Monday, October 17, 2016

I Dedicate my noTrumpvote to...

Sometimes awareness and learning take repeated exposure to the facts you don’t want to hear.  Donald Trump knows this.  As a shrewd marketer and a fan of Adolph Hitler, he knows that repeating the same message over and over, even if it has no basis in fact, is a successful tactic in getting otherwise normal, intelligent human beings to commit acts they would never have dreamed of prior to indoctrination by repetition.  It is brain washing with the aid of the media. 

But I have found that it can also work for the greater good.  Every time another “crooked Hillary” comment is made on your social media, fight back by posting lists from reliable sources about the good that Hillary has been doing for years.  Write that being guilty of all the things she’s accused of would require the funds of Trump and the evil genius of Moriarty.  Surely someone would have blown the whistle or produced some kind of evidence by now, right?  Keep pounding social media with the correct facts.  We have only three weeks to permeate the minds of potential voters with the good she has done and the experience she carries into the Oval Office. 

Don’t think that exposure works?  Let me tell you a tale.  My parents were part of the white flight from East Cleveland in the early 60s.  We used to call my dad Archie Bunker, saying he wasn’t a bigot, he hated everyone equally.  Dad mellowed out a bit in his later years.  He was a staunch Catholic, a staunch Democrat, and a proud Union member.  He was all about doing what was right…no lying, no cheating, no blowhards, and you best be sure you owned up to your mistakes.  He passed in 1998, so I have no idea if indoctrination by repetition would have had an impact on his voting, or on any of the other prejudices he carried with him from his early days.  But I do know he would never have voted for the lying, cheating, denying, braggart that is Donald Trump.

My mother was somewhat quiet about everything.  I never heard her voice any nasty opinions about blacks, or gays, or members of other faiths when I was growing up.  But as she got older and more vocal, I was dismayed by some of what she would say with no care in the world who heard her.  She was in her late 70s when she moved in with us.  I remember her reaction when I told her my new boss was gay.  She was horrified.  “How could you possibly work around that?” she asked.  I would then tell her how intelligent and witty he was, how friendly and funny his partner was, and what great guys they were.  I did this repeatedly. 

The first time she actually met them, my boss’ partner gave her a big hug and told her how lovely she looked.  He told her how beautiful her hair was, and that he would know, having owned his own salon for years.  She seemed to handle that pretty well.  Gradually I kept inviting her to functions where she would have occasion to interact with them.  When my daughter married, David insisted on doing her hair and mine for the wedding.  Mom watched as he fussed and fluffed until my daughter and I looked like debutantes.

A week or so after the wedding, I informed her that I was calling the guys to invite them to dinner…as a thank you for doing our hair and for graciously attending the wedding.  “I’m coming,” she announced.  So I made reservations for four.  A few months later she confided, “You know, I don’t ever think of them as gay anymore.  I just think of them as the boys.”  I replied that it was a good thing.  That people are people.  That we are all just people. 

The last year of her life she was in assisted living.  I could no longer care for her at home, so I visited her several times a week after work and on weekends.  She would always ask, “How are the boys?  I miss seeing them.  Tell them I miss seeing them.”  What a turn around for a woman in her 80s.  She also cast her last vote for Barack Obama.  And I was so proud of her when she cast her last vote for Barack Obama. 

She taught me that people can change, no matter how old or how set in their ways.  That prejudice can be overcome.  But that it requires exposure to those different from ourselves, and the indoctrination of repetition in a positive way, to overcome the negative, the hateful, and the long-held fears of a lifetime.  Because of her bravery, and the boldness she showed in changing her mind about such fundamental issues, I dedicate my "noTrumpvote" to my Mom.

Friday, October 14, 2016

GOP Donors Find Their Tipping Point - Moral Outrage

I was reading an article about the big donors demanding that the GOP cut all ties with Donald Trump. Many are even demanding their money back. I considered this fairly amusing until I read the following.

“Bruce Kovner, a New York investor and philanthropist who with his wife has given $2.7 million to Republicans over the same period, was just as blunt. “He is a dangerous demagogue completely unsuited to the responsibilities of a United States president,” Mr. Kovner wrote in an email, referring to Mr. Trump.  “Even for loyalists, there is a line beyond which the obvious moral failings of a candidate are impossible to disregard,” he wrote. “That line has been clearly breached.”


Where was your moral outrage when Trump bragged about his genitalia in public?

Where was your moral outrage when he stood in front of crowds fanning the flames of racism and bigotry?

Where was your moral outrage when he encouraged his rally attendees to use violence against anyone who wasn’t supporting him?

Where was your moral outrage when he continually degraded women in front of a national audience?

