What’s With All The Hair?

Here’s a question for everyone – What’s with the long hair?  Watching television, almost every woman has long, long hair.  I mean hair that is halfway down her back.  That goes for Susan Lucci, who is old enough to know better, and most of the women playing lawyers, detectives, action heroines, business women on TV.

When was the last time long hair was in style?  Victorian, Edwardian and beyond?  Since the 1920’s when the bob came into style, women were freed from the servitude of taking care of their long pelt.  Last night on the TV in the course of two hours of channel surfing, most the actresses’ hair looked ratty, greasy, and hanging limp in unkempt straggly hanks. Female detectives swing tresses large enough for the bad guys to grab, wrap around their throats, give a quick jerk and break their necks.  Forensic doctors perform autopsies with extensive locks swinging over corpses, ignoring the possibility of one single hair contaminating the evidence, while CIA agents chase terrorists over fences with hair lashing behind their backs as they toss if out of their face.  I mean, really?  Give me a break!

I don’t have anything against clean, well groomed, long hair on the right women.  But not all women, not all ages, not all professions.  I don’t want my waitress swishing long hair over my pancakes, my nurse tossing her locks over her shoulder as she plunges a needle into my arm, or staring into an old face framed with hair trailing down over her shoulders…usually just not pretty or flattering unless you are a Native American or in ethnic dress.
When I was a kid, the women in my family had a rule, the older you got the shorter your hair, except for grandmother who wore her long locks in a tight bun at the back of her head.  I used to think mother was being silly until the day I got off an elevator in LA,  the door opened framing the back of a trim figure in mini skirt and boots, long hair down her back.  My first thought was “What a pretty young woman.”  Then she turned around, ye gads –  what a shocker!  Must have been at least in her late sixties and both rode hard and put away wet.  Guess mom was right.
But now, click through the channels and you can’t miss the Rapunzel effect.  So much for the woman’s movement, the right to live life without the effort of uncomfortable styles just to attract men or keep up with the fashion.  I’ve noticed the waist cincher, or ‘trainer’ as it’s now called, is back, spike platform ankle breaking shoes are all the rage.  I guess next will be the chastity belt.  The only good fashion change in my mind is the Kardashian butt, at least we ladies have one less thing to worry about as we grow our hair and hobble about in a cast on our broken legs.

The Beauty of Hands

Yesterday I gave myself a manicure. Most of the time I take my hands for granted, forget they are the implements of my life, allowing me to create, survive, love, and often express without words my innermost feelings through touch. But yesterday, I really looked at those appendages at the ends of my arms. My digits are bent and twisted now, age has taken its way with them, but after some consideration, I decided they are more beautiful than ever.

When I was a little girl, my hands first grew out of proportion with the rest of me. There are photographs when I was twelve, wearing a navy suit and white gloves, the cotton kind with the seams held together on the outside with tiny stitches. My hands are so big in front of the navy suit my sister said I looked like Minnie Mouse. There was a period growing up when I used to bite my nails, keep them behind my back, or sit on them so no one would notice how big they were. But, as time often has it, I grew into my hands. Stopped biting my nails, learned how to groom them and keep them properly clean, then decided they were just right after all.

Once reaching maturity, I became proud of my hands—large for a woman, long fingers, veined, and very strong. Their look sang melodies of sensuality, capability, and finesse. Each night I followed my mother’s almost religious practice—before bed using hand cream.

Living in New York City, I learned never to go outside in the winter without leather gloves. I didn’t want my hands red and raw looking from the cold, no, I wanted them smooth, sensuous, soft—the hands of a well cared for woman. Those big hands could carry large rings, diamonds, gold, elegant sculptures in precious metals requiring a large stage to display their artistry.

My hands worked to create many things: contracts, jobs, sweaters and scarves, money, jewelry, sublime dinners, tiled floors, family security, flower gardens, gracious entertainment, and stubborn certainty. Over the years, my hands pinned diapers, patted dogs, slid across a lover’s silken skin, cut bait and reeled in fish. They wrote, or typed, to-do lists, television presentations, books, letters, deals, stories on airplanes, love notes, memos and menus.

