Monday, March 26, 2018

Easter: New and Renewed Life

I think the story of my own birth is a good way to begin a discussion on new life. I was born in Baba's house on a September Saturday in 1944. It was suppertime, and my Mom couldn't wait for her favorite meal, steak smothered in onions, and mashed potatoes drenched in butter. Unfortunately her water broke and sent her into labor,denying her the pleasure of actually eating the dinner she'd looked forward to all day. Instead she retreated to her upstairs bedroom and waited for Dr. Stimetz to arrive. Since the good doctor lived next door, she was by my mother's side in minutes. As Mom pushed, and the rest of the family nervously waited in the hallway, eventually I entered the world, kicking and screaming, or so I'd been told over and over again while growing up. 

After thoroughly examining the newly-born babe, Dr. Stimetz handed me over to Baba to be cleaned and clothed. As my grandmother whisked me down the stairs and into her kitchen, she secretly rejoiced over the fact that I was a girl. Again, I know this because over the course of many years, she mentioned it at least a million times. Baba filled her huge mixing bowl with warm water, and carefully placed me inside its white walls. This was the same bowl she used every Easter when making the dough for Paska, the special Slovak bread we enjoyed only once a year during the holy season of the Resurrection. As she gently washed the afterbirth from my tiny body, Baba noticed that I appeared to be struggling to breathe. She placed me in a soft towel, dried me, and then rubbed a dollop of Vicks salve under my nose. However, because of the powerful strength of the vapors, instead of alleviating the congestion, I turned blue and stopped breathing altogether. To have this precious new life for such a short time was something my Baba refused to accept. Quickly she began CPR. Within seconds, I let out a garbled cry, and voraciously began sucking air into my deprived lungs. When Dr. Stimetz entered the kitchen, she found my Baba clutching me closely to her bosom with tears streaming down her face. In a shaky voice, she told the doctor what she had done. Dr. Stimetz comforted Baba by saying that this infant was destined to do something special since she had been given new life twice in the course of just one day, a rare medical occurrence by any standards. Whatever it was that I was meant to accomplish, I hope I've made at least some strides in fulfilling my purpose. From that life-saving moment on, my Baba and I shared a unique bond that only grew stronger and stronger with every passing year, and will remain alive and well always and forever.

Spring and Easter are favorites of mine perhaps because they arrive together with warm temps, gentle breezes, and soft rains. Both the season and the holiday are symbolic of new and renewed life. Whether coming into the world newborn, or awakening from a winter's sleep, all life is pure and fresh again. There is a joy and lightness of spirit that fills the Earth unlike at any other time of year. 

Monday, March 19, 2018


From the time I was child, I had a keen interest in card playing. I'm not talking about 'Go Fish' or 'Old Maids' though. Every holiday after the dishes were cleared from the dining room table, my Zedo, uncles, and cousins would dig into their pockets and pull out all the cash they had. Zedo would shuffle the deck and a three hour poker game ensued. Although I was too young to participate, I would stand on my grandfather's left side and watch every check, raise or fold that happened throughout those 180 minutes. Occasionally Zedo would point to some cards in his hand and slightly nod. I knew that meant that those were potential winners, and excitedly waited as he threw down the duds and picked up ones that could complete a flush or straight. When he was lucky enough to get the right cards, I'd remain stone-faced as the rest of my insides trembled! Zedo would raise low so that as many as possible would remain in the game. As the group dwindled, usually one of the guys would hang in there, sure that Zedo was most likely bluffing. Zedo never bluffed!

As I got older, I learned to play Gin, Pinochle, Hearts and a bunch of other variations. My hubby enjoyed cards as well, so in the early years of our marriage  we'd spend weekends with friends and family playing the night away either for bragging rights, money, or both!

Currently we haven't found folks that know the games we play or don't have the time. When I'm finished doing marketing online for my children's books, I'll head over to the Facebook GameRoom to play some Hearts. People from all over the world plug in and either accept or decline your offer. Bids range from 20-500 coins. The first time you enter the GR, you receive a number of free coins. If you run out however, you then must purchase coins in order to continue playing. I've never once had to buy coins and have been playing Hearts for over six years!

What I truly love about this game is the mental gymnastics it takes to outwit your opponents. If you play long enough, by the cards in your hand, you can actually predict what the lead-off person will throw. Throughout the game, individuals will try to divert your attention by getting rid of a particular suit. This tactic can be used to set the rest of the group up to 'shoot the moon' thus adding 26 points to their total, or simply eliminate the possibility of oneself from being caught with the Queen. I'm not about to give a tutorial now, but if you're familiar with Hearts you know what I'm talking about.

I just finished a game with Mehmet, Lillian, and Rhonda. After the first hand, I was low man on the totem pole with 24 points. Mehmet, 0, Lillian, 1, and Rhonda, 1. Next round, I had 49 points and looked like I was doomed. However in the third round, I took in all the hearts as well as the queen and handed each of the players 26 points! For the next thirty minutes or so my three opponents continued to add to their count while I remained at 49. When I won what would be the last round, I elected to increase their scores and wound up winning the game! I had 64 points while Rhonda, the loser,  had 103!

In the GR, you can challenge anyone on the list of players. Over the years, we've formed a little group that knows Hearts very well and enjoys playing folks who have similar skills and experience. We love to test each other with crazy moves and sneaky plays. Oftentimes, I'm the QUEEN OF HEARTS and I owe all of my playing prowess to my Zedo for allowing me to listen and learn!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Winter Freeze

I think I was about ten when I fell in love with poetry. At first, anything that rhymed caught my attention, but as I grew my poetic preferences matured as well.  When I was a sophomore in high school, my English teacher, Sister Rosemarie entered one of my poems in a national contest. After months of waiting, I received a letter saying my submission was selected and would be published in the National Poetry Anthology come spring. Finally the day arrived when my teacher handed me the official book, was asked to read my work to the class, and was graciously applauded for my success. I was on cloud nine!

