Category Archives: December 2013

150 Words, or Less – Take This Personally

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The pleas for “social distancing” have me puzzled.  Such a strategy sounds more like advice for young teens with racing hormones than a public health necessity.  I find little about the current pandemic precautions to be social in any way.  To me, a call for “personal distancing” is more suitable advice.

Social drinking, along with pot lucks, bridge parties and birthday celebrations are what I consider entertaining contact with others. A deadly virus not so much. And yet, people in my own community continue to gather on porches, in garages and on their decks to socialize – thinking, I assume, that being outside is a “no-virus bubble.”  Furthermore, large delegations of family and friends still march in tandem though big box grocery stores, checking out the bargain bins and gathering up the necessary allotment of beef jerky and toilet tissue.

This is not a party, folks. Take this personally. Stay home!

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For those who plan to attend the 2020 Easter service at your place of worship…

Our leader, who art a heathen,
Hollow be thy fame.
Although you won.
We know how come.
Ask Putin,
To whom you’re cleavin’.
Give us today, no view of your head,
And quit with all the texts,
And let Fauci do his best.
And lead us not into annihilation,
By continuing your drivel.
For the world is not your kingdom,
As you sour in false glory,
Shut your mouth, sir.
Amen

 


 

150 Words or Less – Mr. Haig..where are you?

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We’ve all seen and heard how Covid-19 is the most dangerous to the older crowd.  Seniors are advised to stay in. Nursing homes and assisted living centers are closed to non essential visitors. Old is the new threatened. Given that the scientists are expecting the rest of the world to follow the course of Italy and Spain, who’s to say the world’s population won’t shrink from the top down?

Because rank and priviledge won’t spare the vulnerable, should we lose key world leaders, what will ensue? Kim Jon Un is 37.  Macron and Trudeau are in their 40’s. UK Boris and Kavanaugh are 55. Merkel and Xi Jin Ping squeak under at 65 and 66 respectively. Everyone else is as old as dirt.  Should our world leaders become incapacitated, or worse, what kind of chaos will their absence create? Who will be in charge?

Do the math. Wash your hands. This stuff is real.

 

 

 

Rockin’ that Belt

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Back in the dark ages of the 1950s, 5th grade brought new responsibilities. Readying us to go out into the world, teachers assigned tasks. No refusals accepted. It was then that I found myself perched on the curb of authority. Literally. Swaddled in an oversized yellow belt, I was charged with the safety of our school mates every Thursday as I led them from the “Dome” and across to the Fourth Avenue sidewalk.  No lights, no signs – just my short, outstretched arms and the hope that my face could be seen over the front of the Chevys and Packards that waited in line for a few of the non-walkers.  It was not my favorite job. And I don’t think I was very good at it.

Which brings me to this morning’s responsibility. I’m here in Wisconsin for a few days and chauffeured my grandkids to school.  It’s cold and very snowy here.  Snow, cheese and the Packers never disappoint. Huge piles of snow line the streets while rows of cars and buses vie for an opening into the various entrances.  There is no such thing as a left turn before or after school.  And not a Packard in sight. The lean, attractive woman who controlled the flow of traffic smiled as she waved us along. Our eyes locked, and she knew. Kindred spirits? Soul mates?  Illinois plates? No problem.  “She’s wearing my belt” I  said to myself. Then, I saw her nod in my direction. In the midst of all the commotion, she quietly, but decisively, led a group of warmly jacketed children from the curb and across to safety. She looked like she enjoyed her job. And I bet she was good at it, too. A successful drop off and one more wave, and I was on my way home. Secretly so glad that she, not I, was doing that job.

150 Words, or Less #3 – Name That Tune.

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Today is January 28, 2020.  UNICEF estimates that 353,000 babies will be born around the world before tomorrow dawns.  If it’s your birthday you are in good company with a few of the greats.  Johann Ernst Bach for one.  Johann Sebastian was his twin. Guess you could say they were born Bach to Bach.  Sorry about that.  And African explorer Henry Morton Stanley, who led the search for Dr. Livingston, and discovered the Nile as a bonus. The illegitimate son of Elizabeth Parry, he went by his father’s name (whom he never met) as Henry Rowlands until he emigrated to America, where he went to work for Henry Stanley, taking his name as a gesture of gratitude.  He fought for both sides in the Civil War, ending up in the Union navy where his love of adventure flourished. Expeditions to the Ottoman empire, the Congo and beyond followed. Happy birthday wishes, I presume.

