...Continued from yesterday:
The following day, Saturday, was the day of our daughter's birthday party.
But there was much to do before the party, starting with, of course, the Saturday morning soccer games,
...followed by the Saturday afternoon soccer games.
A good spot for little sisters to hang during their big sisters' game.
After the soccer games we drove home, at one point in the trip passing what would have been the most beautiful vista of the city backdropped by mountains,
...if the scene had not been blurred by the smoke wafting south from the wildfires currently burning to in the north and western parts of Los Angeles County. Thankfully, the fires hadn't reached the South Bay area where my daughter's family lives.
When we arrived home it was time to begin the party preparations. The dinner would be catered, but there was still setting up to be done and a birthday cake to be made.
Earlier in the day my daughter had begun the assembly of her birthday cake, that is, one of her two birthday cakes, this one being a two-layer ice cream cake.
She made the cake by taking two 9" x 13" cake pans and filling each with a carton of ice cream, one pan with Cookies and Cream,
She then topped one of the pans of ice cream with a mix of crushed Oreo cookies and chocolate fudge topping. Then she placed both pans of ice cream into the freezer for several hours.
My grand daughter and I made the whipped cream for the icing by pouring a quart of heavy whipping cream into a bowl,
...adding four tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract,
Then my daughter removed the layers from freezer and the girls helped her with the assembly,
...then the icing of the cake with the whipped cream,
...and the adding of the sprinkles.
After the cake was finished there remained only arranging chairs for the guests,
...setting up a slide show in the living room,
...and doing some drink-prep,
...for the fruit water.
At 5:15 pm the food arrived, healthy, yummy fare from a local restaurant called Mendocino Farms,
By 5:30 the guests began arriving,
...and digging in.
Tyson and Pinky's friend Sneakers was also among the party guests.
Among the party highlights were the slide show,
...which the children especially seemed to enjoy;
...a show put on by some of the children,
...that the dogs joined in;
....the serving of the birthday cakes:
...and a beautiful buttercream layer cake from a local baker called Susiecakes,
Both cakes were the stuff of dessert dreams.
And then there was a beautiful surprise birthday card made by the children,
...decorated with mermaids and merdogs,
...and the ocean.
It was a great party.
The following morning at 7 am my two grand daughters bounced into Tom's and my bedroom and onto our bed.
"Wake up, Grammie," they cried, "we want to make blueberry muffins for Mommy's birthday."
Now, they had told me before the trip that they wanted to make blueberry muffins during our visit. I did not know that the plan was to be that we would make them on Sunday morning at 7 am.
However this day was my daughter's actual birthday, and the girls wanted to surprise her.
So I hauled out of bed, got the fixins' together and pulled up on my laptop my recipe for Go Crazy Blueberry Muffins,
...so called because you go crazy with the blueberries.
Here's the recipe:
Go Crazy Blueberry Muffins
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup milk
4 cups blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 of 1/3 cup flour (sorry, I don't know how to better express this!)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners.
Combine the 3 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, and baking powder. Add the vegetable oil.
Lightly fold in the blueberries.
Fill the muffin cups to the top.
To make the streusel topping:
Mix together the 1/4 cup of sugar, the 1/2 of 1/3 cup of flour and the cinnamon. Cut in the 1 tablespoon of butter until it's pretty crumb-ish.
Top each muffin with some streusel, maybe a tablespoon or two, but not too much, even if you end up not using all the topping (otherwise the topping might sink into the muffin, as over-heavy streusel toppings tend to do. So keep the topping on the light side).
Bake for about 20 minutes (or maybe a few minute more or less according to your oven) until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
She loved her birthday surprise.
...soon after which we boarded our flight to Los Angeles to visit our daughter, son-in-law, and our two grand children.
We had taken a 6:45 am Eastern Time Zone flight from Columbus, Ohio which delivered us to Los Angeles at 9:00 am Pacific Time.
From the airport we took a taxi to Manhattan Beach,
...to our daughter's house where we were greeted by our grand dogs Tyson and Pinky Poo,
Though Tom and I had had breakfast before we left Columbus, eight hours later it was only mid-morning in Los Angeles, so we decided to have breakfast again. (We have discovered that changing time zones always somehow ends up with an extra meal being thrown in. Which, by the way, I'm not complaining about).
We headed to our favorite LA breakfast eatery,
Hopefully the movie folks eat there while shooting their scenes, as the food is fantastic, always made fresh and served up fast.
...a supermarket located along the margin of what must be most beautiful, palm-laden parking lot on the planet.
