...Continued from yesterday:
On Monday morning Tom's and my L.A. workcation officially began, and we established our school-day routine.
The day usually started around 6:30 am with break-fast,
...then a bit of the week's homework assignment if there was time,
I brought along with me the little figurines I sometimes use with my very young piano students to get them to do repetitions,
...then each time my grand daughter wrote out one of her words she was allowed to move a figure across her page.
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
...while the other had a bit more play time before preschool.
Then at pick-up time Tom, Pinky-Poo and I would walk back to the school, where, the Los Angeles weather being perennially nice, the hallways and backpack hooks are outside.
After a happy reuniting of girl and dog we headed for home,
...as well as to admire the birds-of-paradise.
...back to the Little Library,
We went out for dinner a few times, for pizza,
...and some play time before bed,
...by which time we were usually all pretty tired.
To be continued...
"Equal And Opposite Reactions" by Patti Liszkay
Find it at
Black Rose Writing: http://www.blackrosewriting.com/romance/equalandoppositereactions
The Book Loft of German Village
Last Saturday, November 25, Tom and I returned from Los Angeles after a a two-week workcation - that is to say, a vacation during which our primary past time was caring for our grand daughters,
...and our (male) grand pup, Pinky-Poo,
Though, in truth, in the case of one-third of our charges, for me it amounted to love being a matter of the will. (Once a cat person, always a cat person, I guess).
As months go by for Tom and I without seeing our grand daughters, and they being at ages when young children begin to cross over that line that demarcates the magical world of the very young from the limitations and requisites of the reality, at the beginning of every visit I wistfully wonder if our oldest grand child has yet crossed the line.
But thankfully, not yet this time.
We arrived on November 11 and since it was a Saturday and our flight from Columbus arrived in the afternoon, there was still time for some fun,
After dinner we had some family karioke before bed.
...and with making breakfast,
...before Mom and Dad woke up.
...these provision runs always pleasurably enhanced for me by the preponderance of beautiful palm trees in the Ralph's parking lot.
Somehow in the Ralph's parking lot I always feel like I'm really in California.
And then we spent the rest of the day doing the most remarkably unremarkable things,
...and snapping some backyard shots,
...and soaking up the blue skies and sunshine and breathing in the warm West Coast air that I swear smells differently than the air in Columbus, Ohio.
And delighting in the simple wonder of it all.
To be continued...
Here's Jan and me back in college where Jan was my roomie,
...when we two lived with six other girls in a house in the University of Dayton Student Ghetto, as the neighborhood of student housing surrounding the UD campus was colloquially known in our day and I assume still is.
Whatever vibe causes people to hit it off and take an instant liking to each other must have been in the air the day Jan and I met at the beginning of our sophomore year. In retrospect, it couldn't have been that we bonded over shared interests, propensities or fields of study; Jan was a neat, meticulously organized Secondary Education major while I was a French major with a flair for languages, procrastination and losing things. Jan was a vegetarian and an environmentalist before the word was in the vernacular;
...she was outdoorsy, a lover of nature, animals, and especially horses; in fact if there was one trait that defined Jan it was her love of horses.
I, on the other hand, was an aficionado of the cultural arts, especially all things French, most especially the University of Dayton French Club, of which I was President.
My idea of fun was spending a Saturday afternoon beneath the overhead light of a cubicle in the language lab practicing my French pronunciation or sitting in my dorm room practicing printing out the Cyrillic alphabet from my Russian textbook.
But then good friends don’t generally give much thought to their differences, or, for that matter, to their similarities.
Still, if back when we were college friends Jan and I could have looked into a crystal ball we’d no doubt have been astonished to learn of something we had in common that neither of us could have imagined at the time: that we were destined, someday far in the future, to have our first books published within a week of each other.
But when we were twenty-one years old that shared event was decades away.
...and everything changed.
I landed jobs working for the United States Army in Babenhausen then Aschaffenburg, Germany,
We kept in touch long distance for a few years, Jan even came to visit me in Germany with our friend Linda, during which time we spent a weekend in Paris.
