A Women’s Guide to Relationships & Marriage

That’s right; reading this article can significantly simplify your life. Everything you ever wanted to know about men and relationships right here, spurred by an article in The Onion. Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 2.30.31 PM

The spoof article reported that Denise Palermo, upon turning 29, had knocked a few more items off her list of desirable traits for a partner. With looks, intelligence, sensitivity, financial security already crossed off, she was basically left with hair and bumping up her age ceiling from 40 to 45.

I like men, a lot, as friends…and more! But as an, um, older woman, I’ve watched a lot, read a lot, experienced a lot and have many women friends. There are patterns.

The dating pool for men, especially if good looking and/or (and it’s an important “or”) financially secure is….women of any age. The dating pool for women is men their own age or older, and at a rapidly diminishing rate.

So, sadly, the article wasn’t much of a stretch from the truth.

Between 20-30 the dating pool is pretty evenly matched, maybe even skewed a bit toward women simply because women are looking for actual “traits” in potential partners and so turn down many potential suitors. Many hook up with (and yes, I’m using that in the “have sex with” sense) bad boy Alphas, but then marry their best friends, even if a bit of a Beta. These are the marriages probably most like to last.

But as women age, the “good men” get taken, rapidly. That leads many unmarried women to make some rash decisions as they approach 30.

Their friends are getting married. They spend all their time and money being bridesmaids or trying to catch a bouquet. The clock is ticking. And so, if some guy meets her minimum requirements, the answer is “yes.”

It's kind of a lather-rinse-repeat cycle...

It’s kind of a lather-rinse-repeat cycle…

The entire cycle often repeats itself again between 35-50 after many first marriages hit the skids. Men must be married — someone to take care of them and adore them. Replacement wives.

Women, however, make one of three basic decisions.

1. I want to get married at any cost.

For a variety of reasons they want to be married, and they are willing to compromise on the “to whom” part. That’s not a bad thing. Just a choice.

2. Screw it.

I’m financially okay — or in some cases better than just okay — and I’m too tired, too happy on my own, too independent, too frustrated or too angry to go through another potentially bad or disastrously ending relationship.

3. Cautiously optimistic.

I would like another relationship but I’m not desperate and so choose to wait until Mr. Right comes along, knowing the odds aren’t in my favor, but feeling I’m worth it. In the meantime, I’m (relatively?) happy!

For those actively seeking to get married, by 35 many single women drop their requirements for a partner to not having being treated being actively treated for anything listed in the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or having been arrested, convicted, convicted for a felony, convicted for a felony in this country within the past ten years. And even those are negotiable. After all, some sociopaths can be quite charming.Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 3.11.24 PM

Esquire magazine recently ran an article assuring women that some men still find women sexually attractive at 42, and are even willing to have sex with them! Wow, how reassuring, and magnanimous!

But, other men are not so generous. The Huffington Post ran an blog by a woman told by a man that he couldn’t get turned on by her aging body.

I’ve got news for you Mister — ear hair, a bulbous nose, sagging chest, pot belly, old-man-ass and knobby knees aren’t all that thrilling either. But women are more likely to overlook those atrocities for love, companionship — even money (in which case it’s just “close your eyes and think of England”).

And so by age 50 — if in a hurry to find a relationship all that’s left for women in terms of realistic requirements is the ability to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide.

For women who are willing to settle compromise, online dating may be the answer. There are a number of men of various not necessarily good types available there.

Some helpful hints: present yourself as red hot sexy, not too smart, amenable to whatever your potential partner’s interests are, and — most importantly — be ready to tell Mr. Online “looking for my last first date” that he’s perfect in every way — at least till you’re married.

There are lots of successful second (and third!) relationships/marriages. Few of them, however, began with desperation on the part of either party.

With Esquire pointing out that men are generous to the point of being “willing” to have sex with Mrs. Robinsons like ….Sofia Vergara, Cameron Diaz, and maybe even Jennifer Garner, is it any wonder that some women say “screw it”?!

Over 50 women join the Grandma Moses category with Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon and Charlotte Rampling.

