Life never ceases to throw you a curveball now and then. My curveball, which almost struck me out was getting Covid-19 a month ago. Not only did I get it but so did my Fiancée. She started with symptoms first, and I began a few hours later. Before we knew what was happening to us what began as a cough, in a day turned into bronchitis and then a few days later finally double pneumonia.
Now I am healthy, and I would say 99.5% recovered. The lingering effects of the virus, fatigue and a general malaise seem to hit us on and off on occasion, but I would say we are not going to be one of the minority that are in it for the “the long haul”. I expect we will be completely healed in another week.
This experience came a month and a half before our wedding date. Since we have been together, we have had so many good times it is hard to count. We just live in a state of constant happiness. Thinking about the timing, I know we are happy it happened when it did.
Before the virus hit, I lived at my mother’s house. Then because of the virus and my mother’s poor health I began to stay with my fiancée to avoid exposing her when unnecessary. As of March 2020, I have been working out of the apartment and at the that time she was too. We lived and worked together non-stop for six months. I know that for many relationships this was difficult but for us, it was like a fast-forward of what our life was going to be together. It was, living 10 joyful years in one year’s time.
We have had some struggles. Not with our relationship, but with those issues that life typically throws at you. Managing legal and financial issues, dealing with family and health issues of other family members. And of course, handling our own work schedules and making time for each other which is typically a difficult part in the active lifestyle of 50+ year old adults.
Then came Covid-19 which took us down to the mat. We were down for the count. Somehow, we each picked ourselves up when it was our turn to push ourselves to keep things moving and not give up. She was always there for me and caring for me though she was sick. When she needed something, I would get up to do what was needed. She took me to the hospital to get antibodies and then a day later I had to take her to the hospital because of her low oxygen count, and she spent two days there.
During our illness, friends sent us food and drink which was a real blessing that we will never forget. But in my amazement, we also did our chores. We did the laundry and kept the place clean. We wanted to defeat the virus and part of doing so is maintaining cleanliness. Hence, we did what had to be done, even though we probably could have just laid in bed moaning for days.
It was then that I realized that we were living love in action. Because love is something you do, not something that happens. We made every effort to take care of each other while doing work that was difficult for us in our condition. Not a sour note was sounded the entire time we were suffering.
I look back, and I thank God that I was with Aymee. I don’t know that I would have survived this with anyone else. Likewise, I truly believe that real love can conquer all things. One of the things I noticed is we never despaired and that I believe was because we have an abounding love for each other and faith in God that could not be disturbed.
The primary thread of thought here is that suffering is what often reveals love. To avoid suffering is not a solution for any case. Life is full of times of suffering, and we need to accept it and deal with it head on. If you do not, you will likely miss revealing and enlightening moments in your life that bring great joy on reflection.
After my last melodramatic post, I feel relieved to be moving forward. One of the things that helps you to succeed in anything you do is having the right tools.
It’s apropos that I am writing this during the Christmas season. This is because of a memory of my first one as a married man.
Before I was married I did works with tools. I recall taking out the radiator out of my car and replacing it. Before that taking apart and assembling my bicycle on a regular basis. I also worked with wiring for my stereo and electrical connections. Outside these cases I was not involved in any major projects. That is unless you call a bongo board made in shop class in 8th grade a major project. In other words, I really did not have any tools of my own.
Interesting thought, I think back to all the gifts we received when we were married. I don’t recall getting a hammer, a screwdriver set or any tools for that matter. I just remember many kitchen goods and an overabundance of fancy glassware. I mean, was I real supposed to swoon over that I received expensive glass gifts of the brand Baccarat? If you ask me, a tool box loaded with all the essentials would have made a better gift.
This leads me to today’s story. We went out to get a Christmas tree for our apartment. I don’t recall if we had already bought the base or if we purchased it when we got the tree. Either way, we got the tree home somehow. Probably, used the Toyota Starlet since it was a hatchback. Upon getting home I learned that I had to give the tree a fresh cut or it would die quickly. I had never had a real tree before because I was allergic to them. I had no idea, now I was going to learn the hard way.
This is 1987, so the stores are not open after 6 PM for the most part. Tools are what I would need and I could not get a saw at 7-Eleven. I had to do the job with what I had. Guess what? It was not fun and it took me over an hour to do it with just a screwdriver and a steak knife. It apparently was later than 9 PM or surely, I would have gone to my brother’s house and borrowed tools. I was extremely unhappy with the situation but one thing I am not, is a quitter. I got it done and decided that would never happen to me again.
You are probably wondering by now why am I sharing this story? The reason is since I have invited you along on my journey to get healthy I have to point out that having the right tools is the right foot forward.
In October, I weighed 201.50 pounds. I know, a shocking admission. I was fed up and acted. I bought a stowaway treadmill for the apartment and a Bluetooth scale. I started tracking my exercise and food intake again. I joined Noom two weeks ago and got a new Fitbit Versa 2. These are not necessary, but the better the tools you have the easier it is to persist in the job at hand.
This morning I am proud to say, I weighed in at 192 pounds. My short-term goal is 185 pounds. I am a little over half way there. It is not going to be easy with Christmas, Vacation and New Year’s Eve in front of me, but I am determined and with my toolbox, I am certain that I will keep the weight off and hopefully lose some more.
I am a happy man today. I may not be at either my short or long-term goal yet. But I am getting there.
You would think that a person that wrote a book about dieting would be slim for life. Well, not me. I fell off the wagon. It didn’t happen overnight. It was a matter of years. Little by little, the struggles of a divorce and difficulties at work just piled the stress on me.
