Drugs, Death, Dignity, and Decency

21 06 2017

Carrie Fisher died.

She was someone’s child. She was someone’s friend. She was someone’s beloved. She was sick and she succumbed to her illness.

That is the end of the story. Period.

Now, I know many of you will say, “But, she was using drugs. She died from using drugs.”

No, she died from complications of her illness. The drugs were the rash and the fever; they were NOT the disease.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

There are many diseases that are exacerbated by, perhaps even caused by, lifestyle choices. None of that means a thing, once the disease takes hold. At that point, no matter what happened before, the person is sick. They should be treated for their disease.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

Sure, we can lament the cost of other people’s bad choices on our society’s healthcare system.  We can point fingers and whisper – or outright accuse – that “they brought this on themselves,” but we should never be so smug as to think that we are immune to bad fortune.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

We all make poor choices that could lead to serious health issues.

We drive too fast.

We use our phones behind the wheel.

We fail to hold the rail when we’re carrying a basket of laundry down the stairs.

We share our (should be) private lives in very public forums.

We ALL make poor choices.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

Let’s stop pretending that we lucky ones are somehow better than sick people, regardless of their disease, whether they were complicit in its damage to them or not. Blaming people for being sick makes us a special kind of ugly that even the best plastic surgeon can’t fix, and we truly do have only ourselves to blame for that.

Family Food

14 06 2017

In nine days, my mother will host the Murphy family’s annual reunion. Mom was number twelve of fifteen kids and now she’s the last one standing from her generation. My sister and I are thrilled that so many of our cousins will be visiting Pennsylvania from all over the country.  From Florida to Washington to New York to California to Minnesota to Arizona,  we’ll have over three dozen Murphy relatives at the upcoming three-day party. 

I remember some unpleasant dust-ups at reunions past.  Mom’s brothers and sisters did not approve of the way she was raising us. They were not hesitant to let her know “You’re spoiling your kids rotten, Mil.”  I can’t argue that we were treated pretty darned great.  I will say that we are not, however, rotten.

 One of the things we were allowed to do was to refuse to eat foods we did not like. There was no sending to bed without supper, no sitting at the table with a plate of cold peas staring back at us. One of the side effects of that shameful coddling was that I grew to love cooking.

 When the family arrives next week, Mom won’t be hiring a caterer. She won’t be making dinner reservations at any restaurants. I will be cooking for all. It is a big job, but it is the least I can do for my mother who does so much for me – including making me a cheeseburger and bringing it to my high school every day of my senior year because I did not like the cafeteria food!

I am looking forward to a few days of hard work in the kitchen, lots of dishwashing, chopping, slicing, stirring, roasting, and serving to my family, close and far-flung.  If they don’t like what I’ve prepared, I can always whip up something else for them.  I learned that from my mom.

So, it’s a paper bag, but it could look a little like a toque. This was 1955 with my dad, who drank dreadful instant coffee prepared loving by yours truly at age one and a little. He aided and abetted Mom with all the spoiling. How lucky can a kid get!


7 06 2017

Generally speaking, I am a love-the-status-quo kind of girl. I find myself in a lather over a simple half-hour change in a scheduled appointment. A computer update will send me either into a blind rage or the fetal position. You get the gist – I am not particularly adaptable. I don’t like change.

Having admitted that, I AM trying to, well, to adapt. I know that I can get better at coping with the little (and big) changes that happen in my life. It is not easy, but I know that everyone faces changes that they don’t (think they) want and when they do, most folks don’t turn into a hungry, sleepy two-year-old.

A long time ago, when he was about six, my brother responded to another kid’s jab at the “weird color” shirt John was wearing (it was burgundy – a very new color for boy’s clothes at that time) by saying, “You have to be different to be better.”

I think that I’ll try out substituting the word “improvement” for that dreaded c-word – change. Let’s face it, most of the changes we face are not catastrophic. There is always some uneasiness, of course, but there is always some opportunity for things to be “different, but better,” if we look for it.

If you need some evidence, I present this before and after:

“Big Hair, Shoulder Pads and Angst” Early 1980’s


“Wrinkles, Comfort, and Relaxation” Early 2010’s

Dinosaurs Should Be Extinct

31 05 2017

Okay, I am just going to say it.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both need to go away. This rehash of what could’ve/should’ve/might’ve/holy-crap-did happen is not just impotent; it’s destructive.

Oh, and while they’re leaving, they should take Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and all the others who have spent most of their golden years in DC! No one should celebrate their 50th and 60th and 70th and 80th birthdays as an elected official. Seriously.

As old as I am, I realize that, while age can bring wisdom,  it’s not guaranteed. I also realize that one doesn’t have to have passed a certain age to be wise. I am pretty sure there are lots of people who would do terrific work in public office – people who would bring fresh perspective, innovation, and real passion to the challenges our country faces – people who would not look and sound like the same tired rerun of a bad senior center sitcom – but until we quit electing the overstayed-their-welcome-and-usefulness politicians we keep electing, we will very surely squelch any possibility of a better idea.

I am a cranky old lady, but I fully expect to live for at least a dozen more presidential elections, so can we please – both sides of the political spectrum and all those of us squeezed in the middle by our way-out-at-the-edges fellows – move forward, instead of looking back.  Our current DC narrative is, and has been for a while, a really awful story filled with irredeemable characters; why are we intent on re-telling it, trying to find value or meaning in such a worn-out story?

