Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Remembering Maya Angelou

 “A childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking – but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves.” 
         President Obama, awarding Maya Angelou the 2011 Presidential Medal of Freedom  
"Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God." 
       Maya Angelou, poet, writer, actress, professor, spiritual goddess of freedom and hope

Maya Angelou inspired hope.
Every once in a while in our otherwise prosaic lives a magical moment rises up and crosses our path.  This happened when the poet Maya Angelou was in Washington, DC to give a poetry reading and the DC Humanities Council invited her to join us for a grand reception at George Washington University.  I was the executive director of the Humanities Council at the time.  Angelou embraced the voices of struggle and hope, and I knew she touched the hearts and souls of DC residents. A board member, Barbara Wolfson, initiated the idea and helped bring it home.  Meet the real people of Washington, DC, we earnestly asked her.

She said yes, and the Council and the University scurried to organize a grand reception and to invite Washingtonians to attend and to meet this great poet and Renaissance woman.   It was a glorious reception.  She especially reached out to the young people we had invited.

"What's the secret to becoming a writer," one asked her.  "Read, read, read," she said in a dramatic voice, giving the young girl a big hug.

"How do poems come to you? asked another. "Write, write, write," she said with an embracing smile.

The evening went on like that for quite a while.  Angelou embodied the spirit of courage she wrote about, that "quality of the human spirit that continues to rise despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."  She lifted us up.

No one wanted the evening to end. We all felt blessed to have such a pioneer and poet with us, someone who had lifted herself up and inspired generations of young black people, nascent poets and writers everywhere to do the same.

She was a force.  She read her poetry and mingled. "I know why the caged bird sings," she whispered, sharing that intimate insight into the persistence of the human spirit.  Her presence, regal and brilliant, filled the room. She was larger than life in some ways.  She moved us.  

She moved the high and the low, the aspiring and the struggling, young and old. Unforgettable, that's what she was, and always will be.  Now she truly is a free bird, rising up in her glory, singing songs of freedom, spreading her wings, embracing the everlasting.

Caged Bird 
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind   
and floats downstream   
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and   
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou, The Complete Collected Poems (Random House, 1994).

Monday, May 26, 2014

Another Memorial Day Parade down Main Street Sylvania

     Sitting on our front porch on Main Street Sylvania watching the Memorial Day parade go by.

Just for today, sad news, Ukraine news, gun violence news, and sports news take a back seat to American patriotism news and remembering America's soldiers.

This is my 4th annual Sylvania Memorial Day Parade.  I've been here that long, moved here right after returning from Ukraine.  It's how I'm measuring my days since then.  The memorial days have all been different.  One year with family and grandkids, another with my sister and some of the grands, this year with neighbors and artist friends Kay, who knows my daughter Elissa, and Judi, who lives right downstairs.  Friends stop by and we offer tea, lemonade and snacks. Emily used to live in the front apartment a few years back.   Gene owns the place and remembers his flying days with the Air Force. We chat and laugh. Kay and Judi have lived in Sylvania and area for years and years. Judi remembers some of the people who lived in some of the old homes up and down Main, from the days she had a yarn shop and other endeavors. Kay remembers high school days.

Norman Rockwell
 yahoo images.
Nothing like celebrating this holiday in small town America. Norman Rockwell would have had plenty to draw, and Sinclair Lewis might have done another novel on life in mid-America.  I hear some of the old jazz Kay might like too, along with the high school bands who strut down Main between the army vehicles, real veterans, old cars, city officials, boy scouts, brownies and girl scouts, karate students and baton twirlers.  In this special way, we remember our vets and our soldiers.

It feels like times past in some ways and, frankly, the nostalgia is warm and embracing. No cel phones, smart phones, texting, internet or web.  Just a slice of small-town comfort, the kind that Norman Rockwell painted.     

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Голосовать Украину. Vote Ukraine.

