‘God rest you merry, gentlemen’. At my home that means preparing everything for the visit of the Prince of Peace. It’s a true labor of love.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Please note the date: Saturday October 13 for this is
the opening of the Christmas preparation season for 2012. Archeologists and cultural historians will be grateful to me in years hence when they get their government grants and write their learned tomes about the whys and wherefores of Christmas in this our particular era. Yes, I say they will be glad to have each salient fact, observation and deduction gathered by yours truly and herewith shared with the world.

For we are talking about the most joyous event of the Christian year, Christmas, and its preparations, staggering for some, meagre and tardy for others, but all acknowledging that this is and continues to be an event of significance to each of us.

How was October 13 selected as the commencement date for this event? Easy! It was the first day when your observant author was assailed by not one but a series of “the Christmas season has commenced” portents, signs which might easily be dismissed were there but one or even two, but which in their concerted numbers make it clear that the great count-down to Christmas, with its traditions, meanings, songs, poems, foods, displays, sentiments, travels, resolutions, friends, observances has now commenced in earnest and for the next 71 days until the day itself your life will be affected, influenced, shaped and to a greater or lesser extent determined by what our fellow travelers do or don’t do, buy or don’t buy, wear, stand in line, decorate… or don’t wear, stand in line, or decorate.

In other words, because of the birth of a child you may or may not believe was the Son of God your life and all its prosaic concerns and tasks will be hi-jacked; weeks of your life will be less yours, significantly influenced and directed by others you don’t know, will never meet, but who are nonetheless powers over you, determined you should listen to them… or else.

The first portents.

The thing about portents, that is a clue to future occurrences, is that they must for maximum impact take you completely unaware. One moment you’re doing such and such a task; considering such and such a thing; talking about such and such a topic. Then the portent arrives, preferably delivered by one or more appropriate gods of Olympus, all of whom seem to traffic in the dicey business of portents, omens, divinations, and auguries. The portent (often obscure and therefore more amusing to its deity deliverer) having arrived, pushes other quotidian topics to the bottom of your consciousness, pulling out the rug on what you were focused on a moment ago and substituting quite a different agenda.

Yesterday, October 13 mind, these portents arrived thick and fast; itself a sign that a seismic moment had arrived; actung! stop what you’re doing and pay attention. And unless you’re that hapless noodle the bored and therefore capricious gods have determined to make even more hapless and miserable, you do pay attention. Thus does your life cease to be as much yours as it was just a moment before. The gods know this, but they have kept this insightful observation for their own delectation and benefit ere now. They wouldn’t dream of imparting this intelligence to you; “free will” for humans being one of the most potent and popular of their shrewd devices for controlling the not so sapiens homo.

Let me make one thing clear, for sharing this with you I shall be persona non grata at Olympus tonight, for if mankind knew just how little true freedom their gods have allowed us, there would be such a revolution as has never been even imagined before, much less consummated. And the gods would surely have to make concessions, or they would never regain exalted position and control… and what would their excellencies do then to amuse themselves at our expense?

What is your portent saying?

Portents must be clear but capable of complete misunderstanding. In other words, when reviewing an event that could be a portent, two reasonably intelligent people must be capable of drawing two dramatically different conclusions, for a portent is not a directive… not a declaration… if it were the gods would be most unhappy… for if their signs could be so easily read by everyone the muddles beloved of these ancient deities would cease and the gods who already have to wrestle with the matter that is eternity…would fall into even deeper despair; for they already have too little to do and far too much time in which to do it. Remember, their irritation, ennui and pique become the basis for our misery. No wonder
they don’t want us to know.

Christmas portents by the hour.

The gods realize humans are short sighted, careless, capable of massive confusions and misunderstandings. Thus, the game becomes determining the precise formula that will give us clues (but not too many) and insight (but not too much). Even the Olympian gods are not born knowing these things; they must learn. And they do so at our expense, for what are we humans for if not to provide the wherewithal for their education and expertise?
We are just so many lab rats to divinity. Nice work if you can get it.

Store sightings, catalogs, email.

The first shop in my neighborhood to deck the halls was the smoking shop in Harvard Square. Given the fact that teen-age smoking has dropped dramatically; thereby proving that even heedless adolescents can get the message if we adults have the patience and deliberation to beat them about the head with it.

As a result, the revenues at the smoking shop have most probably dropped… whilst their Harvard-charged rent has undoubtedly done the reverse. It is therefore obvious why they want to weigh in with a cheery seasonable greeting and display. “Give the gift of cancer.”

Even the most knowledgeable of advertising executives might think twice before taking on this daunting account. Still, there they are, hoping that the dwindling number of young smokers will purchase their diminished life span from them, especially if they can do so in the name of Jesus, who promised the eternal life the smoking shop is doing so much
to curtail. Cool.

Catalog temptation (and ease) by mail and the ‘net.

Stores like the smoking shop need to lure you into their premises as early as possible before Christmas; their continuing survival depends on it. But catalogs live to remind you how difficult and irksome store shopping is in the age of catalogs and ‘net. Simply mentioning the invading hordes, the unending lines, the harassed staff, the parking difficulties is usually enough to tip the scales to catalog shopping online and off. That persuaded me. As a result the last several years such shopping constitutes all my shopping.

The problem is the proliferation of mail-order Christmas catalogs, especially after you become a proven buyer. Then you may expect to hear from each catalog at least 3-4 times before their last frenzied promotion, hitting about December 15. All prophesy consumer distress if you fail to ACT NOW, visit their website and ORDER!

But here the retail stores re-emerge as they reap the considerable advantages deriving from procrastinators like you. At this point you will most assuredly wish you had heeded their October warning. You will pledge to do better next year. You won’t, of course. And so you’ll keep your name on every list; a portent of things to come, especially purchases you’re
sure to make. They know that, even if you don’t.

Polishing the silver.

In my house there is one certain activity that indicates the coming of Christmas. That is polishing the silver. It is a very time-consuming task, taking a couple of days. Mercedes Joseph, so giving and warm in all her aspects, will take these traits and leave the silver burnished into eye-popping radiance. It’s a significant part of our invitation to the Prince of Peace, an invitation that will see us clambering up step ladders to clean the chandeliers in all the rooms to ensure that all is brilliant and every facet sparkles. So that there is not a single molecule of tracked in dirt or bunched carpet. We work hard to make it perfect; we work early and late to make it perfect… and we do it all because of the advent of this harbinger of our salvation; because we will do it, not because anyone tells us what to do or oversees our efforts, evaluating what we do.

We do it, because this is Christmas and the greatest gift we give is our voluntary adherence and a belief that starts in our hearts and has no ending whatsoever.

That is why October 13, I awoke to the strains of my favorite carol running through my head, “God rest you merry, gentlemen/Let nothing you dismay”, first released in 1760. In an instant I find Bing Crosby’s 1945 version; then in a search engine one other version after another, including a rendition by “Barenaked Ladies” (2004). Only the very young can find the sniggering humor in such sophomoric nomenclature, but today I don’t care.

For you see, every off key note I sing proves that I have become a portent myself of the great event en route “For Jesus Christ our Savior/Was born upon this Day”, and we rejoice in the Good News passed from me and mine, to you and yours, to a burdened world which needs “tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy”, the true meaning of Christmas and why we gentlemen and gentlewomen rest merry and shall remain so long past the day and season itself.

Howard Martell is the Owner of http://HomeProfitCoach.com/silver . Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.


Envoi, December 19, 2006, and beyond.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

My left hand had been shaking for some time, over a year or so. Dr. Chris Cordima, one of the most decent of men, treated it weekly, as if it were carpel tunnel syndrome; an easy guess given my daily residence at the computer keyboard and my duties as CEO at Worldprofit.com.

His treatments were intermittently productive; my hand, and it was principally my right hand and wrist which were affected, getting a bit better, never (yet) so very much worse.

Then one day, as frustrated as I was by treatments which didn’t improve, rather offering hope that grew thinner and thinner, never a cure, at best a frustrating palliative , Chris raised the inevitable words; neurologist, specialist, tests. It was no longer his problem; he had done his best, but it was not good enough.

Thus it began… and I was soon on my way to a rendezvous with destiny, or at least the first part of destiny’s decisions for this date: December 19, 2006.

My appointment at Faulkner Hospital was early in a very busy day where I had people to meet, places to go. I was clipped, focused on the day ahead, no time, no worries for yet another doctor’s sure-to-be inconclusive opinion. However man proposes, God disposes.

I arrived on time, was directed to a nondescript cubicle where lives are shifted and redirected, and told to walk down the corridor and walk back. Nothing more, that was all. On the basis of this single “test” my fate was determined…

The physician, for no doubt there was some license on the wall asserting as much, spit out words indicating a new era was at hand; a very different era from the one about to expire. And so the daunting words came, Parkinson’s Disease and all the fixings that would distinguish me within the next five years or less, blindness, general paralysis of hands and arms and legs with tremoring to rock the Richter Scale. In short the very and complete implosion and rebirth of this Jeffrey Ladd Lant, as some lesser being of
acute helplessness and fatuity, a being I had never known, could not imagine, come to spread dismay and change everything, immediately and for worse.

It is time for music, thrilling, powerful music that challenges the greatest and most inimical of “truths” and screams for the will to win oneself back, whatever its flaws and imperfections. “God, give me me and the chance to save myself, not a miracle, but a chance”. And for this we need Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto Number 2 (1897). It is the music of defiance, of prayer, of determination and resolution, of soft reflection, and of a love that will find a way to persevere. Yes, it is all there in its inimitable colors, a nucleus of possibilities and dreams that can inspire and must come true.

In Just 5 Minutes.

The man in his white coat and licensed arrogance and condescension had done his joyful damndest, and I shall go to my grave believing this little man, this messenger of pain enjoyed his grievous news and its impact, not a whisper of humanity in look, delivery, touch. Only fact so casual to him, so acrid, so bitter to me.

