Monday, September 3, 2018
The 2018 tennis season is winding down. It's a good time to reflect on the year, and perhaps on the game itself.
My love affair with tennis began in 1948, when gifted by my Aunt Catherine with a wooden Bancroft complete with genuine gut stringing, I ventured to the sideline of a tennis court. Sideline, not on the court as a player. For the next couple of years, I was manager of the college tennis team. I learned a lot by observing and observing and observing our players in action. Eventually, this loyalty paid off by being promoted to playing status. On the third doubles duo to be sure, but varsity nonetheless. My rise up was aided mightily by the team captain, Taney (pronounced “Tawney” ) Willcox, and player John Bateman. My college record was mediocre. However, I did earn my letter.
Off campus, I battled in singles play with my lifelong pal, Hugh Jones. This competition was marked by rare brilliance, nonstop bickering as to whether a shot was in or out and a bedrock of fraternal affection that has served both of us well over more than a half century. So here I am now in my 90th year, rich in tennis memories of the Greats I saw play the game and of matches where I worked the lines as an official. (Not the least of which was calling the center line when Pancho Gonzales was serving. Unable to move fast enough to avoid his blistering serve, he nailed me twice in the chest.)
The equipment has changed dramatically from the days of my 1948 wooden Bancroft. High tech racquet innovations, plus an emphasis on player physical conditioning have resulted in booming serves and volleying from the baseline, a far cry from the all-court movement that was the hallmark of those long ago days. Young spectators today know only baseline play. Any departure from slugging it out “long distance” causes gasps from the gallery.
I gasp too. But mine is more of a sigh of regret that the game has become so one-dimensional.
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Newspaper people are wont to look ahead. Inevitably at some point, “looking ahead” becomes “now.” That moment has come. Senator John McCain has moved on to the Great Unknown. Knowing of his physical challenges, I have had John McCain on my mind for some time. Along with my personal sadness, however, I will always be remembering the happy time Joan and I shared with him one night at a military ball.
For me, McCain was the epitome of a military person. A no-excuses kind of guy. Many of us who wore the uniform, certainly those of us who had relatively easy service, will always wonder how we would have stacked up against his standard of courage when facing brutality as a prisoner of war. Reading the excerpts of what McCain and others went through in captivity makes you sick to your stomach.
For most of us, it was an honor to serve in uniform. The three words “Duty, Honor, Country” mean a lot. Later on, as veterans, they epitomize our pride when recalling our time in the service. We cherish these three words when we honor those who gave their lives in defense of our nation. We remember as well those who sacrificed through endless days as prisoners of war.
Sometimes it seems like we have so few heroes anymore. It's not true, you know. They exist everywhere across this blessed land. We just don't know about them because they serve silently, or until some event places them in the spotlight.
The President of These United States is, by virtue of his office, the Commander in Chief of The Armed Forces. What a sad, sad day it is when Mr. Trump failed to even mention Senator McCain's name when he was honored by Congress and We the People. Until he had to.
Monday, August 20, 2018
It was Harry Truman who said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get yourself a dog.” Well, I have an even better idea, Mr. President, and it's called “get a spouse.” Friend, lover and so much more! With 300 million souls here in the USA, and Canada and Mexico nestled right next door, there's got to be somebody just right for you as there was for Charles Reilly, Sr., Charles Reilly, Jr., and Charles Reilly, III ! So do your own homework and start looking.
Years ago somebody in our extended family, probably young Jeffrey, started calling dogs “doggers”. The name stuck and doggers they are to this day.
I mentioned in my preceding column that some people are 100% animal lovers and others less so. I am in the latter category. I do not dislike doggers but I do not place them in the top drawer category along with sports and great-grandchildren. However, there were exceptions. “Shammy” was an exception. She was a gentle Yellow Lab and my take-a-walk buddy on fair days and snow-on-the-ground days. We two marched the township. One hiking day I dropped my key ring with the car, house and whatever-else-was-important key on it. Trying to retrace my steps was not a treat I can tell you that. I was stumbling along on a hillside, muttering when Shammy pulled on the leash to the right side. “Lo and behold !” as writers used to say. There was the ring with all those keys peeking out from a clump of snow. Shammy would have gotten a Guinness that day, save for the fact she did not drink or smoke.
