A Month of Thanksgiving – Chapter Four

23 11 2022

Trust me, please. I know what I am going to tell you might be hard to believe, especially given the volume and timbre of the nightly – or 24-hourly – news.

I am thankful to have finally learned that bigotry, which we all agree is terrible, is a sneaky thing. It is a kind of societal shortcut by which we can quickly and easily and arbitrarily decide the value of whole clumps of people without giving it a whole lot of thought. This does enable us to save lots of time and mental energy that getting to know people as persons would require, but it makes our lives ever more shallow.

There are so many examples of this behavior – including way too many in my own little internal civilization – I have become way more sensitive to the times I fall into it. Don’t get me wrong. Some groups are justifiably judged as a bloc. Nazis are bad. Period. People who put up their Christmas lights in September are not (necessarily) bad. So much of the sorting and filing of groups of people we do, often without realizing it, is just not that clear.

We are so divided as a country, as neighborhoods, as families, I hope we will all be more intentional listeners. We need to try to find the commonalities; the differences are well-noted by the few who are the loudest. We can’t just keep on saying “We’re the good guys. We’re filled with love and acceptance,” and then turn around and say, “and YOU guys are all evil and stupid and mean.” Neither of these is true, so let’s stop lying to ourselves and put a little more effort into sharing all that love we profess.

Opening my ears, my mind, and my heart are worthy and rewarding exercises, even if I do occasionally get a little sore from doing them. It’s making me feel less isolated, less fearful, and more at peace with myself and my little world. Give it a try. There’s no membership fee.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This out-of-focus photo is a fair representation of what I am trying to say – the lines are blurrier than the news would have us believe. Here we are, an R and a D, but Phyllis and Paula encompass so much more than those labels. Sisters is a better start!

A Month of Thanksgiving – Chapter Three

16 11 2022

Trustworthy and trusting friends are indispensable. That sacred and impregnable communication link between those few people with whom my heart connects is a lifeline – a tether to the thing that is truly me.

Friends of all kinds are lovely to have. The friends I know because I went to school with them, live next door, see at the garden center or the grocery store are ready sources of smiles, waves, and pleasant conversation. Friends I’ve met only via social media count, too, as they share interests and ideas that encourage and educate me.

Those very few people whose counsel I trust and whose company I treasure, though, are the friends for whom I am most thankful. These incredible people who know me – not just the me I wish people to know – are my self-fact-checkers; depending on the moment, my accelerator or my emergency brake; my kick in the butt or my warm embrace. They are my family, not by lineage, but by design. (This is not to say that there isn’t overlap, of course; I love my bio family, too!)

November is a fine time to say thanks to the stars who shine their light when our way is dark – to our trustworthy and trusting friends. May you know as fine a band as I do.

Thanks to my dear trustworthy friends.

A Month of Thanksgiving – Chapter Two

9 11 2022

Oh, boy, this one’s a little twisty.

I am thankful for nothing.

Nothing to have to fix.

Nothing to have to supervise.

Nothing to have to accomplish.

I am thankful for the lack of complexity and crowded calendar that used to define my life.

I am thankful that, in all this nothing, I find all the important things I had no time to properly notice before.

Ain’t that something!

A Perfect Pair of Poses.
A Late Bloomer with a Bumbler

Nothing Like Autumn Color

A Month of Thanksgiving – Chapter One

2 11 2022

I was tempted to skip this tradition for my November posts in favor of one I was going to call NOOOOOOvember, but my better angels (who are damned overworked and bordering on nervous breakdowns) prevailed, so today, I am thankful for Bryce Harper – yes, the incredibly highly-paid baseball player, Bryce Harper.

There are many reasons for gratitude for this amazing athlete, but I will gloss over most of them:

  1. He is the epitome of a fine craftsman when he is at bat.
  2. He’s been the key to my family’s favorite team, the Philadelphia Phillies, getting to play in this year’s postseason.
  3. He was sure pretty in that old Sports Illustrated edition with the athletes as gods (naked).

