Monday, December 31, 2018

ER Wait, Illegal Aliens, and Units

As an older person, going to an ER room in Northern Virginia (NoVA) is an exercise in costly futility unless you are on death’s door or are prepared to wait for endless hours while younger people are being treated for colds, high fever, bleeding fingers and toes, and other accidents which occur in the exercise of our daily human lives.

Few Americans know or care that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 or Obamacare had labeled those over a certain age as “units.” If patients are young, they probably think themselves immortal - they would never get old, therefore such “unit” labeling does not apply to them. The stark realization hits you like a ton of bricks - you have become an older “unit” that can be ignored because government formulas deemed your utility to society too close to zero.

Most hospitals in northern Virginia post on electronic boards the number of minutes a patient must wait before they are triaged and/or seen in an ER. That may appear comforting and caring about one’s health and time until you actually set foot in the ER and reality replaces clever and deceptive advertising.

I had to go to our local NoVA ER this week. After the initial data and insurance screening, triage, and waiting for three hours to be placed in a room and to be seen, I decided to leave.

The waiting room, triaged by two people speaking English with heavy accents, kept getting more crowded with illegal aliens who did not speak English and required a translator in their respective dialects. Over and over I heard the question, “Do you speak English,” and calls made over the loudspeaker to a phone translator or to a hospital employee who spoke that language. It was a veritable tower of Babel.

I felt alone and lost in a sea of people with sick children who could have been seen quickly and much cheaper by a local Emergicare doctor, while my chest was hurting like hell and needed immediate attention.

It is sad that, after paying half of my income in taxes and being forced to purchase three medical insurance premiums, I cannot get medical care in my own country. Illegals flood the emergency rooms in northern Virginia. As human beings, they have a right to be treated too but must I pay for them and must my medical care become secondary and tertiary to their needs?

Thirty years ago there were no Emergicare facilities where we lived and ER wait was extensive in the small southern town. I had to wait once eight hours when my child had 104.5 F fever before we could see a doctor. In that case it was because of the shortage of doctors - nobody wanted to practice medicine in a small town.

Locals had to travel 100 miles or more to the nearest larger town in order to seek medical care.  People were really nice in the local ER then but my daughter could have had a seizure. I gave her liquid Motrin but the fever was not coming down. She needed an antibiotic shot right away. She eventually got it but I am saddened to this day when I think about the length of our wait and what could have happened in that time.

Going to an ER was a big deal back then as charges were huge and people actually had to pay them immediately or over time. Today Americans and illegals flock to ERs for convenience. They use emergency rooms as their GP doctor because they have no idea how much it cost to use emergency services, they don’t care, and someone else is paying for their visit.

While we pay medical bills of illegals from Mexico and Central America, consider the situation when an elderly American residing in Mexico, was taken to a private hospital in Guadalajara recently by her American son. Following a fall and arrival at the hospital, within 30 minutes, the only American patient got a CT scan, two X-rays, blood tests, and specialist doctors to read the results. The hospital did not accept Medicare Part A insurance. The admission fee alone was 90,000 pesos ($4,500). Because the test readings were within normal range, the son asked to have the IV removed and she was discharged. The IV removal took three hours. The son had to leave his passport "hostage" with the promise to pay on Monday when the banks opened. The actual medical bill was 12,200 pesos ($610).

According to the Associated Press, starting on January 1, 2019, “Medicare will require hospitals to post their standard prices online and make electronic records more readily available for patients.”

“Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the new requirement for online prices reflects the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to encourage patients to become better-educated decision makers in their own care.”

Americans should educate themselves before heading to the nearest ER, but what about all the illegal aliens who don’t speak English and who flood emergency rooms because they know medical care is free and is paid for by American taxpayers?


Monday, December 24, 2018

My Christmas Tree

Photo: Ileana Johnson
As long as I can remember, my Dad came home every December with a scraggly blue spruce, fragrant with the scent of winter, tiny icicles hanging from the branches. The frozen miniature crystal daggers would melt quickly on Mom’s well-scrubbed parquet floor. I never knew nor asked where he had found it, or how he could afford it. His modest salary of $70 a month barely covered the rent, utilities, and food. Mom had to work as well to afford our clothes. Prices were subsidized by the government and salaries were very low for everybody regardless of education and skill. We had to make do with very little.