I would meet people in business and socially. They would never know how tired and hurt I was. I am a positive person but sometimes it is difficult to put a smile on your face when deep down there is serious pain. Yet, I still did it. I smiled and laughed when deep down inside me, I knew things were not right. Not at home and not in my interior life. I was a boat without a rudder.
This stress and anxiety over the years expressed itself through the seeking of pleasure in food and drink. Yes, this would give me some pleasure but in the end I pay dearly for those years of neglect and abuse of my own body.
Here I am bloated, obese and in poor health. But do not fret! I am rising from the ashes. I have joined Noom to force me to be honest with myself. I am on the right track and with Aymee’s support lost 3 pounds in two days. Ok, its not significant yet, but persistence is the key.
Stay tuned my friends and pray for me while I battle my own weaknesses with the help of God and your prayers.
By the way, bigger clothes make you look thinner than you are…..
I’ll update you soon.
I love you all! 🙂
PS: When I say I am unhappy, I am directly talking about my weight. Actually 2020 has been a good year otherwise.
It has been quite a long time since I have blogged. It seems I did not believe I had anything worth saying. But for the first time in a long time I do have something that needs being said.
Recently, the CEO of Goya foods was attacked by the intolerant socialist for praising the President of the United States of America for creating an environment where his company was able to flourish. This is a company created by immigrants serving the immigrant Latin American community and employing them. This company gave my father, a back then recent escapee of the intolerant communist dictatorship of Cuba and destroyers of free speech, his first decent job in the USA. It was that job that enabled him to get into the food industry and have success with Progresso foods. It was that ability given to him by the hand of the company of Goya Foods that enabled him to later on also become successful and found the money transmittal company RIA ENVIA which after being sold, many years later has become RIA Financial Services.
Black beans are a staple foods of many Latin Americans. They are the food shared by the Cubans when they fought for their independence. They are the food that united Blacks, Whites and Mulatos as they fought side by side to their death against the Spaniards in their war for independence. They are the food that sustained them through hardships and freedoms hard fought for and eventually won. They are the heart of the real and recognized ending of slavery and creation of an unprejudiced independent people that are called Cuban.
Even now across the gap from the USA to the island nation of Cuba there is a love that never ends. The Cubans that make it to this free country work hard and send money back to the Island nation to support family and friends. Meanwhile, the cruel criminal dictatorship, which robs the people of their freedoms and ability to earn a good living still exists. The system has been able to continue to keep the people under their oppressive feet by the help of external funding, though now some of that is beginning to falter.
The Cubans here, both born here and recently arriving still dream for the days we can be reunited with our fellow islanders in a free Cuba. Where we can go and enjoy a real Cuba Libre with breaded steak, black beans and rice. It is a dream I always had hoped I would be able to share with my father but sadly he passed before it could come true.
Now, in this great free country of the United States of America there are those that want to continue to try the failed experiment know as socialism, or rightly known as communism. Well, I for one will not stand for it. I will fight if needed to protect this great nation from the evil that has persecuted generations of Cubans with poverty, imprisonment and death for speaking their minds.
I have great respect for Robert Unanue for standing his ground. I have great respect for the company which brings pride to many Latin Americans such as myself. And I say again that Black Beans Matter because they are a real symbol of our unity as a people representing freedom and love.
I was walking on a trail in the Watchung Reservation with my three dogs. It was a hot day and this is the best time to go into the woods were the temperature is typically 10 to 20 degrees cooler. There were very few people in the woods, most likely because a Saturday in August draws people to beaches and pools. It was a pleasure and though we did see others in the woods it was very quiet and I felt very isolated.
I sat for a few moments to give the dogs a rest and to watch and listen to nature unveil itself around me. I sat on a log and I was able to spot some deer about a tenth of a mile away. I also spotted a woodpecker. Later while walking I would see some other birds but most are skittish and once they hear me they move so fast I can’t identify them.
Still as we walked through the woods I couldn’t help but wonder how many persons walked through here. I thought back to the times of George Washington and his men and how they probably passed through here on the way to the battle of Union. I thought about the local Indians and how this was their stomping grounds.Then I looked at all the tress that lovers and travelers carved their initials on.
So many people have passed through here. Some may have thought themselves important. But nature always brings you back to reality as the awesomeness raises my own awareness of my mortality and lack of importance. I am humbled as I walk among the trees many that may be as much as one hundred or more years old.
It dawned on me. Life is a gift and the short time we are here we need to appreciate and use to the best of our abilities. By working towards the greater good with a true love for life and the life of all around us we become a very important part of the life of the world. We become givers of life to the next generation and to those that live around us. Now that is an important function and responsibility.
We all have a responsibility to live to our fullest. That is the gift we call life. So I left the woods feeling invigorated and joyful.
This story begins a little more than a year ago when I was buying cheap belts. I had bought a few belts that looked nice and were inexpensive. In price, they ranged from $15 to $25 at the department stores. One was reversible of man-made leather and the other was supposed to have been made of leather, but I am not confident that it was, but it had a nice buckle that had a little give and spin action which made it feel like a comfortable fit. The one thing they both had in common, they were made in China.
Since I wear a belt every day, they got good use. One, I wore with my dress slacks the other I wore with my jeans and in more casual settings. A few months went by, and they already began to look worn which was disappointing, but I continued to wear them, of course. Then what I should have known would be coming, happened. The leather on the reversible broke at the buckle. This most likely caused by my increase in weight. But I always go up and down in weight, so the product has to be able to withstand pressure at least to some extent. I began to wear the second belt daily and within a few weeks the buckle on this belt broke. It was at this point I decided that enough is enough. I am going to bite the bullet and buy top quality belts. This to me means buying Made in the USA.