“Would you like another opinion?” Would I?

Aime Joseph was waiting for me, but the transformation process had already begun from the man he had delivered to the one he was taking back. After such grim minutes whatever happens one is never the same again, and there must be sadness in this, profound and enduring.

I remember sitting quiet and pensive in the back of the cab, but even now I did not forget my manners. As he sped along the Jamaica Way filled with people who did not know and would not care, I was heading home to my safest place, now threatened, now shrouded. “I’m sorry to be so quiet, but I have some important news to consider.” And so Aime Joseph and his dear wife entered my life, to enhance that life, and keep the demons that will come — that have come already — at bay. Thus was the second portion of this momentous day set in place, for it is nothing less than the truth that God moves in mysterious ways… He had me, so He gave me Janissaries so I could fight and win against the greatest of odds, with valor, grace, and good heart.

“Live in 20 minutes”.

Worldprofit, Inc. is a most unusual company, not least because my two partners George Kosch and Sandi Hunter are Canadian, whilst I am a real live nephew of my Uncle Sam. They contact me only when the matter is important, and I like to think I do the same. Our roots grow deep, but we need not say so or wonder. We are tenacious one with the others, and that is sufficient. And so I did not tell them the elements of this tale… until now. They are learning it as you do. There was no need to say more before..

My head was in my hands, my thoughts full of rage and self pity. But God was not ready for this. We were far from that failing of the light that Dylan Thomas raged against, and which comforted POM in her turbulent struggles, her despair, and despondence that withered all.

Now I, too, would “rage, rage”, giving no quarter, asking for none; beaten back now and again, forced to give way inch by inch, but only by force. I might die but even en route to oblivion I would live, I would give, I would laugh, and I would love. Such was the Credo I made with myself, and I have kept this faith day by day, yes, I have kept it. Thus certainly I continue without either regret or recrimination.

“What’s a Live Business Center anyway?

George told me to rush out and get webcam and head set, and for the last time I ran,

for mad dashery and irresponsible capers are the first things Parkinson’s strips away. But this day I ran to Radio Shack and ran back, installing these crucial tools, too, all in just 20 minutes. “The last of life for which the first was made.” I had just seconds to go before the LBC was officially opened: Worldprofit, Inc.sailing into her next incarnation.

This occurred when George and Sandi were golfing in Mexico, leaving me firm instructions: If there were any questions or perplexities I was to email George who would solve them while waiting to tee off, for, yes, GK was living by that old USMC adage, “The difficult….” Very Gary
Cooperish indeed.

Within just 60 seconds.

It didn’t even take a minute before the LBC was packed with people from around the world; people, often desperately, needing help with the creation, growth, and development of their home-based business. And there was just one Monitor, me!, to assist them in their dozens, then in just minutes, in their hundreds and hundreds. I had no time for inward self reflection and the luxuries of despair. I was alive! I was helping people who needed the help. I was in the game, perhaps to lose, perhaps to win… and this was the best deal of all in those few days before Christmas and all the days thereafter.

Dr. Bonnie Hersch, hope.

The objective had changed, was very different now; not just about making the oodles of money I spent with joyous alacrity, always aware that however much was needed would be there, the produce of fertile mind and constant application. Now the focus was not on living well, opulently, the “Wow Factor” in every view, but on just plain living, now the sine qua non of absolutely everything.

Here’s where Dr. Hersh stepped in, “You’ll like her,” Dr.Zorn said, and I do. For one thing she told me the physician who had made the original diagnosis was notorious for injuring his male patients, happily delivering pain, not just fact. Some time later, his door open, he delivered in my perfect hearing a diagnosis almost exactly the same to a handsome patient in his salad days. I wanted to rush across the thin strip of corridor and tell the fellow to escape before the evil sorcerer blighted his life forever. But, of course, I did nothing, and despised myself, for evil rendering me discrete which is just another word for coward.

Let me tell you a bit about Dr. Hersh, for though I am her senior by twenty years or so, packing my own Doctorate, I never venture to call her “Bonnie”. She constantly runs behind, her dance card full of movers and shakers who come for betterment but get more than that, hope being the primary medicament of all.

In pursuit of this necessary drug of hope, she invited me to participate in a drug trial organized by a major Belgian pharmaceutical company. The goal was nothing short of obliterating the tremoring and its related deleterious effects. For participating I was to receive a life time’s supply of what I wanted most of all: normality, the thing so prized, desired and profoundly prayed for when lost.

Perfect again, for a minute.

My condition was perfect for what they wanted, and so I signed the hundreds of documents which absolved them of every responsibility, no matter what they did to me. Normality was worth the risk, all the risks, and no one wanted a most successful outcome than I did… what’s more for weeks it looked like my heart felt dream, the most zealous of my life, would come true, for after all…

“When you wish upon a star/ Makes no difference who you are/

Anything your heart desires/ Will come to you”…yes, no difference… “If your heart is in your dream/ No request is too extreme.” (from Walt Disney’s “Pinocchio”, written and composed by Ned Washington and Leigh Harline for the 1940 film).

Each week, they upped the dosage of this extremely powerful and expensive drug, and each week I improved, less shaking, more hope; I could see the future, recapturing my lithe and agile self.

Then one never-to-be-forgotten day my hand was perfect as the day I was born. I was myself again… and for the first time in months truly happy and grateful. “Like a bolt out of the blue/ Suddenly, it comes to you/ When you wish upon a star/ Your dreams come true.” As mine surely had.

“Is she menacing?”

As if I didn’t have enough on my plate, I was in the middle of a ridiculously expensive remodeling with a contractor who drank, whored, and lied like a trooper, all the while gulping my resources as if there was no tomorrow. He was a proven parasite and my escalating blood sugar (for let us not forget the diabetes I harbored) proved it. My home, packed with the artifacts which if not priceless were most assuredly pricey, was a study in dust covers.

It was late afternoon, and I knew immediately something was wrong, terribly wrong, menacing, foreboding. There was evil present, and it had settled everywhere in my hitherto joyous precincts, the whole now writhing, a scene of unexampled fright and terror.

The first thing I particularly noticed was a headless woman in the Red Drawing Room, her displaced head in hand. She was sinuous, twisting, a macabre picture of seductive undulation. As I looked at her, she stared at me with what nefarious schemes I could only imagine. I called Dr. Hersh at once. My life was about to take another notable turn.

For the music for this change, add the deep and unsettling theme from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 masterpiece, “The Birds”.

“Is she menacing you?” Dr. Hersh asked, the anxious word “yet” hanging in the air. Here’s where my precise use of language became invaluable, for over the next several weeks as the potent drug slowly waned, I described what was happening, clearly, precisely, with clinical exactitude, right up to and including the unforgiving days when monsters seen only by me, kept a paw on my shoulder during my daily on air program.

I could see the monster, the monster could see me and the audience, but the audience saw only me. Thus, I lived a dark parallel existence in which I was the focus of creatures who wished me no good, especially at night when my bed chamber was filled with creatures creeping closer, minute by minute, malice their agenda.

My home was alive with movement, my brain supplying the lurid, unthinkable, grotesque images; the drug designed to ameliorate and cure, now destroying my equanimity, a fearsome thing controlling me, awesome in its power, intimidating, replacing hope with despair. And I dared tell no one but Dr. Hersh and the drug company which begged me to continue the study into which they had invested so much; the study which she had removed me from at once… in so doing she took care of the immediate problem… but broke my heart… for with my withdrawal went any chance that I would ever be normal again. And this was bitter, so awfully bitter… I can only hope Jiminy Cricket is right:

“Fate is kind/ She brings to those who love/ The sweet fulfillment of/

Their secret longing.” From his lips….

7:24 p.m.

Then through the open shutters, framing the deep, deep green of this perfect day, this perfect evening came divine song, “Casta Diva”, composed in 1830 by Vincenzo Bellini; most famously rendered by Maria Callas (1923-1977), who in comforting dreamscape came to me to sooth everything acrid, desolate, daunting, and corrosive.

Note by pleading note the power of this supplication filled the Red Drawing Room, bathing my sleeping form in the most resilient of sentiments, hope, sweet hope, hope enough for the whole world and one more.”Casta Diva, Virtuous Goddess, accept my ardent plea for this noble prince now sore oppressed, troubled of mind and spirit. Hear me Virtuous Goddess/ covering with silver/ these sacred ancient plants. Hear me that he may yet live and his worthy endeavors prosper. Hear me!”

So I awoke by soft stages, humbled by the sound, the pure and true sound rising for me to the great Cosmos beyond. and I found myself on prayerful knee in earnest beseeching, arrogantly repulsed in happier days, humbly offered now in these sadder hours.

“Ah, come back again as you were then/ then when I gave you my heart/ Ah, come back to me.”

“Your Excellency, wake up. Today is your special day.”

It was Max, of course, essential, anticipating, affectionate, the best of creatures, who so many years ago had called to me from Calliope on Brattle Street. I thought I had rescued him, but it was very much the reverse.

“Sir, I have taken the liberty of picking up these notes off the floor in the Blue Room. They look important.”

“Out of the tree of life…” (Quoted from Sinatra’s version of “The Best Is Yet To Come”; ) composed by Cy Coleman in 1969).

It is 12:52 p.m. I have been up for hours and hours. I demolish a colon and fret. I add a semi-colon… and fret. Today is the day. I have been through this 19 times before and 19 times I’ve grabbed the brass ring from the painted ponies that go up and down. Today is no different. I am giving birth again after the again and again and again that’s gone before and may well come again after today.

This is good, all good. It is, after all, “a real good bet, the best is yet to come.” Yes, it’s all good. I’ve had my way with the wayward words and the refractory subjects. I’ve caressed these pages… I’ve made these pages a slick of tears so that there was no escape until your heart was touched and your vision changed.