No matter how bare the branches of my Christmas tree were, it was magical to me. Two metal bars forged by hand helped Dad nail the tree to the floor at the foot of the couch where I slept in the living room that doubled as my bedroom. Our tiny apartment only had one bedroom where my parents slept.

Decorating it was a fun job every year since I made new decorations from colorful crepe paper. We had to be creative; we could not afford glass ornaments. We made paper cones covered with craftily rolled crepe paper and filled with candy. I hung small apples with red string, tiny pretzels, home-made butter cookies, candied fruit, raisins, and an occasional orange wrapped in tissue paper with strange lettering, coming all the way from Israel. Each year we bought 12 small red and green candles which we attached to the tree with small metal clips. We were careful to clamp them at the tip of the branch to keep the tree from catching fire when the candles were lit. The tree would live for two weeks before the prickly needles fell all over the living room floor.

Photo: Ileana Johnson
One year I spent Christmas with uncle Ion and his wife. A gifted mechanical engineer, Ion could fix and build anything. He promised that he would fashion lights for his Christmas tree. He worked painstakingly for weeks, soldering tiny copper wires into bundles that stretched along the branches of the tree like a magical cascade to which he soldered at least 200 tiny bulbs sold as bike lights. It was a labor of love! When the wires were finally attached to a relay, the bulbs lit up like a waterfall. Nobody had such a fantastically blazing tree in the whole country. I was amazed at his dedication and craftiness and never forgot his fairytale Christmas fir.

We did not have a tree skirt but we used one of Mom’s hand-stitched table cloths. The whole apartment smelled like the fragrant mountains and, for a couple of weeks we forgot the misery that surrounded us. We lit up the 12 candles on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day.

Every night for two weeks, I would admire my enchanted tree until I fell asleep, wondering what special treat I would find under my pillow on Christmas morning. It was never much, but it was such a cherished joy!

Photo: Ileana Johnson
Saint Nicholas Day was celebrated on December 6th. We really didn’t know much about the real St. Nicholas, Santa Claus’s namesake. St. Nicholas was a popular saint in the Orthodox Church and presumed the bishop of Myra in Turkey in the 300s. There were many legends of St. Nicholas - the more famous story that he was the son of a wealthy family in Patara, Lycia. When his parents died, he gave away his fortune. One such random act of kindness involved throwing three bags of gold through the windows of three girls who were going to be forced into prostitution.

On Saint Nicholas Day, I would put my boots outside the door, hoping that they would be filled with candy in the morning and not coals. Grandpa had a wicked sense of humor – he would sometimes fill one boot with sticks and another with candy and a chocolate bar.

Grandpa never bought a blue spruce - we cut a fir tree from the woods. We were careful not to cut down a tree that had bird nests in it. We decorated it with garland made from shiny and multi-colored construction paper. We cut strips, glued them in an interlocking pattern and voila, we had our garland. For ornaments we used walnuts and shriveled apples from his cellar, tied with Grandma’s red knitting wool.

The warm adobe style fireplace built from mud bricks mixed with straw cast a dancing glow on the tree decked with  tokens of food, something our heathen Roman ancestors did during the celebration of Saturnalia. On December 17, the polytheistic Romans celebrated Saturnus, the god of seed and sowing, for an entire week. As Christians, we celebrated the birth of Christ and the religious traditions in our Orthodox faith, in spite of the communist regime forcing the transformation of Christmas into a secular holiday.

On Christmas Eve, after we ate Mom’s traditional Christmas supper, roasted pork, baked chicken, sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls with ground meat and rice), and mamaliga (corn mush with butter cooked in a cast iron pot), we went to the midnight service at the Orthodox Church not far from our house. Sometimes it was a sloshy trek and other times it was icy and slippery. If we got lucky, a heavy snow would turn our walk into a winter wonderland with dancing snowflakes shining in the weak street lights. We had to bundle up well – the church was not heated and we circled it three times during the procession with burning candles in our hands. I always wore my flannel pajamas under many layers of warm clothes. To this day, pajamas are my favorite garment – cozy and comfortable, keeping my body warm.