Where was your moral outrage at his continual lies about every conceivable topic?

Where was your moral outrage when he made public his plans to create a “deportation force” to send 18 million people out of the country?

Where was your moral outrage when he said the Saudis should have nuclear weapons?

Where was your moral outrage when he declared, that if elected, he would jail his political opponent?

Where was your moral outrage when he, twice, encouraged his followers to assassinate that same political opponent?

Where was your moral outrage when you gave money and your support to a candidate that is quite obviously running his campaign using Adolph Hitler as his mentor and guide?

Where was your moral outrage when you realized that this was not a wise, politically experienced, mature 70-year-old man, but a greedy, power-hungry, misogynistic, racist, wanna-be dictator, with the emotional IQ of a pubescent teenager, who has lived his entire life in a privileged environment where no one ever told him NO?

I could go on, but I won’t.

That line was breached long before the tape was released. It’s a darned shame that the GOP, so determined to defeat Hillary or whatever Democrat was thrown their way, overlooked all those things until it was too late to keep Trump out of the race. But then, this is similar to the way they have overlooked the will of the people for 8 years just to spite Obama, instead of doing the jobs for which they were elected and paid. We taxpayers don’t ask much of our politicians, but I don’t think it’s too much to expect them to show up every day and work together with the other side to achieve better things for this country.

Perhaps morally outraged donors demanding their donations back will finally get through to them. After all, money speaks the only language they seem to understand.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Leopard Can't Change Its Spots

Trump has a 40-year history of demeaning and objectifying women.  He is NOT going to change, because he doesn’t think what he did, and continues to do, is wrong.  Any apology is meaningless, and he will say whatever he thinks will keep the voters from abandoning him in the 11th hour.  He’s not really sorry for what he said or did, he’s only sorry that he was caught on tape and can’t deny what everyone in the country has now heard…bragging about sexually assaulting women, and his ability to get away with it due to his own fame and celebrity.

I’ve seen several posts from Trump devotees saying “If women are so offended by those words, why did “Fifty Shades of Gray” sell 80 million copies to women here in the states?”  Then there are the posts with the world’s most famous twerker, in her much-viewed lewd dance, stating “If you women are so offended, why are you out dancing like this?”  There is a world of difference between a woman voluntarily reading housewives porn or imitating the twerker and what Trump said and bragged about doing to women.  It’s called CHOICE.  It’s called lack of consent.  It’s called entitlement.  It’s a crime.

I'm not offended by Trump’s words. I'm offended by his incredible arrogance and his bragging about committing sexual assault, then dismissing what was said as just locker-room speak.

His words don’t offend me, his attitude does.  HE is offensive. Telling Howard Stern on his radio show that “vagina is expensive” is OFFENSIVE.  His comments magnify why rape culture has become so prominent in our society, especially in high schools, colleges, and fraternities.  And every time a guy gets away with such a crime, it legitimizes that behavior in his own mind and in the minds of his male friends as they regale each other with tales of their sexual conquests over a few beers. This isn't good fun. These are crimes against other human beings.

These are the behaviors of a complete narcissist.  Trump thinks he has superior genes.  This smacks of Hitler and his ilk, who thought that those with “inferior” genes should be exterminated.  In Trump’s case, it’s the African Americans, the Muslims, and the Mexicans he will deport because they lack the appropriate genes to live in “his” country.  See some of Trumps references to his superior genetics here:  He actually compares his genetics to Secretariat, the Triple Crown winner.  He forgot to mention which end.

If you doubt that Trump is narcissistic, here is a list of the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (think mental illness, folks).

Exhibits exaggeration and grandiosity.  
Believes he is special and unique. 
Craves and requires the admiration of others. 
Feels entitled and demands of others what he won’t do himself. 
Expert at exploitation and manipulation of others. 
Lacks empathy for others, especially those considered to be inferior.  Envious and jealous of those who have obtained the power, adulation, and fame he feels are his due. 
Epitome of arrogance and haughtiness.

There you have it. 

I’m challenging every woman who has had enough of being treated as inferior, not worthy, paid less than her counterparts, being body shamed, being used, being abused, being assaulted, being raped, and watching the Trumps of this world get away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist…to get out and vote.  It is important to keep such a man from occupying the most influential office in the world.  Trump is the last person on earth I would want teaching our boys and young men, by example, how to behave around women.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Betsy Ross, you have entered the Twilight Zone...Redux 2009 story with 2016 twist!


In 1991, when my daughter was in 4th grade, her class took a field trip to the local library. Each student was to borrow a book about a Revolutionary War era character, read the book, and write up a book report. Meredith, seeing a book about a woman with the same name as her mother, chose a biography titled “Betsy Ross and the Flag.”