Eventually, old age caught up with Shammy just as it does with all doggers and dogger-walkers. Joan and I will never forget the day when our sensitive veterinarian, St. George Hunt, picked her up in his little SUV and took her away. Shammy mournfully looked out the car window at the two of us. We three were a portrait of sadness. It is tough to tell even as I write these many years later.
Friday, August 17, 2018
Many people are animal lovers. Loving dogs especially. My own Dear Heart is one such. Truth be told, she would make an excellent veterinarian assistant.
How we relate to our four-legged friends probably has a lot to do with how we were introduced to them early on. My brothers and I grew up with Great Danes, a noble species. “Gainor” was our first. She was so beloved her name was eventually passed on to another Dane in our household. There is, somewhere, a formal picture of the young Reilly Boyz sitting on the floor around Gainor. Mischievous brothers in placid poses which no doubt had to do with the serenity projected by regal Gainor.
When we were little guys everything and everybody was big. And Gainor was very big. She was loyal, friendly, and a marvelous, comfortable cushion. She was also obedient. When Cousin John walked up the pathway to the picket fence surrounding our porch, I yelled: “Sic him!” Gainor was up and over that fence in a blink. Heartbeats paused all round, notably Cousin John's. After assuring that John was okay, my mother then turned her attention to me. Several very long days followed. I have not issued a command to a dog since that moment at the picket fence. When Gainor departed for Doggie Heaven the air went out of the house. Eventually, Gainor was replaced by Timmy, an English bulldog. Timmy was everything Gainor was not. Regal bearing was a non-starter. He was friendly enough but a slobbering soul if there ever was one. As the years rolled by, there were several other misfits in residence.
The responsibility for ending the household partnership between dogs and humanity laid with Good Old Dad. My standard exit line was “it's not fair to keep a dog all cooped up when they need lots and lots of room to run around. Like on a big farm.” That statement is an evergreen with my now-adult offspring. When there's any kind of misunderstanding one or more of them will bellow “it's off to a farm!” Kids nowadays embrace the “he's/she's part of the family” philosophy which neatly overwhelms objections from any parent anywhere. There's no more shipping the unwanted off to a farm.
(I've got to sign off now because of my editor's word-count rules. Try to join me next time for my closing column on “Doggers”.
Friday, August 3, 2018
“There is Faith, Hope and Charity. And the greatest of these is Charity.”
Faith, Hope and Charity pour forth from a theological spring with the names of revered saints and a 1001 other references. FH&C have been around for centuries. They trip easily off the tongue. But practical applications in the real world are not so easy to come by. Charity especially.
Some people say paying taxes is a blessing because we generated the income to tax in the first place. Sort of a brick on the back for doing well. Likewise, charitable giving presents some sense of worthiness. We are helping those in need, PLUS we can lessen our own tax bill by claiming a deduction. Paying taxes is universally detested. I trace my own dislike of this scourge to my paternal grandfather, T. F. Reilly. T.F. reputedly kept two sets of books, causing my father, who worked for him, a lifetime of acid reflux while awaiting the knock on the door from the IRS.
On balance, giving is good, but at what cost? How do you select the person or cause to be a recipient from the mob of worthies assaulting our limited treasuries? People like thee and me certainly can't give to one and all. Charities today are professionally marketed. They know the buttons to press, the notes to play on our heartstrings. I watch the toll their pleadings take on a good soul like my wife. Unsolicited trinkets leave her guilt-ridden because she can't open her checkbook each time. She has been encouraged to keep a list of donations we make because this lightens her sadness a bit when she finds a charity's name is already on it. Still, it's just a band-aid.
We need money in order to give it away. We have to strike it rich, and quickly. Crowdfunding has appeal but that is largely over-ridden by common decency when so many others in the neighborhood are in dire straits. My only hope seems to lie in winning the lottery.
Monday, July 2, 2018
There is talk, talk, talk about borders these days. How do we secure them? Why we should not separate children from their parents who are trying to come into the USA illegally. And much, much more. If you live close to a border as we do, this issue is on the front burner bubbling away 24/7.