I decorate my Douglas fir with beautiful lights and shiny ornaments now. My heart fills with loving memories of Christmases past and of family members lost who made our Christian traditions so special.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Memories of Maita

Maita's house, after a fresh coat of paint in 2012
Maita’s real name was Elizabeta. Her intense blue eyes and will power could pierce through steel. She wore her long light brown hair tight in a bun and covered with a dark bandana to protect her head and face from the intense sunlight. With advanced age, her thick hair turned snow white. A tiny spitfire of a woman of maybe 80 lbs., she lost her husband in her early thirties, leaving her to raise eight children alone. Grandpa Mihail was a busy man, in-between farm chores and fathering children. Dead long before I was born, I was told that daddy favored him the most, out of three boys and five girls.

The clay-brick and wooden logs homestead was perched on a beautiful mountain surrounded by fruit orchards and small vineyards. Underneath the rich black soil were layers upon layers of salt that would someday doom the entire side of the mountain and the small farms as the topsoil slid down the foothill crashing everything in its path, trees, homes, barns, and vineyards, burying everything many families held dear for generations.  Fortunately nobody was seriously hurt as most people were working other fields or in government factories at the edge of the nearest town.

The communist party rulers made a meek attempt at helping those who lost their homes by offering them for sale small plots of land elsewhere in the village, not so isolated from their grasp.

Photo: Ileana Johnson 2012
The front porch would offer a shady respite in summer time but in wintertime hungry wolves would be so brazen as to climb the few front steps in their quest for food.  Shiny eyes could be seen in the dark followed by hair-raising howls echoing in the distance, sometimes really close.

The chicken coup and shed were safe and tightly latched. The pig, sheep, and the cow, which provided milk, butter, and cheese for her large family, were also sheltered and locked at night.

Maita's gate and grapevines
Photo: Ileana Johnson 2011
Each child had a well-defined role and daily chores in her family. There were no idle little hands; everyone had to care for each other and to earn their keep. The most hated chore was walking up and down the mountain to the deep well activated by a wooden chained bucket and a wheel and covered by a heavy wood cover to prevent debris, animals, and small children from falling in. With each trip, boys had to carry back to the house two large buckets of ice-cold water balanced on a very heavy stick on both shoulders.

If a lot of snow accumulated, the clusters of trees, vines, and the orchards kept it in place; now and then mini-avalanches would bury some trees and fences in their path.

When the three boys were old enough to get jobs in the city, they joined the village men on the open transport truck. Traveling like cattle every day on the bumpy unpaved road for miles of miserably wet or frigid weather to a menial job, they resigned themselves to the proletariat’s  fate, working for slave wages for the communist utopia which pretended to protect them. On at least one occasion, a passenger was let off at his stop but he never made the long walk on foot up the mountain to his home; he was found frozen in the ditch along the way. After a six-month period of mourning, the tough life moved on.

Photo: Ileana Johnson 2012
Sound carried so well across the valleys that it was hard to judge how far people or animals making the sounds were. As a child, I often heard aunt Leana calling out from the front porch of her tiny house above the tree lines to Maita’s home, telling us to come for lunch or a special treat she had baked. And it was a long and breath-taking hike to her house or so it seemed to a small child.

I would judge the distance based on the beautiful cross and Orthodox icon along the way, nestled in a covered shelter where the villagers would stop briefly for a prayer and a drink of water from the bucket and cup left fresh each day by the nearby community well.

Photo: Ileana Johnson 2012
The silence punctuated by our huffs and puffs would be startled sometimes by a concealed voice coming from a person behind a fence covered in grape vines, saying hello or asking how we were doing. Maita was so proud when her neighbors would fawn over her visiting granddaughter.

After the landslide precipitated by melting snow and gliding layers of salt, Maita rebuilt a home next to her oldest son Nicolae in the middle of the village, conveniently close to the only store, the bus stop, the cemetery, and the village church.  From the front porch we could see the valley below shrouded in mist at dawn and filled with endless rows of grapevines and fruit trees. When the sun came up, the cold creek we bathed in each week sparkled like a jewel.

I stayed in this mud-brick home every summer. It was always cool and smelled of quince and autumn smoke. Maita cooked on a spit fire her famous chicken in the cast iron pot and tasty smoked beans when she was fasting. She had a large garden with plenty of vegetables to feed herself and her son’s large family next door.  A small opening in the fence allowed for quick passage to the two properties separated by a weathered fence.

