“Georgia On My Mind”

Love that song.  Love hearing Ray Charles belt it out.  Don’t love what Georgia’s doing right now by opening for business-as-usual when things aren’t. That Savannah, GA is quite often our go-to town for doctors, doses of southern charm, great food and boutique shops causes me angst.

All of that reminds me of my old high school mottoes which seem particularly timely. I’ve mentioned both of them before, in some blog or another, I’m sure.  

One reads: “Function in Disaster; Finish in Style.”   It pretty much speaks for itself. I’ve got a little sign with those words in my kitchen that warns guests that dinner could well be a disaster but it’ll be served with style.  Right now, that motto certainly has a much broader meaning than that silly little example.

The second motto’s a little more obscure.  It reads: “Festina Lente.” Translated from the Latin into our language, it means, simply:  Make Haste Slowly.

The complete definition of Festina Lente is “to do things the proper way instead of hurriedly and heedlessly; to see urgent things through in a thorough manner.”

If I had a direct line….or any line…to Georgia’s Governor, I would surely send that one along to him.  Those two, or three little words, depending on your choice of language, have a lot of power.  You just have to stop and think about them.  I wish, I hope, I pray that he might heed the thought without my intervention.  

Alas, my silent pleas for the Governor to “Festina Lente” have fallen on deaf ears.  But it’s certainly not too late for Georgia to “Function in Disaster; Finish in Style.”  I’ll think I’ll send that one to him.   Right this very second. There’s no time left to “Festina Lente.”

What’s In Your Pantry?

That strikes me as a slightly personal question but one that foodies seem happy, if not eager, to answer.  And apparently, the more obscure the items in their pantries, the happier they are to share.  Esoterica rules.

Last week, an Italian cook-book author was featured in the Saturday Wall Street Journal.  She freely told the world which staples she simply cannot live without.  Her absolute “must-haves.”  They include borlotti beans, chickpeas, farro, bulghur and freekah. 

Since I have absolutely no idea what some of those things are and even less of an idea why one would find them necessary, I determined that we could never be best buds.  Not that I was looking for a new friend but still.

But if she can spill the beans, so to speak, then so can I.  And it will come as no surprise to most that I depend heavily on Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup, Uncle Ben’s rice (quick-cook if you can find it), canned asparagus and lots of ketchup.  Also Cheezits and Diet Coke. And of course, a large box of Velveeta Cheese. 

My pantry feels paltry without those things.  Just today I cooked up a three-night supply of crock-potted Campbell’s soup, chicken breasts, rice and sherry.  Warm, satisfying, tasty. If that doesn’t do the trick, I don’t know what will.

Not that my pantry looks any different from year to year but I find it to be especially  comforting right now.  Many of those same items were on my parents’ shelves and they got us through some hard times.  I hope they’ll get us through this one just as well.

To Mask Or Not To Mask?

That is the question of the times.

And really, there’s only one good answer.  

Here’s a little history as to how I got there.

There was a time, not so terribly long ago, when our daughter-in-law was in the  super-sick ICU of the University of Michigan Hospitals.  To put even a toe in her room, we not only masked, we gowned and gloved. We even slippered some days.  Not to protect ourselves but to insure that we would not infect her from our outside germs.

She contracted H1N1 , or Swine Flu as it was known, shortly after visiting us a few years back.  Her very healthy body rebelled vigorously and every organ responded, resulting in a total body melt-down.  The next three months were dicey, to say the least.  She was on full life support much of that time.

Fortunately, H1N1 was not the world-wide pandemic that COVID 19 is and the general public was not asked to take preventive measures against it. 

All that’s changed with this monster, of course.

But, back to Michigan for a moment.   We knew exactly what we were dealing with back then and we understood the consequences of non-compliance.  We weren’t afraid for ourselves but we were deathly afraid for our daughter-in-law. We would have done anything to get her back to healthy.  If that all that not-so-pretty, or not-so convenient, weird, papery, one-size-fits-all gear would make one tiny bit of difference, we were all in.

