Life Lesson

To all the people lucky enough to have aged parents still living in their homes, please be ever mindful of their living conditions.

Just because the parlor or living room is relatively tidy and they say all is well, look beyond.

Poke your nose where it doesn’t belong.

Look in the bathroom.

Check their bedroom.

Let them yell at you, because they might.

If they struggle getting out of a chair, does the toilet have a grab bar?

Can you judge them safe in a tub if there is no shower?

Does the shower have a grab bar?

Aging in place is a wonderful concept. Wonderful until disaster befalls someone.

I spent last week helping to find the important things in a home that had fallen apart even as the residents said all is well.

Dust so thick on dressers that it was caked on. Dust an inch thick in all corners. Clothes piled everywhere because, it was too hard to hang them up? Because they were so depressed they didn’t care?

Kitchen cabinets filled with out of date food. Food close to rotting in the refrigerator. Multiples of over-the-counter pills probably ordered again and again from the grocery delivery service because they couldn’t find the ones they had stuffed into cabinets.

Pills on the floor, hundreds of them. Dropped? Refused to take?

Not that long ago, this couple was fully functional. Driving a car (no more), visiting friends (now never leave the house).

Things can collapse so quickly if you’re not looking, if you’re not SEEING.

Yes, love and respect your parents. But not to the detriment of their safety and well-being.

If you are the one getting on in years, letting a few chores slip, getting a little embarrassed about the condition of your home, swallow your pride. Ask for help. Let the help in.

This sad couple suddenly finds themselves in assisted living, never to return to their home — such as it is.

No chance to pick through their personal belongings to choose what brings them joy for their new home. They are left with their children’s best guess at what they might like.

Do you have boxes of stuff? Give it to somebody who needs it.

Is your closet jammed with clothes you don’t wear — give it to somebody who needs it.

Four sets of dishes? Give it to your children now. You’re not using them and never will again.

None of us lives forever. Few of us know our expiration date.

But it is safe to say that if you have crossed over the 70 mark, you are on the downhill. Hopefully well and still have a lot of years ahead, but it’s time to pare down the pile.

It’s time to be clear-eyed about what you can handle and what you can’t.

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Critical Race Theory

It’s a terrible name.

It sounds like an argument and I don’t think that’s the goal.

White Americans who believe people of color, people of a non-Christian faith or speak with a foreign accent live lives exactly the same as white folk suffer a kind of…. blindness.

I have lived my entire life in a very white world.

Never been hungry… hence the thighs.

Seldom lonely.

Never spent a night shivering in the cold, well except for my mother’s third floor attic, but I was compensated by being buried in a mountain of her lovely quilts.

I have seen West Philadelphia. Locked the car doors as I drove through.

I have passed the run-down shacks hiding behind the Spanish moss as we toddled off to Jekyll Island for a week of seafood and golf. Many of the good folk living in these shacks probably hopped a van to come clean our room or cook that seafood or wash the dishes.

They were seldom seen.

I know little about their lives. But I know, for sure, they struggle far more than I ever will and based on the little that I have seen, they are by and large kind, generous, and peaceful people just trying to get by and take care of their own.

Why would I NOT want to learn how their circumstances came to be?

Knowing my family history is fundament to my foundation.

I watched the story of Jesse Owens last night. His strength of character and personal power blew through almost every obstacle; almost.

I know myself well enough to know that if my childhood had been riddled with slights and hatred and hunger and fear, I would have folded into myself.

My successes came from a childhood filled with messages spoken and shown that I was capable of more. That more was not guaranteed but it was attainable if I put in the effort. I got a lot and didn’t have to try all that hard.

There are many stories running through the media today. Some I knew; the horrible treatment of Native Americans, including the children. The treatment of the Japanese, the Chinese, the Irish, the Italians. The slave trade, much of the Civil Rights Movement.

I did not know about Tulsa. I did not know the extent of the brutality of the KKK. I did not know about red-lining.

I did not fully comprehend the economic reality of limiting resources dating back to the earliest times of the US economy.

I have regularly patted myself on the back for my ability to save money beginning at age 6 when Daddy helped me open my first passbook savings account.

I did not know there were children who had to give all they got to the family to keep food on the table. That was not my childhood responsibility. My burden was making my bed, putting away my clothes, do the dishes on my night, and the worst; go to bed on time.

