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

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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!

A lovely evening

We had a wedding anniversary some months back.  We’re not “big day” celebrants so we don’t get carried away with gifts or cards.   But, as it happened, we were invited to a  catamaran cruise that evening having absolutely nothing to do with our anniversary.

The night was perfect. Fresh winds, sails aloft, good wine, fried chicken and chocolate cake.

The others on the boat were considerably younger than we are.  In fact, most of them were considerably younger than our marriage.

Someone, somewhere along the line, let the anniversary thing slip. We were “outed” so to speak.  After that, many of those (young people) aboard nicely drifted by our seats to wish us a happy anniversary.

We talked about life with young children; about life with teenagers.  How two-working-parent families can possibly juggle everything asked of them.

We listened to the ups and downs of starting new jobs and businesses.  Of the challenges of living in the South when one is used to the North.

How social media helps….or hinders….family life.  And, oh, by the way, how about our school systems?

At no time during that cruise did we wrestle with the issues of illness, retirement, long-lost friends or politics.

While many of those not-so-fun things are on the minds of people of a certain generation…people like us….it was lovely to just sit back for an evening and enjoy the wind-blown ride.

We’ll deal with all that other stuff another day, another time, another cruise.

 

Sailing image thanks to meyerre.com

 

Rub-a-dub-dub.

Who needs a tub?

I do.  I really truly, madly, do.  And, not surprisingly, I find myself in the minority.

Apparently, and shockingly, new houses are being built without bathtubs!

The left brain part of me understands that.  Bathtubs take up space and no one takes baths these days anyway.

My right brain rejects that position.

Maybe it all started with my parent’s avant-garde, square, purple (!) bathtub.  It sat in the corner of the bathroom and defied you not to immerse yourself in it.  Warm, cozy, bubbly.  Just the thing after a long day.   Big soft towels hung on racks, ready to wrap you up and get you ready for a good night’s sleep.

Some things just stay with you and my need for a bubbly, warm, cozy bath is one of those things.   A hot bath is an obligatory part of my day.  It’s the ultimate stress reliever.  A good friend and fellow bath enthusiast once told me that she doesn’t have Three Dog Nights; she has Three Bath Days.

I’m not dissing showers or the people who take them.  I just want that sweet and comforting bathtub to have a place in our future.

I’m doing my part to support the bubble-bath people and ensure that those cute little rubber duckies still have a place to play.  I hope others will join me.

Well, not in my own bathtub, of course, but in my crusade to return the indispensable (in my humble opinion) bathtub to its former glory.

 

Bubbly tub image thanks to kisspng.com

Love

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We recently sent a group e-mail to the family.  We thought they should know of an important decision we’d made.

It was a big decision on our part and made without consulting the family, or even hinting to them that we were on that path.

Since all news is sent and received electronically these days, we followed suit.

The email to them said:  “Alert!  Your parents taking a cruise.”

While they were initially alarmed, just as we had expected, they collectively decided that indeed a cruise might be good for us.  What concerned them was our selection of excursions.

They (wrongly) determined that we had signed up for a scuba dive, a self-guided ATV trip through the mosquito-rich jungles of Honduras and a six hour bus trip over rugged terrain to see some ruins.  All of these things seemed anathema to them but they accepted that we were challenging ourselves and would be safe.

But what really worried them, got them all in a lather and scared that we’d lost our minds, was that it also looked like we’d also signed up for a cooking class.

That one sent them right over the edge.

That concern warranted phone calls, texts and face-time events to make sure we were still who we said we were.

All fears were assuaged as we assured them we planned only to stroll the decks, sip champagne and enjoy the scenery as it passed us by.  No excursions…especially  cooking classes…on the agenda.

And with that they all wished us health, happiness and safe travels.

Love.  It shows up in such strange ways.

 

 

 

Lists.

Lists tell us a lot about ourselves.

A grocery list tells us what we’ll be eating for the next few days.  A to-do list tells us where to go and what to do when we get there.   An invitation list tells us who our friends are.  A Christmas list tells us to get going before things get too crazy.

Last week, I peered into the cubbyholes of an old, unused desk and discovered a most curious list of things.

It included:

A collar and ID tag from a long dead cat.

A copy of The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford.

My grandfather’s pocket watch.

Two engraving plates with my name on them:  one for stationery, the other for calling cards.

A deliciously twisted tale by by John Updike with equally twisted drawings by Edward Gorey.

A box of “Dennison Gummed Labels,”  now a collectible item from the 1940’s which holds pictures of my parents.

I’m not getting a clear sense of direction from that odd little list.  I only know that, ultimately, it tells me something about myself.  Because that’s what lists do.

It also underscores the value of little-bitty cubbyholes, which can hold treasures worth re-discovering on a rainy day when you have nothing else to do.

 

 

 

Trips to Fripp

 

Remember the Chevy Vega “station wagon?”  That sub-sub-sub-compact-hatch-back from way-back when?

We had one and we’d travel to Fripp Island, S.C. from Ohio for two weeks in the spring in that car.  A couple of duffle bags, baseball mitts, fishing gear, wine and suntan lotion.  We’d pack it all up and, if things went well and we had our wits about us, we’d remember to toss the three young boys in on top of everything.

We drugged them for the trip.  Dramamine, if I recall. Our pharmacist recommended it as a safety measure.  There were no seat belts in the Chevy Vega.

We were able to get several hours of peaceful driving except for one unfortunate situation.  One of the boys always had an adverse reaction to Dramamine.  It wired him.  But at least there was only one asking: “Are we there yet?”  There could have been three.

When we got to Beaufort, we’d stop at the Winn Dixie and buy groceries. We piled a two-week supply of food on top of suitcases, beach towels, and boys. We had everything we needed for our vacation in that little car.  Our family’s footprint on Fripp Island was as small as the children’s on the sand.

Fast forward 45 years:  A recent trip to one of our Island’s beaches introduced me to eighteen wheelers masquerading as cars.

It seems that no one travels light these days.  And what they don’t bring with them, they buy and then apparently leave behind as trash to be cleaned up and disposed of.  Visitors may drop dollars but they and their huge cars/wagons/vans/ SUV’s leave an imprint that doesn’t always bode well for the future.

I must not get the meaning of vacation in today’s world.  I always thought vacations were an opportunity to be open, unstructured and free of “stuff.”  To leave behind encumbrances and just chill out.

But every day, it seems, I get older in my thinking.

Next week my post will probably be delivered by Pony Express.

“One if by land and two if by sea.”

Tally-ho.