Today the house is sadly abandoned. The heirs cannot agree on what to do with the property that nobody wants. The blue metal gate is in need of a new coat of paint and creaks in the wind when it opens. The rust spots match the grape leaves on the vines overhanging the walkway. I tread lightly, careful not to disturb the past. The porch is latched just as Maita and her son Ion used to do it. Her last child passed away last summer but his presence is still felt in the garden now overrun with weeds.

Maita's last house
Photo: Ileana 2011
I peer inside through a window. The furniture looks just like the furniture I grew up with in our home. He must have transferred it here from the city after my daddy passed away. I am looking for my grandma’s icon and garnet rosary that used to hang on the wall but it is missing, probably sold long time ago by uncle Ion.  A priceless work of art, the 19th century rosary and icon must have fetched good money on the market. When we no longer care for history, even valuable prayer objects become disposable. Poor and suffering people in a collectivist society cannot afford to be sentimental.

Aunt Leana's grape vines
Photo: Ileana 2011
I walked up the mountain to visit aunt Leana’s surviving husband, uncle Stelian. After a long hike, I found their stucco home with the porch I used to play on as a child. Somehow the climb seemed much shorter but just as breathless and difficult, and the homes and plots of land much smaller than I had remembered them as a child.

Uncle Stelian in his yard
Photo: Ileana 2011
Stelian was in the yard, sitting on a makeshift stool, drinking his beloved homemade wine and prune brandy. We spoke through the same fence I recall from decades ago. He did not invite me in. Confused as if he’d seen a ghost from the past, it took him a while to remember me and my name. I snapped his photo through the wooden slats of the fence, wishing sadly that I could have seen aunt Leana once more. Her caring hands and sky-blue eyes have long left this earth. Her beautiful and devout Christian voice still echoes in the Orthodox Church by the cemetery.

Leana and Maita's water well
Photo: Ileana 2011
The shade cast by the grape vines above sheltered the courtyard from the hot sun just as I remembered it.  The smell of ripened quince, purple plums, and crushed grapes carried by a gentle breeze flooded my memory.  I returned to my world, thousands of miles away, with a painful and unexplainable regret and a feeling of permanent loss, taking a moment in time back with me, stuck on a memory card.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Americans Built the Greatest Nation on Earth

U.S. Navy submarine R-14 with a crew of 28 searched the ocean in 1921 for U.S. Conestoga, a tug boat which had disappeared about 100 miles from Hawaii. They looked for the missing tugboat for so long, about two weeks, that they eventually ran out of fuel and, because they lost radio communication, were also unable to transmit radio messages about their location. Suddenly the search and rescue mission became a rescue mission itself. 

Fortunately, the chief engineer, Lieutenant Roy Trent Gallemore, came up with a plan to sail out of their predicament. The cre
w made sails out of any available fabric, bedsheets, towels, hammocks, stitched them together, and attached them to frames made out of metal beds. They connected the sails to the highest points on the deck.

The sub sailed with a speed of three knots across the Pacific Ocean for three days and managed to reach Hilo harbor in Hawaii.

The chief engineer Roy Trent Gallemore, who had harnessed the wind to save his crew was promoted to Lieutenant Commander of the U.S. sub R-15.

Conestoga’s wreck was found off the coast of California in 2016. It is believed that it had sank in a storm in 1921 on its way to Pearl Harbor.

John Wayne Was a Real American Patriot Who Disliked Communism

In 1952 Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin ordered the assassination of John Wayne because he did not like the patriotic American’s criticism of communism.
A plan was set in motion and the FBI alerted John Wayne and offered 24/7 protection of his home. Not one to back down from danger, John Wayne refused. 

When two KGB agents came to the studio lot pretending to be huge fans, he allowed them into his office. As they suggested that they go outside the studio to talk, he agreed, but when they turned around to exit, he pulled out his gun and pulled the trigger. Fortunately for the two KGB men, he had loaded blanks into his gun. They were arrested by FBI agents who were listening from a nearby room. 

The KGB agents were so scared of Stalin for having failed the mission to kill John Wayne, that they asked for asylum in the United States and spilled all the beans to the FBI - they knew Stalin would have killed them upon return.