When I left home to stand on my own two feet (the true measure of adulthood in my family) I had thousands of dollars in my bank account, a full time job with health insurance, a car, money for clothes, and paid all my bills on time; including a credit card kept for convenience not loans.

I realize now that was not just “me”. That was parents who could take care of their family without my financial support because their parents could take care of their families because the parents before them and so on… all the way back to the brave or crazy people who got on a rickety boat in England and sailed to Penns Landing to start a new life which they built on land stolen from the unsuspecting Lenape Indians.

How many fully-functioning humans are birthed into slums or broken neighborhoods or towns with collapsed economies? For want of a family tree stockpiling assets, they have nothing to start with and not much to build on except for strong mind and body waiting to be nourished. The Jesse Owens of the world are rare. We cannot, should not expect every child to rise up from these circumstances without help.

Why would we not want to provide a quality education that included arts and music and literature and critical thinking. What wonders could come from nurturing these minds?

I know why “they” didn’t want it hundreds of years ago. The elites of the day enjoyed their eliteness and knew the best way to hang on to it was to keep the “others” ill-informed. For this very reason, my brave/crazy ancestors left England to be free of that oppression.

How curious that our citizens most likely to coil from CRT declare most loudly their patriotism. Convinced that the only way to hold on to the One True America is to deny the sad fact that too many are just like the elites of Old England their ancestors fought to expel from our new world.

I feel the privilege and luck for having been born a citizen of the United States of America. I attended public schools drumming the beat of 1492, Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, Thanksgiving with the friendly Indians, the Red Menace. Most of these were highly sterilized stories.

My personal education revealed Columbus’ syphilis, the Indians weren’t really all that friendly, America’s war machine had more to do with economy than ethics, Nixon was great — Nixon was not great, it is possible to be kind to a soldier sent to a ridiculous war.

We are better than we used to be. And we can be better still. To do that, we need to know, acknowledge, and face the failures of the past and how those failures created the circumstances of today. It’s hard allow room to improve without empathy.

We don’t have to give everybody cash. If we invest in real education in every neighborhood, regardless of the tax base and pay the teachers what they are worth, I believe that we would have a whole new United States of America in about 25 years. Dare I say, America could be great again.

I wish our citizens would soften on the “I got mine. Go get your own.” view in the USA. Think hard about our foundations; how each of us really started out and how much was given; I don’t mean money.

Most of my teachers were women. Many were brilliant. During the earliest years of American education, the only jobs these women could get (unless they were the Jesse Owens of their day) were secretary, teacher, or nurse. This changed radically in the late 70s.

My quality teachers were under paid, but they had no alternative. Supply and demand is at the core of our economy. The day women moved up in the workplace was the day we had to pay more for education.

We haven’t. We are paying a different price.

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That Inner Voice

Many comments, M A N Y comments come through social media.

Some flow by… not interesting, inane, seen it before, too outrageous to consider.

Others …. cause me to think, change my mind, expand my thinking

Few … piss me off; mostly anything rooted in the Trump Experience

Then there are the ones that hang around in my head. I’m going to say it’s because I am more surprised by the source than the content.

Last night I was rolling through the Facebook pages of Clay Buddies. A friendly world (as audited by its keepers) filled with the delights and tragedies of working with clay.

A member shared a familiar story of failing miserably at a skill she normally does with ease. If you have never tried it, convincing a three pound gob of wet clay to transition into a vase is not something that comes naturally. It takes practice and harmony between you, the wheel, and the clay.

I have days when I can perform this task with bewildering ease.

The common days require focus and yet, I will have a failure or two.

Then there is the rare day that I can not do it at all. The first time was confusing, but it happened in a room of other relative novices. It was also helpful that the instructor assured me that it happens all the time and the only solution is to stop trying today. Try again another day.

We all have a center of gravity; a relationship with the universe. We have wobbly days and solid days. It’s good to know what kind of day you are having.

So, back to the woman sharing her frustration with her wobbly day. Another potter said, “Pottery is golf for girls (sorry for the sexist — but true — observation). It takes tons of time, $, is way harder than it looks, and somedays it just does not happen.”

Her profile picture indicates that she is clearly a women under the age of 40. How is it possible that a woman raised in the years from 1980 until today could invoke the term “for girls” in any context?

It’s something my long dead grandmother might have said.

I am inappropriately irritated by her myopia.

