This is why Colin Kaepernick took a knee – The Washington Post

For what are probably obvious reasons, this has been a major subject in this mixed-race household. If I were a lot younger and sturdier, I think I might be out there too. This has gone on for as long as the U.S. has been a nation. It started with slavery, continued with Jim Crow, and apparently will never end. And EVERYBODY knows it.

There’s apparently no middle road on this, not politically or in sports. I supported Kaepernick’s position and could not understand why everybody didn’t support him.

We live in a racist country with a president who apparently hates his own people. Violence is what he wants and violence is what he gets. When he first came into office, I thought he was “merely” trying to tear down whatever Obama had accomplished. Now, I think, he is trying to tear down what our founding fathers created. He will, if he can, destroy our system of justice, laws, and balance of powers. He will turn this country into the biggest, richest banana republic on Earth.

Is this what the GOP calls “making American great again?” It seems entirely the opposite to me.  This is grinding America into the dirt, destroying all the things that made anyone want to be part of our nation. Shame on the country for electing this murderous, bloated bigot to a position of power. Shame on the rest of us for not getting him out-of-office and replacing him with someone — at the very least — sane and literate.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/c268c732-8f0a-4400-b65b-ffb17e37f0da

The NFL ostracized the quarterback for his protests against police brutality. It’s more clear than ever what a terrible decision that was.

Source: This is why Colin Kaepernick took a knee – The Washington Post

WHEN TWO WORLDS COLLIDE – RICH PASCHALL

The Wake-Up Call, by Rich Paschall

The day had finally arrived. Jon was on his way. George waited for the news that Jon had successfully cleared Customs in Miami and was getting his second flight on to his new home. When there was no word, George went to the airport anyway. He thought Jon did not have phone service in America and could not get on the internet. He was not going to worry, not too much anyway. He had sent Jon the ticket so he knew the flight number.

Leaving home for a new life

George did not know whether to wait at the end of the concourse where passengers would come from the gates, or go down to the baggage claim area in the large airport. Having waited upstairs for a long time, George finally went down to baggage. He paced around nervously as the passengers claimed their luggage and walked away. Finally, the baggage carousel was empty, and there was no Jon.

It was late at night. Few people were milling about the baggage area. George stood in the aisle looking down one way, then the next, Suddenly a familiar person appeared in the distance, rolling a small silver suitcase alongside himself. It was Jon. George hurried toward him and gave him a big hug. “Welcome,” George exclaimed. “Thanks,” Jon said.

Jon was tired. He had started the day very early in South America. It took three flights to finally make it to a large city in another country. He was eager to get out of the airport and on the way to a new life.

George tried to explain the sites as they traveled home by car, but Jon seemed uninterested. George figured he was just tired. When they made it home, George asked if he wanted anything to eat. Jon ate a little. They talked a little. Then it was time for a good night’s sleep.

It seemed so sad that Jon had to leave so many things behind. He only came with a small suitcase and a small backpack. He told George he sold whatever he could to have money for the trip, and gave the rest to friends. He was ready to start anew.

A whole new world

There were two empty drawers in the dresser for Jon. For the large Queen size bed, George told Jon he could have either side he wanted. Jon took the far side, George tried to be quiet and not move so the very tired Jon could sleep well.

During the weekdays George had to work and Jon was home alone. There were plenty of Spanish stations on the satellite television to occupy time, but that was not enough for Jon. He felt like a prisoner waiting for George to come home. At night they shopped for food, some clothes, and a few other things for Jon. That too was not enough to satisfy Jon. This was not really what he wanted.

At the weekend, Jon wanted to go dancing. “Ok,” George said. “We can go.”

“No, I don’t want to go with you. I have met some people from my country online, and one will come to get me. We will go to the Club. I don’t want to be with you.”

George was startled by the declaration. He never thought Jon would say such a thing. George had assumed they would do everything together. George was wrong.

Jon was young and eager to do things and not be stuck at home every day. George tried to make things better for Jon. He introduced him to neighbors who spoke Spanish. He took him to nice stores and restaurants. He helped him to apply for his green card so he could work and have more freedom.

Seeing new things

Some days Jon seemed OK with his situation. He made dinner for George and things were pleasant. Other days did not go so well and Jon complained bitterly about being stuck in the house all day. Patience was not a virtue that Jon enjoyed.

