idea and I think they're beautiful) or solar homes (I want one). This is about personal energy.

I try to "blog" several times a week on two blogsites. Sometimes it's daily. Sometimes not.
Sometimes I want to write something that's useful to whomever may be reading my words of wisdom. Sometimes I don't - I just want to write.

Writing - the process of creating something with words, be it a personal essay or opinion (which is what most of my blogs are) or fiction (my works-in-progress) - writing "turns me on." No, not like THAT - although if it's one of those scenes . . . .When I write, it's as if my energy level has been ramped up more than a notch - many notches.

So, if this blog means nothing to you, it may be because you have yet to find your creative juices that ramp you up - that envigorate you - that provide you your own personal energy source.

Start looking.

Can you say "Quagmire"?

So the President is planning a multi-media blitz campaign and tour touting the coming victory in Iraq - a couple of years after his "Mission Accomplished" debacle. But there is no victory. There are only more deaths - more destruction - less of a country. What will we be leaving the Iraqi people when we do go? Burned-out houses, bombed villages, a destroyed infrastructure. Will we leave them with a good sense of what the "democratic way" is? I doubt it.

But President Bush will be going on TV on June 28 for a major address to the American people and the world. He will attempt to shore up support, to regain the "patriotic" fervor of the early days of the war in Iraq. Does the President understand history? I doubt it.

I am old enough to remember another President from Texas and another war. I remember that President going on television to shore up support for "his" war. It didn't work then. Will it work now? I doubt it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ironing Naked

No, I haven't entered the Extreme Ironing Competition.

I am, however, using a sun-less moisturizer to give me a "healthy glow" - actually to try to even out the lines on my arms - from my "trucker tan" - one sided, tee-shirt line type tan - and to make my legs look less like a bowl of cream rice.

I smooth on this moisturizer (which is actually a pretty good moisturizer) after drying off from the shower. Then I'm supposed to wait "several minutes" before getting dressed.

I've always been chubby and now I'm old and chubby. I don't like to walk around naked - at all. But I DO want that "healthy glow." So I fix my breakfast, putz around, gather up my clothes, etc - all while allowing the promised glow to settle in.

This morning I decided to iron au naturale. Trust me: ironing naked makes you more careful with where the iron is going - and where YOU are going.

That lead me to a thought. Maybe we should approach life as if we were "ironing naked" - with an open awareness of what is happening around us - not only where WE are going (physically, emotionally, spiritually), but where others are going (physically, emotionally , spiritually).

We must become aware of the people, the places, the things and the animals around us - all around us - value their paths as much as we value our own.

Iron naked one day - you'll see what I mean.

Monday, June 13, 2005

And on the other hand . . .

One of the oldest human needs is having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.-Margaret Mead

I was thinking about my latest post (Two Weddings - No Funeral) this morning while I showered (I do a lot of deep thinking in or near water). And then this morning, the above quote showed up on one of my email newsletters.

I'm not bashing the institution of couple-hood, whether married or not. It just hasn't seemed to work for me - marriage or being part of a couple.

Therefore I've evolved into a person alone, who seems to thrive under those conditions. Sometimes I wish it were different, but I just don't have the energy to do the search again - I've got too many other things to do. Not an excuse, just the truth.

And it does take a lot of energy. I realized not long ago that I had spent almost one-tenth of my life with Mark. I have nice memories and some lovely gifts - but would rather have had him as a companion. Do I want to spend years looking for and working on a relationship, only to have it fall-apart? Or do I want to spend what time I have left doing the things I love, even if it is alone?

In September I will be flying to Seattle to have my daughter show me around her adopted home. I want to travel back to Cornwall - this time on a long spiritual retreat. I want to do the same at Sedona. I want to go back to oil painting one day soon.

In addition to working full-time, I'm in the middle of writing two novels and researching and outlining three nonfiction books. I'm getting ready for my trip to Gettysburg at the end of June - and "getting ready" for me doesn't mean packing - I can do THAT with my eyes closed. It means research - reading, studying, deciding where I'm going and when.