Not one to hop all over an assignment, Meredith didn’t look at the book for several days. When she finally decided to get busy on the book, she came crying and shrieking into the kitchen.

“Mom, this is a library book!”

“I know.”

“I’m going to be in horrible trouble at school! You’re not supposed to write in library books, Mom! Why did you write in the book?”

“I didn’t write in the book, Meredith.”

“Yes you did! See, it says it right here. And you wrote it in ink, so I can’t even try to erase it!”

“I didn’t write in the book,” I repeated as she handed me “Betsy Ross and the Flag,” opened to the flyleaf.

There, in ink, the book had been signed, “To Lissa Southwick from Betsy McMillan, Christmas 1959.”

“See!” Meredith insisted.

I stared at the book. The writing was indeed mine or an incredible facsimile! A chill came over me and every hair on my body stood on end.

“Meredith, I didn’t write this,” I said. “You see here, where it says Christmas 1959? I was younger in 1959 than you are right now. My last name wasn’t McMillan in 1959. I didn’t become a McMillan until I married your father.”

“Then who wrote in the book?” she asked, still teary-eyed.

“Evidently someone named Betsy McMillan, but many, many years ago. Don’t worry, Meredith. You won’t get into trouble for this.”

She headed back to her bedroom, somewhat placated. I kept the book in the kitchen until my husband got home. After he settled in, I said, “Take a look at this.”

He picked up the book, looked at it and said, “Why did you write in the book?”

“I didn’t!”

“It’s your writing,” he said.

“Exactly. But look at the date!”

He read it again. “1959? How did you sign this in 1959?”

“I didn’t! I never wrote in the book at all! How weird it that?”

After the book report was finished, I took Meredith and the book in question back to the library. I went to the desk and asked the librarian about the inscription.

“Many of the older books we have were donated from people’s personal collections,” she replied.

“Do you mind if I make copies of the flyleaf?” I asked.

“Not at all.”

I made a dozen photocopies, then went back to the desk. “May I ask a favor?”


“I know from past years that the library sells off the old books in an annual sale. If the time comes that this book is ready for the sale table, can you call me? I would really love to have this copy.”

I explained to her the bizarre coincidence of my name in my handwriting being in the book. She agreed. I gave her my name and phone number and we headed home.

For several months I sent inquiries to every Southwick and McMillan that I could find in the local phone books, but I received no replies. Eventually I put thoughts of “Betsy Ross and the Flag” behind me.

About ten years later, I got a call from the library. They had set “Betsy Ross and the Flag” aside for me. I raced up to the library and picked up the book. I opened it to the flyleaf and looked at the inscription. It still made my hair stand on end. I took it home and put it on a shelf where it remains to this day…another strange and unexplained occurrence in my lifetime of experiences!


Fast forward to 2016 and a story twist 25 years in the making. Let me start by saying that in my early career as a writer, I used the pen name Elizabeth Blackstone for my first two books, then, deciding it was too much trouble, began using M.E. Betsy McMillan (easier to remember when doing book signing events).

Yesterday morning, I turned on my computer, which is my normal practice, as I was getting ready to head off to work. Normally I click on the email and do a general delete, delete, delete, unless I recognize a sender or know it's something of importance. As I was doing my delete, delete, delete, I barely stopped myself from hitting the button when a subject line with the words "Betsy Ross" caught my eye. The email was as follows.

"Hello.  I just read the story of Betsy Ross and the Flag posted in 2009. This is the Lissa Southwick from the flyleaf.  Let me know if you still have the book. Are you in Ohio?"  Of course, it was signed with her married name and a phone number, so I decided to give the lady a call. 

After the requisite introductions, she asked what I wanted to know, and offered to tell me how the book had come into her possession.  It seems that her mother's best friend, Elizabeth Stone, married Charles McMillan.  They had a daughter, who they named Elizabeth Stone McMillan, but they called her Betsy. Lissa and Betsy were best friends, and Lissa gave her the book for Christmas.

You've got to admit, the whole 25-year saga is incredibly strange. My daughter brings home the book. My signature is in the book. The library gives me the book years later. I write a blog post about the book.  Then 25 years after first seeing the book, the woman who owned the book 60 years ago Googles her maiden name and somehow finds my blog post from 2009 and contacts me about it. And to make the story even more strange, her friend's name was Elizabeth (aka Betsy) Stone McMillan, and I'm Betsy McMillan aka Elizabeth Blackstone
You just can't make this stuff up!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Village Pub, Perry OH

Well I finally tried it...the newest eatery in town, Village Pub.  Co-owned by Chuck Beal and his restaurant partner(s), as well as Loreto Development, the pub opened around June 1st. This is not Chuck's first venture into the restaurant business.  He and his restaurant partner(s) also own Firehouse Grille and Pub in Willoughby Hills and Beal's Pickles & Pints in Willoughby. 