The scars are many, like the time I sliced my hand while making lunch for my husband in the galley of our yacht. Not a smart thing in a storm. When I came on deck trailing blood, he almost fainted. Another scar resulted from leaving a knife, blade up, in a dish drainer, bad move I’ve never repeated. The other various nicks are so plentiful, I’ve forgotten how most were acquired.

The bump on the left hand index finger is from taking copious notes in college, then law school for two degrees. The bumps on the right hand index and second fingers come from use over thirty years, beginning in the days when my first computer used two big floppy disks, one for programs, the other for data and then on to the facility of the mouse.

To my initial horror, I watched the slow changes to my beautiful hands. First the bumps on knuckles started, next the fingers twisted and turned of some inner volition of their own over which I had no control. It was a slow decline, years in the making. Recently, I noticed one finger had decided to take its own path, heading west instead of remaining straight. The next neighboring digit then accommodated by snuggling up against the runaway.

Now I like the way they look in all their gnarled beauty, in fact, I find myself proud once again of my funky phalanges. Each bump, twist, turn, crook and lump is another chapter in the story of my life. Like the Andean tribe in South America who left their history written in quipu, or knotted strings, I think of my fingers the same way. I can look at them and read the memory of times, places, events of my life in every one. And who can deny the beauty in that?20150830_145104-1

Pudel & Cie. – Problems Solved

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Some problems need professional help to solve. Enter Pudel & Compagnie, international problem solvers for over 300 years. Methods unique, results guaranteed…usually. Mom and Dad Pudel retire, passing the business along to their offspring— Antonio, Belvidere and Callista. Can they solve a problem for the billionaire dowager, one of whose wayward wards is being blackmailed? But why haven’t they been hired to locate the missing Carlos, the man everyone loves and no one can find? Dogs, gangsters, Sheriffs, perverts, Valley Girls, crooked doctors, well trained hounds, and nut cases romp through the case in the oddest mash-up of characters this side of a circus. If you’re a dog lover, join the team of Pudel & Cie. as they paw over the evidence and sniff out the truth to solve the problem of ‘Moroney Baloney’.

Want to know more?  Here is how it all begins.

CHAPTER ONE:   Magnus’ Magick

Once upon a long time ago, at least three hundred years before the present time, there lived a man named Magnus Pudel.

Magnus was the local wizard of a small village perched precariously on the side of a high peak on the French side of the Pyrenees, the Basque Country.

A man way ahead of his time, Magnus experimented with chants, spells, chemicals, potions, mirrors, and all forms of magic.

Since he wasn’t a farmer, shepherd, blacksmith or knight, in order to support his family he became expert at removing warts, birthing stubborn calves and babies, making love potions and getting rid of pesky spells cast by black magicians.

Magnus only believed in white magic, as he called it.  But in fact, he was a healer, knowledgeable in herbs and roots, natural medicines, setting broken bones, reducing fevers, and whatever he could possibly do to keep his patients healthy.

The local priest was his uncle, and turned a blind eye when the Catholic Church frowned on the sort of skills Magnus was famous for.  He knew Magnus was a man of good intentions and shouldn’t be punished for his kindness.  The people from the neighboring farms and villages were sorely in need of his medical skills.

But Magnus had a motive hidden behind his medicines, potions and spells.  He was sure he could create a magic elixir to prolong life.  It would bring him untold riches to help support his family.

One night he had a dream.  A deep voice spoke to him, saying, “Your name is the clue to what ye seek.”  It seemed strange to him to believe ‘Pudel’ could be the key, but he was willing to try.

Magnus read every book he could find that might mention the word or name ‘pudel.’ He finally found a reference to ‘pudelhunds,’ German hunting dogs with curly coats perfect for retrieving game from cold waters.

Gathering up what little money he had, he made the long and dangerous journey across the Pyrenees and the breadth of France, all the way to Germany.  After months of searching, he returned home with four healthy and playful pudelhund puppies.

He raised the puppies into beautiful strong dogs, then bred them again and again, sometimes adding in other dogs he found with qualities he liked, such as strength, endurance, intelligence, and kindliness of disposition.

