...Continued from yesterday:
My mom still lives in her own house, which she manages to do with the help of two wonderful caregivers, and she still manages to be herself the caregiver of her six cats:
Nobody knows the secret of my mother's longevity and good health.
As long as I've been around she's never been one to exercise - except for doing housework like a non-stop dynamo and never sitting still - or diet or watch what she ate.
In fact my mom has always loved sweets, and still does. In her house there are sweets on the shelves,
...on the counters,
...and in the freezer.
Who's to say eating lots of sugar might not be my mom's secret for a long life?
In any case, it obviously hasn't hurt her.
Anyway, my sister and I were visiting my mom last weekend (see yesterday's post), and at one point while she and I were standing around the kitchen my sister pointed to a cellophane bag sitting on one of the counters.
"That?" I asked. I hadn't particularly noticed the bag among all the other packages of candy and cookies sitting on the kitchen counter. "I don't know," I said, "chocolates?"
"They're prunes," said my sister, "individually wrapped. Like candy."
My sister shrugged. "Maybe it's so you can hand them out for Halloween."
We laughed and laughed.
Yesterday was not my birthday – my birthday is next week – but as both my sister and I were in Seaford, Delaware (I arrived in Seaford this past Thursday, September 26 and returned home to Columbus today), visiting our 99-year-old mother,
…my sister decided that the three of us should celebrate my birthday - or not-birthday - while we were all together.
My mother still lives in her home with the assistance of two wonderful caregivers.
....also makes a fantastic New York-style pizza, as I learned when once during a previous Pizza King visit I, out of curiosity, ordered the cheese pizza .
I’ve learned that the fact that Pizza King actually serves great pizza is not well-known among the locals, who mostly go there for the various other yummy offerings,
...including the irresistible desserts.
PK's happens to be my mom's favorite breakfast eatery and she goes there for breakfast most weekdays and Sundays with friends and/or one of her caregivers after attending daily Mass.
My mom and Laura at PK's on Friday, the day before my not-birthday.
My mom and me at Pk's.
Anyway, my not-birthday yesterday began with a delish breakfast at PK's.
...followed by a trip to Walmart to shop for my not-birthday party supplies.
Then my sister and mom prepared my not-birthday not-surprises (as I hate surprises),
...by which I was quite not-surprised, which is how I like to be.
However I was quite touched and, truth, delighted by my cards, gifts, and cake,
...and the thoughtfulness and love that went into them.
...and we all had cake and ice cream in the middle of the morning.
Later in the afternoon I fixed us a nice dinner of chicken, buttered herbed rice, mushrooms, hot rolls,
...and, of course, more not-birthday cake.
You may not believe the following - I did not believe it myself at first, and, in truth, still can't quite wrap my head around it - but what I'm about to tell you is the truth.
Anyway, my daughter and son-in-law bought an electric car, a self-driving Tesla.
Now, this car is technologically state-of-the art. It doesn't even use a key. It uses - well, I don't exactly remember what my daughter said it uses, a phone app, or something. And there are no buttons, knobs, or any other gadgets on the dash board, other than a large screen.
Apparently you communicate with the screen and the screen communicates with you.
This latest model of self-driving Tesla, the most scientifically advanced automotive vehicle in history, designed by the most brilliant engineers from around the planet, includes a number of ultra-high-tech features. Among these ultra-high-tech features is something called Emissions Testing Mode.
What Emissions Testing Mode actually is, is an option to transform the seats into whoopie cushions.
You can also program the turn signal sound like a big toot. Or a small one.
And you can choose from a variety of gassy sound options.
I swear I'm not making this up; look, here it is on the screen of my daughter and son-in-law's car:
You can even choose which seat you want to cause to shoot a bunny by moving the whoopie cushion icon around, enabling one to randomly embarrass one's passengers.
And, granting the request of one Tesla owner, the inventor Elon Musk even made the Emissions Testing Mode available on the mobile app so one can prank one's significant other remotely.
So that's my true story. Perhaps you like, myself, are asking how, and why, on earth would the group of international geniuses who designed the Tesla think of including on most scientifically cutting-edge vehicle ever invented a Fart on Demand feature?
Well, I don't know. Like I said, I can't wrap my head around it.
But my two little grand daughters sure do love it.
Last Thursday, September 19, my four remaining piano students, a couple of former students, several guest performers, and and audience of parents, grandparents, siblings, and other assorted friends and family members met once again at Graves Recital Hall,
...for our Fall recital.