I’ve stopped along this so often, so difficult way when I saw, sometimes misplaced for decades, a pair of mischievous eyes that once upon a time, I loved to distraction, beyond reason, beyond even desire itself.

“The best is yet to come, and won’t it be fine.”

When Gibbon finished “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (1787)… he went into the chill evening air falling to his knees to sob. He had given birth to a masterpiece whilst knowing he could never produce such an astonishing opus again that would change the world… and he never did.

David McCullough sat at his well littered desk and wept over the body of the late John Adams, just killed by McCullough’s unerring thrust. He felt as if he had killed his best friend… and he had.

“Wait till you see that sunshine place.”

The shutters are all open, the green, green outside enhancing the brilliance of The Red Drawing Room within. Max’ work. I always know when he and his genius have been at work. There is then not only the spectacular. There is the humane, delicate and refined, things the more valued because so rare.

“We are stepping out, mon prince.”

Max stands before me, my battered Harvard cap in one hand, my unscarred, unused cane in the other. It is a moment of the utmost importance. I have not left the house in weeks, terrified of what another fall could mean. But Max, loving Max understands that being a self-incarcerated prisoner, no matter how comfortable and gilded the jail just won’t do. It is a moment of supremest decision, and the tension is palpable.

“The thousand mile journey starts with a single step.


  • A step? What is a single step to me who once bounded up the red-carpeted stairs of Buckingham Palace to smile at a Queen whose life would have been incomplete without it?

Who nimbly roamed the ancient isles of the Aegean in search of adventures and Odysseus, one bold, audacious step before the next?

Who stepped lively and with determined purpose through the corridors of power in a hundred jurisdictions, astonishing even himself, an agile empire the result?

A step can lead to all this and more, but it may also lead to an eternity of sickening descent, into impenetrable darkness and unease that becomes fearful disorientation and unwonted panic, dark and uncontrolled.

“Your excellency!”

This is the moment immediate reality becomes the stuff shaping all the future and all the denizens of my observant establishment know it… and waft hope my way. And so I, the boy, the man, who trusts with the greatest difficulty is forced to trust now.

It is Sinatra, “We’ve only tasted the wine/We’re going to drain that cup dry.”

Thus I take the step, small, uncertain, in anxiety…but achieved, amongst the greatest achievements of my life of achievements. “Lean on me, mon Prince, lean on me.” And I do… with doubt, with grave uncertainly, with just fragile conviction, but I do, I do… and this is everything. “You think you’ve flown before, but you ain’t left the ground.”

But now I am, each step however small fueling the next…and I am surrounded by joy, growing confidence, and the love which eclipses all.

Sinatra can do this. He is, after all, the Prince of Impertinence, iconoclastic, take no prisoners, do it my way guy. He could be — and often was — insolent, impudent, a master of the smirk and the put-down.

The timid world looked to him in longing, because for just a moment they, too, wanted to do what they wanted, critics be damned, elusive truth the grand goal, but so rarely achieved.

Sinatra shouts at me, “Do it! Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! Live life no matter how much or how little you have.” “You think you’ve seen the sun, but you ain’t seen it shine”… and you insist upon seeing it shine, whatever the cost.

Then he turns to the assembled company and flips the unmistakable bird, but whether at anyone in particular, or at the world in general, at what has gone before or what is now on its way, no one can say and even that most perfect courtier Sir Max gives way to a broad (but quickly suppressed) smile of the “thatsa my boy” variety.

With that Max in full regalia, holding the emblem of the Prince and his Principality of Tornavan, black, orange, and white with but a single word “CREDO” under a princely crown, claps his paws three times, instantly gathering the full attention of the distinguished company.

“Your Majesties, Your Imperial and Royal Highnesses, Your Graces, Milords, Ladies, and Gentlemen All, I give you the undoubted Prince of this realm.”

“Three cheers for the Prince”.

And with that the music of Giocomo Meyerbeer rises rhythmic, regal, imperial. It is the Torch Dance No. 3 in C-minor (1856), a dance which only princes may walk.

“The people are waiting, mon Prince. Reign for them and reign happy. Here is the secret”…whereupon Max hands me a golden box…. then its key. There are two words engraved on it, “Credo” and “Veritas.” It is locked.

Then the kiss of loyalty, fidelity, and love, left, right, left.

It is a new beginning… and I embrace it, for even life encumbered and difficult is life, and that is the most important thing of all.

Max remembers.

Thus, the Prince took up his cane and took the first step, strenuous, arduous, uncertain, essential, for from this single step all else must and would ensue. He would walk, and he would walk the Torch Dance, too, in all its intricate figures of dazzling fire. Fall or falter, he was a Prince and this royal walk was his birthright, and as he walked, the brilliant lights went on in the Green Room, in the Blue Room, in the Red Drawing Room, “Fiat Lux”, each one a summons to the world in acute need and growing desolation.

Thus take heed. Whatever your condition or status, this light is for us all, and so he progressed, humbled but determined, love his constant companion, though he might not always know it.

But the good people of Tornavan and everywhere else on Earth determined the Prince would know it. In a moment their collective good wishes began to rise high and ardent, “Ease on down, ease on down the road/ Come on, ease on down the road/ Don’t you carry nothing/ That might be a load”, and Prince Jeffrey knew for a certainty that he had everything he needed in a single phrase whispered in his ear by the Wiz (1978).

“Don’t you give up walkin’/ ‘Cause you gave up shoes, no.” And he stood suddenly at his full height again, bathed in the pure light emanating from the Red Drawing Room, and he raised his cane, a moment ago a tool of subservience and diminution, now one of defiance and life enhancement, and heard himself say what he had never said or even thought before, “I love you. I love you all.” With this, there wasn’t an eye still dry or a heart untouched, such was the undoubted power of unbridled affection and joy, and it all happened here. I was there. Max. Credo.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

June 1, 2015 in the Blue Room.

Howard Martell is the Owner of http://HomeProfitCoach.com/silver . Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.

Royal Ascot 2017 “Everyone who should be here is here.”


By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

It all began when a handful of revolutionary students at the University of Andes closed the University, thereby trapping a delegation from the University of California; who were there on an overseas student program. The rebels closed the University of the Andes and the students who were already there from University of California didn’t get any academic credits for the year. Their parents were furious.

Pressure came to bear on the Chancellor of the University of California system, and he shut down the program in Bogotá. As a result I who was to go to Bogotá had to make a last minute switch to participate in the University of California’s program. I who was supposed to be going to Colombia went instead to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The year was1968 and that is where my story begins.

While I was at the University of St. Andrews I saw a vacancy notice for the representative to the Student Representative Council (SRC). The vacancy that was open was for Faculty of Arts which was fully three quarters of the University.

I had been in Scotland for just 3 weeks but nothing daunted. I decided that I would run for the seat that had my name written all over it. Nothing was going to stop me from coming to a strange country and in the flickering of an eye lash, run for office. It was audacious. It was bold. It was thrilling. And as I pointed it out to my dear friends who were part of the University of California delegation; if I lost; no big deal, no one would know who I was anyway, but if I won… I would be at the cover of Time magazine.

Well, as things worked out. I was elected, to the astonishment of absolutely everyone at the University. However they didn’t like having an American on the SRC, much less as a representative of the largest block at the University. But because they had to do something, they appointed me Chairman of the Rectoral Committee. Rectors are a unique United Kingdom phenomenon. They are the elected representative of students on the board of trustees.

They traditionally come to the University. Spend a few days and don’t intervene too much. I was fortunate enough to meet Sir Learie Constantine (1901-1971) who was at that time the High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago. Sir Learie had been a famous cricketer in his youth and was now nearly at the end of his career which was capped by his selection as the first black peer of the realm.

As Chairman of the Rectoral Committee. I worked very closely with the new rector, Sir Learie Constantine and came to know him very well along with his charming wife, Lady Constantine.

The Rectoral celebrations at St. Andrews went off without a hitch giving us national publicity for the first time ever and so to speak put St. Andrews on the map. I spent many hours with Sir Learie planning things. Getting everything in order; arranging the speeches and so forth. It was in short a triumph.

Thereafter I looked around the University for other Triumph. And in my search I learned about the Royal Enclosure at the Ascot Races.

Now, I admit I am not a horseman. The quadruped doesn’t interest me very much. That degree of interest is reserved for my sister, Shelby Allison who is a horse collector and breeder. She would have been a better candidate for the Royal Enclosure. But I had my eyes open on what would increase my network of useful contact and experiences.

I wrote to Sir Learie and asked him if he could get me four sets of tickets. One for me and one each for my three friends from the University of California. Could he get me four tickets for the Royal Enclosure. He didn’t know the procedures but he willingly picked up the phone and called the Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England to get us 4 sets of tickets.

His Grace was rather taken aback as he pointed out to Sir Learie, that foreigner like us, had to go to their respective embassies to apply for tickets. That was the correct way. But what do you do when a charming man like Sir Learie ask you for a favor for his buddies? The tickets were immediately forthcoming.

This created a furor amongst my friends, because of what we would wear? The wearing of the proper clothes is absolutely essential for Ascot. You better be impeccably dressed or else you will be tossed out of the Royal Enclosures.

So, we looked around and when the tickets came; they came with instructions. There were three men in the delegation (Mark, Morris, William Powers, Ingoldsby and me) and one lady, Lucy Shepard.

Now, in those days there was a company called Moss Brothers ( universally known as “MossBros”). It is here that the gentlemen were outfitted for the Royal Enclosure.

I can well remember when I came to MossBros in London. I had absolutely no experience wearing top hat and tails. Not to worry. There is no one in the world fussier about decorum than a gentleman’s gentlemen at the establishment. He knew and he dictated. Your job was to stand quietly while the necessary decisions were rendered.

