Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nothing We Can Say

There is nothing we can ever say,
That can ever change that horrible day.

When such precious lives were taken away,
By the mad man’s war gun spray.

Innocents in a safe place to learn and play,
Now in memorial pictures on display.

And the teachers not thinking of unions or pay,
Giving up their lives to get in the shooter’s way.

There are no words to secure or for fear to allay,
There is only getting by now from each day to each day.

So many will seek a healing message to portray,
What we need for all our children is to love, live and pray.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Oh Mayan!

                                  We’ve come to the end of another long year,

                             Which usually brings with it such good cheer.

                             But there are concerns in the air I hear,

                             As the end of an ancient calendar draws near.

                             Should we stop what we’re doing to get it in gear,

                             Or just take time to take time with those so dear?

                             Will some be so concerned as to fall on their spears,

                             While all others can muster is a few final tears.

                             We know by now that all is not what it appears,

                             The future will be the future; that is clear.

                             I think the day after we’ll all still be here,

                             And they’ll be one less Mayan legend to fear!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Seven Days After Sandy

It has been about seven days since Hurricane Sandy hit us in the Tri-State area with record winds and surges.  Meterologists warned of Sandy's impending fury but I understand that most who were inconvenienced by Irene, last year's much tamer storm, did not prepare for Sandy; a storm which was really a monster comprising of a cold front from the North, a cold front from the West and of course the hurricane which originated in the Caribbean.  Coincidentally, the strong pull of a full moon added to the injuriousness of the storm surges which really caused most of the destruction that we see today.  It was truly the Perfect Storm in terms of its ingenuity.

The aftermath of Sandy is reminiscent of Katrina, a name that still evokes anxiousness in everyone.  I remember when reporters were stationed in various locations where Sandy was projected to hit the hardest.  On Sunday morning, October 28th, in downtown Manhattan by the Hudson River, a man wandered up to a reporter on ABC news.  I shouldn't say that he wandered because he was deliberate in his plight of getting close to the reporter.  He introduced himself as a storm chaser who has been in the business of chasing storms for over 20 years.  I could never understand why people chase storms.  In my opinion, it was a totally ridiculous "profession". Thus my attention waned and I started to walk away from the television. He was poised yet the urgency in his voice was unmistakeable.  "I have never seen anything like this!  This is going to be just like Katrina!"

There goes that Red Flag word - Katrina.  My attention reignited. The reporter quickly pulled the microphone away from him and shut him down by saying, "We have experts on the job sir who are on top of Hurricane Sandy..."  When she tossed the story back to Lee Goldberg in the weather center, he admitted to knowing the gentleman and he confirmed his credentials.  At the moment, something told me to prepare for this storm.  I immediately cleared my schedule and ran out to get the supplies I didn't get the day before. 

Sandy surely did mirror Katrina.  Levees were broken, houses were demolished, people were trapped in their homes and in their cars, waters are undrinkable, shortage of food, gas, power outages...Now the recovery process is raising the death toll to over 100 in New York alone.

Our heart goes out to everyone who has experienced loss.  If you are looking for ways to help those in need (and they are many) please refer to the CNN link below.  You will see various ways that you can be of assistance.  From giving blood, food, water to being of assistance to children and pets, this is an opportunity for you to make a difference.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Your Eyes...

Your eyes are your window on the universe and my window to your soul.
It is a special privilege to each day see from my perspective, their perspective.
The color does not matter; they are every color and beautiful.
They are deep but transparent, and they hold mystery.
Your eyes lend joy, care, love, sadness and worry,
but they are steady in their honesty and they have no time or place.
They are always and forever.
Your eyes were the first thing I ever noticed about you and
will be the last thing I see when we see each other last.
Your eyes set the tone for your beauty.
While they direct your smile and the joy you project,
I’m sure they are home to your uncertainty and  its associated quiet.
A constant positive message pours out from them,
but at moments of deep thought or day dreaming
the glimmer of struggles past can’t be hidden.
It does not last, but it does shape the complete story
of a completely special person.
Your eyes help you paint the pictures of images and words you do so well.
They portray a daughter, mother, wife and friend;
giving nothing away that’s not intended.
Your eyes have seen more than they will ever say and look for things still to be found.
They assert intelligence, grace and kindness, and more than hint of intrigue.
And there is great humor that they share.
I can’t know all that is behind your eyes.
I can only imagine it is very much like what I see looking in a mirror.
But I find comfort in them, guidance, reassurance and light.
I am so thankful for your gift of sight.

