Section 2, part 2

(1) Lana C. in OH: For Cynthia:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
Author unknown… 

(2) Debbie H. in PA: Good reading, thanks.

(3) Sandy B. in PA: So sorry about your kitty cat.  Nothing hurts more than losing a beloved pet.

(4) Margie Z. in NC: So sorry about your loss.  But what a wonderful 17 years you had
Precious.  Memories of cuddling!

(5) Lyn M. in NC: I’m so sorry that Cynthia lost her cat .. and I am glad that the two of you are safe after the fire!

Here is my latest newsletter.  You or Cynthia might enjoy this one.  If not, just erase. 🙂
Here is the link:
(6) Linda M. in NC: Made me cry about your kitty…. What a sweet note!
(7) Kaye P. in PA: So sorry to hear about the passing of your cat. My husband and I have a number  of cats each one special (we probably clicked because of this-21 years ago)  We even are doing PT for one our cats we go to Newtown Vet.  My husband would say to cherish the fact that you had your Precious for so many years and think of how much you did for him rather than be sad. (I have trouble not being sad but he is more resilient.) Since we were married we have had over a dozen losses.  Just wanted to send my sympathies to you and Cynthia.
(8) Jason W. in PA: Lots of gems in this one, Blaine.  Now I need a dog & a pair of tan Oxfords. Glad no one got hurt in the pipeline explosion.
(9) Ange M. in PA: My condolences and love are sent to you both.  I know the feeling of losing a beloved cat.  Our pets are our children.  I know you will miss Precious and that you also cherish the time you had with her.  God bless and know others empathize with your sadness.

And I want to add I’m so glad no one was hurt, especially the both of you, was hurt from the pipeline explosion.  Very scary I’m sure.
Keep safe and know you are being sent love.
(10) Maria P. in PA: I’m so sorry to hear about Precious.  On that same day I took a friend to the vet for his Akita, who was 15.  I’ll tell you the same thing I told him.  Precious had the best rescuer and the best life she could have ever asked for.
(11) Chuck S. in NJ: Sorry to hear about the loss of your cat, Precious.  Our pets are real family members.
(12) Pat L. in CA: Blaine and Cynthia — SO, so sorry to hear about Precious.  Our pets are so awesome [I surely love mine, so much!!!]  Loved the “letter from God” — !  Thanks so much for sharing.
(13) Mary Lou S. in NC: You are both in my thoughts today as I have just read Blaine’s newsletter and learned of the passing of Precious, your beloved cat.   I know how important your cats are in your life and my heart aches for your loss.  I loved the letter that came from God shortly after Precious left this earth as your constant companion.  It is something to be treasured!!Please know I am thinking of you…and hope that you are at peace knowing that you gave the best of yourselves in providing love and care to Precious during her time with you.  May she rest in peace as you celebrate her life.
(14) Natalie K. in PA: Saw “August: Osage County Saturday.  It was hard to watch but I thought the acting by Streep and Roberts extraordinary.  I’m glad I saw it for that reason.
(15) Kevin J. in PA:  I’m putting it out to the world… any retired sales professionals looking for temp (3 month) assignment for good cause? (Bucks County/Philadelphia area). If interested, respond via email to:
(16) Gladys P. in NC: Please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of a Precious.  I am sure she brought many years of joy; and hopefully your memories of her will get you through this sad time.

I cried when I heard about her death.  She looked like a very special cat.
(17) Donna G. in NJ: My condolences on the passing of Precious. The letter from God made me cry…….it was so beautiful. God bless your sweet angel.
(18) Lorre D. in NC: Sorry to hear about your Precious.   It has been almost 2 years for me and Sabrina but adopting Daisy has really helped me so much.  I am not as lonely, depressed or alone as I walk, watch tv or work on the computer for she is right there with me. 
Please tell your lovely bride that I am saddened to hear of your cat passing.
(19) Ellen C. in PA: Thanks for forwarding the Bernadette Peters YouTube video.  You could see the emotion behind the song.  I wondered if she was thinking about her spouse whom- if memory serves me- she lost in a plane accident.I met her once before she became a big star,  She is a dog lover..  When I was a teen, a friend of ours brought us over to her house in NY when she lived with her parents.  We got a puppy from her dog’s litter.  She was our best dog too.Thanks for all the great information in your newsletter.


Section 4, Reviews

C. AN UNSPOKEN COMPROMISE (Hawkfish Publishing) by Rizi Xavier Timane is the author’s compelling story about how he was born a female and then transitioned to become the male that he now is.