The most important thing about Bryce Harper for me – the thing for which I am most thankful – is that my mother loved to watch him play.

Mom was a tomboy, way back in the thirties and forties, so she appreciated athletic ability. She was a child of extreme poverty, so she appreciated grit and determination. She was also a baseball fan, spending many “dates” with my dad listening to the Cardinals on their car radio when they could not afford any other entertainment.

Bryce was everything Mom admired, and she was always excited to see him play. Last night, when he hit the first pitch of his first at-bat right out of Citizens Bank Park, I could feel the kind of twelve-year-old-boy rush that Mom always did when she was here and he was being Bryce.

So, this Wednesday, I am thankful for Bryce Harper for allowing me to feel that very real, very strong, and very wonderful connection with my dear mother. Bryce, Mad Mildred would be proud!

Hey, Harper, take a look at this game face and tell me you and Mad Mildred aren’t made of the same stuff!

Out of Office (maybe?)

26 10 2022

I scheduled myself into a real corner this week, so, with all the necessary and unnecessary apologies, here’s my

Top Ten Halloween Costumes for U.S. Political Personalities (and I use the term lightly):

10.          Pete Buttigieg – Stewie Griffen

9.            Bernie Sanders and Robert Mueller – Statler and Waldorf

8.            Ted Cruz – Wolfman Jack-ass

7.            Lauren Boebert – Zombie Victim (it was a very light snack for the zombie!)

6.            Elon Musk – Rocket J Squirrelly

5.            Liz Cheney – Nancy Drew

4.            Marjorie Taylor Green – The Wicked Witch of the WTF

3.            John Fetterman – Uncle Fester goes to the WWE

2.            President Biden – Walter, the Puppet


Mitch McConnel and Nancy Pelosi – who says Rs and Ds have nothing in common!

Horror-able Mentions:

Major Biden – Hannibal Lechter

Steve Bannon – Oscar the Grouch

Kamala Harris – The Invisible Woman

Dan Quayle – Mr. Potatoe Head

The View from the Cheap Seats

19 10 2022

For a control freak like me, it was hard to drop the reins of a few things I had been deeply involved with for many years, but it was time to do it. Now that it’s been a few months and I’ve had time to consider how my new role – spectator – feels, I’m here to tell you that I LOVE SITTING IN THE STANDS!

Not unlike my sports-watching habits, as I watch the group’s goings-on from the bleachers, I alternately cheer, yell at the players, swoon, cry, and celebrate, but – just like when the game is over – I don’t lose sleep over it. Pretty cool.

I would never undo the experience of being an active player on the roster of the organizations that are important to me – the pleasure of observing is deeper, knowing some of the history – but I do not wish to go back.

When I was VP, Standards for the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, I enjoyed presenting awards. This one to Jill Heir, was a special kick – we are blonds from the same bottle!

Let someone else enjoy the playing time. The view from the cheap seats is great!

Oh, and GO, PHILLIES!!!!!!!!!

I Spy

12 10 2022

October brings out the weird in me. Vivid blue skies and rich amber sunlight contrast with the undeniable (and unwelcome to me) chill in the air.  I find it easy to slip into melancholy at this time of year and I don’t like melancholy.

I need to feel better feelings.

Pretty things help.

Yesterday, I found such a pretty thing. I went to my sister’s for a quick visit and there it was – an accidental work of art. She had harvested her last few tomatoes, mostly green ones, to save them from impending frost and placed them in a simple glass bowl.

They were beautiful.

I am determined to be more observant, to seize every opportunity to appreciate something beautiful. It’s all around me. I just need to keep my eyes open.

Dinner Date

5 10 2022

Nine hundred forty-one miles.

My sister Phyllis and I spent two days in the car and drove nine hundred forty-one miles to have dinner.