Then I returned to the States, married Tom, and moved to Louisville, Kentucky. Jan still lived in Ohio. Later I moved back to Ohio and Jan moved to Louisville.
Jan and I fell out of close touch and the years rolled on as did our lives in their respective directions until our only communication was a yearly Christmas card, if that.
In truth I can't remember what made me think of Jan a few weeks ago. But I did, I guess the way you sometimes do, out of the blue and for no particular reason, think of someone you used to know, you wonder how they're doing, what they're up to, and you find yourself feeling like getting in touch.
And so, to that end, thank goodness for Facebook.
I looked up Jan, we friended, and I soon learned:
...where they take in and give much love to stray dogs,
I learned that Jan's love of horses is still central to her life, and I met Highlander, Jan's equine soul mate.
...which involves horse owners bringing her strands of their horse's hair from which she braids jewelry, pieces commemorating and celebrating the special bond shared by horses and the people who love them.
And I learned that, like me, Jan is a writer, her short pieces on the subject most close to her heart having appeared over the years in horse and trail-riding magazines such as The Trail Rider and Trail Blazer.
And, like me, Jan expanded from writing stories for magazines to writing a book,
And so now, after so many years, Jan and I have reconnected. Stranger things, huh?
"At Home On a Horse in the Woods: A Memoir” by my friend Janet Wolanin Alexander is a series of soulfully-written essays and prose poems that come together as a memoir/meditation on one woman’s love of and transcendent connection to all things equine. Jan opens her life and heart to the reader, sharing her personal struggles, longings, joys, and spiritual journey as well as her ever-widening discovery along the way of the beauty and wonder of God’s world through the beloved horses in her life. Available at:
Like the creep on a crowded Rome subway who pushes up close behind a female passenger and pulls a move the Italians derisively call mano morta - dead hand - so quickly that the victim can't be sure who groped her or even if the hand on her body was there by accident or on purpose, you are pretending that the growing number of accusations against you of sexual assault are the result of misunderstandings on the part of a few women.
You feign shock that the women you fondled or attempted to fondle in the workplace or during photo shoots didn't get that your hands on their bodies was just you innocently being your warm, huggy self. Though you admit that for these women you crossed a line, you offer the excuse that at the time you had no idea that you were crossing a line.
"Some women," you said during your supposed public apology three days ago, "have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that.”
You apologized for making some women "feel badly."
But not for groping them. Or for forcing yourself upon them.
In other words, Senator Franken, your sorry excuse of a flimsy faux-apology was a crock of mano morta .
Far from an expression of heartfelt remorse, your words were an attempt at self-vindication.
Senator Franken, imagine some man of power and position grabbing your wife in a sexual way as you did those women. Imagine some man in a position of power over you grabbing you in a sexual way as you did those women. Then think of the words you'd require from that man, the words that would give you satisfaction for what he did. Then say those words to the women you offended.
In fact say those words for the world to hear for the sake of all the women, men, and children who've had to suffer violations of their bodies and spirits at the hands of men who, like you, refuse to get that they have no right to lay their hands, mouths, or bodies on whomever they desire to.
And this new apology should begin, "My name is Al Franken (Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby, Mike Oreskes, Joe Barton, John Conyers, Charlie Rose, Glen Thrush, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, etc, etc, etc) and I have a problem."
Well, it appears that a bipartisan group of Senators has come up with something they're calling a gun control bill. They even gave it a spiffy title: the "Fix NICS Act" - get it? It rhymes!
What the Fix NICS Act entails is encouraging states to make extra sure that all criminal and mental illness records are uploaded into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) so that the bad guys with criminal and mental records (notice I said bad guys - that's because all the mass shootings so far have been committed by guys - mass murder appears not to be a girl thing) won't be able to buy weapons from stores.
However bad guys who haven't gotten around to acquiring a criminal or mental record - such as the Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired real estate dealer and perpetrator of the deadliest mass shooting rampage in U.S. history - will still be able to acquire bushels of assault rifles that can hit over 50 people in under a minute.
