A Real Spy Thriller

American “Spy” Horror Story

I love a good thriller. A spy novel makes by blood rush with the intense dangers of the situations, secrets, murder, and mayhem. I love a good mystery, a page turner that I just can’t put down. Few of us expect to be active participants in a spy thriller. Espionage. CIA agents, MI6 and even the old KGB lived in this world where intelligence, counter-intelligence and double agents were everyday real life experiences during the Cold War.

Fasten your seatbelts and hang onto your hats, because each and every American right now has the opportunity to observe up close and personal, a true spy story. Fiction be damned! This is the real McCoy. All kinds of spyish words are floating around out there now. Words like:   testify, alt right, fake news, misinformation, partisan, non-partisan, treason, immunity, murder, suicide, assassination, collusion, intelligence committee, InfoWars, Fancy Bear, Brietbart News, classified, scam, con artist, grifter, Russia, Turkey, RussiaGate, Kremlin, Kleptocracy, useful idiot, FISA warrant, nepotism, Emoluments Clause, impeachment, WikiLeaks, bankruptcy, money laundering.  And there is a cast of spy characters: Julian Assange, Paul Manafort, Steve Bannon, Christopher Steele, Putin, the Freedom Caucus, Gang of Eight, Guccifer 2.0 spread across our planet in exotic lands like Turkey, Russia, Cyprus and Ukraine. Phrases like “deep state” and “active measures” and “kompromat” and alternative facts. These words are like crack cocaine to the spy novel bibliophile.

Seriously folks….this is history we are living, a true, real life spy story being played out in the highest levels of our government the likes of which hasn’t been seen for years, perhaps centuries. A spy story like none other and the antagonists are Democracy vs Autocracy. Who will win? How many casualties will there be….not just in humans, but in ways of life, moralities, ethics, norms? It unfolds slowly like a carefully crafted mystery plot, the suspense is mind-boggling, and we want the pages to turn faster, faster, and faster so we can know the ending. It will end. Soon.

Happy bird searching and sleuthing!!!

How do we define “Access”?

Access. Just what does that small little word mean. I went old school and dug my old dusty Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary from my bookcase to investigate its meaning. As defined by Webster “access” means:

1) Onset  2) permission, liberty, or ability to enter, approach, communicate with or pass to and from 3) freedom or ability to make use of. And apparently in 1962 (and yes my dictionary is verrrrry old!) this definition was added… 4)to get at or gain access to.

Access is a favorite word of the Republican Party. For that matter I think it is a great word. I “access” information everyday from books, the internet, colleagues, the environment, family. I have access to my automobile, to stores, to food. But when we use that word in reference to healthcare, it becomes a little more ambiguous. I have heard tv personalities and politicians say things like…”we have access to a Ferrari but that doesn’t mean we can afford it.” And therein lies (pun intended) the rub.


The new healthcare plan, the glorious long-awaited replacement for the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare, is big on access if you make big bucks. This new piece of garbage legislation will strip healthcare benefits from approximately 24 million people by 2026 and provide big tax cuts for the upper 1% of our population. It would defund Planned Parenthood, the reliable provider for poor and uninsured women’s healthcare. Medicaid would be reduced by approximately $880 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a “B”. If this comes to pass, emergency rooms across our nation will once again become the “go to” health clinic for the poor. The American Medical Association, AARP,  the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Nurse Association, the American Hospital Association are but a few of those opposed to this assault against the American people in the guise of better healthcare. Does the opinion of so many healthcare organizations matter to the Republican politicians trying to force this healthcare law down our throats?

Access has become a dirty word for me. Designed and used by Republicans to trick their constituency into believing that things will be better with their plan. I sincerely hope that their chicanery doesn’t work, that they are unable to pull the wool over the eyes of millions of Americans who have tasted “healthcare for all” and are coming to realize that a universal healthcare system is what our country needs now more than ever.

The time is right. It is time for America to join the other progressive nations that provide universal health care with better outcomes than we do with our outdated, expensive, poor results system that neglects to provide for the poor or less fortunate in our society. There…I have returned to my basics. We have a duty as human beings to help one another… to lend a hand to the less fortunate, to provide shelter, food and safety to the “huddled masses” whether they are immigrants to our shores or native-born Americans.

Now look up the word “afford”. According to my dictionary ….”to have enough money to pay for”. 24 million Americans won’t be able to “afford” basic healthcare. Instead of taking what we currently have and streamlining it to make it better, the Republicans are writing a prescription for a new American disaster….the death of millions of Americans because of lack of access secondary to affordability.

I frequently educate my patients to the fact that “sugar-free” does not necessarily mean “carb free”. “Access” does not necessarily mean “affordable”. Persist, Resist and make your voices heard. Demand Universal Healthcare for All! It is a right, NOT a privilege of the wealthy.





Loss is a terrible, painful, lonely thing. It brings with it change whether we want it or not….sadness, anger, emptiness and a whole range of other emotions that are unsettling to deal with because they rock our world. They interrupt the rhythm of our life. As a nurse I frequently ask patients to measure their pain on a scale of 0-10. Zero is no pain and 10 is a wild dog ripping your arm off. Loss is a vicious rabid wolf ripping your whole body apart.

