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The following article was an OP-ED piece in the New York Times Monday, July 3rd.  It was written by Charles M. Blow who clearly is not faint of heart or one to mince words.

EVERY NOW AND THEN we are going to have to do this:  Step back from the daily onslaughts of insanity emanating from Donald Trump’s parasitic presidency and remind ourselves of the obscenity of it all, registering its magnitude in its full, devastating truth.

There is something insidious and corrosive about trying to evaluate the severity of every offense, trying to give each an individual grade on the scale of absurdity.  Trump himself is the offense.  Everything that springs from him, every person who supports him, every legislator who shields him is an offense.  Every partisan who uses him – against all he or she has ever claimed to champion – to advance a political agenda and, in doing so, places party over country, is an offense.

We must remind ourselves that Trump’s very presence in the White House defiles it and the very institution of the presidency.  Rather than rising to the honor of the office, Trump has lowered the office with his whiny, fragile, vindictive pettiness.

The presidency has been hijacked.                                                                                                        

Last week when Donald Trump attacked two MSNBC hosts, people were aghast.  The condemnation came quickly and from all quarters.

But his words shouldn’t have shocked.  His tweet was just another pebble the mountain of vulgarities.  This act of coarseness was in fact an act of continuity.  Trump was being Trump:  the grossest of the gross, a profanity against propriety.

This latest episode is simply part of a body of work demonstrating the man’s utter contempt for decency.  We all know what it will add up to: nothing.

Republicans have bound themselves up with Trump.  His fate is their fate.  They have surrendered any moral authority to which they once laid claim – rightly or not.  If Trump goes down they all do.

It’s all quite odd, this moral impotence, this cowering before the belligerent, would-be king.  A madman and his legislative minions are holding America hostage.

There are  no new words to express it; there is no new and novel way to catalog it.  It is what it is and has been from day one:  The most extraordinary and profound electoral mistake America has made in our lifetimes and possibly ever.  

We must say without ceasing and without growing weary by the redundancy, that what we are witnessing is not normal and cannot go unchallenged.  We must reaffirm our commitment to resistance.  We must always remember that although individual Americans made the choice to vote affirmatively for him or actively withhold their support from his opponent, those decisions were influenced in ways we cannot calculate by Russian interference in our election, designed to privilege Trump.

We must remember that we now have a president exerting  power to which he may only have access due to a foreign power, he has proven mysteriously avert to condemning them or even acknowledge their meddling.

We must remember that there are multiple investigations ongoing about the degree of that interference in our election – including a criminal investigation – and that those investigations are not constrained to collusion and are far from fake news.  These investigations are deadly serious, are about protecting the integrity of our elections and the sovereignty of our country and are about a genuine quest for truth and desire for justice.

Every action by this administration is an effort to push forward the appearance of normality, to squelch scrutiny, to diminish the authority and credibility of the ongoing investigations.

Last week, after a growing number of states refused to hand over sensitive voter information to Trump’s ironic and quixotic election integrity commission, White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders blasted the pushback as a “political stunt”.

But in fact, the commission itself is the political stunt.  The committee is searching for an illegal voting problem that doesn’t exist.  Trump simply lied when he said he would have won the popular vote were it not for millions of illegal votes.   And then he established this bogus commission  – using taxpayer money – to search for a truth that doesn’t exist, to try to prove right a lie he should have never told.

This commission is classic Trump projection:  There is a real problem with the integrity of our last election  because the Russians helped power his win, but rather than deal with that very real attack on this country, he is tilting at windmills concerning in-person voter fraud.

Last week CNN reported: “The Trump administration has taken no public steps to punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.  Multiple senior officials said there are few signs the president is devoting  time or attention to the ongoing election-related cyber threat from Russia.

Donald Trump is depending on people’s fatigue.  He is banking on your becoming overwhelmed by his never-ending antics.  He is counting on his capacity to wear down the resistance by sheer force.

We must be adamant that that will never come to pass.  Trump is an abomination, and a cancer on the country, and none of us can rest until he is no longer holding the reins of power.                                                   

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Available through Amazon

Available through Amazon

Where are the lines drawn between the disease-stricken hoarders, the messy clutterers and the over-enthusiastic collectors? Dr. Barry Lubetkin, Phd, ABBP offers us insight on the distinction between a diagnosed disorder and a hobby or personality characteristic.

