Author Archive

THE VALUE OF MONEY   4 comments

Yes, I love my Movado, but the point I wanted to make a couple of blogs ago was the wild discrepancy in the meaning of money. For example, today on the consignment web there was a “Chloe small toss shoulder bag” available for $1,195.00. Or you might have preferred the “Balenciaga neoclassic city mini bag” in pink for $1,645.00 (estimated retail value $1850.00.)

Do I need to point out what either of those amounts would have meant to a family about to be evicted?

That’s all. More thoughts tomorrow.

Posted October 2, 2021 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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James Robert Kane, “No Escape: Long Journey Back from Nam”   3 comments

I just finished reading these 123 pages. A small package of powerful words, quick to read, but long in the impact. This book should receive so much more attention than it has. In well-designed powerful writing the author sends the chill of terror as men fight a war they didn’t ask for and don’t understand. If only more of us were exposed to the horror and its aftermath how different our choices might be! Yes, it’s mostly fiction, but, based on the author’s time in drafted service, it is also powerful reality, including the ravages of the PTSD experience. If you have the courage to experience the message in a short period of time, then you must read this novel.


Several years ago I saved up enough to buy myself a Movado watch at their store in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was a simple classic design as they made them at that time. Mostly black, of course, and I loved it. So much that I had it with me on a cruise. I can’t even remember which cruise it was, though I do know it was the Holland America line because every evening before bedtime I’d enjoy a visit to the steam room, the whirlpool bath, and a rest on the heated recliner. When I returned to my cabin at closing time and readied for bed, I remembered I had put my Movado into the pocket of the terrycloth robe they provided in the ladies’ locker room — the robe I had left hanging there. No need for further detail. I never did recover the watch. Maybe – I hope – someone checked the pockets, found it, and enjoyed it over the years. More likely it went into the ocean with the laundry water. At any rate, it was gone and I grieved it. I thought of buying another one, but by that time watches had gone all big and fancy. On occasion I’d check, with no good result, to see if one was for sale somewhere until I finally gave up. I have two other watches that family gifted me hoping they’d replace the Movado. They did replace it on my wrist, but not in my heart.

Then one day a few weeks ago I woke up thinking of the watch, headed straight to Google and there it was. A used one for sale at a price I could afford. ($135.00). I am so enjoying my “new” Movado, but that’s not why I’m telling you this story. It turns out the sale site was a kind of consignment shop for the 1%. The RealReal. I now get daily emails with the current offers – clothes, shoes, bric-a-brac and other etceteras. Not everything is out of range, but, for example, you could buy a Louis Vuiton vanity case for $1495.00, or Chanel boots for $1295.00. Or there are Gucci sneakers at $595.00. Today there weren’t many handbags offered, but they are often available $1000.00 plus.

That’s why I’m writing this blog, to make real the difference between the two (or more) Americas. I don’t know how to say it, how the languages of money are as different and difficult to comprehend as the difference between spoken languages, with all the errors of understanding that follow – a lesson in social distance.

There you have it – my Movado watch observations.


If I like a book, I want to share it. and I enjoyed reading this one.

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters

Basically a “how to” book, I read it as our local social justice group worked on firming up its method of conducting meetings. As it turned out we chose to follow The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair by Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea as more appropriate to our needs. But I enjoyed The Art of Gathering for a few reasons. First, it is well and interestingly written, second, it had suggestions that would have been fun to follow in the days when I still gathered larger – or even smaller – groups such as informal dinner parties or even therapy groups. But mostly it turned my memory back to my days as professor and workshop leader. How neat it would be to go back and do some of those classes and presentations utilizing some of this book’s suggestions. It comes as a surprise to me, but I feel free to recommend it as a good read for anyone who deals in any way with structuring groups for business, professional or personal social needs. That, I think, includes almost anyone who interacts with other people.



REVIEW: Christina Baldwin & Ann Linnea, The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair.   2 comments

I just reviewed this book on Goodreads and Amazon

 I suspect I’ve read this book with a different eye based on the fact that I spent a whole semester studying groups way back in the late 50’s (1950s that is) in my PhD program at Boston University. I was an academic then, reading and practicing with an analytic eye. Now I am warmly appreciative of this living, organic approach, so detailed in its coverage and yet so versatile in its application. I’m anxious to see what our social justice group does with it as we leave Zoom mode and move into circle mode. (Though Zoom might be said to encourage much about circle.)

It’s not a book to be read like a novel just for the fun of it. It is a book with wide application to respect for process and respect for each other.

Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds. Theme: the present. Location: the past   4 comments

An excellent novel makes one think, and think I did as I read this one. The story covers the early period of my life – the great depression. and how different My Father’s House was from what Elsa and her family experienced. While my mother fed the hoboes who came in from the street, and the town provided some part-time jobs for them, Elsa encountered cruel mistreatment from the “good” people who defined the sufferers as lazy, dirty, illness purveyors ruining the economy of their small town. One suspects that the “good” people of my town would have been no kinder had the number of migrants been larger. In my innocent, fortunate childhood I experienced no destruction of Hooverville’s, the temporary “homes” of the dispossessed. But I can’t fail to see the same things happening today in only slightly different circumstances

Enough of what the story activated in my private awareness. What about the writing. This is a long novel, as so many are recently. And I wondered whether, if I’d been an editor, I would have recommended eliminating some of the “unnecessary” detail. Why so many words to convey the basic impression of land and dreams literally blown away in the wind, of lives lived in day-to-day misery, of friendships and kindnesses, of familial love buried in the rules of propriety, of gender restrictions. By the end of the book, I realized how important all the details were as I experienced the frustration of day after day of hope followed by disaster – of disaster followed by hope. I felt the frustration, the suppressed anger, the cruelty, the love.