After a few days, Jon had decided to sleep in the spare room on the twin bed. He told Jon that he moved around too much, and it was not good to sleep together since they kept different hours. Each weekend Jon went out with friends from his country. “Give me some money George. Just give me 20 dollars.”

By the end of just one month, Jon wanted to leave. He told George they were never friends. “You are ugly and I don’t like you. I want to go live with some people from my country in Miami where the weather is nicer.” Jon wanted Geroge to buy him a ticket. On the one hand, George saw no reason to spend so much money; on the other hand, he was unhappy and tired of Jon’s complaining.

So George bought the ticket online and immediately drove Jon to the airport. Jon took the suitcase that he brought to America and his backpack, both with some new clothes, and got out of the car at Departures. He said nothing. George drove away with the feeling of relief.

Leaving again for a new home

After a month had gone by, George got a message from Jon via Messenger. He deleted it. Later he got another, then another. George blocked him.

The next day George’s neighbor Axel told him he got a text from Jon. He desperately needs to talk to George but there is no answer. “I have nothing to say,” George told him.

The following day Axel stopped George again. He told George that it was urgent, but George said he was not interested.

“But Jon wants you to send him a ticket to come home.”

“Come home?” George said in a startled voice.

“Yes, the new friends do not want him there anymore because he can not pay anything. He says he will be on the street if you do not help.” George just shook his head.

“What shall I tell him?” Axel asked urgently.

“Oh,” George thought a moment.  “Tell him ‘Good Luck’.”

Previously, in order: I LOVE YOU (No, You Don’t)
A SOUTH AMERICAN LOVE, A Romantic Player
A SOUTH AMERICAN PROPOSAL, The Deal
THE PROMISE OF LOVE, The Reality

BLUE BIRDS ARE HERE. CAN HAPPINESS BE FAR BEHIND? Marilyn Armstrong

I kept wondering why I never saw a bluebird. Ever. Not here or in New York. And I know they live here. This morning I got up and looked out my back windows and the deck was full of bluebirds!

Two bluebirds

Bluebird and Chickadee

And the Chickadee is about to take off!

Bluebird on the fence rail

COLUMBINE ARE UP AND ROSES ARE ON THE WAY – GARRY ARMSTRONG

FOTD – May 31 – COLUMBINE

I went into town to take pictures of Owen at work, stopped to pick up some stuff to drink, then came home to take flower pictures. I haven’t conquered macro pictures of flowers yet. I think I need some instruction. Meanwhile, though, the Columbine is big and beautiful.

The red berries are part of the big Holly tree we are growing.

The cut-down roses from last year decided to start growing like mad. Lucky for us, the Rhododendrons are finished, so I guess it’s okay if the roses trap them against the fence. Again.

THIS LAND – HOPE FOR OUR FUTURE – Marilyn Armstrong

This Land Is Your Land

Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

That ribbon of highway ...

That ribbon of highway …

I saw above me, that endless skyway ...

I saw above me, that endless skyway …

I saw below me that golden valley ...

I saw below me that golden valley …

Navajo Big Sky

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps, to the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts …

This land was made for you and me ...

This land was made for you and me …

MCDONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS – JUDY DYKSTRA-BROWN

McDonald Duck and Friends

I know a certain Donald— a king of pass the buck
who to leadership is much less suited than that duck
with whom he shares a name but whose smarts and application
far exceed the POTUS who prefers a golf vacation
to tending to affairs of state except to prompt aggression,
medical misinformation, racism, secession
in order to create a place where he would be the King
relieving congress and the courts from every single thing.

He’d sit up in his tower once the senate had resigned,
ruling at his leisure far above the daily grind,
digressing into fun and games—a golf game, maybe two,
stopping in for French fries and big Macs with extra goo.
He’d sit upon his golden thrown waiting for his bribes
to be delivered daily from his well-heeled tribes.
Courts would not be needed, for guns would rule the day,
trading in extortion in lieu of legal pay.

Let the country go to hell so long as billionaires
go on stockpiling more cash to soothe away their cares.


Word prompts today are leadershipresignduckdigress and application. Photo by Amir Abbas Abdolali on  Unsplash. Used with permission.


