About Me

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Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cuban Travelogue, Part III

     On our "People-to-People" tour of Cuba we visited a maternity home serving the province surrounding Cienfuegos on the south coast. Maternity homes provide residential care for expectant mothers from rural areas or with high risk pregnancies. There are no charges, of course. A doctor and nurse are on duty 24/7. In Cuban pediatric ICU's, there is a 97% survival rate. Eight percent of births are Cesarean, provided only if a doctor orders them. No epidurals are given. As the expectant mothers told us in the maternity home, "Cuban women are strong."
     In general, Cuban men frown on vasectomies and although prevention of births through education is the state's focus, family planning is a "nightmare," as described by our Cuban guide. With the over-sixty population around twenty percent, the state encourages babies, of course. However, young people can't rise economically (in 2017 the average Cuban salary was the equivalent of $27/month) and postpone having families. There are no more free layettes from the state and with child-support laws requiring only the equivalent of $2/month per child, divorce is high. Condoms are listed on menus at every cafe and bar. As one of our tour group quipped, "Coffee and condoms - five cents, please."
Symbol for a B&B in Trinidad, with laundry drying on the roof


`
View from our hotel in Cienfuegos on south coast

Lobby of Hotel Sevilla, Havana
      We wound our way to Havana on the northern coast and checked into Hotel Sevilla near the National Theater and Sloppy Joe's. In the terracotta courtyard combos performed day and night. Throughout the country there is music - in cafes on the street, on the sugar cane plantation we visited, in bars and nightclubs, in the ears of young people in Havana listening to play lists. The people find a way to make the best of their circumstances. We were taught Salsa moves one night on the waterfront (no photos available!).


National Theater, Havana







Even the statues play music in Havana
Star performers singing of their country and Mother's Day at their elementary school
Entertaining ourselves with music on a sugarcane train
Carmen and a local at a cafe during a rainstorm.
       
       Upon our arrival at the hotel we were served our first Mojitos, offered at every subsequent stop. There was only a whiff of something rum-flavored in our drinks. Our room was spacious with scaffolding outside our window, though no workers ever appeared. The floor tiles and toilet had large cracks (luckily we didn't fall through!); one of two elevators was cordoned off; and during torrential rains in the late afternoon two parties in our group had to mop their floor, due to leaky windows. One of us, "J," requested an envelope at the front desk. "No, no envelopes and no stationery," she heard. Instead the receptionist reached for a sheet of paper, folded it into approximate thirds, and stapled the ends. "Your envelope," she said, handing "J" her request. Two new hotels were being built near the waterfront, joint ventures between Spanish and French companies and the Cuban government.
   
     We attended a lecture by retired architect/ professor Miguel Coyula. He opened his remarks by saying, "Havana is crumbling!"
Typical apartment building, Havana

A study in contrasts.
     One-fifth of the Cuban population lives in Havana (2.8 million), while three buildings A DAY crumble to rubble in the city. A toilet costs 333% of a month's wages; a gallon of paint costs 20% of a month's wages. Residents can "own" an apartment by leasing it from the government for 20 years. They cannot sell it and have no control over anything happening outside their own four walls (there is no building administrator or board of directors). With six to ten people living in three-room apartments, conditions aren't maintained. "When the U.S. embargo is lifted, will the Cuban government be ready for the tsunami of foreign investment?" the architect asked rhetorically.
     Two billion dollars flowed into Cuba through remittances from relatives in the States during the '90's, but the funds were used for "passive personal consumption" or put into hidden accounts, thereby avoiding taxes. "A disparity is growing between the population who has no foreign source of goods/funds and those who do or who leave for foreign jobs for 1-2 years, bringing their savings back with them," said the architect.
     That evening we stopped at a bar in Old Havana named "The Small Grocery in the Middle of the Street" (La Bodeguita del Medito). A huge crowd hung out on the cobblestones, talking and drinking while a combo played inside. The city was perfectly safe at night (no guns, no crime). Hemingway frequented this bar while he lived in Havana with wife #4. We pressed against the crowd inside the open storefront to see what Hemingway had written on a piece of cardboard over the bar: "My Mojitos come from La Bodeguita. My daiquiris come from La Floridita" (another bar).
     A blond American tourist spotted Tucker, one of our group who sported a white beard and white hair combed back behind his ears. "Hemingway!" she yelled above the salsa music, pointing at Tucker.
     "Just call me Papa," he quipped.
     "Hell, no! Never happen!" she yelled, turning her back in hasty retreat to the curb. We called Tucker "Papa" for the rest of the trip.                                                           To be continued...
   