The last time I had bought an expensive belt it had lasted me at least five years, that belt was made of 100% natural leather. The only reason I stopped using it was that it was looking really beat up. It never broke, I just decided to donate it to Good Will with other clothing. Recalling this experience I went on a mission to find quality again.
I went online instead of going to the store. I searched for belts made in the USA and settled on three different brands. The first, the GRIP6 Web belt is of a simple design but made of strong man-made material this product cost $30 on Amazon. The second is the Groove Belt brand which is also of exceptionally strong man-made material and a much more complex buckle than the first. This one cost around $60, not cheap. Then finally I bought a 100% made in the USA leather belt classic design by Bullhide Belts company. This cost about $65 because I bought the double layered version casual design that, I believe, can also double as a dress belt. There was a version which was less expensive and not as thick, but I wanted a rugged belt to last.
I received all three belts within seven days. I have been using them regularly and that is why I am writing this review. I was going to write this several weeks ago. Honestly, if I had, I would have had to retract my original thoughts. Sometimes a little procrastination does come in handy!
Here comes the big reveal the most inexpensive of the three is an excellent buy. It’s big positives in my book is number one it’s inexpensive. The second, it is simplistic, easy to slide through your belt hoops, and it is effortless to adjust and readjust to your size. The buckle is metal and durable and super cool, and interchangeable. This makes it exciting because you can order different color buckles, and you can even get some with images. I don’t know how well these belts resist wear and tear but by the quality of the workmanship of the one I have I would not hesitate to buy more buckles. The only downside of the product is the material does take on the shape of the user, which of course is the same thing that happens with leather belts. One other point I can add is that the look is not that nice with dress slacks opposed to hang out clothes such as jeans and khakis which they go great with.
The second, is the one where I was about to write a very erroneous review. The Groove belt, is a little more difficult to adjust and so to me at first this was a turnoff. The second issue I had right away was that it was a little more difficult to slip through the pant loops. In comparison to the GRIP6, I was disappointed. Then I decided to wear it regularly to get a better feel of its value. It was after a week of wearing it that I realized its true worth. The magnetic buckle is a breeze to engage and disengage. The belt itself is made of a miraculous material that does not take the form of your body but instead has enough stretch to it that it snaps back and looks unfazed after many uses. Hence, this to me was a major plus, and now I have begun to wear this belt almost exclusively.
Why am I wearing the Groove Belt so much? Well, remember I first complained about the process of adjustment. Yes, it is not as easy as either the GRIP6 or the Bullhide belt, but it has one major advantage. Once I adjust it the first time, I have not had to adjust it again. I go up and down 5 pounds in weight as if I am on a see-saw. With the other two belts I have to adjust the belt but with the Groove Belt, I haven’t had to do it yet. I like that and it still looks like new. However the belt buckle itself is showing some wear in terms of the color getting nicked off. To me, this is not of tantamount importance. After a few more months I will return to this review and give an update.
Then finally, the review of the Bullhide 100% leather belt. Well, for $5 more than the Groove Belt, I got a super strong hand made leather belt. It is the classic design and just like the wheel, it is difficult to top something of such quality and excellence. The feel, the smell, the look and the ease of use puts this on the top of the list. Additionally this brand is first in its class, it is like wearing a Rolex around my waist. I love this belt and the company offers many options. To keep the leather looking beautiful it is best not to give it too much punishment. I can tell you I am certain that there are people that work with their hands that would prefer this belt for its strength and reliability whose least concern is appearance.
Now comes the summary. I am happy with all three of the belts, and I am proud to say they are 100% Made in the USA. All three belts are meant to last. The GRIP6 winds on cost, if money is an issue this belt beats any of the cheap Chinese made belts. I bet that it will last for many years, and you can change buckles just for fun and that is just one of many options.
The Groove Belt is also an excellent product. I was at a conference the other day and met a colleague who was also wearing one. He has also sung its praises. It cost more than the GRIP6 because it is of a unique material that stretches, and the buckle is a heavy duty magnetic design. This is now my everyday belt that will wear for most occasions. Kudos to the manufacturers for an excellent product! $60 still feels expensive for something that is not leather, yet the design has sold me on that this truly is a real value and will last.
The Bullhide belt is excellent, and I love leather belts, as I have already said. I recommend you watch their video on how they are made. The company is made up of true artisans. I will be using this belt with dress slacks though the design I purchased is not for that purpose. My reason is that when you have a product that is of such high quality and has that obvious natural beauty you can’t recreate, it becomes something special. Hence, for special occasions it is!
Bottom line, top quality all around on these three belts, which means I will not be buying another belt for at least five years. All three manufacturers have other styles than those I have linked to from my purchased items. I also believe these products would make a great gift for someone in your life.
I would like to add, I am happy I bought three different belts that are all good. It gives me flexibility in my own personal expression and style. I am typically a very practical man and this sounds weird coming from me. But, hey, I guess I am getting more artistic in my mature years.
I watched recently on Amazon Prime the 2015 movie The Lady in the Van. This film was obviously produced to the highest standards. The actors were of the highest caliber. The scenes were exquisite and the production quality, the best in its class. Artistic talent was not left for want in this film.
The movie is centered around an unhappy vagabond old woman and her benefactor. Loosely based on the true story of Margaret Fairchild, there is no doubt that much artistic license was used in the creation of this fanciful story line.
The main character who is truly the writer of the story is meant to be a protagonist, but in truth of which this film has no connection to, is that he is an antagonist. In the true story, Alan Bennet had allowed this cantankerous woman to live in his driveway with her van for fifteen years. In this movie, there is no doubt of the twists and turns taken to fit modern narratives and themes to get the support needed to make such a cruel film.
