Saturday, December 15, 2018

REVELATIONS A LA CART


Checking out
Small town living guarantees that wherever
you go, you'll bump into someone you know.
One of the worst spots for such encounters
being our local grocery store. Depending on
the time of day you shop - chances are you'll
meet and greet dozens. Which at times can
easily extend your shopping excursion by an
hour or more. Hence running in and out very
quickly is virtually impossible. That is unless
you shop at eleven p.m. Which can be equally
dicey given the folks that you'll meet at that
time may go bump in the night. Thus being a
secret shopper in Lewistown isn't an easy task.
Friends and relations
As a former urbanite my modus operandi is to
grab and run rather than stop, shop, and chat.
However over the years I've adjusted to our
rural mode of living. Therefore I try my best
to be friendly. Meeting and greeting all who
I come in contact with while checking off my
list. In particular I go out of my way to treat
staff with courtesy and kindness. And much
to my benefit they return the favor. After all
we're all just people trying to survive in this
often cruel world. So over the years we've
gotten to know each other well. Making any
trip to Albertsons akin to a family reunion.
Bonus offer
One of the more important lessons in life is
to never assume anything about anybody.
In truth we've no idea where our random
supermarket friends have been. Nor where
they're going. Everybody has a story to tell.
All that's required is one be willing to hear
them out. Hence it's amazing what one can
pick up as they push their cart down life's
aisle. Equally important, taking time out of
your day can make another's. Which makes
however many minutes that adds to your
shopping trip worth the time and effort. So
being kind inevitably is a win/win situation.
Canned speech
Yesterday my favorite grocer was in a great
mood. When prompted, he shared why. Five
years ago his father died leaving him a bit of
cash. He had two choices. Use his newfound
gain to buy more drugs. Or escape his cycle
of addiction. A few weeks later he and his
wife drove into town with $150. Plus what
they could fit in a few garbage bags. Over
the next years they built a new life through
hard work and sobriety. His latest triumph
being making the final payment on his home.
Which as of yesterday was now theirs. Yet
some talk of an end to the American dream.
Everyday heroes
Standing amidst the lettuce I had a revelation.
That said story is ample proof that we've no
need to "make America great again." Rather,
this gentleman's tale demonstrates that it's we
the people who are great and always has been.
And that all that's required for greatness is the
ability to learn from our mistakes and make
the right choices go forward. Thus at the end
of my grocery shopping excursion I left with
much more than a few basics. I was inspired
by the realization that each and everyone of
us can inspire others and make a difference.
And that anybody can be an American hero.

Friday, December 14, 2018

SANTA'S SECRETS


Miraculous misconceptions
One of the worst aspects of being an adult is
the realization that there is NO Santa. Year
after year I find myself wishing that some
savior in red would swoop down from above
and take care of my Christmas list instantly.
Gone would be the stress of selecting proper
gifts plus wrapping, packing, and delivering
them on time. I fantasize that in addition said
gift from God will also mail Christmas cards,
decorate the tree, and cook our dinner on the
twenty fifth. Sadly redemption never arrives.
Thus by the time Christmas Eve is here I'm
disappointed, bitter, and pooped. Ho ho no!
No rest for the cheery
Honestly, I really do try to get the holiday spirit.
However in reality it gets harder every year to
find much joy in this busiest of times. Hence
like Mr. Scrooge I tend to wander around town
muttering to myself with a frown upon my face.
Initially Frank and I assumed we'd be sailing
far away rather than stay at home and deal with
the holidays. Only to discover that planning
and orchestrating a journey is as hard as trying
to squeeze my fat ass down someone's chimney.
So rather than add more stress to this seasonal
mess we will stay at home, put up a tree, host
Christmas dinner, and be sure to drink heavily.
Heaven help us
One of the things I do miss is celebrating the
reason for the season. As you may recall we
gave up organized religion several years ago.
Given all of the ungodly headlines, diocesan
lawsuits, and priest's crimes against humanity
I know we made the right decision. Yet when
it comes to Christmas, I feel lost without the
context, rituals, and traditions of church. Part
of me wants to return like some prodigal son.
Yet another voice deep within cautions against
purposefully submitting myself to what could
be a painful process. You see, the last thing
that I want is to be disappointed once again.
Prayer meeting
In my opinion most religious endeavors have
little to nothing to do with any higher being.
Rather they're all about the humans involved
in said process. Unfortunately when one has
a gathering of believers the end result seems
to inevitably encourage inhumane behavior.
A phenomena that couldn't possibly be more
ungodly. Thus while I miss worshiping with
a community of saints I'm still planning to sit
this season out at home. Reconnecting with
God on a one-to-one basis. Which seems to
make sense given if nothing else one's faith
is a very personal rather than rote affair.
Gifts that keep on giving
The problem with Christmas at large is that
we're expected to celebrate via one massive
cookie cutter series of events. All of which
seem to get more involved and complicated
as the years go by. Maybe we should all do
our best to orchestrate a kinder and gentler
holiday. One where nobody has to drink the
eggnog unless they actually like it. A refuge
where the yule log burns with gas, Christmas
dinner cleans up after itself, and there are no
carolers warbling at the door. A time when
the greatest gift is not giving or receiving.
But simply loving those near and dear to us.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

PRIMARY SCHOOL


Opposites attract
Color experts often mix extremes for
maximum impact. However in our all
too neutral world - even the best taste
makers often play it too safe. Living
in a grey or taupe cocoon may soothe
one's soul - but it can be dull. Which
is why an occasional pop of color can
literally change your world...