I had a brainstorm for a book: Accidental Angels: The Civilian Nurses of Gettysburg. I will spend time before, during and after the trip working on that.

Now if there was a gentleman out there who understood all of that, who would enjoy helping me with the research, who didn't think that I was crazy if I wanted to stay in a haunted hotel or go on a ghost walk - then I would look him over.

But until then - well, I guess my cats will be the only ones who care if I don't come home at night.

I can live with that.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Two Weddings - No Funeral

I've been to two weddings in the last month - my nephew's and a friend's.

My nephew's wedding was about two years in the planning and execution. My friend planned hers in less than four months. One was very traditional with a young bride in a white gown. One was simple with an older bride in a white gown. Very different weddings with the same outcome - what was once two had become one. Or so we are to believe.

I attended each alone.

This is not a post complaining about being a woman alone. In fact this is quite the opposite.

I cried at both weddings - at the first because I remembered the groom in diapers and at the second because I remembered the bride as a struggling single mom. I did not cry because it wasn't me standing at the altar. That was one of the things I was celebrating. My nephew's life has drastically changed - so has my friend's.

Two weeks ago I bought a new car. Alone. I was the only one to sign the papers. I had to ask no one's advice. I had already made up my mind about what I wanted. I knew I could afford it. So I bought it.

Today was a much simpler purchase - a new chair for my home office. I saw it was on sale - almost $50 off. It even had a massage unti. What could be better? Someone to put it together and carry the old one out to the trash? Nope - not needed. The new chair came assembled and the new car was perfect for transporting it. I carried the old chair out and the new chair in - me, alone.

I've been doing things like that for more than 20 years now. I don't see that changing - maybe ever. I had seriously considered it a year ago and then, well - things changed.

It would take a lot - a lot - a lot - maybe not enough in this world - to make me consider it again.
I remember the feeling of that rug being pulled out from under me. Nope - don't wanna go through THAT again.

I'll pay to have something assmembled and even delivered if necessary. It's worth that to know that ALL decisions are MINE alone - even the decision to live alone.

Friday, June 10, 2005

"Another Day in Paradise" - Reprise

In an early post I wrote about a woman, younger than me, who was dying slowly. The circulatory complications of Diabetes had already taken two limbs, eroded her kidneys and was quickly taking her remaining fingers - dry and dark brown from gangrene.

I learned today that she died in the nursing home - hopefully as comfortable as possible.

As for me, I spent my day reading about our new incontinency guidelines - for the fourth time - and searching the internet for pictures of pressure ulcers - all for meetings next week.

The president of our company came into my office to chat for a bit and told me he thought I could do the job of the VP of Operations (he was being VERY generous).

I then got into my new car and went to Giant, where I purchased mostly healthy food.

At home I put away my groceries, petted and fed the kitties, fixed a quick dinner and watched a little TV. Tonight I will soak in a tub of lavender bath salts and unwind some more.

And then I will slip into bed and wait for three furry bodies to jump up and get into their preordained night-positions. I will listen to an affirmation tape as I fall asleep thinking about my friend's wedding tomorrow.

Like I said: "Another day in paradise." It truly, truly is.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

"How did I get here?"

Do you every look around and ask yourself how you’ve arrived at where you are in your life?

How did I get to be in this apartment full of books? How did I get to the job I have? How did I come to be living alone at this stage in my life? How did I become a reader? A writer? A nurse? A Democrat? How did I become the woman, the person, I am?

Part of me came from the family into which I was born. Some people believe that before birth you “chose” your family because in your “new” life you have unfinished lessons to learn. Therefore I must have “chosen” to be born into a family of a strong, conservative, prejudiced father and a quiet mother – both drinkers.

Teenage rebellion must have lead me to first disagree with my father, whom I remember admiring when I was a child. Suddenly I didn’t feel his ideas were right – they just didn’t “feel” right to me. People of a different skin color were not inferior to me just because of that color. It was my choice to openly argue with him. Those arguments were never calm – but they did teach me strength of convictions. That strength and those convictions continue.

