Yes, I know the inauguration was last week, and I'm sure Black wants to tell me, "Get over it!" but I'm still thinking (and reading articles) about Amanda Gorman, the amazing 22-year-old who was not only the youngest inaugural poet ever, but also the nation's first National Youth Poet Laureate. Her poem, "The Hill We Climb", was incredible and her delivery mesmerizing as she brought her words to life. But as impressive as that was, what I found most incredible was what I learned later that night when she was interviewed with CNN's Anderson Cooper.


A speech impediment?! That seemed impossible to imagine. But there she was, talking with humor, confidence, and pragmatism about how she had trouble pronouncing the letter "R," not only when she was young but until a few years ago! I was fascinated when she talked about using a song from the Broadway musical "Hamilton" as part of her speech pathology, explaining that since the song "Aaron Burr, Sir" was packed with Rs she felt that if she could train herself to do the song, she could train herself to say the letter.

The next morning, during a conversation with Black about our inauguration Banter Bite, I got side-tracked (that often happens) and started telling her how amazed I was that Amanda had overcome her challenge in such an incredible and creative way. And then Black proceeded to tell me how she took a similar approach. With her Ferrari …

Sometimes you have to find something that you can use as "proof" to convince yourself you can do something. For me, it was when I was trying to decide if I could "step up" to racing the Ferrari Challenge. The car was much more powerful than what I was racing at the time, and the series much more serious (not to mention significantly more expensive). So, I decided the "test" would be Road Atlanta, which was the most intimidating track I had ever raced on – if I could get comfortable (yet alone "fast") there, I could race anywhere.

Of course, after laughing to myself because this was so typical of how my sister would approach a challenge, head on (she'd probably say "throttle on"). I also had to smile at the thought of Amanda Gorman now being able to say the word "Ferrari", with all its Rs, as smoothly as my sister no doubt drove her Ferrari by the end of that day at Road Atlanta.

Photo by Joseph Sohm for Shutterstock


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

When I read the "Breaking News" email about the passing of Colin Powell from complications from COVID-19, I realized that many of us didn't even know he was being treated for illnesses that weakened his immune system. To me, he always seemed to be one of those incredibly strong and resilient men that could overcome anything, as I knew he served as the country's first Black national security adviser (during the Reagan administration), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (under President George H. W. Bush) and secretary of state (under President George W. Bush).

I first became aware of Powell during Operation Desert Storm and was living in Hong Kong at the time (shortly after I married a Brit, Shell assigned him to the Far East). I can remember being halfway around the world from home while watching seemingly non-stop news briefings featuring "Storming Norman" Schwarzkopf, with his "larger than life" details about the extraordinary precision of the airstrikes. At the time, it almost seemed more like a computer game than an actual war.

However, Powell had a far greater impact on me as he exuded calm mixed with steely determination, projecting an air of confidence that you sensed came from experience and deep personal commitment. And at this time of war and conflict, he provided a comforting feeling of power and control.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I will not pretend to be a history buff, nor will I reflect on Mr. Powell's greatness as a military figure, statesman, and trailblazer. I will leave that to others. But, several things stand out about Powell as a man. First, he put America ahead of political party, stating, "I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat, throughout my entire career, and right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties."

Thanks to Punchbowl News, I learned that as a young man, he worked in a toy store, and the owner, a Russian immigrant Jew, admired the young Powell so much that he impressed upon him the importance of getting an education. Powell was so touched by this that he stayed in contact with him for the next 50 years. (I loved the sprinkling of Yiddish phrases as Powell tells the story.)

Of course, I could not help but smile rewatching this video of Powell along with two other motorheads, Jay Leno and (at the time) Vice President Biden "racing" Corvettes. And, may explain why one of my many favorite Powell quotes is, "Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror." But in his passing, you cannot help but look back over all he did for our country.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. May he rest in peace.

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

I can't believe that Halloween's almost here, and the house isn't already decorated. Can I use the fact this is the first year I'm an empty nester as an excuse?


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Does that mean that you are not going to decorate?


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

No! But without Sawyer home asking about it or prodding me by pulling the decorations out of the garage, it's still just sitting on my "to do" list. But fall is my favorite time of year, and I love seeing the house with all the Halloween decorations, so it will happen.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I would think you could just put out the inflatables and be done with it.
Keep Reading ... Show less
Image by Arseniy45 on iStock


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io

I know Columbus Day is a federal holiday, so banks are closed, but otherwise, it's barely celebrated. Growing up, it seemed like it was an important part of fall, not only because we had off from school, but because I can still remember (yes, those straight-A student school memories) learning about America being discovered by the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Especially since he was trying to find a new way to get to the "riches" of Asia (without having to sail around Africa) and found the Americas instead! I still recall hearing that some people thought the earth was flat and his ships would fall off, and although it may not have been many people – it still made a lasting impression. Regardless, he became one of the most famous explorers in history.

I love history, so I loved everything about the holiday and even remember the names of the three ships, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, all these decades later. And although I've long forgotten most dates in history (after knowing them for the test, of course), the year 1492 is etched on my memory, as I suspect it is for many people.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Obviously, Red needs to "update" her history on Christopher Columbus, and I am not talking about "obscure facts" like that might not have been his real name. Information has been discovered (pun intended, although this is a serious situation), leading to significant discussion and controversy about Columbus "the person" versus the romanticized hero originally depicted in history books.

As you would expect from any explorer traveling the world, there would be encounters with indigenous people. However, historians now believe Columbus' interactions were despicable (my word, not theirs) due to his use of violence and slavery, and forcing people to become Christians. In addition, he exposed the New World to diseases and other complications in what is now referred to as the "Columbian Exchange."

So, in keeping with the spirit of today being a holiday to celebrate, a "replacement" holiday, Indigenous People's Day, was created. And, although technically not a federal holiday, it does fall on one and hopefully will help us all refocus. In fact, this past Friday, President Joe Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples' Day, stating,

"For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures. Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples' resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society."