Esquire says men are willing to have sex with her! Imagine that?

Esquire says men are willing to have sex with her! Imagine that?

But yet, many women choose to believe good things come to those who wait, and sometimes they do! Hollywood tells you that Mr. Right is right around the corner. I know a women who actually met her husband sitting next to him on a plane, just like in the movies! I also know women who meet meet the occasional “prince” online who aren’t good matches for them, but introduce them to friends.

The key point is — the decision, ladies, is yours. There are men out there, it’s just a question of what you want.

Amazing Women…Still Doubt Themselves

Four astronauts..women astronauts

Four astronauts..women astronauts

I recently had the opportunity to attend a panel of astronauts from the United States, South Korea, China and Canada while in Montreal to participate in the 2014 International Space University summer session. And, they all just happened to be women.

Needless to say, it was fascinating.

I’ve been at, and on, lots of panels with lots of astronauts in the past, but no women astronauts. Usual answers to questions, regardless of the question, tend toward technical or informational. “My job was to…” “My training was in…” “Riding atop a spacecraft feels like…”

These women, however, each had a personal story to tell, and were willing to tell it. They also were candid, and funny.

A particular answer to one question, however, really peaked my interest.

The question was: What has been your biggest challenge as an astronaut, or to becoming an astronaut.

Canadian astronaut Julie Payette’s answer: “Getting male colleagues to take me seriously, and having to prove my competence over and over again.”

All the other women astronauts vigorously nodded their heads. No translation needed.

Gosh, how many women can identify with that?

Not being taken seriously and having to prove yourself over and over can be is professionally and personally demoralizing.

As a 20+ year faculty member at a Professional Military Education (PME) institution, I recently wrote about this demoralization (and educationally counterproductive) situation with regard to women faculty and students in PME, co-authoring the article with two other women so as to show it’s not just one bitchy woman’s opinion. We also included data and examples wherever possible in the article to stave off the inevitable “it’s only disgruntled women complaining” blowback. Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.18.03 PM

A recent article in Canada’s National Post talks about this phenomenon as well, particularly that women suffer from “Imposter Syndrome” far more than men. Imposter Syndrome is described in the newspaper article as “the voice inside you saying that not everything is as it seems, and it could all be lost in a moment.” It’s the feeling that at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud…even though you are very competent. It’s self-doubt that often stems from not being taken seriously, or being ignored or criticized more than your male peers.

By the way, I commend the International Space University for organizing the panel of all women astronauts. I am a long time, strong supporter of that institution. But my co-authors and I pointed out in our article about lack of diversity in PME that students felt having only 2 women as class lecturers at the Army War College sent a message of sexism. So I would be remiss not to also point out that of the 54 core lectures on space studies presented to ISU students over a 5 week period in 2014, only 3 were given by women. Intended or not that silently speaks volumes about both capabilities and what the women ISU students might aspire to.

My friend and Amazing Women subject Toni Bramley conveyed an illustrative personal experience from her years studying architecture.

She was at a “crit” (critique), an open forum where architecture students present their work for faculty and student comment. Needless to say it’s a nerve-wracking and important event. Work was being presented by a man well-respected by the faculty. As he presented his work, Toni began to wonder where the door was in the structure he was talking about. Seemed a pretty obvious and important question, but since nobody else was asking, she assumed she must have missed something, and began mentally rationalizing why there was no door, rather than asking the presenter.

Finally, however, a male faculty member asked, “where’s the door?”

Oops, the presenter confessed, he forgot one.

Toni had doubted her own instinct and knowledge.

Doubting, you know, like “It’s Not Me, Right?”

Women do that a lot, no matter how successful or how knowledgeable.

Why?

Men belittle women in ways they would never belittle men.

I was once introduced at a speaking engagement as “an alleged expert in my field of space studies.”

That's me! An "alleged" expert in my field.

That’s me! An “alleged” expert in my field.

Huh?

The audience was taken aback, as was I.

I later asked the person who introduced me why he had introduced me in that fashion.

