On Friday, June 1st, I will once again be celebrating a very special day. It is not a birthday or anniversary.

It is, however, very important to me.

June 1st is the day recognized nationwide as "Stand For Children Day".

Huh? Never heard of it?

Sadly, too many people have not heard the message or understood the importance.

"Stand For Children" was established in 1996 as a nonpartisan membership to provide a nationwide voice for American children.

So what does this mean and how does it affect you?

It means that Stand for Children stood up for quality, affordable child care and supported a $20 billion increase in guaranteed funds to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to help states meet the needs of working families and improve the quality of child care and after-school programs.

Stand for Children's federal work contributed to the passage of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is federal legislation that provides funds to states to offer free or low-cost health insurance to as many as 5 million uninsured children.

This year's theme is "Building Our Voice and Vision for All Children".

So what can you do?

Check the Stand For Children website for activities that will take place in your city on June 1st. Then go ... join in.

Can't do that? Or nothing is listed to be scheduled in your area?

Take a Cyber Stand. Visit the Stand for Children site and follow the steps to take a stand.

And then, tomorrow, June 1st ... join me and many of my friends online to ask the internet community to "take a stand" by blogging or journaling about Stand For Children.

Thank you!


Congratulations to the University of Arizona Wildcats Ladies Softball team for winning the NCAA Championship in Oklahoma City by beating the UCLA Bruins 1 - 0.   GO CATS!

: : : : : : : : : :

Fascinating: Egypt Beyond The Pyramids. May 28th and 29th at 9:PM ET/PT [link edited 2012]



"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

We are met on a great battle field of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate -- we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

- Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1872 at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Now known as "The Gettysburg Address"


Phone rings: "Hello?"

"Jann, I have a catastrophe."

"Mom, what kind of catastrophe?"

"I lost my purse. I mean, I did not lose it. Well, sort of. It was taken. But ... oh dammit ... it was taken when I left it in the shopping cart in the parking lot at the market. I drove away and realized it was gone when I was halfway home."

"I went back. It's gone."

Long pause.

"Jann, what do I do?"

I got a list of her credit cards, membership cards, insurance cards and so on. Thank goodness she had actually made a written list of all that schtuff last year. I implored her to do it. She fought me. Now she knows why.

I phoned the police and made the report. The officer was very kind and offered me some guidance as to where to start first.

Credit cards got canceled. A locksmith (to change the vehicle locks) was scheduled. A mental inventory of the missing purse's contents was made.

As I was canceling the last credit card (with Mom on conference calling), I hear Mom exclaim, "Oh my! Jann, be right back."

Muffled voices in the background caused me some concern until Mom gets on the phone and in an excited yet exasperated voice she says, "I have it hon! A guy just brought my purse to the door."

I asked Mom who had returned it.

She just totally cracked me up when she answered, "Oh, you know ... one of those gangsta types."

My mother using the term "gangsta"?? Types?

In her sweet motherly way, she described the young man as Hispanic, with those long baggy pants, an undershirt exposing many tattoos and a red bandana around the braids in his hair.

She said the "lowrider" car in her driveway was filled with four other gentlemen, similarly attired.

After I sternly lectured her about opening her door to strangers, I asked what the guy said.

Mom said he was very polite and he said that "he knew if his Mom had lost her purse that she would be upset" and that he wanted to make sure it got back to her safely.

Mom looked inside the wallet and all her cash was there. She took the entire pocket of bills and chased after the young man. She handed the money to him while thanking him profusely.

Everything in the purse was untouched and unharmed.

After a week spent questioning the definition of integrity and the motivation behind some hurtful ugliness, this surreal episode restores my spirit.


When you think of a coyote, do you envision the free roaming mystical animal often in silhouette howling at the moon?

In southern Arizona, "coyote" has a completely different meaning.

The coyotes of Arizona, New Mexico, California and Texas are often from Mexico. These coyotes feed on the weakness of humans and prey on the dreams of the impoverished.

Yesterday, the Arizona Border Patrol discovered 14 Mexicans dead in the vast Arizona desert. They died of heat exposure and dehydration. They died 75 miles from any highway or building or population.

They died following the promise of better wages, better housing ... and the dream found in the promise that America offers them.

They died at the hands of a coyote.

These coyotes broker in human flesh. They barter the promise of roads paved not in gold, but simply paved. They sell the pathway to a better life. They sell a dream.