We citizens are entitled to speak our minds freely. It is also one of the big reasons many unfortunates want to gain access to our blessed land. True, freedom is not fully appreciated by those of us who enjoy it as a birthright. We breathe it just as easily as the air. But when we see the faces and hear the voices of those who suffer from a loss of freedom, it becomes quite another thing altogether. We pay attention.
The issue of US residency is critically important to ALL of us, not just those outside waiting to get in. We really should put heat to the feet of our elected officials to resolve the immigration and citizenship dilemma. We cannot allow Washington to kick the issue further down the road. It is far too important to delay, again.
Florida has an abundance of transplanted Northerners, senior-seniors and Hispanics. I'm two for three here, leaning toward the Hispanics on the third, although my credentials are shaky. Long years ago the United States Army felt that my schooling which included four years of studying the Spanish language marked me as a special soldier. While the rest of the draftees in my group were marched off to the infantry, I was held aside for the Language School in Monterrey, California, where they were churning out interpreters.
Placed in an empty barracks taking various tests, I never progressed far beyond how to identify myself, “me llamo Carlos” (May Yah Mo Karl Oss) and the names of a few Mexican beers. When the testing scores came back, I was firmly at the bottom of the list.
Sunday, June 24, 2018
In a recent column, I mentioned my admiration for women. Not just my wife, mother, grand-daughters, other female relatives, and friends, but all women. Not everyone feels this way. Yes, unlike the difference between being alive and the alternative to that state, cheerleading for women isn't a slam dunk. It can get complicated. I did not say women are, like men, simple souls. It seems prudent to admit up-front that along with being irreplaceable in society they are also very complex. If you are challenged in your thinking about women, I suggest taking a new look at that sex with a positive eye. Concentrate on their uniqueness. One way to do that, it seems, is to identify the qualities in specific women who move easily among groups of men, groups of women, groups of men and women.
It's easier if you pick one. We have in mind our friend, Barbara. What is it that she possesses that makes her so effective in business and social settings? Sounds corny I guess, but making a list of her positive qualities worked for us. You may have another approach, if so, that's your choice. My wife and I started out by jotting down Barbara’s strengths: There are the obvious ones - she is an attractive, hard-working woman, supportive of her colleagues, consistently reliable, a great communicator of information, an even better listener. She's compassionate and genuinely interested in other people (all kinds of people, from executives to doormen.) From early on she decided she wanted to help men and women get where they want to go in this life. Her professional career was designed to do just that.
Barbara always keeps the focus on others, never allowing the spotlight to linger on herself. Perhaps this is a holdover from her days as a young teacher where it's quite true that “they don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
People know Barbara cares because she does. It shows.
Monday, June 4, 2018
My late (and I'll add “great”) mother-in-law used to rebel against the very thought of being placed in an assisted living facility/nursing home. “I don't want to be around all those old people!” thundered our 90-year-old woman. Her daughter (my beloved wife) and I lived through a never-ending twilight zone caught between tears and fury. We used to think we were the only twosome in America suffering this pain of dealing with men and women playing in the end game.
These days we are in Act Two of this long-running human drama. The big difference this time round is that the 90-year rebel is ME. Time certainly does fly, and with it the living we used to do with little or no effort. Only yesterday were we gliding through life smiling and nodding our heads at occasional oldsters with canes or walkers. Truly, it is something else to BE one of the shufflers in the parade of ancients. It is another world altogether. We now wait endless hours in doctors' offices full of senior-seniors. “Pain management” has become big business and the product is old people like me. On top of all the endless waitings, evaluations and examinations comes a brand new test for us – a challenge to appear as normal as possible in order to avoid “one of the nursing homes filled with those old people.” Not easy.
Let me place two thoughts before you, dear reader: First, you are not the only one to be challenged by having older people to help. Two, before you know it, the old person needing assistance, understanding, and encouragement will be you.
Thursday, May 31, 2018
The old maxim “Don't ever lose your sense of humor” is solid gold. I have no idea who first said it, but credit that him or her with saving the sanity of many, me included. Let's look at a current challenge to peace of mind.
At one time things were simple. I lived through such days. Bet you did too, although probably not as far back as this writer. Then along came innovations, one after the other. Telephones, for example. Picture Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the phone, urgently speaking into his end of the contraption to his able assistant: “Mr. Watson....come here…I want to see you.” In came Watson and the rest is history. If Bell were here today and saw million and millions of men and women standing around and seemingly talking into the palms of their hands, he might wonder why he ever made that first telephone call. Who knows?