The dogs were so funny and sweet, he couldn’t harm them, so he only took tiny samples of their blood and skin scrapings to use with his spells, elixirs and magic.

His family fell in love with the good tempered animals. Then the villagers and farmers saw how smart the dogs were and wanted them too.  Soon Magnus found he could support his family by selling the puppies.  In a few years, he had many dogs, and a booming business. People were willing to travel miles to buy Magnus’ pudels.

Still, he kept on his quest.  After years of unsuccessful experimentation, he finally had a breakthrough.  One of his concoctions actually worked, but not quite the way he expected.

He drank some of his latest attempt, a truly foul smelling liquid, and said a chant  in Basque to complete the spell.  Auto bikoitza naiz, ispilu aldatzeko me nire beste auto bat.

An odd feeling came over him—his legs changed.  Something began growing in his back nether parts.  His nose and mouth elongated together, his sense of smell became more acute, as curly hair grew on his bald pate.  When he looked in the mirror, a very large grey muzzled poodle looked back at him, and wagged its tail.

Available on Amazon and Kindle November 1, 2015


The Pudel family joins 5-star rated novels of A.R.Donenfeld-Vernoux.   http://bit.ly/aliceauthor

“Out of the Chute” How do you survive a name like Fancy Lady? She’s done it living a lifetime of success, a senior executive with associated perks, travel first class—restaurants five star. Constantly on the go with no time to understand life, she barreled to the top with blinders seeing only ‘up’. The perfect model of a modern  day executive and businesswoman.      Until she wasn’t.
Business changed, companies sold. She’s out of work. After years of high gear pedaling on the rat wheel to the top, she has no clue how to live the rest of her life; she’d always been define by her work. In a quest to find herself, Fancy does what any less than quasi-sane person might do—buy a ranch—and she’s never been on one before.  http://bit.ly/outofthechute

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“Cave Dreams” A romance spanning cultures and centuries. Aldo the last consort…a holy man trained to worship a goddess, Dia, from a time when god was female, and sex was holy. Now alone, he faces the terrifying and unknown modern world of today in his quest to find his mate. Lenya, a newly widowed author, is irresistibly drawn to Corsica’s mysterious Neolithic past, standing stone warriors, dolmens, primeval ruins and a haunting voice compelling her to stay. Someone is leaving her presents, nosegays of flowers, baskets of fruit. Is she being stalked by danger?…or something else? And who is the barbaric looking and appealing man who comes to her rescue? Fascinated and seduced by the island’s mysticism, spirituality and sensuality, Lenya faces a journey of self-discovery leading her from the cold sophistication of her world into the scorching heart of primal human beliefs, to a place where sex, love and worship converge. http://bit.ly/cavedreams

We Are All Witnesses

Today, I send an urgent message to all who write: you of the younger generations learning about the world of today, those of you have managed to reach an age that has passed into ‘retro’ or ‘vintage’ or perhaps even delved into the ‘antique’. Now is the time to take up pen and paper, tablet or computer, and write.
We live in an age where life has been reduced to minuscule correspondence by ‘twitter’ sent out in a thoughtless and meaningless plethora of electronic garbage. Once there was a different time, people wrote letters to friends, lovers and family, telling of their thoughts, ideas, emotions and facts of the history taking place around them. Those that remain are a gift from the past, a glimpse of what life was like, a veritable time machine in ink.
All of us have been witness to changes beyond imagination. We have seen remarkable turnabouts in science, culture, religion, politics, life styles, technology, and social mores unthinkable only 100 years ago.
If you don’t write down now what you have seen, what is happening around you, what you remember, then the generations to come will only know how our lives have been through the slant of whatever future ‘expert historian’ has chosen to write about it. Not what has actually happened, but what they want to have their age believe transpired.
Women have been castigated through the ages because they were written of by men who sought their power and were jealous of their ability to create life. Hence the demise of the goddess religions when they were branded as whores and witches. This same approach has been used throughout history on other religions and cultures, abused and annihilated because of the words of tyrants and fanatics.
Do we want our time on this planet remembered only in the words and rantings of egotistical fundamentalists, petty bureaucrats, morons, haters, or self-obsessed billionaires? There is only one way to tell the truth about our lives, our times, our thoughts and our feelings. Write it down.
and sent it to the world. Speak out, blog, post on facebook, write stories and e-mail them to friends. The time for silence is gone! We are all witnesses to this life. Tell the future what you have seen. Stand firm as witness to this age and your words can’t be silenced.

