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Jan. 28, 2017. Donald Trump has been president for one week, and already he has thrown our country, and the world, into chaos. His inaugural speech was full of doom and gloom and hate. His speech at the Memorial Wall of the CIA was all about how his inaugural crowd was the largest ever in the whole world (it wasn’t, not even close) He mocked the million + Women’s March attendees, which drew a much larger crowd than his puny inauguration. He churned out executive orders in a frenzy, posturing and posing for the cameras. He said Mexico would pay for that stupid wall. The Mexican president stood up to him and said no way Jose, and he cancelled the meeting he and Trump had planned for next week. Trump said it was a “mutual”decision, and whined that Mexico is being mean to him.

He continues to govern by tweets, on an unsecured phone, and his staffers use unsecured phones too. Remember how he hounded Hillary about using a private email server? Every thing he accused her of, he is doing, and getting away with it. He scolded her for her ties to Goldman-Sachs, but several of his cabinet members come from G-S. His press puppet, Sean Spicer, was forced to go out on Saturday to double-down on Trump’s crowd size. He was angry and hostile and did not allow any questions. Trump, smarting about losing the popular vote by almost 3 million, claimed that he heard that 3 million or more people voted illegally. When Spicer came out for his first official press briefing, he was asked  if he believed Trump’s claim. He said “yes, that’s what Trump believes.

His alt-right toadie Steve Bannon  told the press to shut up and listen. CNN has been banned from pressers because they made him mad by speaking the truth. He’s destroying Obamacare, while millions of Americans, even those who voted for him, are terrified because there is no replacement plan.

He blasted our intelligence communities, and took Putin’s side against them.  I can hardly believe this has already happened, but wait, there’s more. He signed a ban on people from some Muslim countries – but not the ones where the terrorists who harmed us actually came from. Those are the countries he has business ties with. And most of the Republican congress people are letting him get away with all this crap.


All this in one damn week! I am writing this so that I will not forget what is happening to our once-mighty country.






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Now we have come to the end of a terrible year for our country. In the fall of 2015, Donald Trump, the orange-faced blustering billionaire/reality tv star, said he might run for president. We all thought it was a joke. It wasn’t. In the spring of 2016, there were 17 candidates for the Republican slot. Most were bad, but the worst was racist, sexist, and totally unqualified Trump. He kept himself in the spotlight, badmouthing his fellow candidates – Low Energy Jeb, Lying Ted Cruz, Little Mario Rubio … His approval rating just kept going higher. He even said, if he stood in the  middle of Times Square and shot somebody, he’d be even more popular. Damned if he wasn’t right! He asserted that Ted Cruz’s father might have been involved in the murder of JFK, and insulted Ted’s wife.The other candidates dropped off one by one. Each time he said something even more outrageous, his supporters increased. He became very popular with White supremacists, KKK members, bigots and racists, anti-immigration, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-Muslims, and he did not disavow their support. He hammered the Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton, with her emails, even though nothing was found to be illegal. He tagged her with the nickname “Lying Hillary.” He countered every factual point she made with ridiculous lies. At one point, it seemed he’d gone too far, when a secret tape he made a few years ago with Billy Bush was made public. He made crude, offensive, even criminal comments about women. Surely that was too much? After a few tense days, he was absolved – “it’s just locker room talk!” There were three presidental debates. Trump blathered, lied, stalked Hillary on stage. Hillary was prepared, informed, and factual.  Toward the end, the polls showed Hillary ahead. She was predicted to win. Even Donald didn’t expect to win, he just wanted to continue to harrass her after she won.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, like the FBI director, not a fan of Ms. Clinton, making a statement that he’d found new emails that needed to be examined. A few days before the election, he said never mind, it was all innocent, but the damage was done. Rumors of hacking the DNC and her campaign manager by the Russian government swirled for months, but was not confirmed until after the election. When Trump did win in the electoral college, he claimed he’d beaten her by a landslide. He didn’t – she had almost 3 million more popular votes. We held out hope for something, anything, to happen so that he would not become the president, to no avail. He seemed to think he was already the president, sending casual tweets to world leaders, including Taiwan, with whom we have no diplomatic relations with. He threw away years of the One China policy, thrilling Taiwan, which gave him permission to built hotels there, and pissing off China bigly (one of his favorite words) He praised his buddy Putin, our biggest enemy, and continues to do so.

