May 21, 2022

Bob Harvey, a Judsonite, had this article on his website. He credits Keith Flynn. I have copied the article and Ursula K. Le Guin’s photo. It’s a chilling and instructive comment on illegal abortion. Thank you Bob and Mr. Flynn for drawing this to my attention.

Ursula K. Le Guin:

“They asked me to tell you what it was like to be twenty and pregnant in 1950 and when you tell your boyfriend you’re pregnant, he tells you about a friend of his in the army whose girl told him she was pregnant, so he got all his buddies to come and say, “We all f*cked her, so who knows who the father is?” And he laughs at the good joke….

What was it like, if you were planning to go to graduate school and get a degree and earn a living so you could support yourself and do the work you loved—what it was like to be a senior at Radcliffe and pregnant and if you bore this child, this child which the law demanded you bear and would then call ‘unlawful,’ ‘illegitimate,’ this child whose father denied it … What was it like? […]

It’s like this: if I had dropped out of college, thrown away my education, depended on my parents … if I had done all that, which is what the anti-abortion people want me to have done, I would have borne a child for them, … the authorities, the theorists, the fundamentalists; I would have born a child for them, their child.

But I would not have born my own first child, or second child, or third child. My children.

The life of that fetus would have prevented, would have aborted, three other fetuses … the three wanted children, the three I had with my husband—whom, if I had not aborted the unwanted one, I would never have met … I would have been an ‘unwed mother’ of a three-year-old in California, without work, with half an education, living off her parents….

But it is the children I have to come back to, my children Elisabeth, Caroline, Theodore, my joy, my pride, my loves. If I had not broken the law and aborted that life nobody wanted, they would have been aborted by a cruel, bigoted, and senseless law. They would never have been born. This thought I cannot bear.

What was it like, in the Dark Ages when abortion was a crime, for the girl whose dad couldn’t borrow cash, as my dad could? What was it like for the girl who couldn’t even tell her dad, because he would go crazy with shame and rage? Who couldn’t tell her mother? Who had to go alone to that filthy room and put herself body and soul into the hands of a professional criminal? – because that is what every doctor who did an abortion was, whether he was an extortionist or an idealist.

You know what it was like for her. You know and I know; that is why we are here. We are not going back to the Dark Ages. We are not going to let anybody in this country have that kind of power over any girl or woman. There are great powers, outside the government and in it, trying to legislate the return of darkness. We are not great powers. But we are the light. Nobody can put us out. May all of you shine very bright and steady, today and always.”

Ursula K. LeGuin Courtesy of Bob Harvey and Keith Flynn

From “The Princess” originally published in Dancing at the Edge of the World, 1982



May 14, 2022

Tomorrow, May 15, is Nakba Day. It commemorates the catastrophe that occurred to the Palestinians since 1948 when Israel was founded. I had thought that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the worst events of Harry S. Truman’s presidency. I now include the founding of Israel. 

To honor Nakba, American Friends of the Parents Circle- Families Forum quote several grieving Palestinians:

“The Nakba destroyed my family, like other refugee families. It transformed us from farmers and land owners to tent-dwellers living on UNRWA aid.

 The Nakba means the same thing today as it did in 1948. It continues today, even if it’s happening at a slower pace or by different means. It’s a story of a continuous pain, and the world must hear the voice of those in pain.”

Shireen Abu Akleh was an Al-Jazeera journalist

She risked her life supporting the Palestinian people.

Born: January 3, 1971, Jerusalem

Died: May 11, 2022, Jenin Camp

Shireen Abu Akleh Courtesy of American Friends of the Parents Circle- Families Forum :
Shireen Abu Akleh’s Coffin

Women Won’t Go Back 


May 6, 2022

Congresswoman Betty McCollum who represents Minnesota’s Fourth District is a principled member of Congress. She supported aid to Palestinian children, is a staunch environmentalist and a firm supporter of women’s rights. Women Won’t Go Back is from her May 5, 2022 letter to her constituency. 

Women Won’t Go Back 

The leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion striking down Roe v. Wade is an attack on all women and our reproductive freedom. Republican lawmakers and judges want to decide women’s health care access instead of women deciding by themselves in consultation with a medical provider. Make no mistake: the Trump Supreme Court and Republicans in Congress and state legislatures are using their power to impose an authoritarian agenda to make women less free. 