Funny thing though, I couldn't tell you where that prized possession was now if you paid me, and I haven't a clue as to what the title of my poem might have been. Over the years, my writing has evolved, but every now and then I return to my beginnings and scratch out a poem or two. Since this winter has been hanging on like a bad cough causing me great angst, I decided to pen my frustrations in poetic fashion. Since I rarely do poetry now, I'm not promising national contest quality, but hopefully WINTER FREEZE will strike a cord with some of you. Enjoy!


Like the arrogant thief
Who creeps into a home
Taking valuable treasures,
So too, the Winter Freeze
Seeps under the door frames
Stealing warmth.

Long days foster dejection,
Despondency leads to defeat.
My happiness is gone.
Joy and laughter cease
Replaced with soulless stares.
I retreat.

With frustration mounting,
Hot anger bubbling up,
I relinquish my spirit.
Depression weighs on me,
Helplessness abounds,
I surrender.

Death is everywhere now.
Nature has lost its fight,
The world compromises.
I die a little, too.
Devoid of thought and zest,
I succumb.

When, if ever, will it end?
Frigid cold, howling winds
Chafe the skin, dry the throat.
The Winter Freeze pities not
Woman, man, or child,
It's power.

Why am I abandoned?
Does God not hear my cries?
Despair knocks me down.
Yet with little breath left
 And determined purpose,
I rise.

The absent sun appears
Warming the desolate earth,
Restoring faith once again!
As Spring begins to emerge
So does a Winter's prisoner,
I celebrate!

I'd like to know what you think, but since poets tend to be somewhat wimpy when it comes to reviews, please be gentle!

Blessings and Peace

Monday, March 5, 2018

PA Gun Laws: Outdated and Highly Ineffective!

Here is a synopsis of PA Gun Laws as reported in yesterday's Trib:
#1  a) No one under 21 can purchase a handgun.
      b) Those 18 or older can purchase long guns.
#2  a) Those under a PFA order MAY have guns and weapons confiscated for the duration of the order.                          
#3  a) Those under a PFA order can relinquish weapons to a dealer, friend or relative while serving the order.                        
#4  a)  Anyone committed involuntarily for mental health issues cannot purchase a weapon.
      b)  Anyone judged incompetent cannot purchase a weapon.
#5  a)  Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of domestic violence from purchasing or owning a gun.                              
#6  a) Licensed gun dealers are required to run background checks on both handgun and long gun purchases                         .
      b) There is no similar requirement for purchasing rifles/shotguns from private parties.

Let's now examine each of these mandates from a common sense perspective.

#1 a) clearly negates #1 b) According to the law, a handgun is a 'no-no' until you are officially an adult, but allows you to purchase a long gun way before your brain is fully developed! Makes no sense in my estimation, but what the hell do I know!

#2 & #3 So those who have been issued a PFA order are still permitted to own a weapon unless the judge deems it necessary to confiscate it. And if they cannot own a weapon under the law during the time the PFA is in effect, by all means hand it over to a friend or relative for 'safe keeping'!  It has been shown again and again that the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence or stalking is when they've filed a PFA against their abuser. Having access to a gun or the ability to easily repossess a weapon from friend or family gives the perpetrator the 'go-ahead' to make good on his promises to seriously injure or kill the one who has had the courage to fight back by filing a PFA. Remember folks, a PFA is merely a piece of paper that most deranged abusers hold little to no regard for, and have no power over them once they've decided to carry out their revenge. 

#4 a&b are simply ludicrous! Okay, so you've been involuntarily committed or judged incompetent and therefore cannot purchase a handgun or long gun. By the time such commitment or incompetency has been executed, these people already have a cache of weapons that they've legally or illegally purchased that even those closest to them are clueless as to their existence. Duh!

#5 Do you really think domestic violence convicts care about the federal law that prohibits them from purchasing or owning guns? They don't give a rat's ass about anything the government has mandated and can buy, steal, and own as many guns as their little hearts' desire. No, their purchases aren't legal, but, my dear people, to them, 'legal' is not in their vocabulary!

#6 a&b Legal gun dealers are required to run a background check on all handgun and long gun purchasers, but that same  requirement doesn't apply to private parties selling rifles or long guns. I, myself, bought a handgun for protection a month ago, and was allowed to walk out of the store, weapon in hand, immediately. I was told I'd receive authorization in about two months after the background check was concluded. I'm still waiting!


Although I don't know the gun laws for all 50 states, I wouldn't be at all surprised that they are very similar. Without any intentional disrespect or heartlessness to the countless survivors and families of the victims of mass shootings over the last 20 years. I still don't believe gun regulations will stop this insanity.  No matter how stringent we make our laws, those who choose to take up arms for the purpose of killing will not change their minds simply because our laws make it harder for them to obtain their weapons of choice. Sure, by making it impossible to purchase semi-automatics, and accessories that bump up their power is both necessary and perhaps somewhat effective. But hey, how about banning the manufacturing of these types of weapons altogether. Would it be impossible to obtain guns if such a prohibition was instituted? The answer unfortunately would be 'no' but it would definitely increase the difficulty over time!

I wish I could offer a foolproof suggestion that would eliminate the madness going on in our country today, but the many problems connected with this dilemma seem insurmountable. Hopefully somebody does have the answers and hopefully they come sooner than later!

Blessings and Peace!