Basing what I write here from what I saw in the film and some research, I would like to bring to you my take-aways as we often call what we learn at educational business meetings from the film.
The first is that the film is a veiled malicious attack on the Catholic Church and the faith. Its careful nuance is to project the Church as being puritanical and uncaring. First by intimating that Ms. Fairchild’s mental illness was caused by her being told not to play piano while undergoing discernment for vocation to focus on prayer. It imputes this to be some sort of punishment when it was most likely meant as a discipline which enables one to be less selfish and more attentive to the needs of others. This is a very necessary trait to be able to live in a small, closed community with other people which is called a convent. The fact that she was difficult would indicate that she may already had begun to suffer from some mental illness, and it was beginning to manifest itself. The scene in the film where a nun viciously shuts the piano, though theatrically effective, is questionable at the least.
The second, the implication that in confession she would have heard that her desire to play piano may be a window for the devil is something puritanical. The Puritans were a sect of the Church of England which began after its separation from the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century. As any student of music would know, the Roman Catholic Church has always supported and promoted the use of beautiful music to elevate the soul to the worship of God. Hence, her musical talent would not be ascribed to the devil, but her selfishness and lack of discipline may have been. This again to cast a dark view of the one true faith.
Then continuing in its same path of lies, the writer and producer paint the nuns to be uncaring and vicious because of Ms. Fairchild’s past insubordinate behavior after she becomes ill. This is ignoring the fact that local nuns did assist in her care though she was not in their community. Also, ignoring the truth that the Catholic Church on a whole does more for the sick, elderly and dying than any institution on the earth. Most importantly, it does it with love and sacrifice. The works of St. Teresa of Calcutta are but one small example of the many works of this blessed institution.
The movie ends with the death of Ms. Fairchild. The author uses this event to mock, almighty God, the assumption of Mary and the existence of Heaven with a scene where the deceased asks of him to write a glorious ending to her life. The interesting point is what it really points to is the unhappy life that the writer lives, knowing full well his internal twisted unhappy existence, which he cannot accept when faced with truth. So, to reject truth, he needs to destroy God. This is oldest of stories, since beginning of creation and the fall of mankind from grace in the Garden of Eden.
How did evil and death come into this world? It was with the rejection of truth which is given to us by God mostly embedded in our hearts but also through scripture and tradition. All those who reject His words of good will live-in a constant state of misery while those who work at perfecting virtue find true peace and love in their lives. In this film, the author is in no way a character any human looking for joy would want to emulate. And I thank the makers of this film for raising my thoughts to see through the smoke of Satan for the lies that they are.
In these last few days, we have been witnessing a revolt of the people of Cuba against the much-heralded Cuban dictatorship. A dictatorship regime that from the start has been known for human rights atrocities and puppet courts to destroy any voice against their “so called” leadership.
The Cuban people over sixty years ago did not believe Castro would make them communists, but he did. The people that had no way to leave or thought that they could make change stayed behind. But from all the failed socialist and communist experiments on the island an escape from their economic disaster was only made by asking increased sacrifices from the ordinary people. Anyone who spoke against the regime was either imprisoned or silenced. By silenced, I mean murdered. The more public profiles who had celebrity were protected from death, but the unknowns would just disappear. The Castro regime survived through brute force, instilling in the people a constant fear that their lives and that of their family’s would be destroyed.
As the years went on millions of native Cubans would leave and the diaspora would be spread out throughout the world. These people would not forget their homeland and would send much needed currencies, many from the USA, to sustain their families. Of these monies that came the Cuban government stole a good chunk of cash.
The people can no longer be fooled with the lies that the US embargo is their problem. Access to the internet has enabled them to know the truth. They came to realize that as the government officials lived in mansions of former millionaires while eating and drinking comfortably, that they were actually their slaves.
For a person not to be a slave they need to have representation. They want liberty to speak, to move and to assemble. They want the right to have leaders they have chosen. This is for us in the USA, a basic right given to us through the wisdom of the founding fathers that we take for granted.
But for these people it is something they must risk death to overturn. The world is witnessing a real human tragedy before their eyes and still do not lift a finger to save these people from slavery. At least the slaves in the USA had the Underground Railroad and finally the Civil War that affected real change. This being over 100 years ago and yet we claim to be so enlightened here, but I do not see one of those civil rights leaders lifting a finger to support these oppressed peoples.
All those that stay silent are accomplices, though they act otherwise. It is time for all people of good will to unite to free these poor people from slavery to this cruel and evil dictatorship.
People who want to see what slavery and suffering look like in this modern age only must turn to Cuba. But the propaganda of the cruel regime is parroted by the globalist media because it does not fit their world view. They hold up the dictatorship as a government to be praised. When the truth is they are leaders to be despised and are not much different from any evil governments that have stepped on the human rights of people in the past.
If Cuba were not an island, these people would have freed themselves years ago. Sadly, even now the media in the USA is under reporting the news and by doing so assisting the dictatorship as they have shut down the internet to hide this away from the outside world. It is sad that it will literally take much more blood (death and torture, sweat (hunger and a sacrifice)and tears (the loss of many loved ones) for them to be freed if the foreign powers that can, do not help them.
While I was writing this piece, I received news of the already occurring brutality of the police and military towards this mostly peaceful rebellion. They literally beat one young man on the streets kicking the teeth out of his head, removing his eyes and finally merciful death came upon him. Will the world just let this evil continue?
This weekend I walked around my hometown because I was staying at my mother’s house. I needed to get my steps in, and I did not want to go to the park because it had rained a lot the day before and that would mean a lot of mud. Since I took my dog with me it would be extra messy, so onto the streets we went.