Bad Saturday

It’s Saturday afternoon, as I begin, 3:48 in the afternoon. When I opened facebook it asked me what was on my mind. BIG mistake! Luckily, I am fortified by a XX Amber.
My plan was to leave California at 7 AM this morning, and head home to Mexico, miss the weekend beach traffic, the racetrack or any other events planned for noon on.
When I awoke, the clock said 6:48 AM. Maybe snooze until 7? I stretched out my arm and felt something odd that shouldn’t be there. Damn! One of the dogs had barfed on the bed. Not just once. Three times!
Now this is not just an ordinary bed. No, it’s the bed in the home carefully staged for sale. The home I spent the last five weeks working on. The bed with the fancy comforter and matching pillows and skirt, over which I had carefully put a sheet to keep clean. It’s summer, the dogs and I sleep with the fan on and window open; top of the quilt is fine for us.
Sigh. Nothing to do but deal with it. As I rolled over to get up, I was greeted by a floor filled with spots and mounds of poop. Either the same dog or another one had a bad case of the runs during the night. OMG! Next would be locust, I thought. I was almost right.
An hour later, the comforter and all sheets were in the dryer, the floor once again pristine. I packed the car, intending to leave when everything was dry enough to put back on the bed. Let me tell you a secret, comforters do not dry quickly. They ball up and hide the wet part inside so it never dries while the outside part of the coil looks perfect. You open it to spread on the bead, et voilá, the center part hasn’t even given a thought to drying.
It was 10:48 when I got on the road. I checked. Four hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic later, on a trip that usually takes an hour and forty-five minutes, I arrived home. When I opened the door, all was well, but I had forgotten something. When I left, I’d set off bug bombs all over the house.
Greeting me was my kitchen floor looking suspiciously like my late husband had thought it was a Caesar Salad and had his way with his beloved Moulin au Poivre. Wall-to-wall tiny black bugs—floors, counters, tables, tops of canisters, chairs—everywhere.
Okay, survived the poop and barf, bugs ain’t no big thing! Got out broom and dustpan and swept all the little buggers up. Didn’t want to put them in the house garbage so I went to dump them in the outside garbage. A five gallon empty paint pail was by the patio door. I keep it in case of fires, and took it out a few days ago when they were burning brush in the area. As I pushed it out of the way, I noticed something inside. Without my glasses it looked like a large dead leaf.
Well, no dead leaf is going to stay in my clean pail. When I reached in to toss it out, the leaf began to move in disturbing non-leaf ways. Shrieking at the top of my lungs I leapt back before it could use my arm as a ladder to freedom. A freaking mouse!
Now I’m not a little woman, and I don’t mind living alone. I’ve traveled the world for business on my own and I’ve faced armed soldiers in various countries and managed to keep my cool. But I am scared shitless of mice, and snakes. Spiders, I can deal with.
Using all the willpower I could gather, I calmed down. Alice, I said, you have alternatives. You’ve sold the shotgun so that particular one is out. You could knock the pail over and let the mouse run free. I shook my head. No, that wouldn’t work. Lorenzo, the little Yorkie-poo, has too much ratter in him. He’s already terrified friend Patria doing victory laps around the living room with a dead mouse hanging out of his mouth. She had to call me in Corsica to get instructions on how to de-mouse him with rubber gloves and barbeque tongs. I was in no mood to try and prise a dead and bloody mouse away from him, at least not today.
The next alternative was to put the pail outside the patio and hope for the best. Like the mouse would maybe get out and run the other way. As soon as I went to pick up the pail by the handle, the mouse went ballistic, flinging itself around the pail and trying to leap up and over the sides. In my direction.
Another shriek from me and a violent urge to use the facilities had me fleeing. But I have fortitude, I went back into the fray. After a little experimentation, if slowly nudged, the pail moved without making the mouse frantic. I managed to get it onto the sidewalk. That was it. Mousie was on his own.
I went back inside, finished cleaning the house, put the groceries away and made a package of garbage to take outside. As soon as I opened the patio door, there was the pail. The mouse was sitting hunched against the side looking up at me. I could almost read his mouse-thoughts, daring me to move the pail again. No kidding, I was scared. I went back to the kitchen with the garbage, and left mousie to his pail.
So, for all intents and purposes, a mouse has now laid siege to my house and I am trapped. In case you don’t see me around for a few days, you might come and take the pail away, that is, if you’re braver than I. Or, you could just look in the pail and see if the mouse got bored and left on its own. In that case, I’m certainly available for lunch as long as XX Amber is on the menu.

