Your Weekly Diversion, Week 52


Week 52 has arrived and I’m pretty late in getting to it. I’m not sure why my blogging year is up before January 20th, but so it is! It’s been a busy week for us, nothing worth noting here, but plenty nevertheless. The news continues to create stress and distress, especially the devastating mudslides in Southern California. It’s heartbreaking to see the damage and even worse to learn about the deaths of people and countless pets. Sometimes it feels as if Mother Nature is trying to shake us loose with earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, fires and floods.



Hillary Brooke (1914-1999) (photo from Wikipedia)

My first diversion this week is a tribute to a woman I knew in childhood, actress Hillary Brooke. She was an actress, first noticed in “New Faces of 1937” and she appeared in Abbott and Costello sketches and even had a role in the ‘70s TV show “Soap” and My Little Margie” decades before that. Her name was Hillary Brooke. I met her as a friend of my godmother, a lovely Englishwoman who worked as a diction coach in the film industry and taught Hillary her distinctive, plummy British accent. She was born in Astoria, Queens, after all! Hillary gave me my set of Mary Poppins books, and took me hitchhiking when I was about 12 years old during a stay at my godmother’s mountain cabin, after walking back from the little town center tired us out. She had a dog, a black Scottie named Barney. Hillary was the most glamorous, fascinating woman I’d met at that time. Growing up in Southern California, I met quite a few people in the entertainment industry, most friends and clients of my father. Hillary was the first, and I remember her with love.


Photo by Peter Landers, Wall Street Journal

Okay, next I have a weird diversion for you. In Japan an unusual version of Coca Cola is grabbing attention. Called Coca Cola Plus, it contains a high fiber, laxative additive that fans believe allows them to eat unhealthy food and not digest the fat, thereby leading some to dub it “weight loss cola” as opposed to regular or “fat” cola. If you have trouble accessing the WSJ article here, since they have a paywall, TimeOut Beijing has the goods. And the text in the second link is funnier!


Now, remember Superstorm Sandy? So does the City of New York, and the City as an investment entity recognizes climate change as the result of fossil fuels raising the planet’s temperature. Therefore, the City is severing ties with their fossil fuel investments. This divestiture could be a huge deal in global economics and spur positive change.

And there’s no one like Bob Dylan to remind us that A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.

Cheers, all, and…




If Only He Were a Cat! by Diana St Ruth

Made with Repix (

Happy New Year, everyone! This post by Diana St Ruth really struck me as a cat lover, especially regarding my expectations of others. I have always gravitated to the aloof cat more readily than the excitedly friendly dog. I love how Diana teaches Buddhist truths. These observations promise to help me make this a good year, whatever else happens. And fortuitously, in December we have applied to be “cat socializers” at our local shelter and will have our orientation in a couple of weeks. When the student is ready the teacher comes.



Buddhism now

Photo of Sam and Diana.If you like cats—if you are a total fool when it comes to cats, as I am—you will probably make a beeline for them when you see them in the street, and pet them if they’ll let you. But you won’t be upset if they turn their backs on you, stick their tails in the air, and walk off—because that’s how cats are. And if your cat at home makes self-centred demands—as they are wont to do—you probably won’t mind in the least. And they can be quite moody—all over you one minute and ignoring you the next—but you simply won’t mind, because you don’t expect cats to be any other way. So, cat lovers tolerate their cats’ little quirks and foibles with ease and just think: ‘Oh well, that’s cats for you!’

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 46


On Week 46 there’s so much going on in the world landscape that we all need plenty of diversions. Let’s see, the winter holidays are nigh upon us, with Hanukkah starting the night of December 12 this year, and Christmas and New Year’s not far behind. Managing the holiday cards, whether by snail mail or email, and shopping for gifts, whether you give them on 8 nights or on only 1 day, there’s a lot to do! And of course, we have the political circus with its many fronts. You just can’t make up some of these news stories! We need our diversions NOW,  right?


Tony Leonard and the team of coworkers who worked together to make his prosthetics (photo courtesy of CBS News)

First, how about real good, feel good story? Like the sound of that? So do I! Honda workers built a coworker a new limb, and it works!


Next, it’s been reported in Lancet Psychiatry that researchers have found a treatment that helped schizophrenics suffer significantly fewer auditory hallucinations than those not receiving the experimental treatment, even when both groups continued to receive standard doses of antipsychotic medication. It’s called avatar therapy. As a mental health clinician, I’m interested in learning more!


Now, check out what happened when a GoPro camera was placed in the path of molten lava. Be sure the watch the whole video.

And to wrap up this week’s diversions, here’s a song in Spanish called “I Lava You” from the film “Lava” because, what else?



