It started last Friday when I saw a video of First Lady Dr. Jill Biden delivering cookies to the National Guard at the Capitol in appreciation of their service protecting her and her family during the inauguration. I sent it to Red with the brief subject line, "Class act" and nothing in the body of the email except the link. Throughout the day, we take "brain breaks" and after Red watched it, she called to tell me how she was extremely touched by the simple gesture. Not only because she could relate to how many times over the years she had baked "thank you" cookies and brownies, but because she knows first-hand how protective moms are about their families, and especially their children. Never one to be succinct, she explained how she could "totally relate" to how your maternal instinct always seems to be front and center. Then adding how the fact Dr. Biden was also a military mom only meant her desire to show her appreciation to the National Guard was even stronger.

So, when it came time to pick the topic of our next Banter Bite, Red immediately suggested the cookie story. But I hesitated. I was concerned that this might have been staged to offset the uproar about the National Guard, who initially had been resting and napping in the Capitol, but post-inauguration had been relocated to nearby parking garages. (This was subsequently remedied.) Instead, our Saturday Banter Bite, which tend to be "feel good" or, at least, less serious ones, was about Ben & Jerry's new doggie treats.

But, I could not stop thinking about the "cookie story" … and the fact it seemed true to character to who Dr. Biden is, so whether or not it was orchestrated for the media, it still was an authentic reflection of our new First Lady. A woman displaying gratitude, decency, and grace. A role model for us all.

And, I could not stop thinking about my initial reaction, as I have always prided myself on giving people the benefit of the doubt. (Red often jokes that I am much better at that than she is, even though she is the warm and fuzzy one!). But why did I not do so this time? Is it a reflection of how jaded we have all become? Is that what the last four years has done to us?

If nothing else, just knowing we have become jaded is a step in the right direction. But I could not let it end there. So, early Saturday morning (well, early for Red, as I am usually up well before 6 a.m.), I called Red and said I was wrong not to run with the "cookie story" and explained why. Which explains why we will do it this Saturday.

Photo by Joseph Sohm for Shutterstock


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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.


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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


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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?


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Does that mean that you are not going to decorate?


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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.


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


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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.


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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."