I was gone all day yesterday. Not really invisible, but invisible on the Internet.

By the time we got home in the evening, it was late.  Too late to start going through email for sure. So most of my email got dumped because if I don’t get to it on the day it arrives, the odds are that I will never get to it at all.

I’m never going to get through today’s emails either. I’m totally overwhelmed and I apologize. I hope I might catch up eventually. I keep trying, but somehow, I never quite make it.

I went to the cardiologist. It’s an hour’s drive to get there … a little more with traffic and there was more than enough traffic. Then there was the test to make sure my pacemaker is working, the echocardiogram to make sure the replacement valves are doing their job and the rest of my heart is pumping nicely away.

On the way to Chestnut Hill

Everything works. I suggested maybe it was time to reduce the amount of medication I’m taking and we did that. I’ll have to check in a couple of days and see how it’s going. I also should get in touch with the surgeon and ask about fixing my broken sternum.

The problem is, there’s no way to fix it without cutting me open. For what I think are obvious reasons, I don’t feel like doing that. Meanwhile, it’s pretty loose. It pops and crunches all the time these days. It takes all the fun out of exercise. Who knew my sternum was attached all those other parts of my body?

Doctors are so specialized, they don’t realize how much of you they miss. If you go to the hip guy, he won’t even look at your spine, even though the problems are actually one thing. Everything in medicine is so specific to a single little piece of you that the whole “you” gets lost. The cartilage in my sternum never healed and every other action I take makes it bump and grind.

No part of us is entirely on its own.

Sometimes, I wonder if all of my problems are not one problem and the reason no one can figure them out is because no one see the whole person with all those interlocking pieces. My primary guy gets it, but to get anything worked out, there are specialists and they only work on specific body parts. I got four calls this morning asking about setting me up for an MRI of my head except they can’t do that because I have a pacemaker. I can’t even be in the same room as all that magnetic equipment. It would kill me, suck the pacemaker right out of my chest. That is an image from which i may never recover.

Later this week, there’s the psycho-pharmacologist and next week there’s the oncologist and probably more tests because I didn’t do them last year, but sooner or later, you can run but you can’t hide.

Almost home

I will be invisible again next week and the week after and probably again after that and finally, I’ll be done with all this stuff and hopefully, no one is going to tell me that I urgently need yet one more surgery because I’m seriously anti-surgery at this point. Short of death, I’m not going there again.

Just around the corner – back in the icy hills of home

The best news? I will never be an unidentified Jane Doe on someone’s slab. At least four different pieces of me have embedded code.  My body parts have code numbers. That’s pretty good news, isn’t it?


Weekly WordPress PHOTO CHALLENGE – Favorite Places

This week, share an image of your happy place, a secret spot you love, or a faraway location you return to again and again.

The road home

I’m a really happy traveler. When I finally actually travel — more and more rarely as I get older — I always love wherever I am. Whether it’s a tourist trap in Pennsylvania or a fairy circle in Sligo, the Church of the Manger in Bethlehem or one of our local dams and rivers, it’s a favorite place. I love cities and the country.


I prefer living in the country, but I loved living in Jerusalem, adored the weeks I spent in London and wished we could have spent more time in Dublin and tons more in San Francisco.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong

I loved Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan. And before you tell me that Brooklyn and Manhattan are really one city — in theory they are, but they are sufficiently different to not be the same to me. Since I’m the writer here, I get to say.

Beacon Hill – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Yesterday, for a few hours, I even loved Chestnut Hill.

Every place is – in its own way – different and interesting. Even the gritty and grimy places have their own charms.

Spillway on the canal
Bridge over the Blackstone

If I had one favorite place and absolutely had to choose, it would be the mountains and I am not that choosy about which mountain range. I love when I am up above the world. The sky seems closer and the air weighs less.


I don’t do awards, not because I think there’s anything wrong with them, but simply because I’ve been blogging a long time. I’ve done a lot of awards.

When we first start blogging, awards are a pat on the back that someone “out there” has noticed us. In those early months when a hot post got five or six views, we needed all the pats we could get. It kept us going, kept us thinking, writing, and believing. If we just hung on, our blog was going to “be something.”

MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD: What is it? “Its an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.” Created by Okoto Enigma.

Most of us had no idea what that something might be. I’m still working on it and whenever I think I’ve “got it,” I realize within the following 24 hours, no — I really don’t.

This award was given to me by:


I will never “get it” because I think it isn’t “gettable.” We blog for whatever drives us and that changes with the times, our age, the seasons of our soul. Art or photography, music, writing — or everything. What we blog about changes as we change. And I am always changing. I don’t even agree with me, much less the rest of the world.