Sunday morning on the Fourth of July I ran into some friends. I ran into my dear friend Ed and his wife and another friend Kathy that was out walking her dog as well. It is such a wonderful thing when you get to pleasantly run into friends and have a quick chat. These chats lasted a total of 10 minutes of my one-and-a-half-hour walk. So, what did I do for most of this walk?
This was yesterday and for the most part, as I walked through the different areas, I recalled many memories of my youth. One, I recalled in grade school when my buddy Robert and I went to some older kid’s house, and they were smoking marijuana. That was the first time I had ever smelled it or even known of its existence.
Second, I recalled the drinking homemade red wine at another friend’s house and how delicious it was. I have not stopped drinking red wine since.
Finally, I was walking by one house that from the street view has not changed much since my childhood. A young man living there came out of his garage to load something in the trunk of his car. He looked at me and said, “good morning.” It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him how I recall playing spin the bottle in that house when I was 13 years old. Instead, I gave the glib standard response.
The following day on the fifth of July, I went for a walk again. This time I walked through other neighborhoods. I walked by the house where I lost my virginity, do not worry, I will not be revealing it.
Then I began to see homes of my childhood friends and classmates. I saw a home of a fellow parishioner at our local Catholic Church. It looked like there may be another family there, but I had not heard anything about them, so I called my brother who lives in town to find out. I learned that the father of the household was recently hospitalized, and the wife was still in the home. It was, most likely the grandchildren I had seen playing in the backyard. I had a sense of relief.
However, then I began to ponder it and the sense of stability of life that we all long for is truly just a form of hope. I accept change, but something’s we do not want to lose. What has most value I realize is family. I am not speaking about only the immediate family or blood relations. I am referring to the real family of all the people that make up our lives. These are truly our brothers and sisters and if all were able to accept this at a younger age, I believe this world would be filled with more love.
I was raised with that belief in my parish and church. My faith and love for all the men and women of good will that have entered my life is deep and strong. Though we move down different paths their presence in my heart will never be lost. This may be why I was feeling sad about all the changes and the lack of permanence that is our life on earth.
I was finishing my walk, the dog was tired, and it was hot as Hades. My heart turned blue. I want to be able to stop things from moving so fast, but I have no control over it. The only thing I can hold on to is the hope that I have loved all the people in my life with true love, concern and compassion and that they remember me after I also have moved on to the heavens. As the old saying goes “Time and tide wait for no man.”
Life is full of different experiences. You never quite know what will be the novelty that will disrupt your normal course of life. And sometimes, the event will just want to make you laugh.
In this occasion, my wife and I went away for a long weekend in the Saratoga Springs New York area. We were blessed with incredibly beautiful weather; this should have been a sign. Since when does anyone take a vacation, whether long or short, and everything work out perfectly? Not ever.
Arriving in Saratoga Springs, there was a light shower of rain. We had reservations at an Italian restaurant called Forno Bistro. It is situated attached to a converted brick building which also houses a Rug store. Out front are beautiful trees, bushes and flowers. Beneath the tall trees were lawn chairs for the waiting guests.
When we arrived at the restaurant, they had our reservation, but the table was not ready yet. Meanwhile, I could see a row of tables for two under patio umbrellas not in use. They asked us to wait, and we took the opportunity to sit under the trees and have an order of drinks sent to us. It was quite pleasant and cool as the very light rain fell, but not enough to be felt. Rather quicker than I hoped our table was ready, I was quite enjoying the relaxed environment on the lawn with a glass of Woodford Reserve in my hand.
We were then taken to our seats. The interior of the restaurant was loud and the crowd boisterous. Once I sat in my seat, I could feel a cold breeze from the air conditioning units hitting the back of my neck. We moved the table ourselves a few inches away, hoping that would correct the situation, but it did not. I then went out to the hostess and asked to be reseated.
The manager came over and after having checked the weather forecast believed that the worst had passed and sat us outside, this time on the porch which is where we actually had wanted to sit from the start. We ate to our hearts delight and skipped dessert. After our dinner the rain once again began to fall and still only as a mist.
We decided to seek out coffee and dessert. We stopped in at a small jazz club, where there was barely room to breathe, let alone shout over to the bartender to get a drink. We left after a few short minutes. Walking around town, you could hear loud music emanating from the many nightclubs while scantily dressed young woman and loud young men strolled the streets looking for their next adventure. But we, being over a certain age that does not seek the same, could not find a place to have a cup of coffee. This is something unheard of in New Jersey, where you can find diners all over the state and most are open 24 hours a day. We retreated to the hotel where the restaurant bar was still open, only to discover that they would not serve us coffee either! Explain to me how they can’t make coffee at a bar at 10 o’clock at night?
The next morning we went to Lake George to spend the day there with my wife’s sister and her partner. We met at a restaurant attached to the Marriott Courtyard called Charlie’s Bar and Kitchen for breakfast. We waited only a few short minutes to be seated.
Actually, our waitress seated us. As she walked us to the table, she giggled, telling us there was no reason we had to wait, that the new host was just not skilled yet. I thought her giggling was odd, and appeared to be more of a nervous one. When she asked if we wanted coffee, I asked if they made iced coffee. She responded in the affirmative with yet again another giggle. Later, when my wife’s sister asked what type of bacon they served, she went into a full out cackle, and responded “from pig of course”. Then my wife’s sister read from the menu that it was applewood smoked. The waitress confirmed that and went away.
The giggling did not stop, and it was constant after everything the waitress said. It wasn’t until later that evening that I realized the effect she had on me. She basically gave me the creeps! In conversation that evening I brought it up and realized how grateful I am that we were not staying in the Marriott in Lake George because I would have had fears of a Psycho movie type occurrence with that waitress on my mind. We all laughed about it, but the truth is I can still hear her crazy cackle in my mind, and the mere thought of it send shivers down my spine.
