What To Do????

Make believe you’re the director of a non-profit organization.  You’re always on the prowl for money.  It’s what you do.  It’s what you have to do if you and your organization are going to survive.  That money’s not gonna raise itself.

Or will it?

That depends on the organization, of course.  What if it’s a little one, just trying to stay afloat from year to year?  No one’s going to write a check without being asked. Cajoled.  Begged.

But. 

If you’re a big deal museum, elite college, renowned center of excellence?  That’s a whole different ball of wax.  Donors line up, wanting to make contributions, getting their names on buildings, scholarships, hospital wings.   It’s an ego thing for the donor.  And a big catch for the recipient.

Or is it?

What happens when that money turns out to be tainted?  Ill-gotten? You accepted it. You agreed to it. Now, you’ve got egg on your face and your organization by association.  And everyone’s wringing their hands.  The gift you thought you’d never see turns out to be the one you wish you’d never seen.

So what to do?

Well, it seems that Harvard, that bastion of higher education esteemed by so many, took big bucks from Jeffrey Epstein.   Oops.

Harvard spent most of Epstein’s “gifts” before all the bad stuff  about him hit the fan.  The good news is that they have a good sized chunk of change left over and they are going to designate every penny of it to organizations that support victims of human trafficking and sexual assault.

Go Harvard.  Rah rah, Crimson. They did the right thing and plan to work with peer institutions on similar concerns.

They turned lemons into lemonade.  That’s what they did.

Image thanks to AmericanBanker.com

Aw, shucks.

Just when you think you’ve found common ground with new friends, it all falls apart.

We do, sadly, live in a divisive country.

We can talk around the elephant in the room, pretend it doesn’t exist, act like it doesn’t matter and then someone, innocently, serves up a tomato sandwich and all hell breaks loose.

With that simple act, the beast is unleashed.  

It immediately becomes clear that stark lines have been drawn.  Other opinions don’t matter.  Compromise is out of the question.  Change is NOT the order of the day.

Will the die-hard Ohio tomato-lover concede that the New Jersey tomato may have some redeeming values?  Probably not.

How about the North Carolina tomato versus the Maryland tomato?  Don’t go there.  It’ll get ugly.

The South Carolina tomato really doesn’t have skin in the game unless it’s a Dempsey tomato.  We can all agree on that.

At some point, the prickly issue of corn will inevitably enter the conversation.  When that happens, more wine should be poured or people should simply go home.

We are each firm in our beliefs that the produce of our past is still the best produce on earth.  Our mothers and fathers would have served us nothing less than the juiciest, tastiest, and closest-to-home grown fruits and vegetables.  Best not to question our heritage.

But with understanding and appreciation for those differences, we can all take a stroll down memory lane and friendships can move forward.

Writer’s last word:  Ohio tomatoes are, without a doubt, the best!

Image of vegetables thanks to WebMD.com

I wish I’d gone to jail.

Not because I’d committed a crime.  That’s not something I’d do.  Or ever wish I had.

I do, however, wish I had been arrested and sent to jail because I felt strongly enough about something to get in the way.  To protest.  To sit-in.  To stand-up.  To understand the power of one.  To be fiercely out-spoken in favor of, or against, something that was, at least in my mind, an injustice to others.  Or to the land.  Or to the air.

A small article in a college alumni magazine recently caught my attention.  The writer’s daughter had a serious accident many years ago, leaving her a paraplegic for life.  Not one to let that stand in her way, her daughter became an activist with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Her mother boasts that she went to jail 30 times.

Just once would be good in my mind.  But thirty times???  What a woman.  Imagine the differences she made.

I regret, and have for many years, that as I watched bulldozers raze the land across the street from our house, I didn’t just walk over there and get in their way.  I found out later, much too late, that they didn’t even have a permit for what they did.  I could have made a difference.  Just me.  Just one person.

And maybe, just maybe, if I had gotten lucky, really, really, lucky, I would have been hauled off to jail.

But hold on. As we know, it’s never too late and there’s certainly much to care deeply and passionately about these days. Maybe I’ll get a second chance after all.

Image by John Overmyer/Startribune.com

Boy, Did I Ever Get Lucky

See, I knew them……

Before they were elected “Best Documentary Directors” by the Sundance Film Festival in 2019.

Before MOMA put together a retrospective of their work.

Before Rotten Tomatoes gave them a 98% rating for their newest documentary.

Before they were both elected to the prestigious Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

They are Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar and their film American Factory premiered on Netflix on August 21, 2019.

Once upon a time, many years ago, they invited me into their world of independent filmmaking. Oh, the things I learned. The fun I had.