There are many different kinds of loss…death of a loved one, the loss of a job, estrangement from a friend or family member, the loss of a pet, illness or the realization that our body has incrementally changed  throughout the years and has left us a shell of our former selves.

As difficult as it may be to deal with loss, it has to be dealt with, it demands it and life frequently changes course during the process. The impact of loss varies from person to person and unfortunately there is no set sequence of events that get one through it. And, there is also no time frame within which it must be accomplished. A horrible tragedy with many variables becomes an enemy that must be vanquished in order for us to survive and move on.

So time-tested rituals take over…funerals are planned, job resumes are refreshed, we mourn the loss, tears are shed, remorse for harsh words haunts us and we learn to adjust to the loss. Father Time suddenly becomes a friend. Nothing seems to take away the pain. Whatever your loss, it leaves its mark and little piece of your self will forever be gone. But as the minutes turn into hours and the hours into days and the days into months, slowly the patch on our wound begins to heal a little and the immediate pain begins to recede so it is no longer crushing and moves toward being tolerable. And we begin to live again.

Our heart beats, our lungs expand and deflate, we move, we talk, our brains function, but always present is the “loss”. The level of pain has simply become tolerable. And we wait. Wait for a new pet to fill the void, a new job offer, a medication to ease our physical pain, a cure, a reconnect with the estranged friend, or for the ultimate end to our pain.







Nashville Highlights – Structures, Birds, Peeps and One Furry Thing

A photo array of my recent visit to beautiful Nashville.

Pedestrian Bridge
American Robin- Spring has sprung!


The best candy ever!
Song Sparrow (I’m pretty sure, but they are tricky little fellows!)
Pretty woman

Great-tailed Grackle
Korean Veteran Bridge
White-throated Sparrow
House Finch

Female Cardinal

Eastern Towhee
Something the Groundhog

And last but not least and just because I love the photo…

Mr. Cardinal

Nashville is a great city to visit. Something to offer for most everyone. Check it out!

Happy bird searching!!!!

It’s a, It’s a, It’s a …….Something!

Laughter is good for the soul and never more so than now in the strange and frightening political climate that seems to be engulfing not only America but also the World. Scary stuff going on out there and I find myself turning to comedy shows seeking relief from the awful depression and sorrow that seems to be trying to smother me these days.

So it was with great anticipation and happiness that I climbed aboard a plane headed for Nashville a couple of weekends ago to connect with both my daughters and my oldest granddaughter for a weekend get away that encompassed food, fun, camaraderie and some really fine music. Four people spanning the breadth of the United States to converge for a fun-filled weekend in one of the great country music cities in the world.

It wasn’t all play…My granddaughter is considering Vanderbilt University to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner. Two times a year, the nursing program hosts an open house designed to present the very best of Vanderbilt’s Nursing Program to lure potential students. Because I am a nurse, I was my granddaughter’s chosen guest for this event and she was hopeful that I would have insight into the quality of Vanderbilt’s nurse practitioner program. And I was impressed. They have all the bells and whistles, all the tools and learning environments that build excellent nurses. Everything from global study programs to a first-rate simulation lab stocked with fake peeps (AKA mannequins) that breathe, talk, bleed and can be programmed for different scenarios for practice which builds great nursing experience in a safe setting.

This granddaughter has the heart and soul of a nurse. A passion for people, a desire to comfort and help, a selfless need to serve. And I think she also thrives on the adrenaline rush of working in a hospital setting. I am proud of her for exploring the many avenues open to her, for her journey to find and live her passion whether she completes this journey or not. She fears not and is living her life to the fullest each and every day. I was honored that I was her chosen guest for this event.

But that was a daytime activity. Our nights, each of the three, were spent at different music venues. The Listening room was our Friday night spot. Four singer/songwriters taking turns to sing their own songs, some of which have been recorded by well-known artists. It was a delightful evening and left us anxiously looking forward to the next evening at the Grand Old Opry…an institution that pays tribute to the founding roots of country music. I probably enjoyed this one the least simply because it was so commercialized (actually radio commercials because it was being broadcast at the time). It did make me appreciate the many country western artists who built this genre of music into what it is today.

Our last night was the best for me. But the price was pretty steep…not in money but in time. We arrived at the Bluebird Cafe at 4PM to wait in line for seats for the 8PM performance. Never in my life have I done this, but this time I was so grateful that I did. Our wait rewarded us with front table seats to enjoy three hours of music free of charge from 9 different singer/songwriters. We ate, we enjoyed some libations and our hearts were soaring with the beautiful original songs that filled the little Bluebird Cafe on that Sunday night. It was magical.

A little sightseeing, a walk across the Pedestrian Bridge, photos of iconic memorials and topped off with some good birding and a visit from …….It’s a, It’s a, It’s a something? spotted outside our AirB&B condo and a life list first for me in the mammal family. I couldn’t find my words when I first saw Mr. Groundhog and thus the title of this piece. My beautiful granddaughter laughed hysterically at my difficulty in finding the right name of our furry friend. I don’t usually suffer from this malady.

I wish for each of you happy laughter with people you love! A sure cure for the sickness of our political climate right now.