   
 

Our "Papa" Hemingway

Monday, June 4, 2018

Cuban Travelogue, Part II

     During a bus ride, our Cuban tour guide (whose name I will omit) explained the government allows a farmer to own 165 acres maximum, and small Cuban farmers are the wealthiest in Cuba today. If they own 165 acres and lease another 165 from the state, they can sell their own crop privately and sell the crop on government land back to the state (at a reduced price). Although Raoul Castro relaxed regulations regarding small entrepreneurs owning their own businesses (for a percentage of the profits - restaurants, barber shops, bakeries, e.g.), billboards did not advertise products or services. They advertised instead the Castros, Che Guevara, the motto "Unity Is Strength" (with the Cuban flag), or a denunciation of the U.S. embargo. Even the facades of buildings were political. Raoul retained his position as head of the Army and Communist Party when Diaz-Canel became President in 2017. Only 2-3% of the population are presently Communist Party members.
Facade of government building, Havana                                   
"The bustling and victorious revolution goes forward":
Billboard at sugar cane plantation

     "The embargo is hurting the people," our guide told us. "It will not hurt those in power, but it hurts all of us who have to get a prescription written for the smallest medication or drug, like aspirin. We must buy our prescriptions at state pharmacies, subsidized by the government." Often there is no supply.

    Our guide and his wife and two children built onto his parents' house to live. There is a ten-year wait for government-approved housing, often made with shoddy construction methods because of a lack of materials or theft of materials. The wait is lengthy because the disabled, active and retired military, or politicians rise to the top of the list.

     "All citizens must carry national ID cards," he told us. "It's not a driver's license, but a laminated card we get after age 16. Before that age, we must carry a booklet. There is a fine if we are caught without a card.

     "I have tried twice to get a Visa for the States. Each time I waited a year for the interview, and each time I was denied. We are allowed on our first visit to bring back 300 pounds of goods. People bring back TV's, tires, baby carriages, clothes and sell them to their neighbors on the installment plan. We also have our own version of Craig's List."

     Our bus whizzed past hitch-hiking stations on the road, jammed elbow-to-elbow with a government-paid Co-ordinator supervising lines and pickups. Professionals like doctors and nurses, as well as day laborers, hopped aboard horse carts or former U.S. and Soviet Union military trucks (now private buses), or squeezed six or more into compact cars. The "buses," leased from the government, had open slats on the sides, a canvas cover over a metal roof, and metal seats. Outside the cities, the crowded buses carried chickens, pigs, kids. Unsanitary conditions were common and fistfights often broke out among those trying to get to work on time. A liter of gas cost two days' pay and in general was unavailable except to government tour companies, those in the tourist business, and the military. Cars were repaired with a patchwork of used imported parts. Trains were unreliable and constantly broke down.
Motorized taxi bikes, Cienfuegos

     Free health care is universal in Cuba. Twenty-seven percent of the national budget goes to health care. There is one doctor per 130 families. When a doctor graduates from medical school (education at all levels is also free in Cuba), she has a 2-year commitment wherever the government sends her. Males have a 3-year commitment, including one year in the military. Doctors receive free housing and an office if assigned to a rural area. If a doctor receives permission to work outside the country, he must commit to return.

    Health centers provide multiple services, including dentistry, ultrasound, X-rays, operations on a 24-hour basis. Specialists rotate from hospitals one day a week to the health centers. The facilities may not have the latest technology or equipment, but the doctors' training is excellent. There are 151 hospitals on the island, with a 4.2% infant mortality rate per 1,000 born. There is no drug crisis in Cuba (and no gun sales). Crime is almost nonexistent.