For my students and myself the recitals are a goal, a reason to keep on practicing, practicing, practicing,
...until our pieces are performance-ready to play on Graves' nine-foot Steinway concert grand.
Recitals are always a mix of excitement and nerves, for me as well as for my students - in fact, I'd venture to say, probably even more so for me than for my students, especially in the nerves department.
That is to say, I'm always nervous on recital nights,
...and to observe with satisfaction, or sometimes even marvel at, the progress they've made.
And it does my heart good to see former students who've grown into accomplished pianists now playing for love and willing to come back and perform at our recitals,
This time we had a couple of guest performers, as we do from time to time, and so we were treated to - and inspired by - a lively rendition of Chopin's "Minute Waltz"
...and a very entertaining duo who played some wonderful traditional Irish tunes.
Then after it was over we all basked in that great feeling of post-performance relief and jubilation,
...and my hubby Tom, my Irish fiddler friend and I headed to our perennial post-recital destination,
...where I, for one, basked some more.
"Saudi Arabia wants to fight the Iranians to the last American."
-Robert Gates, former Defense Secretary
Why are we on the brink of war with Iran? Why, why, why?
The United States going to war with Iran is senseless, needless, it's folly, and the triangulated mess we're now in with Iran and Saudi Arabia is all Donald Trump's fault.
In 2015 an agreement was reached among Iran, the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the European Union, the terms of which were that Iran was to cease its development of nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions. As part of the deal Iran was also allowed access to its financial assets that had been frozen by foreign banks.
The deal likely wasn't one-hundred percent of what any of the sides wanted, but it was a compromise, it simmered down tensions, calmed hostilities between the United States and Iran, eased the hardship of the Iranian people and, most important, took the world one giant step back from the potentiality of a nuclear war. In other words, it worked.
Except for Saudi Arabia, mortal enemy of Iran, whose leaders were infuriated at U.S. President Barack Obama for making a deal with Iran.
However the Iran nuclear deal worked well, and all the countries involved played by its rules for three years.
Unfortunately Trump's idea of making a deal was to pull the United States out of the agreement then starve Iran with crushing economic sanctions until Iran agreed to bend to the terms of Donald Trump. He likewise threatened harsh retaliation again any country that engaged in trade with Iran. It was a move worthy of a mob boss.
But, though Trump may have thought he was giving Iran an offer it couldn't refuse, he overlooked the fact that Iran was perfectly capable of refusing his offer, which its leaders did, and, in their anger over what they saw as a double-cross on the part of the Americans, subsequently vowed to never again trust the United States.
And the Iranians, in retaliation for what they see as American attacks on their economy, have been retaliating with attacks of their own, on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman,
...on Saudi Arabian oil pipes, on American drones flying in the region,
...and, last week, on Saudi Arabian oil fields, where missiles probably of Iranian provenance destroyed one third of Saudi Arabia's oil production, at least temporarily.
And now Saudi Arabia's de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is crying out for an international investigation of the bombing of his country's oil fields,
...for which cruel, reprehensible crime neither Mohammad bin Salman nor his country suffered the least consequence. Quite the contrary.
And now Saudi Arabia expects the United States to go to war to defend its oil.
Donald Trump has said that our military is "locked and loaded" to attack Iran, but in the meantime his initial retaliation for the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil has been to press a new round of sanctions, this time on Iran's National Bank.
And so it was an act of war; against Saudi Arabia, but not against the United States.
So if Saudi Arabia wants to retaliate against Iran, let it use its own billions and the bodies of its own young people to defend is oil.
In the meantime any fool could predict that more U.S. sanctions against Iran are going to bring on more attacks by Iran against Saudi Arabian oil.
Donald Trump, whose recklessness started this war, could end it today by agreeing to lift his sanctions against Iran and re-entering the Iran nuclear deal.
Then the rest of us wouldn't have to be wondering why in the world we're at war with Iran.
...Continued from yesterday:
My daughter Claire, a disaster response nurse, returned last Friday from a week of volunteering with the International Medical Corps in Grand Bahama where she was part of a 4-nurse strike team sent to the island to assess the medical needs of the people there and determine how health care might best be delivered amidst the destruction left by Hurricane Dorian (see previous post, "Messages From The Bahamas").
As Claire went back to work at Northwestern Hospital the day after she returned to Chicago from the Bahamas, it wasn't until yesterday that we were finally able to have a phone conversation.