Click below to read the latest

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

GONE FISHING


Out of the box thinking
I never thought I'd ever feel sorry for Donald
Trump. However recent events have confirmed
that I never will. We reap what we sow. Hence
when one freely spreads dissension, alienation,
prejudice, and derision they'll end up screwed.
The only thing I regret is that in the process we
the people have been dragged down along with
the gentleman. in question. While some may
assume that right is about to usurp all wrongs
I can't help but worry about the damage that's
already been done. Being compromised rarely
paints a pretty picture. Especially at the hand
of a known enemy. If so, isn't that a red alert?
Lost in the translation
As a child of the cold war I was taught Soviet
Russia was evil. My grandmother had a friend
who knew so first hand. Once ensconced in a
palace in St. Petersburg, she ended up barely
surviving in a tired flat on the upper west side.
There within the countess clung to a pretense
of prestige. Entertaining a shell shocked group
of disenfranchised "white Russians" who knew
from whence she came. Offering a semblance
of dignity to a woman who had lost everything.
According to her "commies" stole her dignity,
wealth, and birthright. Therefore they were not
to be trusted. A bunch of cretins and criminals!
Red alert
Add the frequent "drills" at school that had
one diving under desks or cowering down
in basement. All in case of a red attack. No
wonder I was afraid of Ruskies! We were
taught that the Soviet Union was EVIL.
Within our mid-century minds the enemy
always had a heavy Russian accent and was
hellbent on destroying democracy. Nobody
was safe. Not even Rocky and Bullwinkle!
Who somehow always thwarted the efforts
of those evil spies  Boris and Natasha. Thus
while living in the diversity of New York I
still was suspicious of anything slightly red.
Friends and strangers
There are exceptions to every rule. At some
point school officials deemed me "exceptional."
Soon I was handed over to Miss Jean Wanda
PHD for evaluation. Rather that meet at her
office, I visited her home weekly. There she
lived under a self imposed a cloud of cigarette
smoke. Serenaded by a radio dialed to WQXR
(classical) or WNYC (NPR). Walls covered
with icons and a permanent layer of nicotine
and dust. Weekly we sipped samovar tea in
glasses. And quickly a sixty year old Russian
Jew (with a thick accent) and an eight year
old WASP with an attitude became friends.
Gone but not forgotten
Everything in life is personal. Thus my youthful
experiences subsequently fueled an adult distrust
of "communism" in general. Subsequently the
world saw it crumble. The Berlin Wall fell. The
Soviet Union dissolved. And Prague became a
popular tourist destination. For a period of time
we were all lulled into a sense that the cold war
was over. Then Vladimir Putin rose to power.
Leveraging Russia's angst over change into a
power base of dictatorial proportions. Back in
Manhattan, the only liability was an influx of
nouveau Russian elite. Who by their arrogant
nature arrived acting as if they owned the joint.
Equal opportunity
Much to their chagrin, said Russian emigres
were met by a cold war of a different sort.
You see even in Manhattan money can't buy
everything. Especially approval of the coop
boards of Manhattan's best buildings. Said
unfair disadvantage created an opportunity
for one underdog to help another. And soon
Donald Trump was selling "luxury" digs in
questionable locations to Russia's richest.
Saving his empire post an endless series of
failures. Yet now we wonder why he defers
to the Russians. Those who obviously had
a hand in helping him get where he is today?
Guilt by association
A leopard can't change his spots. Therefore it's
ludicrous to assume that those who benefited
from Russian intervention prior - would not
welcome it if given another chance. Which
indicates that Mr. Mueller's investigation will
prove Donald Trump's journey to the White
House involved business as usual. Meaning
that he leveraged prior Russian relationships
in the hope of maintaining a competitive edge.
Whether he was driven by greed or some dark
communist plot is still questionable. However
I'm fairly certain we will find Mr. Trump guilty
of swimming with a plethora of red herrings.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

