Tap, Tap, Tappin’.

I’m tap, tap, tappin’

At my itty, bitty laptop

Thinkin’ in my tip top

How to make it stop, stop.

Soundin’ kinda hip hop.

Wundrin’ how to say what I mean.


Nuff said.

I just finished watching a two hour movie in Spanish.

I don’t speak Spanish.

It was a scenario with a psychedelic blend of imaginary cultures in an unfamiliar world,  ten thousand years or so ago, give or take a century or two.

None of the different cultures understood each other’s words. There were people fighting, there was a love story, two wars, terrifying conflicts with carnivorous giant ostriches, a saber-tooth tiger and lots of mastodons.

There was a complicated story line and occasionally I would say to myself “Well, what the hell, if this was truly ten thousand years ago I wouldn’t speak those languages either.

When the movie was over I understood the entire thing. It might of well have been the English version. It didn’t matter. The words, dammit. They didn’t mean anything at all. Only hours ago I walked away from the end of a seventeen year old friendship. We fought over the fact that even though we both speak English-Only, we don’t speak the same language.

 I know what the movie was about.

I know nothing of value about the real life story. Nothing. Absolutely NOTHING.

I’m tap, tap, tappin’

At my itty, bitty laptop

Thinkin’ in my tip top

How to make it stop, stop.

Soundin’ kinda hip hop.

Wundrin’ how to say what I mean.

Wundrin’ how to say what I mean


A Minute in the Life of an Orphan.

In the last five minutes I have researched ambergris, listened to a hospital sit-drama and imagined what the expression on my face would report about me if my Skype camera was on and I was the subject of remote viewing by an unknown observer.

So, I arose from my desk, walked across the room to a mirror, taking care on this short trip to freeze the expression that I felt on my face. I expected to see puzzlement. Since I was first aware of this current facial expression as I wondered about a possible explanation for a strange set of symptoms I heard described by the actor playing the part of the super doctor in the play (no it was not House-some new guy), I expected my face to reflect the moment. But no, what I found was a display of anger which apparently resulted from a scene revolving around a fifty year old alcoholic lady who had just relapsed and was suddenly making horrible life choices, thereby placing herself at great risk and arousing severe childhood fears in her adult daughter who had spent most of her childhood parenting her mother and was witness to the sudden spiral plunge from reality by her child-mom.

Imagine the mixture of emotions as this young woman decided unconsciously whether she was daughter or mother to the lady exhibiting this abnormal behavior, this older, irrational member of her family.

Imagine this look on my face and the struggle I had in choosing to maintain the moue while experiencing first surprise at what was turning out to be an angry expression and which was jerking me back to my 2 ½ year old self, reliving suddenly the very moment when I learned that I was orphaned and that it was now up to me to care for my alcoholic mother and my 6 month old baby brother. Wow. All of this in less than a minute?

 An awareness of time is not necessarily a measure of reality, is it…?    Is it?


Yesterday, November 28, 2011 I posted a reminiscence of  Svetlana (Lana Peters) Alliluyeva Stalin.

I posted late and followed by emailing a copy to a mutual friend Kamal Amin. Kamal and I have been close friends for thirty-five years. Kamal devoted a chapter of his book Reflections From the Shining Brow, to our mutual friend, Svetlana. Following are the emails from me to Kamal and his reply. I will include passages from Reflections.


“Hi Kamal,

 This evening  I wrote of my memories of Svetlana from a three-week period in which we became friends. I never saw her after that. I wanted to consult with you but it was too late to be calling and I did want this post to bear today’s date. If you would like to post a comment I invite you to do so. If I may post a quote from Reflections, I could do that tomorrow. Please inform.

 I pray for peace in your homeland.  




Hi Lee

I read your touching piece. She was one of a kind.

If you’d like to. you can post a quotation from my book.




Excerpts from:



Chapter 21


      He is gone, but his shadow still stands over all of us. It still dictates to us and we, very often, obey. – Svetlana Stalin, on her father.