It's the eve of the presidential election in Ukraine. It was supposed to be held in March but the date was changed after the Maiden revolution in Kyiv that ousted corrupt president Victor Yanukovich. All the talk about the fascists in Kiev and Putin's rhetoric about a US-sponsored coup is just a bunch of propaganda. Why would anyone defend a president who blatantly stole millions from the people, and so did his son and other cronies, and destroyed any hope of ending corruption and injustice at all levels of society.

The Ukrainian people will elect a new president tomorrow. The chocolate-king Petro Poroshenko is ahead in the polls, supported by the popular former boxer Vitaly Klitschko and a majority of the people west of the Dnieper.  Poroshenko backed the uprising in Kyiv and is viewed as a moderate, honest, a good businessman.  He has said he would call for new Parliamentary (Verkhovna Rada) elections if elected, which would be the best thing he could do to start off.

Of course, the big problem is Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts. Thugs with weapons of war have warned there will be no elections. Some two million people in this Donbass region could be deprived of the right to vote.

The vigilantes are killing soldiers and civilians, making death threats, taking over polling places and election commissions, increasing violence and provocative language to scare people from voting. Many citizens won't vote at the point of a gun, in front of tanks, and I don't blame them.

My activist friends have been threatened. A couple are on local election commissions, several are poll workers, another is working with OSCE (the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe), a monitoring group.  "People are risking their lives for a vote," friend Tonya told me. "The bandit terrorists are now in Rubejnoye, a town next to Starobelsk, and threatening violence to stop the election."

What an outrageous situation:  These self-styled pro-Russian separatists using terror tactics and guns to stop Ukrainians from voting in a legal Ukrainian election.  I think more and more people, even initial supporters and those on the fence, have had enough of these gunmen.

But despite the murder and mayhem they have unleashed (they should be arrested and charged with crimes against humanity), they can't stop the election altogether. My friends in Starobelsk and area are hoping for a large voter turnout in the rest of the country. 'We don't care who they vote for, as long as they vote." That would send such an important message.  The world needs to see that Ukrainians east and west want self-determination and the right to shape their own future. Maybe a new president will be able to put an end to the violence and bring peace to the region where a majority wants to be part of a stronger united Ukraine.  Maybe a new president will not tolerate corruption and injustice, start over, and strive to build a government responsive to the needs of all the people.   Hope springs eternal.    удачи, Украина.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Remembering Loren 2014

It's another anniversary of my brother Loren's last hike. It's been 4 years. So hard to believe. I still hear my sister's voice, still hear the words that sent me weeping across the planet.  

I don't know where Loren is; he's not here on this earth, but maybe someplace else where his soul resides.  I am keeping his spirit alive, just remembering him and missing him. But frankly, I long for his presence more than anything in the world. 

And I wonder about this other place.

A surgeon had a near-death experience and declared there is a heaven. He had lovely images of butterflies floating in an ethereal garden, a floating world. So have lots of other people.  I’m not there.  I think this vision has more to do with neurons and synapses and chemicals dancing around in the brain as other organs shut down. Not that I don’t want to believe. I do. Especially because I so want to see Loren again, and my parents, and all those I have loved and lost. "Maybe death isn't darkness afterall, but so much light wrapping itself around us..." Mary Oliver wondered, too.  

We will never know. Death is one of the mysteries of life.  I think death is final. You have one shot to do the best you can in the time you have. You can't undo what's been done in this sliver of time. You can only move forward from today as your time gets shorter. But oh Loren, how I hope we meet again. How I miss you. Life is not the same without you in it. It will never be the same.  

Here's a favorite Mary Oliver poem for you, my dearest soulmate who communed with nature and found solace in it. 

White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field

Detail from Audubon Plate 121 Snowy Owl

by Mary Oliver

Coming down out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful, and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings — five feet apart —
and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys of the snow —
and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes
to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows —
so I thought:
maybe death isn't darkness, after all,
but so much light wrapping itself around us —

as soft as feathers —
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light — scalding, aortal light —
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ukraine United: A Mosaic of Many Voices

Maria, Nik, and Anton the poet celebrating the Starobelsk calendar.
A host of friends, like a chorus of many different voices, guided me through the highways and byways and twists and turns of my Ukrainian journey.