Your Weekly Diversion, Week 45


It’s Week 45 of this blog, and I hope as you read this you had a wonderful week. Many of us in the US had our Thanksgiving dinners this past Thursday, and some of us saw our football teams lose in holiday matchups. <Sigh.> It’s hard to be a New York Football Giants fan this year. If you celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope it was a tasty and grateful day. And let us remember that football is only a game.

As we enjoy this weekend, we are struck by how fortunate we are. Many are not so fortunate, whether they are suffering from health problems, financial distress, wars far and wide, the pain of mental illness or addiction, or loss from natural disaster such as Hurricane Irma.


My cousin Paula and I were little girls together in California in the ‘50s. I wish I had a copy of the black and white photo of the two of us at our house when we were so young, maybe three and six. Now we live just an hour apart in Florida where she retired three years ago. Then this past September, Hurricane Irma severely damaged her home. We set up a GoFundMe campaign today for her, and we hope she will be able to get her place fixed so she can stay in Florida. Here’s a link to her page.


Do you meditate? I often urge clients to try meditation to help them relax and better cope with stress. Apparently I am not the only healthcare provider who does that: Here’s Why I Prescribe Meditation to all my Patients.

I’m ending this with this tune from the Temptations, one of my all time faves!





Your Weekly Diversion, Week 44


Recent sunset we savored here in Naples, my iPhone photo

It’s Week 44, and another week gone where too much weirdness is happening, and it’s not worth the effort to even allude to much here. Let’s just hope that we and our kids, grandkids and elders don’t lose essential, potentially lifesaving medical coverage. And may the powers that be refrain from giving our hard earned money and benefits to those so wealthy they won’t notice it, yet alone need it. And then there are the women who’ve been abused by public figures, now courageously speaking up, something many of us never had the guts to do, only to be trashed by the so-called godly. I have no words.

We have all earned our diversions this week, for reals. So let’s get to it!


A fun image I made with Recolor last year for Thanksgiving

It’s almost Thanksgiving and it’s been a challenge finding what I needed for our feast. First we checked out restaurants here in Naples. The local paper did a great job listing all who’ll be open with links to their websites. The best places were charging a lot, especially when I only eat their sides, and the ones offering affordable meals weren’t appealing to us. So I decided to cook. Actually I do enjoy cooking. The main obstacle in the last 7 years or so has been the fact that I’m a vegetarian (and I was vegan for 5 years) and my husband is not. I wanted a vegetarian main dish, such as a Gardein, Field Roast or Tofurky roast. I visited each of their websites and couldn’t find any of these roasts being offered at the stores in Naples. The health food store near here closed. Not even Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, at least as far as I could tell on their websites, appeared to have what I was searching for.



Photo courtesy of Restaurant Guru

We were having a good day. An authentic bagel store, Brooklyn Dough with a Hole, opened up recently and we made it over there for the first time that day. They were totally legit! Just how they looked in the case told me that. Fat and shiny, the holes very small. It was around 1pm so pickings were slim, but we bought 4 of them. They were wonderful, by the way! After that we were heading to the big Publix market near us, and they are great stores. I’d given up on a veggie feast and planned on sides and maybe a package of Gardein faux-turkey cutlets. But my husband suggested we go to Lucky’s, a wonderful combo of gourmet and natural foods, much smaller than Publix and easier to navigate when tired.  A local friend calls it “the poor man’s Whole Foods.” It’s all that and more!

I decided on making salad, rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and mushrooms, gravy and a rotisserie chicken for my guy plus whatever I could find for me. I have the lastest issue of VegNews and their recipe for seitan turkey Wellington looked great but labor intensive.

We started filling our basket in the produce section, and then I headed down the frozen foods aisle toward Meat Alternatives, hopeful for one of the cutlet packages. And then, lo and behold, cue the celestial choir, I saw it: a Tofurky Holiday Feast!


“Lucky” we are indeed (or at least I am)! My cousin is joining us the day after Thanksgiving and we’ll have plenty of everything to have a second feast while she’s here.


As far as other diversions, do you need a new iPhone case? Here are some fun ones, especially some very cute cat designs.

And to bring us all into the gratitude of the season, here is a hymn I learned as a grade school girl and love even today. This hymn comes to us from the clear and touching voices of the a capella group Glad. It’s worth hearing with the speakers up!


Namasté, and

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours,  



Your Weekly Diversion, Week 41: Magnolias in Memorium


Graphic from

Now we arrive at Week 41, a week of fluctuating weather down here in our tropical clime, necessitating warmer clothing, including hoodies and long pants in the land of flip flops and shorts for a day or two. Then the warm weather returned, drawing us into the sun to bask. There’s news aplenty available to us all, should we wish to partake, but I will leave that to others today.