No question civilization benefited immensely from the invention of the telephone. Routine matters and emergencies alike. General Custer up there on that small hill at the Little Big Horn could have found it a lifesaver if he had phoned for immediate assistance.
Along with positive benefits comes the Devil's work. We all know the agony of endless “prompts” and recorded messages. But none can top the one saying “your call is very important to us.” Really? Then why, Ms. Recording, do you have to repeat it again and again even as we wait and wait? Recently I hung on with a hope I could actually speak to one of those representatives “currently assisting another customer.” I wanted to ask this very question. No luck. My supply of patience went down the drain after eight repetitions of “your call is VERY important to us.” Is it? I don't think so.
Thursday, May 17, 2018
A White House aide has been widely quoted for her remark that Senator John McCain's voice on a political nominee's eligibility “doesn't matter, he's dying anyway.”
Saying she is widely quoted misreads the situation for “widely condemned” is far more on target. Even a little awareness of McCain's service to this nation should put him above such disrespect. “Sad” is another word that immediately comes to mind.
Any group of people anywhere contains its share of incompetents. And yes, we expect more from certain professions, communications is one, than others. Yes again, the names of the groups represented by a spokesperson call for extra research and more careful wording before going public with any pronouncements, large or small. Let alone one that is moronic in the eyes of people everywhere.
So now we come to this – a genuine hero, a national treasure, being belittled by “a White House communications staffer”. Previously unknown to virtually all of us, now known not only to God, but to honorable people around the world. Can it get any worse? Yes, it can. There is no public apology from the sinner, Ms. Kelly Sadler, or from the White House where she receives her paycheck. Can we expect contrition from President Donald Trump for what happened on his watch?
No. Not in this age of deteriorating ethics and a general dishonoring of our cherished values. We will continue to reap what we have been sowing.
Friday, May 11, 2018
An acquaintance with several academic degrees proposed to us with straight face that women have a genetic trait that makes them talk, talk and talk. They cannot control it. At first, I thought he was kidding, but no. I suggested to him that “modern young women, and some not so young, are not the deferring damsels of past generations. Pick your audiences carefully when you expound on this theory, pal, or you might suffer severe consequences. Perhaps ending up speaking with a far higher pitch to your voice.”
I know a broadcaster, poised and smart, succumbed to impatience with a woman driver swerving on the highway in front of him while talking on her cell phone. Lowering a window he bellowed: “Get off the (bleep) phone, lady!” This time the woman did not talk but replied with the universal one finger salute.
My wife reminds me that men and women communicate in different ways. Men in general talk to the point, few words, key substance. Women, on the other hand, add detail at every turn of phrase. Is one better than the other? Not necessarily. The period of time involved defines the best approach. If the building is on fire we don't need to know the make-up of combustible materials in the rooms, nor what color they were, or when they were purchased. The priority, in this case, is spreading the word to one and all about immediate danger. Later on though we do need to have detail after detail in order to set the cause, fix blame and establish procedures to avoid repetition of disaster.
It's not just women who are doing the talking. Men are into the act as well as teenagers who have turned it into an art form.
Maybe Watson shouldn't have answered the call.
Friday, April 27, 2018
From time to time I write about Snowbirds from the Northlands visiting Florida. I try to be evenhanded in outlining the pros and cons of living down here as opposed to “Up There.” For starters, if you don't like cold weather, take a look at sunnier scenes, particularly Florida, where in fact the living is easier.
But remember “there's no free lunch” also applies to the Land of Eternal Sun. Some random examples of Florida living include “the early bird special” (EBS) preparing for which means you start planning for dinner right after breakfast. EBS menus have customer-friendly dinner prices that knock off a buck or two from the meals in order to lure those of us on Social Security. While “having cocktails” has become an evergreen all around the country, it has become an art form in Florida. It's good to remember though that the bar bill gobbles up what few dollars are saved on EBS.
When the sun goes down, most of us retreat to our little hideaways to turn on our television sets and check the weather up north. Schadenfreude kicks in for a few minutes but is followed by hours of gloom because television consists of TV series re-runs. It could be far worse though since most of the new prime-time viewing is simply terrible. Re-runs of oldies are generally the best of what used to be better. And still are.