     The average age expectancy in Cuba today is 78.45 years.We visited an elderly home run privately by nuns, although state-run elderly homes are free. Seventy percent of the patients in the facility tithed their entire pensions every month. Meat was served only on Sunday, provided by donations from the outside. White beans were provided by Spain. Red beans, grown in Cuba, were served at every meal. All medical and psychological needs were taken care of, including dental and hospitalizations. The patients had private apartments, with furniture provided.

Snapshot in courtyard at private elderly home
Courtyard at private elderly home
Ceramic tiles in hallway of private elderly home


   









Physical therapy equipment in private elderly home


     Inez, a witty 76-year-old resident of the Catholic retirement home, was our tour guide. She told us her story. At age 19 after the Revolution, she was told by Communist party members to give up her Catholic beliefs or leave the university. "It would be like cutting out my heart," she told the officials. Her studies were left behind. She accepted our thanks, our best wishes, and our tips.
Inez, our guide through her Catholic elderly home in Havana.











To be continued...

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Cuban Travelogue, Part I

Thirteen of us headed to Cuba for eight days with our Adventure Holidays International guide Amit, a U.S. resident and Tel-Aviv native, former Israeli Defense Forces officer, and tour operations/management director. The thirteen of us had responded to a brochure from Brown University describing the trip. Among us were Ted Widmer, Brown U. professor and author of Brown: The History of an Idea, as well as a former banking colleague of Charley's and her husband (a delightful coincidence!). Ten of us were New Englanders; three were from New York. The Red Sox-Yankee rivalry rekindled each morning, following a report of the previous night's game.

Our group at the U. Havana, minus our guide Amit 
The tour would meet U.S. requirements for "people-to-people" travel to Cuba, based on our scheduled events. Traveling with tour operators who have the necessary Treasury Department license makes visiting the island legal for citizens of the U.S. Cruises also dock at Cuba's ports, with limited time and/or access to mainland tours. From the southeastern coast through central Cuba to Havana and west, our days would be filled with museums, lectures, concerts, dance recitals, tours of elderly and maternity homes, educational facilities, artists' studios, a sugar cane plantation, a former coffee plantation, a cigar factory, Hemingway's home, an ecologically sustainable community, and, of course, the mandatory ride in classic cars of the '50's. We would eat in family-run paladars, state-owned restaurants, and at barbecues where pigs stretched on spits.

Amit informed us we would be flying into Santa Clara rather than Cienfuegos, because the latter had not been rebuilt after Hurricane Irma ravaged it in 2017 as a category 5 storm.

Upon arrival we were interviewed and photographed individually. A doctor and a nurse collected our health forms. Our Visa forms had been stamped in Miami and would be collected when we departed Havana. We met our Cuban guide, whose name I will not include. He traveled with us the entire week. In perfect English, he explained that due to regulations, Professor Ted and Amit would not be allowed to give us lectures. "I was a teacher of English as a foreign language," he told us, "before I became a tour guide. I earned the equivalent of $23/month in Cuban pesos as a teacher. Now I earn the equivalent of $20/month. We have to become creative." We assumed the change in professions was due to the tips he now kept. Our guide supported his wife and two children, as well as his mother and father. We appreciated his honesty and during the week asked any questions that popped into our heads. "I will try to answer you honestly," he said, "but I may not have an answer or you may not like the answer."
View from our window toward Bay of Cienfuegos on Cuba's south coast 
   
Cuba is almost 800 miles long, the largest island in the Caribbean. We drove two hours south to the coast and checked into the Hotel Jagua on the Bahia (Bay) of Cienfuegos. Our room cost around $150/night in the high season. By U.S. standards it would have been a three-star hotel. The door to our room had no bolt (however, there is never a safety issue, even at night on the streets - no guns are sold on the island and crime is nonexistent); public toilets in the lobby had backed up without a sign; SIMS cards for Wi-Fi were not available, "but maybe tomorrow."

