DECORATING TRICKS FOR YOUR KITCHEN – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’ve been obsessing over the news for what feels like forever. I needed a break. So I decided to step away from my iPhone and do something that made me feel happy and safe. I walked around my house. I took in all the little things about it and in it that I love.

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I particularly love my kitchen. I redecorated it from top to bottom two years ago, along with the adjoining sun porch. It came out exactly as I had hoped – bright, cheerful, fun and totally me.

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My first goal was to create a colorful environment. All of the walls in my house had been shades of white or beige for the past twenty years. So I went a little crazy. I love color. Happy colors make me happy. I dress in them and wanted to live in them as well, particularly shades of aqua and turquoise. So the walls in the kitchen and eating area are a pale mint green and the walls in the sunroom are light turquoise. Most of the accessories in both rooms are shades of blue and green.

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For some colorful drama, I trimmed the moulding around the numerous windows in the sun room in turquoise darker than the walls. The effect is stunning!

I also added an aqua Corian counter to the kitchen island. And a colorful mosaic tile pattern on the back-splash behind the stove.

My second goal was to create warmth and personality by using accessories. Everywhere you look there is something pretty and interesting to look at. Because it’s a kitchen, and because I wanted to save money, I used everyday items as a major part of the decor. Items like plates and bowls, glasses and cups, trays, etc. So in my glass cabinets, I displayed these decorative touches to add pops of color in and amongst my everyday dishes and glasses.

I have two small bookcases in the kitchen as well. I used these shelves to create artistic ‘vignettes’ using similar items plus some vases and paperweights.

I love to use colorful, patterned plates, trays and bowls as decor on the walls and on other flat surfaces in the kitchen as well. I have a charming set of ceramic plates in different sizes, shaped like fish and glazed in beautiful tones of blue. They are dispersed throughout the sunroom and kitchen, on walls, in cabinets and standing on the shelf above the kitchen cabinets.Sun room curley house

I get a lot of pleasure looking at the pretty things in my home. I also remember how and where I got them and what they mean to me. Hopefully you can take some of these ideas and use them to give your kitchen a little extra pizzazz, or at least something new to look at.

OVER THE TOP CONSPIRACY THEORIES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

As if I don’t have enough to worry about these days! I’ve found something new and exciting (at least for me) to keep me up at night. It’s a device the right-wing followers use to explain away anything that counters their views. It’s called ‘a false flag operation’ and it’s basically paranoia — on steroids. The most recent examples in the right-wing press are:

  1. Recent attacks on Jewish facilities and cemeteries have been perpetrated by Jews and liberals to make Trump and his supporters look bad.
  2. The CIA hacked the Democratic National Committee during the election, but has the technology to make it look as if the Russians did it. They did it to — you guessed it — make Trump and his supporters look bad.
  3. Then there’s the oldie but goodie about the Newtown school massacre. It never happened. Actors were hired to make it look real. It was faked to make Second Amendment gun advocates look bad.

There are so many more it boggles the mind. What happened to “When you hear hooves, assume horses, not zebras”?

What kind of people are willing, nay eager, to believe a convoluted conspiracy theory rather than an obvious truth? Do you have to be paranoid? Or one of the people who never goes near critical thought because it will mess with your delusions? To buy into any of these cabals and lies, you have to believe everyone is out to get you … and deeply wicked. Nefarious. Evil. Buying into this stuff is more than just untrue. It’s unhinged.

I believe what I believe, but I critically evaluate the information I get for and against my beliefs. I would get no comfort from a flimsy, outlandish theory that I could not verify just because it bolstered my world view. I would analyze it and reject it as false or unsubstantiated. Then, I’d move on.

So we’re back to what makes me reject these ridiculous theories and cabals while others embrace them.

I believe in facts. I believe in science. Forensics. I know there are ways to prove what’s real and what’s not. Maybe other people have a looser definition of ‘truth’ than I do. Require less evidence. Maybe they are the kind of people who will believe anything they see on the internet. Many others don’t care whether or not something is true after they choose to believe it.

Others choose to believe and never mind truth or evidence.

Have you ever watched “America’s Got Talent” or any talent show? There are people out there who genuinely think they are great singers, dancers, or whatever. And they are, in fact, horrible. So awful they get booed by a huge audience and eviscerated by a panel of judges. Yet most of these performers leave the stage believing that everyone is wrong about them. Nobody ‘gets’ their true talent.