About lifelessons

My blog, which started out to be about overcoming grief, quickly grew into a blog about celebrating life. I post daily: poems, photographs, essays, or stories. I’ve lived in countries all around the globe but havefinally come to rest in Mexico, where I’ve lived since 2001. My books may be found on Amazon in Kindle and print format, my art in local Ajijic galleries. Hope to see you on my blog.

A BEAUTIFUL DAY FOR FUCHSIA – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – May 30 – A Good Day for Fuchsia

The squirrels have gotten rather possessive of the feeders and the birds have had to go elsewhere for food. I’m not worried. There’s plenty for them to eat and if the squirrels don’t give up their siege, I’ll have to take down the feeders.

Meanwhile, it is a good day for fuchsia. Not this year’s fuchsia because the birds and squirrels trashed them. I should have known better. Maybe they will revive, but I’m not optimistic.

So we’ll go back to the fuchsias of days gone by and dream of a fuchsia future.

MEMORIAL DAY: THEN AND NOW, THE DAY AFTER – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Time changes everything. It’s a given. Memorial Day is no different and that’s a shame.

When I was a kid, Memorial Day was usually a family affair. It seems as if it was always sunny and warm for the gathering of several generations. I was fascinated by the stories told by the men who’d collectively served in two World Wars and the Korean “Peace Action.” The stories were funny and sad as were the memories of when they served our country.

How many 78-year-old men can still wear the same uniform they wore at age 17?

My maternal Gramps, a Barbados native, served in the Danish Navy during World War One, the war to end all wars.  His stories seemed to be from a distant time that I grasped only in a haze. I’d read about WW1 a bit. Dry accounts in those history books of the ’40s and early ’50s we were given in school. My personal library included books by Erich Maria Remarque who gave bittersweet accounts from the German perspective.

“All Quiet On The Western Front” was the most memorable. I don’t think Gramps or the other elders liked my interest in Remarque’s books. I didn’t understand their attitude. Not then, at least. There was music, including songs like “It’s A Long Way To Tipperary” which elicited smiles. The music blended with the sounds of the parade outside all the open windows. I usually dashed outside for a glimpse.

Those parades included veterans who’d served in the Civil War.  I was always impressed and wondered how old some of those men were who marched with pride and crispness, belying their years. I felt a stirring in my heart. I wanted to be one of those men someday.

In my adolescent and early teen years, family Memorial Day celebrations changed. Some of the men were gone. So were their stories. There was still laughter, fueled by liquor consumed in prodigious amounts by uncles, cousins, and friends.

My father in uniform, World War 2

My Dad, Bill “Tappy” Armstrong, had been an Army Seargent in WW2. He had seen action in the Battle of the Bulge among other places.  He smiled at some of the war stories but never shared anything.   He never shared anything about his personal war experiences until the final year of his life.

Those accounts were harrowing and gave his three grown sons a better understanding of Dad’s quiet demeanor, moodiness. and reluctance to share his feelings. After Dad passed, we found many medals stowed away apparently for more than half a century. It was his legacy of the Greatest Generation.

One of the staples of those family Memorial Day celebrations was watching war movies. Even before cable, the networks and local TV stations ran a marathon of our favorite John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Robert Taylor, Robert Mitchum, and other Hollywood gung ho flicks that raised the roof with laughter from the real-life vets guffawing over the exploits of Hollywood heroes. There was derisive laughter for Wayne and Flynn who single-handedly won the war according to the heavy propaganda scripts.

I thought those guys were real heroes. Hell, I was gonna be a Marine like Duke Wayne’s Sgt. John Stryker in “Sands of Iwo Jima.”  The parades outside now included WW1 Vets. The last of the Civil War heroes had passed. The music of Tommy Dorsey, Vera Lynn, and Glenn Miller permeated the celebrations. I loved their sad, sweet words and music. They would always be part of my musical collection.

My vow to emulate Duke Wayne’s Sgt. John Stryker was fulfilled as I enlisted in the Marine Corps right after high school graduation in 1959. I was a baby faced 17-year-old who needed his parent’s signature to become a gyrene.