His curt (and condescending) answer was that since he did not know me personally, he could only go by what others said and what he had read, and hence my reputation was only “alleged” to him.

Seriously? Really?

Would he introduce a man in a similar fashion?

Um, I think not.

And so, confidence can get worn away, it simply becomes exhausting having to prove yourself over and over or, tired of proving themselves, women get assertive.

Assertive. That becomes another word for aggressive or even “bitchy.”

Assertive can also be the kiss of death. Just ask former New York Times Editor Jill Abramson, fired for her “brusque management style” — and wanting the same pay as her male counterparts.Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.29.57 PM

In a recent interview, she says she is not ashamed of being fired…and tells why. Basically, she did her job, and did it well.

The glass ceiling may be broken, but the fine line that professional women walk is still in place.

While it can be a spur to push women’s determination, it can also be exhausting and demoralizing.

My answer? Women need to network far more than the currently do. Mentor and help each other.

It’s hang together or hang separately.

I Bought a Lottery Ticket

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 2.17.57 PMWell so have many people, you say, so what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that I have already — virtually — spent my winnings many times over, and never actually bought a ticket before. I have, in fact, made somewhat of a science of spending lottery money, without having ever bought a ticket.

Let me educate you, oh potentially naïve lottery player.

If you are a working stiff like the rest of us, winning anything under $7 million won’t really change your lifestyle.

The government will take over a third leaving you with, at best, $4 million. (The lottery in Canada is tax free. How un-American. Would Ann Coulter actually like something about Canada?) Invested well, that will give you an annual income of about $160,000, before taxes. If you are of retirement age, that might work. But if you have a family, potential college costs, aging parents, medical bills, etc. — you’re going back to work the Monday after you win.

Don’t get me wrong, your life will be better – much better – but you’re not going to be buying a plane to get to your villa in the Caribbean from your winter home in New York City, or even Kansas City.

A friend of mine thought he might be coming into some money — $3 million in fact. He suggested – with a certain amount of bravado — that he was going to buy an apartment on the Piazza Navona in Rome and retire. Really?

He’d be lucky to buy a studio apartment for that amount.

Michael and I are sooo excited waiting to win!

Michael and I are sooo excited waiting to win!

Seeing the dashed look on his face when I threw that bucket of cold water on his plan made me think maybe I shouldn’t have brought up.

But I’m all about reality.

My friend Michael and I have spent hours on Saturday mornings while walking 3 miles as part of our Weight Watchers exercise plan, or eating pastry afterward (yes, I see the contradiction), spending lottery winnings.

Having a shared fantasy, we have shared in decision-making.

Being realists, we worked backwards. What do we want from our shared ticket winnings? The list took months of bartering and negotiation to finalize.

A Mews House in London (a flat in the Crescent Circle of Bath – pronounced Baaaaath — was also considered). Estimate = $6.5 million

Just a simple place to rest in London.

Just a simple place to rest in London.

A place in the Black Point section of Honolulu, where Doris Duke’s house is located, for winters. Nothing ostentatious. Maybe 4 bedrooms, en suite of course. Estimate = $5 million

A pied a terre in New York City (you saw that coming I’m sure). Estimate = $5 million

And as home base, a place in Newport, Rhode Island. Michael originally suggested Clarendon Court, but that was a bit out of our reach, so we settled on a nice 7 bedroom place — off the water — that we would frequently walk by. Estimate = $6 million

So we’re at $21 million and we haven’t even furnished them yet, and as Michael rather strongly pointed out – we wouldn’t be shopping at IKEA. Again, being simple, reasonable people, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being museum quality furniture pieces, we would go mostly with 6’s and 7’s in the public rooms, maybe dip to 5’s in the bedrooms. Reasonable. That’s us.

After much consideration, we opted against this one.

After much consideration, we opted against this one.

So we figured in another $5 million for furnishing.

And then there’s staff.

The Newport house will need “people”: a chef, maid (2?), butler, & 2 or 3 grounds people.

And we’ll need a couple to travel ahead of us to open the houses before we arrive.