Maybe that is the answer to my question. People have a great capacity for self-deception, particularly when there’s a deep-seated need to perpetuate that deception — for whatever reason.

My reality says that people don’t want facts to back up their beliefs because their beliefs are faith-based. Faith is not built on proof and evidence. It’s built on how they ‘feel.’ That’s how they are able to understand the world around them. There’s no choice for them. They must believe they are right because faith and feelings are their version of proof and evidence.

And so they believe and live happily ever after. Or, maybe not.

THE INMATES ARE RUNNING THE ASYLUM – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’ve come to accept the fact that a large chunk of the country believes a set of ‘alternative facts’ that are, in fact, not true. They are SO not true, they are ridiculous, outrageous and totally unbelievable to most people.

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I ’get’ that many people are uninformed. Or worse – don’t use their human ability to engage in critical, analytical thought. It’s sad, but it’s a fact of life today in Trump World.

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I just thought that we could still hold the government to a higher standard. How naïve of me! When the right-wing propaganda machine spews out the latest conspiracy theory, I believed people in government had the resources and motivation to do their own fact checking. I thought, knowing the unreliability of the source, they would ASSUME anything from that source was false until proven true.

Last week, the world was totally turned on its head.

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The President tweeted about a conspiracy theory he read about on Breitbart News. He actually accused President Obama of wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower during the campaign. To get such a wiretap, Obama would have had to give FISA probable cause that Trump or his affiliates committed an actual crime.

But let’s forget about that fact for now.

Trump made these allegations without giving ANY evidentiary data, support or even “word of mouth” from a reliable source. Not surprising because there is none. Then Trump demanded Congress investigate his groundless allegation. Also not surprising. He always doubles down on his crazy.

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The insane part is that Congress agreed to start an investigation.

They said, “Sure. Okay.”

Without checking for a single iota of proof that these alleged wiretaps happened. At all. This is the Seinfeld of Investigations – an investigation about NOTHING!

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Congress is willing to waste the public’s money and the government’s time to investigate something that has no credible basis in reality.

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At least the press will now call the lie, a lie. When branches of the government are willing to act on lies, we’re not just dealing with alternative facts, but with an alternate reality.

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Congress refused to say “the Emperor is stark naked” — and stark, raving mad! We have gone through the looking-glass. I’m losing hope for the ultimate victory of sanity and truth over insanity and “fake news.”

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This has gone too far down the rabbit hole for me. My personal Maginot Line was crossed. The inmates are running the asylum.

I am officially freaking out! And that is a fact.



For our non-American readers, FISA means:

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (“FISA” Pub.L. 95–511, 92 Stat. 1783, 50 U.S.C. ch. 36) is a United States federal law which prescribes procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers.”

SITUATIONAL FRIENDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I recently wrote a blog about old friends; people who knew you when you were a lot younger and who shared a part of your life that doesn’t exist anymore. That got me thinking. Why do some people become ‘old friends’ and others drop by the wayside? Why do some people stick with you over decades while others drift away?

I believe that most people start out as situational friends. You meet and become friends because you’re sharing an activity or a stage of life. Examples are people you work with and parents whose kids go to school with and/or are friends with your kids. Also, people you meet through hobbies, like at a golf or tennis club, a knitting circle, a book club, etc.

What makes some of those friendships ‘take’ and become permanent? I have no idea. Many friendships seem to end when the shared activity stops – you change jobs, your kids graduate or find new friends, you leave the club, whatever. I’ve had so many friends like this it blows my mind. I’ve often wondered why we lost touch. Why was it that that particular person or couple slipped away? We were so close!

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But some friends do stay with you and ripen into wonderful ‘old friends’. I’ve never been able to tell which friendships will last and which won’t. In the mid-late 1980’s I was redecorating my house from top to bottom. I spent two years working closely with my decorator and we became friends. At around the same time, my daughter became friends with a girl in her kindergarten class and I became friends with her Mom (and Dad as well – we also socialized as couples). Those friendships lasted all the way through high school – 12 years. Who am I still close with 30 years later? The decorator. The Mom still lives five minutes away from me and we haven’t even talked in years and years. The decorator moved out-of-state more than 10 years ago but we’re still the dearest of friends.

