Innocence Lost

It was 40 years ago.  Or maybe more.  I’m not good with timelines.  I was old enough to know better.  And, more to the point, old enough to have acted when it was important to have done so.  But I was too ashamed.

Sound familiar?  It should. It’s frequently the way women feel and respond when they’ve experienced an unwelcome and unwanted “situation.”

Mine was at a small shopping center not far from our house.  A safe place.   A family place.  Never any concerns about being there alone.  Especially at 10:00 in the morning.

On that morning, long ago, I ran my errand, got back in my little red car, started it up and was surprised by a tap on my window.  A nice looking young man told me he’d seen  a spark come out of my tail pipe when I started the car.  He said he could double check it if I would just put one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake and he would take a look at the tailpipe.  He wanted my feet in a certain position to get a good assessment.  And he put his head down on the floor of the car to make sure I was doing it right.  Got the picture?

He wasn’t there to help me with the car.  He was there to look up my skirt.  And I helped him do just that.

Yep, I opened the door for him.  In more ways than one.  This was broad daylight, remember?   No reason to say no to a kind offer of assistance.  I didn’t want to have car trouble on the way home, now did I?

It took me too long to realize what was going on.  It wasn’t a sexual assault.  It was voyeurism. But a personal violation, nevertheless.

I can tell you exactly where I parked that morning.  I can tell you that I was too embarrassed to tell the Mister for years.  And I can tell you that I was too ashamed to call the cops and tell them that a creepy weirdo was doing his thing in our sweet little shopping center.  And that I had fallen for it.  Who needs to get involved in all that?  Not me, thank you very much.

Someone did, though.  Call the cops, that is.  I read about it in the newspaper. Good for her.  I applauded her actions. But still I said nothing to anybody about my own experience with him.

You should feel free to call me naïve, stupid, fearful, vain.  You don’t have to do that, though.  I’ve already done it.  Lots of times.

I may not be brilliant but I was way too smart to have acted as I did.  Or not-acted, as the case may be.

I’m not sure we’ve come much further.  We may not yet be at the point where the benefits of speaking up outweigh the (potentially) negative consequences of doing so.  When might we get to that place?   Good question.  No good answers.

Where in the world is Jim Cantori?

It’s Thursday, September 13th, 2018 and I really, really want to know where he is.  And this is not just idle curiosity.

If you’ve been following Hurricane Florence, and we have, you want to know where Jim Cantori of The Weather Channel is.

Jim goes into the stormiest, coldest, iciest, blowiest, harshest weather imaginable.  All for ratings, of course.  But, he’s a good guide.  He tells us where he is so we know where not to be.

Not very long ago, at the beginning of this hurricane cycle, he was spotted on the South Carolina coastline.  We heaved a sigh of relief when they sent him up to North Carolina.  We took deep breaths and cancelled the plywood.  We stopped obsessing about tins of tuna fish and canned soups, jars of Cheese Whiz and peanut butter, rolls of toilet paper.  We allowed the gas tank to slip (minimally) below full. We were still concerned about the vodka and wine levels.  But, in general, life was a wee bit less stressed.

Except.

Apparently, Jim’s in Wrightsville Beach.  And, thank goodness, we aren’t.  But….and this is a big but… one of our sons has a house just up the road from that beach and it is clearly in harm’s way.  It’s a strong house, newly roofed, but Florence is big and bad.  We’ll know more as Jim reports on the hurricane and in the meantime, we’re holding on tight.

Not just for that house but for all the many, many people and places in her destructive path.

Sunday, September 16.   All appears good here now.  And for our son’s house, as well.  Not so much in other places but it could have been far worse.  Jim can go home now, dry out, rest up and get ready for the next one.  The onr thing we know for sure about hurricanes is that we know very little.  But, Jim, we’ll still be watching.  Stay safe.  We’re counting on you.

Musings from a Waiting Room

 

Dear Healthy (at least for the moment) Person:

When you walk into the oncologist’s office for your yearly strong-bones shot….which has nothing to do with cancer….please don’t flaunt your good health.  It’s not that the others in the room aren’t happy for you.  We are.  And we wish you continued good health.  But still.

As we listen to all the details of the tennis game you’re setting up for the next day, are we just a tad envious?   Maybe.

Do we wish we were going to the surprise party you’re giving later that evening which is just going to be so,so fabulous?  Maybe.  But, we’re not invited and even if we were, we might not feel up to the task, depending on how things go.

Do we wish you would cover your cough?  Yes, we wish you would because some of us have slightly compromised immune systems and the last thing we need is a cold.

Do we wish you would put your phone down and quit with the loud talking already?  Yes, we wish you would.