And we want to be really good to our “people”! Guests staying at the Newport House will be required to let the chef know by 10 a.m. if they will be dining with us, so he knows how many to prepare dinner for. (Lunch will be a buffet by the pool.) It’s just rude to do otherwise. So, another $1+ million for salaries.

Then there is money to live on — that’s at least $12 million each so our annual interest income is enough to “get by” in the lifestyle we have planned.

Realistically, somebody has to clean!

Realistically, somebody has to clean!

And, voila! We’re looking at over $50 million! (Michael thinks I’ve underestimated…)

Okay, I sense some of you seeing this plan as a bit, um, crass, maybe even selfish.

No, no, no. We figure in another $30 million to start a charitable foundation.

And we’ll need another $1 million for legal fees and security after winning. You can’t be too careful you know. I’d hate to have to give some kidnapper $1 million to get my cats Norm and Cliff back!

So at over $80 million and then adding money for the tax man, you can see – winning the Mega Lottery is a must. It’s just math!

I’m pretty sure we’re not the only ones to ever have this pastime (okay, maybe not to this extent).

My ex-husband and I once argued over dinner about Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes winnings.

Me: I returned our entry into the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes today.

Him, with sarcasm: Nobody ever wins those…

Pay the ransom!

Pay the ransom!

Me: You never know. I had to decide how we wanted the money if we won.

Him, putting down his fork and suddenly alert: What?! How did you say we wanted the money?

Me: I said we wanted the monthly installments for life.

Him: YOU DID WHAT? We want a lump sum!?

(How did we go from it being a waste of time to me having ruined our financial future so quickly?)

Me, shrugging defensively: I thought maybe installments were better…

Him: HAVE YOU MAILED IT? TELL ME YOU HAVEN’T MAILED IT!

We never won anything.

But, today I bought a lottery ticket.

I had to ask how/where to buy one. And there are many different types (who knew?).

And you get either randomly generated numbers or can pick your own. I think the person behind me was a little annoyed when I started configuring different numerical combinations of every event in my son’s life.

So folks, I am ready.

Fantasy and reality are ready to collide. If you hear nothing further from me – you’ll know I’m on my way to London to buy the Mews House!

Online Dating + Reality TV = As Bad As You Are Imagining

Because I have written about online dating in the past, readers and friends alert me to relevant “stuff.” Like the Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue and skit about niche online dating sites, including one for “gluten free” daters. I must admit that it was pretty funny…Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 1.18.21 PM

I also got a tip about a reality show on Bravo called Online Dating Rituals of the American Male which I then let compelled to watch as part of “due diligence” for prior and future blog posts. Please allow me to fill you in so you can save the 43 minutes it took to watch an episode, sans commercials, as you can never get them back, and your time would be better spent cleaning your dryer lint filter, de-pilling a sweater, or changing out all your incandescent lightbulbs.

First of all, understandably, the featured males are largely under 40, and their dates under 30. As I have said before, online dating under 40 is very different — in a positive way — than online dating over 50, with 40-50 a dreadful “no man’s land” of people frantically trying to find their “last date ever” before entering the over 50 dead zone, where lying about age (women) and hairlines (men) becomes mandatory. But this is a show featuring train wreck dates.

The show films in Los Angeles so there’s an abundance of “talent” to choose from.

No, this is not "Mike" -- but it could have been.

No, this is not “Mike” — but it could have been.

The episode I watched featured two men. The first was a hunky (yes, there was a scene of him in the shower) orthopedic surgeon who was looking for a wife and mother to his children (he would really like twins), we’ll call him Mike; and the other was a sensitive (I first thought him gay), average looking man who works with animals, and had a great sense of humor, we’ll call him Darren.

Mike said he was looking for a serious relationship. Yet the only thing he commented about while looking through pictures online was looks. (Imagine that?) By the way, on his profile, Mike listed himself as a mechanic, because he didn’t want women to date him just because he’s a doctor. (I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit.)

His first date was with a women who he noted — positively! — had her picture taken in front of the largest liquor cabinet he had every seen. Certainly that’s a quality important for the mother of your children. And she listed her age as 99. Hum, he wondered, what could that mean? (DUH?) Turned out she was 33. When she said that he let out an audible “Um……” with the childish expression of an 8 year old told by mom to give visiting Aunt Gertrude a kiss hello.

