Who’s Watching?

We are.  The Mister and I are watching the Jan. 6 hearings.  Closely. We know we’re not in the majority, but that’s okay. 

In thinking back to other hearings, we found that around 100 million viewers watched at least a portion of the Watergate hearings in 1973.  That equated to some 70% of US adults at that time.

The Clinton/Lewinsky hearings in 1999 had a steady viewership of about 80 million viewers – about 40% of US adults.

The McCarthy hearings had about the same response.

Reportedly, opening night of the current Jan 6th Committee hearings drew some 20 million viewers, equating to 8% of adults in the US.

The second hearing, aired during the day, drew 11 million, down to about 5%.

The third and fourth Jan. 6th hearings each drew about 9 million, or approximately 4%. We can assume that the 5th hearing’s audience was about the same.

The decline in actual viewers and percentages of those who follow important, democracy-challenging, events is truly remarkable.

In a theater-of-the absurd comparison, O. J. Simpson, in 1995, had about 150 million followers, or about 75% of our population, who tuned in nearly every day of that seven month event!

So, maybe the real question is: Who’s NOT watching the Jan. 6 hearings? And, more to the point, WHY aren’t they watching? Is it simply indifference, which is antithetical to the whole concept of democracy? Or it is something else entirely?

Finally, a postscript to all the Roe v. Wade protestors: Carry on, please. Peacefully and in force. For the moment, you are our great hope. There IS power in numbers. We have to believe that.

Cartoon sketches courtesy of fineartamerica.com and 123rf.com

“Pregnancy Keepsake”

I enjoy the Wall Street Journal crossword puzzles.  Have for years.  Tuesday’s puzzles are rarely a problem.  The grid fills quickly and easily. 

Such was not the case last Tuesday.  The 35-Across clue, “Pregnancy Keepsake,” totally threw me.  It was nine letters long so obvious answers like “baby,” “infant,” “child,” or “newborn” didn’t do the trick.

“Umbilical chord” came to mind, but it was too long and surely, surely, would never be considered a keepsake.

“Stretch marks” and “varicose veins” also didn’t fit.  And while I wouldn’t call them keepsakes , they do, by virtue of their everlasting and unwanted presence, serve as reminders.

Clearly, the only path to the answer was through the letters surrounding the curious clue.

The AHA moment came as the answer slowly emerged: “belly cast.”   Seriously?  That was the answer?  Belly cast?  

That’s the answer, all right.  I checked and doublechecked. And yes, it’s a real thing. Furthermore, a good one can set you back a pretty penny….$2,500.00 or more. Sure, you can cheap it for around forty bucks, but if you’re gonna do it (questionable at best), I suppose you might as well go all out.

So, thrilled as I am to have a new word in my vocabulary, I’m struggling to think how I might use it in a conversation. And perhaps it’s my age, but the answer to that befuddles me just as deeply as the mere thought of anyone, for any reason, wanting a memento of a stretched-to-the max, super-extended belly. But again, that’s just me. Times, they are a-changin’.

Reunion Field Trip?

The Mister had a college reunion this weekend. Alas, we didn’t attend. We’d planned to be there, but stuff happened so we stayed home.

Even if we’d gone to the reunion, we wouldn’t have marched, all decked out in school colors, down the main drag or gathered in large celebrations with other classes. We had something a bit smaller in mind, namely spending time with a group from the Mister’s fraternity and their wives whom we’ve know for a long, long time. It was truly going to be the “refresher” course we so sorely needed and wanted.

Just as we were feeling quite sorry for ourselves, one of the Mister’s fraternity brothers sent this video along to us. Given that their class is now firmly embedded in what’s known as ‘The Old Guard,” the potential for this sort of hysterical mis-behavior is certainly real. Maybe staying home was the better part of valor, after all.

To see what I mean, just click here!

Video courtesy of YouTube.com

Leonard Bernstein conducts West Side Story

Looking for a diversion?

Something to make your heart soar?

Something to lift your spirits?

Something to keep you on the edge of your seat with joyful anticipation?

Something to leave you singing and maybe even dancing?

Well, have I got a deal for you.

Leonard Bernstein wrote the music for West Side Story in 1957 but had never conducted it until 1984. He wanted to record it, baton in hand and with his own carefully chosen soloists and musicians. This “documentary” is the making of that recording. It is gripping, astounding, fearsome and beautiful, all at once.

Yes, it’s an hour and half long. But you won’t be bored.