"It looked like the Apocalypse," Claire said when I asked her how it was on the island. There were areas, she said, where "there was nothing. No houses, no buildings."
And yet, strangely, she said, they would often know where a house had stood because they would come across a toilet standing. No sink, no bathtub, no refrigerator, no stove. Just the toilet.
"It was as if the whole house and everything in it had been lifted and carried away, with just the toilet left behind."
I asked Claire how they got around the island. She said that when their plane arrived at the Freeport airport there was no electricity on the island and the airport was badly damaged and there was no transportation available to take them to the hospital in town, which was, thankfully, still standing and running on a generator. "But," she said, "the logistical folks at the airport got to work and pretty soon a truck drove up to take us to the hospital."
Claire said some nurses from the Freeport hospital joined their team, which was wonderfully helpful, because in a place where nothing was recognizable to indicate a town, the Bahamian nurses knew where the towns were, and also the residents recognized and appreciated seeing the local nurses.
It was hard getting around by truck, Claire said, because there was so much debris on the roads; and so they'd drive where they could, but they mostly walked.
"You must have done a lot of walking," I said.
"Well, I got my steps in," she said.
Sometimes they'd come across a house that was still standing.
"Then I'd knock on the door, but usually the door just swung open. If there was just a facade standing I'd poke my head inside and call 'Hello?'"
Sometimes they'd find people inside the houses in need of medical care.
"We'd sometimes find people who had hurt themselves trying to repair their houses. You know, they'd have a cut on their hand, or they stepped on a nail."
Many buildings were little more than piles of rubble.
"We didn't have the heavy equipment you'd need to dig through the rubble," Claire said, "but somebody's going to have to. Because, Mom, sometimes when we walked by a pile of rubble you could tell by the smell that there was something underneath that had died."
In one town called Pelican Point they came across a medical clinic that was still standing. They went inside and found the clinic nurses there trying to set the place back up as best they could.
Once as the teams walked along they came across a cemetery where the caskets had been washed up from beneath the ground and had been thrown up against the fence. "It looked as if the caskets were trying to escape," Claire said. I asked her if the caskets were opened or closed and she said some were opened and some were closed. I asked her if the remains were still in the open caskets. "I didn't go close enough to look," she said.
Once they saw a field of palm trees that looked as if a giant blade had flown by and cut off all the trees' heads.
"And there were so many cars in the water," she said, "just everywhere in the water. You'd see this beautiful blue sea then when you looked closer, you'd see all these cars. It's terrible."
I asked Claire what the strike team did for food. "Getting food and water was so much work," she said, "and sometimes at the end of the day I was so tired that I just skipped eating and went to bed." She said the team mostly subsisted on protein bars and MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) that they'd brought with them. She said that for water there was a working spigot about half a mile down the road from the Airbnb where they were staying at in Freeport. However after a few days a supply of water arrived for them, which made life somewhat easier.
One of the team's assignments was to offer assistance to the medical clinic in the town of High Rock. But when they arrived they discovered that the clinic was gone.
However the local administrator gave the team permission to set up another clinic anywhere in High Rock where they could find a cleared space.
They found a spot outside of a government building that was still standing, and so here they set up a little clinic under a canopy tent. "Now we had a place that we could tell the residents to come to for medical care if they needed it."
And then one day towards the end of the week FedEx arrived with supplies.
"And now," said Claire, "there's a nice big tent to use for the clinic."
Claire has arrived back at the Miami, Florida airport and will soon be en route home to Chicago.
We had only a few minutes to talk before she boarded her plane and so she couldn't much fill me in other than to let me know that she was safe and well and back in the States.
While she was on Grand Bahama, where she spent most of the week, Claire had found only one spot where internet and/or phone service was occasionally up. Therefore her communications from the island - mostly via Facebook messaging - were few and brief.
But I'll share here her messages such as they were and pictures she posted over the week:
Sunday, September 8
Landed in Grand Bahamas safely! More to come as assessment continues!
Monday, September 9
Hi all, I am home from being out in the east end of Grand Bahamas today. This is by far the worst cane I have ever seen.
What’s left of a house
We were sent to assist this clinic but there is nothing left.
Oil spill, it’s everywhere.
Tuesday, September 11
Hi all, just a quick update...yesterday and today we went door to door in the High Rock area checking up on people, providing medical care as needed and doing an assessment of the damage to the area. It has been unbelievable, the destruction.
Me going house to house.