Florida is often derided as “Heaven's Waiting Room” because so many of us are senior-seniors. So be it. Most of our old gang on the northern side of the Mason-Dixon Line are also senior-seniors living in retirement homes afraid to go out because of bone-chilling cold. Plus down here the nurses have attractive suntans.
With all the talk of Health Care in Washington, D.C., we Floridians share the perspective that television has the answer for most ailments. Products for every conceivable ailment flash by our eyes night after night. Especially if you are suffering from erectile dysfunction which some say make up 40% (others say 80%) of the TV commercials.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Senator Lindsey Graham reminded us recently that “America is a nation of laws.” The South Carolina Republican was saying that none of us, whether in high office or just slugging along trying to make a living, is above doing what is right legally. This is a profound principle, and worth reviewing.
While there are many aspects under this overall umbrella, rules and regulations that touch on the common good seem to me to stand out. No question we have suffered a general loss of respect for others. And yes, universal good manners is but a distant memory. It certainly “is what it is”! But that doesn't mean we each shouldn't strive to improve things.
An obvious example of violating laws can be seen in the conduct of those who do not obey traffic and pedestrian rules. Many do so by openly defying them with a “chip on the shoulder” attitude. What's the point? People, certainly including the offender, can get injured, even killed. Young people have long rebelled against “authority” - parents, teachers and in particular during recent decades, the police. The media, on constant lookout for the negative and bad news, have highlighted the conduct of those white police officers who have mistreated young blacks. Bad cops are few in number when counted against the overwhelming number of men and women who wear the badge, faithfully exercising their duty to protect the public. But the ages old saying still stands true: It only takes one bad apple to ruin a barrel, in this case, the reputation of entire blue commands.
There are a lot of young people who are angry these days. Some with good reason; others wanting to be part of violent peer-dominated mobs. There are also those who simply want to call media attention to themselves. In our nation of laws, there are legitimate ways to voice opposition. Breaking store windows and burning automobiles are not two of them. The examples of Mahatma Gandi and Martin Luther King, saints in our time, preached non-violent opposition. It is still the best way to achieve success in opposing injustice.
Monday, April 9, 2018
Basically, I am against the death penalty. I also understand that this subject is debatable among honorable people entitled to speak our own minds in this great USA. But this said, let's look at the possibility that certain people should be given this most final of all solutions.
My candidates are those men and women who make the unsolicited phone calls to our homes. The biggest of culprits among these Devil's disciples are of course the robocalls where tireless programmed robots eliminate the human factor altogether by calling and calling and calling. They usually do so when they suspect that someone is going to be there – dinner time is especially a target. Most people I know are near exhaustion at the end of a day spent in totin' the barge, liftin' the bale, or whatever else makes for a tiring day at work. We look forward to relaxation, refreshment and the companionship of our loved ones. We want to pull up the drawbridge over the moat so we can be the King or Queen in our little castle where peace and serenity reign. Then the telephones start with their awful anvil chorus.
I am but one helpless soul frustrated at my inability to fend off these endless intrusions. Every avenue of potential assistance to me has been cut off at the pass. The Do Not Call registry is worthless as are other avenues of potential assistance. In earlier times we could have some fun by talking back to the “caller.” We could use language not heard since long ago days in the barracks. But that paled after a hundred or so opportunities to vent at the tekkie intruders.
Away from the ringing phones I admire the depth of why I am being pursued. The Internal Revenue Service is one. This is quickly dismissed because I know the IRS writes, not calls, if they have reason to contact me. How about my student loan? I never had to take out a loan thanks to my hardworking parents. (The statute of limitations surely would protect me anyway since my college days were seven decades ago.) There are many others.
We did away with our land line house phone which eliminated a stress-relieving option pursued by one father, namely, ripping the telephone right out of the wall. But now “they” have our cell phone numbers! If you have an idea for us, please let us know. We'd love to hear from you
Sunday, April 1, 2018
Baloney makes up a large part of our world. It is irrepressible. This is certainly so when we talk politics. I am convinced that folks collectively cock their eyebrows when politicians promise this or that. “Baloney” we think!