There’s so much more. It’s too painful to go on. More than half of Americans are in despair. Illegal and legal immigrants, blacks, LBGTQs all fear for what is to come. Still, many of us have vowed to fight him and his Congress to keep them from destroying our country. Resistance groups have formed. I joined a secret Facebook group of writers who plan to use our talents to counter his world of hate. I am glad to see the end of 2016, but I am apprehensive about what the future holds.

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It’s been a long, exhausting two years for Americans. The months leading up to our presidential election were nasty, divisive, and sometime incredible. Donald Trump – yes, THAT Donald Trump, the orange-haired, hate-filled reality star. At first it seemed like a goof. There were 17 other Republican candidates. One by one, they fell, with taunts like “Loser””Low energy” and worse from Trump. And he begin to win. No, he’ll never get the nomination. Right?  Wrong. His scowling rubbery face was everywhere, insulting and demeaning everyone who’s not white, American-born, and Republican. He got more popular. Groups of people who’d been largely ignored crawled out of the swamp, proudly chanting”Trump’s “Lock up her up,” his favorite slam on Hillary Clinton.  He escalated, telling Russia to hack her emails, calling her crooked, corrupt, a liar. His crowds began shouting “Hank her, ” wore shirts proudly proclaiming “Hillary for prison.” He got louder and meaner, his people started attacking protestors and calling Hillary obscene things. He got more popular. He said he could stand in the middle of Times Square and shoot somebody and his people would still love him. He SAID that! A man who wanted to be president of the United States. Right up to the end, on election day, Nov. 8, those of us who thought he was not fit for that office had hope that she would win. Even Trump didn’t really expect to win. Yet somehow, despite his ugly attacks on just about everybody, against all odds, HE WON!  Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, there was a whole new world on the horizon. Hispanics feared deportation, Muslims wondered if they should leave the country, women who support a woman’s right to control her own body, LGBT folks, including my 20 year old granddaughter, feared they would lose their hard fought for rights … Kids in schools wore Trump tee-shirts, drew racial slurs and Nazi symbols on bathroom walls, Muslims and gays were attack at a much higher rate, blacks were called the n word even more feverishly. And this is only Day Three of Trump’s America. Tea Party Republicans gloat and mock those of us who are so upset, not understanding that Trump does not have their best interests in mind either. Trump didn’t expect to win, he just wanted the chance to accuse Hillary and the liberal media of rigging the system, and to harp on her damned emails. Oh yeah, the Russians have admitted that they have been in contact with his staff all along, and were responsible for the ugly crap that came from Wikileaks. I read this and can hardly believe this is not a bad dream.

Trump, who said he would immediately gut Obamacare 3 days ago, now says that “in respect for President Obama” he will consider keeping some of the provisions, like covering those with pre-existing conditions. When protestors took to the street Wednesday night, he tweeted that they were professionals guided by the media. Last night he said it was so nice that people were peacefully protesting, as is their right. (I suspect that came from someone else. His staff have tried, and mostly failed, to reign him in)

What will happen tomorrow? Who knows. He’s working on appointing his peers to high government offices. Rudy Guilani as Attorney General. Newt Gringrich, Sarah Palin- maybe Secretary of the Environment – drill, baby, drill, Ben Carson – who denies climate change and evolution – for Secretary of Education!

Trump is becoming calmer and is already walking back some of his most outrageous promises. Maybe he will not be as big a disaster as we fear. What can’t go back in the bottle are the people he empowered to be bullies, racists (the KKK and White Supremists adore him) bigots …

As a wise woman once said, we have to “pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living”

We’re going to do our best to save our country.