For me, masking is a no-brainer.  We don’t have access to the heavy-duty protective masks that we were issued in Michigan, but we can sure make do with alternatives. So, there’s my answer.  Anything that might possibly help, even a little bit, makes my answer a yes to masks.  A resounding yes.   

Oh, and, by the way, our now healthy daughter-in-law fully agrees.

The Unheard Conversation

It’ll come to this, I imagine.  All this social-distancing will catch up with us. We’ll talk only to ourselves, muttering sweet nothings or not-so-sweet nothings.  It’ll just be our own id and ego….battling it out. 

Just yesterday, we…..myself and I..….had this little tete-a-tete:

Let’s wash our hair today.

But we just washed it yesterday.

Was it really just yesterday?  Seems like a week ago.

Time’s funny these days.

Anyway, let’s wash it again today because there’s really nothing else to do.

But remember yesterday when we washed it, and I know for sure that we did, we commented on the shampoo getting low.

How low?

Well, we said that it was quite low and that we wouldn’t be able to get to the store any time soon to get more.

We said that?

I’m certain that we did and we also discussed not having much of our favorite hair gel.

Well, I, for one, still think our hair looks nasty and I think we should wash it.  Today. 

Given all the issues that I have pointed out, I beg to differ.  Strongly.

Are we having a tiff?

It would seem so.

What shall we do?

How ‘bout a hug?


Wow, your hair smells really good.

So does yours.

(And no, we don’t have to practice social distancing in this instance since we are one and the same. So, hug yourself today. There aren’t a lot of other people who can.)

Life in the Time of Corona

(With heartfelt apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of “Love in the Time of Cholera.)

Here are a few life-lines that keep us somewhat sane during this time:

Watching a great Rom-Com we missed first time around.

Knowing our temperatures are comfortably below normal.

Face-timing with family members, both far and near.

Finding, not one, not two, but three, little bottles of Purell in the back of a cupboard.

Maintaining an ample stash of Diet-Tonic water in the pantry.

Whoops.  Not so fast on that last one.  With a limit of two quarts of tonic water per grocery visit, there’s no such thing as an ample stash. And, since it’s a requisite staple for our 5:00 pm cocktail hour, we rely on an ample stash.

So, we ask why?   Why only two quarts?  Why, of all things, would diet tonic water be “limited?”   Not that we hoard, but we do go through a fair amount of it and it’s good to know it’s there.  So why? Why can’t we buy more?

The answer came quickly once we thought about it.  It’s the quinine, of course. And, yes, it would be wonderful if quinine could, indeed, be an antitoxin for the disease. We’d be the first in line to offer our dwindling support to the cause.

Right now tonic water’s scarce. It’s flying off the shelves. We grasp at straws. And bottles of quinine. Maybe, just maybe, quinine would help if we contracted the disease. It all sounded promising for a few days but, sadly, science tells us this rumor is just that.

During that short time, our stash went down and our hopes went up. I sure wish it had stayed that way.

I’m Puzzled

I’m puzzled as to why I turn, compulsively, to puzzles when I’m stressed.

I load up on volumes of old New York Times crossword puzzles.  They’re blank canvases, ready to be completed.

I order new jig-saw puzzles.  Those jagged little pieces are just begging to be put together.

I guess I do puzzles because they’re concrete.  The crossword puzzle answers and the jig-saw pieces fit together just so.  The satisfaction of making that happen is calming.  Rewarding.  What you see is what you get. No ambiguity.  No discussion.   No bias.  It is what it is.  There’s one solution and only one.

Then there’s the “Ah-Ha” factor of putting the pieces together successfully. It sure beats the “Oh-No” factor of watching the news.

Puzzles have edges, parameters. You know where they start and where they’ll end. Make a mistake in the crossword?  Erase it and put in a different letter.  A jig-saw piece didn’t fit quite right?  Slip it out and try another one. You’re in control.  It’s a small way to make order out of chaos.