After stocking up on baking supplies at Ralph's - my grand daughters had requested that we do some baking during our visit - we headed back to the house until it was time to pick up our grand daughters from their school,
As it turned out, this day was to be our lucky day as, since our daughter and son-in-law had commitments that would keep them out until later in the evening, Tom and I would be on over-time grandparental duty, something, I suppose, that can only be appreciated by those of use whose moments shared with our grandchildren are too few and too far between.
And so we had a whole evening of the grand kids to ourselves.
First on the agenda was, of course, homework to be done,
Then we headed to downtown Manhattan Beach,
...for our grand daughter's piano lesson,
After the piano lesson the girls requested dinner at Denny's, after which they shared a dessert.
After dinner it was back home for what, when our children were young, Tom used to call the Long March: the post-dinner, pre-bedtime rituals, all of which must be followed until that blessed moment when the kids are in tucked into their beds for the night and the lights out.
I say “became” as opposed to “was elected,” since Donald Trump wasn’t in truth elected.
But due to an odd construct of our Constitution, the reason for which no one seems quite sure (ask any number of people and you’ll be given any number of reasons why the President of the United States is chosen by the Electoral College and not by the most votes received), Donald Trump, who did not by a long shot not receive the popular vote, is President while Hillary Clinton, who did, is not.
And so the once-unthinkable outcome of someone like Donald Trump becoming President of this country has spawned numerous other unthinkable outcomes, some of the worst of them in recent weeks. Among them:
America’s cruel and wanton abandonment of our allies the Syrian Kurds whose militia fought for five years with American troops against ISIS ;
Attempts by Trump and his corrupt consiglieres to strong-arm the new Ukrainian President into manufacturing dirt on Trump’s political rival;
The physical storming of the chambers of the House of Representatives by a dozen Trump loyalist Republican Senators in an effort to disrupt the House investigation into potentially impeachable offenses committed by Donald Trump.
But, inured as many of us may have become to the unthinkable after two years of a Donald Trump Presidency, the headline that broke in yesterday’s news should have grabbed the attention of every American and shocked us into the danger that our country is in at this moment.
…has ordered the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation of itself; specifically, of those of its members who worked on the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election,
also known as the Mueller Probe,
So now Robert Mueller, who led the investigation that secured the convictions or guilty pleas of half a dozen Trump associates, is now himself under criminal investigation by William Barr's specially appointed prosecutor,
...and anyone else who played role, or who Donald Trump perceives as having played a role, in the Russia investigation that uncovered the extent to which Russia worked to tilt our 2016 Presidential election in Trump's favor.
However, although the Justice Department has begun it's criminal investigation of the Mueller Probe investigators, there's been no announcement of exactly what crime has been committed. Or even what crime is under suspicion of having been committed.
Apparently Barr's investigators have so far been looking into whether the Russia investigators were guilty of political bias against Donald Trump. Which is not a crime. They are also looking into whether the CIA might have somehow tricked the FBI into opening the Russia investigation in the first place. Which is absurd. And William Barr himself went to Italy to try and run down a conspiracy theory flying around that the Italian government was somehow improperly involved in assisting the FBI with the Russia investigation. Which is ridiculous.
The only thing that is clear about this darkly conceived criminal investigation of the Mueller probe investigators is that Donald Trump is using the American justice system as his personal weapon to use against those he considers his enemies.
And that is beyond unthinkable. It is terrifying.
Ah, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy. What happened to you?
Was there really a time, long ago and far away, when you were admired, even loved, not only by New Yorkers, but by the whole country?
Do you remember those bad old days when New York City was a mess of graffitied walls and subways, trashy sidewalks, streets rife with crime petty and grievous and all sorts of other civic infractions and urban blights, and who could forget what a den of iniquity and ugliness Times Square was back then?
And then remember how you came along, you, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the new sheriff in town, and you lowered the boom bigtime, rounded up and locked the heels of urban offenders great and small, cleaned up the city, and set a new, higher standard of street and civic behavior? And how, by your tough love, a fresh, new quality was breathed into the environment and life of New York, not to mention the vast improvement in the tourist experience?
Times Square today.
And then came the horror of 9/11, the day on which two 1800-foot towers fell onto Manhattan, tons and tons of debris rained down, people ran for their lives, city blocks were demolished, and three thousand people died.
New York was traumatized, the country left in shock.