Tomorrow we have procured a 4 wheel drive vehicle to make it out further east. In the other truck we had we couldn’t get past the oil spill. We hope to get to the community of McLean, which is on the Far East of the island. Overall I am tired but well, had a bucket shower and then the electricity came on, hooray!
We have about 12 volunteers here now, doctors and nurses, plus 6 logisticals. So a big crew. (We are using swimming pool water to flush the toilets because there are 16 of us in the same house with no running water. So we are taking turns hauling water, too.) I’m hoping with the return of the electricity in the neighborhood the water will follow. (Not out east though, those power lines will be down for months I’m sure.)
On Wednesday evening, September 11, I received a text from Claire that her team had spent the day in McLean's Town, a town on the far eastern end of the island that had been badly hit by Dorian.
I had seen pictures of McLean's Town on the news.
Apparently it is - was - a beach resort town.
Here's how McLean's Town looked before the hurricane:
Here's what it looks like now:
Last night Claire sent word that she had left Grand Bahama and had arrived at Nassau.
Today she left Nassau and flew to Miami, from where she'll catch her plane to Chicago.
Tomorrow she will back at work on the Intensive Care Unit at Northwestern Hospital.
Dear Senators Brown and Portman,
I'm addressing this letter to both of you because I've sent a copy to each of you.
My name is Patti Liszkay and I am a piano teacher from Gahanna, Ohio. This morning I heard on the local news that out of respect for those who died in the 9/11 attacks on our country eighteen years ago our Governor Mike Dewine had 3,000 American flags planted on the Ohio Statehouse lawn.
The newscaster's use of the word "planted" gave me an idea.
What if every year on 9/11, along with the thousands of flags planted across the United States on that day, our country planted 3,000 trees in honor of those who died on that day, sixty trees in each state? The Federal government could allocate the funds to each state for the planting of the trees, though it could be left to each state to choose the kind and location of the trees planted each year so that each state could have trees compatible with the climate and geography: Maybe palm trees for Hawaii, palms and redwoods for California, hardy evergreens for Alaska, deciduous trees for the Midwest, etc. Maybe Southwestern states such as Arizona and Texas could opt for planting saguaros, or some other majestic plant that thrives better than trees in their climate.
Perhaps funding could even be allocated for a volunteer corps dedicated gathering, planting, and caring for the 9/11 Trees.
What better tribute could we offer our fellow Americans who died on that day than a 9/11 Tree honoring each of them, trees that would live on and multiply, year after year, offering solace to their loved ones and keeping them alive in our collective memory?
In these troubled, divisive times would not a bill calling for the yearly planting of 9/11 Trees be legislation on which everyone on the both sides of the aisle could come together?
I am therefore requesting, Senators Brown and Portman, that together you introduce bipartisan legislation calling for the planting of 3,000 9/11 Trees, sixty in each state, on every September 11. Perhaps you could even propose that 9/11 be declared a national holiday on which Americans could also spend the day planting a tree somewhere in their community or on their property in remembrance of those who died on that day?
What better way to bring Americans together on this day to honor the 9/11 fallen?
Thank you, Senators Brown and Portman,
The above is the letter I sent today to my state senators. If you like the idea please feel free to suggest the same idea to your senators or representatives.
...likely on a U.S. Coast Guard cutter with three other nurses and a small cadre of security guards, searching the flooded island for survivors and assessing what their medical care treatment needs might be and where it might be possible to set up a make-shift hospital.
Claire is part of a 4-person nurse strike team from among a group of nurses and doctors with the International Medical Corps.
The nurse strike team was sent out from the group's home base established a few days on the nearby island of Nassau. The team is gathering information on the needs and conditions in Grand Bahama, which information they will then relay to the rest of the medical team waiting in their make-shift staging area set up in a Nassau resort.
Claire left last Monday, September 2, on a day's notice - a disaster response nurse who has worked with a number of national and international medical organizations, Claire keeps a "to-go" bag always packed and ready to grab - for Daytona Beach, Florida, where her assignment was to care for the residents of nearby nursing homes who had been evacuated to a middle school gym in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian hitting the area.
Below is a picture someone took of Claire comforting one of the evacuees while she was working the night shift.
However, as the hurricane bypassed Florida, the evacuees were sent home and the shelter closed, and on Friday Claire deployed by plane with the rest of the International Medical Corps team to the Bahamas.
The World Health Organization had tasked the IMC with assessing the east side of Grand Bahama, where some of the worst devastation had occurred. The group put together a 4-person "nurse strike team" of which Claire was to be a member.