Memorial Day 1959 was in my rearview mirror when I signed up. I had clear memories of that family Memorial Day. There were only a few WW1 Vets still around to participate. WW2 uniforms dominated. A fully integrated armed services participation brought big smiles to faces in my family. The music included new interpretations of war tunes offered by Elvis, Connie Francis, Paul Anka, and other fresh faces in the top 40-market.

My Dad cried when he saw me off to basic training at Parris Island where “boots” were turned in fighting gyrenes. It was the proudest day of my life.

I never became the new version of Sgt. John Stryker because my lifelong hearing affliction made it impossible for me to serve, especially as a Marine. Imagine crawling through the jungle, listening for any sign of the enemy. It would have been a catastrophe waiting to happen. I did get to “enjoy” a fair amount of basic training.

I left my mark with many a hard-nosed Drill Instructor frustrated when I laughed as they barked out intimidating orders. I drank homemade hooch (I’ll never give up the brewer), stripped and refitted my M-1 blindfolded, survived a few double-time forced marches, and had my first barroom fight with peckerwood Southern bigots in a nearby Beaufort gin mill.

My platoon mates and I cleared out the place with just a few scratches to show for our brawl. Now, I was officially a Marine!   Our C.O. smiled when he chewed us out for drinking and fighting. His main concern: Did we leave any of those miscreants standing?  Hell, NO!  The C.O. gave us a sharp salute and a night off to soothe our bruises.

A few days later, thanks to my hearing problems, Pvt E-1 Garry Armstrong was mustered out and headed home. in uniform.

My Dad cried again when I arrived home in uniform. Yes, he saluted me.

OO-rah!

This past weekend’s Memorial Day celebrations were lost in the COVID-19 headlines. A sad sign of the times for those who served and still serve our country. I salute all who put their lives on the line and am proud I still have my Marine Corps uniform. It fits better than ever.

I’ve never marched in a Memorial Day Parade. I leave that to those who’ve spent full tours in service and beyond.

Semper Fi!

HOT ONES AND COLD ONES – Marilyn Armstrong

A couple of years ago, I discovered my most popular post was black & white pictures of implements in my kitchen. Also well-favored were cute pictures of Bonnie and a 300-word piece on why I’d like to be called “Spike.”

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You can read my MOST popular ever piece here and try to figure out why for yourself.

Also, about once per year, other than my faithful friends, I have a whole new group of followers and a piece I’ve revived is new to them. Even I don’t remember everything I’ve written. It’s not that each item isn’t good, but they aren’t all that much better of different than the other 10,690 posts I’ve written.

The “biggest post” has gleaned more than 10,000 hits. It’s a complete puzzle since it’s not topical, not especially well researched or passionate. If you can figure out why everyone wants to read about why my blood type is B+. I’d like to know.

What do these posts have in common? Let’s analyze them a bit. The pictures are good, but this isn’t the first time I’ve published them. On previous occasions, no one found them particularly remarkable. I’m sure this means something, but what?

Coming home at sunset

Cute pictures of Bonnie? Well, you can’t argue with cute pet pictures, now can you? I mean … who doesn’t like kittens and puppies and adorable animals in general?

Finally, everyone has a name and everyone wishes it was something else. Now there’s a revelation.

Why are these three most popular posts more popular than other better pieces? What do they have in common, other than having been written and photographed by me? I can’t see anything special in any of them. Well, maybe the swan.

I have no idea. I can publish the same piece three times under slightly different names. It will be ignored twice, but be almost viral the third time.

My most popular photograph. It’s a good picture, but is it the best?

There’s no accounting for taste. Also, no accounting for when people feel like reading and the other times when no one bothers to read anything and my stats fall through the floor. To keep myself from getting crazy, I have stopped trying to figure it out.

I take pictures of what I see in a world grown much smaller in recent months. This piece may get a great response or fall flat. If something does poorly, I run it again later. Often, it’s a big hit on a different day because … well … who knows? Full moon? Wind from the north?

Do you know? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone really knows. We just do what we love and hope the rest will follow.

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR – RICH PASCHALL

The Class of South Pacific, by Rich Paschall

Most of your high school and college graduates will not have the pleasure of hearing the typical graduation speeches this year.  Students are usually listening to them in wonder, perhaps even shock at some odd notion.  It seems like a peculiar thing to say to high school or college graduates, and yet we say it all the time.