I know life doesn’t stop for you when you’re there.  It’s a mere dot on your day, but for some of us, it may feel like life, as we’ve known it, could come to a sudden, screeching, scary halt.  Even if we’re there just for a regular check-up.  Like me.

There’s an old adage.  “Know your audience.”  So please, busy, vibrant, this-is-only-a-little-shot and will-have-no-effect-on my-obviously-healthy-life person, please, please “know your room.”

And, please, take those ever-so-important-phone calls after you’ve left the room.

 

Image courtesy of Fotosearch.com

Unintended Consequences

Oh, dear.  I’ve done a bad thing.  I’ve inadvertently caused the Mister to be hit, big-time, by those porno-spam people.  Up to 250 emails a day, no less!  Who knew an innocent little on-line purchase could incite so many vile messages?

Well, now I know exactly how that happens and I’m here to tell you so you won’t have to find out the hard way. But you probably wouldn’t be in this mess, unless you, too, have short, spiky hair that can go limp at a moment’s notice.

See, this is all about product.  Hair product.  Who doesn’t love product?   I’ve tried lots of product but the lovely person who cuts my hair recently introduced me to something new.   It was love at first sight and I wanted some asap.  Enter the Mister’s Amazon Prime account.

The name of the company that makes the product is Bed Head which seems strange since that’s the very thing it’s supposed to fix.  I should have realized I was in dangerous territory at that very moment.  But vanity led me further down the path.

I carefully perused their product line and decided to treat myself to an assortment of gels, pastes and sprays.  It’s all about free next-day delivery whether it’s one bottle or six, right?  So, I ordered the following:  The Manipulator, Hard-to-Get, Control-Freak, Sleepover, Head Rush and Hard Hold.

The next day the Mister announced the arrival of the unwanted spam.

The situation is improving but I still feel bad.  Not too bad though.  I like the products a lot.  But next time I think I’ll just go to CVS and ask for a brown paper bag.

 

 

What’s wrong with this picture?

Please click on the picture for a full image

 

Where, oh where, to start?

The obvious, for a non-techie person like me, would be the fact that every one’s face is buried in their electronics.  Each in his or her own world.  No sharing, no laughter, no community.

Then there’s that white-upholstery/young children thing. That’s just wrong.  All by itself.

Where are the skinned knees and dirty hands?  The grimy shorts and t-shirts?  The melted M&M’s?  The evidence of happy outdoors play-time?

Where are the family animals?  The wet dog, the shedding cat?

Where are the sticky fingers and leftover cookie crumbs from a family dinner?

According to the ad, the most important thing this family shares is 1 Gigabyte service so they can all be on their devices at the same time.

Which brings me back to the question.   What’s wrong with this picture?

 

 

 

“All in touch” picture courtesy of Hargray Communications

 

Your Cub Reporter, Hot on the Trail of a Big Story

Please click on the picture for a full image

 

Following some recent and rather dire headlines regarding the Build-a-Bear stores, I quickly made my way to our local franchise.  I wanted to see, first hand, just exactly what went wrong.

Apparently, the stores had offered to sell ready-to-stuff teddy bears for the same price as your age.  Thus, if you are two years old, you get a bear for two dollars.  And so on.  But as plans are so often wont to do, these went seriously awry.

In the middle of the crazy-wild bear-extravaganza, the stores ran out of stuffing.  As a result, many, many hysterical mothers and children were sent away bare-handed.

Only a slightly warped sense of humor would find this even remotely funny.  But, I regret to say, I did indeed laugh when I read about it.  If you’re gonna have a big sale on ready-to-stuff bears, you stock up on extra stuffing.  Right? Or at least I’d think you would.

I’m the first to say that I wasn’t in line, for hours, accompanied by over-excited children, in the nearly unbearable heat.  But then again, why would I have been?  The thought of spending my age on a teddy bear was certainly not on my bucket list.

But, after my on-site research, I’ve decided that the Build-a-Bear people have a good  thing going.  You can’t build your own bear if you’re looking at your phone, tweeting, or otherwise involved.  The Bear thing is a family thing.  You’re taking a pause from a crazy life, making something to give, share or keep that you created with your very own hands.  How nice is that?

With that said, I hope the Build-a-Bear get their stuff back together real soon and will remember that timeless motto brought to us by the Boy Scouts: “Be Prepared.”

 

 

It’s my blog

and I said at the beginning that it would be about nothing.  But that “nothing” is as I see it. Through my own personal lens.  Otherwise, this would be someone else’s blog.  And it’s not. It’s mine.

When cancer came my way a couple of years ago,I noted it in the blog. Not because I was going to write a cancer blog but because it  was a new lens for me to look through.   That’s inevitable when something so powerful comes your way.  It changes the way you look at things.   Whether you want it to or not.