This Facebook page is clear that no political posts will be tolerated, but her perspective has politics at it’s core.

When will we as a culture stop pigeon-holing gender?

I could not be silent. My counter was “I am a potter. I am a golfer. I love both. Neither are “for girls””.

Her follow up remark confirmed my suspicion. She did not know what she said or why it is sad that she said it. “Most of the people I know who play golf are men.” Not the point, missy.

My tolerance well has been over drawn of late.

There was the visit with an old friend in the spring We had 10 years of closeness. An important relationship. It began to fracture with the arrival of the 2016 election.

We are staunchly on opposite sides of the fence.

It is damned difficult to get through a two hour visit without some segment of world events leaking in. I managed until she said, “This whole mask thing is ridiculous.”

Before the editor kicked in I said, “Tell that to the one million dead.”

Subject changed. Briefly.

Then she told me her doctor said that “wearing masks will cause a huge spike is respiratory problems. We are not meant to wear masks.”

I decided not to forward the medical journal article to the contrary or mention that medical personnel have been wearing masks for years.

Much like the potter with the limited world view, my friend will never take the time to challenge her acquired set of “facts”.

Times like these, my inner voice reminds me that I might also be guilty of standing steadfast with my own set of “facts”.

This in turn, reminds me that the whole purpose of disinformation is to achieve the critical mass of making all citizens question what is true.

Today’s take away…. the source material for “masks are bad” can be found at InfoWars and Fox News. The source material for “masks are good” can be found in medical journals and Dr. Fauci.

My inner voice is keeping me safe, but I’ll keep checking the sources.

The above was mostly written three months ago. I have had another encounter.

Another important friend. We go back nearly 30 years now. He came through town and we shared a breakfast and a round of golf.

These are the low lights. During breakfast he told me he bought a gun. Early in the round of golf he said, “I think the whole mask thing was a waste of time.” At the turn, he lit a cigarette.

I don’t know how to maintain a relationship with someone so far away from me on fundamentals.

Were these two friends that far away from me before 2016? Who changed? What changed?

Do I write to them and say, I miss you but I don’t know how to have a conversation with you without having an argument. Our past relationship was not about small talk.

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Confused

I am bewildered that anybody still believes that Donald Trump is or ever was a great business man.

He is the child of great fortune.

He was given piles of money by his father while he was alive.

He inherited another pile when his father died.

He has filed for bankruptcy multiple times.

It is well documented that he swindled large numbers of contractors.

These are not opinions. This is not fake news.

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Me too?

If you have seen the TV series “Mad Men” you would have some idea of my work life in 1970.

When not yet 20, working in Philadelphia, my daily commutes through the downtown streets were filled with hooting construction workers. My office life was either being over-looked for advancement because that guy had a wife and kids to support or being looked over by too many men. It was regular leering and even man-handling.

I didn’t think myself naïve, but I was. My experience with sexual advances were from the man/boys my age. I could accept or reject these without any cause for concern or wonder about motive.

But when the president invited me to his office under the pretense of delivering a monthly report normally sent by circulating office envelopes, I had no experience for imagining an ulterior motive… at least not the first time.

My ego jumped to the “he must think I’m an important asset to the company and this is my chance to show how efficient I can be”.

The reality.

His secretary granted me permission to enter his giant corner office outfitted in walnut and leather. He met me at the door and quietly closed the door as I entered. My antenna buzzed, but I was still hopeful.

He offered me a chair as he leaned on his desk asking me harmless questions about the day and myself. Then the awkward pause.

I rose to excuse myself and he followed me to the door where he placed his hand firmly to keep me from opening it and with his other arm wrapped me up and hauled me in for a kiss.

This, my friends, is sexual harassment. Full stop. Had I not been me, the next thing to happen would be unwanted sex; yes rape. And even if I had raised holy hell about it, he would have gotten away with it. No question.

And, what pray tell, was the secretary guarding the door thinking at the time?

We’ve come a long way, baby.

In some ways, maybe too far.

Anytime there is an encounter between two people of an intimate nature, I believe both have a responsibility to choose how that encounter progresses. The glaring exception to this rule is when the two parties are mismatched in maturity or economic status.