In short order we were out fitted with our royal kit. And we looked absolutely fabulous. Indeed, when I looked in the mirror the day I returned from my final fitting it was “mirror mirror on the wall, need you ask who is the fairest of them all? You are man.You are dude.” And I was.

So prepared for our trip to Royal Ascot. But where would paragons like us stay? We had no money. However, these were the days when it was still possible, according to the famous book by Arthur Frommer, to see “Europe on $5 a day”.

To do so you had to stay in places which were not at all fashionable in anyway. We chose to stay within our meager budget, by checking in the youth hostel nearest to the racecourse which was in Berkshire, England.

Such places were officially called youth hostels, but we in our grandeur called them “hovels”, and no wonder.

Here is the invariable routine of such a place. Up with the larks, to share some humble but nutritious gruel. To cheerfully do the chore you were assigned upon arrival (making beds, sweeping the floor, cleaning latrines) and exit singing “I love to go a wandering”.

As you may imagine we didn’t fit in to the designated routine. Nonetheless we did everything required. Cleaning and dusting in our Cinderella finery in which we would soon present ourselves to Her Majesty.

Work completed, we sauntered across the street to pick up a regular red two tier bus. We garnered every eye in the county. Everyone looked at us from the time when we dressed in the youth hovel to the time we got on the bus to the time we got to Ascot. We were the cynosure of every eye and quite right too. I felt like either a celebrity or a refugee from the winter palace. In those days before the renovation of the Ascot course and buildings, we were exceptionally close to the sovereign. We were, in short, her guests.

Her Majesty arrived with her family and guests in a landau. Highly polished and in the perfect condition, the British are so well known for. It made a lovely sight. Everything in place, it was a thrill for sloppy Americans who moments before were sweeping the floors and cleaning the toilets. Once we settled down, we had ample opportunity to see Her Majesty and I dare say she took advantage of her opportunity to see us. It was no doubt part of the reason why this year she found Ascot so successful.

We became quite comfy and we did this for four days. For four days we watch the queen drive up in different outfits with trademark diamond brooch, always looking regal. Everything Comme il faux.

Ascot is a place for queen to have fun, and she does. She puts some flowers in her bonnet to get into the spirit of the hats competition. She appeared at all times affable. I believe the year I went (June 1968), the queen mother was with her. She was the most affable and jolly old soul imaginable. The whole environment was light and gay.

The queen loves her ponies and no doubt places an occasional flutter at the betting window as we did, losing some of California’s money and subsidizing the profits for the racecourse. We were happy to do so.

For the four days we did this we became quite a sight in the neighborhood, after all every day we left the Royal Enclosure we returned to our youth hovel to our so-called regular life. This had no glamor in it whatsoever.

Liquor, Lunch, and Looking.

Ascot started in 1711 by Queen Ann and has always been about looking. It did start as racing and racing continues to be the official reason for having this outing. The truth of the matter for most people is the chance to be seen and to have their hats on the telly. In this competition gentlemen lose out immediately. Our role is simply to look smart and I have to add, I was delighted to preen, looking like no boy from Illinois has ever looked. In other words terrific.

Things are different for the ladies. Sadly, we no longer have milliners. Ladies have to rely on the help of their own imagination or their friends or someone in the village who creates hats. As a result most of the hats created are grotesque, garish, and something no real lady would ever wish to be seen in.

That’s where Cecil Beaton and Audrey Hepburn come in. Cecil Beaton was a marvelous artist. He designed the Ascot scene for “My fair Lady “(1964) and he did it with exquisite precision laying down a standard that no group of people has ever beaten.

What I want to do now, is show you some of the things which are at display at Ascot this year. As usual some of them were extremely regrettable sort of like a paper plate turned on upside-down on their head with a bunch of cherries or butterflies. All their on ladies heads making ladies look ridiculous. But it is all in a good cause. The queen herself often wears flowers and greenery in her hats as she is driven up in the Royal Enclosure and mingles with hoy ploy like me. Now I say to you,”Everyone who should be here is here. Every duke, and earl and peer is here.” It is Ascot Opening Day.

P.S. The costume that took the cake this year (2017) was owned byrather rotund gentleman; who popped out of the crowd in a suit no one from MossBros could duplicate. He promptly became involved in some fisticuffs. There were people who didn’t like his taste so expansively on display. A moment later both ladies and gentlemen were involved in a melee. Oh, how the mighty have indeed fallen.

And click here for Lerner and Loewe’s Ascot Gavotte.


Howard Martell is the Owner of http://HomeProfitCoach.com/silver . Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.’ The watery end of bright-smiled Marie Joseph and her unsettling fate.


 By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

It is high summer in Fall River, Massachusetts, once a focal point of American commerce and the most elegant of sailing ships, now a city defined by its gnawing problems and of people who arrive only to count the days until they leave this way station to something better.

Many of these new arrivals are Hispanic and the place where the most adamant of New Englanders flourished is now a place where often the language is Spanish and the orientation Latin. How surprised the mariners of Massachusetts would have been… but even they, unhappily seeing the transformation of their works, would have looked twice at the radiant smile of Marie Joseph, the kind of smile that lightens loads, brings people together, and holds them together when it’s needed, as it always is.

Marie Joseph graced lives, she did not impose upon them. Such people are too rare… always valued…. the sinews on which all communities rely, especially the ones which seem to have more than their share of problems.

The new arrivals, not yet ascending to country club status, rely on the plethora of municipal services which, in this year 2011, are stressed, pressured, threatened, deteriorating. But more needed than ever… especially if that service is the state-run swimming pools that provide relief on the so-hot summer days you always forget are a sweltering feature of summer hereabouts.

The thought of the beckoning pool, aqua marine, cool, refreshing, a blessing to folks without air conditioning is just what Marie Joseph wanted… and so, arrayed in that smile that wouldn’t quit, she made her way to the modern city’s version of the old swimming hole. In the last picture of Marie Joseph, taken the day before she died (June 26, 2011) her smile is incandescent, radiant, cast on the child in her arms with plenty left over for the rest of the world.

That image should have defined the event and the day, a happy memory in a life of challenges and tribulations… Instead, that image stands as irony, proof (if it were ever needed) that life is short, can never be taken for granted, and can end in ways inexplicable and horrifying… as it was about to do for Marie Joseph.

The water slide took her down indeed, to the conclusion of a brief life, just 36 years.

She saw the water slide. It looked fun… especially as she watched a nine-year-old neighbor go down the slide accompanied by the full panoply of quips, expressions, and ear-shattering squeals all kids horde for just such events. She was game. You had to take your fun when and where you could.

As she slid  down the water slide into death and eternity, no one (except the nine-year-old) paid any attention. No need. That water slide was popular and no one gave it a second thought. But this day something went terribly wrong… while people who should have seen saw nothing… or at least they say so now…

The first horror: death by drowning, surrounded by people.

Marie Joseph may have known how to swim; her friends and family are not sure. She didn’t ask. Why should she; she had watched her young friend use the slide joyously; she probably didn’t know the water was 12 feet deep. Once in the water, Marie was in trouble… and must have made a fearful racket as anyone would as they faced the reality of their situation and fought for life. How could this death struggle happen before so many… with only one person, her young neighbor doing anything to assist?

He at least knew something was wrong and tried to pull Marie up, to safety; and when he failed, he called upon the lifeguard for assistance. But demi-god in his Ray Bans, he had better things to do than his job; ignoring kids’ babble was part of what made him so cool and exalted.

Here the story goes from tragedy to the macabre, from one family’s grief to an enduring symbol of ineptitude, scandal, and staggering incompetence.

Marie Joseph was now dead… but no one knew it…

The friends she came with wondered where she had gone; something no doubt had come up; she’d tell them later. And so the sunburnt children wanting more… and their mothers who had had enough, all went home…

… leaving the body of Marie Joseph entombed in water, her raven tresses in constant movement under the water under the summer’s night. And so on this cheerful day did Marie Joseph pass a night peaceful perhaps for her, but of mounting worry and concern for her family and friends. Where had she and her radiant smile gone?

Business as usual.

The next day was business as usual… the kids came to swim and scream, the mothers to watch and gossip, complaining about the temperature and how hot it was; the lifeguard, high above, looked down on the scene and wondered if his girl was cheating on him, of all people.

And throughout this day, mere feet below the teaming activity, the lifeless body of Marie Joseph moved to the water’s beat, its whereabouts known only to God. Yes, on this evening, too, and throughout the stages of the night, did her unseeing eyes abide in their incomprehensible resting place.

And, though its staggers belief, it went on for another day… another day with the corpse swimming with youngsters… and where chary mothers saw nothing… and lifeguards with plum summer jobs, envied, yet saw absolutely nothing.

And still the story worsens, morphing from the shocking to the incredible.

Now officials, making a periodic visit, appeared. Despite the inexplicable disappearance of Marie Joseph, now common gossip, these officials made only the most cursory of inspections… not one suspecting that the pool itself and its cloudy waters held the body. Like everyone else but one small boy they looked… and saw nothing, though the corpse of a beautiful woman was dissolving into debris….

… which teams of  lifeguards missed and even the people charged daily with inspecting the pool, cleaning it, keeping the waters fresh and clear. Add these, too, to the staggering number who should have seen… but say they did not.

Now, of course, alarm bells ringing in the face of widespread condemnation, officials great and small come slowly forward, mutter platitudes, and run for cover. A tiny fraction of this energy would easily have saved the life of Marie Joseph or at least given her honorable burial, sparing her from becoming a thing of horror and nightmare. For such she has become, no longer the beloved
person she was but a fearful presence for the children who now see a place of sun, light, air and shimmering water as a place of dread and abhorrence, wondering what else they may find there.

Marie Joseph did not deserve her fate. Let some poignant lines from Alfred, Lord Tennyson, provide her one better:

“Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross’d themselves for fear
All the knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space;

He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott.” (1842).