Also, bad guys who do happen to have a criminal record will still be able to buy their assault weapons without a background check from gun shows or online, since requiring background checks for gun purchases from those outlets is not, alas, included in the bill.
So I think that, quite frankly, the Senators who proposed Fix NICS and are already patting themselves on the back over it are going to a lot of effort for not a lot of outcome; in fact, I could think of a couple of much simpler and more sensible and effective pieces of legislation:
1. The "Catch AR 15 Act."
This law would acknowledge the obvious fact that an assault rifle - the weapon of choice of contemporary American mass murderers - has only one purpose: to kill people. Pulverize them. En masse. There's something mentally wrong with somebody who'd want to buy a gun the only purpose of which is to pulverize people. Therefore anybody who tries to purchase an assault rifle should automatically be labeled a mental case and have their name entered on the NICS no-buy list. On the other hand, anyone who has no desire to own such a weapon is probably sane enough to be allowed to own one.
2. The "Pink Act"
This law would supercede all existing gun regulations. Under The Pink Act anybody could own a gun, no regulations, no background checks, no restrictions. However the Pink Act will require that all guns must be pink. Bright pink. All over.
Hand guns must be pink with butterflies.
Rifles must be pink with Hello Kittys.
Assault rifles must be pink with My Little Ponies.
A percentage from the sale of each gun, whether it be from a store, gun show or online must be donated to breast cancer research as a tribute to women for not one woman ever having committed a mass murder.
And as for Fix NICS, it needs to get sent back to the drawing board for a little muscle.
The horror of Sutherland Springs being a little over two weeks out we were about due for the next mass murder, which was delivered to us two days ago in the small town of Rancho Tehama, California via an angry gunman armed, of course, with every mass-murderer's favorite, the ever-popular bullet-spraying semi-automatic rifle.
Four dead, ten others injured including one child badly wounded by a bullet - horrible wounds being the only kind of wound delivered by that particular kind of bullet - and a mother who was driving her child to school.
And now, once again, can't you just see all the National Rifle Association Senators and Representatives up on Capitol Hill, shrugging their shoulders, their palms heavenward, their eyes wide with denial of any culpability, and can't you hear their voices quivering with sanctimony as they declare once again, as if it actually meant anything, that to the victims they a send, well not thoughts and prayers this time.
It appears, as per Mike Pence's standard-issue post-mass murder condolence tweet, that the previous spoonful of insipidity has been tapped-out, retired and replaced with what is likely to catch on newest post-mass murder catchphrase, "comfort and healing":
Of course Pence would be doing a solid for his boss if he sent him a memo on the new post-gun violence lingo to be used in future après-tragedy tweets by NRA-owned politicians;
...seems that in the copy-and-paste tweet that Donald Trump recycled from the Sutherland Springs shooting and sent out yesterday as his Presidential response the Rancho Tehama shooting he forgot to change the name of the town from "Sutherland Springs" to Rancho Tehama:"
as So I expect we'll be hearing in the future - the near future if the recent bump in frequency of mass gun violence and murders is any indicator - a whole lot more "comfort and healing" as "thoughts and prayers" is phased out. I expect that this new shibboleth will work as uselessly as the old one and will mix just well with, "It's too soon, now is not the time to be talking about gun control," and "Now is the time to pull together as a nation."
As for me, I'm about ready for us to pull together as a nation for some gun reform.
God knows the NRA Senators and Representatives aren't going to pull together for anything except more NRA money.
To all the veterans in my life: My husband Tom,
...my son-in-law, Justin,
(My mother, aged 97, the day before yesterday making her Christmas fruitcakes with my brother, Michael)
...all the soldiers I worked with as a Department of the Army Civilian,
...and all veterans everywhere, thank you for serving.
...and have a beautiful day.
Australians are the toughest people I've ever met.