I’m also sure I said, somewhere along that line, that this would not be about politics.  And it still isn’t. But the current political situation is bigger than I ever imagined and has added a new lens for me to look through.  It’s that powerful. Just like cancer.

Early on, after the last election, I said I hoped that we could reason with each other about our political positions and reasons for voting as we did.  Apparently, that was way too soon and way too naive.  Sadly, I think it’s still too soon and too naive.  Maybe it’s a never-gonna-happen-kinda thing.

But since it’s my blog, and no one else’s, I can say unequivocally that I am experiencing a divide that I never, ever imagined i would experience.  It’s uncomfortable, possibly irrevocable and incredibly saddening.

There. I’ve said it.  And since it is indeed my blog and no one else’s, I’m free to paraphrase Lesley Gore and add:  “It’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.”

 

crevice image thanks to istockphoto.com

 

Book Clubs

Everyone belongs to one or more.  It’s just what you do.

But, alas, I am, personally, book-club-less at the moment.  By choice.  Or at least I think so.  No one’s told me otherwise.

Recently I’ve had a bit of a day-dream about the book club I would like to belong to.  The idea was sparked by a book loaned to me by a friend.  I enjoyed it, it held my interest and introduced me to a new author.

But the things I liked best about it were the under-linings and margin scribbles made by the book’s owner.

I wanted to know more about why she liked those words, those phrases, those sentences.  What about those particular passages piqued her interest?  Caused her to stop, pick up a pen, underline them and make notations?

I’ve always enjoyed the reader’s notes and scribbles in the used books I’ve bought.  Now I’d like to bring that closer to home.  In my own living room, to be precise.

And in the book club I’d like to belong to.

 

Image of book enjoyment thanks to the University of Minnesota, Morris

Premature

Alert!  This is not a Sunday jolly.  Sometimes, it just doesn’t  work out like that.  So, read on at your own peril.  It’s an observation; just not a happy one.  And it may not be a new one at that.

Yes.  There was another school shooting not so long ago in Santa Fe, Texas.  We all know that.

Many of us have become so inured to the reality of violence that we knew it would happen again.  And we also know that it will most certainly happen yet again.  We’ve been around long enough to understand, sadly, that it’s not over.

But what really threw me at that time and has stuck with me since was the realization that young people are starting to share and accept that regrettable perspective of inevitability.

Amid the anticipated expressions of shock and despair from the Texas horror came a voice from one student.  She said, simply and quietly: “I wasn’t surprised.”

We aren’t only taking lives.  We’re taking innocence, promise and hope.  All of it way, way, way too soon.

 

 

 

Image from “The Loss of Innocence” by Hoppymon Jacob

When is a grocery store more than a grocery store?

When it’s “a way of life.”

That was the description we gave to Dorothy Lane Market, our grocery store in Oakwood, Ohio.

Dorothy Lane Market started as a fruit stand and grew into an elegant, state of the art, innovative grocery store through the years.  But it never lost its sense of community, people, or friendliness.  It’s heart and soul.  Sure, you shopped there for groceries but it was the extra-curricular activities that made it a happy experience.

Tasting stations were everywhere.  The long aisles had cut-throughs so there were more places to stop and visit with friends.  Sips of wine were frequently available. You’d dare not enter those doors without lipstick.  You knew you’d see friends.  Lots of friends.   All of that made it THE place to shop.

In the years we’ve lived in South Carolina, I’ve not had that experience in a single grocery store. Not even close. It’s always been all about the list.  Get in. Get out. Get home.

Until yesterday.

I literally ran into a friend in the produce section and we began a conversation that went on throughout our shopping.   We shared grandchildren stories in the condiment aisle, retirement thoughts at the deli counter, husband’s hobbies in the freezer section.  Oh, and that little chat we had at the check out-lane? That stays at the check-out lane

All in all, it was a great day at the grocery store.  Not to be corny but I came home with a lot more sustenance than a week’s worth of food could ever provide.  It brought back ever-so-fond memories of a little corner store in Oakwood, Ohio.  Where all that was the norm; not the exception.

Me and My Kindle.

We have a special relationship.  My Kindle and I do.  We spend an inordinate amount of time together.   It’s a joined-at-the-hip, or in this case, at-the-thumb, kind of thing.

And so it is with some degree of sadness that I’ve come to the realization that my Kindle doesn’t understand me at all.

The books it recommends don’t fit my reading profile.  Many of them feature hunky, macho, thong-clad studmuffins.  OK, so I  read Fifty Shades of Gray (yes, the entire series) but that was some time ago.  I’ve matured.  I’m totally over that stuff.    Shouldn’t my very own Kindle know that by now?

