Cookies and the Law

I recently had the opportunity to combine an old activity with a new activity—baking cookies and attempting to make us safer. As you all know, I have been involved in the group, Moms Demand Action for Gunsense. Contrary to what those who are not familiar with the group believe about MDA, the mission of this organization is to work for common sense laws to eliminate gun violence, not guns.

As a member of this organization, I have participated in a few rallies and attended committee meetings of our local senators. This week, the call to action involved baking and delivering cookies to our local sheriff’s department as a way of thanking them for a recent initiative in which they removed close to three hundred illegal guns from the streets.

What a great idea, I thought, because moms are known for baking cookies! We met in the parking lot and assembled our treats on a plate and wrapped it in cellophane to give it that professional look.

After relinquishing our driver’s licenses in return for visitor’s badges, we were ushered into the press room, where we presented our cookies to six officers. We then had an extremely enlightening exchange of information with the men and women in uniform.

We were all shocked to learn that the majority of gun thefts are carried out by children as young as fourteen, and many of the sales of the illegal guns are done via an app on their phones. Many of the thefts are from unlocked automobiles. The officers explained that they try very hard to convince these young people to choose the path of right over wrong. They clearly were upset at the ages of these gun thieves.

Our meeting concluded with the exchange of contact information for the purpose of collaborating in some manner in the future.

Mission accomplished!



Has the Plant Curse Been Broken?

As you all know, I do not have a green thumb. When one of my plants survives and begins to peek through the earth the following year, I am joyously surprised rather than smugly rewarded.  My expectations are low. I have killed far too many flowers and plants over the years.  Still, I love them. I am particularly happy to live in an area with a long growing season where plants which existed as annuals in the North are perennial here in South Carolina.

With all that in mind, I am happy to report that my experiment with planting the seeds from last year’s Jack-o-lantern appears to be working quite well. Five days after I placed those seeds in the soil near the backyard palm tree, I decided to see if there was any progress.

I screamed in astonishment when I saw that not one, not two, but forty pumpkin plants were beginning to grow. Perhaps there is hope. Maybe the kids can set up a pumpkin stand in our driveway in October. This is not the end of my pumpkin story.

Looking Ahead to the Fruits of my Labor

Early this morning, less than three hours after sunrise, I found myself on my knees in my garden. I had rushed outside before the temperature had risen over eighty degrees, knowing I would be unable to withstand the heat and humidity if I waited too long. After raking away the mulch and sprinkling some Miracle Gro-infused soil in the prepared area, I was suddenly whisked back in time many years and three states ago, when I accidentally grew a pumpkin in our front yard.

The surprise pumpkin appeared as a result of an act of laziness by me the previous year. I had waited too long to dispose of our Jack-o-lantern and ended up kicking the rotted carcass of dear old Jack to the side of the front steps. I did nothing to encourage the growth of a pumpkin. I did not fertilize it nor did I water it, so I was quite astounded when I discovered a vine of unknown origin which turned into a pumpkin.

Knowing how easy it had been, last year, after carving our Halloween pumpkin, I intentionally saved the seeds with the hope of purposely growing a few pumpkins. I first spread out the seeds on a cookie sheet to dry, and then stored them in an envelope in the back of the garage refrigerator.

Thankfully the seeds had not been thrown out, so a few weeks ago I researched the best time to plant the seeds in our state. The planting time in New Jersey and Maryland has long gone, but here in South Carolina, where the weather is oppressively hot, the time has come.

I created a raised bed with lots of room for the growing vines, and then ever-so-carefully placed the seeds in the soil. I then dragged out the hose and watered my seeds, thinking ahead to October when I will have a lovely pumpkin patch.


I wonder if it will work.



Time to Move

Dad and I are going to Alaska later this year as part of our 40thanniversary celebration. I am excited to see our northernmost state, but I am equally eager to finally visit Canada. In light of the recent events this past weekend and now with this new wacky administration, I am wondering if we should go in disguise. Canadians probably don’t like us now, but Dad and I like them. Perhaps we should consider relocating somewhere up there.

I am thinking that Vancouver may be the place to go. The climate has fairly mild winters and there is little or no snow. Unfortunately, they have more rain than any other Canadian city during that season.

Okay, so the cost of living is higher, but can it be higher than NJ? Listen to what we found.

There is a city just outside of Vancouver which allegedly has the best Asian food in North America. (Dad is already packing his bags and looking for a real estate agent!) This oasis of Asian delectability is a city of 200,000 residents with over 74% of Asian background.

Our potential new home is Richmond, British Columbia, and there are supposedly 400 Asian restaurants—half within a three-block area. You know that this is heaven!

And just look at the Canadian Prime Minister. Richmond, here we come!

Richmond Market- NY Times

Have I Got a Deal for You!

Now that you are all grown and have flown the coop, it is time that I take advantage of your many unique talents. On the one hand, it can be called payback for all that I did for you, but you could also look at it as an investment in your future.

My book has been out for two years now, but sales are completely flat. I still have confidence that what I wrote is a unique story, but I acknowledge that it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people do not like nonfiction—particularly history. I know that for years, I read mostly legal mysteries, so I understand.

