Notes from the Pond

Cinco de Mayo: A salute to our Mexican neighbors

Français : Poste - États-Unis - Cinco de Mayo

Français : Poste – États-Unis – Cinco de Mayo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Americans love to party. If we don’t have something to celebrate we find excuses. Two of the biggest party days of the year just happen to celebrate countries known for their libations. This Saturday we will salute our neighbor to the south with Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

On March 17 we honor Ireland with green beer and whiskey and on May 5 we honor Mexico with tequila, tacos, and margaritas. These days are marked with lots of drinking and eating special foods but mostly drinking. The same people who were running around wearing buttons saying “Kiss me I’m Irish” in March will be wearing sombreros and tossing back shots of tequila this Saturday. This is just as the marketers for the alcohol companies planned. They were instrumental in promoting these two holidays beyond their original meanings. (For the true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day and its history seeWho Was St. Patrick? (

What is Cinco de Mayo?

But, what is Cinco de Mayo and why do Americans celebrate it more than the Mexicans themselves? In Mexico it is more of a regional celebration with most of the observances located in Puebla where the incident occurred. Contrary to what most Americans think, it is not the Mexican celebration of independence (that is Sept. 16). In Spanish, Cinco de Mayo means the fifth of May and it marks the day in 1862 when a ragtag army successfully defended the town of Puebla against a much larger and better equipped French army. If it weren’t for what happened that day most of Mexico and the U.S. could be speaking French today.

Why Americans don’t speak French

The year is 1862 and while the U.S. is embroiled in the Civil War, Mexico is weakened after years of fighting the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, the Mexican Civil War of 1858, and the Reform Wars in 1860. With a treasury nearly bankrupt, Mexican president Benito Juarez announces a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for two years. In response to this announcement, France, Britain, and Spain sent their naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Spain and Britain negotiated a settlement but France’s ruler, Napoleon III, saw an opportunity to establish an empire in Mexico and the U.S. by giving aid and support to the Confederate south.

Historians argue that France’s real goal was to break up the American Union by aiding the Confederacy. Many feel Napoleon planned to use Mexico as a base to back the Confederacy. Lincoln and his secretary of state remained neutral in the Mexican situation knowing they could not fight both the Confederacy and France at the same time.

Importance of the Puebla victory

When the Mexican army of only 4,000 defeated the French army twice its size (8,000) and better equipped, this gave a tremendous morale boost to the weary Mexicans. It also kept Napoleon III from supplying the Confederates which gave the U.S. more time to build a more powerful army. The renewed army eventually defeated the Confederates at Gettysburg 14 months later which then led to a quick end of the Civil War.

So Saturday, when you go to your favorite Mexican restaurant remember there is a very good reason to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Without that small band of Mexicans gallantly standing up against some of the best trained soldiers in the world it could have meant the downfall of not only Mexico but also the U.S. Let’s lift a glass and say gracias to our Latin neighbors for without them we could be saying, “Parlez-vous francais?”





An article you MUST read!

Here is a concise and definitive article co-written by a liberal and a conservative explaining what is behind the log jam in Congress. Quite an eye opener!

What is a woman?

A woman is a daughter, sister, niece, wife, mother, aunt, stepmother, and grandmother. She is the glue that holds the family together. She kisses booboos, heals hurts, encourages the timid, and guides the growth of her family.

A woman is the family organizer, nutritionist, financial advisor, health director, spiritual counselor, laundry expert, and cleaning lady. She provides guidance and protection for her family. In her spare time she also grooms, feeds, and exercises the family pets, and squeezes in some exercise time and hobby time for herself. In addition to all this, a majority of the women today also hold down full-time jobs.

Today’s woman is many things to many people. She keeps the organization running smoothly—whether that is a corporation or family. Most women usually do all this at the sacrifice of her own wants and needs.

Women have played important roles throughout history. They kept watch when Jesus was crucified and were the first to discover the empty tomb. Because he was crucified just before sundown on the Sabbath there was not enough time to properly prepare his body for burial. At sunup the day following the Sabbath the women came with oils and spices to prepare the body. This scene has always struck me as another typical duty women would do. Just as they attend the birth of an individual they are also the ones to oversee the end of that life. Who else could attend to a body with so much love and reverence?

Women played important roles at the birth of our country. The history books are full of stories of our founding fathers but we don’t hear much about the founding mothers. While the men were away from their farms for months at a time arguing over the declaration of our independence from England, it was the women who literally kept the home fires burning.