These thoughts came to mind while I was watching a story unfold on the TV series “Last Tango in Halifax”. The scene was two characters whose names I’ve forgotten; a lesbian head of school (Joan) and a teacher (Mary) whom Joan has been given the plum assignment to interview a famous children’s author in front the whole school. Mary was chosen for the task because it is widely known that she is a super-fan and eminently qualified. The second reason was that the author now lives with Joan’s ex-husband.

Joan was married for many years and has two teenage children with her ex who is still sniffing about. She knew she was a lesbian before marriage, but “in those days” one just carried on.

More back story, Joan had married Lilian two years prior and Lilian conceived a child via an old friend. The day of Joan and Lilian’s wedding, Lilian while eight months pregnant died in an accident. The child survived.

Back to the story of Joan and Mary. Joan invited Mary to her home to discuss the details of the interview. Joan thinks she picked up “gaydar” and is anticipating an evening that might turn into something.

Mary arrives with flowers in hand and the two of them have a delightful evening that moves into the living room for more wine and conversation. There is much discussion about Joan’s unusual relationship with the author and her ex. Quantities of laughing are involved.

Mary becomes lubricated enough to question why Joan is the mother of a Black child. Joan does not hesitate to show Mary a picture from her wedding day and tell the story briefly.

Mary hackles rise and accuses Joan of sexual misconduct. Mary declares that she was invited under false pretenses and will not be doing the interview. She leaves in a huff.

The thing is; Joan’s invitation was primarily for the purpose of giving Mary the backstory on the author and to help organize the interview. Yes, Joan also thinks Mary is gay.

During the pleasant evening Joan made no advances, sat too near, touched Mary in anyway other than a normal hug at the door to say hello and welcome.

No words on Joan’s part could assure Mary that she was not a predator… mostly because Joan really thought (going in) that Mary was a kindred spirit and began to question her own role in the evening and if she was in fact, a predator. She is not.

I believe that Joan did nothing wrong. Mary reaction was over the top. A better response was “oh, I didn’t know you were gay”. Joan would have modified her thinking and the relationship would have remained in tact.

It left me wondering about many of the accusations currently flying through the media. People who work together often “test the waters”. Some people are more inclined to touch a shoulder or hover more closely. It doesn’t take much to modify the behavior of another who is getting too close for your comfort when the gesture is innocent.

Hourly workers who can be easily replaced are the most vulnerable. Even if these workers know how to push back, they risk losing their job. Most NEED their job.

However, in the case of a public official, it’s fair to say that the people working in close proximity these officials are highly employable. If you can put “personal assistant to a senator or mayor of a large city” on your resume, you are going to get the next interview.

So if that elected official is behaving inappropriately, just say so. The official has as much, if not more, to lose when you stand your ground.

Running to the papers two years after the fact smells fishy to me. Sitting before a Senate hearing 30 years after the fact does not…. those were very different days. The Me Too movement put a lot the crass behavior out of style… and that’s a good thing.

Before closing out this highly edited piece; I’ve been poking at this for days…

I am reminded that I continue to have the benefit of being me. I’m certain it colors the opinions expressed here. The root cause of the daily re-visit to this post is because I have no clarity in why I can tell the world to go away or please stay without saying a word.

An example is this experience from two years ago.

The pottery studio where I have gone for several years to “potter about” has gone through a series of studio managers. Josh was the latest. I was not impressed. His own work was uninspiring, his teaching skills were unimpressive, and he made no effort to keep the studio clean. Pottery dust is highly toxic.

The next semester came around and Josh was gone. The new studio manager (delightful) was not forthcoming about his reason for departure. I’m a nosey bugger so I kept niggling the new gal for why Josh left. She eventually caved and told me had been making numerous sexual advances to the other students.

Josh is around 30 years old. The average age of the women in these classes is closer to 60. It turns out he was hitting on many and had been pursuing one so aggressively that she finally reported him to the college.

At no time did Josh take a pass at me.

In all confidence I can say it wasn’t because he didn’t want to “hit that”. It was because he is a sexual predator and he knew without even trying that he would get no where with me.

I take…. pride in that truth even though I don’t understand why it is true.

I am left with this.

It’s unsettling to know we are more animal than we want to admit. Anyone receiving a report of inappropriate behavior must begin by assuming it is true. Further, there is no point in starting an investigation by asking the accused. Lies will ensue. The peers of the accuser will get you to the truth.

There will always be victims. There will always be villains. We are animals.

The best we can do is listen to the victims when they find their voice.