After Stalin’s death, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev personally met with John Wayne and apologized for the assassination attempt on his life.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Brimming with Christmas Spirit

Wikipedia photo
I recently met a young couple giddy with the jubilant spirit of Christmas. It was a rare encounter as Christmas traditions are under assault and condemned on the altar of progressivism and Islam. He wore a red and green elf vest and a Santa hat over his regular clothes and a big smile of good cheer. His lovely wife had donned a beautiful red dress with sparkling tinsel on the left collar. He told me how much he enjoyed Christmas and decorating trees which he left up every year late into January, even past the Russian Orthodox Christmas on January 6.

We started talking and I told them about our Christmas celebration and our fir tree, thin and puny on branches and ornaments, but high on spirits. They listened politely but then I realized from the expression on their faces and the look in their eyes that neither one could relate to the description that followed.  They were millennial young and recently married.

I told them how we decorated the blue spruce with real candles, apples, cookies, and home-made shiny paper ornaments, with a few and rare Bohemian glass ornaments, and how we lit the tiny candles every night for a few minutes - they were clipped as far to the outside branches as possible to avoid catching the tree on fire. To mom’s exasperation, Daddy would nail the base of the tree stand to the parquet floor. A few oranges, apples, and cookies were hung on each branch with colorful string, and chocolate bonbons and plump raisins filled home-made cardboard tiny baskets decorated with red and green crepe paper.

Larger cities decorated a huge tree in the center of town with colorful lightbulbs and organized a winter carnival with rides on St. Nicholas Day, December 6. New Year’s Day was a secular holiday decreed so by the Communist party but Christmas was not really a holiday at all.

People who lived in villages stuck to tradition and celebrated Christmas. Priests opened the modest and very cold churches for services on Christmas Eve. I attended services with my aunt Leana who was a deacon and a cantor. Churches in the mountainous areas were more active so far away from the prying eyes of communists.   

Caroling, donations of food to people less fortunate, and having an extended family meal to celebrate Christmas was the highlight of our year.  During certain days, we went from house to house with elaborately prepared plates of food and baskets of goodies for those less fortunate, widowed, old, or sick.

Villagers learned to care for each other in good times and bad.  They bartered services and things they had in excess with other neighbors since money was so tight. People learned to adjust to their communist-imposed poverty in so many creative ways.

My parents, my secret Santa (Mos Craciun), would put a small food item by my pillow which I would find on Christmas morning – an unwrinkled apple, a fragrant orange from Israel, a green banana from Greece, or a bittersweet chocolate bar. Christmas was good for us kids because we were oblivious to our state in life. We had no idea how hard adults struggled to make ends meet.

How could I make this well-off American couple understand that Christmas was a gift of prayer and time to be with the extended family to share love and abundant food that was otherwise missing the rest of the year?

Nobody can comprehend that an entire nation can be held hostage for decades and suffer so much in a fight for survival every day to find food we take for granted here, bread, milk, butter, flour, sugar, rice, cooking oil, and needful things such as toilet paper, vitamins, and basic medicines. It is hard to believe when the shelves in America’s grocery stores are brimming with food.

As Oleg Atbashian said in his book, Hotel USSR, after he legally immigrated to the U.S., he cried when he saw the abundance surrounding him, not tears of happiness, mind you, but of anguish for all the unnecessary and cruel pain the proletariat endured for decades at the hands of communist autocrats who enjoyed making the population suffer for many generations through constant shortages of food, long lines, lack of basic necessities like hot water, heat, having to depend on bribes, black markets, kickbacks, and bartering to survive.

An artist, Atbashian entered an art supplies store in Manhattan and wrote, “Rows upon rows of shelves brimmed with products that catered to every artistic need. No gatekeeper was checking permissions, and no Artists Union card was required to make a purchase… After the first floor, I went to the second, and then to the third. And then I imagined how different my life could have been and broke down in tears.”

Americans are so unappreciative of and spoiled by their abundance created through the hard work of many past generations, that they have no idea how other people live or that life can be any other way but good. But this American knows better and my Christmas spirit will always grow inside our Christian home and in my heart.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Symphony of White

Two of the strongest memories from my early childhood are the muddy yards and roads soaked into deep ruts by rivers of steady pouring rain and the pristine whiteness of the winter wonderland stillness when the dirt and mud are covered by a blanket of gleamingly white and fluffy snowflakes, blanketing snow glittering in the bitter and biting cold sunshine, accumulated and piled high above my head.