The women sewed and mended their families’ clothes, cooked their meals, birthed their children, and plowed the fields. Many also fought the enemy whether it was the British, Indians, or the Confederate or Union troops.

If a woman is capable of all this, can anyone please tell me why women have come under attack in what should be an enlightened era? The mood of the country seems to be “keep them barefoot and pregnant”. Women have been attacked on several fronts recently including reproductive rights and equal rights in the workplace.

One of the biggest dangers to women’s equal rights occurred last week when Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a bill repealing the state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act which allowed victims of workplace discrimination to seek damages in state courts. With the repeal of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act it now forces those suffering from job discrimination to seek remedy in the federal courts which is more expensive and time-consuming.

Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act came about in 2009 as a response to a suit by Lilly Ledbetter who had been discriminated against by her employer for years without her knowledge. When she learned of the discrimination she filed suit in federal court and won but was thrown out by the Supreme Court which ruled that she filed the suit too late and should have filed it as soon as the discrimination began—even though she didn’t know about it for years.

With the repeal of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act women can be paid less and their employers can get away with it as long as women don’t have knowledge of it for a certain amount of time. If this can happen in Wisconsin it can happen in other states also.

Women’s reproductive rights, birth control, and painful invasive procedures have also been in the news recently. With this and now elimination of protection for equal pay, what is next for the hard-working women of this country?

I don’t understand this animosity toward women. What has the woman in your life done for you today? Give her a kiss and say “thank you” then vow to make sure her rights will be legally protected.

You know it’s going to be a bad day when…

You know it’s going to be a bad day when you wake up smelling poop. You also  
know it’s going to be a bad day when you have to bathe the dog and change clothes before breakfast.

I woke up and smelled that unmistakable smell of doggy poop. I have had many dogs during my life time and I am currently the Mom to two cats and two dogs so I know poop when I smell it. I have cleaned up more than my share of poop, pee, and puke over the years which makes me an expert on animal excrements. I can even look at a pile and know from which animal it came.

So, when I woke up and sniffed the air I knew there was an odorous present waiting for me somewhere. I went on a search and couldn’t find it but the smell continued to follow me. I went into the bathroom to dress and get ready for the day and when I returned to the bedroom there it was—a small but stinky pile. Where did it come from? Its placement meant I had to walk over it going into the bathroom but I knew it hadn’t been there just a few minutes earlier. I grabbed the paper towels and plastic bag for a temporary cleanup.

We walked into the kitchen and there was another pile. I know it wasn’t there the night before because I always do a final cleanup of the kitchen before going to bed, and the dogs sleep in our bedroom with the door closed (to keep the cat out so we don’t wake up to a cat/dog fight).

After the two dogs are attached to their double leash and we begin our morning walk the mystery is suddenly solved. There is Gus the Pekingese proudly prancing down the street with his backend covered in you know what. His luxurious golden coat sometimes grows too thick around his posterior section which then catches his number 2s. His emergency during the night must have gotten caught up in his fur then smashed all over him as he slept (thank goodness he wasn’t in our bed). The smell followed me on my hunt because Gus is always bouncing around my feet. Then, as he bounced small parts were dropped throughout the house.

I usually try to keep him trimmed around his haunches and underbelly to eliminate this problem so I guess I will have to do a quick trim before our evening walk.

Owning a pet can be messy and sometimes downright disgusting but their love and adoration makes it all worth it. One quick doggy kiss can turn a bad day into a good one.


Gus the perky Pekingese and Tasha the temperamental Heinz-mix terrier. Both are sporting their summer haircuts.


From Hell to Hollywood—Ted Williams one year later


It was exactly a year ago that Ted Williams went from homeless to hot news item over night. He was launched into reality star orbit when a Columbus Dispatch photographer videoed Williams on a local street corner. He was holding a sign that advertised himself as the man with the golden voice when the photographer asked if that were true.

Williams did an impromptu audition and his silky, rich bass voice attracted the attention of millions. Over 18 million watched the YouTube video. The world was astounded that an ordinary street bum would have such a gifted voice.