There’s nothing quite like the clashing of bigger-than-life-egos to keep you glued to your seat. Most of it takes place in a bare-bones sound studio (with just a couple of peeks into Bernstein’s Manhattan apartment). There’s the music we all know so well, sung simply into microphones. No costumes. No makeup. No sets. Just pure unadulterated sound from ordinary looking people with extraordinary voices. Striving to get it right for all time.

For the Mister and me, it was spellbinding. And a sorely needed and most welcome relief from other matters. If you want to give it a try, for even a few minutes, you can watch it here!

Image courtesy of npr.org

Natural Disasters

We know, here in South Carolina, that we’ll have hurricanes.  

We knew, back in Ohio, that we would get tornadoes.

I knew, way back in West Virginia, that the rivers would flood.

And so it goes.

Natural disasters happen. We expect them. Usually, we get warnings. We stock up on supplies and then we hunker down and hope for the best.

All those natural disasters are just that……natural.  They’re part of the deal and we deal with them as best we can. We count our blessings when we’ve been spared. We’re relieved when loss of life has been minimal and we can put our lives back together.

And we rate those natural disasters.  Of course we do.  We rate everything. We rate things on scales of one-to-ten or bad to worse. Katrina was bad. Matthew, too. We remember them very well. Others did less damage and are not forever etched in our minds and on our landscapes.

But right now, of all things, we’re rating school shootings.  The latest one in Texas, is rated as the next-to-the worst; Sandy Hill being the worst.

Shame on us.  There should never have been ONE school shooting, never mind a whole list of them.  So many that we rate them.  What does that mean for the children who were killed in the “smallest” school shooting?  Are they less significant than the ones killed in the “worst?” Have we forgotten those children as we’ve forgotten our lesser natural disasters?

As Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut asked recently:  “What are we doing?”   Our answer: “We’re doing nothing.” Nothing at all. We’re just sitting back and waiting for the next school shooting because we know there will be another. And another. Just as surely as we know, and understand, that there will be more natural disasters.

We shouldn’t have to accept that those horrific, senseless and decidedly unnatural disasters are simply a given. That they’re inevitable. That there’s nothing we can do about it. Somehow, some way, we have to pull up our big boy-and-girl-pants and just get it done. I really, really don’t want to mourn another child lost to a school shooting.

Step By Step

That’s what I’ve done for the last 13 years.  I’ve taken it step by step, always keenly, and often painfully aware of every single step.  The left foot is always ready to go; the right one, well, not-so-much. It’s a bit like a recalcitrant child; it would stomp its own foot in protest if it could.

The right foot has “dystonia” for lack of a better name.  It gets cranky, it scrunches itself all up into knots and is reluctant to go forward.    It has a “movement disorder.”

It has visited a broad variety of healthcare professionals.  Here are some, in alphabetical order:

Acupuncturists, chiropractors, holistic doctors, internists, massage therapists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, OB Gyns (hey, any port in a storm), orthopedists, orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, psychologists, psychiatrists, physical therapists, radiologists and sports doctors.

It has been prescribed more medicines than anyone could possibly remember.

It has had botox treatments, MRI’s, bone scans, EMG’s, Xrays, blood tests. 

The prognoses, diagnoses and the treatments have been myriad and, ultimately, all wrong. 

This, unfortunately, is the story shared by most, if not all, who have been diagnosed with dystonia.

But now.

Now the foot has the opportunity to embark on a new journey.  A journey outside the norm. At worst, it will simply be venture of note. At best, I can unbox all those cute shoes I’ve held onto for thirteen years and take a long, long walk with the Mister.

The New Yorker

It’s long been considered to be a thinking person’s magazine. 

Their thoughtful, in-depth essays are intended to engage your brain, cause reflection and make you just a little smarter than you were before you read them. 

There’s also a fair amount of poetry.  Much of it too obscure for the likes of me.

And, alas, the book reviews gravitate to subject matter that will forever be over my pay grade.

And yet, we are subscribers. Again. We lapsed for a spell but are back in the swim. I originally subscribed only for the cartoons. This time around, I was committed to being more engaged and indeed I am, but primarily because they’ve added a crossword puzzle.  Many of those lengthy articles remain unread.

But an earlier issue from this year really took me by surprise.  There it was, right near the back where I usually begin.  It was a cartoon which I simply didn’t understand. I was shocked to the core. If I can’t at least “get” the cartoons, I said to myself, then why am I still subscribing? Then I took a longer look and now I can’t stop laughing.  Here it is for your viewing enjoyment. Or for your confusion and consternation. Whatever the case may be.

Is The Party Over?

Oh, the parties. The tea parties, the bridge parties, the dinner parties, the birthday parties.  All eventually come to an end. Guests rise from their seats, say their warm good nights and go home.  Unless, of course, someone utters those three little words:  “Roe V. Wade.” 