Valya and me, last day in Chernigov. 
It started in Chernigov, just north of Kiev, with almost 3 months of language and cultural training. My hosts Valya and Nickolai provided a lovely room, great food, help with my Russian lessons, and tours of the town, which is really beautiful.  In fact, my language group focused on a tourism project for Chernigov, so convinced were we that it could be a wonderful tourist destination with many great historic sites, glorious Orthodox churches with gold, bright blue and colorful domes, bustling markets, tree-filled parks with gardens and fountains, great cafes, clubs and restaurants.  The city's Biblioteca is also terrific and not far from the Chernigov Red Square (Красная площадь), which featured fabulous concerts and performances and was surrounded by cultural institutions, a movie house, and cafes.

I wanted to stay there! But when I was assigned to a Russian language group, I knew that meant I was going to be sent to eastern Ukraine.  Almost 3 months later, I learned I was going to Starobelsk, in Lugansk oblast.  It was a little dot on a big map.

Okay, I knew I was going east, but THAT far east? Almost on the Russian border? Fellow volunteers wondered about the assignment, about sending the oldest member of Group 36 so far east, so far from the medical resources of Kiev. and so did I.  I knew it would be a challenge, and it was. It didn't help when I fell off my bike and broke my arm, and then had to take a 20-plus hour train ride to Peace Corps headquarters in Kiev, with only a few tylenol for the excruciating pain.  PC staffers had to carry me off the train. I guess that's why I was voted the "toughest" volunteer of our group!

But my arm healed, and my spirit soared as I become part of the Starobelsk community and made many friends.  Everyone knew the Amerikanka, wearing that blue coat in winter, and they were kind about my limited language ability.  The shopkeepers and vendors at the market learned what I wanted and needed, and would gather things for me with a knowing smile.  Besides the gifts of vodka and cognac I bought for family and friends, and the Roshen chocolates,  because you never went anywhere without bringing a gift, the shopkeepers knew I loved Russian cookies, fresh bread, cheese, tea and fruit.  The market vendors greeted me with smiles and helpful suggestions, and I bought most everything I needed from them, including my first bikini.  These are the people of eastern Ukraine.

There were many more.  Among them, first and foremost, was my "counterpart" in Starobelsk, my main supervisor, Vera Flyat.  
Vera at various "Know Your Rights"( Знайте свои права) community meetings,
with the project lawyer and the informative brochure., made possible through a USAID PC grant..  
Vera is the founder and director of NGO Victoria, my main job site.  Victoria (ВИКТОРИЯ) is a human rights, women's rights and social justice non-governmental organization fighting for change from the bottom up.  Vera is a warrior and a lightening rod. She is a reformer with little tolerance for the officials who run the town, the oblast, and especially the justice system. Where most people threw up their hands at the corruption, Vera entered the fray. She's a fighter, like Olga, Tonya, Natalia D, and the women who support Victoria's various programs.  Victoria's "Know Your Rights" project grew out of these activities. No matter the challenges faced in implementing the project, Vera overcame them, with flying colors.

Vera attended many professtional development and democracy building workshops all over the east and especially in Lugansk, at Vovo Shcherbechenko's Eastern Lugansk Center for Change.  It's how I got to know Lugansk.  I met lots of other change agents through Vera, who dragged me to various meetings and to these seminars even knowing, to her everlasting frustration, that my Russian sucked.

Vera's daughter Elena is a fantastic artist who paints in an ancient Ukrainian decorative arts tradition and makes beautiful jewelry.  Elena was also devoted to projects that preserved Ukrainian artistic traditions, important in a country seeking identity and unity.  She has two lovely daughters.  Vera's son Kwestia is a computer whiz and IT specialist. upon whom we relied for help at crucial times during proposal writing.
Some of Elena's art, in the tradition of the ancient decorative
paintings of the Starobelsk region, which she worked hard to preserve.