Almost Finished Editing

“Out Of The Chute” is almost ready, a little more editing, tweaking and fussing about and it will be ready to go to the printer.

“Out Of The Chute” protagonist, Fancy Lady, got her name by mistake and has spent most of her life living with it, up to it, or surpassing it. At age fifty, she finds herself as an out-of-work attorney/executive who climbed her way up to the top of the ladder in the entertainment business. Follow her friends, family and memories as they open her up to understand what life is once you get off the rat-wheel to success.

In a time of disappointed entitlement, when assumptions of achievement lie tattered next to worn-out Gucci shoes and threadbare Armani suits, her story has the ring of universality. Like ‘Everyman’ who thought they were destined to sit at the table with the wheelers and dealers, failure is not the only option. “Out Of The Chute” is about picking up the pieces, throwing out the arrogance and starting over, this time as a participant in the real world.

News Flash: “Cave Dreams” novel now available on Amazon

Lynn Cave Dreams 2

My first novel is now available on Amazon.com at this link http://amzn.to/1f9ERLH  or just copy   Cave Dreams by A.R.Donenfeld-Vernoux  into your browser.
“Cave Dreams” is the story of an unlikely meeting between Aldo, the last survivor of a clan hidden in the mountains of Corsica for thousands of years, and Lenya, a modern woman raised in New York City, trying to recover from overwhelming grief at the loss of her husband in an accident.
Aldo comes from a culture unbiased by modern life, technology, religions, wars, and civilizations; from a time when god was a woman and sex was holy.  He was trained in the rites of sacred sex and the belief that giving pleasure to his mate is the highest honor and power he can give to his goddess.  Now he is alone, searching for the woman with whom he can complete the mystic circle of life.
Can Lenya overcome the prejudice and arrogance of each civilization: the belief those who came before have nothing of value to pass along.  She is a grown woman, is it too late for her to understand another way of thinking, to explore and glory in her sensual side?
This author believes “Fifty Shades of Gray” is one of the most important books in recent years because it opened the discussion into female sexuality, a topic hidden in the shadows for generations.  The HBO series “Masters & Johnson” has taken up the cause with it’s own slant, another crack into the secrecy of the subject.
“Cave Dreams” follows two people from opposite spectrum of  civilization, beliefs, and culture, further separated by thousands of years of experiences.  To each, sexuality has very different meanings.  What could possibly happen?