The Mexicans ... now illegal aliens ... often work in Mexico as children and teens earning pennies a day. They are working to join their families here in the USA. They are working to escape poverty.

They pay a minimum of $1000.00 each to be led out of Mexico on foot and carrying a single gallon of water into one of the nation's most deadly deserts inhabited only by rattlesnakes, scorpions, gila monsters and the relentless Arizona sun.

They start on their journey protected by the darkness of night.

However, the sun rises and the temperature rapidly increases. It is estimated that the temp in that area of desert just north of the Arizona-Mexico border (an area about the size of the state of Delaware) could have reached 115° by 10:am yesterday.

26 young Mexican men followed a coyote into the desert and 14 paid not only the fee for freedom from poverty ... they paid with their lives. The remaining men were rescued by Border Patrol and are recuperating in the hospital. One man is still missing.

This is not an isolated incident. Hundreds of Mexicans die this painful and frightening death each year along the southern USA border.

But where is the coyote?

Like that mystical creature silhouetted howling at the moon, he has vanished into the night.

He will be back.

As long as there is the dream, the coyotes will flourish.



• If you are an Oprah fan ... or a fan of DNA ... be sure to tune into Oprah tomorrow (Thursday). She is doing a show about how the "evidence" of DNA can affect everyday life.

I'll be watching. Forensics, anyone?

• Meanwhile, back here in Hell ... um, er ... Phoenix. Today is forecasted at 107°. The small temperature gadget in the lower right of the teevee screen reads: 113°  5:06pm.

Tomorrow's forecast = 110°.

However, we are expecting a cooling trend for the holiday weekend ... 102°.

• <best Andy Rooney voice>

What is it with bananas? I buy them really green so they do not go soft and ishy too soon.

Are there banana ripening gremlins that only come out at night?

Literally overnite, 4 really green bananas went to goosh. Too hot to bake banana bread.

</best Andy Rooney voice>

• Wear lipstick? If you have not discovered LipFinity by Max Factor, check it out.

It is a two part thing with one tube of color and one stick of gloss.

They call it "semi permanent" color and hot damn, is it ever!

You put the color on clean, dry lips ... let it dry and then smooth on the glossy stuff. Once the color is set, it will last through lunch, wiping lips, drinking canned soda, wiping more lips, etc. No rim residual. No smears. Extremely kissable.

You remove it with an oily makeup remover or baby oil.

Here in Phoenix, I bought it at a large drugstore chain for just over $13.00.

One note: it has an odd, grainy feel on your lips if you do not keep the gloss on them.

• Have more Beanie Babies™ than you know what to do with? Tired of 'em?

Check with your local hospital. Most preemie baby units use them in incubators with the wee ones to establish sensory perceptions of touch.

• About 15 years ago, I logged nearly 150,000 airline miles a year. Ah, the joys of being a frequent flyer. I was going to write about this, but I forgot.   ;-)


Sometime in the wee dawning of this weekend, after spending far too many hours online constantly hitting *refresh* at MeFi, I headed off to bed.

Much too wound up to sleep, I turned on teevee and channel surfed until I found a suitable mindless program to lull me to slumber.

I ended up at Comedy Central and laughed out loud at a truly funny comedienne named Elvira Kurt.

Elvira does a whole shtick about being a lesbian and first generation North American. Her impersonations of her mother were hysterical. She has great comedic timing and a quirky demeanor. She is funny indeed.

However, I took something she said very seriously.

Elvira is Canadian and made a statement about Americans not knowing too much about Canada. As I drifted off to sleep, I made a mental note of her words.

Upon waking, oddly the same thought was in my head: why wasn't I taught more about the geography and political aspects of Canada? Hmmm.

As a young person, I learned all about Mexico (Arizona borders Mexico) and general worldwide geography but what the heck happened to the education about our neighbor to the north?!

So, thanks to the global nature of the internet, I phoned a friend in Toronto for a telephonic primer on the "who-what-where" of Canada.

Perhaps I live a banal existence, but I found the facts and data fascinating.

I also discovered that this gentleman ... my Canadian tutor ... was given courses at both elementary and high school levels in American Studies!

He said they learned all about the U.S.A., its government, its states and capitals ... even about the GNP, foreign trade, et al.


In America, where education is almost considered an inalienable right ... how in the heck did I miss the section on Canada?

Thanks Elvira ... for the laughs ... and the motivation.


On Friday night I watched Monaco DanceSport. My goodness. Amazing. Ballroom and Latin competition.