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Privilege Part Deux

I have a relative, by marriage, that I unfriended because her posts were/are riddled with Qanon driven drivel.

Like any other human drawn to the train wrecks of life, I occasionally peek at her feed via my husband’s account. Never surprised, always wanting to call her out. Family, what are you gonna do?

This week she posted a meme itemizing the classic list of things that low to middle income families have always experienced. Crap, low paying jobs. Hand-me-downs. Nobody gave us anything. Didn’t have the finest house. Sick of those people looking for handouts.

She never went hungry. She had a decent education. I suspect not every aspect of her childhood was joyful which may contribute to her general anger with the world.

What she does not process is that the Black child three blocks over in the city where she was raised was treated like shit by anybody outside of his neighborhood because of the color of his skin. That, and the assumption that because some other kid that color did something bad, he will only ever do something bad.

Meanwhile, she has walked through that same section of the city with everyone assuming she is no threat at all even though she may have broken into the neighbor’s house just for fun.

It is impossible to the know the life of another without some effort.

I didn’t need to experience that young Black child’s life to accept his view of the world. He was not treated fairly.

Remembering the desire of well-meaning Christians kidnapping Native American children to save them from their savage lives, I might be honing in on something. Are white folk are still trying to “fix” the not white?

Blacks, Native Americans, Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, Asians do not need to be fixed. They don’t have to dress like “us”, talk like “us”, live like us.

What needs fixing is the notion that we walk through the world thinking our way is the best way, the right way.

The only right way to live is to live a life that does not harm another’s.

Me having more than the next guy does not require me to share all that I have. It does require me to support reasonable taxes in support of the community and to volunteer my time and assets to causes I care about. It does require me to assume the best of others until they prove themselves unworthy.

Were is not so serious, I would laugh in the face of most folks in my circle who carry on about government interference and wasted spending. The only wasted spending is the money spent on stuff they don’t want.

With little effort, the breakdown of federal spending shows where the money goes and more importantly where it doesn’t.

But I digress, back to the poor, pitiful relative. She is pitiful, but not poor.

In the interest of family harmony, my pity for her must override my blaring desire to tie her down and pour facts down her throat. At the end of the day, I don’t mind that she is a hate-filled human spewing her indignation. I do mind that she is training two children to be the next version of her.

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Privilege

A special right or favor granted to a person.

The thing about privilege is most of mine or yours; we have no clue what many of them are.

When I walk into a room of strangers, it is rare (as in, maybe ten times in my 70 years) for these strangers to turn and look with those eyes that say, “Who let you in?”

There are thousands of things available to me every day of my life that no one ever gave me permission to have or invitation to share. These things are just there by virtue of the world I was born into and the “privileges” received along the way of the flowchart already drawn at the time of my birth.

I’m not talking about affluence… born on a farm, Dad milked cows, I wore hand-me-downs until they wore out, mostly homemade gifts for Christmas until I was in my teens.

I am talking about a wonderful public school education… the middle class kids living in a generous, affluent county.

I am talking about being relatively attractive in the America girl kind of way.

I am talking about being taller than average.

I am talking about strong genetics resulting in over-all good health.

I am talking about two parents who took excellent care of us, took no prisoners, and encouraged learning on countless levels.

I am talking about teachers who brought out confidence. Provided engaging conversation. A school with art, music, shop, car repair, woodworking, sports of all kinds…. except golf for girls (it was the 60s; Title 9 is awesome).

There have been decision points along the way that are/were entirely within my control that could block future privileges — rob a bank; that will rearrange many privileges.

But, oddly, because we float comfortably in our known universe, we don’t always know what we are missing. What we might have had. What we might NOT have had.

Until it smacks you in the face.

This week’s “first world problem”. A player competing in the women’s NCAA basketball tournament published a picture of their workout room…. one stack of free weights. It was posted opposite the men’s workout room…. a fully equipped fitness center.

My first golf club (like most private clubs) had a women’s locker room. It was not spacious, but it had lockers, two showers, a row of four sinks, four commodes. There was an adjacent room about the size of a moderate walk-in closet with a bench, bulletin board, and wall mounted counter for keeping binders. Functional.

By word of mouth, I discovered that the men’s locker room was larger, the lockers were wood, there was a lounge with a bar, and a sitting area with chairs and tables to gather to play cards.

I’m okay with the larger space, there was a ratio of about 20 to 1 of men versus women golfers in the membership. It was not the scale, but the quality of the amenities that was grossly unfair.