Please, let’s not delay one more day in trying to find and support the next generation of leaders for our country.  The ones we have seen and heard for the last many years are not offering any new solutions and they sure have not solved much for us with the old thinking.

And now, here are two photographs that tie in, tangentially, to this tirade, but one’s cute and the other’s pretty.

Escape is possible. Just keep swimming until those legs get strong enough and then, my little Toad-pole, you’ll be free from the swamp – er – backyard pond.

Columbine, in memory of all the beauty we lose to violence and with hope that we’ll find better answers.

Well, I Hope THEY’RE Happy!

24 05 2017

Those people who planted that zoysia grass . . . I hope they’re happy now . . . with their ten months of brown lawn . . . They are getting what they deserve.

I am a suburban landscape geek, so I research plants, their positives AND negatives, before I bring them into my yard.  I would never ever plant zoyzia grass here in Zone-something-less-than-9; that stuff is only good for warmer climates. Unfortunately, some of my neighbors are definitely not plant geeks and are apparently quite susceptible to late-night infomercials touting the “benefits” of this noxious invasive thug of a diva grass and they did plant it.

They are now in deep mourning over the money they wasted to plant a lawn that looks dead for all but five or six weeks a year, but this is not the time for schadenfreude. My neighbors are not the only ones who suffer.  Did I mention zoysia’s invasive?  The damn stuff is now moving into my stays-green unless snow-covered climate-appropriate grass and muscling it out.

Their error is costing me money.

In the last few weeks, I’ve come to see  that Trump’s like zoyzia grass . . . although someone else invited him, he’s still ruining my party.  The fact that his date looks miserable does not ameliorate my suffering one bit!

What to do?

I can’t remove my neighbor’s lawn, but I can vigilantly uproot the bits of ugliness that try to seep into mine.

I can plant more flowers to act as barriers to the bad stuff and increase the beauty of my yard.

This will help me and my neighbors who can also enjoy my lovely landscape – and I will get so much more out of sharing the good than if I just stood on my property line yelling obscenities at them for planting that damned zoysia grass.

As Candide said, “We must cultivate our garden.”

Here.  I grew these for us.

No Obligation Intended

17 05 2017

This week, I have been involved in trying to extricate someone from some “unintended” contractual obligations – you know, that thing that happens when someone thinks “we don’t need to run this by a lawyer” and then, when it becomes obvious that they were WRONG, I am pestering my good-natured husband for free legal advice to help bail out a friend or organization dear to my heart .

Seems appropriate to more deeply consider contractual obligations – like self-imposed Wednesday blog posts – tonight.   After a fourteen-hour day of meetings and record-keeping as a volunteer board member of a non-profit, helping my computer-illiterate husband prepare photo exhibits for court,  and dealing with an eccentric and demanding diva guinea pig*, I am running on fumes.

But I am contractually obligated – to myself – to post a blog every Wednesday.

Husband reminded me, in the hopes of lightening my mood, of the dramatically awful works released by some pretty famous musicians, based upon their unhappiness with being contractually obligated to create another album by a certain due date (e.g. Prince, Neil Young, Van Morrison, etc.), so, with that fair warning, here I am.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just do it. Maybe if I close my eyes and just start to type, something will come.


Ok, that didn’t work, but it’s at least as good as Here Comes Dumb George. http://nowiknow.com/van-morrison-and-the-thirty-one-songs-about-nothing-but-a-bad-contract/

Don’t feel obligated, but you’re invited back next Wednesday. I’ll be here.

* Eccentric and Demanding Diva Guinea Pig.


I Should Have Known!

10 05 2017

They say, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

Okay, I Googled something I should have just left unknown.  Yeah, I think I was better off not knowing that a cubic yard of mulch weighs between 400 and 800 lbs.  Knowing I had at least two tons of the stuff in my driveway, waiting for me to move every one of those ten yards to my many flower and shrub beds was daunting.






They had a point.



They also say, “Pace yourself.” 

I can’t just let that mountain sit in my driveway, taunting me, encouraging the neighbors to think I am too lazy (or too old) to git’er done.  So, while I will allow that They might have a point with that first adage, that second one did not resonate with me.


They are all talk and no action!

In the last three days, I shoveled, wheel-barrowed, and spread about ninety percent of the mulch monster.  I was sure I could finish the job today . . . right up until the moment I was sure I wasn’t.  With just a few more laps to go, I couldn’t reach the finish line. I was beaten.

In the shower – leaning on the wall for support – I berated myself for being a quitter.  At least I was smart enough (using that phrase loosely) to put down the shovel before I did major injury.  I was dumb enough, though, to feel defeated because  I MOVED OVER A TON AND A HALF OF MULCH BY MYSELF IN JUST THREE DAYS!

What do I have to feel defeated about? I know people half my age who can’t carry two bags of groceries into the house.  I know lots of folks whose bodies are full of replacement parts; I’m still all original – beat up, but in working order.  I should feel grateful for my good health, even if my brain is a little iffy!

They also say, “Be kind to yourself.”

We should listen!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to enjoy half a bottle of ibuprofen and try to find the energy to climb the stairs to bed.