Oh, Rudy, what happened? When in the world did you cross over to the dark side? When did greedy ambition for excessive wealth and excessive power begin to seep into your soul and poison whatever well of positive strength and heroism used to exist there? When did you turn from hero to absolute villain?
Because that’s what you are now, Rudy. You are an absolute villain. You are in league with Donald Trump, who is also an absolute villain, and now the two of you slither about intertwined, generating a slime trail of corruption that is damaging not only our American democracy but now, and perhaps even worse, the far more fragile fledgling democracy of Ukraine.
This Ukraine thing is bad. Really bad. Donald Trump is now on the road to impeachment for his proposition of a self-serving quid pro quo in a telephone call,
(That Trump held up military aid to Ukraine in an effort to pressure that country to find some 2016 election dirt on the Democrats was inadvertently confirmed,
But the thing is, Mr. Mayor, it’s looking more and more as if you, and not Donald Trump, are the cerebral engine behind the whole Ukraine thing. It was you, after all, who latched onto the idea that there was a computer server owned by the Democratic Party and hidden somewhere deep in Ukraine that would prove that the interference in our 2016 elections came from Ukraine and not Russia, and was – for some not-easily-understood reason – generated and fed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Even though it was Donald Trump who benefitted from said interference. Go figure.
It was also apparently your idea to have Trump pressure President Zelensky to produce scandal on Joe Biden’s son, who was at one time on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.
And then, Rudy, there are your two criminal business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who have been charged with fraud in an arcane scheme that involved funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars through a bogus company to a former Texan Congressman, Pete Sessions, in exchange for Sessions pressuring the Trump administration to fire the American Ambassador to Ukraine,
Wheels within wheels, webs within webs, lies within lies.
It’s most recently come to light that with the full patronage of the President of the United States, you, Rudy Giuliani, have been running a shadow State Department, playing your own game of underground chess with our America ambassadors and emissaries to profit not your country, but yourself and your benefactor Donald Trump.
But imagine, Rudy, if instead of slinking down the sleazy garden path to shame and ignominy, which is surely your ultimate destination, you’d chosen a different path after your honorable tour of service as Mayor of New York.
What if, instead of falling prey to greedy ambition, setting your sights on the highest possible pinnacle of power, you’d instead pursued a more noble ambition commensurate with the good work you did as Mayor of New York City?
How many cities across this country could have benefitted – could still benefit - from your talent and toughness in cleaning up cities and solving urban problems?
What if, instead of setting your sights on becoming President or - as you’ve become – surrogate President of the United States, you had established a non-profit to assist mayors of cities in crisis with their urban problems?
Quite frankly, some of your tough-love techniques could be the salvation of a city like Portland, Oregon, where law, order and civility have eroded under good intentions and administrative cluelessness.
Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, California, New Orleans, Louisiana…there are probably dozens of cities across America that could have gained from what you could have offered.
Or if not as an advisor to beleaguered cities, there are any other number of honorable pursuits in which you could have found your stride.
Consider the good Jimmy Carter has done since his term in public office.
The name Rudy Giuliani could have garnered the same respect, admiration, and love as the name Jimmy Carter now does.
But instead you’ll probably end up in prison in your ripe old age and your name will go down in history as synonymous with muck.
Sigh. Ah, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy. What happened to you?
Up until a week ago the people in the towns in Northeastern Syria along the Turkish border were living their day-to-day lives. Going to work. Going to school.
Going shopping. Going out to eat. Playing or watching sports events. Meeting friends for coffee or tea. Visiting relatives. Raising families. Working around the house or garden. Planning their plans for the day or for the upcoming week, month, or year.
But by the end of that day one week ago everything had changed for the people of Northeastern Syria. Because it was one week ago today that Donald Trump, who has many millions of dollars worth of financial interests in Turkey,
...hung up on a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,
...and immediately, impulsively, called for the withdraw of the American troops that had been overseeing the "Peace Corridor" that was being set up between Turkey and Kurdish Syria.
Three days later Turkish rockets, tanks, and artillery began attacking the Northeastern Syrian cities and towns along the Turkish border.
That was four days ago. And in those four days since Turkey invaded Kurdish Syria:
- 100,000 Syrian civilians have been displaced as they flee south, away from the border.
- 179 men, women, and children have been killed or injured.
- Turkish artillery fired on an outpost of American troops stationed outside the conflict zone to the west of Kurdish Syria. Deliberately, U.S. military officials are convinced.