Our western wall of windows overlooks a lake and beyond to a row of trees lining the avenue beyond. Our view: clusters of stately sabal palmetto palms, sturdy in their shaggy trunks, unlike the taller palms with slender trunks elsewhere nearby, many that suffered from the winds of Irma who blew through here at a fearful 143 mph; lush magnolias every few feet between the clusters of palms; littoral plantings of tall grasses around the water’s edge inviting great egrets, wood storks, anhingas, moorhens, ibis, and more.

Sadly, most of our magnolias were felled by the hurricane last month and only their brown, upturned stumps remain. Here is how one of them looked in the spring:


Their blossoms were large as dinner plates, creamy white and faintly sweet to sniff.


And now, all that remains of their beauty are the stumps where once they stood.

As sad as this loss may be, it is but a reminder of the impermanence of life, for the storms, they come and go, and so do we.

And happily, we see a row of younger trees spared by the fickle winds, that will in just a few short years be just as big and beautiful as those we lost this year. Change being what it is in all things, whether we are here to behold them remains to be seen. The older we become, the more we appreciate that change will always come.

This is a very early performance from 1964 of Bob Dylan performing his masterpiece, The Times They Are A-Changin’, a meaningful part of the soundtrack of my adolescence.




Your Weekly Diversion, Week 40

It’s week 40. I’m having technical difficulties with WordPress today, so I’m not sure how far I will get. 

We’ve just recently returned to Southwest Florida. There are signs of Irma everywhere. Blue tarps, stacks and piles of trees and branches and other debris by the sides of nearly every street. The big multiplex movie theater still hasn’t reopened due to hurricane damage. Our neighbors who remained here all summer have told us of sandbagging lanais, about the fallen magnolia trees (only a few remain out of scores across the lake), now just stumps, and the six foot piles of  debris including the contents of refrigerators and freezers, thanks to the electricity being off for more than four days. They’ve told us the smell of all that garbage and debris was extremely disgusting. Many people are still awaiting insurance money, if they were lucky enough to have insurance coverage, and if they have it, it’s hard to find available skilled people to do the work. Because of all this, we feel extremely fortunate to find our home intact, dry and undamaged. Well,  it wasn’t exactly undamaged. The AC wasn’t working, nor were our cable, internet and phone. When I went to do a load of laundry, I found out half the laundry room wiring was fried. Thankfully, good people came and helped us, and all these problems have been resolved. The food in our refrigerator and freezer were discarded by the man who watches our place and got it ready for Irma’s arrival. So between repairs and replenishing our staples, hundred of dollars have flown from our wallets, and that’s life. People have urged us to notify our insurance company of all these expenses, but I doubt they’ll exceed our deductible. And all we need to do to keep this all in perspective is remember what our American brothers and sisters are suffering in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Millions remain without adequate food, water, shelter, and power. 

These are my diversions carefully curated for you this week, despite being on the road and staying in pet-friendly hotels, and coming home to big problems.

Graphic courtesy of Creative Commons – vaXine

Magic mushrooms, specifically the psilocybin they contain, are helping people suffering from severe depression that has been resistant to all conventional treatments. And more than that, it appears that this chemical actually helps “reset” the brain. Wow!

It’s been a great time here for the birds. The floodwaters washed fish into areas where they wouldn’t ordinarily be found, such as retention ponds and catchment basins, and when the waters receded, the fish remained. Right up the street from us, where the woods meet the sidewalk, is just such a place. This small, squarish retention pond is lined with rocks, and surrounded by tall pines, squat palms and shrubs. And high in the trees roost a large flock of wood storks, huge birds with wingspans of about 5 feet and long down-curving beaks with which they fish. It’s estimated that there are fewer than 6,000 wood storks are left in the US, as fishing areas such as ours diminish and are replaced by development. So we feel very lucky to have up to 30 of these majestic birds perching on our roof, flying overhead, and roosting in the trees. I took these photos today while we were taking a walk around the lake. The first photo is of a bald eagle that a noisy flock of great egrets drove from our lake when he attempted to fish there. He was far more beautiful than my iPhone photo shows.

The second photo shows the woodsy retention pond surrounded by great egrets, the white birds with yellow beaks, and wood storks. Both species stand about four feet tall. The feeding frenzy marked by all the croaks and clacks gives new meaning to shooting fish in a barrel.


Currently in Tokyo an unusual exhibit is drawing a lot of attention at night. Mostly an ordinary greenhouse by day, this one plays music and gives a colorful light display when the plants are gently touched. Each vegetable plays a different note. Together the sound is amazing. Check it out!

❤️ And this week someone very special and dear to us popped up, out of the blue, and brought us a happy surprise. You know who you are. ❤️

Last night when I first wrote this post and published it I was too tired to add a musical number, but this morning it came to me that “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds would be just the thing. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.