Photo entitled "Eye" by Bonvivant (Bermuda)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Before I Met YOU!


                             Before I met you, I must have known you,
                             For our meeting made so much come true.

                             Could it be that we know the moment we see,
                             That face in the crowd is that friend to be?

                             If we were to pass on by and miss the mark,
                             Would our present sense catch the spark?

                             Should destiny be what really leads the way,
                             And we need only wait for the meeting day?

                             So much can go wrong as we walk the path,
                             That the game of chance becomes the math.

                             Maybe it’s not the meeting that is a means to an end,
When we meet that person who becomes a friend.


This poem was inspired by the 60 minutes piece on Face Blindness. Here is the link to when everyone is a stranger
We, who see the beauty in another's face are so fortunate.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lightning Strikes Hit Brooklyn

Today lightening strikes wreaked havoc in the Crown Heights and Lefferts Gardens areas of Brooklyn, New York.  These areas are not privy to such occurrences.  Lightening destroyed portions of the roof of an apartment building on Empire Boulevard and Sterling Place, pelting bricks as large as shoe boxes to the street below.  That intersection was closed off for a few hours. 

The most destructive lightening strike in Brooklyn today unfortunately happened on New York Avenue.  An apartment building at the corner of Winthrop Avenue, just a stones throw from Kings County Hospital Center and SUNY Downstate Medical Center caught fire when lightening apparently cut straight across the roof.  The 7 floored building, housing 100 families, was defenseless against nature's freakish onslaught.  It took over 100 fire fighters almost 4 hours to put out the blaze.  Twenty four firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation.  The displaced families were offered the school on Fenimore Avenue, just a few blocks away, to stay temporarily.

I can't imagine what it is like to lose everything you own in the blink of an eye.  Thank God everyone got out safely, so they did not lose everything.  They still have their lives and the lives of their families.  Our prayers and hearts go out to them.

Sitting here typing, I can see the monstrous lightning bolts wildly lighting up the rainy summer night sky.  Nature can be both beautiful and destructive at the same time.  This is why I stress the need to have Go Bags.  Most state websites outline what a Go Bag is and what should go into it.  Go Bags can be regular back packs filled with necessities such as water, flashlights, non-perishable food etc.; things that will help uphold you in case of a natural disaster or the like that would force you to get up and "Go" from your home to a place of safety.  Since the Hurricane Katrina disaster, it has been stressed that Go Bags are a necessity.  Check it out on your state's official website.

New Yorkers, click here http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/get_prepared/supplies.shtml

Monday, July 16, 2012


The soul has no color, no race, religion or creed,

It has no gender, no prejudice or need.

The soul seeks the truth and it never lies,

Whether or not its keeper complies.

The soul keeps us safe if we’re willing to see,

The light it can bring us for us to be free.

The soul props us up and holds us dear,

Bringing hope to our dreams; allaying all fear.

The soul keeps us steady on our path each day,

And by night it will leave us seeking The Way.

Would that every keeper could understand its role,

For wisdom, love and light are the heart of the soul.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In Sequin State of Mind

You gotta love New York!

You just gotta!!

Last week I saw a guy walking down the same street wearing a beautiful animal print halter jumpsuit. He looked stunning, beard and all. It took all of my superhero willpower to resist the urge to ask him -"where'd you get that?"

I did not procure a snap of him to share, however, I refused to let today's goodie get away.

New York ... you are simply - the best!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What Does Red, White and Blue Mean to You?

My grandparents were immigrants and came to the US around 1910 by way of Ellis Island and Philadelphia.  Some had recently served in the British Army (Irish Regiment) in the Boer War in South Africa.  They eventually went to work in a State Psychiatry Center and began to raise families.  To assimilate, they were dispatched with out Irish first names, so my Aunts and Uncles were: Walter, Gladys, Marie, Edward, Thomas, Eleanor and Albert (me Da).  My mother, Alice and her sister Kathleen lived a few blocks from my father’s house.  The Irish names would return in the next generation.

My paternal grandfather walked out on his seven kids and my maternal grandfather, a policeman, took his own life when my mother was only four years old.  The surviving grandmothers raised their kids to learn and work and serve society.  They all survived the Great Depression.  Three of the four boys on my father’s side served in WWII, one of my Aunt’s lost her husband in that war and my mother’s cousin was killed in action.