Mansion confiscated by Fidel's revolution on the grounds of our hotel.
 
The following day we drove east along the coast to the town of Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Foothills of mountains rose to our left and the Caribbean teased to our right. It was the land where Fidel had gathered his revolutionaries, hiding in caves. His portrait was universal, along with Che's. Despite reports of stark-white, deserted beaches, we didn't have time to savor them.
Art gallery, Trinidad
Local transportation, Trinidad

 Ration cards in a government redemption grocery
Local transportation and hat seller, Trinidad


We visited a government redemption grocery in Trinidad. Its shelves were almost bare, with the exception of a hefty supply of rum. "Our ration cards must be used in national redemption groceries, which have supplies and prices determined by the state," our guide said. "After age seven, no child receives milk on his ration card. The cards do not provide food for the entire month, maybe ten or twelve days." On a blackboard were the standardized amounts a half-pound of black beans or one cup of sugar cost in rations per person for the month. Twenty-five government pesos (used by Cubans) equaled approximately $1 or 1 Cuban convertible peso ("Cuc," used by tourists). Our dollars added a 10% tax to any item we purchased. Euros were more convenient, without any tax attached.

While in the redemption grocery, I tried to get a photo. I bent down to lean on the counter, where a scale rested for purchases. The counter was black with flies, feasting on the gritty sugar.

    
Flea market, Trinidad
Main square, Trinidad
Street scene, Trinidad
The birdman of Trinidad (with dozens of filled cages), selling hats from his three-room house.
Statue mimes, Trinidad

To be continued...













   

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Amazing Adventure of Florida Sea Turtles


Feeling better! Turtle Rehab Center, Juno Beach, Fl.
     We live on a stretch of beach in southern Palm Beach County, Florida, that witnesses a miracle of nature every year. On three miles beneath our windows, thousands of female sea turtles return at night to lay their eggs between March 1st and October 31st. In 2017, there were 1077 nests, the highest number ever recorded in our area. It is estimated nearly ninety percent of all sea turtle nesting in the U.S. occurs right here (www.sunny.org/beaches/sea-turtles).

     We have four species that return to our area: loggerhead, leatherback, green, and hawksbill. Since artificial lighting discourages the females from nesting on the beach, there is an ordinance in Florida (and fine for offenses) that all outside lights must be turned off or inward during nesting season.

     The females' tracks are as big as a tractor's tire marks. They dig holes in the sand, lay around one hundred golf-ball size eggs, cover the hole with sand, and spread sand over a large area to disguise the hole. Then they reenter the water. Although I have seen the track marks in the sand, I have never witnessed the nocturnal nesting.

     Incubation will last 45-55 days. The hatchlings will use reflections from the moon to find their way to the water at night. Only one out of a thousand will survive the predators and the tides.
Sick turtle getting an IV at Juno Beach Rehab Center, Fl.
     A New York Times article by Karen Weintraub (April 17, 2018, pg. D2) reports findings that sea turtles use the earth's magnetic fields to navigate back to within 40-50 miles of where they were born. Each beach has a distinctive magnetic signature, which the turtles find through something called "geomagnetic imprinting." In a study of loggerheads at the U. North Carolina, Dr. Kenneth Lohmann and J. Roger Brothers determined there was "more genetic similarity among turtles that nest on beaches with similar magnetic signatures than among turtles that nest on beaches physically close to each other."
Wheelchair for sick turtles, Juno Beach Turtle Rehab Center, Fl.

     In our area of beach, a non-profit called Sea Turtle Adventures provides daily monitoring of the nests on a three-mile stretch. They stake the nests, relocate them as needed, and excavate them after hatching. The group also provides documentation and reporting of predation events, offensive artificial lighting in the evening during nesting season, and obstructed nesting attempts. It co-ordinates efforts to document and transport dead or injured sea turtles to a rehabilitation facility (such as the Juno Beach Center), and provides annual reports to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

An excerpt from my new book, A Survival Guide for Adults Who Travel Together. Watch for it in June!