He took his next date horseback riding, even though she said she was afraid of horses. But she was a good egg and went along with it. Afterward he pulled out a bottle of wine and poured them drinks. “I don’t drink,” she said. “I said that on my profile. Did you read my profile?” He admitted he had not. So he’s looking for a serious relationship, but had not read her profile. He was a little put out too, as he didn’t think he could have a relationship with a women who wouldn’t share a glass of wine with him.

The last lucky miss was Allyson, who looked and acted um, what’s the word I’m looking for, normal. Allyson was a little put off though by Mike bringing his female roommate Natasha and her boyfriend with him on their first date, a boat trip. Mike wondered why Allyson wasn’t snuggling up to him in the boat. Again, duh! Do not let this man operate on you! That was probably because snarky, slutty Natasha, the roommate, was interviewing Allyson — grilling her — with questions like “are you a virgin?”. And Mike’s friends mocked her for saying she went to church, while Mike smirked.

Allyson said she would go out with Mike again, but not his friends. Mike didn’t felt that Allyson had passed muster.

Good luck Mike — you’re an idiot.

And then there was Darren — so named because he kind of reminded me of Darren on the old television show Bewitched. I would definitely want to go out with Darren. He was smart, a bit irreverent, funny, and he liked animals!

Like Marianne on Gilligan's Island or  Claire on Modern Family -- Darren is attractive in a more real way...

Like Marianne on Gilligan’s Island or Claire on Modern Family — Darren is attractive in a more real way…


His first date showed up in a dress which left little to the imagination. Darren commented that he was trying not to look at her cleavage but it was rather like trying not to look at a solar eclipse (see, he’s funny!). Clearly too the pictures the woman had posted were from 10 or so years before…and she hadn’t aged well. Poor Darren.

His second date was with a woman who showed up — drunk. Sloppy drunk. His comment, “She reminded me not to order dinner before you find out if your date is — crazy.”

The date ended so quickly that he immediately moved on to another date, with a very young woman who had clearly left a village somewhere without their resident idiot. WOW! One can only hope she was acting for the camera. She spoke with a bit of a lisp that came, apparently, simply from stupidity. Though her online pictures included the requisite bikini shots, in person she was dressed like she was in an adolescent Disney production. Darren commented that he was actually looking for a woman, vice girl.

Yes, Bravo, what the world needs is more reality television...

Yes, Bravo, what the world needs is more reality television…

Darren’s last date was with Melissa. Cute, nice — and about 18, to his 38. Darren was, wisely, more than a little reluctant to do more than have coffee with her.

Both men walked away from their online dating experience more than a little disappointed, and frustrated. In the case of Mike — too bad, he got what he deserved. In the case of Darren though, I hope he finds someone nice.

Bottom line — as though the Kardashians, the Housewives of Fill-in-the-Blank, Dance Moms, and the multitude of other reality shows don’t allow Americans enough opportunities for voyeurism, Bravo decided to mix the worst of television with the worst of under-40 online dating.

The only redeeming value I’ve been able to come up with for Online Dating Rituals of the American Male is that a disc containing several episodes could be put in a spaceship and sent out into the solar system as a planetary protection system. Any other species finding it and viewing those episodes would certainly then avoid planet Earth as inhabited by a species too stupid to be worthy of their attention or even their annihilation.

They may be right.

Dick Pics?! Guest Post by Anonymous

So many great headlines when your name is Weiner....

So many great headlines when your name is Weiner….

Let’s talk dick pics. I don’t mean the one of Nixon on the helicopter saying goodbye to the White House staff, but…stay tuned.

Women—and I do mean all women—wonder why a man would risk his marriage, career, and reputation and subject himself to public ridicule to send a selfie of his Mini-Me to some girl he has never met. Why?

