15 Years After: Life Post-9/11

Da Goddess @ 05:39

After 15 years, my heart still beats a little too fast, my chest feels too tight, and I remember that sense of disbelief as if it were yesterday.

I also remember my neighbors gathering, not so much to talk, but more just needing to be together with others.

My children had questions. I had questions, too. But parents had to be strong and talk the kids through the scary news. We could only panic or cry in private. The kids needed us adults to be their safe haven. So we were.

I remember Mr. Rogers saying during times like these, when you’re frightened or feeling lost to look for the helpers. I keep thinking about that now. How many of us remember that? How many of us have become helpers?

I’ve been a helper and I have to say, helping others during terrible moments makes you stronger. It truly does.

I try not to be one who needs a helper now. I do what I can to be there for those who have no one else, who don’t know where to turn, who maybe just need a hand to hold onto.

I try. And I try very hard to support the helpers whose jobs require the support of the community. Whatever we can’t do, they are out there making sure it gets done. They work harder and longer than everyone else. And they need us to be there for them when all is said and done.

Today I think of the lives lost 15 years ago. I think, too, of those who have since died because of the work they did to put out fires, find survivors in the wreckage, or to reclaim the remains of the dead. I think of those who have flown over, sailed around, or walked in foreign lands in the name of securing our freedom, chasing down the evil minds behind the attacks on us. I think of all the innocents who’ve been caught in the crossfire.

Mostly, I think. I remember. I hurt. And I give thanks for all that remains.

Some far off day, long in the future, there will be no one left alive who remembers the attacks on American soil. It’ll be one more story in a history book. Until that happens, I will remember and I will speak of that day. I have to. I cannot forget, nor should I.

Never. Forget. Never forget. NEVER FORGET. NEVER. FORGET.


On This Day 10 Years Ago: September 4, 2006 — Steve Irwin Died

Da Goddess @ 00:00

Over the years, I’ve written about the impact Steve Irwin had on the lives of my family. Below is a repost of something I wrote in 2009, which still rings true. I’d like to add a few thoughts.

Steve may be gone, but we’ve witnessed new generations carrying on with his mission. Irwin daughter Bindi is officially an adult and continues to talk about the need for conservation, advocates for the animals, and has become a true global ambassador for wildlife. His son, Robert, does the same. Though his younger years perhaps limit his visibility, he aims high and reaches or exceeds that mark with pure, unbridled enthusiasm. Both Irwin kids are passionate, educated, and very well-spoken, which is a testament to not only their mother, Terri, but to the foundation of keen interest and the solid work their father did in the name of wildlife conservation.

As I mention below, my own interest in wildlife began early. My parents were the leading contributors to this, but I was also intrigued by the work of Marlin Perkins, who was pretty much all my generation had in the way of a wildlife educator/promoter. There were others who followed, of course, but that was the start of my budding curiosity. I’m so very grateful for the path Perkins paved because it brought us Steve.

I’m grateful my children grew up in the Age of Irwin. I’m grateful for the first class shows they had, to see the world through khaki colored glasses, to see wildlife conservation as something exciting and important.

For those reasons alone (though there are many more), I continue to mourn the loss of the great wildlife warrior named Steve Irwin.

I’ll never forget the year LD turned two and on Christmas morning he went crazy when he saw one of his presents was a three or four foot plastic crocodile. He immediately jumped it, covered its eyes, called for Terri (his sister given a co-starring role in his funny little world of Croc Hunterdom) to get his shirt off and wrap it around the croc’s head. Yes, LD was two and had absorbed enough Irwinisms to run his own fake rescue and relocation in our living room.

Dressed in his regular uniform of khakis (the boy wanted what he wanted), we headed over to my sister’s house for more Christmas activities. The croc came along. Anyone speaking to LD that day had to address him as Steve. To this day, there are probably a few people who were dating relatives or friends of my sister and brother-in-law who really believe this is my son’s name. We probably should have considered it, but for the simple fact that the ex’s brother carries the same name and they weren’t on speaking terms at that point. Still, my little 2 year old had made his stand about the name and his goals for the day: he would be Steve and he would be on croc patrol. No cats, people, or food would go missing if he could help it! (Okay, maybe a little food, but that was only if it was near enough to a chair he could climb up to get at it.)

And he did it all with an Australian accent. My American born baby boy sported a fair dinkum Aussie accent. Because that’s how his hero spoke.