This month, the weather seems to be my hot (read very cold) topic. When winter finally blows itself out, I’ll probably be back to deploring the fascist government we’ve (hopefully accidentally) deployed.

Nominations for this award — which I’m sort of doing because I really like the lady who bestowed it — is supposed to go to ten or twenty other bloggers. This is not going to happen because all of the people with whom I am in contact are really busy, so I will offer this to anyone I follow. You can rightfully assume — without any fear of correction — that if I follow you, I really like your blog.

Probably,I also really like you! Even if I don’t comment all the time, that is simply because I sometimes feel silly trying to create a comment when I don’t really have anything to say except “Nice!” or “Lovely” and so I click “like”letting the blogger know I was there. “Like” is my calling card.

Any of you are welcome to join in if you like. Or not. Feel free to plunge or pass. I’m good either way.

These are the questions I’ve been asked:


1.   Your favorite Season of the whole year and why.

Autumn. Absolutely. The best weather, the most wonderful colors. I could live in a 12 month autumn — if it were offered and it hasn’t been.

On the street where we live.
October canal and river

2.   What’s the most mystical or magical thing you ever experienced?

Doing a Tarot card reading and seeing my subject’s death. It was not a happy experience.

3.   Do you enjoy a lot of company or are you happiest when in solitude?

These days, solitude. Funny how solitude creeps up on you. Time is a strange and wondrous thing. The funniest part of it is that we find we are happy in places and times we never imagined we could be happy. Go figure.

4.   Would you do something dishonest if there were no witnesses?

Define dishonest. If I were starving, I’d steal food. If we were freezing, I’d grab some wood. Would I take that pretty thing because I happen to like pretty things? Probably not. I have enough pretty things. When I was a kid, we used to steal small things that had no real value to prove we could, but we were children. We learned better with time.

5.   What is one destination you’d like to visit before you die?

New Zealand. Or Paris. Maybe Greece or Rome. Or maybe, we’ll just stay home. Home is fine.

Is there anything about me you don’t already know? That I can’t sew, but I can cook. That I have a really severe case of spinal arthritis and a few years ago, my heart got repaired — and surprisingly, it works quite well. I also lost both breasts to two different kinds of cancer. We call that a two-for-one-sale around here.

I don’t know if I have a favorite blog. I might, but I can’t necessarily remember what it is. There are more than 7,200 blogs on this site and I’m pretty sure I wrote at least half of them. My definition of “favorite” shifts too.

What was my favorite five years ago probably wouldn’t be now. Feel free to cruise. Maybe you’ll find something you like and it’s entirely possible it won’t be one of mine. Other people also write and some of what they write is better than mine.

I have a few posts that have received a lot of views. They aren’t my favorites but for reasons I do not understand, they remains extremely popular. If you’ve been blogging awhile, you understand what I mean. If not, you will. A post that wasn’t a big deal gets a ton of exposure and the things you think are really great … not so much.

Finally, here are a few questions I’d like to ask you:

1. Why did you begin blogging? What got you started? What keeps you doing it?

2.  What — if anything — do you hope to gain from blogging? If you think you are going to get rich, I might not stop laughing until sometime next week.

3. What do you do in the blog world that makes you feel the most proud?

4. What makes you follow a blog?

5. Do you regard the people you meet online as real (not-virtual) friends?


Most of us believe that our current beliefs have been our beliefs forever. Of course we know that germs cause disease and that the earth is round. But people didn’t always know these concepts as “facts”. We once thought the earth was flat and had no idea what caused disease. Someone had to propose these “new” and “revolutionary ideas. And someone just as assuredly had to argue against them and give the proponent of the new ideas a hard time.


My father was a brilliant, innovative thinker in the fields of psychiatry and the social sciences. All he got initially was a lot of grief and aggravation. Even today, only a few academics have heard of him.

His name was Abram Kardiner. He had a long and varied career in the fields of anthropology, sociology, and psychiatry from the 1920’s to his death in 1981. He deserves at least part of the credit for three major contributions: the idea of interdisciplinary studies, the concept of early, “pre-school” education, and acceptance and understanding of PTSD.


Everyone knows that interdepartmental studies are the best way to thoroughly understand at least history and cultures. Didn’t we always apply the tools of sociology, economics, political history, art history and other cultural history to the study of history? The answer is no. In fact, the concept was anathema until the 1960’s.