For many years, Tom and I had a group of friends who shared a dock with us at the marina where our boat lives. We were crazy close. We traveled together with our boats, partied all summer and had gotten together regularly over the winter. Gradually, boats left the marina, people moved away and most of them disappeared from our lives. Only one friend remains out of at least six or eight couples. I was heartbroken that the ‘gang’ dispersed into the ether.

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I think friendships like these end because of some odd combination of laziness and busyness. When you no longer share that situational ‘bond’, you’re not thrown together. You have to make more of an effort to see each other. Obviously, if you haven’t developed a strong emotional connection that transcends your ‘situation’, that won’t happen.

Also, people are busy. Between work, family and other friends, time is at a premium. If you’re not at the top of someone’s ‘priority list,’ you lose. The common ‘bond’ was what got you to the top of the list before. Now, unless you have a personal bond or you forge a new one that shoots you to the front of the line – you’re toast. You just don’t fit into the new reality of your former friends’ lives.

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I have to admit, I’m hypersensitive. I take it at least a little bit personally whenever someone drops out of my life. But, I don’t lose sleep over it either. I’ve learned making and keeping friends has as much to do with timing as anything else. Like romantic relationships, some things are not meant to be. Fortunately for me, many wonderful friendships have blossomed, lasted and enrich my life today.

Many of friends now live all over the country but distance has not lessened our connection. Some things are meant to be.

WHO KNEW THE WORLD WAS SO COMPLICATED? – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Our President recently expressed shock when he discovered providing healthcare to 320 million people is complicated.


Who knew?

Everybody knew.

Except the President.


What an insult to every thinking, caring person on the planet! Everything is frigging complicated!

Relationships at work and at home — are complicated. Solving everyday problems — is complicated. Managing young children and old parents — is complicated.

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By Mike Marland – @mikemarland

Hasn’t Mr. Trump heard the rubric that everything takes twice as long as you expect? Why is that?

Because everything is complicated! Deciding what to make for dinner for four picky eaters can be annoyingly complex. It can require cooking more than one dish to satisfy everyone. That makes it a complex solution to a complicated problem, involving complex carbohydrates.

The bigger the decision, the more moving parts there are. On a national policy level, every action has consequences and these consequences give birth to another generation of consequences, and so on. The flow chart for anything will look like a spider web.

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Someone who doesn’t understand the complexity of national issues should NOT be allowed to solve them! Apparently in Trump’s business world, he could just make a decision based on whatever he was feeling at the moment. Then his minions would scurry around and make it happen. Maybe that’s possible when you’re simply buying and selling things. Negotiate terms and price — and POOF! A deal. Easy peasy!

I find it impossible to believe anyone outside of a primitive village in the middle of nowhere could be so utterly clueless about how the world works today. It is mind-boggling that any sane or half-way intelligent human being could think that anything a government does for millions of people could be quick and easy.

Note the use of the terms ‘sane’ and halfway intelligent’.

Trump has consistently assured his followers that he has quick, easy solutions for every issue. I thought he was being cynical when he said that. That he was knowingly blowing smoke up his base’s collective ass.

I was wrong. He believed his own hype! He actually thought, “I can sit down and come up with the perfect solution for healthcare that all you bozos have been struggling over for the past 70 years. In a single sitting. On the first try!”

By Mike Marland - @mikemarland

The good news? Someone finally got through to Trump. On something. They must have explained the governmental facts of life to him in some awkward, uncomfortable conversation. Was there a tantrum involved?

At least our President seems — for the moment — to understand at least some issues facing this country are incapable of a ‘quick fix.”  Now let’s see how our fearless leader tackles the ’12 and over’ toys in his toy-chest. Lord help us all!

OLD FRIENDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There’s something very special about old friends.

As we get older, there are also different degrees of ‘old’. I have friends from when my children were young, 30 years ago and friends from when I was young, more than 60 years ago. My husband has known Marilyn Armstrong since he was a freshman in college. In 1975, Tom and his ex wife actually lived for a while with Marilyn and her then husband. That creates lasting bonds that are like no others.

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My current group of local close friends have only known me as a retired empty nester. So it’s comforting to talk to people who knew me when I was a newly married career woman, or as an energetic full-time Mom with young kids.