Actually I was quite shy. As an overweight child and teenager, I never felt as if I was ever ‘good enough” – I always had to try harder. I soon learned that part of that was to act like the type of person I wanted to be. I “acted” more confident and outgoing than I was – than I felt. Eventually, using humor and my intelligence, I overcame – somewhat – the social stigma of my excess weight. But only somewhat – it would take years to make it more than just “somewhat” and it continues to be an ongoing struggle.

And the weight – well, that is also a part of who I am. Being overweight may have made me more accessible to others, less intimidating.

To be continued


And it's a Mitzi-day.
That means I have nothing scheduled today - nothing to do but whatever I want.

So just what HAVE I been doing this Saturday? Reading, writing, watching an old movie.

Old movie: "Ransom" with Glenn Ford as the father (Mel Gibson wasn't as good in the remake).
Reading: Websites on marketing ebooks and building a customer base.
Writing: Ideas for an ebook.

Whaaaaa? You say. What ebook?

Well, I've been kicking around an idea for a long time - a book on empowerment for women over fifty.

And anyway, I've got to get these ideas out of my head and onto paper.
Have to make room for new ideas.

Find your OWN Ruby Slippers. ;-)
These are mine!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

One of My Worse Nightmares . . .

. . . came true today.

I was on the phone and Frank was standing outside the glass door of my office frantically trying to get my attention. There was a fire at Praixis - our Alzheimer's facility in Easton - luckily across the parking lot from another building, Easton Nursing Center.

The fire was in the motor that runs the elevator - the only one in a three floor facility. All residents were eventually evacuated - no one was injured and all the staff performed professionally. I helped out as much as I could - we even had some of our young guys from corporate office there - carrying beds down the stairways to set up temporary rooms on a lower level. What could have been horrific was at the worse organized chaos - and at the best - well . . . at the best, it was really well done. By dinner time all was clamer - most of the residents were back in Praxis - and those that couldn't go back in had safe beds at ENC.

I was on my feet moving most of the afternoon and, tonight, I'm exhausted. I always want to do so much when I get home - tonight it was 7 PM (a 12 hour day since I was in the office early) - but not last night and not tonight. Time and energy devoured by exhaustion.

I could never go back to "real" nursing at the bedside - never be a charge nurse again. It would kill me - or I would have no other life - just work, eat, sleep and work again - I would have no energy for anything else.

But I did drive the Cruiser this morning with the sunroof open and The Beatles album "1" blaring away.

Today proved to me finally that buying the Cruiser was the right move. I must remember that you really only live in the present - you can plan for the future - but planning and actuality are two different things.

Today - right now - this instant - that's what's important.

Now to get the smell of burning metal out of my mind . . . .

"Good Morning, Mr. Felt"

Your name is very close to the "Mission Impossible" character, Mr. Phelps, who, every week was given an impossible mission.

Your mission was very real and very impossible. Get the truth of what was happening inside a secretive White House - get it out to the American people. You did it the only way you could, in as much secret as your antagonists used.

The picture of Hal Holbrook playing you in the movie "All the President's Men" is a lasting image. Holbrook stood in the shadows of a parking garage, talking to Redford and Hoffman as Woodward and Bernstein - telling them to "follow the money." Follow the crooked path that eventually lead to the Oval Office.

"Deep Throat" became such an American icon that Chris Carter used it in similar characters through out the "X-Files" series - from the cigarette-smoking man as the "bad" DT to the shadowy figure who called Muldar whenever the FBI agent taped an "X" to his apartment window.

News stories now report the real Deep Throat agonized for decades over his role in "bringing down a president." Now, in his nineties, he has lately come to realize that he was not a traitor, but a hero.

The truth is more important than any one man - or even one administration.
Richard Nixon learned a difficult lesson - do not lie to the American people. Do not circumvent the Constitution.

Does our present occupant of the Oval Office understand those lessons?

Is there a need for a 2005 Deep Throat? Maybe. But who has that strength and courage of conviction?

Until then:
Good morning, Mr. Felt.
And thank you.