Today we are going to talk about another kind of baloney – the favored cold cut you find in delicatessens and on menus just about everywhere. Growing up, we Reillys had our own fascination with baloney.
The Original Reilly Boyz were Charles Jr. (me), Bart and Tom. Brother Jeff came along much later (on my 19th birthday to be precise.) The three older boys were united in brotherly connection but also in our love for baloney. Brother Tom, the youngest, mispronounced “baloney” and along came BLONEY. It stayed that way in family fun until Tom grew up to become a lean, mean US Marine and we were less inclined to make him the butt of all jokes.
Bloney became coin of the realm in our house. Withheld from our sandwiches for transgressions, permitted for mid-day snacks only if we brothers cut out fighting and presented a camouflage of harmony.
While the years since have done away with our youth and trim waistlines our love of Bloney remained. The latest chapter for me involves a present-day battle within the refrigerator of our own Florida home. Joan prefers Boar's Head baloney; I remain firmly in the Wawa bloney camp. She won the early rounds until the Pennsylvania-based Wawa opened stores right here in Palm Beach. Bloney returned triumphant to grace my sandwiches once more. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
A while back I wrote a column on the Quest for Youthfulness. The desire to stay young, or at least give the appearance of staying young, is an obsession with many here in the USA. This is not to say it isn't a quest for others around the world. An Email asked why didn't I mention Ponce de Leon, a pioneer in the pursuit of eternal youthfulness? Good point.
Juan Ponce de Leon, or simply “Ponce” as we Floridians call him, is prominent in both legend and real life. While his contemporaries did not record many things that would help poor columnists many decades later, there are some things we do know for certain. In real life he came from a family of distinction, served as a soldier in combat, endured his share and more of political hassle. AND, if he didn't actually discover Florida he was the one who named our state. Beyond Florida, Ponce de Leon sailed around Caribbean waters to such sunny shores as Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. He was a conquistador in noble company with Cortes, Pizarro, Coronado and de Soto, all men of fame in discovering and/or conquering vast territories for the Spanish Empire. We even have a town down here named Ponce de Leon (population just short of 600 souls.)
What Ponce de Leon did NOT do was embark on expeditions to discover the vitality-restoring waters we still refer to as Fuente de la Juventud - The Fountain of Youth. His mission was to acquire as much gold and territory for the Crown of Spain as possible. Period. The whole story of his looking for a fountain of youth started shortly after his demise from a poisoned arrow wound inflicted when fighting the native people who didn't take kindly to the idea of being conquered and enslaved. The consensus is that those who wrote about Ponce and the Fountain of Youth were doing so more for merriment of their readers than recording history. Still the Fountain of Youth yarn was a godsend to cosmetic firms and countless spin-offs that promise rejuvenation.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Where does “good grooming” stop and idiocy start? Recent photography is having a field day with some of our prominent political and/or show business personalities. Comments about outrageous suntans, overly-whitened teeth, hair dye, ill-fitting toupees and a range of other falsifications are rampant in the press and elsewhere.
It's as if someone left the door open at Madame Tussards Wax Works and the figures on display have escaped into the real world.
The current poster boy for over-the-top outrage is Steve Wynn, late the fundraising guru at the Republican National Committee, whose quest for Eternal Youth has him sporting a hair dye rarely – if ever - seen on a human head. Matching that up with a stretched wax complexion and rows of blinding white teeth have served a huge helping of delight to a hungry media.
Yes, there is a case to be made for staying attractive and prolonging youthfulness. There better be, for companies round the world have billions of dollars invested in that premise. Women bear the brunt of this mania for youthfulness; they have been pushed and prodded from early on to be “cute” or “hot” or “sexy”. Not so much the males. While muscular physiques soon enough run south, a blue blazer, success or money can atone for these shortcomings. In the main, guys don't care what other guys look like. Not so for women. Men and women alike still check out the looks of females. It's not a fair world.
For men, what are the answers for retaining at least some visual decency? There are several: Cut down on the suds to give your stomach a fighting chance of avoiding a “Santa Claus” belly. Ditto skipping the “all you can eat” menus. Be the best you can be, then adopt a “what you see is what you get” philosophy. Avoid pretending and camouflaging. Be authentic. However, If you are determined to have a toupee to hide a bald head, at least spend the money and buy a good one that is professionally fitted. Don't save a few bucks by buying this week's toupee bargain. It's not a bargain. That el cheapo $49.95 rug is simply a magnet that attracts every eye in the room.