This was how it went for two and half years, give or take. Halloween costumes were, naturally, khaki and sported fabric paint representations of Australia Zoo’s logo, with the name Steve below that. We’d attached frogs, lizards, and snakes to his shirt (all plastic, of course…our collection was immense…still is) and his shorts or pants, and his hat, although the hat was from the Norwich Gators (close as we could get at the time). Our pumpkins were carved with crocs and “Steve” and occasionally a panda or regular jack o’lantern pattern. But they still represented The Man.

When the news broke during the early hours on Sept. 4, 2006, I was awake and editing for Blogcritics.org at the time. I heard it. And everything stopped. Then I started flipping channels and it was everywhere. It didn’t seem real. Finally, I emailed my friend Pat who lived at the zoo and received the sad confirmation that it was, indeed, tragically true — Steve Irwin was gone.

What unfolded after that was beyond anything most anyone anywhere would have ever expected. Despite the popularity of the Crocodile Hunter series and other spin off shows, no one could have predicted just how widespread this man’s infectious enthusiasm reached. Straight out admiration, parodies, and even a handful of naysayers…the man, his mission, had stretched around the globe and back a million times. He made the scariest animals important, even lovable (except leeches and I’m afraid I’ll never laugh as he did about them), he made us care about the animals he encountered, taught us why they were special, why we should want them around. His plans were grand and he was making great strides in realizing many of his dreams, which ruffled a few feathers and caused some backlash, but Steve did it all for one reason: to protect the land and the animals, and give our children more than just picture books filled with photos and drawings of animals and trees we once encountered on land. Careful management could and can preserve habitats and healthy populations of animals if we can find a way to work together — from land management, husbandry, careful community planning, caring individuals, and sensible care plans from government agencies to help keep nature a viable and valuable part of our heritage.

It’s a message I was taught by Marlin Perkins, local Native Americans, and even by my parents (except snakes, but that’s a cause I took up on my own). To me, what was the point of keeping the forest if there were no animals? What was the point of loving the animals if they had no home? I learned it early and have always carried this with me. My conservationist roots run deep and likely always will. I guess my kids came by it honestly.

And then one day, Steve and Terri Irwin showed up and echoed what I’d grown up hearing. They even went far beyond what I’d learned and gave me new ideas, a new means of understanding, new hope! It spread quickly. I wasn’t the only one looking for a way to learn. It became part of our watercooler conversations.

Then we got that punch in the ol’ solar plexus we never wanted to hear. Yes, Steve Irwin was a celebrity and we often roll our eyes when a celebrity dies. But this seemed to run a bit deeper. Here was a young man actively, passionately chasing the dream of educating the world about our natural resources. He wasn’t famous for kicking a soccer ball or wearing the latest styles or releasing a record of music he had little to do with. He was out getting dirty and conducting research that continues to this day to enlighten us on the habits and lives of creatures we previously understood little about. He gave us tools to learn and set us upon a course of caring.

It’s been three (er, now 10) years and it still hurts. Thankfully, there are people everywhere who have picked up the mantle and carry on.

It may mean nothing to you, but it continues to mean a great deal to this family. Each of us, in our own manner, have found a way to carry on educating friends and strangers about the animals we encounter, the land upon which we live, the land that surrounds us, and how important it is for all of us to work together to keep it working.

Steve Irwin may be gone, but plenty of people in this world are carrying out his work, sharing the knowledge, spreading the word.

We miss you, Stevo.

Gone But Not Forgotten



Da Goddess @ 14:31

I watched a lot of the Olympics this year. Despite my declaration 18 months ago, when NBC started advertising them, I couldn’t resist the urge to see what all the incredible athletes would do.

Gymnastics: A.Ma.Zing. All the way around, the women and men were fascinating to watch. I even managed to keep my eyes open for the balance beam routines, which I’ve been loathe to do in the past. As someone who has NEVER been able to do a cartwheel, I have the utmost respect for the courage it takes to careen across a mat at a high rate of speed and fling oneself in the air. The strength and flexibility are unbelievable. I am in awe. I predict Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, and Madison Kocian will take all the gold medals in 2020 Tokyo.