At that point, all hell is apt to break loose.  Woe betide the hostess who thought her party was over and she could go to bed.  But after those highly charged words, the party begins again.  And with no end in sight.

I’m reminded of an old advertisement slogan: “Nobody doesn’t like SaraLee.”  With regard to “Roe v. Wade,” nobody doesn’t have an opinion and everyone is more than happy to share.

The ensuing conversation will ultimately go nowhere.  We know that from the get-go but our two cents worth will be heard.  Over and over again if necessary.

We obviously should have left the party when the going was good.   Before we wore out our welcome.  Before the storm clouds descended. But Roe is a big issue and we honor it by discussing it and voicing our opinions, different though they may be. So, bravo for us.  Our freedom of speech isn’t on the chopping block.  Yet.

And no, the irony of sending this on mother’s day isn’t lost on me. Very simply, as most of us know, when we choose to have children, every day is mother’s day.

Image thanks to unsplash.com

Where Should I Put My Wine?

I look at pictures of fancy, stylish and obviously very expensive rooms and wonder where I might put my glass of wine.  Or my scotch and soda.  Or my Coca Cola.

As I study the pictures, I can’t find a single accessible spot for any of those little goodies because that spot doesn’t exist.  So, I’d be stuck.  Stuck just sitting there with an increasingly cold and wet glass clutched tightly in my hand. And no relief in sight.

That’s one reason we, whose houses aren’t featured in fancy magazines, have end tables.  And handy little pull-up tables.  And coffee tables within easy reach.  We  value ease over style every day of the week.

We forgo perfection for accessibility.  We choose hospitality over decor and we opt for function over form.  If you visit us, you’ll surely see some dust, a few clumps of cat hair, and possibly even a fur ball.  But there will always be a spot for your wine and we promise your hands will stay warm and your glass will be full.

Image thanks to home-design.com

Doctors Orders.

We knew what to do and how to do it.  We’re pros at getting our Covid vaccines.  Two regular shots and one booster shot have taught us well and caused no problems along the way.   So, as we went to our appointment for the second booster, we thought nothing of it.  Been there, done that. 

After injecting us for this last booster, the nurse announced we could not take Advil for any aches or pains for several days.  Now, Advil is not just any ole’ drug in our house.  It’s a critical part of our lives, especially given the sore arms we knew we’d have the next day.

We were also instructed to drink 64 ounces of water every day for the next few. That’s about 8 times my normal intake.  A daunting, if not impossible task, to be sure.

But then came the kicker. Now I was informed that I couldn’t have a mammogram for 4 weeks!!  Four whole weeks!

That was music to my ears and to those other body parts which don’t take kindly to that particular event. I didn’t question what in the world a mammogram had to do with a Covid vaccine. I didn’t care. At long last, there was an order from the doctor I was more than happy to follow.

I’d Love A Coven

I think a coven might be just what I need right now.  What could be better than a gathering of thirteen witches who share similar interests and activities? With that in mind, I’m seriously on the hunt for twelve, good and true, witches to join me.

I’ve never looked poorly on witches.  To the contrary, I have a dear friend who, by her own admission, is a witch.  She’s a good witch, but a witch nevertheless.  She’s led me down some interesting paths which I’ve happily followed and always to my benefit.

But, back to the coven.  I think a few hexes would be in order.  Perhaps they should be at the very top of our to-do list. We’d use our hex-abilities wisely and judiciously, but use them we would.

We’d stir some pots.  And not just those with eye of newt and toe of frog. 

And, of course, we’d fly.  Full moons always beckon and we’d follow the call.  But we’d fly only when no one else was watching.

Most importantly, we’d cackle.   Oh, how we’d cackle.  Our souls would soar with laughter and joy.  Maybe it’s witchful thinking but who knows? Maybe, just maybe, a coven’s in the cards.

Thanks to Pixabay for the modified Coven a-flyin’ image

I Had To Take A Sleeping Pill.

No, not because I’d watched the horrors of war, or some bizarre political shenanigans, or anything Covid-related

I had to take a sleeping pill because I couldn’t stop laughing.

We had just watched the first two episodes of “Julia,”  now playing on HBO Max.  There’ve been other shows about Julia Child but this one, well,  you have to see it to understand.  Sarah Lancaster, who plays Julia, IS Julia Child, reincarnated in-full. And what a joy she is.

As it happened, we were living in Boston in 1962 when Julia first came on the scene at WGBH.  And, yes, that’s a little personal connection for us but it’s not remotely necessary to slurp up this new show with a big spoon and savor every delicious bite.