The far-reaching implications of this draft opinion are incredibly ominous for the future of our nation. The Trump Court is making it clear that fundamental civil rights and freedoms can be rolled back against any group of Americans, anywhere, at any time.

States are now on the forefront of this battle. Because of GOP-led legislatures and governors, nearly half of our states have trigger laws in place that will make abortion illegal immediately following this decision. In Minnesota, Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan are committed to protecting reproductive rights. With the governor’s race and state legislature on the ballot in November, protecting reproductive freedom is squarely in the hands of Minnesotans.

As a young woman prior to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, and now as a member of Congress, I’ve been fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment as well as the Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine the rights of women and the right to choose. I know what it is like to fight for, and fail to secure, a constitutional right to equality for women in the U.S. Constitution. But the battle continues.

The Persian Parade

At Judson Memorial Church we are fortunate to have many different nationalities. Two of our congregants, Prinny Alavi and her daughter, Esfahan danced down Madison Avenue.

This is a Wikipedia quote:

The Azadi Tower or Freedom Tower, formerly known as “Shahyad Tower“ (Shah’s memorial Tower), is Tehran’s iconic and most famous landmark located in Azadi Square, Tehran Iran. This monument has been and already is the symbol of Tehran, marking the entrance to the capital from the west.



April 23, 2022

I grew up in MOMA. That’s the Museum of Modern Art on west 53rd Street. As a kid, I roamed the different galleries: a Picasso here, an El Greco there and went to the movies downstairs. Last Tuesday was a bitterly cold April day. Mittens in April? Perfect for standing in a line for one hour to gain admission. Once my documents were checked I was luckier than most who had yet another line to buy tickets. I’m a member so I flashed my card and was on my way.

How long has the big green helicopter been in that corner? I stopped by Henry Darger’s painting, an untitled 1960’s watercolor. Lots of little girls in pretty dresses frolick in a gentle green woodland. Darger was a janitor, a loner and a practicing Catholic. No wonder I feel drawn to him. I stopped by a tiny self-portrait of the great Mexican muralist, José Clemente Orozco. Lee Krasner’s big, bold Gaea caught my eye. After two hours in a museum I wilt so I headed out to 5th Ave.

José Clemente Orozco MOMA



April 16, 2022

Here comes Easter.

After the steep Lenten climb beginning with Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter is our reward. What words are associated with Easter?  Resurrection, hope, redemption, feast, Easter eggs, Easter bunnies. It’s a combination of the sacred and profane. It’s all life and it’s Easter.




April 10, 2022

A friend and I went to Symphony Space last night to attend CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS. HENCO ESPAG is the musical director of The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Symphonic Band. Also, he’s a dear friend and Judson Memorial Church’s musical director. The man is a ball of energy usually in glimmering color. I lost count last night but the Symphonic Band has more than 200 musicians. Providing a friendly and supportive environment is part of their mission. It was evident throughout the performance whether in costume (chickens, lions, an elephant or two) or in customary clothes. After each performance Conductor Espag and Assistant Conductor Ringer were quick to acknowledge specific musicians and the entire band. In addition to selections from Saint-Saëns’s “Carnival Of The Animals”, we were treated to “The Chronicles of Narnia” and the premiere performance of Salvador Alan Jacobo’s “The Hourglass”. 

Henco Espag

Members of the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Symphonic Band

Betty McCollum

Congresswoman Betty McCollum represents Minnesota’s Fourth District. McCollum introduced the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living under Israeli Military Occupation Act. 

In this letter she’s calling for the resignation of Justice Thomas from the United States Supreme Court.

March 30, 2022

Dear Fourth District Constituent,

I wanted to let you know I issued this statement today because Justice Clarence Thomas’s actions are affecting the integrity of the Supreme Court, the confidence of the American people that justice is being served, and the high standards we all expect our justices to be held to:

“The actions of Justice Thomas and his wife Virginia Thomas have undermined the Constitution and weakened our democracy,” McCollum said. “Virginia Thomas was in direct communication with the Trump White House in a conspiracy to undermine the peaceful transition of power from a free and fair presidential election. Rather than disclose this conflict of interest and recuse himself from cases related to his wife’s involvement in the Big Lie, Justice Thomas took part in court rulings and voted to prevent the disclosure of White House communication logs. Justice Thomas also failed to disclose his wife’s $687,000 in income from the Heritage Foundation – a far right-wing organization that actively perpetuated election misinformation and is explicitly working to stop the investigation into the January 6th insurrection. Justice Thomas has repeatedly failed to meet the ethical obligations of recusal and disclosure expected of a federal judge, and the American people cannot trust him to serve on the highest court of the land.