Musical note

I’ve chosen the original version of Lord Tennyson’s poem, first published in 1833, and put to music by Loreena McKennitt (1991). It is haunting, spectral, and profoundly sad.

He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
Marie Joseph.”


Howard Martell is the Owner of http://HomeProfitCoach.com/silver . Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.

Member Spotlight: Lisa Martiniuk

Lisa can you share a little information with us about you? 

I continue to enjoy a career as a municipal water/wastewater treatment operator.  In my spare time, I try to blend in some recreational fun, volunteer for Search & Rescue,  and work on my contingency plan; my online business.

Lisa, what was the reasons for your initial interest in becoming a Member at Worldprofit? 

Honestly, I cannot pin it down to just one reason.  There were multitudes.  I was interested in web-hosting/fund-raising/media for a non-profit org. I was interested in the technology, how the internet worked, how to stay safe online, and of course, how to make money online, appealed to me.  Worldprofit covered all these parameters, and then some.

Lisa, can you share some of the reasons that you continue as a loyal Member of Worldprofit? How long has it been?

Technology is continually changing.  Worldprofit not only stays abreast of the current/future trends, but fine-tunes every resource to be user-friendly for all members.        I sometimes find it hard to believe Worldprofit has existed longer than Google, (mind you, when I joined, I had little idea what Google was) and yet, as I can attest to, being a Member for (10) years, they continue to stay the course; using the exact same tried and true methods that obviously work, and they still teach.  That’s basically why I’m still here; besides the fact that I love learning, and my membership is just too valuable to ever give up.

Lisa, do you have any words of advice for someone looking for an online business or considering joining Worldprofit?

It comes down to a personal choice.  If you really want to learn about/own an online business, have control of everything you do online, and not just be an affiliate of company xxx that may, or may not,  stand the test of time, my personal choice is Worldprofit. No guesswork; just your actions equate your potential profits and rewards.

Lisa, you are a Monitor who generously volunteers your time to help others in Worldprofit’s home business community.
Can you offer some reasons why you enjoy being a Monitor?

Initially, as I was new to the internet, and had no real idea of how it worked, the Monitor Team helped me considerably to gain the trust and confidence that I had chosen a great Company to work with.      In turn, I am honoured to help serve the Community that has served me so well.

Lisa, what are some of the tools and resources in your Worldprofit Membership that you find most helpful in growing your own online business?

Oh wow!  There are so many great tools and resources, it’s sometimes tough not to have Shiny Object Syndrome and have a heyday.  Too much fun. But, seriously, it’s a simple step-by-step business system with precise Training and wonderful Support whenever you need it.  I rely on the prospect manager, auto-responder, landing pages, 20+ traffic/income streams,  various advertising packages/rotators, fast-track visitors, call-loop, cbengine/clickbank, auto-text, password manager and rotator genie. Most recently I am enjoying the classified ads, and intend on adding      two new “oh so shiny” objects just recently released; the universal url rotator, and mobile version website.  .

Lisa, can you rate on a scale of 1 – 10 then comment on the quality of services, training and support offered at Worldprofit? A rating of 1 would be Poor, a rating of 10 would be Outstanding. 

Rating: 10+ Knowing that Worldprofit is always working in the background, on my behalf, staying in touch with my Associates, and always available to answer any questions via Live Training or Support, is truly appreciated.  And yet, they go beyond this, take a personal interest in their customers, and focus on how best to assist the membership, as a whole, always in a fair manner.

Lisa, anything else you would like to share with others about your experiences with Worldprofit ? 

Just having the ability to introduce people to the most valuable services that anyone needs to make money online, and generate customers for a new/existing business is where Worldprofit outshines,  and bridges the gap, on a global basis. Everyone has equal opportunity to take advantage of the Training, Support and Services provided with their membership, and make it uniquely your own.

Howard Martell is the Owner of http://HomeProfitCoach.com/silver . Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.

“From sea to shining sea” Things you can do for a better America today.


By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

I had been watching the news more than usual lately. Now I realize why I stopped. It’s depressing. Part of the reason why it is depressing, is because of the speed at which you are hit by Talking Heads all over the world. Everyone is yapping at you. Everybody knows yapping doesn’t help solve problems. You need some quiet time and a new approach.

Thus consider this article my attempt to improve America and cut my own personal jitters by ignoring the media for one whole day. That’s right. That’s the beginning of how you can help America. Stop listening to the Talking Heads.

They are cuter than you are and they talk faster. But they don’t know any more. I have been doing an informal survey about the media. Turns out the media are nothing more than “no dead air” and give the drug companies lots of space to promote diseases no one ever heard of. That’s right. They don’t want to cast light. Their job is not to cast light. It is to make you nervous as hell so that you get a serious case of jitters and go on a shopping spree you don’t need.

I have come up with a list of things you can do right this very day, that will make America better. I am going to start with, turn off the media for one day. Let’s not listen to any media whatsoever. Turn off the tube. Don’t read any newspapers, and do not go on the internet and look for ”news”. Let’s just have a day as God intended. Quiet. Serene. Peaceful. That’s the first thing you can do for America and that America needs. You can calm yourself down and ignore the Talking Heads.

You can easily put these people in their places. They get there because you are glued to the screen. I know. I have been glued to the screen my whole life. Now that I am 70, I don’t need to know. Many years ago when I was going to school in England a very wise woman told me, “Don’t read the secondary sources, read the primary sources and avoid the rest”. Boy, was that good advice. In other words listen to the people, not the Talking Heads who are interpreting “the people”. Your interpretation is good as anyone else’s. Go for it.

Now let’s get started. I want you to go and get a box of donuts or whatever is in season in your neck of the woods. Go buy a dozen and take them to the Fire Department OR take them to the Police Department OR Take them to some service provider like an EMT at the hospital who stayed up all night. Or to a teacher. You don’t have to do them all. All you have to do is one box. It will cost you about 3 bucks. Best 3 bucks you ever spent. You will flabbergast everyone.

Or consider the people who run the water department OR people who run the sewage department. These are people who make America work. What you can do is astonish them with your gratitude because goodness only knows they get constant criticism. Now, speaking about criticism… Go for one day without criticizing America in any way, shape or form. Instead list five things that you love about this great nation. God shed His grace on thee. You know it. It is time to remind yourself.

You are on a roll, let’s keep it up. Let’s go a single day without having any racially charged language whatsoever. No N-words or F-words or any other kind of hate speech, just words doing what the way they were intended to do (facilitate communication). In other words use language to bring people together, not to rip them apart.

More good ideas.

Too many of us are guilty of racial profiling. Today, let’s just clear it all together off of our palette. Caution may be necessary in certain times and places but massive racial profiling is not. My father used to say ”red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in His sight”. Remember that song from Bible School

Jesus loves the little children of the world”?

Well, not just the little children. He likes the big ones, too. You could help God by getting rid of all racially charged language. Do you really need it?Do you want to be defined by the expletives that you use? I sincerely hope not.
Next, here is a particularly good action. Help somebody. Just do a helpful deed. Do it. It becomes infectious. Only the other day I was carrying up some groceries in the elevator, and I managed to drop them. I am not the world’s most coordinated person but I have never before dropped a full bag of groceries.

As there were a number of cans in my bag; they rolled all over the lobby. I was chagrined, not least because I find getting up and down a little difficult. I wondered what I was going to do with my goods and cans that were spread all over the place. And all of a sudden I heard a voice from behind me and the voice said “You seem to need some help, sir”.

Frankly, I was astonished, and as I turned around I remembered that God works in mysterious ways. I saw a beautiful woman perfectly turned out, ready to help me. And she did.

Whatever mood or condition I was in prior to her speaking to me. I quickly changed my tune to; “Wow”, thank you! I wasn’t looking so much at her beautiful exterior as I was thinking about her beautiful interior which is far more important. We can all be beautiful inside and it doesn’t cost a cent.

So, she picked up my cans and helped me put them back in the bag. Then she went up in the elevator with me, another unexpected benefit. She then said “Would you like some help”? What could I say, I was putty in her hand. 
A good deed resonates. When was the last time you simply helped someone? You didn’t have to ask. You didn’t have to make a big to-do about it. It could be a small thing, although picking up rolling cans off the stone floor did not seem a small matter at the time.

Let’s do something today that all of us should never forgo. Let’s listen to what someone else says. Actually listen. We don’t listen anymore. We yap at each other. It’s degrading, and it doesn’t get us anywhere. America works because we allow other people to have their say without jumping all over them when they are saying it. It is hard to do but if everyone just listened, we all will be better off.


Compliment people on their work. It could be a waitress. Have you ever watched a waitress or a waiter? They work hard, as Donna Summer said. “They work hard for the money”. Compliment them.

Remember, America is a land that works because we work together. We don’t have to like each other. God only knows we don’t have to like each other, but we do have to get along. The funny thing is once you start working with people and get to know them, most of the time you find out that they are pretty likeable.

Another thing you can do today is don’t pre-judge anyone. I am guilty of this myself. I have pre judged so many people in my life. They didn’t look the right way. They didn’t walk the right way. They didn’t have the right skin color. They didn’t come from the right prep school.

My whole life, and I don’t say I am alone. I have got 365 million colleagues in this battle. Let’s not pre judge. Let’s for one day go without pre judging anyone and see what happens.

Then, pass this on. America, the can-do country certainly can do this. We have met the enemy as Pogo once said, and he is us. There isn’t a thing on my list which admittedly is incomplete although helpful that you can’t do right now. That your spouse can’t do. That your children can’t do. That your next door neighbor can’t do.

We can remember, God shed His grace on thee. Let’s dig ourselves out from under and remember why He did it. Then when you are finished with the items on this list, sit down in a quiet place and think something good about yourself. This may prove difficult.

After all, we are getting older and we have wrinkles and things don’t work and medications that cost more every day. It may prove difficult to pull one to good thing from this cacophony.