150 Words, or Less – Up in Smoke

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I grew up in a cloud. Back in the 1950’s and 60’s, everybody smoked. Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors – even the minister, inhaled. I doubt if I ever saw anything clearly – and I’m certain that I always smelled like a Winston.  Tobacco ruled. Fancy cigarette boxes, lighters shaped like large chess pieces and oddly molded ash trays were prized possessions.  There was no escaping it. Everyone on television smoked. Everyone in the movies smoked. Cowboys in white hats, black hats, jeeps and saloons all lit up the “tobaccy” as they tamed the wild west. Danny Thomas, Donna Reed, Jack Parr – you name it. Smoke was there. Bogey’s Casablanca was awash in it, adding to its intrigue with a magical, swirling haze.

It’s always been a right of passage for young people. I missed that voyage, having never tried it. I’m lucky I guess. Quitting looks really hard. Ask Bogey.

 

 

 

150 Words, or Less

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The practice of texting and twittering has quickly replaced what is now considered “old fashioned” emailing.  Sadly, a message sent by pen and paper is now relegated to the attic – dusty, remote and antiquated.  Time, and type, both march on my friends. Handwritten correspondence has been obsolescing since man first etched a figure on a cave wall. Those clumsy hieroglyphics didn’t last long – who can spell hieroglyphics without a dictionary anyway?  But the move from cave wall to tree bark to parchment to the Gutenberg press sped up the ability to transmit our thoughts. And now, in an instant, we can express love with a tiny heart (in any color) and fling an insult with the popular poop emoji (it smiles). Seems hieroglyphics have resurfaced. And now grammar and punctuation is the new clumsy. That’s a topic for another time. Or type. Stay tuned.  And write your mother. In cursive.

Pretty Boy’s Bridge

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I see a lot of posts, cards, books and thoughts on The Rainbow Bridge.  The place pets cross when they leave the earth.  Not being a religious person, I don’t see a heaven or hell as an option, but thinking that pets have a special place is appealing. After all, they are a lot more advanced than we humans. Seriously, their motive in life is survival. Not to cheat, kill, maim or ruin the environment for fun. They don’t start wars, pollute the earth, promote fracking, support the oil and pharmaceutical lobbies or vote against their own best interests.  So, a nice place to live, once they leave this earth, is probably more than fair.

There certainly is no shortage of pets. The industry is huge. Designer dogs and cats show up on my Facebook page every day, all decked out in fancy coats with fancy price tags. Ads for pedigree pups and kittens fill up half the page in the larger papers. Cute and expensive, they pose for the camera on pretty pillows, while their owners hope for a sale. No sale? Well, an early run across that bridge I fear.  In comparison, the shelter dogs and cats pose in cages, often with their noses pressed through the bars. They hope for a pat on the head, a kind word and a stable owner. They, too, face the possibility of seeing that bridge if they go unselected.  I wonder sometimes if it’s a four-lane.  It must be a busy place.

And then there are the pets that live with me.  Nothing fancy.  Just furry. Every single one was either a gift, or a squatter. That is, they showed up, and they stayed.  It was a simple as that.  I had no choice. Each with their own back story and a unique personality.  There was Festus, the lop eared schnauzer (and the only dog) who ran like the wind on three legs after my son.  Having failed as a farm dog, he enjoyed being a city pup, but not a a fan of the bath – or the mailman. Ginger, the crabby cat who loved the centers of pumpkin pies and my daughter was a tortie with attitude. She had belonged to a couple whose new apartment building wouldn’t allow pets.  So, she allowed us to adopt her. Kevin, the golden haired tom who was long on beauty, but short on brains, moved around with me several times.  His previous owner liked to enjoy a bit of reefer, and I think Kevin may have inhaled a bit too much second hand smoke.  He stared into space much of the time.

