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.