Finally, on our last evening, we were lucky enough to get the last seat to a wonderful jazz show at Café Lena’s. The three-piece band performed masterfully, and we were so happy to have had the experience. When it ended, it was still too early to go back to the hotel, and we decided to seek out dessert. I really wanted a sit down café, but we ended up at an ice cream shop called Kilwin’s. We ordered a scoop each, one flavor was pistachio and the other coconut. We ate it sitting on a bench on the same street and the ice cream itself, for us, was not special, but we did enjoy it.
As we finished our ice cream, we noticed people coming with ice cream cones in their hands from the other direction. We got the idea to go to the other store for fun and order the same flavors to compare.
We found the store, and it was called Saratoga Gelato. We went in and ordered the pistachio and coconut. It was expensive, but the girl behind the counter was very sweet, and we gave her a nice tip any way. We proceeded to go out of the store and sit at another bench to eat the ice cream. The pistachio had a strange flavor and the coconut was worse than bland. I kept tasting the coconut because I could not believe there was absolutely no flavor at all. We disliked it so much that we threw them in the garbage. It was the first time that either of us have ever thrown away ice cream. Hence, we claim that we have made a great discovery and found the worst ice cream in the world! Of course, this could have just been bad batches, but we won’t be returning there either way.
These simple observations and memories will bring joy and laughter for years to come. Life is truly full of twist and turns, and one does not have to look so hard to find the joy in every one.
The Catholic Church, of which I am but one very small part of the body, represents to hold to the truth of the teachings of the Jesus Christ and the Church he founded. This I hold to and believe with all my heart. At the same time, it is made up of men and women, of which we are all fallen and sinful creatures. As sinful creatures we must always be repenting and struggling to reach a life of saintliness. This is the true goal of every member of the Church. Simply, we believe that by abiding by the teachings given to us by Jesus and His Apostles we will attain everlasting life. This is the faith simplified.
The Church of course, outside its direct goal of teaching love, saving souls and bringing them into eternal life, is also full of beauty. The sacrifice of Christ, the ultimate gift of love and beauty, surrounds us at every turn. The actions and lives of the Saints declared by the Church show us the path to eternal life. They also give us the inspiration to turn from evil and temptation. Their inspiration has driven artists and poets for centuries and will continue to do so as they attempt to put to canvas or words the beauty of love, they so espoused.
However, in those words and paintings there is plenty of expression of the repentance they had to face, the suffering they had to persevere, and the insults of the evil of their times they had to accept. The tough decisions they had to make, and the tough love and teachings they had to share.
Our modern society has forgotten what it takes to do the right thing. It has forgotten how to show true mercy and love to an individual. It instead has turned to accept the basest of ideas of what humans should be or are. It has created generations of spoiled children demanding rewards for their wrongdoing. It has created selfish egocentric individuals whose primary thought is always of themselves and to gain position and importance by destroying instead of building. They seek the demise of the good for the purpose of forcing their evil ideals on others. This will pass.
Yet, the question is: Why has the authority of the Catholic Church vacillated? Do the leaders of our Church have the right to sit by and let this happen? As individuals, they have the right to take whatever action they may wish, but as consecrated religious they do not. But those who do not take right and proper action to defend not just the faith, not just morality but most importantly the souls of each and every soul entrusted to Her are in direct contradiction with the true teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church.
Just like Satan had convinced Adam and Eve that they would be enlightened by doing evil, so has he entered into the Church to project a false mercy. Through what is falsely portrayed as concern for sinners, we have a cowardice to teach the truth of the faith to all peoples. Where do these cowards who hide behind mounds of words and twist simple truth into a vague cloud of smoke or deception come from? I can only assume that they work for the evil one and have rejected Christ and his Church.
There is simply no other way to see this. If some leaders of the Roman Catholic Church who equivocate, genuinely believed in the teachings of Jesus Christ, they would have the courage needed to teach the truth. The Apostles left us a clear understanding of the meanings and teachings of Christ. It is not mercy when some bishops do not correct sinful scandalous behavior. It is not mercy, when they stand by and support a man or woman that spends their energy in the murder of innocents and claim to be Catholic. It is not mercy when in the guise of love, we protect sexual promiscuity of all kinds and in turn deny the holiness of marriage and the family. Because simply put, when you deny them the truth and accept evils, it is not love but condemning souls to eternal damnation that may have been saved.
All persons whether they be in a state of grace or living in sin deserve our love. But that love has to be real and honest. It has to care for the individual first but then teach them the truth simultaneously.
For those who are obstinate in supporting evil even when knowing and understanding the truth of the teachings of the Church and claiming to be part of the Church, they must be corrected. If they are public in their obstinacy, then they must be corrected publicly. It cannot be acceptable that they lead others to sin. Those in the Church’s positions of authority to do so and do not are also guilty of that same sin and worse because they are allowing this error to resonate and appear acceptable to those inside and out of the Church.
The Church and its members spend much of their wealth and energy sharing their love by caring for the sick, the imprisoned and the sinner. We walk with them in their times of struggle and try to lead them to the way of the Lord. However, it becomes increasingly harder to share the truth when many bishops would rather win a popularity contest with politicians and the public rather than focus on their principal function which is the saving of souls.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones* who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matt 18:6)
I had a dream last night. Probably one of the freakiest I have ever had. My wife calls it a nightmare, but typically a nightmare brings fear and panic to the person having the dream. I did not have either of these feelings. But I did have strong emotions of outrage.