The new “Julia” takes us back to her early days at WGBH when most of the male-dominated leadership couldn’t see her appeal.  They fought tooth and nail to keep her off the air.  However, and happily for the world, the Big Cheese had some thoughts of his own.

As it turns out, both he and his wife had seen the “demo” and his wife had consequently declared an interest in French cooking and vowed she would faithfully watch and learn from Julia.  The Big Cheese quietly listened to his staff’s negative remarks, assessed their various concerns, and finally said: “My wife’s cooking makes me sad and fearful.  If Julia can help with that, nothing else matters.”

And with that, Julia got her show. The rest is history.

Sketch of Julia thanks to NewYorker.com

Dear Southern Living Magazine:

Let me begin by telling you that I was, once upon a time, a devoted subscriber to your magazine, but when you got all crazy-focused on recipes, that was the end of our relationship.

I actually wish I were still in a position to cancel my subscription right now so as to make a stronger statement on my current topic but since that opportunity is gone, I will share my concern as follows:

Did you really have to name Hilton Head’s beaches as Number One in the country?  Again?

Some of us are less than thrilled about that.

See, it’s all about the traffic.  It’s awful every day now.  It used to only be awful on Saturdays and Sundays (change-over days) but now it’s 24/7.  And yes, I know we’re not in the same boat as New York or Atlanta with their terrible traffic issues, but those cities have more than one main road (or hard roads as we used to call them in West Virginia.)   

You’re coming to Hilton Head?  To go to that “Number One in the Country” beach?  You’re gonna be on Route 278, (that one-and-only), for a long, long time.  There’s no other way in.  Or on.  Or off.  Or out.

We love our beaches.  It’s one of the reasons so many of us moved here.  But we’ve built, and built some more and finally overbuilt.  Much of it to accommodate visitors.  It’s simply not a good thing for our infrastructure or our ecology. 

It’s not all your fault, Dear Southern Living, but maybe you could just tone it down a bit and put us somewhere loosely in the “top 10.”  Please.

 I’ll even renew my subscription if that would help.  For the rest of my life, if you want.   All those recipes, not withstanding.  It would be worth every penny.

It Probably Wasn’t Any Of My Business.

No, let me be clearer.  It was absolutely none of my business but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have some thoughts about it.  So here goes.

There were six of us at lunch earlier this week.  A friend had been visiting and we were gathered to tell her how much we’d enjoyed seeing her and how much we hoped she’d come back soon, if not sooner.

A family of six came in shortly after our arrival and were seated near us.  There were two grandparents, two parents, and two kids somewhere in the 5-7 year old range.  They’d barely been seated when earphones (nearly as big as the children’s little heads) and I-pads were placed on and in front of the kids.  And there they stayed for the duration.

I suppose we should have been grateful that there was no screaming, yelling, fussing, stomping, and all the other annoying stuff kids do when they’re forced to sit for too long.  These kids were essentially mute and invisible.  Stoned, if you will, on their devices.

It was truly none of my business but still I kept a close eye on the scene.  Discreetly, I hope.  I know the kids didn’t notice because they were aware of nothing outside their electronics.  They were perfect little children.  Seen, but not heard.

Hmmmm…..

Is that the way it is now? Like it once was way back in the good old days? All the way back to the 15th century? When a fusty old clergyman, named John Mirk, first coined the phrase that children should be seen but not heard? I certainly hope not. We need young minds and voices in our midst. And maybe, just maybe, they need ours.

Image thanks to Dreamstime.com

What Time Is It?

Such a simple, seemingly innocuous, question.  But twice a year, that question becomes fraught with confusion and angst.

That, of course, is due to the inanity (at least to me) of switching from back and forth from Daylight Savings to Eastern Standard.  And maybe it’s just me again, but those events frequently appear to coincide with a full moon. Beware the full moon under any circumstances. Put the two together and I inch up very close to crazy.

My body struggles for at least a week after the time changes.  My “inner clock” tells me it’s dinner time but other clocks tell me it’s either too early or not soon enough. A 6:00 AM morning wake-up is perfect but if the bedside clock says 5:00 AM, that’s obscene and 7:00 AM means we’ve seriously overslept.  Darkening skies come either too late or too early, depending on which half of the year we’re in.

The clocks in our house are never in synch.  Many are not properly updated. They just sit there and quietly wait for the next time change and then they’re good to go again.  I like that. Maybe I should just do as they do. Time changes be stuffed!

By some accounts, all this nonsense will be over by sometime in 2023.  By my account, that’s not soon enough but I certainly celebrate the plan.