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I’ve been away awhile, and now I can’t seem to figure out how to add a new post. Oh well, I’ll try it this way.
There are certain events in our lives that are very stressful, both good stress and bad stress. Losing a loved one; serious illness; retirement; vacations. Add to that remodeling your house. I went through all of the above in 2014. I lost my mother, Velma Ruth Steward Robertson Hornsby, on June 17. She was 93 and in poor health, but it was still a shock. I am an orphan child. That was the week before my retirement, after 33 years, from Rice University. I’m still waking up at the usual time, but I quickly realize I don’t have to anymore. I dream often that I am back at work, although I really don’t want to – or maybe a little. Thirty-three years in Fondren Library, five more years in grad school at Rice, that’s a big chunk of my life. I’m still trying to reorganize my life, but I’m getting there. The night before my last day at work, I started having chest pain and a severe pain behind my left shoulder blade. I waited for it to pass for several hours, but it didn’t. I took myself to urgent care, thinking surely it’s not a real heart attack, but the folks at the clinic sure were taking it seriously. They gave me the drug for angina, and sure enough the pain started to abate. I spent 3 days in the hospital, after calling my boss to say sorry, but I’d have to miss my last day at work. Every possible test was given. I was poked and prodded and ex-rayed and ultrasounded … Finally one of the staff doctors decided it was all caused by my Barrett’s Esophagus, which can have the same symptoms. Now I know.
Now for the good stress: In August, I took my two sons and three granddaughters on an Alaskan cruise. One of the girls was already in college, and the other two were about to start. I didn’t know if we would ever be able to gather like that, and I hoped to make some lasting memories. Memories were made, and a good time was had by all. In September, I traveled to western Ireland with my folk singing Irish-American friends, Annie and Marie Burns and several like-minded folks. It was my first trip, and I fell in love with the beautiful landscape and the gentle people.

In October I went to Long Beach, California, where I attended Bouchercon, the main convention for mystery writers and readers. I’m a bit of both. Mystery writers are fun and funny and generous and not at all weird (well, maybe some good weird) or bloodthirsty, even if their books are. I’ve gotten to know several writers, and several are good friends. I couldn’t go this year, but I’ll be in New Orleans in 2016.

There was another reason to go to Long Beach in 2014.  In October 1944, my mother took the train from Texas to Long Beach to marry my father, who was in between ships. His first ship, the USS Elliot, was stationed at Pearl Harbor. As fate would have it, his was one of the ships who left port on Dec. 5. When the Elliot returned to the harbor, he was stunned by all the damage. He said :here I was, a 20 year old kid, never been out of Texas, and I couldn’t believe what men can do to others. I didn’t mean to include this story, but with what’s going on right now I had to express my feelings, which are much like my father’s. Anyway, they were married at city hall. I was hoping it would still be there, but time marches on. The art deco gem where they pledged their troth was gone, replaced by a 60’s box. There was a model of that old one in the lobby, so I at least got to see what it looked like 70 years ago.

Let’s see if this works. If so, I’ll be back with photos.

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I’m back …

I know I’ve been silent for a long time, but life got in the way. I got a wakeup call when WP sent me a notice that “someone” had asked to change my password, and that someone wasn’t me. I have re-claimed my turf!  Several big life events happened in the last year or so. I retired, after 33 years in the same job at Rice University. My mother went into hospice in 2013, and in June 2014, finally went to join her two husbands, Hulbert H. Robertson, the young hero and father of my big sister Gwen, who died in WWII, and the old hero, my dad, Sterling L. Hornsby, who survived that war and lived to be 89. I had some health issues and one big scare. My son, my rock, left Houston to move to L.A. This month he moved back, so that’s a Good Thing that happened. I took my two sons and three granddaughters on an Alaskan cruise in Aug. 2014. I took myself on a Viking River cruise from Paris to Prague in Aug. 2015. Pix to come. Steve Jones, if you see this post, I will be writing you soon, I promise. Love to you and Sabina.

More to come.

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This is my story of my Uncle Jewel E. Whisenant, a hero in war and in life:

Jewel E. Whisenant: The Young Man Arose From the Dead


By Shirley Wetzel


Jewel Edward Whisenant, son of M. C. and Thula Whisenant, was born on April 29, 1918. He grew up in Dublin, Erath County, Texas. For his first two decades, he drifted, without a goal in life. Then, with World War II looming on the horizon, he enlisted in the Army. This decision changed his life forever. He trained to be a half-track driver in the Mojave Desert, and excelled in all he did. He was not a Christian, but while in training he became close friends with a young man who was, Allen Lee Jones. He admired Allen’s strong faith, but did not share it.


About that time, he had another life-changing event. He fell in love with Frances Stewart, also of Dublin. Her father wasn’t too happy about her choice, as Jewel had a reputation for being kind of wild, but love would not be denied. They were married in a beautiful ceremony, then moved up to Camp Kilmer, Pennsylvania, in 1942, where he had more training to prepare him for battle. She came from a Christian family, but religion wasn’t a big part of their life. She taught Jewel the only prayer she knew: “Now I lay me down to sleep…”


After he left for deployment, she saw a small steel-covered Bible in a shop window. She wasn’t sure whether to buy it, but she heard the voice of God telling her that if she didn’t, she’d never see him again. Finally she bought it, and mailed it to Jewel. She included a note: “May this book keep you from harm.” In the last mail call before boarding the ship for Europe, Jewel heard his name called. “Old Tex has a package!” He treasured that gift of love, and carried it in his breast pocket every day thereafter.