Day 4 Barcelona In The Sun

The alarm clock went off, I think, but I didn’t hear it. Jet lag and angst got the better of me. Carli slept in too, but by eleven AM we had eaten breakfast, dressed and were on our way out the door. The sun was brilliant and drying off the last of the puddles left from the day before.
Carli had been studying the bus and metro diagrams on the map she bought. Between the two of us, we figured out how to find the tourist bus line we had spotted through torrential rain. They offered a two day ticket with the ability to get on and off at any of their stops, take the time to look around and get on the next bus at no extra charge. A good deal. We toured all afternoon and got a feel for the city and learned it’s history through  a recorded eloquent female British voice. In the past, I’ve taken tours where the recorded voice was so garbled or spoke the language so poorly I had no idea what they were talking about. Not the case with Barcelona Tourist Bus orange and green lines.  At most of the stops there were small cafes or bars where you could use the facilities for the price of a beer or soda and a couple of tapas.
The different neighborhoods are fascinating, especially the old ones in the original parts of the city. Many of the houses on the main streets of Passig Gracia and Las Ramblas are opulent in an upper 5th Avenue Manhattan way; original owners vying for prestige with the fanciest house. On Passig Gracia the styles range from Gaudi masterpieces through every architectural style known to man from the 18th century through the present. The area of Barcelonetta, originally an ancient fishing village, appealed to me with it’s narrow streets and smaller homes. The scale was comfortable, homey and gave the feeling of a true neighborhood. Carli is attached to the area where our apartment is located and I have to agree because of its accessibility to bars, restaurants, bakeries and tiny convenience stores packed with everything under the sun. After four days we are already buddies with the Indian family who run the closest mom and pop market and the nice young man at the telephone store.
Taking the tour bus gave us a quick tour to decide areas we want to go back and poke around in some more. There is a big flea market we’ve targeted and a leather factory outlet. After all, we need something to go with the new shoes we bought on our visit to Corte Ingles.
It happened to be my birthday, so Carli took me for dinner at the highly touted Pudu Can Manel by the harbor. Supposedly the place to go for paella. The first course arrived, a typical Spanish salad of lettuce, chunks of fresh tuna, hard boiled eggs, carrots, and succulent garden tomatoes. The next course was seafood paella filled with rice and very few hidden shrimp, calamari and some mystery seafood that is probably better left unknown. I found it disappointing. It was tasty but rather dry. Dessert was a flan out of a package.
But the place was just the sort I remembered, like our “local” favorite seafood restaurant in Fuenterrabia (now Hondarribia to satisfy the Basque). Sparkling white tablecloths and shining glassware, walls wooden and graced with pictures of owners going back to the 1800’s, service brusque and competent, all typical of Spain’s myriad of old style seafood eateries. It was a very pleasant evening all in all, and the fact that it was capped off by an ice cold shot of peach liquor was icing on my birthday cake.

Don’t Get Me Started…

While our country teeters on the edge of financial ruin and Tea Bag Republicans point their fingers at citizen ‘entitlements’ to complain that we have our hands out holding the begging bowls, no one seems to have any interest in the facts.  Who really is holding out the begging bowls?  Let’s examine the truth. …and yes, I know it’s the Tea Party, I also know what a ‘Tea Bagger’ is and feel it’s a more accurate label.
Social ‘entitlements’ that are being targeted for reduction are Social Security and Medicare.  These have been funded over the working life of the recipients by payroll deductions that were supposed to sacrosanct, put aside solely for this purpose. Surplus could be ‘borrowed’ by the US Government with an obligation to the recipients to pay it back.  To date the US Government owes 2.7 trillion to those citizens who have paid into this fund, i.e. ‘recipients.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_Trust_Fund  Where are the ‘entitlements’?
The US Congress is established under the Constitution.  It also provides that No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” 
It’s specificity is to underline the fact that an egalitarian form of government was to be established where all citizens were to have equal representation.  That was later further underscored by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address 
“- that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Once again, on August 26, 1920 with the passage of the bill providing women with the right to vote, the egalitarian basis for the US was ratified.
However, Congress then set itself apart from the rest of the citizens by providing for itself retirement and medical plans far different from those available to the citizens they are elected to represent.  See below.