Clearly, these men lack a filter between their sexual desires and their sense of self preservation. Are they no better than the Dawson’s bee (Amegilla dawsoni) that lives in the Australian outback and fights to the death for his one big shot at the queen? Most mammalian males that fight over females know when to quit.

Grizzly Bear 1 to Grizzly Bear 2 (holding up in paws and backing away): Hey, Man. What’s say we call it a day? You can have her. She’s hairy and all, but she ain’t worth dying for.

Grizzly 2 (panting): Thank God, Dude. I don’t think I could’ve gone on much longer, and I gotta save some strength. (Chortling and elbowing 1 in the ribs.) Am I right?

Grizzly 1: Yeah, Man. Hey, as soon as you’re done here, let’s go grab a bite of salmon.

Grizzly 2: No prob. This won’t take long.

And this seems like a good idea...why?

And this seems like a good idea…why?

They know it’s just not worth losing everything, a concept that the modern human male with a cell phone hasn’t grasped.

Or does he just think he’ll get away with it?

Richard Nixon stonewalled for 2 years on Watergate because he thought he could get away with it. It’s the same impulse that leads 10 year olds to think they can pilfer candy from the corner store.

But the problem with dick pics is the idiots who take them think they are sending them to a willing receiver who is going to be turned on by the sight of something that, frankly, looks pretty much like every other Dick’s dick or her grandfather’s bald head.

You might think this is just stating the obvious, but apparently not....

You might think this is just stating the obvious, but apparently not….

In Japan, flashing is the national pastime. Japanese men expose themselves to girls in movie theaters, on quiet street corners, in subway cars. They read horrid, explicit porn-manga that glorify violence against women. In India, they gang rape girls. Strict Islamists stone women for looking at a man outside marriage. In Africa, they cut off a girl’s clitoris and call it a rite of passage. All of this is about power.

The Dick-Pic-Dicks* are not seeking power.

I asked a psychologist friend what she thought might motivate a man to send such a photo. She said it is probably a manifestation of their own failed sexuality. Don’t blame me. As they like to say on Fox News, “I’m not a scientist. I’m just telling you what I heard.”

On its face—you know, the beardless face with one eye—the man-boys who make their “privates” public are actually trying to seduce young women. They seem to think that because they get aroused by the sight of a naked women that women will be aroused by a close-up of their pubic hair, or in Anthony Wiener’s case, a picture of gray undies. All I see in that photo is more laundry for some poor woman to do.

Yes, this is the likely reaction of any woman to receiving a picture of your Mini-me, regardless of its condition.

Yes, this is the likely reaction of any woman to receiving a picture of your Mini-me, regardless of its condition.


The DPD’s apparently have not learned that women want to be loved, not fucked. Oh sure, some women on some days are looking for what Erica Jong called “the zipless fuck,” sex with no attachments, no foreplay, no cuddling. But that woman is not texting back and forth with a stranger on the other side of the country trying to get to know him. She’s out trolling in a bar somewhere, and she’s most likely going to find a willing man, no matter what she looks, sounds, or smells like because men are animals when it comes to unencumbered sex.

Okay, that’s an unfair generalization. Only ninety-nine point ninety-nine percent are animals.

I knew a couple back in the Seventies who had an open marriage. That meant she had all the sexual partners she wanted while he hung around in bars trying to explain to women that he loved his wife but wanted to have sex with them just for kicks and he had to be home by 11 to pay the sitter.

What does the DPD think is going to happen when that innocent young thing 3,000 miles away sees a 1” x 1” photo on her cell of his pride and joy? Is she going to think “I gotta have me some of that” and jump on the next plane, stopping only at Victoria’s Secret to pick up a black bustier?

Hum, which will she pick, one (or all) of them, or a text?

Hum, which will she pick, one (or all) of them, or a text?

The best lover I ever had told me a story about a one night stand he had with a woman he met in a bar. The next night, she came back with her friend and asked him if he could pleasure her in the same way. I have every reason to believe this story is true. It isn’t about size; it’s about technique.

Does the boob with the blob really think a woman receiving that picture would be aroused by his Meaty Mate? If that were true, we wouldn’t see so many of them in the news. Remember, DPD, you’re sending this photo to an Internet literate woman. SHE CAN BROADCAST IT AROUND THE WORLD WITH ONE CLICK.