In my sleep I imagined that I was walking across the street to my home. Which in the dream was a second floor apartment in a two family home. As I was walking, I noticed an extremely attractive women getting into an SUV type vehicle, and she was accompanied by an older woman who was also as enticing. They were about to get into the car when I felt like they were up to no good. While feeling a strong temptation to flirt with the woman, instead I girded my strength against her powers. I asked her where she came from and what they were doing. She responded that the man in the downstairs of the house let them into my apartment. I immediately got upset and ran to the house. As in entered the house, I brushed past the man and ran up the stairs. Looking down from the stairs I saw that the women had entered as well. The three of them were standing together, but they were no longer the figure of human beings but of demons doing the work of Satan himself.
I opened the door to my apartment. Instantly I began searching, not knowing for what. Only knowing that it could not be anything good. Suddenly, I was no longer in the apartment but on a small river in a canoe. While rowing slowly, I was still searching and began looking into the water. Suddenly, I saw a baseball mitt and reached for it. As I pulled on it from out of the reeds a body of a young boy in his baseball uniform came out. I jumped in the water to pull him to land. Then I noticed he was not the only one. I began working as fast as I could but there were so many children. I shouted at the top of my lungs for people to come help me. The children had been drugged and were being killed by drowning.
I recall I got one boy to start breathing. I began to feel that people were coming to help and that all was not lost. I prayed and hoped that we could save them in time. Then the faces of the demons at the bottom of the stairs returned to me, and I was angry. Yet, all my focus had to stay with saving the children, I felt it was for them that I had to keep struggling.
We are not far from that type of thinking. With careful trickery and back room politics the ultimate evil is being engineered. To deny all humans their rights and to make us all mere cogs and utilities to be used by those invested in the power and enslavement of the masses.
If the people do not wake up from being focused on materialism and not the greater picture of liberty and life. Our rivers will soon overflow with the blood of our children and likely of those the society will deem useless.
This last week has been very exciting and sad at the same time. Since the release of the song Patria y Vida on YouTube and all other music streaming services by a group of Cuban musicians it has lit a fire in the hearts of men and women around the world. It seems that after 62 years of people fleeing the Mafia style communist regime for freedom, the world is beginning to acknowledge the desperation of the people on the island.
The European Parliament invited the diaspora of the Cuban community to speak. Yotuel, one of the authors of the song spoke eloquently about how the Cuban people are just like a kidnapped and abused women. They want to get out but fear for their life and without outside help will have no ability at escape. Yotuel since has been contacted by US President Biden, who has been typically quite friendly with communist regimes earning him the nickname China Joe. It has yet been made public what his administration’s position is on Cuba, but most of the Cuban exiles fear continued appeasement of the existing regime as did former president Obama by legitimizing the existing dictatorship which continued the suffering of the people of the island who are starving to death. They are starving due to a complete lack of understanding of basic economic principles by the Cuban dictatorship which is the same issue which plagued the USSR. While everyone in positions of power live like Hollywood elites and eat like kings.
When I was growing up in the 1970s, I heard very little about Cuba. I knew that my mother and father with my baby older brother fled the island with expectations of returning. I knew my father had to leave because he had been printing and distributing anti-Communist pamphlets, and he was warned that he was set on a short list for execution, mafia style. I also knew that my grandfather was initially involved with supporting Castro to overthrow Batista. That was about the extent of it. But I knew both my parents yearned for their homeland. They in their hearts waited for the day they could return.
Many years went by and even with the stories of atrocities committed by the communist regime no international pressure was made to make them change. In fact, after the USSR collapsed Europe went out of its way to support the communist government in Cuba. The dictatorship used the US Embargo as an excuse of the cause of the countries economic crisis. Europe moved forward knowing well that this is not true. Luxury Hotels were built while most Cubans lived in poverty and could not even conceive of attaining to a stay at one. Meanwhile, very little profit from these enterprises made it into the hands of the people. This support kept the oppression of the people going longer. The Castro regime also exported doctors to foreign countries to receive the foreign capital while these doctors lived on slave wages.
Later came their great savior and fellow communist, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to save the day. Just like the communists in Cuba, Chavez robbed his country driving it into destitution while making himself grandiose in the eyes of foreigners and those that relied on their wealth. It is well-known that the communist dictatorship in Cuba maintains personal foreign accounts. Of course the simple fact that Cristina Chavez is said to be worth 4 billion dollars is proof positive. I wonder, how did she earn that money?
When I turned fifty, I wanted to go to Cuba with my Dad. But he refused to go while the Castro’s were still in power. That was nine years ago and my dad sadly passed away three years ago. Since then, my life has changed, and I have been spending a lot of time with my mother. She has been sharing things I never knew about Cuba and my family’s life there.
Since, the recent fervor and raising of hopes due to the great success of the song Patria y Vida, she has been reflecting on the past. She shared with me that her Uncle was tried by a kangaroo court after the Castro’s came to power, and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for lending someone his car. They had false witnesses accuse him. My mom had spoken to the judge and was told that they would get him out. Unfortunately, he was being brutally tortured and beaten in prison to the point that he asked his son for cyanide so that they would not have the pleasure of killing him. He took the poison but when his jailers found him dead they propped the corpse on a chair and shot at it then declared that he had been executed at gunpoint. Lies and deception never stop at the hands of evil persecutors. The story is told in a book no longer in print called Diario Traición 1959 (Betrayal Diary 1959).
The Cubans abroad have inadvertently been part of the reason the uprising has not yet happened. US dollars coming from outside the country has enabled the regime to steal money to maintain their facade. It has been reported that over $3.5 billion annually are sent from the USA to Cuba. But money needed to be sent one way or another to keep clothes on their families’ backs and food on the table.
