I hope all my friends and relatives had a wonderful holiday. Here’s what’s been happening in the tropics.

As usual, I planned on getting an early start for the holidays. Did I mention I live in my own fantasy land? I purchased my Christmas tree on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. A neighbor assisted me in getting the tree in water on my backyard deck, so it would remain fresh until I straightened the living room and pulled out my decorations.

Due to a family emergency, I left town the next day to return the following Friday. On my return, I found a toppled tree begging for water. I righted it and added water, but sadly many needles were brown and falling on the deck. I carefully moved the tree into the living room, losing branches and needles along the way.

As you can see, the shape of my tree is beautiful; but many of the branches are the color of my Cuadrado Mexican tiles rather than the verdant pine hue I was going for. I figured once decorated, it would be fine. That’s when a newscaster suggested that lights on a dry tree might set it on fire. “But,” my right brain said, “it’s near the sliding glass doors, so I could easily drag it outside.”

My left brain jumped in and said, Whoa, let’s use some logic here. The door is locked, and to open it, you would have to go around a burning tree.”

Forget the lights!

The only trimming of the tree was in cutting off portions that were very dry and brown. I was losing my enthusiasm for decorating the tree. In the end, I had a “slightly trimmed but (one could say) undressed” Christmas tree.

I was not feeling the cheerfulness and joy of the season, so I turned to several Christmas movies to get myself into the holiday spirit. My favorites are A Christmas Carol (the one with Alister Sim), A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Miracle on 34th Street. As the days progressed, I settled into a happier mood.

And then Christmas arrived! While we didn’t have a white Christmas in Miami, we did have a cold front drop our temperature by about 30 degrees. Miamians take on the characteristics of iguanas when confronted with temperatures in the 40s. We don’t venture outside because we fear our bodies will become cold-stunned and we will collapse on the ground in a catatonic state. Not a pretty picture!

Back in November, ABC presented a Diane Sawyer special about the 20th Anniversary of the film “Love Actually, written and directed by Richard Curtis. It’s not actually a Christmas movie, although the story takes place at that time of the year, and I decided to watch it on Christmas day.

The film opens with Hugh Grant (who plays the British Prime Minister) giving a monologue. It started, “…general opinion is we live in a world of hatred and greed.”

Apparently, not much has changed in the last 20 years. Since 2019, we’ve endured a pandemic and isolation, the nation is polarized, and the evening news gives us front-row seats to a devastating war in Ukraine. Dysfunction is what sells in the news world. “Newsworthy” requires high drama, often seen in violence, murder, and other aberrant behavior. At the end of the day, I find myself weary of it all.

“But,” says the PM, “love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there-fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

Wouldn’t you like to see the biggest headline or lead story on the news read like this?


Ah, well, one can dream.

The holidays are over, and the great crystal ball dropped in Manhattan. It’s time to get on with 2023. I hope the new year brings you happiness and joy.

If possible, a bit of love wouldn’t hurt. I hope you find that as well.



As Dorothy was on her way to the Emerald City to seek help from the great and magnificent Oz, she came upon a fork in the yellow brick road. She pondered aloud, “Which way should I go?” A scarecrow was perched on a pole behind her. His arms crossed in front of him as he pointed in opposite directions, and he uttered these words, “You can go this way, or you can go that way.”

In the 1939 movie, the scarecrow laments his lack of a brain in a song. One verse goes like this:

I would not be just a Nuthin’,

My head all full of stuffin’,

My heart all full of pain,

And perhaps I’d deserve you and be

Even worthy of you

If I only had a brain.

I’m an “Oz” girl, and I either read the books or my brother read them to me as a child. What I never knew until recently, and as a child would not have understood, was L. Frank Baum (the author of The Wizard of Oz) was a political activist in the 1890s, and it is thought by many that the story is allegorical for the political, social, and economic happenings of that period.