What I learned growing up was passed down to me by this “Greatest Generation” of first generation Americans.  They were fair and intelligent.  They did not pretend that all was well with America.  They taught me that a real patriot fights for what is right, not just for what is popular.  The first and biggest lesson I learned was that prejudice and discrimination were wrong, as wrong as sin and could not be tolerated.  The second lesson was that of stewardship of the privilege of freedom, even if it is not perfect. And the third was that freedom was not free; it took work, and education and service (in my case military service) to really earn what the red, white and blue of our country’s flag offers.  That should never be taken for granted.

In this divisive political season, where idiots gain fame and fortune for nothing and those who serve to make society better are all but ignored, it might do all of us well to look back just one or two generations to see what Red, White and Blue really means. 
Please take a moment on this July 4th to think about that. 
Thank you -  L.S.

"Flags 3" Photo by: Paula Brewer

Monday, July 2, 2012


Writer's Block – The scourge of perfectly good writers.  Why does it happen?  How can I break out of it?  Some people say there is no such thing as writer’s block.  They say it’s not real, simply an excuse not to write.  Well I have been experiencing this unreal thing for the past year and I don’t know how to escape it.  I have so many ideas for different novels swimming around my head, waiting to be fished out.  I can see them in my mind’s eye, playing out like a vibrant movie but as soon as I get to my computer, I get bored and start internet surfing.  Then I fall asleep.  When I wake up, I feel guilty for surfing and not writing.  I wish I could hook my brain up to a computer and think out all the scenes and scenarios and turn them into print at the flick of the switch.  Is it laziness?  Am I a product of my microwave society that wants what they want NOW?  Am I putting too much emphasis on it? 
When I was younger, I wrote for fun!  It was exciting and took me away to my own imaginary world.  Now when I think about writing, I put pressure on myself.  I think, “I better make this one marketable so people will eat it up and I can become the next J.K. Rowling.”  I think that’s part of my problem.  I have lost the joy of writing and replaced it with a man with a bull horn yelling, “Emergency!  This one better be good.  You’re running out of time.  You aren’t getting any younger!!!”  Can anyone give me any suggestions to beat this Writer’s Block??? Ughhhhh….

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hello, Hello... and Goodbye

As we walk through our lives each day we may pass hundreds of people we will never get to know, or care about or even notice.  That is a sad, but utilitarian way in which we proceed to the things we feel we need to do without taking time for things we may want, or should want, to do.

Regardless, some people take a precious moment to notice as many people as they can on this journey.  A simple smile, a nod or an outright “hello” directed at a passing stranger may or may not be returned.  When it becomes a habit, one begins to notice those gestures are more and more acknowledged and rewarded.

For nearly 10 years I have said hello to a person I passed each day in the hallway at work.  Over time a few more words were exchanged and then brief conversations.  Eventually, talk of family and other things crept into the very few moments we had to speak.  Never did we give each other our names, or share what we did for a living.

Turkish Goobye by Stephanie Berghaeuser
One day recently this gentle spirit I had come to regard as a friend stopped and said “Hello and goodbye, I am retiring next week.  Can I stop by to see you before I leave?”  I said certainly and gave her a business card.  She acknowledged with a bit of surprise where I fit in the big picture at work and I found out where she worked.  Incredibly, I neglected once again to ask her for her name.  We planned to sit for a few minutes on the coming Thursday, her last day of work.  I later realized I would not be in that day and scrambled to try to identify this person so as not to offend such a genuine request.

Eventually, with some help, I was able to communicate my grievous mistake and to apologize.  On that Thursday, my friend dropped off a token for me to remember the many hellos and the last goodbye.  It was a small hand-crafted Indian ceremonial elephant candle holder.  My immediate thought was that a candle represents light, which leads to knowledge, bringing about wisdom and leading to hope, thus creating the opportunity for peace among the people of this universe.  

In essence, this is the value of saying ‘hello and goodbye’ whenever we can. ----->L.S.

Photo link

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Are you Brave enough??

My daughter and I saw “Brave” last weekend and hopefully by now you have too. The latest Pixar installment turned out to be a movie about a mother and daughter and their constant struggle to do what they feel in their hearts to be right. This movie stayed with me, so I must comment.
My daughter loves archery and she could not wait for this movie to open. Adventure was our heroine's middle name. Without giving too much of the movie away (in case you haven't seen it), I must say - I was very impressed. It was not your everyday, typical "Princess finds Charming" movie, but a modern independent spirit living life out loud.