They introduced me to some of the most creative, dedicated and hardest working people one ever could imagine.

Most importantly, they became my good friends. And in spite of all these accolades, they are still the people they were before. They still live in the same house in the same small town in Ohio and they still leave their egos in the cutting room. Just like they did before.

I urge you and yours to watch this film. It’s an important piece of work.  But don’t take my word for it.  Go to Rotten Tomatoes and see what the experts think.

As an aside.  When you watch American Factory, and I hope you do, ask yourselves how in the world Julia and Steve, with their cameras in hand, were afforded access to so many important, personal and revealing stories.  It’s extraordinary.

Check in, check up, check out

We are incredibly fortunate to have good health care.  And we’re even luckier to have good health care providers.  Most of them have been part of our lives for 20 years or more.  We’re not just on a first name basis; we exchange hugs and family stories.  That easy manner is a balm for a hypochondriac like me.

Same with nurses and receptionists. Good to have them on your side. Anything to get the frayed nerves settled down.

But now we have robotic, computerized check-in machines.  By the time the machine has electronically recognized me, agreed that I have a proper driver’s license, am sufficiently insured to cover the high cost of medicine, has accepted the fact that I have moved, have a new address and telephone number and am still the person I say I am, I am wrecked.   Demoralized.  Nauseated.  Woozy.  I have heart palpitations and sweaty palms.  My toes and fingers tingle and I feel faint.

In other words, I need a doctor.  And not just the one I had an appointment with.

Actually, I just need a person.  Someone to smile at me when I walk in the door, say my name, welcome me, check me in and say those lovely (if not always truthful) words: “Doctor will be with you shortly.”

Image thanks to the Reliant Medical Group

I Play Bridge

Yes, I do and have done so longer than nearly anyone I know.  I learned at my parents’ table.  At a very early age.  Long before I could even hold 13 cards in one hand.  And I’ve enjoyed the game for all these years.

The fact that I play bridge doesn’t make me a bridge player.  That title is reserved for those who take the game seriously.   Actually, I also take the game seriously.  I’m seriously committed to it as just that:  a game. To be played.

My favorite bridge table includes the sounds of ice cubes over a gin and tonic or two, the crunch of cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches and and much, much laughter.

It’s just not in me to deny the fun, the randomness of the cards.  In my mind, every deal is a present, a gift to open and enjoy.   A bit like a basket of fancifully dyed Easter eggs or a double-layered box of Whitman Sampler chocolates.

Cards are a great excuse to spend time together, share stories between deals and let the world pass us by. We like to say that bridge sharpens our minds. It also deepens friendships, if given a chance.

If you agree, then come on over, put a quarter in the pot, throw out the rule book, cut for deal and we’ll have fun.  I promise.

Back to School Time

It’s that time of year.

The promise of some nippy mornings just around the corner. The excitement of new beginnings. And, especially, the ritual of back to school shopping.

New clothes.  Fresh sneakers.  And paper goods.  Lots and lots of paper goods.

That was always the best for me. The paper goods.  New notebooks.  Three ring binders.  Colored tabs for all your classes….English, math, science, home economics. A package of colored paper, too.

Then there were the writing implements.  Pretty pens.  Pencils.  Yellow, number 2….a dozen or more.  We had a (manual, of course) pencil sharpener bolted on the door to the basement.  I loved it when it got all jammed up with shavings and could be emptied.  So simple and so satisfying.

Back to School shopping is a rite of passage.  Plus, everything always smells so good.  Fresh, new, fun. 

Then, a man with an AK 47 walks in and shatters my reverie….

Moving from my computer to my television, just this very minute, I learn with enormous shock and grief, that there’s yet another shooting – in our hometown of Dayton, Ohio.   In the historic district.  Right around the corner from our old beloved brownstone.

Talk about today’s reality and future shock…

Funerals

                                     

We attended one earlier this week. 

She was a good friend. She had established a code…. a way of life….that so many admired and valued. Even though she’d recently shown signs of failing, we, who knew her, hoped she’d pull through.

It wasn’t an easy decline.  We’d watched over the last couple of years as she struggled against the tide. She wasn’t young but we thought she had staying power.  That she’d beat the odds.

And so it was with great sadness that we witnessed her demise, this past Wednesday, in Washington, D.C.

Many of you knew her, too. Her name was Civility. 

The Mister and I join her sisters, Respect and Grace, in mourning her death. She will be sorely missed.

                     

image thanks to nearsay.com

Class Notes

I attended an all-girls high school.  It’s a small school and I always look forward to the alumnae magazine and its class notes.  Catch up on what everyone’s been doing.

