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Gratitude in a Time of Foolish

Posted by Kathy on Dec 29, 2021 in Uncategorized

Last year, on January 1st, my daughter Sally, a Special Ed teacher in California, called to wish me a Happy New Year. Sally, just for background, is a walking, talking party. I’ve never known anyone else with her level on spontaneity.

“Let’s write down something every day that we are grateful for,” she said.

I rolled my eyes about the culturally popular “gratitude” thing.

“OK,” I sighed.

“And put them in a little jar or something to look at later,” she concluded.

I did that. Every day for months. Frankly, although I consider myself to be a grateful person, I did not feel a need to do it. But I had promised, so do it I did.

Every now and then, I would remember that I forgot to remember. Then I’d have to jar my aging brain, recall the previous day, and retrace my gratitude steps. Warm place to live, family, God, canasta

There were a couple of times when I forgot to do it for a week at a time. I’d get busy. Or sick. Or feel like crap for a day or two after my second Covid vaccine, for which I was truly grateful.

One day earlier in this month of December, I wrote: “Oops!” on a piece of note paper, putting “Dec. 8-12” as the date. I called Sally.

“I have a confession,” I said. “I’ve missed some days of writing what I’m grateful for.”

“Me, too,” she said.

“Actually,” I said, “I just missed a week.”

“I stopped in October,” she said.

We laughed and reassured ourselves that we were, indeed, grateful people nonetheless.

It got me thinking. I think a lot during these days of continued Covid. I remember how awful I felt after that second vaccine, alone in my apartment, too sick to pick up the phone to complain to anyone. But about how happy I was to finally feel freer in public places, even though I continued my mask-wearing. I could go into a store and feel delightfully safe. I could pick out the fruits and vegetables that made me happy. I could pick the exact kinds of products I like, without relying on someone to do the shopping for me. I felt like a kid at a really great amusement park. And believe me when I say I was truly grateful for the people who had provided curbside service during the worst of the pandemic, before vaccine availability.

Then came the booster. The 36 or so hours that followed the booster made me wonder if I even wanted to live through the temporary side effects. That’s how sick I felt. They say that most people can stand anything for 20 seconds. I couldn’t even count to 10 before moaning and starting again. But it passed, and I was – again – truly grateful. I felt a new reassurance.

Now we have the Omicron variant, because this tricky COVID-19 virus didn’t think Delta was enough, and maybe because a lot of people didn’t think the whole thing was real. Some chose not to get vaccinated, which has kept this thing going, even in the USA where vaccines are available – and viruses love that! They love to go from person to person, and when the joy of that runs out, they become sneaky little devils, outsmarting the human hosts-du-jour, and change just enough to win again.

When Omicron popped up, I revisited my old friend Gratitude. I am grateful for the continued and heroic work of scientists and healthcare workers. For cashiers. For my letter carrier. For teachers, including my Sally, and for my other adult daughter Cassie, who is starting her nursing school clinical rotations next month. For all the people who persevere through difficulty – the essential workers who keep putting one foot in front of another, risking their own health while others still, amazingly persist in seeing no need for vaccination.

And now, I am thinking back in history. I am thinking back to a time, just over a hundred years ago, when men and women watched their children and each other perish from Spanish flu, an influenza that ravaged our world, with nothing but ineffective basics to keep individuals going until death caught up and overtook an estimated 50 million worldwide. Families left without parents. Parents left without children, adding tiny gravestones to our cemeteries, still seen today.

I imagine what might have happened if there had been a vaccine back then. I picture people literally on their knees, thanking God, science, and the universe for a preventative that could save them.

Now, as I shake my head slowly at the collective, behavioral lack of gratitude in parts of our nation, I make a decision.

And get down on my knees.

 
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A lookback on 2021

Posted by Kathy on Dec 8, 2021 in Uncategorized

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 8. Last time I was here (on this blog, not on this Earth) was in January, 2021. Eleven months ago. In my fantasy life, I was on a world tour, making a difference in peace or climate change or global health or any number of lofty things. Yeah. That did not happen. Yet, I think it’s useful to take inventory of the passing of a year. To look at things with some perspective. To see what lessons have been learned.