It’s hard to get our heads and hands around what’s happening right now.   There certainly aren’t any quick solutions.   No easy answers. 

So give me my jig-saws and crosswords.  They bring a dollop of comfort and a small dose of distraction to my small, and increasingly isolated, world.

The Go Box

If you live in hurricane-prone territory, you have a Go Box.  It’s got all the hurricane evacuation basics.  A little extra cash, hand-sanitizing wipes, power bars, water bottles, some first-aid gear, medicines, pet supplies, a few food staples, Kleenex and so on..  It’s at the ready when/if evacuation becomes mandatory.  

Here, on the coast of South Carolina, deep in hurricane land, we all have one.  Sure, there’s more to do at the last minute but those Go Boxes give us a jump start on our trip to safety.

As a friend said recently, we know how to leave.  We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.

But right now, we’re learning how to stay.

Hurricanes have defined edges.  They’re scary but the end is in sight. The attack zone is identified. A safe place is within driving distance. We hope for the best and we plan for the worst. 

This virus we’re dealing with has no discernable parameters. We have no idea what it’s likely to bring our way.  Or when, how, and where it will end.

So we have, in our house, a Stay Box.  It looks a lot like a Go Box only bigger.  Much bigger.   There may be more wine in it than in the Go Box.  Certainly, more food, more supplies. 

If we could, we’d leave, of course.  Get outta here. Go where it’s safe. Where the virus isn’t.  Gather up the Go Box, the cats and hop in the car.  But, that won’t work this time so we stay put and, just as with hurricanes, we hope for the best and we plan for the worst.

Oh, To Be Chic

We try.  But, we don’t necessarily succeed.

On the whole, we’re relatively comfortable in our clothes.  We enjoy bright colors, old tee-shirts, pleated khakis and mis-matched socks.  But when you go to New York, you can’t do that.  If you want to be chic, or not stand out like a sore thumb, you have to get with the program. Which is black.  All black and only black. 

And so it was, in order to be chic, that we packed our black clothes in our black suitcases and checked into a chic hotel in New York.  We knew it was chic because it was black.  The rug, the chairs, the lamps. Ditto the tables, the bedspread.  Also, the sink and the mini-fridge.

The lighting was chicly dim.  The closet was chicly small.  The clothes hangers were chicly dark grey.  The ever-so-chic bath tub….free standing in the middle of the mostly black bathroom…..was actually white.  Getting in was easy.  Getting out was quite another issue.

We don’t have cataracts.  Anymore.  But that doesn’t mean that we see clearly all of the time.  Which is to say that we left several items behind.  Of course we did.  Black-on-black just doesn’t have the same don’t-forget-me-quality of hot-pink on bright-yellow.

As a result of all that intended chicness, we’re missing one black sock, my favorite black turtleneck and the Mister’s black-framed glasses.

We’ll be all right.  Eventually.  We’re just a few pieces less-chic than we were before we went to New York.

I Sure Hope He’s Right

I’m down on my knees.  Praying that he’s right.

Praying that he’s right when he tells us that we don’t need to worry.

That this virus is little more than the common cold. 

That it’s not highly contagious.

That no one will die from it. 

That it won’t continue to scare the markets and cause further economic damage. 

That we don’t need to “stock up” on supplies in the face of a broad outbreak.

That we won’t be isolated, quarantined and fearful.

That a pandemic is not in sight.

That it’s all just a deep state political maneuver.

I really pray he’s right.

However, my left brain says we should be guided by science and our health institutions which warn us to be careful.  To take precautions. 

And my right brain says that we should also listen to our own instincts on this one. 

However, if it’s found to be a hoax, I’ll be the first to celebrate.

And, as long as I’m down there, on my knees, I’ll continue to pray for our country.