Rule #63 - On the road you might not get the number of zzz’s you get at home, especially on a plane, train, or bus. If you throw a fit because your favorite restaurant isn’t open when you show up, it’s probably time to crash. When your personality returns to normal, your companion might actually continue the trip with you.


     We took a five-plus-hour flight overnight from Boston to Dublin. By the time we got our drinks and dinner on board, read a few pages of a novel, and closed our eyes, we were landing at 7:00 a.m.—which was 2:00 a.m. in Boston. The early arrival gave us all day to explore, except we couldn’t see straight and felt light-headed. Our hotel room wasn’t ready, so we grabbed breakfast and sat in oversized wingback chairs in the lobby. By the fire.Yes, in Dublin in June they needed a fire. When my eyes rolled back in my head against the wing of the “wingback” and my mouth hung open with drool slithering down my chin, Charley returned to the front desk to beg for our room. By noon we were in.
Lobby of The Merrion Hotel, Dublin, where we fell sound asleep with mouths wide open
     We didn’t bother to
unpack. Instead, I peeled down my slacks, tore off my jacket, and crawled on all fours across the bed covers like an animal. Charley wasn’t far behind. We didn’t move a muscle for four hours, till we got hungry again. So much for our first day in Dublin. After a spectacular dinner of fresh fish, we managed to wind our way back to our lair.
     The following morning brought sunshine and temperatures into the seventies. We dug through our suitcases to find tees, shorts, and tights. Ashes still smoldered in the lobby fireplace. After some Guinness with lunch and a full day of sightseeing, we headed back for . . . what else? A nap.





Tuesday, March 6, 2018

An Apple a Day Keeps ME Away (from the Apple store)

     I love my Apple 5S phone. It's like an old friend who's missing a few updates, slow to react, and shows some wear and tear. But it's reliable and fits in my hand perfectly and I think it's still beautiful. It provides everything I need and I don't have to go searching around.  So what if it needs a little attention - don't we all?

The Apple 3 Iphone, predecessor to my 5S.

     My old friend began to get tired. I remained faithful and swept open pages off the screen before putting it to bed every night in its plug on the kitchen wall. I deleted apps that were never used and removed some photos I'd never looked at twice to give it more space. I plugged it in more and more frequently, bonding with my old friend since I often needed energy boosts, too.

     Still, I got frustrated. It was taking ninety seconds to download twenty to forty emails - imagine the wasted time???

My Apple 5S Iphone

     I tried to be patient with my old friend. It might have been better for both of us if I'd put him on a shelf in my closet cemetery to Rest In Peace. But I listened to the news about the Keaton Harvey vs Apple, Inc., Lawsuit #3 of December, 2017, in which the plaintiff claimed Apple slowed older iPhones with older, degrading batteries to encourage customers to purchase new phones. Battery replacements became available from Apple stores for $29 instead of $79, following the announcement. And naturally there was nowhere else I could get one!

     Our nearest Apple store was in a gigantic mall in the next town of Boca Raton, Florida. I had another stop to make in the mall and hadn't eaten lunch, so I headed down. I stopped at the Apple store first, since I'd heard horror stories about the wait time.

     The glass-fronted store was double the width of Louis Vuitton's. Its bleached wood high-top islands stood several yards apart, five across and three deep. The rear of the store was padded in gray with built-in screens. At each island there were eight stools. Most were occupied.

     I entered and must have looked dazed. "May I help you?" a young man said, in the navy-shirt-khaki-pants uniform matching twenty other young men and women scurrying around the islands with Ipads.

     "I need a new battery for my 5S phone."

     "Please sit over at that island," he said, walking toward a high-top and using his Ipad as a pointer.

     I moved across the front of the store to sit with six others at the assigned location. It wasn't long before another young man in navy and khaki with a beard and tattoos covering his arms asked me the same question.

     "I need a new battery for my 5S phone."

     "Do you have an appointment?"

     "No. I have a couple of stops to make in the mall while it's being done."

     The bearded man with tattoos consulted his Ipad. "Right now the appointment wait time is about two hours."

     "I can do that."