Let’s skip forward to the present and the happenings of the last few weeks.   As of June 6, the 157th day of the year, there have been 246 mass shootings (defined as 4 or more killed or injured). Today’s political, social, and economic happenings are fraught with prejudice, hatred, and anger.

In Uvalde, 19 children and two adults were not just killed — they were slaughtered.  Some bodies were unidentifiable due to the damage done by an AR-15 and could only be identified using DNA.  One child covered herself with the blood of a fallen classmate and played dead to save her life.  Now, imagine your child in that situation.  

Countless families are grieving the loss of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads.  As a people, we ask, “Why?” As a nation, we ask, “How many people have to die?” When will Congress get a collective brain and DO SOMETHING!

As I traveled the yellow brick road, I would come across not a scarecrow but an octopus in my serendipitous world. Because, in answer to my question, “why is this happening?” the octopus tells me while pointing, “It’s white nationalism; no, it’s the internet and social media; no, it’s military-grade automatic weapons; no, it’s mental illness; no, it’s gun show loopholes; no, it’s the lack of universal background checks; no, it’s violent internet games.” The octopus is pointing in so many different directions; he gets tangled in his arms and can’t go with me to get a brain.  Talk about allegorical.   Are we being played?

According to polls, the tide is turning, and Americans believe universal background checks are necessary when purchasing guns. Why not start there?

I live in Florida. According to everytownresearch.org, Florida is rated 19th in the nation (1 being the best) based on the strength of its gun laws and the rate of violence.   As a state, we are still missing key laws — like background checks, assault weapons are not prohibited, ghost guns are not regulated, high capacity magazines are not prohibited – and the list goes on.  The other day, Rick Scott indicated he believed this was a “state” issue, not federal.  Well, since we instituted some stronger gun laws after Parkland,  progress has stalled, and Florida legislators appear to be actively working to weaken gun laws.  Who represents you in Tallahassee?

The events of the last couple of weeks have been, for me, exhausting.  As I hear about the thoughts and prayers for those lost, I think, “that’s nice, but what about those who will be under fire tomorrow, next week, or next month.  WHAT NOW?

Everytown.org is a community of activists:  Mom’s Demand Action, Students Demand Action, and a Survivor’s Network.  While the student community and the survivor network are limited to people of a certain age or who have survived gun violence, Mom’s Demand Action includes husbands, families, and women who may not have children.  If you go to the website, you can see what they are doing, what events are coming up in your state, and how you can help.

In politics, there are constituents and representatives. As constituents, we elect representatives to office.  Let’s make something clear here.  They work for us. Think back to the scarecrow.  Are they worthy of our votes?  Do they deserve their jobs?  

Google your senators and representatives in both the legislature and Congress. Go to their websites. You will find local, Tallahassee, and Washington phone numbers and addresses. They want your vote.  Make it clear they understand what you expect if they are to get it.  This is your “WHAT NOW” moment.  Use it wisely.








In January of last year, my WomenHeart Group had a fun Vision Board Party.

Better than a resolution, a Vision Board is a reminder of what’s essential in your life.  We gathered stacks of old magazines, pictures, postcards, quotations, scissors, glue, and used our imaginations to create individual Vision Boards. We had an hour and a half to create a vision of how we wished our lives to be.  Here is what my board looks like.


The inspiration for my Vision Board started with two books.  Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, is a book I read years ago and decided to revisit. The second book by Jennifer Ashton, M.D, is titled, “The Self-Care Solution.”  These books dived into how to better care for me physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.

A Wakeup Call:  Make Plans – Then Life Happens

I was speaking with a friend the other day.  He and his wife do an annual holiday letter each year (as do I).  So, I said,  “Bob, what are you going to write about?”

His response, “Not much.”

We’ve been self-isolating, or at least social distancing.  When Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year is PANDEMIC, you know we’ve done little to write home about.  We’ve been isolating or, at the very least, self-distancing.  We are exhausted.  It looks as if more than one vaccine is ready for distribution, and we hope the light we see at the end of the tunnel isn’t a bullet train.