Being the charmer I can be, I was invited (had the privilege) to serve on this club’s advisory committee… the owner’s handpicked group of members to serve on a committee with no power but gave the membership-at-large the false sense that we members had a say in club operations.

Being the pain in the ass I can be, there came a time during one of these committee meetings that I shared with “the boys” that the women’s locker room could use some attention. My request was not being taken seriously so I said bluntly, “It’s about time you guys saw the women’s locker room.”

I swear, all men have this 10 year boy in them that never dies. Some of the men blushed at the prospect of even thinking about doing such a thing. They all made childish jokes as I opened the door to the mysterious land where the cute Mrs. Jones gets undressed.

Then they saw what I was talking about.

The metal lockers had rusty, bent corners. The shower stalls had mold crawling up the tile walls and the shower heads were caked with calcium build up. The sinks had gunk around every faucet. The carpet inside the door was worn thin. The bouquet of fake flowers, covered in dust.

I didn’t bother to look at the owner’s face. I was more interested in the face of the advisory committee president. My deed was done.

We didn’t get a larger space… there was no space to be had. But the space was gutted and redone within six month.

The gal who posted the picture of the free weights did more to advance the condition for women’s sport than any collection of words could ever do.

People need to see their privilege in contrast to understand just how unfair some situations can be for those without privilege.

It is especially hard within the context of the realities of life. There is no such thing as equality, as in everybody gets the same thing. Life is not like those parents who fuss about making sure that they spend the same amount of money on each child for Christmas.

I don’t expect to have a private jet just because Oprah has one.

I don’t expect to have to sleep under a bridge a few nights a year just because a homeless person does.

I do expect that when I see another human who has been left so far behind; I will first have empathy and then take what actions are available to me (repeating the inequity, voting for people willing to make change) and to never let others less empathic to brush it away.

To live in country like the United States of America can be tricky. The citizens of my generation were taught to stand on our own two feet. I have stood on my two my whole life, bolstered by privilege I did not know I had for oh, so many years.

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Questions for the universe

When did grabbing a crotch become an expression in dance?

Why does it persist?

Can we please stop changing the clocks?

Advances in medical science have made invitro fertilization possible. There are couples today who would have been “barren” just 30 or 40 years ago. There are now advancements in medical science that make it possible for a person with a confused genetic design to repair the parts that do not fit with their mental understanding of who they are as a person. Doctors have been changing ears and noses and fat placement and breasts and asses all in the interest of making a person feel better about themselves. How then, is it so horrible that a person who wants to change their physical appearance to match their sexual identity? I submit that having to live in a body that does not match your brain is far worse than a flat chest.

And while we’re at it. This ballyhoo about men becoming women and then wanting to compete in sports is down right silly. No actual, fully functioning, properly genetically aligned male would cut off his junk to win a trophy.

Why is anybody still talking about the royals and Oprah?

What is wrong with Tucker Carlson?

What is right with Donald Trump…. no, make that any Trump or Kushner or Miller or Barr?

I have been taking drugs for the last four month that warn of unexpected weight loss. Why doesn’t the scale move?

Not a question…. I want to be in a room with 20 teenagers while they listen to the following; Inagaddadavida by Iron Butterfly; Nessun Dorma by Pavoratti; Peter Gunn by Henry Mancinni; Beethoven’s Fourth… I guess the question is, would they sit still and listen or groan about that stupid old music?

When will network dramas stop using random drum sequences to punch up the story line?

Will the bad guy not run when the cop drama says, “stop, police.”?

When did resignation and impeachment become the only response to an elected official disappointing us? Isn’t that what elections are for? I get it if the official BROKE THE LAW, but crappy behavior is not an impeachable offense.

Do you suppose Lee Westwood would come to dinner if I asked him? I’m thinking it would be a very entertaining evening.

Why did Tiger run off the road? I’m just a little curious.

How is it that so many Americans do not understand that the Corona virus caused far more damage than necessary because for the first ten month there was fool in charge? Put on your old Romper Room thinking caps and image a president who said… starting in March , 2020 “We are expecting a virus to come to our country very soon, if it is not here already. All indications are that it could be highly contagious and so there are some important steps that I ask all citizens to do. Starting now, please limit travel to the bare necessities. While in public, please use a face covering to block the transmission of the virus. Wash your hands regularly and definitely after you have been out in the public…. shall I go on?”