Then there was Sergei, the manager at the computer store, who helped me with my computer, printer, and supplies.  He lived on Panfelova, across from Luba's, so I bugged him a lot.  He had converted to Christianity, which comforted him in times of stress. It was unusual because most Ukrainians are Orthodox, if they are anything at all.  Several of my friends were Jewish but never talked about it; Baba Yar and pograms couldn't have been far from their minds.

Sergei teaching Healthy Living class
as University 
Sergei also taught seminars on healthy living, drug abuse and prevention at the university. At some point I was hoping to help him with a project but time ran out.  His business depended on the global economy and at times he struggled.  "You're a great businessman, Sergei; your store will be a great success," I told him in all sincerity. "God willing," he replied with a grin.

Anton the poet spoke some English.  I loved sharing tea and spending time with him.  His mother Valentina was a librarian at the Biblioteca so she knew the director Iryna, who would call on Anton from time to time to help translate for us.  Anton helped start up the English Club. "The love of his life," as he called her, was a doctor from Starobelsk who lived in Israel. Anton was working on a book of poems when I met him. When the book was published several months later, I joined his friends, teachers, colleagues, and local cultural leaders for a wonderful book-signing event at the Library. Actually, someone came over one afternoon and got me, took me by the hand, made sure I had a hat, and walked me to the Library, jabbering all the way. I had no idea what it was about until I got there.  Anton saw me and smiled.  

Asya with bike and Sasha (hidden in a tree) at the apple orchard;  me and Asya at Aydar river;
the far out and hidden memorial to Ukrainians killed by Nazis (bottom center);
meeting on street (lower left): Asya & Sasha, Olga & Tonya, Dr. Tonia and Luda. Luda was a creative soul; her
mom made my beautiful 70th birthday cake, shared by the English Club. Dr. Tonya loved
poetry, Wordsworth being one of her favorites.
Asya, whose family is from Siberia, taught English at Starobelsk public schools for many years before retiring; she tutored English language students when I served there. Her husband Sasha, born and raised in Starobelsk, is a renowned doctor, retired, a brilliant man.  Sasha knew the land and the history of Starobelsk intimately, and enjoyed telling stories.  Asya translated. He had a great sense of humor.  I was a willing and eager student.  Asya and Sasha live a short bike ride from Luba's.

Besides vegetarian meals together, Asya, Sasha and I took many bike rides into the countryside, along the river, and through the town.  On one bike ride, Sasha, a great outdoors man, made a grill and heated up water for tea.  On another, we went swimming in the river.  On another, we biked a long way past town, over railroad tracks, and past a memorial to Ukrainians who had been rounded up and killed by the Nazis ("a burial ground, full of unmarked graves," Sasha said).  Another Baba Yar I thought to myself. This memorial was off the beaten track, so I was grateful that Sasha  took me there, the stopped for a moment so we could say a silent prayer for the victims.  These kinds of experiences happened over and over again.

We ended up at an apple orchard that had once been a collective farm.  People came from all around with large sacks and filled them to the brim with different varieties of apples, good for preserving and storing for the winter. Asya and Sasha believe in the teachings of an Indian guru who preaches enlightenment and everlasting life. They helped me immensely after my brother Loren died, when I needed assurance that Loren was near, his soul free.  I can't imagine what they are thinking now, with Russian troops on the border near their home.
Helena with some of her students, including Alosha, in Ukrainian dress for a concert.  
Helena between Alosha and his mom, Dr.
Natalia, at Olga's.

Helena was the beloved voice teacher at the Children's House of Culture.  She was Alosha's voice teacher.  Alosha's mom, Dr. Natalia, played the piano.  She told me she was from a family of musicians and doctors. I loved her beautiful smile. She and her son regaled me with music at a wonderful lunch hosted by Olga; Alosha often brought his guitar to the English Club.  Helena still teaches at the Children's center, and with Olga organizes international programs between Polish and Ukrainian kids and adults, a way of learning about each other.