I could not imagine a prettier color than alpine white in the majestic Carpathian Mountains set in a wild and rocky terrain ringed with blue-green spruce.

Our snow at Christmas in grandpa’s yard was stained red with the splashed blood of the sacrificed pig raised to feed our entire extended family that otherwise would starve.

My memory brings back the red poppies in the fields of green and yellow wheat, guarded by a man armed with an axe; he meant business when he chased kids trampling government wheat in search of the bountiful and beautiful flowers that had more “useful purposes” to the guard’s communist bosses. The bright red was inviting us to pick them and take them to our moms to add a splash of color in the otherwise dreary and utilitarian grey space we called communist apartment homes. Picking wild flowers in a small bouquet was such an innocent delight which flooded my eyes with God’s beauty.

A sea of red hammer and sickle communist flags dominated the landscape when the population was forced out into the streets, rain or shine, to march in praise and glory to the dear leader and his wife.

Yellow and white were the fields of chamomile flowers we picked and dried to make tea, a soothing greenish liquid that relaxed us at night and helped clean infected wounds.

Our uniforms were plain shades of green, grey, brown, and navy. For a proper contrast, our school shirts were blue, freshened in the wash by hand with a cube of blue dye when they faded.  Hands would look blue for a while as we did not have latex gloves to shield the skin while doing laundry.  Girls as young as five were taught how to properly wash clothes.

Our hands would turn chocolate brown when it came time to pick and shell the green casing of walnuts which had not dried completely on its own. The purple plums we gathered for brandy and the juice we squeezed out of grapes in the fall to make wine stained our hands magenta.  

We cried crocodile tears when the pungent and juicy yellow onions had to be pulled by hand from the ground. We dug potatoes with a hoe and brown became embedded under fingernails for the duration no matter how much we washed our hands. The smell of fresh dirt and the worms we dug up with the potatoes was overwhelming. When it rains and the first drops fall on dry dirt, the smell reminds me of digging up potatoes from the soil which we then spread evenly on the floor of the cellar to dry up.

Grandma’s flower garden blossomed in summer and autumn with fragrant roses, dahlias, narcissus, tulips, chrysanthemums, lilacs, peonies, and lavender.  She was proud of her garden located close to the cast iron water pump that brought fresh ground water from the deep well. I helped by pumping enough water to nourish her precious blooms twice a week. Grandma and mom looked at the plants as God’s colorful gifts that filled the soul and eyes with beauty. The colorful and scented blooms were mom’s treasures.

Grandpa gave me a box of watercolors one year and, without consulting mom, I painted a small red rose on the wall by the couch where I slept. Each morning, when I first opened my eyes, I saw the rose.

We did not have any paintings or pictures on the wall except my parent’s oil portrait from their imaginary wedding. It was a fantasy wedding portrait as they were too poor to have a proper wedding and a formal dress. I wish I had that painting today! It had been long confiscated by God knows who.

Nature’s colors amazed me and I often dreamed that someday, when I could afford to, I would never wear anything else but bright colors, teal, pink, purple, lavender, grass green, magenta, orange, white, and reds.

I often wander in the woods to capture on camera nature’s palette. Fall is a symphony of yellows, browns, greens, and maroons that take my breath away. My husband laughs that I must have photographed the same trees for the last ten years but to me, each autumn brings another shade of color that I have not seen before with my naked eye. And the sun adds that little sparkle, a glint of gold, orange, pink, and cerulean blue streaking from the soft white clouds.

The fragrant green fir trees at Christmas and the tiny real candles we lit, the few glass ornaments, brought a warm glow of yellow light, joy and color to our otherwise drab existence.

One summer mom bought enough material for a new dress. It was not often that I got a new dress. Everything had to be altered, let out, let in, and hemmed to last several seasons. The print was small red roses with green leaves set in a black background. My seamstress aunt‘s masterful fingers created a work of art without a paper pattern. Every time I wore it, the splash of color made me feel special and I rode on a cloud of happiness all day, bathed in the hues of red and green.

My wardrobe today is an eclectic splash of cheerful and sunny colors. It’s not hard to find me in a crowded airport. To me, black is for somber occasions and funerals; navy is ceremonial; and brown is best served in dark chocolate.

The whiteness of snow is still so pristine that no garment can possibly match it. But I wear white long after Labor Day, a bright spot in a crowd of winter.