For women: God already made you special, so relax a bit and enjoy you being you.
Sunday, January 28, 2018
Here is the dilemma:
Must we be either super-informed or depressed? Which way to go? Or, is there a third option?
If we want to be up-to-the minute on everything going on in our community, across the nation and around the world, there are plenty of sources which can keep us informed. Newspapers and radio, long our traditional means of knowing what is happening, are still here. Television and the Internet, newer and with more impact, are slowly but surely being upstaged by increasingly innovative and invasive media. We can determine in a nanosecond the news from near and far. Everything is here and now. That's one side.
IF we want all of this, what is the downside?
Well, the sorrowful fact is that the content gathered may be terribly destructive to our emotions, outlook and even our sanity. Could it finally be that “no news is good news”? Everywhere there is sorrow – fires, floods on unprecedented scale, violence, corruption, greed, dishonesty, outright lies from the high and mighty, the list of horrific happenings is never ending.
Perhaps there is a third way. Rather than embracing the famed “ostrich solution” by placing our heads in the mental sand of complete unawareness. How about this? Since the disarray and danger is all around us what if we decide to be selective by picking just one? By concentrating on one we now have a priority. We could then separate it from all the rest of misery for a day or two, maybe more. It doesn't mean we dismiss the other madness altogether, we just put it in a Group Two category while we focus our attention on The Priority. If you join with another person bewildered by this tidal wave of torturing information (for me it would be my wife) so much the better. We two have selected the horror story of high school shootings here in the USA.
Taking in all the detail on this one subject exclusively can give us a start on a plan for spiritual survival. The second phase is personal action. In this situation it would be inquiring from the community high school as to what are their own procedures for guarding against this sort of tragedy? So too finding out what our police department and medical resources have in the way of safeguards. All of this, and probably more, can lessen our feeling of helplessness.
Doing something rather than doing nothing may keep us positive.
Thursday, January 25, 2018
We are living in a time where many of our idols have fallen to scandal or otherwise. Secrets have been exposed one by one. Is there anything left to tantalize the public? I have a candidate, namely, a woman's pocketbook.
Pocketbooks come in an endless parade of colors, fabrics, sizes and so forth. This is good because the women carrying them vary as well. My wife is a relatively small woman. While she is perfect in every other way, she is demanding when selecting a personal pocketbook and is protective of same.
Nevertheless one day she unexpectedly grabbed her pocketbook, marched over to the dining room table and dumped it all out. This moment of surprise caught my attention for it promised at least part of the pocketbook mystery would be solved. What is actually in one of those things?
The Answer is EVERYTHING. The content was amazing and included precautions for just about any eventuality.
Men, tread carefully if you want to joke about pocketbooks. Driving along recently I felt the car edging to the right. I thought we were getting a flat tire and pulled over. I asked: “Do you have a spare tire in your pocketbook?” The tire turned out to be okay but the joke was dangerously flat.
When off for an evening social, men are used to the request “please carry my lipstick in your pocket.” Loading up on the full content of a pocketbook, however, is beyond the pale. If you were on an African safari with a faithful gun-bearer a step behind, you could give him the pocketbook to carry along with that gun of all guns, the irreplaceable William Evans Sidelock 500 Nitro Express.
But sorry, no guns allowed in the ballroom.
But sorry, no guns allowed in the ballroom.
Friday, January 19, 2018
“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance”. These lines (from Ecclesiastes 3:4) apply to all of us.
I am but one voice writing in this wilderness, but I do wish you many times of laughter and lots of time for dancing. Surely each of us will weep and mourn. Right now Joan and I, and many others, are in sorrow over the passing of Mary Anne Miller Scott. You may not have known her, or even known her name, just as I don't know your own dear friends. But we do know the qualities that make a man or woman special. We also understand why at one time or another we will all mourn the loss of a particular person.