When I went to Barnard College in 1967 (the sister school to Columbia University), I was one of the first classes to be able to take an interdisciplinary major. At the time, I was old enough to understand that my father’s struggles at Columbia University in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s had cleared the path for me to be an American Studies major in the 60’s.

My father studied with Sigmund Freud in 1921 and came back to New York to help establish psychoanalysis as an accepted and respected “new” field of science. But he was also interested in sociology and thought that using psychiatry to better understand the individuals in a society would help understand the society as a whole. So he decided to study more primitive cultures (anthropology) to further establish the interrelationships between the individual (psychiatry) and the society (sociology).


Unfortunately at the time, each academic field was considered a totally separate entity. No one was allowed to stray into another academic’s carefully guarded territory.

For more than 30 years, my father was bounced back and forth between the psychiatry, sociology, and anthropology departments. No one wanted to claim him. He was “tainted” with methodology and ideas from a different discipline. This sounds ridiculous today. But even now, the only department at Columbia that recognizes his accomplishments is the Department of Psychiatry, the department he helped found.

When I had my first child, I enrolled him in play groups and I planned to send him to preschool when he turned three. My father, once again, had been on the front-lines years before, espousing the importance of the first three years of life. He believed that early childhood intellectual and social stimulation was necessary to foster a child’s ability to learn and to adjust socially throughout it’s life. His writings became the basis for Head Start, President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s program which provided pre-kindergarten for all kids. Dad also focused attention on the optimal environments for preschoolers to develop well intellectually, socially, and emotionally.


Reading to your children, playing counting games, and talking to them — these concepts, now so familiar, became part of the standard of early child care, in part, because of my father. He helped prove, scientifically, how important these activities are both for children and for the society.

When a member of our family was ten, he had a tonsillectomy — and awoke during surgery. This resulted in PTSD as well as a myriad of other issues. Guess who was one of the first people to study PTSD and recognize it as a psychiatric syndrome?

You guessed it. My dad! He studied World War 1 veterans and built on Freud’s concept of psychiatric trauma. He published a book called “The Traumatic Neuroses of War” in 1941. But it wasn’t until the Vietnam War, in the 1970’s, that PTSD became a hot topic. Luckily, by 1991, further advancements in this field, building on my father’s work, helped our family cope with the aftermath of childhood trauma.

So, thanks Dad! You cleared the way for me to have the college major of my dreams, a well-educated toddler, and a family member with doctors who could understand and help him. I wish I could tell you your name is now known throughout the world for your amazing contributions.

But I understand and appreciate what you have contributed to society and now, maybe some blog readers will know, too.


Circles and squares in squares. What could be simpler?

The keyboard of my life

Seeking squares and circles for the month of March!

Squaring the SQUAREs IN MARCH


No two things are identical, though many things seem to be on the surface.

Even identical twins are not precisely identical. There’s always some small difference. Every snowflake is unique. Each part of history is slightly different from any other.

But if things aren’t identical, they can be remarkably similar. “Rhyming” as Samuel Clemens artfully phrased it.

Our world today rhymes well with the rise of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. Every single day that passes make this more obvious. The U.S. is not 1930s Germany, yet we resemble it sufficiently to make some of us — me for example — very worried.

Many people describe the German government at the time as weak — or mostly too weak to fight back. There was a time — quite a long time — when they could have fought back. When Hitler could have been forced down and out, but it didn’t happen.

Will we do a better job? Are we trying? What more can we do?

My friend, Martha Kennedy pointed out to me that Trump is not a Republican.

Trump is a fascist.

It caught me off-guard for a second. My breath went in and stopped there … and then I knew she was right. He isn’t a Republican. He isn’t even an American. There isn’t a patriotic, nation-loving bone in his bloated body. He is a greedy, bigoted, narcissist who cares about no one but himself. He is loyal to nothing.

In my heart, I would like to see him in handcuffs off to a long-term in Federal prison, but I would settle for him and all those wretched people he has sucked into our government removed and banned from government. If you can ban Pete Rose from baseball, how much more so should we be banning that thing from any kind of government — or even the possibility of getting any sort of government assistance for any project. Ever.

But don’t worry. I’m sure someone will hire him to do play by-play on a TV news show somewhere. Let’s take a wild guess here. You think possibly Fox?


All quotes are from my father’s book, “My Analysis With Freud, Reminiscences”  – A. Kardiner, M.D.

In 1921 my father went to Vienna to be trained by Sigmund Freud in the new scientific field of psychoanalysis. My previous blog talked about some of my father’s experiences with Freud as a teacher and as a world-renowned scientist. But Freud liked my father and in their six months together my Dad was lucky enough to get to know Freud fairly well. So I can share with you some of my Dad’s favorite stories about Freud that will shed some light on his personality behind the spotlight.