“These are the best years of your life,” a guest speaker may exclaim.  Some may narrow it down to tell students, “You will look back on this as the best year of your life.”  The best year?

It was a long time ago, and I can not recall specifically what I heard at my various graduations, but I am pretty sure the idea was sold to me somewhere.  “How can this be?” graduates may ask themselves.  “What about the next 60 years?  You mean to say, ‘this is it’?”

Are these youthful years the best years of our lives?  Is this where we had the best times, best friends, best dances and concerts and music and well, everything?  The answer is a surprising yes, and no.

graduation

When I was in the third year of high school I learned that DePaul Academy would be closing and we would all be shipped off to another area high school.  To be perfectly honest, I did not like this a bit.  Despite the tough discipline of my school and the fear of 4th year Latin, I wanted to go to a similar environment.  However, the school where I applied to go to for 4th year would not take any incoming seniors.  So off I went where they sent me, bound to make the best of it.

There were a few familiar faces at the new school, some were transfers like me and some I knew from grade school.  There were also new experiences. There were dances and plays.  They had a fine arts department (something lacking at the all-boys academy) and teachers who seemed to care about you as well as your studies.  I took drama, not fourth-year Latin.  I came, I saw, I took something else.

The social activities meant more opportunities to make friends.  The interaction was an education itself.  Soon there was a group of us that hung together a lot, and some of us still do.

The most remarkable part of this transition was the “Senior Class Play.”  Yes, so many students wanted to take part, it was just for seniors, as in 17 and 18-year-old students.  I got the nerve to audition.  I have no idea what I sang.  Everybody was in the show so it did not matter that a hundred of us showed up.  We were going to do South Pacific.  I was rather unaware of it.

I’m in this group, front row just left of center.

Aside from learning the art of theater (Project, Enunciate, Articulate, Stand up straight), I learned about the classic story of war, hate, prejudice and, of course, love.  Learning to play our parts was important.  We were commanded to be professional in everything.  We also learned a story that held a dramatic lesson in life.

When the movie starring Mitzi Gaynor, Rosanno Brazzi, and Ray Waltson was re-released, we ran off to see it.  In subsequent years, we saw several community theater productions as well as professional versions of the classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical.  We grew to love the theater and the lessons that such musicals could bring to us.  We learned why fine arts were so important in the schools.

So we were fortunate. We had a positive experience and a good education.  We learned our lessons in the halls as well as the classroom, and in the gym which was also our auditorium.  We signed one another’s yearbooks and held on to them like they were made of gold.  But was it the best year of my life?  If so, what about all the intervening years?

It is an interesting paradox that you can not adequately explain to an 18-year-old graduate.  Yes, it was the best year up to that point, and it will always remain so.  Nothing can ever take away those memories, so hopefully, they are all positive.  Those lessons of love and life will influence everything from that point on.

While you are busy making new memories, a career, a family perhaps, and new friends, they will all be measured against “the best year of your life,” whether it is at 18 or 21.  Some friends may be better, some lessons may be better, some experiences may be better, but they will all be measured against those moments in youth when you discovered who you were and where you were going.  The quality of future friendships must stand up to those already at hand.
If you have a South Pacific in your memory bank, you will tell people all across the (hopefully) many generations that come through your life how this was a great experience.  You may say it was the best time ever.  If your younger friend looks sorry that your best times were so far back, remind him to enjoy what he has because it will be the springboard to everything else.  It will be his touchstone.

Every spring, without fail for these many decades, the change of seasons hits me like some great coming of age story.  My imagination calls up images of Bali Hai and I hear echoes of “There Is Nothing Like A Dame” in the distance.  I once again feel “Younger Than Springtime” and every night is “Some Enchanted Evening.”  Whenever I look back to the Class of South Pacific, I can also look forward to a lot of “Happy Talk” for everyone who will listen.

GIVING UP, NOT IN – Marilyn Armstrong

I almost quit any number of times. I didn’t smoke a lot. Less than a pack a day and eventually I got it down to five or six a day and sometimes less. The problem with cigarettes is that one day, for no special reason, you realize you smoked an entire pack. You just sort of forgot you had quit.