My mother in her declining days got to be very hostile and negative to the point where it was actually painful to pick up the phone and call her because you knew you would have to listen to 30 minutes 60 minutes 90 minutes of abuse about almost anything.

Then, one day I snapped. I said to her “When we talk next week, I want you to say something good. If you don’t say something good about anything, I am never going to talk to you again.”

I called as usual the next week, she went on as usual abusing one and all. My mother. I said to her “Do you remember what I said last week that if you didn’t come with at least one positive thought about yourself; about the Cosmos; about Antarctica; about America; about the women next door; Just one thing at least. I would never talk to you again.”

She paused for a moment because she knew that I am just as bull headed as she ever was.

The roses in the garden are beautiful today”.

And all of a sudden we were on a different path and this path, had possibilities and life and the prospect of renewal, optimism, hope, and love. 
So today let us to take a different path. Let’s assume that we can improve matters because we can. Take the matter of improvement in your own hands. Remember, turn off the media. Their job is to disgruntle you, frighten you, and give you a mountain of anxiety. We don’t need that or the “facts” which prove so often to be ill considered, wrong, and unhelpful.

We are all smart enough to realize that the critical word for all our lives is “together.” As John Adams once said in 1776 to Thomas Jefferson, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall hang separately”.

Thank you for reading, now pass it on. Pass it on. Pass it on. In such a way we shall renew the grace of what makes America. 

Howard Martell is the Owner of http://HomeProfitCoach.com/silver . Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.

Reflections on Harvard’s 360th Commencement, May 26, 2011.


by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Today, for the 360th time in its exalted history, a history far older than
the republic itself, Harvard will, with all the colorful paraphernalia of the
Academy, send a goodly percentage of the brightest young people on
earth on their way to kismet.

Some of these people will become heads of state, women too; that is why
the address of Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of the
Republic of Liberia is so important.  It proves that even in territories inclement
towards women, women may rise high indeed.

Some of these people will head corporations and reap billions, some of
which will undoubtedly be given to Harvard in the form of very public generosities.

Some of these people will buck the capitalist trend and found worthy causes
of every kind. The world has need for every one of them and the people who
give up much, the better able to give more.

Others will rise high in the military, in governments of every nation on earth,
in education, science, medicine, the arts… there will even be a movie star or two but,
perhaps, no rap musician. Not, however, because Harvard would not welcome one; it
would. Rappers, however, may demur; it’s a matter of image…. and no people on
earth are as stringent about image as they are.

One more category may well appear: terrorist, revolutionary. Harvard does not
go out seeking such people, but Harvard has helped shape many such. Red
John Reed, Bolshevik, (class of 1910) is buried in the Kremlin wall… a signal honor
for a gentleman of Crimson. Like so many Harvard graduates he rose high, though this
time for a cause most every other Harvard graduate loathed and disdained. John
Reed wouldn’t have cared about that; Harvard graduates are above such trivia.
They know that what they do is important, even if no one else on this planet agrees.
This profound conviction is part of what the graduates take away today… you can
be sure of it. It is one of the best reasons for the very existence of Harvard.

Many of today’s graduates will write about their Harvard experiences; I am one of
them. Most will cherish happy memories and say so, fudging the truth on
which Harvard prides itself and pruning things not quite happy enough. In truth,
their classmates were probably never as bright as they will remember, as bright or
as dedicated. The faculty never as welcoming and helpful as they will recall. And the
university overall not as profoundly influential. But embroidering your Harvard past
is winked at since happy memories beget handsome legacies. And there is no need
to remind so many, and in print, too, that their time here was not as sun-kissed as they
ardently desire it to be. You were young, vibrant, surrounded by possibilities, and you’d
been marked with the most winning brand of all. Under the circumstances, the utmost
joy and contentment are understandable; indeed mandatory.

There will be some of course, but just a handful who will write otherwise, telling, years
from now, of painful isolation, alienation and the persistent thought that they never were, not for a moment, good enough to have gone to Harvard in the first place, that they were a fluke, a sport of nature. Perhaps. But they will write such sentiments in a ringing style, lyric, too, that shows in its careful refinement and clarity another benefit of a Harvard education.

This day, the most important day in the life of virtually every graduate, save only the
day on which they were born, will start early; the ceremony commences in Harvard
Yard at 9:45 a.m., but Harvard Square is awash with the camera-totting hours before,
even from first light. A sign of  the times: persons unable to be present can see it all, and
clearer, on the Web. There is not a one who so watches that does not wish to be
in Cambridge instead… for all that they see more and better than the audience
shaded by the great trees in Tercentenary Theater.

Graduates, at once shy and proud, will move today surrounded by their personal
claques, the lucky ones invited to see and venerate. Proud parents, who often dipped deep to make this happen, have been admonished, several times, to be prompt and organized. Graduates have conflicting feelings about these folks. They are grateful, of course, though never as grateful perhaps as they should be. It would not do to slight them, but, this is the last day, the very last day, they can see their classmates and friends, similarly burdened, as they will never be again: present, accounted for, resoundingly young; friends, colleagues, lovers, too. This recognition, this sadness is palpable. The pull of the golden past, slipping away forever, against the dawning future, ardently desired… but not this day. This is why the tears fall today for this must be a bittersweet moment for all. In these precincts the past and future truly collide today, to roil emotions. Parting is indeed such sweet sorrow… and now they truly know it.

It is now just 5 a.m., the dawn of this day of days is nigh. It is a day of memories,
memories retrieved, memories born. Parents will recall memories unbeckoned
of their beloved graduates and their brief lives. They will have, for themselves alone,
moments poignant and keenly felt, the more so if they had, once upon a time, a Harvard
Commencement of their own. Then Cambridge becomes the best it can be: an ever-
renewing place of reverie and remembrance, a place where you are always welcome,
for you are part of what has shaped this special place.

The trickle of early comers, seeking parking spaces more valued than gold,
will soon grow into serious traffic. Ladies in hats otherwise known only at weddings and
gentlemen in ties they will later shake off as gladly as a noose begin to appear as
do the marked men of the day… the sheriff of the county who will ride in on white
horse to declare the proceedings open; officials in their always ill-fitting cuttaways
and top hats… and of course and always the brightly garbed graduates in mortar
boards they never wear quite right. With their gowns a Rosetta Stone clearly indicating
just where the graduates have been and where they are going, these players gather
together, together to march into the ceremonies where they shall become, so the
University’s president will pronounce, members of the company of educated men and

This is what every graduate has earned… and everyone has come to hear.  And
it is a marvelous thing, not just for those present but for the entire world, soon
to benefit from the skills, dedications, and hard work of this renewed company,
the company we all rely upon so much.

Think of these new members of this company today. They have much to accomplish
and many lives to touch and improve. We must all be glad they have such a day as
this to start them on their way, for they go forward for us all.

Musical note

Every commencement comes alive when the University’s fight song, “Ten
Thousand Men of Harvard”, written by A. Putnam (class of 1918) is played.
Listen and rejoice.


Howard Martell is the Owner of http://HomeProfitCoach.com/silver . Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.

donald trump insults germany. chancellor angela markel holds her nose and says US is no longer a reliable partner.


By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Dateline Berlin

Donald Trump’s offensive remarks to G-7 partners May 25th 2017 cause Chancellor Merkel to question the benefit of traditional alliances like NATO.

It’s time for the major European nations to take their affairs “in our own hands”, says Merkel. In other words the genie we worked so hard to contain is out of the bottle. Trump strikes again.

Here are the facts: 

So, Donald Trump has returned from Europe. He will be remembered for his bumptious antics and rudeness, traits which are epitomized by the fact that he shoved Milo Dukanovic, Prime Minister of Montenegro, to get to his place in the sun, that he knows is always his. Where is Montenegro anyway?

If there is an insulting, foolish, crude thing to be done, Donald Trump will do it… and not even know it. For here is a man so self-centered and arrogant that anyone else’s point of view is completely beside the point. As King Louis XV didn’t say “Apres moi le deluge”. Or in the immortal words of Alfred E Newman of “Mad Magazine”, “What me worry?”.

However, he should be worried. He has got one scandal after another already on his plate. Moreover there isn’t a politician in the Capitol or in Europe’s capitals who thinks that number will decrease. At which I say, “Thank God for Angela Merkel“ (born 1954). Throughout the events of her watch she has been underrated, undervalued, and underappreciated. No more so than now.

Mrs. Merkel understands that to be a German leader is always to have a special responsibility to the German people and the world, for after all, it was Germany, always Germany that caused the great world wars taking the lives of untold millions to prove in the end that “Deutschland über alles” was a cruel joke and that Deutschland needed a firm hand to keep her wayward demons under control.

From April 15th 1945 when Admiral Karl Doenitz surrendered the “Thousand year Nazi regime”, the United States and Europe worked together to make sure there would be no World War III. To this end the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949 and may be said to be the most important reason why Europe has not exploded in yet another of its endless destructive wars.

To make this situation work, the very name of Prussia (from which Germany evolved in 1870) was erased from the maps of the world. The map makers were hoping out of sight, out of mind. Thus the policy makers in Washington, London, and Paris worked hand in hand with the progressive German leaders of post Nazi Germany to keep the peace. They did it and succeeded right up to this very minute, one of the most significant achievements in the history of mankind.

Then onto the stage bumbles Donald John Trump, enjoying his midsummer night’s dream about places, people, and things he knows nothing about and never will. However this does not trouble him. No Indeed. His motto is” Lord what fools these mortals be”. For everywhere he goes he knows whatever he does, whatever he does, is right for by definition for after all a Trump can do no wrong. “Lord what fools these mortals be”.

Then something in Angela snapped, for she knows that she will have to pick up so many of the pieces of Trump’sfatuous regime. She will do it uncomplainingly (at least in public) because there is no one else to do it. The Trumps of this world are expert in one thing and one thing only, “Me!”. You are there for their gratification and for no other reason.