He arrived in England to await the invasion of Europe. On September 17, 1943, he was leading his men in a battle in an orchard in Belgium. There had been 70% casualties, including many officers, and he was promoted from Sergeant to acting Lieutenant. They were pinned down in a trench under heavy fire when replacements began coming in. One young man was cut down just a few feet from safety. He said “Sarg, I’m dying, send for the medics,” but nothing could be done. The mortally wounded soldier began to recite the Lord’s Prayer as he slipped away. Jewel said to himself that if God can give that young man such peace in battle and in death, that’s the God I want to serve. He gave his life to God that day. With new strength and resolve, he led his men out of the orchard, saying “follow me,” and they all did. He still carried that Bible next to his heart, with the list of the names of his men tucked inside.


January 3, 1944. During a fierce battle, Jewel was shot multiple times, in the left eye, the stomach, chest and leg. He was carried to the operating theater, and remembers nothing until he woke up in a large room, surrounded by bodies, with a tag on his toe. He saw a woman in white, and called “Nurse!” She replied, in shock, “Sergeant, what are you doing awake? You’re supposed to be dead!”


“Set me up, help me, my face hurts!” He had lost sight in his left eye, and had thirty-seven stitches in his face, but he was alive. The nurse pulled the Bible from his shirt pocket. A bullet was lodged in it; the steel jacket and the list of his men’s names had stopped it from penetrating his heart. The bullet stopped at Luke 7:12:


And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. Now when he came near to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said to her, Weep not. …


And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.


And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.


The war was over for Jewel Whisenant. He went home to Dublin, to his mother and his beloved wife, and started a church. The Southside Baptist Church was the first of over a hundred he was to establish during his long career. He died on December 19, 2009, and the church was full of ministers he had trained and the many friends and loved ones whose lives he’d touched.


I am proud to say that he was my uncle, married to my mother’s baby sister Frances. There have never been two more kind, generous, courageous, and funny human beings on this earth. He was a hero on the battlefield and a hero in his life. Frances, who always referred to herself as his encourager, wrote a book about their years together. The title is, appropriately enough, The Encourager. If you’d like to learn more about Jewel and Frances Whisenant and their inspiring life, I recommend you read this book.








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A friend reminded me I haven’t posted here in several months, so here I am again. There have been some changes, some sadness, some soul-searching since then. My last post was about springing my 91 year old mother from the nursing home and moving her to my sister’s home. That was almost a year ago. Mother is still with us, but barely. Her eyesight and hearing are pretty much gone, her body is shot, but her mind was strong until recently. When I went to see her at Christmas, though, she didn’t know me. She asked for her sister Frances, who’s been gone for 5 years. They were as close as twins, and the best of friends. We couldn’t get through to her to explain. I wonder if, during all those hours she’s drifting between sleep and consciousness, she’s been making visits to the other side, getting ready for her permanent relocation.  Mother, it’s all right, there are so many of our loved ones waiting for you there, it’s okay to let go.


March 2012 092

Sadness – my 52 year old niece Becky slipped into a diabetic coma and left us suddenly last spring. She was born profoundly deaf, and with neurological problems, and her life was not easy, but she loved life and her two beautiful children and her cats … sweet girl, I hope you passed into the arms of your Papa who loved you so, and got to meet the grandfather who died so long ago on a mountain in Wales, and all the others we miss down here.

beckysalute100_1643 daddy-1

mem.day2005_0530Image0062  HRHflag

I turned 66 in September and had to face the fact that I’m far beyond middle age now, unless people live to be 120. I started receiving my late ex-husband’s Social Security benefit as a Divorced Widow. It’s a few hundred more than mine. Don, I appreciate the extra $, but I’d far prefer for you to still be here.