- The Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces who brought down ISIS in Syria and now administer the detention camps for captured ISIS fighters have had to cut back on personnel to guard the camps, as all troops are now needed for defense against the invading Turks. Subsequently almost 1,000 captured ISIS members have escaped the camps in the past four days. There has since been two car bomb explosions in Syria, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility.
- Some of the detention camps where captured ISIS members are held are now at risk of falling under ISIS control.
"You are leaving us to be slaughtered," General Mazloum told a senior U.S. diplomat.
This is at heart an an issue of war and peace. Donald Trump pulled back the American troops along the Turkish-Northeastern Syrian border because, he said, he wanted to get our country out of "endless wars." And yet while the United States had 100 troops patrolling the Turkish- Northeastern Syrian border there was peace. Had he left that patrol there would still be peace. But he pulled those troops and now there's war.
And Trump will not return any troops or support to defend the Kurds who fought for five years along side Americans and lost 11,000 men and women to defeat ISIS.
But yesterday Donald Trump ordered 3,000 American troops, two Air Force fighter squadrons, Patriot antimissile batteries and other air and missile defenses to deploy to Saudi Arabia to protect the Saudi oil fields.
Donald Trump is currently under an impeachment investigation for a phone call he made subtly extorting the President of Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political rival in exchange for military aid,
...immediately following which Trump ordered American troops to be pulled back from the Northeastern Kurdish Syrian border? This sudden departure of American troops left the Kurds, whose Syrian Defense Forces fought ISIS for five years alongside American troops, at the mercy of Turkey, which had in recent months been pacing its border with Kurdish Syria like a cat preparing to pounce a mouse.
Worse, the American military had convinced the Syrian Defense Forces, despite the recent build-up of Turkish tanks and guns along the Syrian border, to dismantle their defense fortifications along the border starting in September, with the assurance that the United States and Turkey had agreed on a five mile demilitarized safe zone or "Peace Corridor" inside northeastern Syria to maintain security along the Turkish-Syrian border.
Then came Donald Trump's October 6 phone call with Erdogan, a call that will surely go down in infamy. Hours after that phone call Trump called back American troops from Northeastern Syria and three days later Turkish missiles were devastating Kurdish towns,
...while Turkish tanks rolled across the Syrian border,
...and our Kurdish allies realized they'd been betrayed.
Erdogan has subsequently made no secret of his intention to cleanse Northeastern Syria of Kurds and to use the conquered land as a place to relocate the Syrian refugees who have poured into Turkey since the Syrian civil war.
And so, considering the hundreds of thousands of already fleeing Kurdish men, women, and children who will be killed, maimed, orphaned, widowed, or displaced as a result of Trump's phone call with the President of Turkey,
...it would seem to me that Congress should likewise investigate what transpired in that phone call that propelled Donald Trump to commit such treachery against a loyal ally.
After rolling over for Erdogan and giving Turkey carte blanche to invade Kurdish Syria, Trump tweeted the following:
But even if Donald Trump had the power to destroy and obliterate the economy of Turkey he wouldn't do anything of the kind because he owns two luxury hotels in Istanbul of which he refused to divest himself of when he became President,
...which in and of itself should be grounds for impeachment.
This morning I received a phone call from my daughter Claire.
Claire, an Intensive Care Unit nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago who also travels around the world with disaster medical response teams, spent several weeks in Iraqi Kurdistan earlier this year giving daily training seminars to the nurses from the Intensive Care and Coronary Care Units at the Azadi Teaching Hospital in the city of Dohuk.
See posts from 4/4/2019, 4/11/2019, 4/13/2019, and 4/20/2019)
But today Claire was heart-broken and worried sick over the invasion this morning of Northeastern Syria by Turkish forces for the purpose of displacing - or perhaps wiping out - the Kurdish population of that region.
"Dohuk isn't that far from Syria," Claire said. "People cross back and forth across the border from Kurdistan to Kurdish Syria all the time. A lot of people in Dohuk have family in Syria. I can't imagine what they're going through. Everybody must be so frightened."
We talked, as many Americans doubtless talked today, about how shamefully and tragically our country has betrayed the Kurds after the U.S.-backed Kurdish militias known as the Syrian Democratic Forces fought for years as strong, loyal, American allies in the war against ISIS and were instrumental in bringing down ISIS in Syria, capturing over 5,000 Islamic fighters and guarding the camps where the captured ISIS fighters are currently imprisoned. Over 11,000 Kurdish soldiers lost their lives fighting - with weapons supplied by the U.S. - against ISIS.
And after the Syrian Democratic Forces fought beside their American allies and gave their lives to defeat ISIS, our country promised, rightfully so, to protect the Kurdish people of northern Syria from Turkish aggression.