The IMC group landed in Nassau, which had been spared the destruction, and where they were given accommodations in quite a lovely resort hotel, as Claire describes it.
As of Friday the airspace between Nassau and Grand Bahama was still closed for safety and there were no available planes anyway. The only transport at hand would have been a 14-hour boat ride. Therefore the group spent that day and the next at the hotel staging and organizing medical supplies,
As of 10:45 PM Saturday night, at which time Claire messaged the family, there was still no transportation from Nassau to Grand Bahama and Claire and her fellow strike team members feared it would probably be the following week before they would be able to head out.
However half an hour later Claire called me to let us know that a plane and a dry landing site on Grand Bahama had been procured and that she and her three other strike team members would be flying the following morning, Sunday morning, to the west side of Grand Bahama, which was dry, and landing in Freeport, where they'd stay at an Airbnb.
It was during that phone call late Saturday night that Claire told me about being on the nurse strike team, and how as soon as they landed in Freeport they'd begin traversing the island by Coast Guard cutter accompanied by four guards, not American, but on assignment from an international company. She warned me that, as the electrical grid was down, there might not be any internet or phone service.
However the family received a quick message on Sunday afternoon that the strike team had landed safely in Grand Bahama,
...and last night those who showed up for weekly open Sunday dinner,
...posed for a group "hello" to Claire, which I sent her via text.
Late last night she sent out a brief text that she was back at the Airbnb on the west side of the island.
And that's all we've heard for now.
...Continued from yesterday:
Dear Future Cyberarchivist,
On this day, September 8, 2019, Hurricane Dorian, after destroying several islands in the Bahamas,
There has been a global outcry over the deliberate burning of the Amazon (see yesterday's post), and a union of the seven wealthiest countries in the world known as G7 has offered to help Brazil extinguish the Amazon fires.
...has refused help, likely out of a mix of resentment, vanity and the desire for his country to reap the temporary profit to be gleaned from the permanent destruction of the rain forest.
Most of the countries of the world have banded together in an accord known as the Paris Agreement to work together to reduce carbon emissions and stop rising global temperatures.
However my country, the United States of America, the wealthiest and most powerful country on the planet and the second greatest producer of the carbon emissions that are causing greenhouse gases and global warming, is not participating in the Paris Agreement.
Rather, Donald Trump's response to the global warming crisis has been to deny that the crisis exists and to deliberately take counter productive actions against the health of the environment, such as:
- scrapping initiatives set in place by his predecessors to replace fossil fuels with clean energy;
- repealing laws protecting our water and air quality;
- cutting back regulations on the emission of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas;
- rescinding a law banning old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs and requiring Americans to use only high energy-efficient light bulbs.
...would save the electricity output equivalent of at least 25 large power plants, enough energy to power all the homes in the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and would significantly cut back on greenhouse gases that are making the world too hot and causing our climate to go haywire.
Some people say that Donald Trump is mad. And yet others worship him like a god.
You, historian of the future, may ponder how a democratic nation such as the United States of America is - or maybe, as it may turn out, once was - elected such a man as its leader. Living at this moment, I can only tell you that these are strange times.
And so, though we human beings may lose - or, as you read this, did lose- this moment to save the health of our planet and subsequently our own health and well-being, at this moment there is still hope on the horizon.
There is a cadre of new young progressive leaders in our government who oppose Donald Trump and his careless, poisonous policies and have taken up the cause of global warming.
One of these leaders, a strong, outspoken Representative named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortetz
...have put forth legislation called the Green New Deal that would require the United States to begin transitioning from using carbon-producing energy sources to using only 100% renewable, zero- carbon emission energy sources.
Sadly, the Green New Deal has been mocked not only by the disciples of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, but by moderate Americans who gasp that the Green New Deal is too radical a move.
Meanwhile the planet drowns and burns.
But next year, in 2020, there will be another election in this country, and we of the United States of America will have the opportunity to vote out Donald Trump and our current legislators and vote in a new President and leaders who who would take up the Green New Deal and join the rest of the world in the fight to stop global warming. And in this outcome - remote as it might be - lies our last hope.
And though you, Future Archivist, know whether at this moment in time we humans chose to save our world for ourselves, our children, and for future generations, or whether we passed on to all of you a ruined, less sustainable, less productive, less pleasant and livable planet, this is the moment.
This is the moment.
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.