I was mesmerized watching their perfectly timed steps, spins, cha chas and whatever.

The sequins, feathers and skin tight clothing. Stage makeup and slicked back hair ...

... and that was just the men! *wink*

I was thinking about the last time I danced. Wait, let me clarify ...

I NEVER danced like that.

In fact, I grew up in the era where you danced with a partner but in essence, you could have been out on the floor alone.

High school dances and later, clubs and discos ... *do the hustle* ... all out there shakin' your groove thing solo.

Sure, there was that slow song that necessitated sweaty bodies hanging onto each other in bear hugs but actual dance steps?

No way.

I truly admire couples who can dance together:

Whether it is at a wedding reception watching the first dance together... the happy couple executing a soft waltz ... or at a cowboy bar watching folks two-step and doe-cee-doe around the floor.

The couples on Monaco DanceSport looked like they were having a wonderful time. Sure, they were competing, but in interviews after the competition they all used "fun" in the description of the event.

Actually it seems that most couples who hold onto each other moving and stepping to various melodies look like they're having fun.

And so ...

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith the fighting chance
And if you get the chance to sit it out or dance
Dance ... I hope you dance, I hope you dance

- excerpt © Mark D. Sanders & Tia Sellers "I Hope You Dance"


I finally slept. I tend to go many nights picking up an hour here, a few minutes there.

I finally ate. I tend to forget to eat.

Old habits are hard to break. These are habits I learned years ago at University.

But, in my sleepless haze ... I finally finished some projects that have been languishing online.

I finally have redesigned and updated the content of R.I.G.H.T.S., which is my online contribution towards copyright education for the internet.

Then, in an effort to make a more harmonious segue from SweetAspirations.com to my ancient and rather lame attempt at linkware, Structures By Design, I took some time and redid the look of Structures for continuity in the entire domain.

Yep, I finally slept. And in my dreams ... I was writing HTML. ;-(


Today has been an odd day for me. Many mixed emotions. One moment I am on an emotional high, the next I am scraping my spirit from the floor.

An odd mixture of melodies has been wreaking havoc on my mental jukebox ...

... I hear Al Stewart singing to me about "Time Passages" ... There's something back here that you left behind. Oh time passages. Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight" ...

... and in a nano second, the cerebral disc changes and I am hearing, "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground" by Willie Nelson: "So leave me if you need to, I will still remember Angel flying too close to the ground."

I feel like a living incongruity. Protoplasm in paradox.

I am too warm but find myself shivering.

I am sleepy and bear the nausea that fatigue perpetuates; my mind will not come to rest.

I am apprehensive and my breath is jagged. Yet I feel a sense of peace surrounding me.

In my old age, I have grown very independent: my usual response to moments of difficulty are, "I'm okay" or "It's nothing, I can handle it".

And I do. Handle it.

However today ... this evening, I wish that I could be very young again. I wish that I had warm, caring arms to crawl into. I seek the warmth of another human being just to remind me that I am alive.


Late yesterday I received the phone call that I knew was coming but still ... I just was not prepared for it.

Marge passed away.

Thankfully, she was not alone. She was in the hospital. Marge was unconscious but her sons were there.

But she knew. She knew they were there.

This tiny woman who proudly spoke of her children's successes, who adored all living creatures, who hung Christmas lights too early in the season and left them up past Valentine's Day ... she knew.

She drew from an endless fountain of energy fueled by her deep love for God. She knew her spirit. She knew her place in Life.

Marge had a broad smile, a quick laugh, a feisty temper and a bright mind. She apparently also had a streak of genteel pride: claiming to be in her 80s, this demure lady had actually blessed this Earth for 92 years.

Yes, she knew.

And I know ...

... I know that this gentle soul will soon be growing roses and lemons in Heaven.

I know that the many stray cats Marge took in and have long passed into Kittie Heaven are now purring a welcoming chorus for their sweet friend.

I know that my Dad and Marge are smiling now ... neighbors once again, now Block Watching over their celestial neighborhood.

I know something else:

Marge, you will be missed.


Sometimes it is difficult for me to be here with you.

Life throws me a curve ball, I swing ... and miss.

I find myself, head hanging in fatigue and exhaustion, back in life's dugout wondering why I even play the game.

Inevitably, it is my turn to either come up to bat again ... or take the field.

Understanding that in order to stay in the game of life, I must play it. I must be a participant.