Dude, she's disgusted, maybe angry,  and she knows how to hit send...your worst nightmare.

Dude, she’s disgusted, maybe angry, and she knows how to hit send…your worst nightmare.

If you know a man with a penis, and we all do, send him a link to this blog so that if he is ever feeling the urge to send a dick pic, he can read this and hear a mature woman—who sounds a lot like his mother—say “Don’t do it.” Or maybe a Grizzly bear saying “She’s hairy and all, but she ain’t worth dying for.”

*trademark pending

Anonymous has written other posts on related topics!

Amazing Women: Toni Bramley, Architect

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 10.14.16 AMI’ve known Toni Bramley for many years, having spent summers with Toni and her husband David Kendall in many wonderful cities of the world (and a few a little less wonderful) as part of the International Space University summer sessions. David is a space geek in the best sense of the word, but frankly not much fun to shop with. Toni, on the other hand, is always up for adventures — shopping, culinary, travel, spas (okay maybe the Thai massages in Nakhon Ratchasima weren’t such a great idea) and otherwise!

Recently visiting Toni and David in Montreal, I was reminded how talented Toni is at architecture and interior design.

An extraordinary woman of many talents!

An extraordinary woman of many talents!

Toni has spent since 2004 renovating (what she did went way beyond remodeling) their 1896 Greystone — and her stunning success is obvious in the number of magazine articles covering the result!

From the patio with pools to chill champagne, to the mirrored wall in the kitchen and the master bedroom suite with a glass wall between the tub and bedroom, so that the fireplace can be seen, it’s stunning. Walking through the house, Toni pointed out where walls had been, and how she would just “take them out” if they blocked light. Things like that don’t even cross my mind…

Toni & David's renovated living room in Montreal

Toni & David’s renovated living room in Montreal


She tells about the winter they discovered the steam heat system was not “fixable” and that they spent much of the winter in Montreal with make-shift heat — and yes that was the same winter they had a blue tarp replacing a back wall of the house when the masons stopped working due to the weather and the doors didn’t arrive.

But Toni not only took on her own home for renovation but the neighborhood as well, forming committees to take on community projects. As we walked the family dog Max around the city neighborhood, Toni pointed out the park (she) redesigned for community use, the area of land they are hoping to transition into a city gardens, and the soon to be vacant city hospital she hopes can be maintained for community use.

By the way, Toni went back to school for her architecture degree while raising four children as a single mother. When she told gathered them around and told them she intended to go back to school, they encouraged her — her youngest son saying “Yo! Ma!” — and so that became her company name as an architect YoMa Designs.

Toni is now in the middle of renovating their 1850’s farmhouse in Knowlton, in the Eastern Provinces. Already charming and cozy, I have no doubt it is well on its way to spectacular, and likely again magazine-worthy. I plan to make myself available for many update visits.

I’ve always admired Toni’s energy and artistic talent, but now that I know she can swing a sledgehammer….WOW.

Summer at the country house in Knowlton.

Summer at the country house in Knowlton.

Is Pennsatucky Advising the Supreme Court?

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 5.53.44 PMPennsatucky, you know, the meth-head turned religious zealot inmate who performs (she thinks) healing miracles in the prison lunchroom on Orange is the New Black. Tiffany Doggett, aka Pennsatucky, “transformed” when she became the darling of the anti-abortion movement after shooting multiple abortion clinic personnel — because she felt a nurse had insulted her in the course of her fifth abortion.

Pennsatucky was just a meth-head murderer, until the anti-abortionists decided to glorify her for “the cause.”

Apparently the Supreme Court has similarly decided to elevate anti-abortion protesters outside abortion clinics — individuals (often old men) who shout, harass and generally bully women going inside — to “counselors.” Counselors?

The court ruling on June 26 struck down the legality of Massachusetts legislation setting up a buffer zone around abortion clinics, often Planned Parenthood, as a violation of free speech issue. Well that’s kind of understandable — except that there is a similar buffer zone around the Supreme Court!