Such a person at such a time in the history of Europe could well cause major damage, criticizing as he does and seemingly without restraint. Every person and administration, that has had unfortunate duty to see must put the best gloss on the subject on what to do about the Donald and his almost laughably superficial ideas. Angela has taken the long view, she now running for her 4th term as Chancellor of Germany understands the truth of an old saying my father used to use so many times, “This too shall pass”.

Trump needs Europe, Europe doesn’t need Trump.

This is the problem. Because Angela Merkel is a statesman, she will get what she can get and make no fuss but people with the longer view even admiring Mrs. Merkel as they do are worried that Donald Trump has opened a fissure in the Grand Alliance. Given the malignant history of Germany from 1870 when the German empire was formed out of various German states, the Germans have been a rambunctious and dangerous element within Europe, anything that control and contains Germany is there for good, anything that allow Germany to set up an independent course makes all of Europe anxious.

Donald Trump’s behavior therefore is inexplicable, for he has cast a giant boulder at Germany and opened up a channel of menace with consequences unseen. Nationalist German demons may have been asleep since 1945, but they still exist with all that implies. Mrs. Merkel is just the kind of German leader the continent of Europe must have, cool; calm, not a touch of bombast, a woman you can do business with.

She believes that all problems can be solved without braggadocio or grandstanding. She knows that you can get more done, if you don’t take the credit; which is exactly why she has been so effective. This is why what is happening now is so significant. She now becomes the first head of state (with the possible exception of tiny Montenegro which will not abide being pushed around) to make it clear that Trump is irrelevant, unthinkable for the Great Republic whose standing in the world drips away every time Trump toots his horn.

But there is significant work to be done, and it must be done now. Angela Merkel and all the other nations of Europe are clear on the fact that they will never be able to work successfully with Donald Trump, a man with ants in his pants and an attention span measured in minutes. The agenda of problems to be solved is daunting, and what is necessary now is a joint concerted effort by virtue of size, wealth, and vision. The United States should be leading the ongoing negotiation with Europe in certain key areas including Russia, climate change, regional trade, and collective defense. However the Great Republic under Trump’s bumbling has left the leadership position to Germany and Mrs. Merkel.

Now this will only alarm those who feel the bones of German nationalism capable of rising again like doleful, dangerous artifacts from a “Harry Potter” film. Donald Trump by his unbelievably irresponsible behavior towards Mrs. Merkel and Germany in general has created a situation of menace that need not have occurred at all. Consider the following anecdote from the court of King Louis XVIII of France.

He had received his restored crown from the hands of Tsar Alexander the II of Russia. One evening he invited the Tsar for dinner. When the servants passed around the first dish, they ladled it on the Tsar’s plate. Louis, exploded with rage. “Me first!, “ Me first!”, he shouted thrusting his very hands into the dish.

Never mind that the Tsar had rescued his capital and made him a king again. And so it is with Trump and why wanton and pernicious remarks should never have been voiced even if true, much less because they are not. The peace of the world since 1945 has relied upon an unbroken chain of thoughtful statesmen particularly in Washington, and Berlin, these people, so many statesmen of high standing, have understood the importance of what they have done and congratulated themselves for being able to work together through good times and bad, through difficult political situations, and with a sincere, and thorough desire to maintain the Atlantic Alliance. What they have done, what they continue to do has resulted in better lives for millions of people. They are the beneficiaries, which include you and me.

Now Angela Merkel is called upon to perform the most difficult balancing trick of the century, she must keep the German people happy or at least sufficiently contented, to make sure the German nationalist do not gain power and prestige, and become a threat to stable government. She must work to keep the balance of nation in Europe particularly with Russia. She must find a way of working with the United Kingdom in a post Brexit situation. She must work on the big picture, never despairing, never complaining, never overwhelmed.

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies”. This is the value of Angela Merkel. But there is a terrible gnawing fear in all this. Without complete and total agreement on major issues between Germany and the Great Republic it is inevitable the differences will ensue.

Who can expect complete and total harmony? Even the best friends must endure periods of estrangements. Mrs. Merkel is now the most significant leader in Europe where it is not inconceivable to think of additional cracks in the Atlantic Alliance. Donald Trump has no idea what this Alliance was meant to do and why it is so significant, yes even for tiny Montenegro down by the Adriatic. Of Course NATO founded in year 1949, now may be in need of a shakeup. Success often produces lethargy, new blood, new ideas, new ways of doing things is necessary in all organizations, even marriage.

Donald Trump should have traveled to Brussels with a basket full of praise and determination and tangible benefits to know the G7 members better and understand their situation.

Then he should have called these leaders together to begin implementing a strengthened NATO. Mrs. Merkel would have helped him in that situation. When Berlin and Washington work together they can achieve anything. Sadly this did not occur. Instead Donald Trump gratuitously pummeled the Alliance to the extent Mrs. Merkel will no doubt find any means to avoid Donald Trump.

For she has taken the measure of this diminutive man and found it severely lacking. She has found in him no statesman, no visionary, no indefatigable seeking after a better Alliance, a better Europe, a better world.

Thus the President’s trip to Brussels will go down in history as a date of carelessness and unnecessary failure and insult. What will happen next? No one knows for sure. But Mrs. Merkel, Europe’s governess, keeps on doing her necessary work; everywhere willing to labor to achieve beneficial results, irked no doubt by the bumptious Mr. Trump but determined nonetheless.

She can work around him, doesn’t need to see him very often, and as always will go about her crucial work quietly, without flash or wild egotism; content to be what her great pre-decessor Prince Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) was, “The Pilot of Europe”. For this we say,“Gott mit dir” for the future of so many, depends on you.   

Howard Martell is the Owner of http://HomeProfitCoach.com/silver . Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.

My name is Friday. I’m a cop.’ What we must do to ensure our safety in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombers and other manifestations of ruthless terrorism. Some thoughts.


By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. We Americans are at our best when we have identified a pressing problem, then set about the task of solving it, no matter how difficult. Right now, the problem is terrorism… what it is, how it works, the people who perpetrate the outrages… and what we as a nation and as individuals and potential victims must do to ensure that they are stopped dead… and never be allowed to practice their malicious craft ever again, against anyone, anywhere.

You might think such a high and strenuous goal is just too difficult, indeed that it is beyond the capacities of mere mortals. But you’d be wrong. Terrorism is manmade and as such it can be minimized, curtailed, and through assiduous, unflagging effort wiped out by man. A man like Joe Friday.

“Just the facts, ma’am.”

Joe Friday is arguably the nation’s best known cop. He was created and played by American actor, television producer, and writer Jack Webb (1920-1982) on “Dragnet”. The series first ran on radio (1949-1956) and television (1951-1959) and again in 1967-1970. There was also a theatrical film (1954) and a TV-movie (1969).

Why was this show with its unmistakable opening of blunt words and blunter music so popular? Because it dealt with real people (“the names have been changed to protect the innocent”) and solved real crimes. Jack Webb was so perfect in his role that when he died in 1982 he was buried with full police honors, a rarity for someone who was not a policeman.

Friday was all about getting down to business, identifying problems, brainstorming solutions and using the incomparable Yankee brain power to defeat the wicked. He was thorough, indefatigable, high minded, and honest. In other words, he had what was required for success, including the absolutely necessary skill of being willing to grow, listen to others, and work together for the common good. He was never a show-off with a “hey, look at me” mentality.

This is the kind of person we need at the front lines of our great war against terrorism, for this unadulterated cruelty knows no barriers, no limits, and absolutely no humanity at all. It is the very definition of evil and must be treated as such. Its perpetrators are pernicious vermin, and deserve neither charity nor forgiveness, for they give none to anyone. Sadly, we are not yet fully equipped to deal with this mobile menace of ingenuity and increasing expertise and sophistication. And the extent to which we are disorganized, inefficient and disarranged is the very measure of our danger and risk.

“Russia alerted US repeatedly about suspect….”

The headline in The Boston Globe of Wednesday April 24, 2013 was sickening, alarming, enraging. Here’s why:

“Russian authorities contacted the US government with concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev not once but ‘multiple times,’ including an alert it sent after he was first investigated by FBI agents in Boston, raising new questions about whether the FBI should have paid more attention to the suspected Boston Marathon bomber…”

What’s worse, this is just the tip of the ice-berg on intelligence and overall communications break-downs. The agencies on which we spend billions and billions of dollars are, day by day, shown to resemble the Keystone Cops, to the extent that with the Boston Marathon case we may be seeing the development of the greatest intelligence failure and scandal in the entire history of the Great Republic. And remember this; when intelligence agencies fail, people die… regular ordinary people, including a disproportionate number of children and young people. Indeed the word “scandal” is not remotely satisfactory to label this botched mess showcasing one problem after another that makes them anything other than intelligent. This is a crisis of the first magnitude.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the Solons of the capital are and will be tripping over each other to identify and solve such problems; that is until something easier and less demanding arises. Thus, Solon or not, I have something to say on these matters. And Joe-Friday-like I intend to make my comments and recommendations, terse, pointed, and do-able.

“C’est la guerre.”

In 1953 a brilliant historian named Cecil Woodham-Smith wrote a brilliant book which ought to be required reading for anyone connected with the war business, which is a veritable army of people as General and President Dwight David Eisenhower once memorably reminded us. Its title is “The Reason Why” on the famous charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War (1853-1856) when the best cavalry on Earth rode directly into the unremitting and pitiless cannons of the Tsar. “C’est magnifique” said the French commander Pierre Bosquet, “mais c’est pas la guerre.”

It was one of the greatest blunders ever and it was the result of one communications and strategic error after another, as the bleeding remnants of this foul-up confirmed. When you run your “intelligence” departments this way, I remind you: people die.

War must be treated accordingly and never regarded as merely a job. That ensures error.