At the present time, Congressional ‘entitlements’ will cost the American people 674 billion dollars for the shortfall in Congressional pensions that have to be footed by those people they represent…and accuse of looking at the government with their hands out.  An ordinary American now is asked to wait until age 70 to retire, while Congressmen who have served 20 years can retire at age 50 and have to wait until age 62 if they have served 5 years or more.  The pensions that they receive are for life and are not reduced by any other income they may receive, contrary to basic Social Security if taken early. 
Then, there are a few questions I want to ask…why are oil companies receiving tax benefits?  The US screams about oil imports and rising prices but in fact the US is becoming the worlds largest oil exporter.  
Exxon reported a quarterly profit of 16 billion dollars for 3rd quarter 2012, or 12%.  It seems to me that a company with that kind of profit is a real welfare queen to cry for tax reductions.  How about we increase their tax on the oil they sell off shore and reduce the tax on US sales…provided that doesn’t find it’s way off-shore through shelters.
AIG is advertising that they are back in business and have paid the US taxpayers back in full plus a profit.  What is the status of the other companies the US taxpayers have funded during the financial crisis?  How about the banks?  Wall Street financial institutions?  Those account for the biggest welfare queen scam in the history of our country.  How many and who have paid us back?
Entitlements are an interesting term.  If you really take a hard look at the financial machinations that have gone on under the Bush administration and some of which have followed through to the current administration, it is hard to give credence to the rage of the know-nothing Tea Bag claimants.  It’s on a par with the woman who screamed that she was against Obamacare but don’t let the government touch her Medicare.  
My take on ‘entitlements’ is to put Congress in the same pot as the ordinary citizens, forget any ‘nobility’ they claim, they are as ordinary as the rest of us and let them know it.  It might be interesting to see them squirm when we want to reduce their ‘entitlements.”  
Also, I propose jail time for any member of any US governing body who personally, or through any family member, trust, company etc. receives money or benefits while in office or within ten years thereafter from any source that benefited from a vote cast by such person.  If they go to work for another company on a full time basis, like be at their desk like any other employee, they are off the hook.  No speaking engagements, ‘fake consultancy’ or other scam to be paid off when they are out of office.  I’m sick and tired of elected officials taking ‘baksheesh’ for their votes.  We are worse than a 3rd world country with the graft scored by Congressional members.  They are actually limited to 15% of their compensation from outside sources, a prohibition against ‘honoraria’ and certain other sources of income.
For pity sake, tax the hell out of the oil companies or just nationalize them like they had in Mexico.  They take a natural resource from beneath our country, why not have it owned by the American people?  That way the government gets all the benefits from price increases and foreign sales.
Here are a few more ideas to mull over.  Make advertising of prescription drugs illegal like it is in other countries.  The main cost of pharmaceuticals is advertising and research.  Actual production in most cases is minimal.  Then open the market for prescription drugs to companies outside the USA and allow them to compete in sales.  There is no reason for the escalating cost of drugs other than that the government permits it.  This will certainly help bring medical costs down substantially.
Please legalize drugs and stop the war on drugs.  The annual cost state and federal cost is over 41.3 billion.  It is estimated that 85% of prison costs are drug related.  If the US government taxed drug sales at the same rate as alcohol, the increased tax revenue would be approximately 46.76 billion.  If you add savings and new revenue together it comes very close to 100 billion dollars, give or take a couple of billion.
My take is to legalize the whole bundle of drugs.  If someone wants to snuff themselves by drugs, I say go for it!  That’s their decision.  But think of the ramifications…no drug pushers at schools, no ‘excitement’ of doing something illegal.  In countries where drugs have been legalized, drug use has typically decreased, deaths from drugs and HIV from sharing needles also decreased, taking the experience of Portugal as an example.
My suggestion is to take some of that 100 billion and spend it on education instead and perhaps even a little on rehabilitation of addicts rather than jailing them.
This would also save Mexico a lot of angst, but might increase the crime rate when the drug cartels find they have lost their best client.
And I’ve just begun on the lying, conniving crooks who screw the American people…don’t get me started!

Gypsies In Town

In the war years of the 1940’s, I live in the small town of Mamaroneck.  Gypsies come to town most summers.  There’s an open field near Mamaroneck High where they set up camp.  They arrive over several days in cars with tents and a few trucks with trailers.  Many arrive in closed wagons, painted and decorated in once bright colors and, to me, mysterious looking scrolling designs and flowers.  Those wagons are pulled by large, well-cared for horses.  Gas is scarce during the war and hay is cheap.

Mom says they are families that come together for marriages.  She warns the Gypsies steal children and I’m to play in the backyard while they’re in town.  I want to go to the Gypsy camp but I’ve only seen it when we drive by.  I’m not allowed to visit there when Mom and Nan go.  They say I’m too young.  The two of them whisper together about the camp and it’s possible dangers: pickpockets, child-stealers and black magic spells; but it doesn’t stop the two of them from going to have their fortunes told and later whispering together about their future.