IT'S A MAD MAD WORLD


Time out
Honestly, when will it ever end? For many
reasons most of us spend our days and nights
scurrying about. All in an attempt to control
our existence. Hence the art of keeping one's
act together just might be the common curse
of mankind. It really doesn't matter whether
one is rich or poor. That's because inevitably
we all find something to fret over whatever
our circumstances. Thus if one works as a
maid they worry about getting the job done.
Whereas her mistress wonders the same thing.
No wonder we're over whelmed and stressed!
Apparently there is NO rest for the weary.
Multi tasker
Not a night passes when I don't wonder where
the day went. A Pavlovian response to the fact
that we're never able to achieve all that we think
we should. The fact is we're all our own worse
enemies. Exactly when did you last congratulate
yourself on a job well done? Rather most of us
rarely rest on our laurels. Instead we pummel
ourselves over all the tasks we were unable to
check off our honey do lists. My question is
why do we purposefully set ourselves up for
failure? Are we secret sadomasochists who
enjoy inflicting torture upon our stressed out
psyches? And is there any gain to said pain?
Time travelers
No wonder we all dream of getting away from
it all. The problem is that getting there isn't any
fun. First one must decide where they go and
when. Next, make all the arrangements. After
that decide what to bring and pack. And finally,
embark on the journey itself. Which inevitably
is fraught with delays, cancelations, and the like.
Only to be tasked post arrival with deciding on
where to dine that night. Could it be that there
is no get out of jail card for life itself? Are we
all destined to be overworked concierges in
purgatory? Are we doomed to never to finish
our list until we are finally finished for good?!
Guilty as charged
If you want to know who is to blame, look in the
mirror. That idiot facing you is the reason you're
in trouble. Good or bad intentions aside, YOU
alone are the root of your life's evils. At least in
theory you have control over the situation. You
are the one who can say yes... or no. However
for often unexplained reasons the majority seem
to prefer more than less. Otherwise why would
anyone ever consider putting themselves in such
overwhelming situations? Maybe we should all
reset our buttons and try to end this foolishness.
Or could it be that we truly like living this way?
After all, it's been said crazy is as crazy does...

Monday, December 10, 2018

STRANGERS IN PARADISE




Absence makes the heart...
At times I feel out of touch. That may
be due to living many miles from those
those who I love. Right or wrong it now
seems the traditional nuclear family is
as extinct as my youth. Life takes many
of us on divergent and far away paths.
My kids (and their offspring) live at
least a thousand miles away. Therefore
hosting weekly family dinners is but a
fantasy. So could it be those religious
zealots are right? That America's drive
for success has pushed "normal" family
units to the absolute brink of extinction?

Special delivery
The above has haunted me for years. My
personal guilt trip is that the choices I've
made ended me up in the wrong place.
Therefore the reason my family isn't
nearby is because I distanced myself.
However post waiting on a long line at
the Post Office - I realized that I'm not
alone. Most of the packages being sent
by locals are to children, grand kids, or
loved ones far away. Just read the daily
obituaries and you'll discover that most
families live (and die) far apart. And it's
been that way generation to generation.

Open door policy
For proof just delve a generation or
two back in your family tree. Soon
you'll discover that this country was
built on a foundation of abandonment.
You see, most of our forefathers left
family behind to come here. Therefore
the theory that fractured families are a
byproduct of modern culture is fiction
at best. Generation after generation of
immigrants have abandoned those near
and dear in order to start anew in this
promised land. Hence yesterday, today,
and tomorrow history repeats itself.

Off the welcome wagon 
One can only marvel at the bravery of
someone able to willingly leave ALL
that they love for an uncertain future.
Yet that's exactly what the American
dream has always been about. While
we deride our country's demise, it is
still for many the promised land. A
place that offers equal opportunities
for ALL. Sadly even with a legacy
of new immigrants eagerly joining
said phenomena - suddenly many are
vociferously suggesting that we close
rather than open the door to freedom.

Against all odds
Imagine being backed into a corner.
That all you cherished could be
taken away from you. Your loved
ones threatened, beaten or brutally
murdered. Would you run? What if
suddenly the chance to escape to a
much better place was summarily
eliminated? Well, that's what leaders
like President Trump vociferously
want America to stand for. Rather
than freedom they prefer that we
run a private club nation with very
limited access. Is that American?!

Back to the future
Their argument is that if we allow "the
enemy" to enter our country we will be
overrun with terrorists, criminals, or
worse. However the majority of mass
U.S. shootings since 1982 had a white
American male citizen at the trigger.
No Muslims, Mexicans, or minorities
from "shit holes". So what are they
afraid of? Are they melting down due
to the fact that our American melting
pot continues to drive diversity? Are
they trying to do anything possible to
protect their waning competitive edge?


Smoke and mirrors
I don't know about you but I'm scared.
Nor that some Mexican or Muslim is
a threat - but that those who want to
build walls are violating our inalienable
rights. Have these "patriots" forgotten
from whence they came? A century ago
anyone who was from Ireland or Italy
was deemed a pariah. An outcast. An
undesirable threat to the American way.
Today their offspring are our elected
leaders. Or dare I suggest hypocrites?
It's time we remember from whence we
came and that diversity makes us great.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

7th Day Surprise: Out on A Limb


LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION

The seasonal center of attention,
one's tree is more than lights, ornaments, and garland.
It's an amalgam of memories.
A compilation of holiday traditions.
The annual expression of all that matter.
So go ahead, have a ball!