To this end the United States brokered a deal with the Kurds to placate Turkey: if the Syrian Democratic Forces dismantled their defensive fortifications along the Turkish border and pulled back their troops from that area then the U.S. military would guarantee their safety.
The Kurds kept their part of the bargain. And no sooner had they dismantled their defenses along the Syrian-Turkish border than Donald Trump repaid their trust with a double-cross by immediately pulling American troops back from the Syrian-Turkish border, saying of the Kurds,
The Turkish attack against Kurdish Syria began today. Turkey's objective is to obliterate the Syrian Democratic Forces and drive the Kurds out of Northeastern Syria.
...another war has begun,
...the destruction already underway,
...civilians already fleeing their homes,
...another terrible humanitarian crisis already in the making.
It's been predicted that in this war half a million men, women and children will die.
"You know, Mom," said Claire, her voice choking up, "of all the countries I've been to, I never met anyone so happy to see Americans as the Kurds."
...threatened the safety of and attempted to intimidate an anonymous Federal whistle blower by calling them a spy and intimating that they should be put to death;
...withheld State Department documents requested by Congress;
And those are just some the impeachable offenses committed so far by Donald Trump. Tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that more offenses are likely to be added to the list, as Trump seems unable to stop himself from adding more manure day by day to the dung heap of wrong-doing that will eventually bury him and his presidency.
But amidst the ever-expanding cyclone of Trump impeachment-related stories that sucks all the oxygen from the news cycles these days, appeared a news story last week that surfaced only briefly at the edge of the garbage swirl before it spiraled away.
Does anybody still remember the October 1 New York Times article by Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis in which anonymous White House officials leaked that Donald Trump wanted a moat filled with poisonous snakes or alligators around his southern border wall, which he wanted electrified and topped with sharp, flesh-tearing spikes? These officials also shared that Trump wanted U.S. soldiers stationed at the border to shoot migrants in the legs. He had to be convinced by aides that none of those approaches were options.
Which brings me to my point: While Donald Trump attempting to use the power of President of the United States to extort other countries for his political gain certainly merits impeachment, should his directing soldiers to shoot migrants in the legs not also be grounds?
...not even worse than trying to shake down the president of Ukraine?
Should anyone possessed of such boundless cruelty even be allowed to rule our country?
After the New York Times story broke Trump, while he did not deny that he had wanted immigrants shot in the legs, did deny that he had asked for the alligators, snakes, and spike-topped electric fence. Which, of course, means nothing, because if there's one thing this country has learned, it's that Donald Trump's word means nothing.
And, as a matter of fact, shouldn't being a profligate liar be in and of itself grounds enough for impeachment?
https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/impeachment-inquiry-10-05-2019/index.html (Insulted Romney)
I looked around the kitchen, on the counters and the kitchen chairs.
"They're not here," said my hubby Tom. "They didn't arrive."
"Oh, you're kidding me," said I. I hurried to the front door and looked out onto the front porch.
Tom put a consoling hand on my shoulder. "We'll around look outside," he said, "maybe they're in the grass somewhere."
But they weren't. It was all too clear that our newspapers hadn't been delivered this morning, and there would be no New York Times with my tea, no Columbus Dispatch with my toast.
Before fixing breakfast I paced around the kitchen a little, feeling at loose ends. Usually on such a rare occasion I can find something else to read with my breakfast, some left-over news that I hadn't gotten to from the day before's paper.
But these days every morning I find myself gobbling up every last savory printed word of interest in both papers,
...so this morning there were no left-overs to chew on.
Besides, with the Trump Whistleblower Scandal/Impeachment Investigation exploding with fresh developments and revelations hourly, the previous day's news is already stale.
So I had nothing to read with breakfast. That is to say, I had no newspapers to devour with breakfast.
I had to do what everybody else who reads the news does - minus the 16% of Americans who, like, me, still read a printed newspaper - I pulled out my electronic device.
I clicked on CNN, which I generally scan throughout the day for a brief but up-to-the minute patchwork of reports on subsequent news developments,
...after I've gotten my broad morning foundation of satisfying in-depth coverage of national and world events from the Times and local events from the Dispatch.
I read a couple of brief news updates and short opinion pieces, but then I got distracted by an ad for a cute sweater, which I clicked out of CNN to buy,
...after which I sighed, shut my laptop, and that was that.
Until, thankfully, the papers finally arrived, and just in time for Elevensies.
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.