Swimming: What can I say about the strength and speed of the swimmers that hasn’t already been said? Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Maya Dirado, Missy Franklin, Dana Vollmer…all the women gave their best in the pool. Ledecky is only 19 and just couldn’t get enough of those medals. Manuel, 20, is the first black American woman to medal in the Olympics. Sadly, NBC didn’t think to prepare a package on her journey to the Olympics, which is mind boggling because there was a big opportunity to talk about *why* we’ve seen so few black Americans in the pool. There’s *history* there that deserves to be shared. Instead, we got plenty of coverage of Phelps and Lochte*.

Diving: I am humbled by those who can stand atop a board and then fling themselves WHILE PERFORMING ACROBATICS off, toward the water, and still barely make a splash. How is it even possible?

Equestrian: I had to scout around to find coverage for the equestrian events. USA and MSNBC carried the bulk of riding and jumping events. Thank God I thought to dig around until I found the schedule! Fletch was equally happy that I found the horses. He sat in front of the TV, mesmerized by them. Then he ran through the house, scampering and leaping as if he were competing. I wish I’d thought to record him doing it!

There is such beauty in watching horse and rider strive to achieve the most difficult jumps, to navigate a course full of challenges, to place their trust in one another… it’s truly amazing.

My younger sister could have been an Olympic horsewoman. She may try to say otherwise now, but she was GOOD and she could have done it. So, not just because I have always loved horses, but because I always think of my sister… that’s why I watched, why I’ll always watch.

My only complaint with the equestrian competition is that it doesn’t include reining events. I took enough riding lessons on reining horses to know and understand the level of skill required to get a horse and rider to the point where they can achieve such smooth movement and “effortless” control. Granted, I was pretty much a hack in spite of all the time and effort I put into riding, but STILL! (Really, even though I wasn’t as good as I had hoped, I was plenty happy to be on a horse under the vast Colorado sky.)

Cycling: I tried to get into cycling more this year, but I gave up after the first event. Once upon a time, cycling was special to me. Apparently, I grew out of it. I still admire the riders, but I no longer feel the need to watch.

Finally, I have to say how disappointing I found NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. Forget how underwhelming the opening ceremony was, it *might* have been better if we had been given the opportunity to see it without commercial interruptions every few minutes. Perhaps. We’ll never know at this point.

During events, the network continued to suffer from “gotta get an ad in” syndrome. Aside from swimming heats that would be over in a matter of minutes, NBC had a very difficult time sticking with coverage for more than 8 minutes. And if they did, they spent that time focusing on little of importance. Where were the lovely, heart-warming stories about the athletes overcoming adversity? Oh, sure, there were a few stories, but too much time was spent on interviewing breathless competitors or cutting back to a sports announcer, or worse… Ryan Seacrest. Am I the only one who has had enough of the guy? I do NOT get his appeal at all.

The best thing NBC did during the Olympics was bringing Leslie Jones down to Rio. Her enthusiasm was infectious and endearing. Might i suggest we replace Seacrest with her next time? Actually, let’s do that AND let another network broadcast the Olympics in the future. After this round, I’m pretty sure a community college broadcasting class could do a better job than NBC did.

Before I end this with my rant below,let me just say how much I appreciate the dedication of the athletes, their families, and the coaches. I marvel at the sacrifices these people make to chase a dream. Even for those who don’t “get sports”, they must see the beauty in chasing a dream. So few of us have the fortitude to focus as much as these athletes do. I often wonder if we made opportunities to try a variety of activities available to everyone — from the wealthiest to the poorest — if we could create more dreamers and achievers. I believe it’s possible. And I don’t think we should wait for the next Olympic games to start inspiring the next generation to go for the gold.


*Now, allow me to vent about the idiot for a moment. Lochte, despite his medals and fame, couldn’t manage to behave like an adult following the completion of his events. His actions in Rio, outside the Olympic compound, were asinine and reflected so poorly on not just America, but the athletes in general. I sincerely hope he’s punished somehow, someway. I don’t know what, exactly, but there must be consequences for his (and his fellow delinquents) actions. I’d send him back to Rio to face the music and I’d ban him from the U.S. swim team for at least the next games in 2020. Isn’t there some sort of code of conduct for these athletes? What are the repercussions of breaking the rules? This angers me in a way I find difficult to explain. I mean, I’ve had enough of athletes getting away with bad behavior, or getting a mere slap on the hand. Whether you are representing your family, school, your neighborhood, your city, state, or nation, you need to be held accountable for your actions. It’s not enough to be embarrassed or ashamed that people find out what an idiot you’ve been. There must be more done to deter others from behaving in a similar(or worse) manner.