Virginia Inez, who arrived from New York searching for a new home to take over found Kevin an easy target  and was clearly the reincarnation of a woman I cared for (and loved dearly) as a nurse.  She was intrusive, nosey, noisy and limped – just like her name sake. A great cat. I still miss her. Chloe, the gorgeous long haired tortie who came with Larry would stare me down if I dared to sit next to him on the sofa. She also tried her best to bite my toes whenever I went to bed. She was by far the most beautiful cat I ever had. But she would not let me pick her up and petting her was risky.  Terrible waste of feline fur.  Then came our two-some.  Handsome, a loveable orange long hair and Pretty Boy, who got me to blogging today.   Most recently, Taco Tommy a/k/a Norman arrived here with a chubby kitten’s body and plenty of purrs, acting as though he owned the place. And, he did.  Looking at his orange hair and watching him play, we can’t help but think that Handsome may have sent him to us.  Maybe this bridge has two lanes…

Now, more about that two-some.  Handsome was left behind when the neighbors moved out – around twenty years ago.  He was a big, fluffy guy whose grooming abilities were lacking.  I suspect he was separated too early from his mother and never got the washing of the fur lesson.  He would mat up quickly and the groomers would have to shave various parts of him on a regular basis. It embarrassed him, I know. But dreadlocks on a cat are not a good thing.  He was a lover and would purr at the first stroke. Pretty Boy, or PB, came to us at about a year after Handsome moved in. At the time, PB was sporting a pink flea collar and a number of cuts and bumps – most likely due to the neighborhood bully cats making fun of his effeminate attire. He as not yet full grown – still a teen by cat adolescent standards. That was nineteen years ago.  He was a talker, much like his predecessor, Virginia. Both were sleek dark haired beauties. Neither had any use for dogs or catnip. I think they may have been connected somehow.

Larry, the official cat whisperer, was the first to feed them, which, of course to cats, is paramount to a binding rental agreement, with all manner of amenities such as veterinarian care, primo nutrition, a heated cat condo in the garage and plenty of pets and fuzzy toys.  They took to their new home quite nicely, staking out their own leaf pile nests next to the house, as well as the sunny spots on the deck. Each had their own food dish, but preferred to move between the two, taking turns at each bowl, lest one of them contain more than the other.  They tolerated each other, but roamed the yard separately most of the time.

On occasion they would team up and bring us “gifts.”  We would find the remains of what appeared to be a rabbit near the back door, with Pretty Boy looking proud, and Handsome appearing confused (a not uncommon look for him).  Other times, we’d find some squirrel parts and a mouse carcass or two on the deck. And fleas. But those we could handle, thanks to Dr. Stevens, their personal and always attentive veterinarian. We made many a trip there, with each cat wrapped in a towel. Cat carriers were not an option. Pretty Boy, the usual “tough guy” would object loudly and frequently during the entire trip and throughout the visit, while Handsome would utter a few weak “meows” while enroute.  There, they received the necessary “surgery” that male cats should have, various antibiotics for infections, medications for worms and the usual shots and such to keep them safe. Which brings me back to this bridge idea.

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do. No medicine will work. An aging feline body just doesn’t last. So, you make the decision. Having to put an animal down is not an easy task.  Especially when they snuggle close to you when you pick them up for that last ride.  Or, maybe they know and are grateful. Maybe. I hope so. Because today was one of those days that pet owners dread. But it’s something we must do.  I remember each one. I remember their quirks and what made them special. I remember the ones I was able to pet and talk to until they were gone.  I wonder if they ever looked back once they started across that bridge. If so, I hope they were happy.

Pretty Boy

 

Politics in the Time of Cholera

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There are few, if any, news programs, columns, cartoons, T-shirts or ball caps that don’t offer a political comment or reference to the state of the country.  Talking heads on every channel deliver an ongoing stream of why and why not, arguing for or against the latest tweet, arrest, subpoena, rumor or photo opportunity.  In between, the continued diatribe are the political ads, selling their product and warning us of the dangers coming from the other side. The late night talk show hosts, who have long been a welcome respite from the daily grind of political jabber are finding it hard to stay fresh.  As the government scenario continues – ever more ridiculous and rude, their writers scramble to be more clever than the day before.