Sept. 2, 1967

Sept. 2, 1967


Do you know Baylor is about to get that Ph.D., and has turned out to be a terrific teacher? And to think we both warned him he was not cut out for the academic life! Guess he showed us! That makes me happy. Our oldest granddaughter just started college. Autism has never stopped her from being a spectacular young lady. She was asked to join the School of Engineering which thrills her engineer grandfather to no end. The twins are almost 17, smart, talented, well-mannered (thanks, Lisa) and total nerds like their dad, and now like me. I came to nerddom rather late, re-discovering Doctor Who a few years ago and falling madly for #10, David Tennant.

Ashley born Sept. 1, 1994

Ashley born Sept. 1, 1994

Amber and Autumn, Jan. 27, 1996

Amber and Autumn, Jan. 27, 1996

Just got back in touch with my dear Welsh friend, Steve Jones. He’s had some experience as a movie extra, and I’m trying to convince him to get a job on one of David’s projects so I can come over and meet him. Come on Steve, I know you can do it! And I am so happy to hear that after all these years the lovely Sabina has made an honest man of you! I do hope to see you both again, even if you don’t come through on my very reasonable request.

Steve Jones and Shirley Wetzel in Wales


So, after years of counting the months, weeks and days until I reached retirement age, I decided not to retire after all. I’d spent a few months after foot surgery on house arrest, and I actually got tired of reading, watching tv, and doing nothing. I’d planned to write, but just couldn’t make the words flow. Since I couldn’t drive for much of that time, maybe it wasn’t a fair comparison to what retirement might bring, I still fear that if I do retire I will slowly vegetate, accomplishing nothing. More importantly, I wasn’t sure about the economy. I decided to keep working while I can, for another year or two anyway, and save the SS money to make some really nice trips.

Another thing is, if I’m a retiree, that officially means I’m old. I remember my mother, a couple of decades ago, telling a friend that she knew she wasn’t young any more, but in her head she still felt the same as she did when she was 38. Me, my head tells me I’m 43 … my body says otherwise.

Mortality rears its ugly head. I had a health issue last spring that is now under control, but could prove to be a Bad Thing eventually. I am in what, statistically speaking, should be the last 1/3 of my life, but because of that thing, and because I’ve seen so many people my age and younger leave this world too soon – well, we are not promised tomorrow. I wonder if my first-born son will forgive me for whatever it is he holds against me before I’m gone. I hope he does, for my sake and his. I know he will regret it if he waits too late, just as he did with his father. Son, I couldn’t love anyone more than I love you. Parents are human too, and young parents can make mistakes they regret when they become older and wiser. Jeff, my baby boy, I am so proud of you and you are my rock.

bay847 copy


What else? The presidential horror show, where I watched the country I love tear itself apart, with an us and them mentality I can’t even believe. Facebook has been great for keeping in touch with friends and kin and getting to know family I’d never have met in real life. Thing is, we got along fine until this came up, then I discovered that I am a liberal, socialist commie pinko intellectual hippie atheist baby-murdering – oh, the list goes on. Just too sad.

More sadness, 20 little children were cut to pieces in a school massacre called Sandy Hook, and things turned even uglier. The first thought of many of my more conservative acquaintances was “Óh sh–t, Obama is going to take my guns away! “Now I am a mild mannered, laid-back, calm, reasonable, open-minded librarian, but as time went by, I got branded as one of those who wanted to take their guns away, even though that was not what I said, and it is not what the president is saying.  Our country seems to be getting even farther divided and I don’t see any relief in the foreseeable future.

My guru Ma Jaya left her body last spring. I did not get to say goodbye. I have talked to her since then, so that’s okay. In October I went to the beautiful Berkshires for the Guthrie Center church concerts, reuniting with many of my dearest of dear friends in a soul-renewing week. Arlo did three incredible, uplifting, emotional shows, despite, or maybe in part because, his wife Jackie was fighting her last fight. His courage, and that of the rest of the Guthrie family, was indescribable, so I won’t even try to describe it. So much love and grace and strength. Jackie was the heart of the family, but she did her job so well they will be able to go on without her.

My first pictures

Now we’re back to Christmas, You know what happened then. Oh yes, the family home was finally sold, and all the years of memories had to be sorted through, divided up, and given away or, least favorite thing, discarded. No more family photos on the old front porch, but things hadn’t been the same since our own heart, my silver-haired daddy, joined the heavenly band on Dec. 24, 2009. Time marches on. For everything, there is a season …


Front porch Oct. 2009

Front porch Oct. 2009

And now it’s a new year. Blank slate, fresh start, let’s see what happens next.

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