See No, Hear No image thanks to deviantart.com

It’s Really NOYB

Increasingly, I think that medical questionnaires are seeking information that falls squarely into the category of “None of Your Business.”

To wit:  Our dear dermatologist of many years recently retired.  He himself hadn’t seen the sun in eons but he forgave us our years of using that wonderful “baby-oil, iodine, and aluminum-foil” tanning method, or as he called it, systematic abuse of our bodies.  We quite liked him.

So, just the other day we took ourselves to our brand new skin doctor.  I’d already decided that she wouldn’t be as kind to our scaly skins as our old one, but I was wrong.  A young, attractive, knowledgeable person, she gave us a good once over and sent us on our way.  Come back in a year, she said.  

That doesn’t mean I appreciated the invasive nature of the questions that were asked of us to become part of her practice.

As a breast cancer patient, I’m accustomed to lots of scrutiny.  I freely tell my cancer-related docs about my bad habits, family history, genetic structure and so on.  Those questions and my answers are definitely “need-to-know.”

But, we’re talking skin here.  Some red bumps, a few freckles, age spots and the occasional mole. Sure, the doctors need a little history but I wasn’t sure why they wanted/needed to know if I’d ever had 4 alcoholic drinks in one day

I had the option of clicking “No”. Complete and total denial.  Never did.  Never would have. 

But then again maybe once upon a time I did, in fact, have 4 drinks in one day.  If I did, I don’t remember.  Perhaps, I blacked out the memory.  Perhaps I, myself, blacked out after all that booze. And, exactly why would I ever admit to either one of those things?  The four-drinks-in-one-day thing or that I blacked out?   Further, why would I confess it to a computer whose stuff goes into the great blue cloud?  And stays there?  For ever and ever?   Where my great-great-grandchildren could read it some day?   Not that they’d care but still.

I really like our new derma-doc.  So, I’m not totally bent out of shape about this.  But if ever there were a NOYB question, it was that one. 

Image thanks to emojipedia.org

And, The Winner Is……..American Factory!


Those words, spoken at the Oscars, on Sunday, February 9, 2020, were music to my ears.  The words were also, and perhaps even more so, a balm for my eyes.

I watched, in joy, as Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar accepted the Oscar for their  documentary, American Factory.   

I cheered as they took their place in film-history.

I marveled at their ease, their composure and their presence on that stage.

But mostly, I just enjoyed seeing my old friends.

It’s been a while since that happened.  Clearly, our lives are very different these days but that doesn’t mean there’s not still a bond.    A bond that was created over 30 years ago.  And we all know that old friends are often the best.

Their bald heads each tell a different story:  Steve’s as a result of genetics; Julia’s as a result of a nasty cancer, starting in 2018.  No stranger to the disease, she’s fighting, again, with all her might.  That part of the story continues.

But for now, their hard work, stamina and talent are available to all of us through American Factory, streaming on Netflix.

Who Are They?

Are they Crooks or Cronies?

Perps or Pals?

Burglars or Buddies?

How about all of the above?

A couple of weeks ago, I posed a simple one-question “survey” to a group of friends. The question was: “Have you ever stolen anything?” The responses were remarkable.

With that seemingly innocent inquiry, I learned, to my great dismay, that many of those friends had suffered from sticky-finger-syndrome at one point or another in their lives.

Nearly all of those questioned confessed to “lifting” something that was most definitely not theirs. The majority of the incidents appear to have taken place in what we once referred to as Five-and-Dime Stores or “corner groceries.” 

All of the respondents assured me that their transgressions occurred years and years ago and that they have since been rehabilitated and gone on to live crime-free lives.  At least, that’s their story and I suppose they’re sticking to it.

From what I gathered, the majority of the pilfered goods were sugar-oriented.  Chocolate, to be specific.  Baby Ruths, Mars Bars,  Butterfingers.  There were a few variations on that theme. One helped herself to a package of spearmint chewing gum and another to small box of safety pins. 