2) To establish in the minds of service personnel and citizens, the significance of their work give it a name, a name like World War III. Right now terrorism is regarded as a tragedy, to be sure, but one which is episodic, occasional and random; something perpetrated by highly efficient but small cells, mostly fighting under the leadership of extreme (and therefore limited) religious leaders and zealots.

Instead, it needs to be recognized that each supra-national cell regards itself as a sovereign power, not just a faction. Thus, as with the Axis powers in World War II, people with quite different points of view and objectives band together for the sake of victory. Pseudo-sovereigns they may be, yet they ally as nations do, future problems to be resolved later. Thus, to find a single terrorist is to find a useful link to still others. Since these alliances are forever shifting due to constantly changing circumstances, when we discover such links and the people who create and profit from them, we must move swiftly to eradicate the menace, for to wait is to hand them an unnecessary advantage… and thus our people die.

3) Share intelligence, fully and promptly. A war, any war, is far more important than any of the hundreds of thousands of agencies, organizations and personnel it takes to gain victory. Sadly, you’d never know it from the unending “turf wars” waged by bureaucrats and officials who are supposed to be on the same side and work together for the common good.

The Boston Marathon case is a perfect example of what happens when information is hoarded, rather than shared. After having stolen two cars, the suspect Tsarnaev brothers seized the driver of one. They unaccountably let him go but kept his cell phone. When the police “pinged” that cell they got the direct bearings of one, and therefore inadvertently, the two get-away cars. Had this godsend not occurred the brothers might well have slipped out of Massachusetts. Authorities now believe that iconic Times Square in midtown Manhattan was their next target.

The consequences of an incident there defy imagination. It is now clear that lack of sharing information gave the brothers their opportunity to outrage… and that this failure might not have occurred had the sharing of pertinent details been the rule, rather than the exception. When that is the case, innocent people, in the wrong place at the wrong time, die.

4) Unified intelligence. Right now, when coherence, centralization and efficiency of intelligence should be the objective, there are at least five “watch” lists, competing, overlapping, duplicating. These five include Terrorism Identification Datamark Environment (TIDE); Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB); Selectee List; No-Fly List and Disposition Matrix. Each has its own criteria for getting on or getting off a given list. Thus the anomaly arises that a suspect may be on one list, but not on another.

This was the case with Tamerlan Tsarmaev… and as a result people died. Experts must find a way to solve this problem, but I can give them a suggestion to start. Don’t allow self-interested bureaucrats to persuade you that their department is necessary and that their list and information should be kept for them. Instead come up with what should be on ONE list and arrange matters accordingly.

5) Test the system. Then re-test. Every human system and enterprise is subject to human error and so is this one. Only here there is this major difference: when errors occur, people die. That is why there must be constant, thorough and thoughtful testing of every aspect of this system. There must be no “sacred cows”, but only people who need cutting-edge tools and intelligence and are willing to do the necessary to get them… for you see when our side offers responses which are sluggish, outmoded and inadequate, people die. Thus, we must test, review test results, and improve. There must be no question about this, and no one’s interests must be allowed to trump the ongoing training and perfecting.

Last Words… for now.

As a citizen of Cambridge, Massachusetts I watched in horror and disbelief as these events took place in my very neighborhood. It is not too much to say that they changed me forever. Thus, I tell you this. In World War II and our other conventional wars, we could mark victories and defeats with pins on a map. “Roumania allies with Axis,” then “Roumania surrenders.” You knew where you were and what was happening.

That is not the case with terrorists.

When the discussion focuses on terrorism, the focus must be on what hasn’t happened. It is not just that such silence is golden but that with each day that goes by we are successfully meeting the unending challenge of terrorism and the villains who use it to humiliate, humble, frighten, and cow us. To keep outrages to the absolute minimum we must understand that this war has no end, no boundaries, no flags flying marching garlanded through the streets of even the smallest hamlet. No indeed. This war demands constant, unflagging effort. Otherwise, good people will die and our great national purposes be obliterated and defeated by a few… to the lasting detriment of the many. That is why defeat in this war of stealth and subterfuge is unthinkable and why we must work together Joe Friday-like, for only therein is victory and the peaceful and harmonious life we all want so very much but can so easily lose in an instant, mayhem we might have stopped… but didn’t.

Howard Martell is the Owner of http://HomeProfitCoach.com/silver . Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.

“Green grow the lilacs, all sparkling with dew.” Haunting, evocative, elegiac, the lilacs return to Brattle St… Cambridge, May 7, 2011.


by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

I was out early today. Even before dawn’s first light, I was up and about and soon on my mission… to find the first bunches of lilac, and drink in their unmistakable scent with the pristine dew.

What passersby (not too numerous so early) must have thought to see the flowers held against my face, though gently so as not to crush them, I cannot say. I did not care. The lilacs that I love to excess have returned to Cambridge… and with them every memory of this most evocative of flowers and their flagrant, haunting fragrance.

Beloved of Russian empresses…

One day the great Empress Catherine of all the Russias (1762-1796) went walking in her garden of Tsarskoe Selo and found a branch of lilacs, so perfect she was sure it would be picked to amplify the bouquet of some lovelorn lad to his much desired lady… so she stationed a soldier next to this lovely branch. In 1917, a soldier was still stationed where the plant no longer flowered or even existed. But then Tsar Nicholas II wasn’t surprised… for his wife Alexandra, called “Sunny”, loved lilacs to distraction, too… and created a room in the most palatial of palaces where everything was in a shade of lilac. It became, in due course, the most famous room of the empire…

My grandmother Victoria had this same tendresse for her much loved and coddled lilacs. She craved their scent and their colors, too, in every shade of purple… heliotrope, mauve, violet, lavender, puce, and all the other variations. Even my grandmother’s perfume, Muguet de Bois by Coty (launched 1941) featured lilac… and  lily-of-the valley. Proust-like, that scent brings her back… as does my mother’s Chanel. Lilac is like that. It will not be denied and can never be resisted.

And now the lilacs are in rampant bloom along Tory Row on Brattle Street, breathtaking, sensual, glorious. The Loyalists would have remembered them for all the rest of their long lives; the merest hint of their scent would trigger the painful memories that come with unending exile.

A few facts about lilacs.

You may be surprised to learn (I was) that syringa (lilac) is a genus of about 20 to 25 species of flowering woody plants in the olive family (Oleaceae) native to woodland and scrub from southeastern Europe to eastern Asia.

They are deciduous shrubs or small trees, ranging in size from 2 to 10 meters (6 feet 7 inches to 32 feet 10 inches) tall, with stems up to 20 to 30 centimeters (7.9 to 12 inches) in diameter.

The leaves are opposite (occasionally in whorls of three) in arrangement, and their shape is simple and heart-shaped.

The flowers are produced in spring and are bisexual, with fertile stamens and stigma in each flower. The usual flower color is a shade of purple (generally a light purple or lilac), but white, pale yellow and pink, even a dark burgundy color are known. Flowering varies between mid spring to early summer, depending on the species.

The fruit is a dry, brown capsule, splitting in two at maturity to release the two winged seeds that have within them everything that produces the lustrous magnanimity of the lilac and commands your eye and reverence.

The poets irresistible attraction to and understanding of lilacs.

Poets, including many notable poets, saw lilacs and wished, in words, to produce the lyric quality of their scent. The scent, the unforgettable scent, swept them away. It was exuberant, excessive, a warning to the dangers of immersion in a thing so powerful, so rich, so cloying; a thing that draws you away from the little duties and miseries of life and whispers of pleasures you want beyond reason. Too much of this unalloyed richness gives way to madness… and exultation.

Amy Lowell (1874-1925) knew the potency of lilacs. She wrote

“Your great puffs of flowers
Are everywhere in this my New England…
Lilacs in dooryards
Holding quiet conversations with an early moon;
Lilacs watching a deserted house
Settling sideways into the grass of an old road;
Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom….”

And then….

“You are everywhere.
You were everywhere.”

Lilacs know their power and seduce you with it, every wind wafting the scent into your brain and memory. They offer you the same terms that a beautiful woman offers the man distracted by her — none at all, just surrender. Lilacs are the sorceress of blooms, enchanting, elusive, sharing their magic for an instant… leaving you longing for what you fear you will never have again.

The flower of elegy, mourning, decay, death.

Lilacs are the flower of remembrance. After the fall of Tsar Nicholas II and the entire structure of tsardom, the ex-emperor and his wife Alexandra found themselves prisoners of the new regime, forbidden even to walk in the magnificent park at Tsarskoe Selo. Alexandra looked out upon an ocean of lilac, once hers, now as distant as the moon. Her haunted look, beyond mere dismay, touched the heart of a simple soldier. He gave her a sprig. His officer saw this as “fraternizing with the enemy” and had him shot.

Amy Lowell, too, saw lilac as an accoutrement of death.

“The dead fed you
Amid the slant stones of graveyards.
Pale ghosts who planted you
Came in the nighttime
and let their thin hair blow through your clustered stems.”

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) also knew the immemorial association between lilacs and death, and he gave us the simple words that bespoke the greatest tragedy:

“When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.”

He picked a sprig of lilac and thought of the passing into eternity of Abraham Lincoln, “Night and day journeys a coffin.” It is unbearably painful for him, only the simple words – and the lilac — with its promise to return — giving solace, for that is within the power of the lilac, too, which Whitman knew and relied on:

“Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes,
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
For you and the coffins all of you O death.”

But this cannot be the last word on lilacs, not this.

Think instead of Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play “Green Grow the Lilacs”, the basis for the libretto of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma,” a musical about real people and their real concerns. They brought lilac seeds with them to beautiful their often difficult lives because they couldn’t bear the thought of life without its beauty, comfort and serenity. And I cannot either.

Howard Martell is the Owner of http://HomeProfitCoach.com/silver . Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.