It also recommends books about fair-maidens seductively lured into the occult.   I’m no longer a fair maiden so that doesn’t exactly rock my boat.  And as to the occult?  Well, I already have my very own ghosts. They live here.  In this house.  If my Kindle would read my blog, it would know that.

I’ve poured a lot of energy….to say nothing of time and money….into this relationship.  I think I’ve earned the right to expect a tad more appreciation of my reading preferences.

I’m not suggesting that there’s anything subversive or wrong about its recommendations for me.   Perhaps it’s  trying to get me out of my rut.

Maybe I should just give in and read one of those hunky-muffin books.  Maybe I should send the Mister a damsel-in-distress book.  Maybe, just maybe, my Kindle knows me better than I know myself.

It’s not much of an investment.  Very little to be lost.  Those books are cheap.  We’ll see what happens.

 

 

 

 

Conflicting Headlines

We subscribe to a small magazine called “The Week.”  It presents alternative positions on many topics, making it an unusual publication with no clear political or economic bias.  It’s intended to make you think.

There’s always a section devoted to Health and Science news.  A couple of weeks ago there were two headlines in that section.

The first was “Moderate drinking isn’t healthy after all.”

The second was: “Night owls may live shorter lives.”

Simply said, drinking’s bad and early-to-bed is good.

Like the rest of the magazine’s contents, those headlines forced me to stop, think and make thoughtful, informed decisions about my future habits based on the scientific evidence presented in each of the articles.  Or not.

After less-than-a-nanosecond, I decided that I’ll still drink my wine (unhealthy) and I’ll still go to bed early (healthy.)

Just like I’ve done all of my adult life.

Hopefully, the positive will continue to cancel out the negative and life will be both long and happy.

If only all decisions were that easy.

A little behind the times.

That’s me.  Always a little late to the party.  The last to know.  The last to “get it.”

Friends have been telling me, for quite some time now, to turn off and tune out the news.  Especially the politically charged cable channels.  I’ve been slow to accept their advice but I listened up recently and have been watching the Food Channel as an option.

If you know me, you know that neither food nor its preparation holds any interest for me.  But the Food Channel has some redeeming qualities in spite of its focus.

It’s the only channel where nothing ever “breaks” except eggs.  Where the only up-risings are yeasty, aromatic loaves of bread.

The food pundits don’t yell at each other, even when there’s a hotly contested issue on the table.  Like mustard for example.   Should we use French, American, or German?  Yellow, spicy or grainy?  The experts hash it out, civilly, using only a spoon and a healthy dollop of compromise.

They  know how stay calm, even when threatened with the imminent collapse of a towering souffle.

They also seem to know when to put something on the back burner, let it simmer for a bit, stirring it gently to make sure it doesn’t boil over and make a hot mess.

I think I’ll hang with them for a while.  It’s going to be better for my health, I’m pretty sure.  This is not going to be easy.  Old habits die hard but better late than never.

Or so I’m told.

Little Pleasures

 

At some point in our lives, little pleasures start to outweigh the big stuff.

As we sat on the porch recently, enjoying the breeze and some wine, The Mister told me he’d had a most satisfactory and significant “Little Pleasure” event earlier that day.

Pray tell, I asked.

He said, that after a long, strenuous and exhaustive search, he had finally found his perfect screw.

After I took a deep breath and roamed through my mind,  I remembered that he’d taken his daily trip to Lowe’s.

Sure enough.  That’s where he found it.  His perfect screw.  And not just one.  A whole dozen!

Such joyful little pleasures.

Seriously??

From news reports:

“Top security officials are warning Americans who are traveling to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup this week that Moscow-linked hackers may try to target them as they attend the international soccer event…The security experts advised World Cup attendees not to bring personal devices with them.”

 

You want me to do what?  Are you out of your mind?  Seriously?

You’re actually, truly, really suggesting that I leave my phone and my lap top in my hotel or wherever?  I’ve been planning this for ages and I’m sure as heck not gonna go there without my stuff.  I need to take pictures, send photos, FB my friends, Instagram pics of me and my buds.  Tweet.  Whatever.  If I can’t do that, really, then what’s the point of even being here?

Soccer games go on for two or three hours, and, well, for sure I can’t detach from my world for that long.  Not even close.  I mean seriously, Dude.  What universe are you in?

 

OK, I say, but fair warned is fair armed.  According to news reports from all over the world, there are scams and cyberhackers just waiting to knock your socks off or worse, gain access to your bank accounts, your Social Security Number, passwords to your entire life.

But never mind.  Do as you please.  Just don’t blame the messenger when you get home and find that things have gone awry.

And I’m talking seriously awry.  Dude.

 

 

Informative graphic thanks to phonearena.com!