I truly do not comprehend how we humans have allowed others to get away with all manner of crime simply because they are known for their athletic abilities (or whatever their claim to fame may be). Why? As a parent, you spend so much of your time trying to raise your children to be responsible, honest, law-abiding citizens. Those character traits should not be optional because they excel at sports, acting, academics, or anything else. In fact, the bar should be even higher for those who work so hard to achieve “greatness” in whatever field they choose that also puts them in the public eye.

At some point, were going to need to say, “enough is enough!” and demand our national “representatives” adhere to a specific level of conduct. If they don’t, they should be stripped of their awards and banned from future competition. I can’t see any other way to get the message across.



Da Goddess @ 03:06

Sometimes I wonder if those who cite the Bible/religion as their basis for hating on or denying the rights of homosexuals and/or transgender individuals ever considered the idea that God made these people and put them here on earth with us to help us open our minds and hearts.

Substitute homosexual/transgender with black/Hispanic/Asian or any other ethnicity and the depth of that type of prejudice becomes even more ridiculous, doesn’t it?

I truly believe we are all here for a reason and we should be more open to others before we become so isolated that we’ve walled ourselves into individual compounds and the entirety of the human race dies off.

Just something I was thinking about.


Six Months is not Enough

Da Goddess @ 01:11

I feel sick to my stomach that six months was considered an appropriate sentence for the attacker. I feel sick to my stomach because it’s not anywhere close to a deterrent for the next guy who decides he’ll assault someone and he knows he can get away with it.

My heart aches for this young woman because of all she has endured — including the trial, the questions about her life, the treatment of her by the probation officer, and so much more.

I have been in her shoes, minus the trial and national exposure. I didn’t go after my attackers because of who one of them was. I wish I had as I later learned there were more victims of his. I don’t know what happened in the other guy’s life and don’t want to know. In fact, my heart says it’s best for me not to know anything about either of them.

Just like this young woman, I was lucky to have had some incredibly supportive people in my life. They helped me through the first year of recovering from the attack. And for all those who continued to help me long after, I can only say thanks. The memories never go away completely, but they do blur around the edges and they don’t have power over me as they once did. When I read about how this young woman (and many others) have suffered, a part of me feels their pain, the panic, the anxiety that follows. I wish I’d had their courage when I was attacked. I didn’t. But I do have a bit now and am no longer ashamed by any of it. I’m hoping anyone in a similar situation understands how important it is to realize they have nothing to be ashamed of. Their attackers should be ashamed, while the victims should be supported by family, friends, and the community.

As long as there are foolish judges handing out lenient sentences, parents who obfuscate the truth and try to raise pity for their criminally convicted children, and a society that tries downplay the seriousness of sexual assault cases, these stories will continue and the victims will continue to feel ashamed for something in which they had no choice but to endure.

Your mother, sister, daughter, wife, cousin, best friend, next door neighbor…She is the one who carries this weight and this pain when the rest of us don’t give sexual assault cases the utmost care and gravity they deserve. It’s time to stop victimizing the victim over and over again, somehow turning them into a villain for expecting justice. It’s time to stop downplaying the attacker’s role and turning him into some sort of misguided, lost soul.

We need to educate our children so they understand the difference between right and wrong, teach them to take responsibility for their actions — regardless of the consequences. If they do the crime, they do the time. It’s not negotiable. Rich or poor, boy or girl, black or white or purple, famous or not. At some point we must stand up for victims and stop allowing the perpetrators to control the narrative, stop giving them nonstop media coverage. Let’s remember the victims could be our family, friends, or even ourselves.


Happy Mother’s Day

Da Goddess @ 17:07

Sending out the warmest of wishes to all who tend to others with great love, tenderness, concern, and, yes, even frustration at times.

Whether you’re female or male, old or young, caring for someone (or some*thing*) born of your loins or not, you ROCK!


September 11 – 14 Years Later

Da Goddess @ 03:46

When we think of this day, we often focus on the loss and the pain. It’s very natural for us to do so because it was a very painful time for our country. So many people lost so very much. But a lot of good has risen from the ashes of that dark day. Here’s a story from Bob Dotson:

He no longer put off anything that brought them joy. “If we’re lying on the floor and all of a sudden Victoria says, ‘Daddy, I want to go to the park,’ I’m like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go to the park.’ That’s what I’m thinking, but I say, ‘Let’s go. We’re going to the park.’ ”

Robert shouted “Hang on, guys!” as the kids squealed with laughter. They were riding in a grocery cart, careening across the lot toward dad’s big SUV. “Why should I deprive my children from going shopping?” Robert said. “I see all the other mothers going shopping with their kids. Why can’t I do it?”