Mary Anne was pretty close to the ideal when we think of a “kid sister”, and all the good qualities that go with that definition. Her older brother, Paul, was a semi-legend in the financial world during his own lifetime. She was not intimidated in any way by his prominence and remained very close to him. Paul in turn was totally proud of his sister, respected her as a confidential adviser and treated her as an equal at every turn in the road. We should all be so lucky to have such a sibling relationship. Mary Anne was honest, kept confidences, was always there when she was needed, retained her sunny disposition even as she faced one physical setback after another as the years rolled by.
In a storybook romance that started when Mary Anne was a 9th grader she had a first date with Parry Scott, the captain of the high school football team who was several years older. They sat together in his car for over four hours talking. The die was cast then and there. After both finished college they married and raised a wonderful family.
Life goes on. Paul Miller passed away, then Scotty died. Mary Anne fought the good fight until she couldn't fight anymore. Now the three of them are together again.
The special Miller big brother/kid sister relationship and the Scott's storybook romance have left us with warm wonderful memories.
For these, we thank them most sincerely.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
If you think of Mel Brooks and his routines about “Jewish Mothers” (JMs), you'll get the picture in a heartbeat. Mistresses of the guilt trip, JMs are capable of putting sons and daughters into mental dungeons for supposedly failing to appreciate a Mother's Love. Several Jewish mothers are among our intimate friends. But they are far afield from the portrait Brooks paints of their concern about every single thing that touches the lives of their offspring. Along with large dollops of “don't worry about me, your mother, it's YOU that I cry over.”
We have a brand new great-granddaughter, Huntley, who caught a cold. She is a Manhattanite, albeit a very young version of that species, and as yet unaware of Bloomingdale's, Grand Central and Central Park. Huntley caught a cold somewhere, we suspect from her wonderful working mother who insisted on balancing business and imminent delivery right up to the moment that contractions kicked in. (The courage of today's young working women will surely be the topic for another column, but for the moment Baby Huntley is the focus.)
Many a parent or grandparent takes comfort in the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy – as in what you don't see or don't know allows you to stay in a sea of serenity. Not so for me in Florida. I worry about every one of these 1358 miles between our house and Huntley's crib. My Wasp wife, no Shamrock she, as well as the Jewish (and all other) mothers in our gang, take a pragmatic view of situations generally. And specifically in the case of my attempts to micro-manage health concerns when her mother and grandmother are right there in the NYC scene watching Huntley like the two Mother Hens they are. Ah, well. Such is life.
I also wondered if Mel Brooks has a routine centered on the plight of males who are parents, grandparents or great-grandparents whose sole role in the miracle of birth seems to be limited to one-liners during Happy Hour.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Watching television while eating dinner is hazardous to your health. For starters most TV fare is enough to make you lose your appetite. Plus, it's insulting to the person who prepared your meal. This said, many of us violate such warnings from time to time.
We Two were watching something or other on the tube when an ad came on showing a child with one arm. This was followed by one youngster after another with serious physical handicaps. Some were missing a leg or part of an arm. Some of the children were on crutches, or artificial limbs. Jarring. Why would they show these poor kids with all of their disabilities, especially during dinner hour? Who wants to see such imperfections in a culture consistently hammering “perfection” in all things? Instinctively viewers would want to turn away.
Which is precisely why such sad realities have to be shown. So that we can't deny them.
This is a hard lesson for most of us to learn; but learn it we must. I began my own education starting with The Shriners. Like many another I know the Shriners from afar – watching them zipping around in miniature cars during parades - Fourth of July, Memorial Day and so on. There they are, middle aged and senior guys having fun. They pose no real danger to anyone and bring joy to the watching crowds, especially kids. But these eye-catching bursts of entertainment are just icing on a far more substantial cake. The story of the Shriners and the Shriners Hospital for Children is extraordinary.
Truly, their work is fascinating – unique research, outstanding medical care, and much more, addressing spinal cord injuries, burn care, cleft lip and palate among other challenges. The Shriners Hospital for Children carries out this mission “without regard to race, color, creed, sex or sect, disability, national origin or ability of a patient or family to pay.” And they bring love along. The vision of the Shriners is to “become the best at transforming children's lives by providing exceptional healthcare through innovative research, in a patient and family centered environment.” Pretty darn impressive.
Equally impressive are the positive attitudes and smiling faces of youngsters under the care of Shriners hospitals. I urge you to go on line (loveshriners.org) to read more about the Shriners and the Shriners Hospital for Children.