Maria and Sveta were students of Natalia D's at the University. They were faithful members of the English Club, and I am forever grateful for that. Artom, Tonya the drummer, and other students joined us as well from time to time, a great group of talented young adults. Maria and Sveta graduated in June 2010.  Maria got a teaching job and Sveta I think an office job.  They were vibrant young women who were growing up fully Ukrainian, emerging leaders and thinkers. Maria and Sveta along with Natalia D introduced me to the Pokrova festival at the University, an annual feast of traditional Ukrainian music, dance, food, and harvest traditions. Maria introduced me to Nik Molozhon, the graphic designer who helped put together the Starobelsk calendar, and Nik introduced me to the English Club at the technical college where he taught physics.  

I also met some of the most wonderful people on the long overnight train trips to Kiev, Chernigov, and all over Ukraine.  I don't remember their names, but they embraced this stranger.  Passengers would soon know I was American and wanted so much to communicate. We all did the best we could. Some passengers would make phone calls (everyone has cell phones), then suddenly put the phone up to my ear.  They called anyone they knew who spoke some English! They had lots of questions, and so we'd communicate this way. For most, I was the first real Amerikanka they had ever met. No horns! Those train trips were amazing journeys in themselves.  Ukrainian travelers shared their food and travel tips with me. We'd look out the window at passing villages, fields, and industrial sites, and people would have stories.  I remember those special nights when a full moon shone through our windows as we were going to sleep for the night.  I met ordinary people, doctors, a psychologist, farmers, teachers, students, men traveling for business, women going to see children and grandchildren, families with small kids (so well behaved), babushkas who were happy to feed me.  I learned to bring food, so I could share, too.

All of these people and more make up the mosaic of different voices that is Ukraine.  Wherever I went, up and down the eastern oblasts, north to Kiev, south to Crimea and Odessa, out west to the Carpathians and Lviv, the people embodied the talent, beauty and hope of the country that is still evolving, in search of unity, and now in search of peace.  Viva Ukraine.   Да здравствует единую Украину.
Elena Flyat's art, in Slobodovoya (Staraobesk/eastern Lugansk) tradition.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fearing the May 9 Victory Day Celebrations in Ukraine: Opportunity for War in 2014?

May 9, 2010, in Lenin Park, Starobelsk.  Memorial to WWII vets, bottom center photo.
May 9, Victory Day, is a major holiday in Ukraine, celebrating the end of World War II. Since the days of Stalin, Russia and its former Soviet republics have taken great pride in the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany, and great credit, as well it should.  It was a costly victory. The Russian army hung on mostly alone in the fierce European theater of war for several years.   More than 27 million people were killed, many millions in Ukraine.  The Soviet Order of Victory remains one of the highest honors of all time.  

The memorial in Starobelsk is typical of those in most every city in that part of the world. It has the medal of victory enshrined in a bronze metal mount, busts of soldiers, wreaths of glory, flowers from survivors and for people who did not survive.   When I celebrated May 9 with friends, I felt part of a great tragedy and a great triumph.  It was mostly a festive occasion, full of camaraderie, rides for kids, vendors selling shashlick (barbeque), picnics, balloons floating in the air.   The park never looked so pretty, the Kaston  (oak trees) in full bloom, the lilacs and tulips in colorful splendor. 
This year, 2014, I am worried that May 9 in eastern Ukraine might bring drama and conflict, maybe more tragedy.  I fear for the people in Donetsk, Lugansk, and Khargiv oblasts, for people in the southeast and the south around Odessa.  I fear that the pro-Russian paramilitary forces, those special ops, saboteurs and provocateurs, armed to the teeth with assault weapons, missile launchers, and other weapons of war, will scare the indigenous populations, through propaganda and words, or through ominous actions that provoke reactions.  Scare them into staying home; scare them if they come out to celebrate; scare them into a fake referendum on May 11, or scare them from voting in the national election scheduled for May 25.

A few days ago, I got the word I've been dreading. My friends in Starobelsk said “strange men dressed in dark green have come into our town.”   “They are walking around, going in and out of shops.” "Yesterday they tore down our flag....the authorities and police do nothing." ( Вчера в Старобельске сорвали государственный флаг. К власти рвутся бандиты. Милиция и прокуратура бездействуют и только наблюдают).  “They are telling us to vote on May 11.” Vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.  I’m not at all sure how such a vote, which is illegal, would be carried out.   Putin talked about "postponing" a vote, but a Russian "advisor" was overheard ordering a special op, I think in Donetsk, to hold an election on the 11th whether they were ready or not; just "make up the results (99%)."   

