YOU COULD CALL THIS UPBEAT. NO, REALLY, YOU COULD. – Marilyn Armstrong

I really hate insurance companies. I would have hated them earlier in life, but I didn’t have as much to do with them as I’ve had recently. I should mention that I actually am very fond of Blue Cross. They are about as friendly, cooperative, flexible, and civil as anyone I’ve ever dealt with. I get on the phone mad but by the time I get off, I’m in a better mood. Imagine that! They actually make me feel better!

Dinner or breakfast, it’s delicious

They are an exception, however. When Elizabeth Warren said she didn’t know anyone who liked their insurance company I thought of Blue Cross. THEN I thought about MAPFRE and my lip curled. Grrrr.

So Friday afternoon, I get the mail and one of the items in it is a cancellation notice from my car insurance. Considering that I’ve been paying them relentlessly since this month’s bill came due, I’m baffled. I don’t think anyone at this company knows how to update the computer. Each month, I get a different bill. Not a few pennies. Hundreds of dollars. Sometimes steam blows out my ears and I find myself as sharp-tongued and irritable as I ever get.

They never say they are sorry. These folks were, as John Wayne used to say, “brought up wrong.” They don’t get the whole “word’ thing. They think saying “Hey, sorry for the mix-up. Hope we have it worked out now.” How hard is that? Civility is the oil that keeps life flowing smoothly. Like greasing the wheel.

I’m a chronic over-apologizer. If I accidentally bang into a chair, I will probably apologize to it.  It can’t hurt even if it doesn’t help much.  You learn this stuff as a kid. When it doubt, say you’re sorry. It costs nothing and it makes people feel better. One “I’m sorry” can stop a lawsuit before it happens. A doctor once pointed that out to me. If you just say, “I’m really sorry that happened,” it’s what most people are really looking for. A simple apology. An acknowledgment they were right — or at least not wrong.

pinterest.com

But corporations, insurance companies? They don’t apologize unless you are in the process of buying a lot of product, in which case good manners flow like oil — until the deal is made. Then, back to normal.

That’s how come Medicare for all will work. Medicare is really easy to work with. They answer the phone. IN-PERSON no less. And they know their business. The phone gets answered 24 hours a day.

They do their best to help you, find a way around your problem. They aren’t there to make life harder and are pleased when they can do you a good turn. Just the nice manners and kind attentions will make everyone glad to jump on-board.

Change isn’t always hard. Sometimes, it goes easily, smoothly and before long, no one remembers it ever being different. It feels natural.

That’s the way Medicare will feel. It’s almost like you can finally take a deep breath after holding it in for a long time. I’m still not sure why everyone is in such an uproar about it. It will go fine. Smooth as butter on toast.

SORRY. IT’S MISSING – Marilyn Armstrong

In an endless attempt to clean up and store all the extra stuff in life, the final polish is to put it away permanently by finding a place for it which will be forever safe.


In the course of organizing my pictures, I lost this one. I have no idea how. I must have deleted it, but I didn’t do it on purpose.

Maybe while I was setting up a new computer and transferring files, this one fell between the chairs? Or got lost in some device, like maybe an ancient hard drive that no longer works. Or on an old DVD or floppy disk. Regardless, it is gone. I really liked it.

Path in the woods – A picture of a picture because I can’t find the original!

I have this picture because once upon a time, I printed this on canvas. I gave the picture away, but before I gave it away, I took a picture of the picture.

I lose things.

It’s not new. I have always had a habit of putting important items – papers, jewelry, lenses, cameras — in a safe place. Because, for some inexplicable reason, I have decided wherever it was, wasn’t safe enough. The problem is, wherever it previously was will be the place I remember it being. I will not remember the new, safer place I put it. If, indeed I put it anywhere and didn’t just put it down, go do something else, and forget about it completely.

The new, improved place to which I moved it is guaranteed to be a place I will never remember. It’s also possible I move things in my sleep. Yes, I sleepwalk. I know this because other people have seen me sleepwalking. Also, there are other things that only make sense if I did them in my sleep. No rational (or waking) explanation is possible.

The jewelry I found in the bottom of Garry’s underwear drawer? I’m pretty sure he didn’t put my necklace there. In any conscious state of mind, I would never put anything there, other than his underwear. Or, for that matter, the bundle of jewelry I discovered in the piano bench. Why would anyone put their jewelry in the piano bench? Even me?

The worst losses are accidental. I have something important in my hand. I need to do something else, so I put down. Temporarily. Life moves on. I meant to go back and deal with it, but I have a 15-second short-term memory, so if I put it down and don’t deal with it immediately, it could be in another universe.

The ONLY way I find this stuff is by retracing my steps. What rooms was I in? Could I have left it in Garry’s bathroom? My bathroom? Did I shove it in my camera bag? Which pants or jacket was I wearing? Have I washed it yet?

Occasionally, this results in finding the missing item. Mostly, it doesn’t, probably because the retracing was imperfect. And I forget about pockets. How many were there are and how much stuff you can shove into them.

Lost stuff can appear years later while I am hunting down something else that has gone missing. It can be a thrilling discovery … or it’s a duplicate of important papers I’ve already replaced.