“As a member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Thomas holds one of the most crucial roles in defending our Constitution, our laws, and our democracy. Virginia Thomas’s involvement in the attempt to overthrow the 2020 Presidential Election, and the subsequent efforts by Justice Thomas to cover up his wife’s actions, have rendered the Associate Justice ethically compromised and thus unfit to be a neutral arbiter of Justice.

“As such, I call on Justice Thomas to resign from the United States Supreme Court.”

As always, thank you for being an informed and engaged constituent. 

Sincerely,Betty McCollumMember of Congress

Al badawi


Al Badawi
See what I mean about flower banks?
Al Badawi

March 26, 2022

Remember the Palestinians? For them it was the usual week of torture, injustice, being made homeless, being jailed- kids and adults – for being Palestinian. Meanwhile we throw money at Israel.

We went to Al Badawi, a Palestinian restaurant in Brooklyn. It’s a large, gently lit space filled with flower banks and sturdy wooden tables. So much is large: terra cotta water jugs that weigh more than you do, menus that have five or six pages, ample portions of food. The staff is professional and courteous, very helpful with suggestions. The red pepper and the eggplant appetizers were delicious. We shared a six layer beef dish that had many other ingredients, BYOB! It was a delightful evening.



March 18, 2022

What a busy week! Tuesday, March 15 was Trinity Irish Dance Company at the Joyce. I adore the Joyce. You never know what you’re going to see. The first act of the Trinity Company was so boring. I felt like a chaperone at a junior prom. The guys strummed violins and guitars and hung together. The girls jiggled around. Something happened during intermission. The girls learned how to dance and the boys learned how to play their instruments. The second act was spellbinding. Billed as a hybrid of Irish step and American tap, the stage and the audience were alive, dancing together. 

Thursday, St. Patrick’s, a friend and I went to Highlights in Jazz at Manhattan Community College. As its creator, Jack Kleinsinger, never tired of reminding us, its New York’s oldest running jazz concert. Ellington Everlasting was the show. It was tired jazz. You had to be at least eighty-five to appreciate the memories of long ago. 

I have borrowed  text and an image of a remarkable Ukrainian woman from Sotherans, the fancy-schmancy London bookstore.

Lesia Ukrainka (1871-1913) was an extraordinary Ukrainian woman. She spoke all major European languages, was well-versed in the Classics and wrote pro-Ukrainian poetry and poetic dramas. She reached her literary heights in her poetic dramas. Ukrainka’s first drama was Blakytna troianda (The Azure Rose, 1896), which describes the life of the Ukrainian intelligentsia. In further dramatic works she developed a new genre, that of the ‘dramatic poem.’ The first such work was Oderzhyma (A Woman Possessed, 1901). Particularly important among her works are the dramatic poems on the subject of prisoners in Babylon, which were meant to serve as symbols of the imprisonment of Ukrainians within the Russian Empire’ (Encyclopedia of Ukraine, online). 

A little bragging and a lot of hope…I’ve edited D. M. Barr’s email. 

The New York Chapter of Sisters in Crime released an anthology of sixteen short stories titled, Justice for All: Murder New York Style 5.

The anthology is eligible to be nominated for the Anthony Award, to be given out at Bouchercon later this year. If you are eligible to vote, please consider nominating this book for Best Anthology. The information is:

Justice for All: Murder New York Style 5

Edited by D.M. Barr and Joseph R.G. DeMarco

Published by Level Best Books

If you especially enjoyed some of the stories, please consider nominating them for best short story. Here are the titles and authors, in the order the stories appeared in the book:


THE TEACUP – Catherine Siemann


THE NEW GUY–Anne-Marie Sutton





FAMILY MATTERS–Mary Jo Robertiello



WINDY WILLOWS–Nina Mansfield


INJUSTICE IN BROOKLYN–Stephanie Wilson-Flaherty



Also, please encourage your friends to read the anthology and leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. It would go a long way in helping us bring well-earned kudos to the contributing authors.

Mary Jo Robertiello's mysteries and life