…..My wife and I were expecting Olgivanna. She had called earlier announcing that she would arrive with a guest. She stepped out of her Cadillac with an attractive woman of about forty or forty-two years of age. The guest was rather square-faced, with blue eyes and a sweet smile. She looked down slightly, in a demure posture, communicating an apparent shyness. They reached the breeze-way and Olgivanna introduced her guest. She was Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Stalin, the dead Russian dictator……

…..Some of Svetlana’s writing reveals the darkness that had engulfed her life and illustrates her hunger for a ray of light. In Only One Year she writes:

     In the family in which I was born and bred, nothing was normal. Everything was oppressive, and my mother’s suicide was a most eloquent testimony to the hopelessness of the situation —- Kremlin walls all around me, secret police in the house, in the kitchen, at school. And over it all a wasted, obdurate man, fenced in from his former colleagues, his old friends, from all those who had been close to him, in fact from the entire world, who, with his accomplices, had turned the country into a prison in which everyone with a breath of spirit and mind was being extinguished; a man who aroused fear and hatred in millions of men. This was my father.


This was the burden that dominated her life in her young years and continued to shadow her existence as she grew up. If anything, life became harder for her after her Father’s death in 1953. At least during his life she was protected by her blood relationship with him. Another aspect of her thinking is also expressed in Only One Year,

She writes:

     At the University, I went through a course in history and social science. We seriously studied Marxism, analyzed Marx, Engels, Lenin, and, of course, Stalin. The conclusion I carried away from those studies was that the theoretical Marxism and Communism that we studied had nothing whatever to do with actual conditions in the USSR. Economically, our socialism was more of a state capitalism. Its social aspect was some strange hybrid bureaucratic-like system in which the secret police resembled the German Gestapo and our backward rural economy made one think of a nineteenth-century village. Marx had never dreamed of anything of the sort….Soviet Russia broke with everything that had been revolutionary in her history and got on the well-trodden path of all-powerful imperialism, having replaced the liberal freedoms of the beginning of the twentieth century with the horrors of Ivan the Terrible.


…..During her initial days at Taliesin, Svetlana and I spent some quality time together. We went walking or swimming in a pool I had built a few years earlier. She was soft-spoken, attractive and a pleasure to be with. But there was a peculiar vacant spot in her make-up. Occasionally she separated herself from her environment and disappeared into some inaccessible space, signaling an abrupt end to the encounter. Over the years this became a defining feature,  which probably originated in her conflicted childhood and youth. Eventually, it was hard to have a meaningful communication with her, as there was this built-in dead-end every time a contact started…..

…..She lived through the shattering experience of her mother’s suicide. She coexisted with pervasive uncertainty, inconsistency, and insecurity about what her future held.


Lana Peters died today of colon cancer.  I knew her as Svetlana, occasionally calling her Mrs. Peters. She and her husband Wes Peters frequented my shop in North Scottsdale in the seventies, though never together.

 I managed two businesses during these years; one was a frame shop, the other was Valley Staging Company, Inc. As president and founder of VSC, I was seeking business relationships with Museums in Eastern Countries, most of which at that time were Iron Curtain Countries. This would become the thread of communication which bound my new friend and me to each other. Until meeting Svetlana, my knowledge of Eastern Europe was limited to having been stationed there in the military for the minimal 140 days, during which time I spent as much time as possible visiting the art museums and private , well established art galleries, building a network of friends and acquaintances, promising myself that when I returned to the States I would reestablish communications with some of these people, the curators , the art directors and consultants, the people who really understood the world of art and who were instrumental in educating the world to its history.

When Svetlana introduced herself to me she was alone, though a chauffeured automobile waited at the curb. She was wearing a diamond studded tiara and a fluffy, white chiffon dress. I did not know who she was though I figured it out after she left. I was absolutely certain that I was in the presence of royalty, though from what country I did not know. She spoke very few words, was highly composed and bore a presence I had seen only in news clips of British royalty.

She and her husband spent most of the year in Taliesin in Wisconsin but wintered in Arizona at Taliesin West. Since The Framery created most of the custom picture framing for the residents and architects there it was natural that we should meet. When we eventually realized that we had mutual acquaintances in Yugoslavia a strained relationship emerged.  It was uncomfortable for me because Svetlana rarely smiled. She asked me once why I was staring at her. I replied that since it was normal to smile, I assumed that she would eventually do so and that when that moment came, I did not want to miss it. Immediately, an almost imperceptible trace of hidden mirth lifted the corner of one side of her lips and then just as quickly left. I did the laughing for both of us. There were perhaps a dozen visits as I recall, in three short weeks.  And then she was gone.

And now she is gone forever.

Goodbye Svetlana (Lana Peters) Alliluyeva, Stalin.