My brother, who turned his life upside down several years ago, spent two years living with and caring for our mother until she passed away, then had to navigate life during Covid as a couch-surfer on my sister’s sofa (well, not quite – she had a nice guest room for him), FINALLY got the home he wanted for this time of his retired-and-looking-for-peace-and-quiet-and-simplicity life that is also near his grown children and young grandkids. He moved last weekend to a sweet little place about an hour from Charlotte, NC.

Since John’s the baby of the family, Phyll and I had to go down to see that he’d gotten settled in okay. Really, all we wanted was to see that he was happy in his new digs. We arrived around 4:30 yesterday, toured his wonderful and well-appointed place, then went to have dinner at a barbecue place that his son says is legendary BUT

 No one told us it was not open on Tuesdays!

We found a wonderful little authentic Mexican restaurant, ate far too much, laughed way too loud, and enjoyed just being Mom’s kids for an evening. This morning, after a quick coffee at the Hampton Inn, Phyll and I stopped by to say another good-by-for-now to John and we were on our way back to PA.

Nine hundred forty-one miles for a family dinner date.

Worth the trip!

John-Boy – ready for some fishing, grilling, college football watching, golfing, pool-shooting, and grandkids’ time!

Shep-tember to Remember

28 09 2022

What a lovely day for a birthday celebration, especially one for my fabulous father-in-law, a rabid Civil War historian is a special milestone: four score and seven years!

Shep (his nickname – I called him “Dr. Lewis” until I’d been his daughter-in-law for about twenty years!) is a man who needs nothing, so the only gift I can offer is to cook for him. This year, he requested a steak and chocolate cake, so that’s what I delivered. Seven of us – two of his three children (the New Zealander could not attend), their spouses, his nurse, and his girlfriend enjoyed sharing the dinner and singing and candle-blowing-out and presents and dessert . . . and then the communal food coma. A fine affair!

I wish everyone had the kind of loving family I am so lucky to have. We share the trials and the treats with equal energy. That’s certainly worth celebrating. May we all take full advantage of every opportunity to celebrate – and if no obvious reason is apparent, just make something up. No one’s going to question you if you bring cake!

A Universal Truth

21 09 2022

I love art and craft, I love to look at it, learn about it, buy it, make it, and talk about it. So let’s talk.

This morning, someone posted a statement to a gardening page on Facebook and, as of a few minutes ago, it had amassed over 300 comments, most of them being some version of “you’re a mean/arrogant/hateful person and I don’t like you. “

So what caused all these people to get their feelings hurt? This entry by a woman named Debi:

There’s a difference between being creative and being crafty: crafty needs to find someone else’s creation and replicate it while creative people will implement a concept, an inspiration with their own unique twist; filtered through their own preferences.

I don’t know Debi, but I feel bad for her. I also feel bad for the scores of people who felt compelled to type out their indignation. They are not happy because they chose to look for an insult when I don’t think one was intended. I thought she was acknowledging the people whose original works of art and craft inspire us to try things for ourselves.

Fact is (almost) everyone learns by copying. Even if we never make an “original,” there is joy in making something and that has value. Think about it – we sing along with other people’s songs because it’s fun. Art and craft is no different. We are allowed – we deserve to – enjoy the activity.

The only caveat I offer is that copying someone else’s ideas to make money is not only not cool, it’s dangerous. The NCAA, Disney, NFL, and lots of other big corporations and entities have armies of lawyers who will sue your pants off if you don’t steer clear of copyright infringement.

“But, but, but what about my original stuff?  I don’t want people stealing my ideas.”

Having been involved with people who make their living by combining their skill and craftsmanship with their vivid and fertile imaginations, it can be a little stuffy sometimes to talk “originality,’ so, when we get in those weeds, I defer to  Carl Sagan who wisely and properly observed:

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

It’s my mother’s recipe. I did not grow the apples or grind the flour, but this apple pie is one-of-a-kind and, believe me, it is a work of art!