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It’s Amy’s fault. My next-door-neighbor. She’s why I worked this year’s election.

Earlier this fall, she posted on Facebook an article about being a US poll worker in the 2020 presidential election.

The thought sent a thrill through the middle of my chest. “I’m doing it!” I crowed at her from my backyard later that day. “This election is so important. I want to be a part of it!”

Via an online registration form, I signed up to work the November election in West Virginia. For days, then weeks, I heard nothing. Until my friend Juliette posted on Facebook she’d been picked to work the polls. …


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Last year, in the interest of protecting children from sexual abuse, I did a thing.

I told my story of experiencing childhood sexual abuse to a group of community care providers, many of them practicing counselors.

My co-presenter was Robert Peters, President of SHIELD Task Force, Senior Attorney at The Zero Abuse Project, and a former US Marine.

Robert had never seen me present, and vice versa. To me, one of the most compelling things Robert shared was a relatively simple thing parents, guardians, and teachers can do to prevent child sexual abuse.

Simple, and yet not easy, for a lot of people.

To better protect children from sexual abuse, teach them the REAL names for their private parts.

Many parents teach their children cute (or bizarre) names for their genitals. This is a really bad idea.

Confession: My parents did this. I did this.

Names such as “spot,” “cricket,” “woohoo,” and “Oscar Mayer Weiner” are problematic. …


On September 7, 2019, 10 ladies flew over the Atlantic Ocean to see what they could see. In Iceland.

Joan’s Perspective:

Never has a country been more aptly named than Iceland, the land of fire and ice. Both extremes were beautifully evident at every location we traveled. It is a land of extremes and of contradictions. The heated lagoons, and steam vents, bespoke the volcanic turmoil just below the surface and yet the highlands wore scarves of ice and the glaciers melted and moved more slowly than a human eye could detect.

Since I’ve traveled twice with this particular trip coordinator (Karen Haring, Executive Director of Libera) — Scotland in 2017, Scotland in 2018 — I knew the trip’s first day would be action-packed. …


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In a private Facebook group, I recently read 368 comments reacting to a woman who posted,

“I could care less if I never have sex again.”

368 comments. Clearly this gal touched upon a hot topic, (don’t) pardon the pun. Curious, I tracked the number of women agreeing and disagreeing with her. Seventy women said they would indeed miss sex. Ninety-nine basically said, “Meh, I’m done.” The other 199 comments were details, helpful hints, and arguments.

In reading that thread, I think I figured out the reason a whole lot of those ladies are in the “meh” category. More on that later.

This whole “do you or don’t you want it” conversation is why I’m here today. For a while now I’ve considered writing on this topic. But honestly, I was scared. …


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Who’s driving you crazy right now?

I can help.

If you know me, even a little, you know I’m a big fan of boundaries: the concept and the book. In fact, in this blog post I ranked Boundaries #2 on my list of all-time favorite nonfiction titles.

It was my mother who taught me this concept.

As I wrote in the above-mentioned post,

“Years ago after one of my epic clashes with my mother, I popped into a bookstore on my way home from her house and bought Boundaries. I then speed-read it in a day and came up with a boundaries-based action plan.”

Confession: Prior to reading Boundaries, I planned to tell Mom I’d gotten a full-time job, which I had not, in order to get her to leave me the heck alone. …


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Question: How are you protecting your children during the pandemic situation we’re currently experiencing?

During the pandemic, child abuse statistics have fallen. In West Virginia, and no doubt, all 50 states.

You may think that’s a good thing. I did. But it’s not a good thing. Over half of all reports of child abuse are made by school staff. Are the kids currently in school? No, they are not. That’s the reason child abuse reports are down.

And guess what? The very individuals who commit the majority of the crimes against children are now more stressed and more bored than ever. Not only that,

During the pandemic, abusers and sexual predators may now have increased access to your children either at home or online.

But don’t despair. A very fine group of nonprofits and talented individuals recently devised an excellent plan for protecting your children. …


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The Fundamentals of Fundamentalism

Many folks associate “fundamentalism” with religion. As in this definition from dictionary.com:

“a religious movement characterized by a strict belief in the literal interpretation of religious texts, especially within American Protestantism and Islam.”

Recently I heard an interesting theory. That the term “fundamentalism” can actually refer to several subject areas, not just religion.

Dictionary.com supports this idea with an additional definition of “fundamentalism:”

“strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles”

In my opinion,

All kinds of topics lend themselves to “fundamentalism.”

For instance:

  • Politics: Conservative, Liberal, Moderate
  • Political topics: economy, environment, immigration, abortion, gun rights, vaccinations
  • Sexuality: It’s complicated.
  • Religion: Christianity (including but not limited to: Protestant, Catholic, Mormonism, Progressive), Judaism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.
  • Diet (Omnivore, Vegetarian, Vegan, Pescatarian, Gluten-free, Keto, Low Carb-High Fat, Intermittent Fasting, etc.)
  • Exercise (Cardio, resistance, CrossFit, P90X, Insanity, spinning, yoga, etc.) …

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I’ve come a long way, baby. From being the scarediest of cats about so many things. High bridges, for instance. And death.

For the longest time, my parents sheltered my brothers and me from post-mortem matters. It wasn’t until the eighth grade that I attended a funeral, my paternal grandfather’s. In the back of the church sanctuary I stayed that afternoon, afraid that death…I don’t know…might somehow be contagious.

The second funeral I attended was the service of a high school homeroom buddy. He died drag racing. Which burst my back-then-belief that death couldn’t touch a teenager.

Years later I married into an Italian family. Where weddings and funerals are basically, family reunions.

This not only made mandatory my presence at viewings and memorial services, but also my walking within feet if not inches of the dearly departed. …


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“Since I would like to officiate in the NFL someday, I am wondering what steps I need to take.”

Twenty-eight years ago my husband Tony, currently an ACC football official, read those words in the Dallas Cowboys Weekly and began his officiating football journey.

Since Tony says most states currently need officials in all sports, I asked him how to get started with officiating. According to Tony,

“Everyone starts out the same.”

“First you need to join your local football board. Then you’ll go through a training class. Soon after, you’ll start officiating.”

Working midget, community, and middle school games is not glamorous. …


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I don’t remember who got bit first but eventually, everyone did. You could play connect-the-dots on our son’s midsection. My husband’s neck and ears blossomed with thumbprint-sized welts that itched ferociously. In time, both girls also suffered with itchee-owies. I was bitten a time or two.

At first we weren’t sure what was going on. Maybe the culprit was mosquitos: big, honking mosquitos.

And then one morning Junior-Man showed me the tell-tale smear of dried blood on his pillow case.

When we whipped the bed clothes back, we found an apple-seed-looking insect carcass. Junior-Man Googled it. “It’s a bedbug.”

You mean, dread bug.

My stomach tumbled. Not bedbugs. Please, no. I knew from a friend’s experience, how bad bedbugs could be. …

About

Diane Tarantini

Howdy-hey from Almost Heaven, West Virginia! Here in my 110-year-old Sears kit-house, I drink coffee, write many words, snuggle soft mammals, repeat.

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