Freud with signature-editedMy father was very fond of Freud. He described him as “likeable” and “dear”, “charming” and “full of wit and erudition.” My Dad said that Freud was so natural and unassuming in their encounters that you would never have known that you were dealing with a world-famous scientific giant. My father often said to Freud that he couldn’t reconcile the image he got of Freud in their private sessions, with that of the man who wrote all those great books. Freud laughed and said that “This is where familiarity breeds contempt.”

Freud was a devoted family man and talked about his family often. My father once commented to Freud that at times he seemed depressed. Freud admitted that he was having a hard time dealing with the death of his daughter, Mathilda, earlier in the year. He confessed that he could not get over it, which is testament to the fact that he was a decent and caring man.

Freud also had concerns about his surviving daughter, Anna, who was following his footsteps into the new profession of psychiatry. Anna’s inability to choose a husband was the subject of heated debate among Freud’s students. Freud once asked my father if he had a theory about Anna’s indecisiveness. I find it funny that the father of “Daddy Issues” would ask that question. My father’s answer was totally on point. He said, “Well, look at her father. This is an ideal that very few men could live up to and it would surely be a comedown for her to attach herself to a lesser man.” Student teaching the teacher.

Kardiner Family Pics group-edit- 1My favorite personal story about Freud involves his views on marriage. My father was a bachelor and was concerned that he would never marry. He had suffered many childhood traumas, including the death of his mother when he was three. Because of this Freud suggested that my Dad had “issues” with women. But Freud didn’t feel that this doomed my father to permanent bachelorhood. He told my father that in fact he hoped that my father would someday be “lucky enough” to make a good marriage. (Spoiler alert: He did, but not until the age of 59!) My father was puzzled about this comment and asked Freud if he thought luck was involved since as a professional, he knew so much about people. Freud said that luck was always involved with good marriages. He felt you could only know so much about a person without living with them and that you could only really get to know someone after living with them for many years! And in his day, living together before marriage was just not done.

Freud could be humble about his own ideas. He was discussing a minor theory with my father one day and said, “Oh, don’t take that too seriously! That’s something I dreamed up on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” On the other hand, the people around Freud got into serious trouble if they didn’t take all of Freud’s ideas seriously and show total loyalty. My father found this aspect of Freud’s personality confusing and difficult to manage.

Freud could also have a sense of humor about psychoanalysis. My father was talking to him about two Viennese analysts who had committed suicide and Freud’s comment was “ Well, the day will soon come when psychoanalysis will be considered a legitimate cause of death!”

As expected, Freud worried about the future of psychoanalysis. In particular, he was afraid that it would be labeled as “the Jewish science” since most of the people drawn to it in it’s early days were Jewish. The real problem that would plague the movement through the years was the fact that Freud insisted on maintaining tight, hands on control over everything. Everything had to go through him – who did what, who had what jobs, who had which patients, even in America. Most important, he controlled the purse strings. This caused lots of rivalry, infighting and politicking among his followers. In the end, this did more damage to the burgeoning profession than the “Jewish” label Freud so feared.

Kardiner Family Pics-1

One of the most interesting and revealing exchanges my father had with Freud dealt with Freud’s analysis of himself as an analyst. Freud admitted that he had no real interest in individual therapeutic problems. He also felt that he had several handicaps that prevented him from being a great analyst. One was that his real interest was with theoretical problems. That is where he devoted most of his energy. Another was that Freud admitted to tiring of people quickly and said he had no interest in keeping them on as patients for an extended time. He also felt that it was important to “spread his influence”, so he treated/taught many people but only for short periods of time. Fortunately that did not catch on as the standard of treatment in the general public.

Overall, my father enjoyed his time studying with and getting to know Freud. He greatly liked and admired the man and was in awe of his professional accomplishments and innovations. However my father was never a fundamentalist type Freudian, as many were. He believed that Freud meant the field he created to grow and expand with the times. He believed that Freud would have wanted new scientific data and theories to influence the practice of psychoanalysis and would have welcomed new ideas and new techniques into the field.

My father dedicated the rest of his life to expanding the horizons of psychoanalysis and incorporating psychiatry into the already existing fields of anthropology and sociology. My father believed that the only way to thoroughly understand any society and it’s people, was through an interdisciplinary approach. He wrote several books outlining his interdisciplinary methodology. He continued to write articles and lectures on this, and other topics in psychoanalysis, until a few years before his death at almost 90, in 1981.