I met quite a few Australians when Tom and I walked the rugged (for me, not the Australians) 497-mile Camino Frances branch of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela through Northern Spain, in 2013, which you can read about if you'd like in my first Camino blog, "Tighten Your Boots" at https://pattiliszkay.weebly.com/
...and again in 2015, which you can also read about if you'd like in my second Camino blog, "...And Lighten Your Pack" at
(this second blog being the better of the two because this one has pictures)
Tom and I made friends along Camino with this friendly couple from the Outback, he 75 years old and his wife 73 when I took this picture in Santiago after we'd finished the hike. Both carried their own backpacks every step and neither one suffered so much as a blister the whole way.
I also became friends with a sweet 77-year-old nurse with a little koala pinned to her bush hat who was backpacking the Camino alone just to see if she could do it. She did it. And faster than me.
On our second Camino as we approached the end of the journey I walked for a while with a towering, muscular, sunburned, bearded middle-aged Australian ex-convict in a sleeveless black tee shirt who'd started walking in Paris a couple of months earlier. He'd already backpacked over a thousand miles trying to find peace but thought he might have to walk another thousand.
The flight from Australia to Spain is over 10,000 miles, and yet many Australians brave the trip to hike another 500 or more miles over some moderately challenging terrain.
In short, the Australians I've met were sturdy, friendly, outgoing folks who appeared to be of rugged stock. They hailed from a country that has a high per-capita income rate, excellent health care, and a high quality of health, education, civil liberties and economic freedom. They also have the strictest gun laws on the planet and a subsequent lack of mass shootings.
But this wasn't always so. Once upon a time the Australians were, as we their American brethren still are, gun-loving, gun-toting, automatic rifle-owning folks who, like Americans, suffered one mass shooting after another.
But in 1996, when a 28-year-old man armed with semi-automatic rifles barged into a cafe in Port Arthur killing 35 people, injuring 23 more and leaving the country in a state of more shock and horror than usual after a mass killing, this one being the worst in Australia's history, the newly-elected Prime Minister John Howard sprung into action and "put together the most sweeping gun control reforms ever contemplated by any Australian government." (1)
Prime Minister Howard pulled together the Australian people and the government and immediately instituted a government gun buyback and turn-in program; over 700,00 Australians turned in their weapons.
Within fourteen days after the Port Arthur Massacre the Australian government had put together and passed the National Firearms Agreement.
Since the Australians laid down their arms in 1996 there's been not one mass shooting in that country and gun deaths are at now their lowest in Australian history.
And yet the Australians continue to be a strong, freedom-loving lot.
They just don't die from gun shot wounds as often as we do.
Yesterday morning about forty minutes into my fifty-five minute yoga class at the Y while flowing through the warrior poses I caught a glimpse of a figure entering through the door at the far corner of the room.
I figured this was probably a Y staff person, as occasionally a staffer does enter during class - much to the annoyance of our yoga teacher - seeking a piece of equipment or some item from the room's closet.
However as I bent over and slid my arms and upper body down my leg into a side angle stretch, I caught sight of a pair of hiking boots. A few inhale-exhales later I saw our teacher's feet standing next to the boots and I heard our teacher asking the boots what he needed and the boots replying that he just wanted to see what the class was like. Our teacher returned to his mat and the boots stayed.
When I returned to an upright position I saw standing at the front of the room a white man who looked to be in his mid-fifties with short grey hair, a round flushed-looking face, small eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses and a grey mustache above a slack, slightly opened mouth.
He was on the husky side and above his boots he wore loose work jeans and a heavy, over-sized plaid flannel shirt.
Now, yoga is supposed to be a moving meditation during which one should, in the words of my teacher, leave one's mind in that place between the last thought and the next thought.
But here was a guy standing in front of the class whose attire was prominently out of place in a gym, nor did his appearance evoke that of a yoga aficionado; I knew not if this guy's presence was distracting to the rest of my classmates, but my Zen was blown.