I like to start at the back with the young graduates.  They’re so full of hope, energy and enthusiasm.  As you’d expect, they report weddings, babies, and exciting jobs.   Their zest for life jumps off the pages.  I wish I knew some of them.

Then I skip to the part of the magazine where the “old guard” speak of lives well lived.   Many have lost husbands and children but they keep on keeping on.  They’re true inspirations.  I wish I knew some of them, too.

In between the old and the new is, of course, the middle.

On those pages, we read accounts of extensive world travel, brilliant children and grandchildren, successes beyond the imaginable, published books, global recognition, grand achievements and so on.  There are also stories of extreme difficulties which have been overcome by hard work and perseverance. I find myself impressed, if not just a little…no, make that a whole lot…..daunted, by what so many have done.

Nowhere is there an entry that resembles defeat or regret.  Who would bother to report they’ve been on Prozac for twenty years and it still hasn’t kicked in?  Not moi.

I usually put the magazine down, a bit dispiritedly, pour a little wine and try to console myself.  But this time I discovered a balm for my soul in the midst of the highs and lows.  It was an entry from the class of ’77.

Those two class secretaries, who have the job of recruiting news from their colleagues, have decided that too much bad news can be tough and too much good news may feel false.  So what to do? 

They’ve creatively decided to send notes to their classmates with thoughtful questions asking for thoughtful responses.  To quote them: “We’ll get to know each other again.”  They’ll publish their replies in the next alumnae magazine.

Bravo to them for reinventing an old and slightly squeaky wheel. I can hardly wait to get to know their classmates.

Finnegan. Please begin again.

So much began with Finnegan, the cat.  He unknowingly facilitated our relationship with the historic house on the May River and our happy years there.  I’d say he was the ”catalyst” for all that but it’s a bit too punny.  Even for me.

Finnegan was plucked from the old house because one member of his original family was seriously allergic to him.  Word went out that he needed a new home.  Our son and his family adopted him.  He thrives in their midst.  Some might say that he over-thrives.  Finnegan is, well, shall we say, fat.  Quite fat.  Adorably, deliciously so.

As the Mister and I move out of the old house, our son and his family are moving in.  Finny is going home.  We hope he’ll enjoy the cool river breezes and fishy marsh smells.  Just like he did.  Once upon a time.

But now this.  Finnegan is sick.  Too sick to recover.  He won’t make the trip back to his original haunt.  His family must let him go where he won’t be in pain.

So, Finnegan won’t begin again.  At least in the corporal sense.  But I’d put money on his ghost showing up.  That old house doesn’t forget anything or anybody.  Especially a cat who was, and now we can say it, the catalyst for so many happy times.

Finnegan.  Rest in peace.  You were loved.

Headlines from our Local Newspaper

 According to a recent article in the Island Packet, the staff of the town of Hilton Head has been asked to “define a garden shovel in legal terms.” Doesn’t that sound like a silly assignment?   Surely it’s a waste of time and taxpayer’s money.  Just imagine all those group outings to Lowe’s and Home Depot?  Measure here, weigh there?

It’s actually serious business and one we applaud and endorse.  You just have to dig underneath the headlines to understand its importance.

See, we’re all about our sea turtles.  Especially the newborns.  The hatchlings can easily get trapped in deep holes dug by big shovels as they take their inaugural journey from nest to sea.  Hilton Head has an outstanding program to help them on their way. One deep hole can undo a lot of good work.

But back to the headlines. I’m not at all sure why garden-sized shovels have a place at the beach to begin with.  Is this a macho thing?  My kid’s shovel is bigger than yours?  Our family’s hole is deeper than yours?  What happened to sweet little pails and sand scoopers?  No competition.   Just little hands playing in the sand.  The discussion of big shovels at our beaches should be fodder for discussion itself. 

So the not-so-silly task is worth all the time and effort it may take.  We’ll put our trust in the Town of Hilton Head to burrow deep down to the bottom of the matter.  One tiny scoop of sand at a time.

Me and My Blog Site

Yes, I have a site for this blog.  We wouldn’t be together right now if I didn’t.  But that doesn’t mean that I understand anything about its inner workings.

 To wit:  I scrolled down into unknown territories the other day and found the following:

“Yoast SEO has not fetched your site’s indexability status from RYTE.”

Well, now.  Should I be happy?  Worried?  Scared?  Curious?  Alarmed?  Offended?