Those on the Right have chosen an outspoken game show host as their champion. They look to him to free them from the chains of bureaucratic tethers, keep the poor and needy out of their back yards and their wallets, and return America to the good old days when Ozzie and Harriett were the gold standard, and the gold standard was secure.  The Right has no room for those who are not straight, white or patriarchal.  To them, the melting pot is meant for fondue. Gays and transgendered should be in institutions; not in our schools, or in families, or in government.  Schools should be full of Bibles instead of accurately portrayed history books, creationism theories rather than proven science – and segregated into charter and other private schools – all paid for with tax dollars. Public schools must follow suit, but with far fewer dollars and shut away in urban areas where “those” students belong.  Brown v Board has been moved into the janitor’s closet.

All political parties run on fear. For the Right, it’s fear of becoming brown, or black, or of having to share the same doctor’s office with those on the lower end of the social spectrum.  Although the majority of those on “welfare” are white, those with more melanin are always suspect.  Keeping America white is their mantle – even as they embrace their scriptures, sing their anthems and genuflect. Keeping America male is as important as keeping it white.  Women are not to rule.  They are to reproduce.  To consider the possibility of a woman President is totally unacceptable.  Even if it’s couched with “I’d be okay with a woman – just not THAT one” it’s clear that females need not apply.

The Right side of the political divide also runs on loyalty.  Loyalty to the office.  Loyalty to the status quo. Loyalty to what works for them.  Right now it’s excusing a POTUS who is morally bankrupt, laws that continue to discriminate against women and other minorities and changes that leave our environment under attack.  Even the “Me, too” movement creates the question of what men are to do now.  How unfair that this is affecting the way men have to work, and play and behave overall.  Ozzie and Harriet made a television career on the premise of “boys will be boys” and that still permeates through most of America.

Then, there’s the Left.  Who they have chosen to save us is still in flex.  What the Left fears is vulnerability. Feeling as though they are the champions of all that is unfair, they do make an attempt to right those wrongs.  Those attempts aren’t always as courageous or organized as perhaps they could be (I’m being nice here).  The liberals of late seem to spend a lot of time and energy arguing and fighting over who will lead and how they will enact and maintain their yet-to-be determined platform.

The Left always fears their base.  A base that is as vulnerable as it is diverse. While the Left promotes the rights of union and non-union workers, those same employees will jump ship if they think new rules, true or not, will affect their jobs.  They want more affordable health care, but are slow to change what they have, no matter how expensive, if there’s a remote possibility that they will have to share in the cost later on.  They want clean air and water, but that means changing how they fuel their cars and heat their homes.  While that might cost more initially, looking at the long term benefits is scary. Predictable costs are less so.

They want safe streets and schools, but they fight any mention of gun control.  There was a huge outcry over the last president’s views on guns from all sides, as he was expected to take them all away.  Interestingly, that never happened.  Any change to the Second Amendment brings out panic in the streets, even though the majority of Americans just want sensible laws.  Mentioning how US gun deaths exceed those of other countries by leaps and bounds makes no difference.  As with the Right, the Left fears change as well.  Apparently active shooter drills in Kindergarten isn’t seen as change. Rather, let’s arm the school cooks.

The current Left reminds me of a composite of Nero, the Keystone Kops and Glenda, the Good Witch.  They are too busy infighting, wasting time on a Mueller like impeachment inquiry and platitudes to set an agenda.  Good ideas, good people, but no plan.  That we have so many on the stage, vying for the party leaders to swivel around on their chairs and press the buzzer, is very disturbing.  Seems as though game shows are the elections of the future.  As women’s access to birth control, reproductive choices, mammograms and pap tests diminishes, so does the outcry.  As the environment erodes and lobbyists purchase Senators, where is the Left?  If, indeed, there is reason to think our current administration is corrupt, why is a useable conclusion taking so long? I wonder, quite often, what the Nixon daughters must think.

Disclaimer here: I have been a Democrat since the early 1970’s.  As one of those cookie munching, tree hugging lib-tards that garner so much flack from the other side, I have great difficulty with those who support the current man in the Whitehouse, and any of his minions. But I find myself saying that some days, being on the Left is more than frustrating. Not enough to leave the party, but more than enough to take it to task when I feel it needs a “whack.”  Loyal as an Alt-Right Republican I am…

We didn’t get where we are overnight.  And much of what we see now has been in place since our founders snubbed their noses at King George.  Racism, sexism, religious interference – a Civil War and hindered voting.  Much of it was diluted, for awhile. But these things are as American as the proverbial pie. However, now it’s exploded, and it’s not pretty.  Oozing out like lava, our transgressions are showing. We clearly are a divided nation.  And not for the first time. Holding hands and attempting to listen isn’t working.  It never has. Polarized as we are, it’s hard to see us sharing ideas, let alone tax dollars.  If the tall one was correct, a nation divided pretty much screws itself.  I feel that, until we do our own research from all sides, refuse to be persuaded by Russian or other propaganda (how stupid ARE we?) and look at things long term instead of what’s ahead next week, we are more than divided. And pretty much, screwed.