     "I'll schedule you for a technician in two hours. Please return at four o'clock." (It was then 2:00.) He put my name on a list on his trusty Ipad.

     I went for some lunch in the food court. Normally I'd check my emails during lunch, taking time to read and delete or file in a folder what I only have time to scan during the rest of the day. But without my phone I munched and people-watched for forty-five minutes. Next I went to Nordstrom, where I'd purchased a pair of pants that needed alterations. I produced the heels I intended to wear from the tote over my shoulder and tried the pants on. Once the seamstress was located, I stood on a platform while she pinned up the hems. I arranged to have the pants shipped and walked the perimeter of the mall to window shop.

     At 3:50 p.m. I returned to the Apple store. "I have an appointment at 4:00 for a battery replacement on my 5S phone," I said.

     "Please sit at that table - the second from the rear on the left." I joined five others, all waiting for appointments on stools.

     At 4:00 a technician came to our table and called out a name. It wasn't mine. It was the lady's next to me. She had basic questions about her Mac computer and the tech easily answered them. "Could you look at the list to see where 'Pam Carey' is, please?" I pleaded when he'd finished with the woman next to me.

     "You should be up next."

     "Thanks," I said, and waited till 4:30 p.m. for a female technician to call my name.

     "I need a new battery for my 5S," I said for the ??? time.

     "Follow me," she said . . . which I did to a high-top diagonally opposite where I'd been sitting. "This is Louis," she said. "He'll be happy to take care of you."

     "Louis, all I need is a battery replacement for my 5S."

     His swarthy complexion smiled down at me as I lifted my fanny into the stool. He emitted my first ray of light (and hope) since I'd entered the store at 2:00. Another man's new phone was plugged into the charging dock in the middle of the table. "I'm just reloading this man's information from his old phone into his new one, but I can help you while that's happening," he said. "Let me look at the diagnostics from your phone. Please open your phone with your password."

     He took my 5S and tethered it by umbilical cord into his iPad. "We can free up some storage space before you get a new battery," he said, and proceeded to do so.

     "Now, I must explain to you that a new battery on this phone will cost $79. If you get a new battery on a 6X or any succeeding model, it will cost you only $29."

     "So my phone's too old to qualify for the $29 battery replacement program advertised since the lawsuit was settled?"

     "Correct. Did you look at new phones?"

     "Yes, and I'll be doing that in a few months, but I don't have time today. The newer models start around $500 and up with a plan, correct?"

     "Yes. So you'd still like a battery for this phone?"

     "Yes, please."

     "Then I'll write a work order for this and the work will take at least an hour."

     "Can that be done today?"

     "If you have time today. I can print up a work order which you must present to get the work started. If you'd prefer to come back, report to the last tabletop in the rear on the left."

     "I'll be back tomorrow. Please print up the work order." I arrived home three hours after entering the Apple store the first time.

     The next day Charley returned with me. "Was I exaggerating?" I asked him, as we wound to the last table in the rear.

     "This is incredible," he said. "It's hell on earth."

     I presented the work order to a technician who was leaning over a woman with a Mac at the appropriate table. "May I give this work order to you?" I said.

     "I'll get someone for you." She spoke into a microphone on her lapel and returned to the problem on the screen in front of her.

     When a young man with the face of a fifteen-year-old and round gold-framed glasses sidled up to the stool next to me, I handed over the work order and my phone. He consulted his iPad. "It should take two hours," he said. "It's a Saturday and we're very busy. When you return, just go directly to the back padded wall and someone will meet you there to check the status of your order."

     "Well, we can go have some dinner. Thanks." We found the Grand Lux Cafe in the mall and followed the hostess to a padded booth. I ordered a Cosmopolitan and Charley ordered a beer. "Let's relax," I suggested. The dinner was delicious and we each ordered another drink.

     An hour and a half went by. "Let's go see if it's ready," Charley said, anxious to get home to watch the NCAA basketball playoffs.