The wild fiery red hair prevelant in the film was a simple metaphor, not the only for beast in need of taming, but the adventurous nature in all of us. The Scottish Highlands a backdrop of the twists and turns in our psyche and the boisterious clans exclaiming our need to be number one.

This film was an excellent example love enduring, parental nuturing and knowing in your heart who and when to trust. We all have the right anwers within, but our nature is to deny its course. This movie reminded me that the hearts of children are pure and with that comes our role to love, teach and guide them but nothing more.
Just call me Mrs. Mor’du, as I would go to great lenghts to protect my babies and my family. But last weekend, after seeing this movie, I was a proud Momma Bear who enjoyed a relaxing day out with her cub.

Last Note: Although following the whisps led our heroine Merida to unexpected and dangerous places, it was a major metaphor for following your heart and destiny winning everytime.

I hope you get a chance to see Brave - Enjoy!!


Movie Home
Photos from: http://pixar.wikia.com/Brave

Thursday, June 14, 2012

True Friendship Never Changes

Dear Friend
 If you catch my lingering glance from time to time,
It is only because to you beauty has been most kind.
If a word you say or phrase stays on my mind,
It is because your words are poetry and rhyme.
When I hear your voice, no matter where,
It is as if there is music in the air.
How wonderful it is that I should be,
A friend to you and you to me.

Life has its many curves and bends,
And the struggles in it seem to never end.
But it is so nice for me to have a friend,
On whom I can most truly depend.
There are others in our lives and loves,
Surely some below and some above.

I wish I could easily exclaim just how I feel,
Words can’t explain but silence won’t conceal.
There is something special in it, that is all I know,
I am so very thankful and not afraid to show.
The joy it brings each time I get the chance to say,
Good morning dear friend, how are you today?

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Hype Hype and more Hype!  These are the first words that came to mind as I sat for over 2 hours trying to understand why I paid to see a movie that was at best, a long drawn out preview for five other movies I have seen before.  At least the five other movies had a beginning, a middle and an end.  Prometheus, a Ridley Scott film, had gaping holes that exposed it as nothing more than an empty space surrounded by a crust of hype.  I wish I could go into detail, but for the sake of those who have not seen Prometheus and are still planning to do so, I don’t  want to spoil your experience (although you will be banging your head against a rot iron railing like I almost did, when it is all over).

According to Greek mythology, Prometheus was a Titan who challenged Zeus’ omnipotence.  He managed to trick Zeus during a sacrificial meal which ended in humans being accountable only to give the lowliest burnt offering to the gods and keeping the healthiest meat to themselves.  This angered Zeus and in retribution, he took back fire from mankind (humans already knew of fire).  Prometheus then stole the fire back from Zeus and returned it to human kind.  The fire represented human progress.  Prometheus is also credited with the creation of man from clay.  For his dastardly deeds, Zeus sentenced him to eternal punishment.  He had Prometheus bound to a rock where every day, an eagle (the emblem of Zeus) would swoop down and eat away at his liver, only to have it grow back and the whole process to repeat the next day for eternity.  This is how I felt having to sit down, bound to my chair, subjected to this film.
Interestingly enough, the main question, made quite clear by the previews, “Where did we come from?”, is answered at the outset of the movie.  The first few scenes are attention grabbing.  From there it spiraled downhill.  The plot is jumbled; the character development is non-existent.  I believe whoever was responsible for the screenplay overextended themselves trying to create suspense when in actuality, they threw a bunch of okay ideas in a hat, shook them around and threw them up in the air hoping they would fall in place (something like the theoried primordial soup, or in this case, Kitchen Sink).  If you have to sit in a movie and wonder who the main characters are and what the plot is, there is a problem.  I believe that Academy Award winner, Charlize Theron, must have been tricked, blackmailed or simply sleeping when she said yes to Prometheus. 

At the end of the film, the movie goers all let out a resounding, “Uhhhh”.  I too was part of that disappointed chorus.  I have never seen people clear out of a theater so quickly. If you decide to see Prometheus, you will be surprised that you too released that “Uhhhh”, especially when you see the very last scene and realize that it was all a scheme to “pre-qualify” and revive an old movie which has long lost its appeal.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Ruined Life

This is the first in a series of articles on Domestic Violence.  Abuse comes in many forms and sometimes it is not recognizble. In order to stop something we have to be aware of it. By imparting these words,  I hope we all can learn from these stories as hard as some of them might be to read or even hear about - Abusers need to get the message...