One purloined a gold fish, which, lacking water, died on the way home.  Another “borrowed” her sister’s Halloween outfit, most likely, in a fit of pigue.   Still another took one screw (yes, only one) from Lowe’s.  He also took it back.  The guilt was overwhelming.

The stories, as gleefully reported to this pollster, are vividly rich in detail.  Each “con” clearly remembers the heist, the thrill of success, the fear of discovery and, ultimately, the shame of parental punishment.

And each story is funnier than the next.

I’d highly recommend taking your own survey if you think you might enjoy sharing a friend’s childhood memory and a hearty laugh.

Image thanks to risingsunchatsworth.co.za

The Party’s Over

Yes, the party is indeed over and it ended “not with a bang but a whimper.” To cite a bit from T. S. Eliot’s poem, The Hollow Men.

Yes, I watched the impeachment trial.  At least some of it.  People got very long-winded and repetitive and my attention span waned.

Yes, the I kept the television on but the proceedings were little more than background noise.  Barely a hum. 

And yes, like many others, I made up my mind about the whole thing long before the last question had been posed and the last speech had been made.

And this what I concluded:

Lots of lawyers made lots of money.

And I think that’s really all we know for sure.

Let’s PARTY!

Nothing screams party like an impeachment trial! 

It brings out all the stars.  The A-listers.  The Old Guard.  The Wannabees.  The Media.  All of them vying for a spot on the red carpet. Or the blue carpet, so as not to appear partisan. 

All the rest of us can do is sit on the sidelines and watch.  We’re not invited and, frankly, it’s not a party most of us would go to anyway.

So, we’ll watch as our new besties, Nancy and Mitch, Lindsay and Chuck, take their proper places in the throng.  Surrounded by their surrogates and supporters.

Then there are the lawyers. What’s a party without lawyers?  Bunches of them. Alan, Ken, and Rudy are boning up on their constitutional law and hoping to make the all-important zinger. Ditto Adam and Jerry.

Behind the cameras we have Sean, Tucker, Rachel and Anderson.  Each hanging on to every word and gathering nuggets to feed to their faithful viewers.  Hoping to score big for their networks.

The Big Cheese…the honoree.…declined the invitation.  But that’s OK.  This is the time for others to shine and, anyway, we all know he’s watching.

So, get out the crepe paper; blow up the hot air balloons.  Deck the (Senate) halls with silver bells.  Pull out all the stops.

Oh, and don’t forget to send in the clowns.  Or, as Stephen Sondheim might say: “Don’t bother, they’re here.”

Online Survey

It’s rare these days when somebody wants my opinion.  It seems that I’ve “aged out” of relevancy.  Or value.  At least as far as market research goes. 

So, when four educational institutions, each of which I hold in high esteem, asked me to participate in an online survey regarding my political views and behaviors, I happily and energetically agreed.  They assured me that I was selected randomly from a large pool but I was selected nevertheless.  That felt kinda good.

The survey asked me some general questions that I answered easily and truthfully.  Then they began pinning me down with specifics.  And that’s where the trouble started.  I found myself unable to decide among incremental but significant variations.  Variations that assumed that I had all the facts at my fingertips.  Variations that assumed I was fully informed and able to assess each and every nuance.

As the survey went on, I became increasingly aware of my ignorance.  This was true not just for those things of no particular interest to me but for those things of great interest as well. 

When the survey was over, I briefly questioned my right to hold the opinions I do.  And those opinions are strong.  Heartfelt.  Firm.  I believe what I believe.  I think what I think.  I feel what I feel.  And I have no plans to change that.

I guess it comes down to this:  Ask me your questions and I’ll give you my answers.  But, please, don’t confuse me with the facts.

It made me wonder if there are others out there as poorly informed as I seem to be. Others who are in positions to make important decisions without a full and complete appreciation of the consequences. Surely that’s not the case. Because that would be scary. Very, very scary.