In my long and checkered professional career, I had many bosses. One of them had, in a former life, been addicted to heroin. It wasn’t a secret. We all knew because he told us. I had the feeling he was proud of having kicked drugs and was now the owner of a software development company. I asked him how he did it, how he got free of his addiction.

“You know,” he said, “It really wasn’t as hard as you might think. Mostly, I had to get away from the people, from other junkies, and the world of drugs. After I stopped hanging out with those people, getting off drugs was relatively easy. It’s the culture that pulls you in even more than the drugs.”

“I wish,” he continued, a touch of wistfulness in his voice, “It was as easy to kick cigarettes. When you hang out with junkies, you know it’s illegal. You sneak around. You are careful. But cigarettes? No problem. They’re legal. Grab a buddy and go for a smoke. It’s a social thing.

“You don’t hear heroin addicts saying to each other ‘Hey, anyone want to go out back and shoot up?’ but you can stop by another smoker’s desk and say … ‘Hey, want to go have a butt?’

“I’ve had a much harder time quitting smoking than I had quitting heroin. Much harder,” he said and reached for the pack of cigarettes in his pocket. He did soon thereafter, quit. He decided having kicked narcotics, he could kick cigarettes too. So he did.

I was a smoker myself, then. I had been trying to quit for years. I’d quit, then I’d be somewhere where other smokers worked. I’d get sucked into it. It wasn’t the physical addiction that lured me. I understood how bad it was for my health, disastrous to my budget and getting more costly each day. It made my clothing and hair smell like a dirty ashtray. It was the social connection that got me. Hanging out with other smokers. The rhythm of smoking. I’d write, then take a break, grab a smoke. It was part of my process.

I was never as heavy a smoker other people I knew. I lit many more cigarettes than I smoked. But I enjoyed smoking. I liked the smell of fresh tobacco. I liked standing outside on a crisp night, watching my smoke curl up and away into the sky.

I did a lot of my thinking on cigarette breaks. When I was writing, if I was stuck, I’d have a smoke. By the time I was halfway through it, I’d know what I was going to do and how I would do it.

Smoking-Burning-CigaretteIt took me years of quitting, backsliding, and quitting again before it finally “stuck.” Years before the smell of tobacco brought back memories without triggering a desire to smoke.

I am sure today, after more than ten years if I were to smoke one cigarette, I’d be a smoker. Again. It’s not unlike being an alcoholic. One drink and you’re a drunk again.

It’s not because I’m physically addicted. After all these years of not smoking, I’m obviously not addicted to nicotine, if I ever was. Yet on some level, I will always be addicted to cigarettes.

It would probably be easier to quit now since most offices are smoke-free. That being said, it’s not that I don’t want a cigarette. I just don’t smoke.

SUMMER FRIENDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I recently wrote a blog about old friends; people who knew you when you were a lot younger and who shared a part of your life that doesn’t exist anymore. That got me thinking. Why do some people become ‘old friends’ and others drop by the wayside? Why do some people stick with you over decades while others drift away?

I believe that most people start out as situational friends. You meet and become friends because you’re sharing an activity or a stage of life. Examples are people you work with and parents whose kids go to school with and/or are friends with your kids. Also, people you meet through hobbies, like at a golf or tennis club, a knitting circle, a book club, etc.

What makes some of those friendships ‘take’ and become permanent? I have no idea. Many friendships seem to end when the shared activity stops – you change jobs, your kids graduate or find new friends, you leave the club, whatever. I’ve had so many friends like this it blows my mind. I’ve often wondered why we lost touch. Why was it that that particular person or couple slipped away? We were so close!

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But some friends do stay with you and ripen into wonderful ‘old friends’. I’ve never been able to tell which friendships will last and which won’t. In the mid-late 1980’s I was redecorating my house from top to bottom. I spent two years working closely with my decorator and we became friends. At around the same time, my daughter became friends with a girl in her kindergarten class and I became friends with her Mom (and Dad as well – we also socialized as couples). Those friendships lasted all the way through high school – 12 years. Who am I still close with 30 years later? The decorator. The Mom still lives five minutes away from me and we haven’t even talked in years and years. The decorator moved out-of-state more than 10 years ago but we’re still the dearest of friends.