Why am I writing about this today? It is because I am happy. I believe that there actually exists a chance now for this sequestered island nation to have freedom at last. I know that if freedom comes to these people, for some it will be difficult to adapt. For the many the ability to hope and work once again with their hands and minds freely and to earn their prosperity will bring great joy. There will be food in the grocery stores. There will be investment and growth. There will be good paying jobs and the diaspora which has been very successful will return to help.
Everyday now I say a Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the Cuban people, those on the island and those in exile. I pray for the good Lord to grant them liberty, peace and joy. I pray with all my heart that one day I can step foot on the land of my fathers and see the love that thrives in the hearts of all Cubans bursting with the joy of freedom.
Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del cobre ruega por nosotros.
I am 59 years old and never owned a weapon, other than a baseball bat, until the year 2020. For almost all of my life I have been happy and felt secure in the United States of America. I grew up here and could not ever imagine living anywhere else. This is the country of laws, respect for authority and peace. This is the country where you can safely travel from place to place and not even carry identification.
I recall, when I was younger and traveling the globe, people told me stories of violence and horrors that happened in their home countries. Places like Argentina, Colombia, and Cuba from the 1960s to the 1980s and I also met persons who survived the horrors of Stalinist Russia, Mao Zedong’s Chinese revolution and the holocaust of Nazi Germany. It saddened me to no end that men and women can be so cruel to each other. I thanked God that I lived in a country of peace and order.
Fast-forward to summer 2020. The media and certain States have their citizens sequestered in their homes. Half the people are in panic and others like me are not believing how our rights are being so easily stripped away from us. I was and continue to be shocked at how easily this became a norm.
The original story had been, the lockdowns were necessary to prevent the flooding of hospitals. This flood of patients never materialized. Both the makeshift hospital in Central Park and the floating Navy hospital were dismissed rather quickly. In less than three months, this threat was averted. But did we go back to living our lives free of fear? No, in fact, some states would not let family visit their family in Senior Citizens homes and many died alone and lonely. To top it off, things got worse. They would not allow religious services for the dead or any gatherings of more than ten people. These things were bad enough. This we as “free” people allowed happening.
I am not convinced until now of the numbers thrust upon us. This is because I know first hand from doctors and nurses that they were instructed to put death by Covid-19 when it was not often the case. How am I to trust the numbers? The Flu has been eradicated or were these occurrences just absorbed into the fearmongering Covid-19 pandemic? There is so much to distrust about the way this was handled and the propaganda that followed along with it. In the end, we will never know the truth. Massive money and political machinations are behind the vaccines that are following and that incidentally we are all being told is necessary. It has gotten to the point that those that do not wish to take the vaccine are ridiculed.
Then we have the twisting of one racial event into a major countrywide narrative. The death of George Floyd, at the hands of a cruel police officer, which was unnecessary and could have been prevented sparked riots. But then something more sinister began to occur, cities with Marxist strongholds such as Portland and Seattle had full-blown anarchy. Violence and destruction were heaped upon these cities under the guise of fighting so-called systemic racism. I have lived in this country my whole life. I am Latino and have had racist insults thrown at me from the ignorant few. I have had friends of color that also experienced racism. But neither they nor I believe in the claim that it is systemic. This is just a mere fabrication in reference to most of the country. But to actually believe that our police, which are all independent organizations, throughout the states is organized in being racist is a blatant lie manufactured to create division in this country.
It was then that I realized that our country is being attacked by nefarious forces from within. These nefarious forces hide themselves in the guise of political parties, but they do end up showing their true colors. They make outlandish claims about people and insult them to shut up so that they can claim power over the people. They use fear to control people, and then they push them to antagonize or insult their fellow citizens if they do not toe the line.
This is a Marxist communist tactic. They destroy by getting the masses to believe their lies and then having them toe the line. Doing this includes murdering millions of people for the good of their Marxist religion. This is the step to silence those that disagree. The next step is to take away your ability to defend yourself. Many people point to China, Russia and Nazi Germany to make the point that this is what comes next. But it happens with any governing power that wishes to become a dictatorship whether left or right.
This last statement brings me to a current ongoing horror which is the continued enslavement of the Cuban people since 1959. Fidel Castro did the same, disarming the people. What has that led to? Extreme poverty at the hands of a legitimized mafia supported by Marxists around the globe. A country frequently sighted for Human Rights offenses and yet, many countries still support this despotic system. The people cry out for change. They leave the island risking their lives for the liberty we have here and often die trying. But even with a majority of people against the dictatorship they cannot make change because those with control of the weapons have the power. If they rise they will be silenced. They live in fear.
Last night I watched Alex Otaola who fled persecution by the Castro regime in 2003. He is an entertainer turned educator. He is raising awareness of all the ignorant around the world of the cruel suffering of the Cuban people. In last night’s show, he broadcast a video of a family being attacked for standing up against the dictatorship. A crowd was at the family’s sad little home shouting all sorts of obscenities. Eggs were thrown at their home. Their windows were painted black while the children are in the home with their parents, terrified and crying. Where were the police? There is no protection for those that oppose the regime. Finally, as a finishing blow, the blood thirsty crowd killed their dog.
Why do you think a crowd can get away with that? It is elementary because they know that those people have no way to defend themselves. The government put the crowd of people up to that, no doubt by offering them a decent meal that week. This, the founding father’s knew, is the risk of a totalitarian government. They knew their present and foresaw our possible future.
A future with a people unable to protect themselves from evil against their family by persons or the government is one I do not want to live in. It is one I would not recognize. I will die for our constitutional right to bear arms if I have must. This is why at the age of 59 I bought my first firearm. If the right to bear arms is taken away from us our future will be bleak, and I don’t plan on being put away in a cage without a defense.