Voice as welcome as hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day

With a voice as smooth and comforting as hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day, Ted Williams won the hearts of millions. Job offers from around the world poured in faster than a gushing oil well. He had finally found the ticket he needed to leave the streets behind. Within days he was appearing on TV shows across the country and staying in posh hotels. Williams instantly went from pan-handling on the streets to pandering publicists eager to cash in on the latest phenomena. Everyone wanted a piece of him.

But the spotlight of fame illuminated a darker side of Williams. He had not always been an upstanding citizen. In fact, he had a long rap sheet as a result of his long time drug and alcohol addiction. At the height of his career he was a popular DJ but he succumbed to the temptations of drugs, booze, and women resulting in a downward spiral which led to his living on the streets.

When all of this came to light the fame and job offers suddenly disappeared. The unexpected fame proved too much for the addict and by the second week he and his girlfriend were in rehab, compliments of Dr. Phil. Williams appeared on the Dr. Phil Show where he was reunited with members of his family and forced to come face to face with his demons. Dr. Phil received a lot of criticism for his handling of Williams which some felt was too harsh and others felt he was exploiting for ratings. Williams left the rehab center after a short stay saying he felt there was too much pressure and that everything was too scripted. He also convinced his girlfriend, who had been living on the streets with him, to leave rehab.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a complex disease

He bounced around a bit but several months later returned to the rehab facility in Texas where he eventually completed the 90 day program. In addition, his longtime girlfriend, Kathleen Chambers, also returned to rehab and completed a 90 day treatment. One of the first stops Williams made after leaving rehab was to see Dr. Phil to apologize for his comments and to thank him for getting him help. It is reported that Dr. Phil paid for his treatment at Origins in Texas. Dr. Phil explained that drug and alcohol addiction is a complex disease and he knew he needed help to be able to handle his new-found fame. It came out that Williams lied about his number of days of sobriety and had actually been drinking during the publicity whirlwind.

Williams openly admitted he had lied to Dr. Phil and that he was not ready at the time to give up smoking crack. He said that through the treatment and recovery period he learned about his disease. He thanked Dr. Phil for being the only one to say, “Slow down.”

When I hear that mellow voice I want to rush right out and buy Kraft Mac and Cheese

Today, the man with the golden voice has returned to Columbus clean and sober and ready to start a new life. He and his girlfriend share a condo in Dublin, Ohio provided by Bret Adams, his new attorney and manager. It is far different from the tent he was living in just one year ago. The condo is sleek and modern and his spacious closet doubles as his recording booth.

Currently, that welcoming tone can be heard as the voice for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. A series of Kraft commercials are now running and every time I hear that distinctive mellow voice I want to rush right out and buy Kraft Mac and Cheese. He is also the voice for New England Cable News (NECN), a Comcast network. As a welcoming gift the people at NECN gave Williams an autographed jersey by his namesake, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox. The gift left the honey-toned announcer speechless.

Another project of his is his autobiography A Golden Voice: Ted Williams: How Faith, Hard Work, and Humility Brought me from the Streets to Salvation coming out in May.

Meditate not medicate

It has been a roller-coaster year for Williams. However, it appears to this observer that he has had several earthly (and perhaps some not so earthly) angels guiding his way. The most prominent of these is Dr. Phil. In addition, several of the reporters and staff at Entertainment Tonight also became personally involved. They made sure he went to rehab and he is now doing some announcing for ET.

Today, the new Ted Williams is much more relaxed and self-assured. His speech is peppered with references to God. He says God has blessed him and that God is good. He is also following the creed of meditate, not medicate.

Last year I asked all my readers to take time to say a prayer for Williams because it was apparent that an awful lot was being thrown at a dazed and fragile person all at once. It looks as if those prayers have worked but he still has a lot of work ahead of him. The hard work of laying a solid foundation for his new self and career has been done and the future looks bright.

I hope Ted Williams keeps us updated of his activities and anytime he would like to be a guest blogger here at Notes from the Pond I will gladly share this platform. Just leave a note on my message board and I will contact you.

Never give up and believe in ourselves, our talents, and the God above

Once again I ask my readers to pray to the creator to surround Williams with his healing powers and guide him down the right path. He has accomplished a lot this past year and has a lot to be proud of but the task is not done. He has plans for the future which is something he couldn’t say a year ago. Ted Williams is an example to all of us to never give up and believe in ourselves, our talents, and the God above. Tremendous obstacles can be overcome but sometimes it takes a village to help make it happen.

He, like us, has a lot of living to do—one day at a time. God bless!