For me, it is no longer about the competition, it is simply having the energy to step up to the plate.

It is simply having the courage to take the field ready to catch whatever ball is hit my way:

High pop fly, fast hopping grounder, long flying slam into centerfield. They are all necessary. They are all a challenge.

So, as I tip my cap in homage to the angels that protect me, I step onto the field.

Batter up.


Just a follow-up ...

I have received quite a few emails and the subject has been noted in a few online journals/blogs ... [thank you all!]

....... about Marge.

You see, for the sake of the story (see 05/02 below), I did not tell you exactly what transpired at Marge's house during my midnight visit.

Upon getting to her front door, I found the security screen ajar.

Fearing that I might "frighten" Marge, I did not open it and knock on her large wooden door but instead knocked on the door frame, rang her bell, tapped on her front window ... all the while, I was calling her name to assuaged any bewilderment my late nite ministrations might arouse.

To be honest, I made enough noise outside of her house to raise the dead.

After five minutes with no response, I began to get worried.

You must understand, Marge is in her late 80s, does not drive, lives alone ... and while she is very active, she is advancing in her years.

Marge is not always the most discerning about who she opens her door to. Being a sweet soul, she would open her door to friend ... or foe.

I finally went back to the security screen door, pulled it slightly open and in the beam of my flashlight, was shocked to see Marge's house key in the door.

I knew that if she was actually in the house, she had not safely locked the world out.

Seeing the key there troubled me.

It was at this moment that I decided perhaps the police should come to investigate (as a "check welfare" call) in the event that there had been any mischief, foul play, etc.

As I was walking away from Marge's front porch heading for my cell phone, Marge pulled up the blind in her huge picture window and said, "Yes?"

Marge was standing there ... naked as the day she was born.

The conversation that ensued was baffling and bizarre.

This is a woman who held me four days after I was born. She attended my elementary school and high school graduations. She held my college diplomas in her hands and wept in pride. Marge consoled me when my Dad passed away.

This is a woman who knows me like a granddaughter.

Sadly, this is also the woman who, standing naked in her front window, had no clue who I was.

Today, three days later ... Marge is with a family friend while waiting for the arrival of her sons from out of state.

Sons that have not visited her in years. Sons who would not have been there to check on their mother at midnight. Sons who, without the intervention of "strangers", would never know what was happening in the darkness.

Marge will not eat. She will not bathe. She is babbling incoherently ... she is speaking in riddles only the senile can understand.

I may have scared the bejeezus out of her that night, but no one will ever know how truly scared I was ...

... not of finding Marge dead. Death is natural and a part of living.

I was afraid that I would find Marge gone.

That night, in the darkness of fear and uncertainty ... Marge left.


Last night, after the day was almost over, just before midnight ...

... I was sitting at my desk writing out checks to pay the household bills. The phone rang.

"Jann, did I wake you hon?"

"No Mom, what's wrong?" She does not call me after 10:00PM unless there is an emergency.

"Honey, I am worried about Marge next door. None of her outside lights are on. Jann, she is scared of the dark and always has her outside lights on. What do I do?"

I smile at the concern in Mom's voice. That's my Mom ... always watching out for everyone.

"Get your flashlight and go knock on her door."

This is where that long, oh-so-pregnant pause came in. Silence.


"Um ... Jann, I am afraid to go over there."

"Why Mom?"

"I dunno. What if she's........"

"Okay Mom, let me get dressed and I will be right over."

"Thanks honey."

After a fifteen minute midnight drive to Mom's, I pull into the driveway and there is my dear Mother in her dressing gown, looking fearful and fretting.

"Oh Jann, what are you going to do?"

"I am going to go knock on her door, Mom."

"But Jann ..."

I smile at her, turn on my flashlight and head over to Marge's house.

After much loud knocking, banging on the windows, and yelling out her name, a very disheveled looking Marge peers out her large window at me.


"Marge, it's me ... Jann, from next door. Are you alright?"

A few more minutes of through-the-window conversation and it was determined that all was well at Marge's house.

Back at Mom's I ask, "Why wouldn't you go over there? What were you afraid of?"

"Well honey, what if I found her ... um, well ... dead? Or something?"

I look at her blankly.

"Mom, if she had been dead, what could I have done about it?"

Very matter-of-factly she said, "Well, you see dead people."

I had to laugh.

Shaking my head while grinning, I gave her a long hug, got into my car and headed home.

..:: Click Here for Links & Archives ::..