Hoarders and Clutterers and Collectors Oh My!!!

The Psychiatric problem of hoarding had been under diagnosed for many years .But recently with increased media attention(see several New York Times articles in the past four months),the

wildly popular reality TV show “Hoarders” and recent major advances in the diagnosis and treatment of this mental affliction, many more people are getting professional help.
It is important to point out that while many of us may have lived with and accepted clutter in our homes for our entire lives, being diagnosed as a hoarder requires that the clutter must seriously interfere with the quality of our lives and risk our safety. Navigating through dangerous paths in our home with furniture and garbage piled on either side, shame of exposure leading to living lonely isolated lives, or irrational superstitious beliefs that cleaning up or throwing out certain articles will lead to terrible consequences………these all will confirm the diagnosis.

The etiology of hoarding is multi determined…….a previous diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder, prolonged depression, unkempt,and chaotic childhood homes, have all been implicated. Even the well intentioned collector who has enjoyed his passion for saving and displaying his collections is sometimes at risk if other psychiatric disorders emerge and create a vulnerability to depression and indifference to caring for themselves or their living conditions.

Treatment involves a variety of interventions :Anti depressant medication,engaging family support during the clearing process, Cognitive Behavior Therapy to reduce anxiety and panic and designed to educate the hoarder on the irrational and superstitious thinking elements of the disorder,and guided practice in controlling their environment post treatment.

With less serious clutter collectors who feel their mess has gotten difficult for them to control, I suggest starting with small portions of the affected areas (one corner of the bedroom,piles of books and papers on the floor,etc), and slowly progress over time to prioritize what to throw out. Dividing your “stuff” into A ,B and C groups………must keep, maybe keep, must dispose, is often very helpful. Feel free to contact me at ibt104@aol.com for further advice.

 Barry Lubetkin, Phd, ABBP is co-director of the Institute for Behavior Therapy in Manhattan.  Dr. Lubetkin has written two widely acclaimed books. Bailing Out (Simon and Schuster and Prentice Hall Press) and Why Do I Need You To Love Me In Order To Like Myself (Longmeadow and Borders Press). In addition, his 3-disc audio series on treating insomnia Dr. Barry’s Sound Asleep has recently been published. 

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Many, many years ago I was invited to a neighbor’s house to celebrate Boxing Day.  I thought this was a bit odd since I wasn’t a servant and I didn’t have any servants.  I was soon introduced to an Americanized version of Boxing Day.  The premise here was to bring a gift all wrapped up that was actually something you had previously received as a gift and either a) you didn’t want it because b) it was ugly or useless.  Oh there were really some strange and odious gifts exchanged that day.  The gift-giving was done in the manner of a Yankee Swap;  You picked a gift and you kept it or traded it.  Well, anyway that’s how that Boxing day went down.

This is how we began Boxing Day this year!  We were all tired from the late night of Christmas Eve and the long day of Christmas night so everyone slept just a little bit later on Thursday morning.  But right after breakfast without any formal plan set, it just began to unfold….The day after Christmas could only mean one thing!  We MUST CLEAN!  Perhaps it is some genetic pre-disposition or familial personality disorder, whatever it is, this is what happened.

Joel got the vacuum cleaner out and he began vacuuming  the rugs, I took out the swifter and did the kitchen floor and the hallways and the foyer.  I used about 6 swifter pads;  There has been a horde of people going inside and out, through the garage, in from the pool and all about.  The house was recently renovated and all the floors  are now a white-washed wood and the swifter did its thing over and over again.  I left piles for Joel to swoop up with the vacuum.   Meanwhile, Chiara packed up gifts and swept up pine needles.  I tackled the stairs next and was quite pleased to see the white of the treads re-appear.  Elsewhere, dishes were washed, clothes washed and folded and the dishwasher emptied.  It was a glorious morning, the house had been reclaimed and restored to its pristine beauty and we had taken on Boxing Day and given it an Italian twist.