Timane, a Nigerian-born transgender minister and certified grief recovery specialist now residing in California, grew up in an extremely religious Christian home. He was subjected to multiple excorcisms and other attempts by his family and church to “pray the gay away.”

How he managed to get past all that makes the book so interesting.

Among the several passages that caught my attention were the following:

* You will also be happier when you accept that you can’t pray the gay away. God simply won’t deliver you from being who you were created to be. . . . In short, just be yourself and be proud. It’s almost a guarantee for living a happier life.

* The lesson to learn from this is not to write loved ones off, especially when they are open to learning about your gender and/or sexuality. Just be patient and willing to reach out when appropriate.

And this one about how Timane tried to discuss religion with his mother:

* Every time she visits, I take her to Red Lobster so she can have her fill, and once I thought I’d broach this topic with her, about how Leviticus called eating shellfish an “an abomination.”

“If you take that literally,” I said as I watched her eating a jumbo shrimp, “you and I will go to hell together.”

Needless to say, this did not go over well. She refused to discuss it with me then, and at any time after that when I tried to bring up any part of Leviticus again. The topic made her very upset, to the point where she told me, “Don’t even question God’s words,” and then started singing s Christian hymm to drown me out.

I recommend this book to members of the LGBT community, as well as to anybody else wanting to gain a greater understanding of gender dysphoria.

D. Heard CROSS MY HEART (Hachette Audio), written by James Patterson and narrated by Michael Boatman and Tom Wopat.

This is the latest book in the series of thrillers about Detective Alex Cross.   I’ve read most–if not all–of them, and I seem to recall enjoying every one.

In this tale, the good detective becomes the obsession of a genius of menace who sets his eyes on the Cross family. That was the part that especially held my interest in CROSS MY HEART. I liked getting to know the children, his grandmother and his wife Bree even better.

Things were moving along smoothly until the last chapter, at which point Patterson uses a “to be continued” ending.

What a bummer! He should have either written a longer book.

Consequently, I don’t recommend CROSS MY HEART. Or if you really want to read it, don’t do so until the follow-up is out and you can then read both at the same time.


Section 11, Thought for the day

Bring on the Buick and Velcro shoes
by John Boyle*

Man, how did this happen?

Suddenly, I’m an oldster.

I honestly think the new Buicks are really cool.

Those tennis shoes with Velcro fasteners instead of laces? They make way too much sense to me.

A 4:30 meal at the J&S Cafeteria and an early movie sounds like a little slice of heaven.

And I hate myself for this, but I’m sort of relieved that my daggone colonoscopy will now be covered by insurance. Well, at least one every 10 years.

What happened, you ask? I turned the big 5-0 Friday.

Yes, it’s a bit depressing. As my ever-kind colleague Clarke Morrison told me a few years back, “If it hasn’t happened by age 50, it ain’t gonna happen.”

My words to fellow reporter Tony Kiss when he turned 50 are coming back to haunt me: “In your case, Tony, 50 is the new 80.”

But hey, it can’t be that bad, can it? Tony’s still kicking, swilling beer and getting paid for it. Clarke, whom we lovingly call “The Grizz” for his sparkling phone manner, is still cranking out copy, rocking some suspenders and frightening interns.

Still, I do have to admit to a little melancholy about this one. It’s hard to deny you’re on the down slope, that you’ve put a lot of miles on the odometer — and you might not make it to some of those places you dreamed about.

But I suppose the flip side is I should magically become a lot wiser.

Then again, I had a discussion with one of my brothers, who’s 56, about our maturity levels, and we both agreed we’re really not much past 25, maybe 22 on a bad night.

While sagaciousness has eluded me, I do feel like I’ve learned a few lessons over my half-century of living. Indulge me for a few minutes while I share:

• My dad told me the most important decision you’ll ever make in life is not which school you attend or what job you take or even where to live. It’s who will be your spouse. This is the person you’ll live with every day, make a family with and rely on emotionally, financially and every other way.

Take your time and make sure you know in your heart it’s the right decision. A really smart man I knew growing up, John Rick, told me the oddest thing about marriage, “It’s a lot of hard work.”

Being 18 and terrified of commitment, I had no idea what he meant, but I knew I wanted to avoid hard work for as long as possible. I get it now — you get out of it what you put in. Show your spouse you’re still interested in her. Ask about her day. Get her flowers or small gifts on occasion for no reason.

And if you really want to hit a home run, fellas, vacuum the entire house.

I’m serious. It’s romance gold.

• If that vacuuming leads to a family, your life will change for the better. But just as in marriage, raising kids is work.

And you’ve got to be there. Put the time in. You won’t regret it.

Nobody ever died wishing they’d spent more time at work. You will regret missing out on your children’s lives.