Presidents’ Day Mattress Sales

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I always chuckle at the ads for mattress sales that abound on Presidents’ Day.  Really, why?  Wouldn’t it be better to offer reduced pricing on flags, or maybe apple pie?  But however you celebrate it, it might be good to remember how the whole day started, by George. Well, not by him, but for him.  Since he was the most revered at the time (after all, he helped put that other crown wearing George in his place), the good citizens of this nation bequeathed him a day, at least in the District of Columbia, and paid homage to his greatness. January 22nd used to be his big day, and as a small kid, I remember learning about him on those slates I used in grade school.   Abraham Lincoln was more to my liking, however. I think it was George’s wig that bothered me.  And the photo of him in that boat, standing so straight, made me nervous.  Abe seemed more genuine, what with the book return and all.  So I think I enjoyed that day off even more.  But by the time my kids were in school, and the slates were replaced by real books, it was decided that the third Monday in February be reserved for a Presidents’ Day celebration.  It was done due to something called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which created special, three-day weekends for our nation’s workforce.  At least most of them (doctors, nurses, EMTs, firemen, farmers and the coast guard need to report to the office). This, I suppose, led to the idea of big sales. After all, people weren’t working, so they must be encouraged to go shopping.  Still, the mattress concept escaped me.  Until I did some research on a few of our country’s top leaders.  Now, it’s quite clear.

Lots of bedroom action for some of these guys.  Even George, our first leader, was not exempt.  Apparently, his feelings for Martha weren’t all that romantic. She had a whole lot of money in her purse, while George had little to offer outside his wig. He had been in love, for real, with a certain Sally Fairfax, who he left behind once he started creating our country. Word has it that he sent a love note to Sally, on his honeymoon, no less, admitting his affection for her, rather than for Martha.  Whoops! Martha was not pleased. And neither was Sally’s husband. George’s life with Martha went on, but I bet she checked his mailbox frequently.  Good think he didn’t have twitter.

Others, who could certainly be considered cads were:

Thomas Jefferson, who fathered five children with Sally Hemmings, a slave that he brought back from France.  He did recognize her, and the children.  His wife, not so much.

Warren Harding, preferred being liked over being respected, and had a penchant for weak women.  His great love was purported to be his best friend’s wife, Carrie. Having extra executive time, he was caught having sex with an aide in the Oval Office closet and fathered at least two children, one with one of his campaign workers. Visits to New Orleans might find him in a house of prostitution, and he bragged once about his two chorus girl conquests, named Maize and Blossom.

Woodrow Wilson, one of the architects of the United Nations (and terrible racist),  blamed his need for extra marital affairs on his wife’s chronic depression.  He soon bedded a woman named Mary, and did little to hide their connection.   That relationship lasted until  he found pleasure in the arms of another woman, a widow named Edith.  Rumors about his extra marital affairs were abundant and upon his wife’s death, his eagerness to connect with Edith was unrestrained. A common joke about town was “What did Edith do when the President proposed?”  Answer: “She fell out of bed.”

James Garfield gets a double “cad.”  Thought to be obsessed with all things sexual,  it was rumored that he engaged in cold showers to stifle his urges.  He chose an asexual wallflower for a wife, hoping that would also help him behave.  Unsuccessful at being virtuous, he carried on with a number of women, including college students and young reporters.  His unfaithfulness wilted his wallflower wife, and she became reclusive and sad.

Another James, this one Buchanan, was the first and last bachelor president.  His one and only fiancé died shortly after he called off the engagement, and her family blamed him for her youthful death.  Broken hearted syndrome. Womanless, he took in Senator William King, and the two of them were together for 23 years.  His staff referred to the couple as Buchanan and his wife, and to King separately as “Aunt Fancy Pants.”  After William left the US for France, the letters exchanged were said to be very affectionate, but all were destroyed by Buchanan’s family, in hopes of curtailing any rumors of his sexual orientation.