I was now distracted, totally out of the zone, focused only on this off-looking person. Every time he came within my line of vision as we moved through our vinyasa sequence I tried to check out his details, recokning that he probably wasn't hiding an AR-15 under his big, boxy clothes - however what did I know about the size of automatic rifles, maybe they weren't all that big? - but he could definitely have a good-sized handgun or something of the sawed-off variety tucked into his belt or under his shirt. His stance was a little off, I thought, as was, I thought, his rapt, slack-jawed facial expression. I continually eyed the man, but did I flee the class?
Well, no. Neither did anyone else.
I kept thinking that this was bizarre, unreal, that with four horrific mass murders in this country in the past month, three of them with guns, two of them within the past week, all of them in the most random, arbitrary, unexpectedly normal of public places, here we were all of us in this class continuing on with our bending and stretching and moving as if it were perfectly business-as-usual to have a guy who totally fit the profile standing in front of us.
Why weren't all ditching the asanas and getting the heck out of there? Why wasn't I, for goodness sake? I was in the second row from the front and directly in front of the guy, but there was a hole in the row in front of me, so I was the closest person within firing range. I glanced at the people at the far back end of the room; they'd have a chance, maybe some of them could rush out the back door of the room, but for me there'd be nowhere to run to, I'd be the first one down.
But did I leave? No. Why, I kept asking myself, why don't you just quietly leave? Why don't we all just quietly leave?
I began doing what we're never supposed to do in yoga class: I began watching my classmates, looking at their faces to see if any of them looked scared or concerned. Everyone seemed to be frowning, but were they frowns of distress or just frowns of concentration and physical exertion?
Anyway, none of us in the yoga class did anything. And neither did the guy. At then end of class he was still standing at the front of the room while everyone rolled up their mats and put their shoes back on.
Okay, I'm doing this, I thought. I approached the guy, smiled and asked him what he thought of our class.
He smiled back a little lopsidedly and told me in speech that was just a little off that he did yoga over at the senior center and had heard about our class so he wanted to check it out, but that our class was probably a little too advanced for him. He then proceeded to tell me about an accident that he had ten years ago when he fell from a tree while cutting a branch. The fall broke his back and arm and the head injury he sustained left him in a coma for a month and a half. Years of therapy have helped him recover and yoga has been especially good for him. But he probably wouldn't do our class. I wished him well then watched as he walked out of the classroom with a slight limp.
Who else is sick to death of "thoughts and prayers?"
If do-nothing politicians deep in the pockets of the National Rifle Association won't open their mouths or even try to lift a pinky finger to do something about the plague of gun violence that's turned our country into a war zone under attack by roving, armed-to-the-teeth-and-crazy guerilla armies-of-one, who wishes those lawmakers would at least find a new post-slaughter catchphrase to throw at us besides "thoughts and prayers?"
How about: "Stuff happens,” or, "Oh, darn, not again!“ or "Don’t worry, be happy,” or even, “Meh…” which would at least be honest, as, when it comes to gun violence, our NRA politicians don't care all that much, I mean, at least not about us.
Really, any chirpy, pseudo-inspirational jangle would be an improvement, just to give us a break from “thoughts and prayers."
Although in truth I'm also getting a little sick to my stomach of the junk-food pabulum that the NRA politicians think we're stupid enough to swallow when they tell us that, (sigh) there's no use in banning assault weapons because (sigh) we have enough laws and (sigh) laws won't keep bad people from shooting good people. Hypocrites, every one of them, too jelly-spined, their campaign coffers too crammed with gun lobby dollars for them to even suggest that our country at least try enacting some stricter gun control laws, try passing another 10-year ban on assault weapons as Clinton did in 1994 - or make it 5 years, or 2 years, anything, try something.
Today, sadly, that is what all Americans should be thinking and praying about.
And please don't tell me that the Second Amendment forbids gun control laws: By "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed," our Founding Fathers could just as likely have meant that individuals have the right to keep guns only in so far as they are connected to a military unit, as to mean that anybody at all has the right to weaponize themselves into a one-man killing machine.
And yes, let's do something about mental illness, too, How about starting with a federally-funded study of what's wrong with a person who needs to own a weapon that can kill or maim 50 people in under a minute?
There's something else to think about and pray for.
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.