• Don’t be scared of becoming a parent or freak out that you’re “not ready.” Trust me: No one in the history of mankind has ever been ready. You roll with it, and your love just grows.

• Take care of yourself. Your health is up to you. Doctors are great, but they’re not inside your body, at least not until you have the joy of a prostate exam. I’m still in therapy from my last one. Realize your doctor cares about you because it’s his job. It’s your life.

• If you smoke, quit. I’ve seen the destruction firsthand, folks, and it is not pretty. I won’t lecture, but it’ll be the best move you ever make in life.

• Get some exercise every day. You’ll feel better and save money on anti-depressants.

• Get outside some every day. See above.

• You’ve got to enjoy what you do for a living. A job is essential to life, if you like to eat, but don’t let it rule your life. If you dread going to work every day, find another job.

• Friends are as important as exercise. They can be your brothers or sisters, and certainly my wife is my best friend. But you also need some buds to hang with sometimes, to talk to about guy stuff, or girl stuff, as the case may be.

But you’ve got to make the effort here, too. Make a phone call. Pay them a visit. Stay up with them on Facebook. Nobody ever died wishing they’d spent more time watching movies alone.

• People can change, but it’s really, really hard. I’ve found that, like the writer Saul Bellow said, change comes with blows. It takes a whomping over the head for most of us to change, but people can and do change for the better.

So don’t give up on people. Realize that people are not going to change until they’re ready. You’re just nagging until they decide to make a change.

• Realize that every single person you meet is dealing with his or her own problems in life. “Everybody has problems,” the best man at my wedding, Jacob Murphy, told me, and it’s absolutely true. You have no idea what that person has been through in life and what may be making them act like a jerk. With that in mind …

• Try to be kinder. This is hard for me, especially when I read my email after a hot-button column or get stuck behind a Floridian braking for a green light. But seriously, the world is mean enough. Spruce it up with some niceness. It will come back to you.

One of my brothers, Bruce, makes it a point to do something nice for a total stranger every day. He’ll buy someone lunch in the fast food line or give someone a lift who needs it. It always makes him feel even better than the recipient.

• Tip better. A couple more bucks to you will go unnoticed. It could make a server or pizza deliveryman’s night.

• Compliments are free. A sincere compliment goes a long way in life. So does a smile and a “Thank you.”

• There’s something to be said for aging gracefully. Think about this: What do you do when someone you’re talking with does nothing but complain about aches and pains or life’s travails? You’re gone, right? Remember, you don’t want to be the person left standing there wondering why no one wants to be around you.

• Accept this: The physical part of aging stinks. You realize that life after a certain point — and news flash to you snarky 20- and 30-somethings, it comes sooner than you think! — is a game of subtraction. Things you like get taken away. Vision, flexibility, strength, good health in general. Friends, family, pets. You have to choose how you’re going to deal with this. Are you going to become the cantankerous whiner that people avoid? Or are you going to maintain a sense of humor?

Right before my dad died of lung cancer at age 83, a nurse made him stand up and take some particular strong medication. She apologized for it.

“Oh, I’m sure it’s going to take years off my life,” he said.

We all busted up.

• So laugh more. And seek out fun people who make you laugh.

• Smile more at people instead of looking away. You’ll be surprised how much it boosts your day.

• Get a dog, or maybe two. OK, get a cat if you’re a cat person. I get a good laugh out of our basset hound Cooper almost every day, whether he comes bombing in the room at full speed for no reason or he lies on my face while I’m trying to watch TV.

• Remember that life really is short. Don’t take it for granted. Here’s one of my favorite lyrics, from the U2 song “Kite:” “I’m not afraid to die. Not afraid to die. Not afraid to live. And when I’m flat on my back. I hope to feel like I did.”

I plan to crank the hell out of that song in my new Buick.

* Reprinted with the gracious permission of John Boyle from his 1.11.14 column in the ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES


Section 12A, NC events

(2) Tasha Lief and Company will be performing Jazz, Blues and Old Soul songs Friday January 31, 2014 from 6 to 8 pm.

Two of Tasha’s friends, Jesse Barry from American Idol and her talented mom Tami-Lu Barry will also be singing.
Prepare yourself for a fun and upbeat evening!
The event is planned at:
Tressa’s Downtown Jazz and Blues
28 Broadway
Asheville, NC 28801


Section 12B, PA/NJ event

Jennie Giardine-Smith:

I will be in the Authors’ Corner of the art gallery reception at Lower Bucks Campus (Bucks CCC). It is a free event with live music, a $5 refillable glass of wine and free appetizers. Stop by if you can!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s