He raced alongside the grocery cart, jumped on its rear axle and pushed with a powerful leg. The children exploded with laughter again. “When my kids smile, the terrorists lose,” Robert said with a grin. “The people who killed Janet wanted to destroy our happy lives. They lost. We won.”

In his book American Story, Dotson also tells of a Newfoundland town that took in stranded passengers from several planes that were forced to land. It’s a beautiful story. The entire book is full of them. To say I recommend this book highly is an understatement. It’s what every American should read. Most particularly today. Go get yourself a copy and let each story remind you why America is so special, why we triumph even when faced with horrifying tragedy like September 11, 2001.

Today, while I remember the lives lost and those impacted by the the actions of hateful people, I will also remember the goodness and strength we found along the road to recovery. Neighbor helping neighbor. Children leading their parents. Strangers holding hands and offering whatever they could to ease another’s burdens. We have triumphed because that’s what America is all about.

Yes, I still remember and I still grieve, but I also see the promise of America through the veil of tears.

Always remember, and always hope.


Happy Mother’s Day 2015

Da Goddess @ 20:31

Here’s to all who take care of those around them!

Happy Mother’s Day!


Picture This

Da Goddess @ 23:51

“Picture this: Sicily, 1934…” oh how I miss Sophia Petrillo!

Anyhow, imagine a nice, normal day at ren faire. Enjoying the weather and the people, the music and the madness. Then pictue Peasant Bowling. Yep! We had Peasants lined up as the pins. It was the goofiest thing I have ever seen and…done. it was a lot of fun. I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to see it again so I can bring my camera. I only wish I had video capability on the cam so you could all enjoy the thrill of it all.

Survived the day and did my best to keep the back in line. Exhausted now and I am heading to bed. Perhaps sleep will find me. Perhaps I will dream about the new royal baby, Princess Petunia Periwinkle Perth Amboy. She’s absolute perfection.


Call Me Dragon Lady

Da Goddess @ 16:45

Yeah, I couldn’t help myself. Google had a “which animal are you?” quiz for Earth Day and I did it.

I’m a Komodo Dragon.

I like it. I like being unusual.


Christos Anesti – Happy Easter, Part II

Da Goddess @ 00:01

Christos Anesti! ~ “Christ is risen!”

Alithos Anesti! ~ “Truly He is risen!”

Christos Anesti 2015

This year Orthodox Pascha is celebrated one week after the celebration of the Western Easter. The Orthodox date for Easter is based on a decree of the Council of Nicaea, Asia Minor, held in 325 A.D. According to this decree, Easter must be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox but always after the Hebrew Passover to maintain the Biblical sequence of events of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The Orthodox Christian churches have adhered strictly to this formula.

“Christos anesti ek nekron
thanato thanaton patisas
kai tois en tois mnimisi
zoen charisamenos”


Happy Easter, Part I

Da Goddess @ 01:28

Happy Easter to most of the Easter-celebrating world!

For me, Easter is next weekend. It’s an Orthodox Church thing. But then again, you know that from reading me all these years.

For those of you celebrating today, I hope you have a warm and loving time with plenty of joy to go around.

Happy Easter!


A Beautiful Project

Da Goddess @ 02:22

I wish I’d done a project like this. It’s stunning.


Nothing New is New

Da Goddess @ 01:44

Acid rain is a recent thing. Right? RIGHT?

Think again.

The Smithsonian it’s happened before.


Are Ya Ready?

Da Goddess @ 01:28

Are you ready for another new year? Are you ready for another six months of trying to remember to write 2015 on things instead of 2014?

It hardly seems possible we’ve burned through another 365 days already. How did this happen? HOW? I don’t remember last year going by so quickly. Perhaps it’s just something that happens as you age. Or maybe it’s simply how it is. Whatever the reason, I’m not quite at the point where I’m pushing 2014 out the door with a smile on my face. I feel like I still have too much left to do.

Whatev. I guess. Maybe. All I know is I’m not ready but it’s going to happen regardless.

Any big plans for New Year’s Eve?

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