A couple of friends of mine recently became widows. One of them strongly recommended I put our papers in order. Things like the deed to the house which I actually found by accident, so I know where it is. Garry doesn’t know where it is, but if I told him, he’d forget anyhow. Fifteen seconds isn’t nearly enough time. We have our birth certificates and our passports which will do in a pinch. I don’t have to worry about dealing with our fortune since there is none. In fact, it turns out all we will need — either of us — will be our birth certificates, social security cards, and a few passwords.

One sheet of paper in a manila envelope. I don’t even have to worry about the money needed to bury one or both of us because there is no burial money. Presumably, we WILL get buried, one way or the other. I think they have to do something with our corpses. Garry and I discussed this, then realized, “Why worry?” Garry is too old to buy life insurance (I think 75 is the cutoff) and I’m too sickly. For any price.

So we agreed to stop worrying about it. I figure the state has to do something with our bodies. I don’t think it’s legal to just leave us lying around and rotting. It might make an interesting TV show, though. Just a season or two. We could call it “What Should We Do With Mom?”

Too bad we aren’t allowed to be buried on our own property. We’ve more than enough room and our earth would be happy to have us. Meanwhile, I’m searching for that missing picture. Not all the time, but every time I’m in one of my storage drives. It may turn up, someday. Or not.

I’m pretty sure Garry has our birth certificates and passports. So we’re good to go, so to speak.

MR. ROGERS AS PARENTING GURU – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My mother was a psychologist who originally specialized in child psychology. Throughout life, I had a personal role model for parenting through the way she treated me and from what she actually taught me about relating to children.

Her philosophy was to respect your child as an individual but understand how he or she thinks and what he or she understands at each level of development. You should talk to children as you would an adult, but using words and concepts they can understand at each developmental stage.

She believed that you should explain whatever is going on in your child’s life, including why you want them to do something or not do something. I always got a reason for what was expected of me so I was a very reasonable and cooperative child, most of the time.

My favorite photo of my mom and my son, David

I was nineteen in 1968 when Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood started its 30 plus year run on television. I didn’t get to know him until around 1987 when my daughter was two.

She became a huge Mr. Rogers fan, as did I. I immediately realized that he was motivated to help parents as much as kids. He was a wonderful example of the calm, consistent, patient demeanor parents should exhibit towards their kids as well as a model of how adults should communicate with children.

He showed parents how to tune into what their kids were feeling, to respect those feelings and how to appropriately address them. He was particularly good at showing parents how to help kids through difficult times in their personal lives or in society as a whole.

He started his TV run in 1968 and that year he filmed an episode especially for parents, showing them how they could talk to their children about the assassinations and social turmoil that was erupting in the society at the time. His last address specifically for parents was after 9/11 in 2001, when he was talking to a generation of parents who had grown up watching his show.

Mr. Rogers’ parenting style was familiar to me because it mirrored my own mother’s approach to parenting. It apparently had a huge influence on many other parents for decades.

He became a parenting icon, or guru, to millions. His influence could be compared to the influence of Dr. Spock. He also wrote several books for parents. The real wisdom he conveyed was through his overall persona and gestalt. Parenting philosophies have changed over the years but his example of nurturing and sensitivity has had a lasting impact.

Celebrations last year marking the 50th anniversary of his TV debut were received with enthusiasm and huge ratings. There was a PBS special and a critically acclaimed documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” which made 22-million dollars at the domestic box office and became the top-grossing biographical documentary in American history!

The trailer for the new movie coming out about Fred Rogers, starring Tom Hanks, also received an enormous outpouring of affection and support on the internet.

Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers

Mr. Rogers is obviously beloved by both the children and the parents who watched his show and he was a comforting presence to parents as well as children. He gave parents confidence that with some empathy and patience, they could handle any situation with their children. But he also made it clear that there had to be a real connection between parent and child for this magical relationship to work.

To be a parent like Mr. Rogers, you had to talk to your child, ask him questions, read to him and play with him in order to develop the rapport and trust that predicates the “Mr. Rogers’ style” relationship.

Above all else, his message was to accept and love your child “just the way you are” and to give that dependent being all the time and attention he deserves. This approach is timeless, compassionate and caring.

Mr. Rogers set a high bar for generations of parents, particularly working parents whose time with their children was more limited. He also gave these parents the roadmap and confidence to reach his lofty goals.

You could say that Mr. Rogers has played a major role in shaping American society through his influence over generations of kids and parents because society is made up of individuals, and parents shape the character of the individuals who populate society.

Mr. Rogers helped shape parents since 1968.

AUTUMN’S ON THE WAY – Marilyn Armstsrong

September 16, 2019 – Autumn Leaves

Garry came back from the grocery and said that it looks like fall is showing up! So I’ll get some new pictures soon … if it doesn’t rain constantly. Last year, it rained almost every day through the end of September and then it got very warm and humid in early October. Instead of Autumn, the leaves just curled up and fell off the trees.

It started raining almost as soon as Garry got home, but if it will stay dry for a couple of weeks and give us some chilly nights, there will be pictures. Meanwhile, a look at previous Autumn seasons. We’ve had some really fabulous ones … and we’ve also had a bunch of duds. Let’s hope for a good one. I need a good Autumn. It would definitely lift my spirits!