For many years, Tom and I had a group of friends who shared a dock with us at the marina where our boat lives. We were crazy close. We traveled together with our boats, partied all summer, and had gotten together regularly over the winter. Gradually, boats left the marina, people moved away and most of them disappeared from our lives. Only one friend remains out of at least six or eight couples. I was heartbroken that the ‘gang’ dispersed into the ether.

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I think friendships like these end because of some odd combination of laziness and busyness. When you no longer share that situational ‘bond’, you’re not thrown together. You have to make more of an effort to see each other. Obviously, if you haven’t developed a strong emotional connection that transcends your ‘situation’, that won’t happen.

Also, people are busy. Between work, family, and other friends, time is at a premium. If you’re not at the top of someone’s ‘priority list,’ you lose. The common ‘bond’ was what got you to the top of the list before. Now, unless you have a personal bond or you forge a new one that shoots you to the front of the line – you’re toast. You just don’t fit into the new reality of your former friends’ lives.

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I have to admit, I’m hypersensitive. I take it at least a little bit personally whenever someone drops out of my life. But, I don’t lose sleep over it either. I’ve learned making and keeping friends has as much to do with timing as anything else. Like romantic relationships, some things are not meant to be. Fortunately for me, many wonderful friendships have blossomed, lasted, and enrich my life today.

Now that we have encountered a world with a plague we never imagined possible, I suspect there will be more losses of friends and groups of friends. There will be people who don’t want to go out. I have heard that is beginning to happen to people my age in other places. I’m hoping we are not among them.

MY BAD NEWS BUNKER IS OUT OF SPACE – Marilyn Armstrong

Every morning, I get up and hope that there is something positive in the news today. Something that will give me hope. Not another soppy story of all the great people helping other people because those stories are true, but have little to do with us and our lives. I admire the carers and wish I were one of them. Maybe then I could feel as if I was doing something useful in this terrible world.

I want to hear about something that — to put it bluntly — might help us. Help get our lives functioning again. Offer to deliver groceries, lower fuel rates.  or car insurance. Someone in this town offering to help people who are physically unable to do it all for themselves anymore.


I have yet to see anything positive. Maybe there are heroes elsewhere, but none of them seem to live in Worcester County. It’s just bad news, start to finish and frankly, it’s depressing. I really want to see something positive. I want to see our government do ONE GOOD THING. Together. As if we are all “One nation, with or without God.”


Is it possible the Trump really is the antiChrist? It’s as if he took office and ever since, every day since, has been working day and night to take whatever was part of the American dream, stomp it flat, shoot it dead, and finally, flush it down the toilet.


Why does he not care about this country he is leading? Why is so unconcerned with how many of us have died or are likely to die? Is power THAT important to any living soul? Was he truly born without a soul or even a basic understanding of right and wrong? I think Stalin had warmer feelings for his people than Trump has for his.

I only read one article and I didn’t finish it. It was the 202, the daily summary of events from The Washington Post. Here are some bullet points from it.


  • More than 40 million Americans have filed claims for jobless benefits in the past 10 weeks, including 2.1 million new claims last week, according to Labor Department data released this morning.
  • Trump tweeted this morning to acknowledge the grim milestone, but his public schedule this week contains no special commemoration, no moment of silence and no collective sharing of grief.
  • Trump is poised to sign an executive order today that could roll back the immunity that tech giants have for the content on their sites.
  • With no evidence, Trump has suggested five times – this month alone – that individuals and entities may have committed treason against the United States.
  • Attorney General Bill Barr, who career prosecutors say has politicized the Justice Department for Trump’s benefit, continues his push to investigate the president’s investigators.
  • Meanwhile, another Trump tweet plunged Congress into chaos – and thwarted the renewal of vital authorities needed by law enforcement to keep tabs on potential spies and terrorists. 
  • Trump has also, almost single-handedly, transformed the simple act of wearing a facial covering into the latest battle in the culture wars, dividing his own party in the process.
  • Some businesses around the country are now kicking out customers who wear face masks.
  • Quote of the day: “There’s no stigma attached to wearing a mask,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a polio survivor who is up for reelection. (Politico)
  • Civil unrest is a real danger. The second night of protests over the death of George Floyd turned deadly.
  • Police chiefs around the nation responded with disgust to the news of Floyd’s death, seeking to reassure their cities.
  • There’s a good chance the coronavirus will never go away.
  • Trump could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of people by delaying citizenship ceremonies until after November.
  • The FDA temporarily loosened food labeling rules for the fifth time during the pandemic.
  • Millennials are the unluckiest generation.
  • Public schools face a fall with a lot more costs and a lot less funding.
  • Meanwhile, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she will force public schools to share their pandemic aid with private ones.