When the camp is in town, a very handsome Gypsy man comes to our street with a pony cart and a bell he rings.  We know he’s here to take us kids on rides for a quarter.  One time he has a monkey on his shoulder too. Mom lets me ride in the cart all the way down the block and back.  The pony’s buff colored with a long brushed light blonde mane and a braided tail.   It’s glossy fur looks like gold in the afternoon sunlight. The cart is painted shiny black like my patent leather Sally pumps, with some delicate designs in gold paint.  The seats have red plush cushions with gold fringe.  The harness and fittings are polished leather with silver.  To my innocent eyes, it’s the height of elegance.

I take my seat alone in the cart, touching the softness of the red plush spread around me.  The driver turns to me and smiles, his big black mustache is long and soft looking—much handsomer than Pop’s grey and red one—and his teeth shine white against his dark skin.  He flicks his whip over the pony’s head and we begin our leisurely trip to one end of the long block and back. He walks next to the cart with a whip in one hand and the other on the harness to make sure the pony doesn’t steal me, a delighted little girl with blonde curls and a missing front tooth.  He walks at a slow pace, the pony clopping next to him, and I notice he has a ring in one ear, pierced.  I’ve never seen a pierced ear before.  It’s almost as fascinating as the pony and cart.

As we turn the bend in the road,  Mom and Nan and our house disappear from sight. The big maple and oak trees on either side wave their canopy over Stuart Avenue and change it from a country street to a far-away place.  The sun filtering through the leaves dance shadows across my private coach, surely a magic spell transporting us…somewhere else.  The lazy summer air fills with the drone of bees, birds and insects, the hum of a few cars or an occasional truck left with enough gas during these war years to drive the Boston Post Road, and the clop-clop of the pony on its slow journey.  Several orange and black butterflies come and visit this strange entourage.

The Gypsy turns back to make sure I’m still there.  I’ve been very quiet.  He smiles.  I smile back.  A tear slides down my cheek.  I’m so thrilled with this adventure I can’t control the joy.  All by myself.  No one else to share the magic with.  I imagine for these special moments I’m transported beyond imagination into the reality of my mind: a princess riding in a magical coach.

We go to the corner of Sophia Street and turn around.  A dog barks off in the distance, probably chasing something down by Guion Creek.  No cars pass us.  No one is on the street or in their yards.  We have the whole road to ourselves.  I look around our neighborhood for the first time with total clarity and see the Victorian houses, the large three story monsters with verandas that lace around them, gliders on some, others with a chair or two to catch the cooling summer air in the stifling heat of summer.  Two story houses, country farm style sprawling into lawns that languish down the hill in back to touch the creek.  A 1920’s French replica with stucco and odd shaped roof-line, and then our house, Mom calls it a Dutch Colonial.  Mom and Nan standing on the sidewalk talking together as they wait for me to return from my journey.  I can see them as soon as we clear the bend.  They turn and wave.

My coach stops in front on the welcoming slate step, crooked and raised on one end as if punched by a giant’s fist, but really a root from the tall maple that shades our front walk. Mom and Nan have been joined by Gongie, my grandmother.  They stop talking to greet me, their princess, as is my due.  I’m smiling so hard I fear my cheeks will crumble under the pressure.

Feet once more on solid ground, I turn and grab the man around the waist and hug him as  I whisper so only he can hear, “Oh, thank you, it was especially wonderful.”  He seems shy and a bit stiff but he pats me on the head and says nothing.  Do Gypsies speak our language? I wonder.

“Did you have fun?” Mom asks as she hands the man a quarter, plus a generous ten cent tip.

“Oh yes.”  My eyes must still be shining, not dimmed by the fading magic of the ride.  “It was wonderful. Thank you Mom.”  I sigh.  A princess must be gracious.

He turns the cart back down the street and I wave goodbye to him.  He waves back with a grin.

I give all three of them a hug before I sweep majestically up the walk.

It takes almost two days before the glow of my journey fades.  By then the Gypsies have packed up their tents and wagons, gone to places unknown.  I cross my fingers and with eyes closed, wish very hard that the Gypsies come back again next year.

See also at:  www://curmudgeongalbaja.blogspot.mx/