I LOVE to read, but I admit I have some quirks (although they seem normal to me). My favorite topics are biographies and history, but I'll make an exception for fiction that's historical or biographically "inspired". Nothing unusual there. And it has to be a good, old-fashioned, hardcover book. Unless it's just not available and then I'll "settle" for a paperback. (The thought of reading an e-book has never seriously crossed my mind.) Now, let's move on to the reading process … each page must be turned while keeping it absolutely pristine, so much so that when I finish a book, the spine's still perfect and you'd think that no one even opened the book, let alone read it. (I even did this with textbooks in college!) Why am I like this? No clue, but I am what I am.

Anyway, before I had children (when my "job" was being a corporate wife to an executive who lived around the world), I read a LOT of books, as in hundreds over the years. But once I had children, that number dropped dramatically to the point where I was lucky if I could find the time to read half a dozen books – not counting children's books. And after my sister and I began Red & Black, I've probably averaged a book a year. (Although I read and re-read the manuscript for our book countless times before going to press.)

So here I sit at my computer, writing this. I look up at my workroom bookshelves and see plenty of books that I've collected over the last years as a reminder that one day I'll get back to my beloved books. For now, I always have plenty of newspapers (they tend to accumulate over the week), magazines, and online articles to keep me busy as "brain breaks" during the workday or for the few minutes I can still keep my eyes open when I go to bed at night.

And I can't help but think about how different my sister, Black, is from me in so many ways – Including reading. For me, it's something that I love to do as it provides enjoyment and an escape, whereas she does it, in true Black fashion, to research and learn more about any given topic. (I can only imagine the business and non-fiction books on her bookshelves, although her contemporary décor has them hidden behind doors.)

So, what inspired me to even think about this in the first place? Last Friday morning she sent me an "empty email" – there was nothing but an attachment. And when I opened it, I laughed. Because, well, it just said it all. While also reminding me of my love of reading. And this takes us back full circle, not only to the image of this post but to the beginning of this post.

Photo by ideeone on iStock


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I'm still shaking my head, in amazement and amusement, at you telling me how there are people claiming that birds aren't real – they're surveillance drones.


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At first, I thought it was a joke. But then, I found a Newsweek article on the "Birds Aren't Real" movement that claims the government killed all birds and replaced them with surveillance drones.


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Well, if you hadn't forwarded it, I'd have thought you were messing with me! Anyway, my absolute favorite part is the "logic" that when the birds or drones or whatever you want to call them sit on powerlines, they're recharging. That's hilarious.
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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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