This is just about half the bullet points. There were too many more and I couldn’t finish the article. There was no room in my heart or brain for everything. No more room. So if you ask me “how old do you feel?” I think my answer is older than history, older than the planet, older than any person should ever feel. My bad-news-bunker is out of space.

It really is difficult to “have a good day” with the world’s catastrophes looming over you.

For me, the worst part of our ongoing catastrophe is that there is so little I can do about it … and how awful the world will be for our younger citizens.

HOW OLD DO YOU FEEL? ARE YOU AN ADULT YET? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #71

From Fandango:

“You’re probably familiar with the old expression, “You’re only as old as you feel.” Or maybe you’ve been told by someone at some point to “act your age.” Or perhaps you, yourself, when asked your age, have said, “Age is just a number.”

Well, that brings me to this week’s provocative question(s).”

Right now, I feel like at least 112, going on 150. Some days, I feel as young as 90.

Really, I’m 73 and this part is all about my body. I’ve had cancer twice and lost both breasts. I had ulcers and lost my stomach. Twice. I had my spine fused when I was 19 and since then, my S-1 (that’s the very bottom of your vertebrae on which the rest of your vertebrae purportedly rest) broke. The L3-4-5 vertebrae were fused and while the fusions are functional, they aren’t sturdy.

My DIL asked me what I was going to do about it. I had no answer. There isn’t anything to do. I’ve already had surgery. No quality surgeon will go near it. The entire spine, top to bottom is calcified. I’m not happy about the further breakage at the base because it has further limited movement.

I took Melanie’s advice and got a cane. It’s unnecessary in the house, but I think it might be useful outside, especially on uneven ground. Buying it was my version of optimism since we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I’m hoping it will keep me from falling but given my ability to entangle myself in things, it might make it worse. I guess I’ll (eventually) find out.

But that’s all physical stuff. My brain is a whole different department. Aside from forgetting every third word in a given sentence, I’m pretty sharp. Under any other circumstances — like living in a nation with a proper government — I would say my brain hasn’t passed 40 yet, but since Trumpy-Door took office, I feel a lot older. I feel mentally tired like I’ve run a marathon only to discover that I’ve got another to run.

This isn’t going to be a relaxed retirement. This isn’t going to be chilling out into old age, enjoying the little things and each other. Financial stressors, worries about Garry as his age begins to slow him down. And wondering how my son will manage as he ages.

I’m confused, too. I thought we’d begun to make progress as I was going from child to woman and from woman to crone.


The Ancient Crone

by Anya Silverman – “The Crones Counsel, Celebrating Wise Women”:

ancient-croneThe mythological Crone comes to us from the mists of ancient times in the part of the world we now know as the Middle East, Greece, and the Balkans. Many people now believe that in the Paleolithic era (c.30,000 – 10,000 BCE) the goddess was revered as one all-encompassing mother goddess who controlled birth, death, and rebirth. As patriarchy began to arise after c.7000 BCE, this concept began to change as women themselves became increasingly under the dominion of men. The one mother goddess image was split into three aspects reflecting the stages of women’s lives – maiden, mother, and crone. The crone goddess represented the older woman aspect of a woman’s life.”


GROWING UP

When I was in my 20s, we had friends who were in their fifties. I asked them how — and when — they knew they had grown up. They said they would let me know when they figured it out.

I don’t know when it happened, but sometime during the past 20 years, I grew up. I am adulterated.

What age am I? Old, cynical, skeptical, and sad. A crone with a negative attitude and just a hint of optimism, safely stored in a closet.

THERE’S ALWAYS MORE GROWTH AHEAD

I’m not done, butI’m slowing down. It’s hard to move, difficult to get up in the morning. or fall asleep at night. I’d love to be around long enough to see the world moving forward and fixing the things wrong with it, but I don’t know that I have enough time. This isn’t going to be an overnight fix.

There is so much that needs to be done. I would like to be a part of it.