Domestic Violence - Child Abuse

No one reading this will actually know this person, but she is every person anyone reading this knows whom, has been subjected to domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault.  She is a victim who has long struggled to overcome the horror that befell her and she has led a ruined life.  This is a true story of one person who represents every person ever to have suffered a similar fate.

I will call her Barbara, and she is now 50 years old.  She is a giving, caring, highly intelligent and very lonely woman, who was once a gifted and promising musician.  As a young girl coming into womanhood, she was also the victim of unimaginable abuse at the hands of her grandfather.  As is often the case, due to no fault of her own, family circumstances placed her in harm’s way, in his home at that most vulnerable time.  He was a drunkard and wife abuser behind closed doors, but a respected member of his community when in the public view.
Barbara would lose her childhood to the drunken weekend sexual abuse of her own grandfather and his drunken friends.  Soon her talent and school grades faltered.  Then came the suicide attempt and the secret could not be hidden any longer.  She was, removed from the house by another local family. Formal charges were never brought against her grandfather or the others, as things went during those times, but she was now - safe. 

Barbara moved from family to family, with no formal psychosocial help.  She worked odd jobs and eventually fell into the social services safety net in the county where she lived.  In her 30s, she lost her driver’s license after trying to kill herself again, this time with automobile exhaust fumes.  She suffered brain damage, mostly short term memory, but remained as sharp as a tack, and fully aware of her ever diminishing circumstances.

Physically, Barbara is a tall, very overweight woman, who crops her graying hair close and actually appears asexual in that respect.  She is a chain smoker (cigarettes) and is fairly/heavily medicated.  She tries very hard to help others by volunteering at the places where she had been helped.  She is a church choir member and teaches Sunday school.  She has support and friends, but has never had a loving companion.  Barbara lives in subsidized housing and has infrequent employment through county programs.  She needs someone to manage her money, medicine, daily routine and such because she forgets from moment to moment.

Barbara tries to fit in, and tries to be cheerful, but the pain of her early life is always in her eyes.  Now her fragile strength will be tested by a new problem.  After weeks of feeling ill and developing swelling in her jaw, a metastatic cancer diagnosis has arrived.  The ravages of chain smoking, bourn out of a troubled life, have brought one more abuse to her.

If you knew her, you would know how truly sad this is.  Alas, you do not need to know her to know how many truly sad stories like Barbara’s there are out there.  The way her situation was handled so many years ago, by well-meaning people, in some distorted fashion, actually gave permission to the offenders.  They suffered not a wit, while Barbara suffered everything.

That is the problem of every victim of abuse and what we need is more and more people who truly understand the problem to help solve it.
Photo: Concealer by Ket Quang

Thank you all for your bravery and for sharing your incredible stories. The more we are aware, the more we can faclitate healing, closure and maybe even mend some relationships. - VH Editor

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April first, the day of fools,
What a bad rap cause April rules.

April, baseball, winter is gone,
Flowers blooming, we move on.

Beauty and color, the days get long,
The birds in season sing their song.

How can we view it as the month of fools,
When April is a month so cool?


Photo Entitled Cottage Garden in April -  By: HKeller (Germany)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Death of a Poet

In celebration of Women's History month, we poetically pay tribute to Adrienne Rich, a highly honored feminist poet who just died at 82 years of age. She was best known for her deeply personal poems and bitting social commentary. She was also credited as being a force in the feminist movement.
A poet has died, her pen and mind now stilled,
No more shall we receive her words and thoughts so skilled.

Though surely her passing creates a void so very hard to fill,
She’s left behind a treasure trove that we can find at will.

Her pain, her angst, her love and loss, her vision and her rage,
Can be found in many forms neatly preserved on every page.

Words are forever and really have no time,
Whether written straight, in sonnet, prose or rhyme.

What’s left behind for us who care when a poet dies,
Is all her words that helped us see where the real truth lies.

Death comes to all, the mighty and the small,
But what would life be if our poet had never spoken at all?

Words in any form are powerful, and in these times of cognitive dissonance, political undertones meant to divide us and an outright perpetuation of untruths, it is encouraging to see an earnest life so celebrated. She will live on in our memories/histories. What kind of mark are you leaving behind?


Photo by Mattox (Poland) Entitled: "Writing"