The menu at the pub is a combination of the best sellers from the other two establishments.  The restaurant took over three storefronts on Center Road in Perry, and the inside is clean, welcoming, and very nicely decorated.  There are plenty of TVs mounted up high for the sports-minder customer, but the place also has a strong family feel.  There were families with teens and families with younger children eating there when I arrived.

I was very pleased with the quality of the food, the excellent friendly service, and the reasonable prices.  I had a Pub Burger that was huge, and it was loaded with lettuce, tomato, provolone, grilled onions, and grilled mushrooms all stacked on an fresh toasted artisan roll.  For my libation, I added a tasty glass of Leonard Kreusch Riesling.  I will definitely be going back for more. 

What really impressed me was watching Chuck as he greeted and served the customers whenever the waitress was busy with other tasks.  He even cleared tables and swept the floor.  You can tell he cares deeply about presenting a clean and well-kept establishment.  Chuck is definitely someone who loves his chosen profession!  I recommend giving Village Pub a try!

The Village Pub is open 7 days a week starting at 11 a.m.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Nothing Like a Political Time Bomb

Well, once again, it’s been far too long since I posted here.  Work has been a prohibiting factor for the last several months.  These 9 to 10 hour days are taking a toll.  Also, I‘ve just been diagnosed with some pretty severe anemia, which is only exacerbating the whole fatigue situation.  My life has become a never-ending rolling wheel of work, eat, sleep, repeat.  No brain power seems to come forth when I place myself in front of this screen.  I need to get back to my creative self…soon!

So here it is, Mother’s Day.  I’m not planning anything of import.  Chris is not making it home from New Jersey.  Meredith is busily doing nothing as Gary and the kids provide her with her every need.  Jim went out to Mentor Headlands to conduct some walking pole business.  Although I truly enjoy being home alone, I decided a change of scenery would help dig up a bit of the creativity I’ve been missing of late.  As a result, I’m sitting here at Hundley Cellars, drinking a lovely Traminette, eating the best soft pretzels around, and listening to bluegrass background music as I type.

Now to what’s been happening while I’ve been living life in a zombie-like state.

Politically, could we be in any worse shape?  Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican candidate.  Only in America could such a complete travesty occur.  He is a candidate with zero political experience.  He is a businessman who has repeatedly declared bankruptcy to avoid paying business debts (he’s a whole lot better at playing the system for millions than the typical food stamp recipient…but then again, using the system is okay for him but not for anyone of lesser stature).  He riles his followers with extremely base and vile rhetoric.  He has no decency, no charm, no honesty.  He spews misogyny, profanity, vulgar innuendo, racism, and prejudice in all its forms, bringing out the worst in those who think he is some kind of savior.  Let me clue you in, Trump followers.  He has no clue what your problems are and he has no intention of solving them.  He seeks only his own power.  He is a narcissist who would be even happier if he could turn the presidency into a dictatorship.  He is the man who would be king.  Stop for a moment and listen to what he is actually saying about the issues…when asked a question, he can barely repeat the question back much less form a coherent response.  My mother, when she was in the throes of dementia, could answer any question in a more lucid fashion.

What is the answer?  Regardless of your political affiliation, the only way to keep Trump out of the White House is to vote for whichever Democrat comes out on top in the convention.  

Well, Bernie is a socialist, you say.  He has been in the senate for years, and although controversial, I believe he has the best interests of the American people at heart.  As we all know, without the backing of congress, the majority of his socialist programs will never come to fruition.
Well, Hillary is a criminal, you say.  And yet those charges have not been proven.  And unless she was selling secrets to the enemy in those emails, they likely had no impact on our security.  As for Benghazi, the republicans refused to increase funding for security at our foreign embassies, not to mention that, attacks on American diplomats at their homes, driving to their embassy, or at the actual embassy or consulate during the Bush administration totaled 39.  In 20 of those attacks, at least 1 person was killed, but saying that is misleading when the total number of fatalities was actually 87.  They were a blip on the radar.  Each of these attacks was labeled a tragedy and the blame was placed on those who precipitated the attacks, not on those in Washington.  Were mistakes made in Benghazi? Probably.  Was it a criminal offense on the part of Secretary of State Clinton?  So far no investigation in the many investigations that have been conducted has found any wrong doing.
Who is more qualified, Hillary or Bernie?  Hands down Hillary.  Former first lady, former senator, former Secretary of State, she has a huge amount of experience with foreign diplomats and government officials.  And I think she has proven that she can handle adversity and come out on top.
Like Hillary or don’t like her.  Like Bernie or don’t like him.  One or the other is the only viable option for keeping the Trump lunacy out of the White House.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Joey Martin Feek