Seriously? Do these guys look like counselors?

Seriously? Do these guys look like counselors?

The legality of that Supreme Court buffer zone has been challenged as well. Let’s see if the “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” principle applies when that case is heard!

Counselors offer advice. When people say no thank you though, counselors stop. When somebody won’t stop, are in your space to the extent that you end up with spittle on your face from their rant, that’s harassment, or assault. But the Court pointed out that individuals entering clinics were entitled to the full protection of the law under these circumstances. Great — because there’s always a policeman on duty at these clinics.

Oh wait. Not so much.

Women going to a medical clinic should not need escorts, as they often do, and that need is now only going to increase. And it’s these escorts — fathers, brothers, boyfriends, husbands, friends — who often end up in scuffles with protestors harassing their loved ones. Part of the rationale behind the buffer zone was to prevent the violent encounters these “counseling sessions” can quickly devolve into.

Harassing protesters are counselors like Pennsatucky was concerned about protecting life when she murdered abortion clinic personnel and then became a hero to the anti-abortion crowd.

The case was decided 9-0.

Somebody please check under the desks of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor for pods. Perhaps they were whisked away by aliens and clones financed by the Koch brothers voted in their places on this issue. Sadly, that would be comforting, because why else would women vote to allow harassment of women (usually poor women — rich women don’t go to Planned Parenthood) entering clinics for anything from a check-up to a mammogram, to, yes, an abortion! Somebody suggested they were horse-trading for votes on upcoming abortion cases — maybe Burwell v Hobby Lobby?

Nope, that case was decided June 30 in favor of religious zealots people of faith and against women as well, though this time it was a 5-4 vote.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion which held that for profit employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Five old men deciding about contraception -- imagine that? But as we all know, contraception is a woman's responsibility -- not a man's!

Five old men deciding about contraception — imagine that? But as we all know, contraception is a woman’s responsibility — not a man’s!

So, what if I’m a Jehovah Witness employer at a “closely held” company and don’t believe in blood transfusions? Or a Scientologist like medically-trained, oh wait, not-so-much Tom Cruise who doesn’t believe in anti-depressants? A Christian Scientist objecting to vaccinations? Or — and the way things are going maybe this isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem — what if I’m an employer who thinks homosexuality is a sin. Can I deny health care to gay employees? What about that, Sagacious-Five?

This attack on women’s rights and governance over women’s bodies — through freedom of speech and freedom of religion of all things — is not over. The holier-than-thou’s are feelin’ their oats. Frankly it makes me feel like I’m wading through cinemuck — the grime on the floor of movie theaters. It’s just sticky and disgusting.

Margery Egan, a commentator on Boston Public Radio, raised a good question related to the Massachusetts case. Why are women’s health care clinics still located in stand-alone buildings? They become targets for protesters. If, however, they were incorporated into hospitals or office buildings were people entering were all entering for unknown reasons — and included men — these protestors would be instantly stopped, because no man going in for by-pass surgery or a colonoscopy would tolerate harassment, and legislators would be responsive!

At one time I was going to write a book with a conservative colleague called He Said, She Said. The premise was to be requiring rationality of both the right and the left. If — my conservative colleague and I both conceded — people want something, then they have to be willing to accept the consequence. One of the issues to be addressed was abortion. Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 8.21.42 AM

If conservatives want to restrict/limit/stop? abortions (which will never happen, poor women will just go back to coat hangers, quack doctors, back rooms and consequently, sometimes death), then they need to step up to taking care of the vastly increased number of indigent or abandoned children that would be born. Well that’ll happen won’t it?

Oh wait. Conservatives like Paul Ryan have specifically targeted programs like Temporary Aid to Needy Families…

So somebody needs to explain to me what it is the anti-abortion — and now anti-contraception!@*!& — folks want. More children? Less Children? Abstinence? Responsibility for actions? It seems that the Court is willing leave all of that to women, sans affordable contraception and health care without fear. How do I know that? In this case, a picture says it all.Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 12.26.35 PM