There would be a Yankee Swap later that night after dinner.  But first we had to do some preparing for tonight’s party. Oh yes, there WOULD be a party tonight, albeit not quite so large as yesterday but this one would be here!  Only 15 adults and 6 kids.  Chiara decided to make several baking dishes of Eggplant Parmesan, we would serve the pork loin left over from Christmas Eve and make a big salad and a bowl of quinoa.

Susan and JR were coming for dinner with their 3 boys, the youngest is Hunter who is a classmate of Finley’s.  Susan brought a huge spiral cut ham and it’s a darn good thing she did since the pork loin did not cook through and we couldn’t serve it pink and cool.  This party spread itself out through the house!  We had kids (big and little) watching Elf and a couple other Christmas movies, adults out on the veranda, a couple of us in the dining room dishing on everything and everybody, Finley and a couple of the boys had a bow and arrows and were shooting at the front door and lots of wine drunk in all the rooms.

JR took the boys home, eventually both the girls went to bed and the die-hard game players gathered round in the living room to play some games.  Joel had gone out with Chiara in the afternoon to buy some new games.  Tonight we were going to play Quelf and Loaded Questions.  We are hardcore, laughing, yelling, arguing and all the time playing to win!  The wine kept flowing, there was some other mind-altering substances and as they say, “Let the games begin”!  Quelf was hysterical as we watched Joel stand and try not to bend his arms and legs, Dennis had to sit on his hands, Justin did the color for a basketball game in the voice of a parrot as well as mind-bending tasks, some which were subject to group analysis.  Overall one might observe it as familial blood-letting!

Loaded Questions is an adventure in delving into your fellow players psyche.  Since I’ve already portrayed our family as the crazy bunch they truly are, you can only imagine how this game was played!  I’d love to tell you about it but like the New York Times only all the news that’s fit to print.  And on that note I think it’s time to close the chapter on Boxing Day with the Bertis/Clarks/Presses and Pucci’s came to an end.

Except for the Yankee Swap which was wildly funny as the swapping, trading, stealing took place.  Those that participated seemed to have a grand time and I think perhaps the $50 bill was the prize of the evening!

English: Gift ideas for men - wrapping paper e...

English: Gift ideas for men – wrapping paper example. Please source http://www.giftideasformen.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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It’s hard to imagine being a real Foodie,  lover of food and not owning several cookbooks.  That’s not to say that you need to actually make any of the recipes although that would be the expected thing to do, you can just leaf through the pages.  Sometimes I do that, it’s like window-shopping.  I think of it as grazing without actually eating, a behavior known to perpetual dieters who can visually satisfy themselves (I’m not really one of those).

Besides The Joy of Cooking (I’m not a fan), there literally thousands of cookbooks available in every Barnes & Noble and through Amazon.  That’s not to mention the great recipe sites such Allrecipes.com, MarthaStewart.com, the cooking magazines and the hundreds of niche blogs dedicated to cooking and eating.  I could easily recommend  a cookbook a day for the next 18 days but I’m not going to do that.

Today my Foodie gift of the day is a cookbook written by Mark Bittman of the New York Times.  It can be purchased at Amazon.com for $25.75.  The cookbook is 

How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition) Hardcover

by Mark Bittman (Author)
How To Cook Everything

How To Cook Everything

Don’t be put off by the fact that the author is a New York Times staff writer.  Believe me, I’ve made several of his recipes that were featured in the Dining Section of the newspaper and we’re not talking gourmet ingredients and techniques.

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It could be the slight nip in the air or just that time of the year, whatever it is, soup is on my mind and a few others as well.  I’m planning on making a chicken noodle soup tomorrow night with dumplings.  It will be the perfect Sunday night supper. Today I read on Facebook that a friend of mine made a delicious onion soup yesterday and the recipe came from the New York Times.  It reminded me that I need to check the Times’ Wednesday edition, which has the Dining Section.  I have gotten some really great recipes from there, especially around the holidays.  Anyway, Linda made the soup and gave it rave reviews-that’s good enough for me!