And, to return to my original point. To recognize that this is the story of today, wearing different details, but still the same.

I confess it took me a bit to get caught up in the story, but once I did I couldn’t put it down. That’s what I don’t like about a good novel. It interferes with my sleep. But I thank Kristin Hannah for the experience. Obviously this is a book many have read and recommended. Now I’m joining the parade.


My really sharp and clever web creator/improver, Hugh Gower of Nimbus studios, just added a link on my web site,, that will take you to excerpts from the two recent articles about my books. Just click on the photo of “My Father’s House” and you’ll find it.

And you’ll find Hugh at 877-870-0412 or

Remember, reviews of my books are always treasured, both on amazon and right there on my web site.


I’m thrilled to provide a link to this great article The Bristol Press did about My Father’s House. That’s my home town paper where I grew up in Forestville/Bristol Connecticut. The only problem is they included my full name as author, but the only way to find it is via Mona Gustafson — period. Swedish, you know.

The Bristol Press – Forestville native pens book about what life was like in the city from 1910 through the 1970s



Georgia Hunter, We Were the Lucky Ones

I knew when our book club chose this book that it was highly rated, and in the end I agreed. But for much of the book I found it difficult to “feel” the individual characters. Maybe because the story being “reported” was true. By the end, however, I realized that the main character had been given great and empathetic depth, because the main character was the family. I confess I also had difficulty with the style of going back and forth from one character/family member to the other with time passage being the thread. But as an author I couldn’t imagine any other way to do it.

The experiences were cruel, the evil unbelievable and yet real, and the courage and creativity amazing. What held me tightest, however, was the feeling that the book was not just a record of terrible events in the past, but a call to be aware of present dangers. I’ll try to explain what I mean by referring to some of my own history. I was 11 years old – almost twelve — when the United States entered the war in 1941. And what was I doing as it progressed? Sitting on the front lawn with my best friend — eating chocolate, drinking coke, and watching the boys go by. Oh yes, there were other things like flattening empty aluminum cans, drawing the black shades at night, counting ration coupons, watching Time Newsreel at the movies, worrying about my brother and brother-in-law serving overseas. But mostly I was living in a nice, safe world of school, dances, and dates. What a contrast to the experiences of the author’s family! 

Then in 1951, as a recent college graduate, I traveled with the National Student Association on a tour to Europe: Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, England, Holland, and Belgium. How very fortunate I was, but that’s not the point. I really liked everyone I met. We walked past bombed out buildings, piles of rubble, stores built up out of nothing on busy corners, cigarettes 60 cents apiece compared to our American 20 cent packs. But I liked the people. And that’s what alerts me. It was good people who let the horrors happen. And how gradually the family in the story realized the danger they were in. How improbable it seems that good neighbors could become the enemy. But they did. And then there was the student guide in Germany who said, “This will come to your country someday.” The caution was there.

In 1955 I was back in Europe, this time visiting one of the extermination camps with its photos of local people “surprised” at what had been going on in their back yard. Good people who saw only what they wanted to see. You don’t need to be a psychologist to know that’s what people do – see what they expect and want to see and don’t let the rest in. 

I’ve been back to Europe a few times since. As is true of anywhere I travel, even in my own back yard, I like the people. They are good people, just like the good people who let the horrors happen that threatened and terrified the family in “We Were the Lucky Ones.” I can’t read that book only as a piece of awful history. I can’t help but see it as a powerful caution.  

I’m glad I read it. The book deserves all the accolades it has received. And I’ll continue to be aware that it was human beings – many of whom went home after their “work” to loving, welcoming families – who perpetrated the evils. To that extent it is contemporary. We are the good ones. Maybe it’s important to think about that. We Were the Lucky Ones is more than history, more than sympathy for what was, more than rejoicing with the surviving family. To me it is a call to vigilance.

Posted July 5, 2021 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

Auto Draft   6 comments



This morning I woke up in a comfortable bed in a pleasant, clean room, all at just the right temperature for my comfort. My first stop was a nice clean bathroom with a toilet that flushed and water that ran in the sink — both hot and cold based on my choice. I plugged my cell phone into the outlet on the wall and electricity came through to power it.

Then I went to the kitchen to fill a pan with water from the sink faucet which ran both hot and cold. I placed the pan on the stove and turned a knob which caused the heat to start. From the refrigerator I took an egg, preserved at just the right temperature and put it in the pot.  Three minutes after it had come to a boil I ran the pot under cold water until I could retrieve the egg and continue cooling it, after which  I removed the shell and placed it in a clean dish to put on the table  along with a small bowl of blueberries that had been preserved in the freezer until removal to the refrigerator yesterday. In my microwave I warmed a cup of coffee and sat down at a comfortable table to eat it.

And that’s this morning’s news. Grateful? Indeed! and sad that a huge percentage of people in the world can’t have the same experience. Am I wrong to wish we were working toward a world where everyone could enjoy such a morning?



Posted July 4, 2021 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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