Grover Cleveland goes beyond “cad” and into “disgusting.”  One of three presidents married in office,  his wife was 27 years his junior. And to make matters worse, she had been his “ward” since age 9.  Apparently he bought her baby carriage. Talk about creepy!  His history was pretty awful as well. At age 17, he raped a young woman and then threatened to ruin her further if she told anyone.  The assault left her pregnant and he arranged, upon the child’s birth, to have her admitted to an insane asylum and put the baby in an orphanage.  Lucky for her, the asylum director realized what was going on and released her. She never did see her baby however.

FDR and Eleanor had a “working partnership”, rather than a “working marriage.”  Eleanor’s very own social secretary was her husband’s mistress.  Their own daughter Alice was complicit, often arranging time for the two lovers to be alone.  Franklin wanted to be free to marry his paramour, but his mother, who controlled his wealth, threatened to pull all his funding should he leave Eleanor. So, they stayed together, but separate.  Eleanor, who claimed that the whole ordeal made her stronger, took on a companion, and she and a female reporter named Lorena lived together in her half of the Whitehouse.  FDR didn’t mind, as he was busy getting in and out of bed with his new assistant, Missy.

Dwight Eisenhower, who helped defeat the Nazis, gave us our interstate system and put “In God We Trust” on our money in response to those heathen communists, was not too busy to fool around in the bedroom. His long time affair with his secretary Kay Summersby is well documented.  When the war ended, he asked General Marshall to relieve him of his military duties so he could divorce wife Mamie and marry Kay.  Marshall refused, and Ike and Mamie stayed together, in name only.  I suspect she tossed all the “I Like Ike” buttons from her collection.

JFK’s escapades are well known.  He was probably the most prolific in the bedroom – back problems and all, of any president. His conquests included female Whitehouse staff members, wives of gangsters, women reporters and movie stars – among them Angie Dickinson, Kim Novak and of course, Marilyn Monroe.  In his short term he did a lot for this country.  And quite a few in the country did a lot for him.

Lyndon Johnson, a Civil Rights champion and one of the homeliest presidents we’ve had, must have had other things going for him in the boudoir.  One of his lovers was married to one of his major supporters, and he fathered a child, named Steven, by another woman. He refused to support the woman, or the child, and refused to ever recognize his son.  So prolific and daring in his sexual conquests that, after Lady Bird interrupted a tryst on the Oval Office sofa, his staff installed a buzzer system so he could be warned of her arrivals.  He was quoted as saying “I’ve had more women by accident than Kennedy had on purpose.” Nice guy. Not.

Rumors of affairs surrounding George Herbert Walker Bush have been written up in various newspapers and are chronicled in a book called The Powerhouse. Political aides have stated that he was “served” in many capacities by a political aide named Jennifer.  The family vehemently denies any of these rumors and call the book pure fiction.  I personally think he loved his son’s second in command and ruling brain, Dick Cheney, more than anyone. But, I digress.

William Jefferson Clinton’s escapades are legend and are brought to the surface frequently.  Probably one of the most skilled diplomats we’ve had, he can certainly get a couple of “cads” as well. Jennifer, Monica, etc., etc. still keep the tabloids full. As with FDR and Eleanor, he and wife Hillary seem to make it work somehow.  Your heart’s not good, Bill. Be careful.

The current resident in the Whitehouse has a history that, to me, combines many of the antics of his predecessors.  Garfield and Buchanan quickly come to mind.  He is precedent setting, however. Except for Reagan, who was divorced once, the new guy has a trail of ex wives, porn stars, beauty contest contestants,  news reporters and models who all have stories to tell.  Pay offs, hidden tapes and tell all books and magazine articles abound. And televised bragging rights to sexual assault is easily found on you tube. Too many “cads” here to list. Creepy. Bigly creepy. Biggest ever.

So, if you’re in the market for a new mattress, there are many places that have what you need.  Whether you want firm, soft, heated, padded, single, double, queen, king or super king, they are available. And all at a reduced price.  Just don’t accept any trade ins from Pennsylvania Avenue…sorry, that’s really creepy…