 I decided to parse the sentence.  I quite like the word “fetch.”  It conjures up my West Virginia heritage.  As in: “I’ll fetch the paper.” Or: “We fetched that old dawg from the pound.”

I still don’t know why Yoast or SEO haven’t fetched my indexability.   More to the point, I don’t know what my indexability is and why it matters.  See, that’s what concerns me.  

 Somebody knows something that I don’t.  A lot of people know things that I don’t know.  That’s not new.  I just sort of wish I knew what it was that they know that I don’t.

I suppose it’s a bit like a party that everyone’s been invited to but me.  I don’t necessarily want to go to the party but I sure wish I’d been invited.  

Image of equally confused being – courtesy of moodlytics.com

Wait!!!!

Was that my mother??? 

Barreling down I-95 with her car on fire? ?

With sirens screaming and cars honking ????

And, according to the newspaper article, trying desperately to make it to Wendy’s before the inevitable explosion????

Yes.  Yes, I think it was.

It wasn’t the car that tipped me off.  It was the destination.

If you knew my mother you’d know that she’d have done almost anything or gone almost anywhere for a Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger and a Chocolate Frosty.  I could almost hear her:  “Damn the torpedoes and the flaming car.  I want my Wendy’s.”

Okay, so she’s changed her ghostly behaviors.  No more of those sweet, gentle, fruity aromas, stirring me from deep sleep and then drifting softly away.   No, she’s gone big-time. 

Can’t say I blame her.  Probably no Wendy’s where she is and she did love them so.  

It is reported that the driver escaped from the flaming car. (Of course, she did.)  And is still missing. (Of course, she is.)  The Highway Patrol is mystified. (Of course, they are.)

If only they’d asked me.  That big smoke screen created by the explosion?  I could have told them that it was also a great escape route for a skilled, dedicated and determined ghost.

Yep, that was my mother all right. 

May the peace….and the occasional Wendy’s…be with her.

Fetishes

      

Funny how they come and go.

So, I’ll back up before I begin.

The Mister ruled over our checking account for years.  The monthly balancing act was never pretty.  According to him, I had a laissez-faire approach to specific dollar amounts and detailed reporting.

In an attempt to save our marriage, I wrested the checkbook from him and soon developed my own fetish about bank statements.  Specifically, their bottom line versus mine.  They had to balance.  To the penny.  Hours could be spent making the disparate amounts jive.  The further apart they were, the more intense it got.  

But now?  Well, the fetish has seriously waned.  I lost interest (no pun intended) in the whole thing a few months ago.  Now, I can’t bear to look at a bank statement.  “Balance” is a word of the past. The checking account is the chaos that it appears to be.

My dear Aunt Mary, from whom many good memories flow, had a banking system that worked for her.  She had two accounts.  She paid bills from one until it was a true mess, switched over to the second while the first straightened itself out, went back to the first so the second one, now a mess, could fix itself.  And on it went.   She left this life without an adding machine, calculator, or any other means of balancing her bank statements.  And she was one of the happiest people I ever knew.

She was a great role model and I’ve made a decision to follow in her foot steps. I’m feeling so much happier already and The Mister can have the checkbook back anytime he wants it.  Sooner would probably be better than later. 

Image thanks to GOBankingRates.com

How Easy Is That?

We always say that when something new comes along to make life better.  Easy is the big sell.  And so it is with my jazzy new car. 

It came with bunches of bells and whistles, beeps and whimpers.  Most of which I neither want nor understand.  They scare me, truth be told.  But, and this is a big but, I am quite enamored of my new gas tank.

The latch to the tank on my old (sweet and beloved) car always stuck.  Then, the cap needed pliers to twist it off.  The Mister Rube-Goldberged a fancy tool for me, out of a beer can no less, which helped a bit.

But now! Voila! The new car’s gas latch opens with the touch of a finger and there is no gas cap.  It’s revolutionary.  And just that easy.

It reminded me of an old ditty which my father, a kind and gentle man of word and deed, told me years ago.  I quote it here because it has relevance to my gas tank.  (Warning:  it has a word or two than may offend.  So, stop right now if you’re afraid.)

The little poem praises and extols a similarly revolutionary product of almost 200 years ago: Borden’s first can of condensed milk. 

 It goes like this:

Here by the kitchen sink I stand.
A can of Borden’s in my hand.
No tits to pull,
No tails to twitch.
Just stick a hole in the sonofabitch.

Fast forward 200 years: different product, revised ditty, same joy.

Here by the gasoline pump I stand.    
A snaky nozzle in my hand.
No latch to pull,
No cap to twist.
Just stick a hose in the sonofabitch.

How easy is that?