Here’s the recipe from the Florence Fabricant column in the New York Times.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 large red onions, about 3 pounds, peeled, quartered and sliced thin
  • 3 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • Salt
  • 2 tart apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 cups dry hard cider
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 1/2 ounces Cheddar, slivered
  • 6 or 8 thick slices country bread about 4 inches in diameter, toasted

PREPARATION

1.
Melt butter in a 5- to 6-quart saucepan on very low heat. Add onions and garlic, dust with salt, stir in apples, cover and cook until onions are very soft, about 30 minutes. Stir in sugar, increase heat to high and cook, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes, until onions start to brown. Stir in cider vinegar, scraping bottom of pan.
2.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in cider, soy sauce and stock, bring to a simmer, cover and cook gently about 20 minutes. Season with pepper and, if needed, more salt. Meanwhile, pile the cheese on the toast slices, covering the bread completely.
3.
Heat broiler. Divide soup among 6 to 8 ovenproof ramekins, deep bowls or big mugs with about 12-ounce capacity. Place a slice of toast and cheese on each, place ramekins on a baking sheet and broil just until cheese melts and starts to bubble. Serve at once.
YIELD
6 to 8 servings
Onion Soup with Gratinee  with Cider

Onion Soup with Gratinee with Cider

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Liriope spicata (creeping lilyturf) A young va...

Liriope spicata (creeping lilyturf) A young variegated Liriope. Taken by Elf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why don’t we hear it?  We should know by now that when you hear the bands playing on the Fourth of July and the fireworks light up the night sky, that we are now on the downward slide towards Fall.  Fourth of July is like Wednesday is Hump Day.  Don’t you love the new Geico commercial?  It’s ok but I do love the Gecko best of all.

It’s one of the last Saturdays in August and a cool breeze is wafting through the front door and out the back door. Sometimes it’s good to have a small cottage.  It’s late morning and I can see by the slant of the sun shining in the window that this is NOT mid-summer anymore.  This is NOT the sticky hot humid heat we had in July.  This feels more like a September morning.  I remember this angle of sun so well – it reminds of playing tennis with friends after the kids had gone back to school.  The sun was warm in our arms but the breeze was there and you never sweated playing then.

When I went outside to retrieve the New York Times I noticed that the Liriope was blooming.  Slender stalks had shot up and were topped with tight little clusters of purple flora.  I felt a pang.  When spring arrives, that glorious time of year when we are rewarded for having endured yet another gray winter, we are treated to purple crocuses, purple grape hyacinths.  The sight of those little purple flowers can make your whole day, maybe even your whole week.  Why? Well we know then that spring has sprung and summer is on its way!  But when you see the purple lirope you know that summer is over; They are the last to bloom in my front yard.  

The forsythia came and went as did the daffodils, day lilies and astilbe and azalea plants.  I had a couple of beautiful peonies, my roses are still blooming and the hydrangeas were simple gorgeous this year.  The butterfly bush is bigger than ever and I thought for sure I had killed it when I hacked it down last fall.  The geraniums I bought on Memorial Day barely bloomed all summer but this week they are in full bloom.  This has been a very colorful spring and summer and I imagine autumn will soon bring its own palette.  When the gray days of January and February are upon us, I hope to remember the vivid colors of this summer; Not just my flowers, we’ve had blazing sunsets, a shore filled with a color wheel of beach umbrellas and this summer, toe nails in shades of blue, green, yellow and hot pink!

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Just like the TV station, USA, New York City could have the same slogan, “Characters Welcome”.  If ever there was one place in the world where anything and anyone and everyone and everything goes – this is it.  Everybody does their own thing here, whether they be human, animal or even plant.  The fact that all of this diversity and individuality and sometimes quirkiness is contained in the 22.7 square miles that Manhattan is made of, only serves to intensify the total impact.  Here are a just a few of the characters spotted in The City yesterday!

Siesta in the Park

Siesta in the Park

New Construction Underway

New Construction Underway

Fashion Forward

Fashion Forward

"What's that you say"?

“What’s that you say”?

One Must Always Dress For Croquet

One Must Always Dress For Croquet

A Regiment Of Turtles

A Regiment Of Turtles

Decked Out In Spring Colors

Decked Out In Spring Colors

"Up To My Knees In ...."

“Up To My Knees In ….”

"Goin' My Way"?

“Goin’ My Way”?

"w..ooops"

“w..ooops”

All photos courtesy of Murray Head

 

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