     We weaved among the shoppers at the high-top tables in the Apple store until we hit the charcoal padded wall in the rear, where we stood waiting for someone to acknowledge us. "I have a work order and would like to see if it's ready," I said, stopping the first technician that went by.

     She was a young lady with dreadlocks and a very round pleasant face. She consulted her iPad. "You're very early," she said. "It won't be ready for another thirty minutes, at least. Come back then."

     We went out into the mall and snagged two armchairs directly across from the storefront. The chairs were not next to each other, which was good, since Charley was doing all he could to control his anger by watching the specimens of humanity, or whatever they were, passing by. At the appointed time we returned to the inferno.

     The same young man who looked fifteen was at a table nearest the back wall, second from the left. "We've been waiting two hours for a battery replacement," I said. "The name is Pam Carey."

     "Yes, here you are on the list. Well, it shouldn't be long now. Just sit at this table and I'll keep checking on it."

     Another twenty minutes went by, for a total of one hundred and forty minutes we'd waited for the battery replacement on the second day. "I'm showing it's ready now," he said. He disappeared and emerged with a thin white padded envelope. Inside was my beloved phone, which I slid from its wrapper and turned on. The young man took my credit card and I signed with my finger. "The game score is really lop-sided," I told Charley, checking into ESPN for the basketball scores. It was the least I could do.
An Apple a day may keep the doctor AND ME away!




   

   

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

There's Divorce and There's THE DIVORCE

     Plundering, lying, adultery - the makings of a good television series, right? In real life, it's the stuff of a Palm Beach divorce to divide a real estate empire - an empire worth approximately $750 million.

     And oh yes - the divorcing couple happens to be eighty-eight and near-ninety.

     "Lovey" and Burt Handelsman have been married almost seventy years. In those years, they amassed a commercial real estate empire which includes buildings on Worth Avenue and its side streets that are home to Ralph Lauren, Giorgio's, Brooks Brothers, and Jimmy Choo, among others. Their holdings reach from the Hogs Breath Saloon in Key West to Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, the Catskills, New York City, and Greenwich, Connecticut.

     Their condo above Worth Avenue and their palatial home in White Plains have been outfitted for handicapped access. "Lovey" needs a wheelchair, due to arthritis.

     The reason for the divorce? In 2008 "Lovey" discovered Burt was having an affair with their longtime family attorney, 62-year-old Jane Rankin of Ft. Lauderdale. "Lovey" overheard her husband tell Rankin on the phone he "loved her and missed her terribly." Subsequently, "Lovey" discovered Rankin coming out of the Palm Beach condo one afternoon, the access to which demanded a secret code for the elevator.

     "Lovey" has not had sex with Burt since, though she maintains residence at the condo and even shares a "very large bed" with Burt. Despite Circuit Court Judge Scott Suskauer's granting "Lovey" sole temporary use of the apartment, Burt has refused to move out. "Lovey" petitioned for temporary alimony and maintains a bodyguard 24/7 outside, due to Burt's "mean-spirited insolence."

     Burt now admits that Jane Rankin's portion of a story in November, 2017, helped commit "a fraud on the court" when Rankin helped him lie about the so-called discovery of a falsified document that Burt tried to use to strip his children of control of vast amounts of the empire.

     The couple's children are fighting to make sure their father has no claim to property they now control from offices in White Plains, N.Y. If the marriage terminates before "Lovey," under Florida law she would be entitled to 50 percent of the assets, which she plans to pass on to her children and grandchildren. If "Lovey" dies before the judge signs off on the divorce, her share could fall to 30 percent. Burt has filed separate lawsuits against his children, claiming they stole property from him. They have counter-sued.

     Judge Suskauer has pleaded for months with the couple and their children to resolve their differences and divide their holdings without court interference. The division is complicated because even if they could all agree on the value of the properties, in many cases ownership is split among the children, "Lovey," Burt, and others. "Lovey" and the children insist they won't own property with Burt.

     Burt had removed contents of safes from local banks to other banks. Still, he claims the marriage is not broken, saying he "cooks for her, cleans for her, helps her dress, helps her get to and from the bathroom." I wonder what he does for Jane?