I am proposing to use what you know to help me with my book. I really loved my title: Do Svidanya Dad, but I realize that people just don’t get it, so I put the thought out there to my friends via the Internet. The idea to change the title was Dad’s idea. I am leaning to changing it to Trapped in Russia~An American Family.

It has been suggested that I change the cover, so the photographer in our family is the logical choice to help me with that rather than hiring a stranger. I clearly have no idea how to market my book, but we have a professional marketing person in the family, so I am looking to her for assistance. Finally, we have a teacher in our family, so I am looking to her for assistance in checking for mistakes—my editor.

The upside to all of you is that if your expertise results in spectacular sales, then Dad and I will have income from my book sales to help us through retirement, which leaves you all with our savings.


Busted Myths and Surprises

Despite my concerns about our trip to Cuba, Dad and I had a wonderful time and returned home safe and sound. Not a single night in a Cuban prison for us!

I was not alone in my uneasiness and confusion regarding what Americans could and could not do when visiting this island nation. We met other travelers on our ship who were equally bewildered about our Cuban visit. The suspicious gene in me believes that the confusion is intentional.

Since 1960, Americans could not travel to Cuba as tourists. Travel was limited to journalists, government officials, academics, and those with close family ties to the island. The severe restrictions began to change in 2011, and by 2016, direct flights between the United States and Cuba began to pop up as were cruises from American ports.

Last year, under our new Administration, more restrictions were imposed once again. We had to sign a travel affidavit stating why we were traveling there.  We jumped through a few small hoops to ensure we were compliant under the category “Educational Exchanges- group people-to-people through Norwegian or other organization.” We could not spend any money in any government-owned restaurant, store, hotel, etc.

Cuba held many surprises for us—the first was regarding automobiles. We had been under the impression that we would see nothing but cars built prior to 1959, but that was somewhat of a myth. While we did not see any new American cars, we observed modern German, French, Russian, and Korean cars. I felt like I was in an episode of Happy Days.


Havana is a beautiful, very clean city, reminiscent of Old San Juan with its cobblestone streets and old forts. We were surprised to see the existence of a Chinatown, although the population of Chinese in Cuba is now quite diminished from its high of 40,000 back in the 1800’s. When we visited a Catholic church, we were told that Cuba is home to Muslims, Jews, Christians, and several other religions—although the numbers practicing each religion is quite small. We learned that the population of Havana is currently 2.1 million. Wow!

Unlike other islands where we were approached by individuals wanting to braid our hair, the number of people trying to sell us anything was small by comparison. We saw a homeless man on the streets of Key West, but not in Cuba.

The harbor is surrounded by land on both sides, so in order to go from one side of the island to another, our hot-pink convertible traveled in a tunnel similar to the Lincoln Tunnel between New Jersey and New York. Dad and I did not expect that.

We were told in advance that we would have no internet or cell service, yet our young guide carried quite the modern cell phone. So what I learned was that Cuba was not as third-world in appearance as I had been lead to believe.

The nighttime show at the Tropicana Club, where we were taken to in a very modern bus, was entertaining and very-well choreographed. The skimpy outfits reminded me of what may be seen in a Las Vegas show, although I am not sure if the hats we saw at the Tropicana would be seen in Vegas. Dad thought they could be purchased in the lighting department at Lowes or Home Depot since they resembled chandeliers.

We found its citizens to be extremely friendly and all seemed happy to have us visit. When our ship maneuvered into its dock, we were greeted with cheers. We felt quite welcomed, and I look forward to another visit one day.

Now that I have completed my Cuba review, I have satisfied one of the obligations by the United States government for a visit, which is to document each moment of our trip and save such documentation for a period of five years. So there you go, Uncle Sam!

Another Mother’s Day

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, I sent Grandma a card and a box of Godiva chocolate. The message with the candy were instructions to “not pop it into your mouth like Dad did.” This, of course, referred to the time when Grandpa grabbed a piece of Godiva chocolate and tossed the entire sweet treat into his mouth. Everyone in the room watched in horror and gasped in unison. He did not realize that one must take one’s time while eating this delicacy and savor each bite. After all, eating a piece of Godiva chocolate is not at all like eating M&M’s—my personal favorite.

Speaking of Mother’s Day, let me mention a gift I received one year. Based upon the handwriting, I am guessing it was made in second or third grade and was titled, “Top 10 Reasons Why I Love My Mom.” I am confident that the sender had a difficult time whittling down the list to only ten.

Apparently I was funny, because “I love my mom when she makes me laugh by telling funny stories.”

I always loved, and still continue to love, singing silly songs: “I love to hear my mom sing the On Top of Spaghetti Song, which is a classic tune that I continue to sing today—over twenty years later. Just last week Bryce and I sang this favorite song together.

Scanning through the list is an obvious, but nonetheless, nice-to-see reason to love met: “I know my mom is smart because she knows everything.”

And there you have it, girls. Does anyone remember who gave me this list, and do you have anything else to add?

Happy Mother’s Day.