There are people RIGHT NOW who are afraid to take the vaccine because of the suspicions planted by Trump and his ilk. Donald Trump was vaccinated in January… way ahead of the crowd and never told anybody. He still won’t make a public statement about it. What is wrong with this man?

What’s for dinner? I can not tell you how much I hate this question.

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Vibrations… epilogue

My pal who put us in the wrong car called the next day to apologize for her behavior and to ask if I had her phone…. or her coat.

I did not.

My last recollection was giving her the phone as we left the restaurant.

“Is it in the back seat of your car?” “No.”

“Give me 24 hours to try to find it.”

So, I did what I thought I could do to locate her phone. Checked at the club, requested a community broadcast. The 24 hours passed and I sent her a “no luck” email.

The next morning I received an email from a guy who used to work at my golf club. He hasn’t worked there for over a year. His note says, I found this phone at one of my rental properties, do you know who it belongs to?

How is this possible?

Two random women get into a random car that belongs to guy golfers staying in a random rental house that is managed by a guy I knew only as a member of club where he used to work.

All of this… he remembers my name, he has my email address (why?) and he has my friend’s phone… and jacket! And a pair of golf pants.. but that’s another story.

So I go to his office and get the phone and coat, reject the offer of the pants and we both carry on about how weird this whole story is.

Then he tells me his perspective before we met for the exchange….

The rental house had been occupied by sixteen loud, messy young men.

He wondered, “What was this old lady from Pinehurst doing at this party?”

“Hey, Matt! Who you callin’ old?!”

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Dueling Divots

I used to share a monthly column by this name with my dear old pal “Aitch”. The column goes back years before I met Aitch. He wrote it with another golf buddy who sadly died after an unsuccessful heart transplant.

It was with some trepidation that I suggested to Aitch that I become his new monthly foil.

We had a grand old time trading barbs. The publisher denied my request to open one column with “Howard, you ignorant slut.” It would have been a big hit with the readers.

Aitch is still among the living, but not thriving. He had to retire from our monthly duel. His replacement never got the concept and the column has now died of unnatural causes.

I don’t spend as much time thinking about golf these days. Another semi-monthly column was clobbered by Covid cutbacks.

But then a moment in a golf tournament will prick up my ears and annoy my golf sensibilities.

Ironically, it is about divots.

It’s late in the round and Lee Westwood’s tee shot ends up in a fresh divot in the middle of the fairway. He was in contention. And, by the way, it hit the shot out of the divot without obvious complaint. The ball landed on the green in regulation.

The great howl goes up about how the Rules of Golf are terrible. Nobody should end up with a bad lie after a great shot. What is a divot if not Ground Under Repair?

Horse Hockey and Nonsense.

These “play it up” people do not understand the fundament premise of golf and take no time to understand it.

It’s not their fault, entirely. The PGA Tour broadcasts play on the most pristine courses in the world. The bunkers that are supposed to be hazards are groomed to perfection. These elite players prefer making a shot out of a bunker over a closely mown area at the exact same distance form the hole.

Golf was invented in a meadow, played with sticks and rocks and the primacy rule was and is “Play It As It Lies”. From there the rules guys began a series of exceptions for when the player clearly had no way of playing the ball in the situation it found itself…. in ponds, up in trees, against rocks, can’t find it, went so far afield that you are in the enemies yard (out of bounds).

Having moved from the cow pasture to land groomed to be used only for golf, the makers of the course included some bits that one would never be find in pasture… tee markers, benches, paved paths, metal plates with water below to pop out as needed. The rules decided they better come up with a way to deal with these. They are grouped under the name “obstructions”. Note; trees, bushes, footprints, and random holes made by other golfers are not on the list.

And now is as good a time as any to note that there is increasing evidence that giant divots are not necessary for the construction of a great golf shot.

I say to all these whiney players, if you want a perfect lie for every shot, stick to well maintained putt-putt courses. There are dozens in Myrtle Beach.

Meanwhile the “real golfers” will take a whack at the ball, go find it (hopefully) and deal with whatever trouble or perfection the golf gods have granted with another try at reaching the hole.

Never once have I heard a player say, “I hit that shot so badly. I don’t deserve this fabulous outcome. I’m going to add another shot to my score to make it fair for the other guys.”

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