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Tom and Garry

Then there’s Wendy. She represents a whole other, unique category of old friends. We were best friends from 5th grade into 7th grade. We had that special bond that only 9-12 year old girls can have. We did everything together. We slept over at each other’s homes almost every weekend when we were in New York City for school.

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We spent time at my weekend/summer home in Easton, Connecticut, where I now live. We hung out at her ‘country’ house, first in a neighboring town in Connecticut and then on a tiny island on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. (Very cool! She still owns the island and goes there regularly).

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We intimately knew each other’s parents and in my case, grandparents too. We reveled in each other’s pets – we both had birds. We named our birds after characters in Peter Pan (Wendy/Peter Pan). Her parakeet was Petey and my canary was Tinkerbell.

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We were friendly through high school. In junior high, we moved onto other best friends and different circles of friends. We lost touch after high school. Totally. We didn’t have any contact at all until I called her after our 40th high school reunion. We talked on the phone a few times and then lost touch again for another ten years.

This past year, as our 50th class reunion approaches, we reconnected on Facebook. This time our connection has blossomed into a real friendship. We have talked on the phone for a half hour to an hour every week for the past few months. We both look forward to our conversations. We have moved past catching up and reminiscing. We have filled each other in on the basics of our careers, marriages and children.

We each have a child with serious health issues. We’ve talked about books, friends, hobbies and politics. We both suffer from Donald Trump’s PTSD.

We’ve come to realize that we’re similar in many ways and simpatico on other levels, too. We would not continue our relationship if that were not the case. We might have become close if we had just met for the first time. But there is something so special about talking with someone who knew my first dog, remembers my parents as ‘young people.’ Who remembers writing ‘novels’ together as pre-teens using manual typewriters with carbon paper — and no self-correcting features.

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I believe we know each other – the essence of who we are – in a way that almost no one else can. It would have been nice if we had stayed in touch through all the intervening years. Apparently it wasn’t necessary. There’s just something about the friendship we had in those formative, innocent years in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. That ‘something’ has survived for 50 years and is creating a modern-day friendship which is more fun, deeper and more meaningful than either of us could have imagined.

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I’m surprised but thrilled that Wendy has become such a wonderful addition to my life. I talk to her more and on a different level than I talk to the old friends I have stayed in contact with. I cherish the bond we’ve created and I look forward to watching it deepen over time.

We are meeting in person next week for the first time since 1967. Although we live two hours apart, we hope we can continue meeting in person as well as texting, emailing and talking on the phone. I think we give new meaning to the phrase ‘old friends.’

THE NEW PTSD by ELLIN CURLEY

I wrote a blog a while back about how I’ve grown to hate repetitive, routine household chores, like doing the laundry and washing the dishes. But things have changed. The Trump presidency has altered my perspective on a lot of things. Trump and his team have caused political whiplash and existential chaos, which, in turn, has increased my appreciation for the small things in life. Things like the belief in facts, the existence of truth and the joys of a shared reality, at least with my husband. Also, a renewed love of predictability, consistency and reliability – in people and in the world.

72-drying-dishes-081616_008.jpg August 16, 2016So my boring daily slog is suddenly comforting. It makes me feel secure. My husband’s predictabale routines now seem appealing and safe. Almost sexy. Chores are no longer frustrating necessities. Sorting socks is now a calming, Zen exercise. Fitting dishes into the slots in the dishwasher gives me a sense of success and accomplishment. These are the things in life I can count on. I am not helpless in my own home.

My chores also take me away, for a short time, from the onslaught of breaking news from Washington, DC. They give me moments of quiet before the next storm. I deeply appreciate them for the very repetitiveness that had turned me against them before. Boredom is now my friend. I see it as calmness and peace without the negative connotations I used to attribute to it. It’s the antidote to my PTSD – Perpetual Trump Shitstorm Distress!

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I look forward to training my puppy. Sit! Stay! Come! Good girl! Repeat. No lump in my stomach, no sense of dread. No alternative facts or alternate reality. Just me and my dog agreeing that ‘sit’ means ‘put your butt on the floor’ and ‘stay’ means ‘don’t move until I tell you to.’ Boring, but reassuring and gratifying.

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Remy & Lexi

I appreciate my friends more, at least the ones who share my version of facts and reality. My daughter not calling me for weeks is now just something I can count on in an uncertain world. If I continue to focus on the small things in life that give me pleasure and comfort, I just may make it through the Trump years.