Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Saturday, August 30, 2014

ISIS: Less a terror group more an emerging government

Below is my latest column posted to Los Angeles Post Examiner: some facts about the organization and efficiency of ISIS. They are less a ragtag collection of desert thugs and more a sophisticated, tech-savvy emerging State, intent on erasing Syrian/Iraqi border first, and then...

ISIS: Less a terror group more an emerging government

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Trip to Maine's Rocky Shores

This past week-end I and a few friends went to Bristol, Maine for Old Bristol Days, which is a much-anticipated summer celebration. It features a parade, fireworks, and lobster boat races, and is a ton of fun -- even for newbies. One of my friends was raised in Bristol, and her family treated us to an amazing cook-out in the middle of the annual small-town festivities...the desserts alone knocked us out! (Peanut butter pie? Come on!!)

The week-end started with a morning ride on my horse, Nello. (In this picture he doesn't have his bridle on yet, and thinks he can reach a bag of carrots he has spotted...comical.) We took a solitary trail ride which was amazing -- the birds were chirping, we spotted a few deer, and the mosquitos had taken a break from their hobby of driving us crazy. Nello has had something of a miracle descend upon him this summer - he is pulling a Benjamin Button, and is more fit and happier (he actually seems younger) than I've ever known him. At 23 he is not a spring chicken, and he is loaded with arthritis, but this summer has seen us gallop down the trail in defiance of all I have been told told he can never do again. I never ask him to gallop, but if he wants to (if he starts it, in other words), I'm willing. He is funny - a laid-back, good-time fellow, on the trail he shows his one competitive streak, and has to be first in line. We laugh about it; it's as if his" inner Secretariat" comes out. (My trail-riding buddy says, is it Nello that has to be first, or you, Deirdre?)

 





Then it was up to Bristol, about three and a half hours away. Bristol is on the easternmost tip of Maine, and is part of the legendary rocky shores of Maine -- absolutely stunning, and everything you hope for on the drive up. We rented kayaks and took them out each night to see the sunset over the bay, and also, on the second night, to have prime seating for the Bristol Days fireworks. The wide open water of the bay was almost surreal in its many-layered peacefulness -- the water lapping quietly against the kayaks in the dark, the penetrating, hazy light of the "SuperMoon" hanging up in the sky like a huge orangey golf ball, and then, at long last, the fireworks exploding from the shore, sparkling over the water we were floating in before fading, then disappearing completely.



You could probably spend a lifetime really exploring New England. I felt like I was thousands of miles away from my home right outside Boston, but I was just three and a half hours away. I am now a huge Maine fan, and hope to return soon to hike its wooded trails and explore its culinary delights (lobster omelettes! yum!) as well as more kayaking.


                                                (Lisa in her kayak waiting for fireworks)


We had to keep reminding each other to put our phones away (cameras), and be in the moment. In today's social-media-driven world, that is a challenge; we feel obligated to share snippets of our lives -- the ones where we look good, the appealing ones -- with everyone. I am here, I have value, our "shares" scream into the void. My fear? That we become a series of snippets, unable to live longer, quieter moments long enough to absorb the value they offer. (Moonlight kayaking gives a girl deep thoughts!)

 As our designated IPhone photojournalist, however, I was granted a pass, and snapped many fun, cute, beautiful, serene, and goofy pics. (There were also many duds; several of my knees in the kayak.)


 
 
 
I am so grateful for the hospitality offered by the Blank family, and for the time with my friends. I am so grateful to get away -- both with Nello, my big indulgence in life -- and on the waters of Pemasquid Bay. I encourage everyone to leave the man-made boxes that are our homes, and get outside and live. You won't just find adventure...you will find you.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Hug Your kids and buy a Taylor Swift song on Itunes

 Taylor Swift surprised a little fan at Boston Children's hospital a few days ago, ready to play and sing with him. This little boy was diagnosed with leukemia after also suffering with heart problems.



Taylor plays a Toys R Us guitar (and pretty much rocks it!) to entertain this little sweetheart. You know how you grumble about work, the yard, the mortgage or the general craziness of life? Well, imagine having a child living in the hospital and suffering through treatments, all for an uncertain outcome. That is harsh. The other stuff is peanuts -- we should be grateful for such "problems."



Great job, Taylor Swift! You sound great and Boston appreciates your efforts for sick kids.