4:16 a.m.  My computer is still with Joe, who is attempting to perform a miraculous resurrection after a bout with the vendu virus.  I have to say, it’s hell being computer-less for a week.  I haven’t succumbed to madness yet, but I’m close.  I was unable to sleep, so here I am, typing away on Jim’s machine in a desperate attempt to distract myself, but it’s not working.  All I can think about is Joey Feek, who passed away Friday afternoon. 

It’s been difficult for her family, friends, and fans to watch her struggle through the pain and incapacity of the last several months.  We watched as a beautiful, energetic, vivacious woman put up the fight of her life before cancer sucked that precious life away.  The strength and bravery of her story are undeniable.  By inviting us to share in her experience, and with Rory’s courage in documenting and posting not just the painful and heartbreaking moments, but the tender and joyful ones as well, we find we’ve been schooled in the art of living life to the fullest until the last possible moment…and then departing with peace, grace, and dignity.  I would like to think that Joey is riding horses and planting a garden in heaven, between performances with the choirs of angels.  And she is surely watching over Rory and Indy with unlimited and unconditional love.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Friday, well actually Saturday.

It's been a particularly busy week, both at work and at home. Yet, here I am, at almost 2 a.m., feeling like I'm not holding up my end of the agreement I made with myself...did I say it's 2 a.m? On a really positive note, I scheduled my private writing retreat at Steve Fitzgerald's "President's Cottage" on Middle Bass Island for September. We haven't made it to spring yet, and here I am gleefully anticipating fall!

I look forward to every writing trip, whether it's 24 hours or 5 days. In my opinion, having several consecutive days of uninterrupted time is a Godsend for any writer. I get huge sections of writing done when I remove myself from my normal surroundings. Planning and saving for these writing trips was one of the best ideas I've ever had.  I highly recommend it to all serious writers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tuesday, actually Wednesday...very early

Another long day...worked, then went to Cecil's house to record another conversation about his life.  Cecil is an old friend who has long since retired from our place of mutual employment.  He was the first African American hired by Diamond Alkali (later known as Diamond Shamrock) to fill a scientific position.  Cecil is a fabulous storyteller, and I am helping him compile the stories of his life into book form, so he can leave those stories for his family and friends and perhaps for a whole generation of young men and women who need to be inspired.  I stopped for half an hour at Words and Wine Poetry Night, run by Margie DeLong.  Then I headed home, ate some crock pot beef stew while watching some of the best 50 Super Bowl commercials.  At 10:00 I started a Morena Rum Cake to take to work and got everything ready to make 5 lbs of cheesy potatoes for technician appreciation lunch tomorrow.  Finally managed to get upstairs at 1:30.  I'd be in bed already, but I needed to write a blog!  Let's see how long I can keep this up.

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1, 2016

Perhaps I should try for every other day?  The week is starting out in extremely busy mode.  Dentist appointment this morning, followed by work. a quick dinner, then off to choir practice.  I should be sitting down here again in about 15 hours.  Somehow I doubt I'll be feeling inspired, but one never knows...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Year, New Me? We'll see!

Well, once again I have been duly chastised for neglecting my blog.  This is not a deliberate omission on my part, but the result of too many activities, not enough hours in my day, mental exhaustion, and too many other excuses to count.  One of those many activities is the running of a writers group called Water’s Edge Writers Meet-up.  A new member of the group, Vicki K, who quit her corporate job last year to pursue writing, promised herself to blog every day for an entire year.  As of this past Wednesday, she had five days left to reach that goal.  I have to say, I am impressed with her diligence and perseverance.
Another member, Margie DeLong, spent a year visiting the Grand River every day and keeping a journal of her experiences along the river and interviews with people who lived near its banks.  Her book, GrandObservations is now available on

I admit it.  I have yet to muster the discipline to blog every day.  I also don’t put much stock in that rule everyone espouses that writers have to write every day.  I think it’s nice if you can, but I think most writers don’t.  Not writing every day doesn’t make you a failure as a writer.  It makes you a creative human being who produces art when inspired, not on demand.
But, I am inspired by my writing friends who are more disciplined than I am; therefore, I will make an attempt to write something on my blog daily, even if I am not inspired to write at all!