My brother, Harlley, passed away on March 22.  Later that evening, as I headed for my bedroom Ted (my cat) decided to head me off.  His preferred direction was towards the kitchen where there is FOOD.  Weighing in at 20 pounds, Ted is a formidable force to be reckoned with.  I’m not sure how it happened, but I tripped and hit the wall.  The doctor explained later I had a skull fracture and I’d have to stay in the hospital for at least a day.

Most of the spring was a blur.  Covid was spiking in South Florida.  Miami-Dade was becoming the southern epicenter.  I concluded that listening to the news was depressing and decided one evening to watch The Lion King  (not the animated feature, but the one with what appeared to be live animals).  Ted has never been one to have an interest in TV.  I don’t know if it was the sound effects of wild animals running or lions growling.  Ted jumped up on the credenza and started watching the show.  He was absolutely mesmerized.


Craving social interaction, many have moved on to Zoom Calls.  My Toastmaster Club meets weekly.  I set up my computer in the kitchen, where I have fairly good lighting.  Once all is set up, Gabrielle (my other cat) comes in and starts talking to me (kitchen equals FOOD). What she wants is what she refers to as a snackeroo (since the pandemic, this is another word that’s been added to my vocabulary).  She starts off subtly but builds up to what can only be described as caterwauling – VERY LOUD CATERWAULING.  While Gaby has not really participated in our meetings, she did opt to be in one of our weekly pictures (she’s behind me).


The weather in Florida is splendid.  We’ve finally entered the winter season, which for us means less humidity and cooler temperatures.  I went for a walk yesterday around 4 pm.  It was delightful and necessary.  Unfortunately, I caught something called the Covid-fifteen — those unwanted pounds added because my refrigerator has been calling out to me.  It’s a hushed, haunting sound whispering, “come to me, see what I have for you, it’s wonderful, it’s delicious.  You’ll love it.”  Again, the kitchen equals FOOD.

It’s Time for a Do-Over

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been and continues to be horrendous.  However, putting together my little letter gave me pause (no, Ted and Gaby, not paws).  My Vision Board from last year is still on my wall, and I still have the books that gave me inspiration — so I’m setting my sites on building my best self, enjoying life, and moving forward.  On my Vision Board, if you look closely, the line after Enjoy Life is, “it has an expiration date.”  Take heed.

To All My Friends and Family:

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and a Happier New Year!




Raise your hand if you’re in agreement.

Think about it. As social animals, we seek out each other. That interaction helps us maintain our well being. When isolated, we find it challenging to deal with stressful situations; we become depressed, anxiety rises, and making simple decisions can appear impossible.

So, here I sit isolated amid a rising pandemic, during a critical election year. The news of increasing Covid cases, and OMG, hearing those omnipresent duplicitous political ads. Pandemic fatigue is settling in.

A week ago, a friend called and suggested that another girl pal and I come to her house (both of them had been out of Miami since March). We could wear our masks, socially distance, and sit out on her patio. A small gathering, but it felt as if I was being invited to a major event. I was absolutely giddy about the idea. I could see my friends — ACTUALLY, not virtually. It was Friday, and we set the meeting for Sunday.

Also, on Friday, Tara, her husband, and I all got our annual flu shots. Tara’s husband had no reaction, Tara had a sore arm, and I felt great — that is until Saturday morning. I awoke with a 100+ fever, every muscle and joint in my body ached, and someone disconnected my energy plug from the wall outlet. Walking from the bedroom to the bathroom left me feeling as if I’d run a marathon. Our small gala was canceled.

I’m happy to say my reaction lasted for only one day. If a dead virus could cause such results, I can only imagine how I would have reacted to getting this particular strain of the flu. In retrospect, I’m glad I got the shot.

We’ve rescheduled for Sunday (only a few days to go). Now, if our tropical “dry-season” finally kicks in, we can gather on Tara’s patio. Wish us luck!