The fake elections, if they happen, would occur just two days after May 9.  This is why I am fearful  about the May 9 celebrations.  Given the revved up propaganda coming from Putin and blaring from Russian-controlled media, now almost complete in Russia and most of eastern Ukraine, May 9 will be a day for Putin to celebrate the ongoing struggle against the Nazis. 

According to Putin's ultra super propaganda machine, the Nazis and fascists are still with us, reincarnated in the form of the unstable national government in Kiev, “infesting” every town and village in the east and southeast.  The Ukrainians are waiting for a courageous hegemonic Russia, begging Russia, to save it from the dreaded terror.  
Since Putin has been in office, the last 14 years, he has greatly embellished the May 9 celebrations, expanding parades for example to include heavy intercontinental missiles and TU-95 bombers (which could reach America) and all the latest weapons in Russia’s arsenal of war.  
People gathering in front of the Administration
building,along the main street in downtown
 Starobelsk.According to a friend,
 the Ukrainian flag has now been taken down
and a Russian flag put up. 

Putin, a voice from the past out of touch with the present realities of an inter-dependent world, has increased the rhetoric to fever pitch, revving up nationalism the way Hitler did in Germany before World War II.  There’s really no better analogy.  

So I fear this archaeic Soviet-style propaganda will work to sabotage the May 9 celebrations in Ukraine, and to stir up further unrest.  It will be another opportunity for Russia to heighten the nationalist hysteria, play with it, make it work to destabiize Ukraine and undermine the May 25 national elections. Putin's 12-step program for taking over another country in full combat mode.  I hope I am wrong.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

My Bionic Sister

Andy's first tennis racket, a gift
 from our father.  I got one too.
My sister Andy, in Tallahassee, just had hip replacement surgery.  Her old arthritic hip got so bad she couldn't walk on it, let alone play tennis, one of her favorite things to do.  When she learned she had to have her hip replaced, she got out her old tennis rackets, wrapped ribbons around them, and hung them around her house.  It's her reminder of what she wants to do. So are her brand new Saucony tennis shoes.

The orthopedic doctor is highly regarded, young but experienced. He's done tons of these kinds of surgeries.  I must say the surgery sounds more like a construction site than anything medical, the main tools being  hammers, saws, and pliers. A big incision, too, about 10 inches. Lots of sawing and pounding. Lots of fitting metal and plastic into place.   Lots of clearing out and cleaning up. And since it's the human body taking this beating, it's not a pretty sight, or site. Lots of bruising.

But Andy is a trooper.  She wants to be up and about.  She wants to get back on the tennis court.  So she is already on her feet, testing the human-made parts in her hip, walking with a walker. Her first day home from the hospital was a challenge, for her and for me.  It's amazing all the muscles you have to use to get in and out of bed, for example; not easy when one side is immovable and painful.  It took us several hours to figure it out, trying this approach then that. By 1:00 am we got her settled, with a pillow under her knees.  The simplest things are hard to do.   

It really helps to have a physical therapist come to the house.  No way Andy wanted to go to a rehab place.  The doctor agreed, because "Andy has a positive attitude.  I wish all my patients had that."  

"Geez, sis, sorry you have to lift my leg and tuck me in and do this stuff."
"No problem.  I hope you never have to do this for me.  I mean I hope to God I never need hip or knee or any other kind of joint surgery."

It may take some time to get back on a tennis court.  But one day, maybe in a few months, my bionic sister will take the ribbons off her rackets and put them to good use.  You can't keep a good woman down.


Glaring Contrasts: Trump Rebuked in George H.W. Bush's Eulogies

photo Huff post. The state funeral of president George H.W. Bush, for a brief moment in time, was orchestrated to restore a sense of...