From January through early March, I was slugging out the pandemic like everyone else. Scared. Upset. Watching the bad numbers rise daily. And rejoicing when it looked like there was a way out of this viral terror encasing the globe. Then came the magic date in early March, when I drove to a nearby former horse-racing facility, got in line with dozens and dozens of others, and after filling out forms served up by the uniformed and frequently good-looking members of the National Guard, I got in line for my first Covid vaccination. The woman who administered the injection to me was a local physician, a vein specialist. Though the process of forms and questions had been somewhat – and understandably – like marching orders, this volunteer doc/injector-of-good was sweet and upbeat. Afterwards, and never being one to miss an opportunity for free medical advice, I asked her if she could do anything about my legs, or as I call them, “the map of Rhode Island.” 

“That’s another clinic,” she said, with a chuckle.

Then came the second injection three weeks later, followed by difficult, brief side effects but also great feelings of relief, though I continued my safe practices – not because I didn’t trust the vaccine, but because I didn’t trust others, an unfortunate leftover neurotic theme of mine from childhood…a childhood before certain vaccines, before a better range of antibiotics, surgeries, and treatment for disease. The reality of vocal anti-vaxxers this year did not escape me, and I decided my mask was permanently and comfortably to be a part of me for the long haul.

See, when my mom was a child, there were no antibiotics. The early ones were a Godsend, but during WW2, they were restricted because wounded soldiers needed them first. That was before my time, but the stories lingered. Anyone born in the 50’s – nay, anyone born anytime – understands that medical advances are happening every day. Literally, as I write this and as you read this, some smart ass 12-year-old is in the preparation stages for someday finding that cure, that treatment that will save lives.

When I got my shots this year, and then got the booster, I couldn’t help but envision, each time, what it must have been like for my mother-in-law, who by the grace of God was able to nurse her two toddlers through scarlet fever during WW2, not knowing if they would make it, per the doctor’s caution to her. They were that sick. There was no treatment. And though they lived, many others did not, or survived with long-standing medical problems.

My own mother brought my older brother Bob to the hospital when he was a sick child during the 1940s. Mom feared the worst, as there was a polio outbreak in her area. In the elevator on the way to the clinic, another woman – a mother – looked over at my sick brother.

“That’s what my boy looked like yesterday,” she said. “Today he’s in an iron lung.” 

Fortunately, my brother did not have polio. And today, polio is entirely preventable.

Sometime during this past spring, I finally emerged from my shell of fear long enough to re-engage, not even close to solving climate change, but for me, monumental. I went to the nearby beach, keeping distance, adding long beach walks to my, um, minimalist exercise regimen. I began to meet with a few women in my building who were also vaccinated, and we played canasta. Yes, I’m one of those. I ventured back to the physical building called Church, masked, steering away from human clusters. I sat at my sewing machine and continued making masks, improving on the style I’d made for my doctor’s office the previous year.

I got a long-overdue haircut, not sure yet if I wanted to get my hair colored, a bigger indoor time commitment.  In May, my family gathered at a rental house in Virginia, as we had all been vaccinated. I started going into stores, always masked. It was starting to feel close to normal, other than the worry about others who were unmasked. So many others.

Some day, our history books will reflect on these years of the pandemic. I like to imagine what they will say, and how people will react when they read about this pandemic, that a vaccine was invented and produced and available, yet so many refused it. And how there were parts of the world where the health care system or access to vaccines was so primitive or political that large populations could not receive them. 

Lastly, when taking an overview of 2021, there is one other thing that I can honestly say I conquered:

A lot of head shaking.

 
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2020 highlights

Posted by Kathy on Jan 1, 2021 in Uncategorized

Well, it’s been a crap year in more ways than one can count, but highlights include: the horrific COVID-19 pandemic and general way it was handled by so many – still, by some who think it’s no big deal, who ignore safety measures and even boast of such; the tragic loss of over 330,000 Americans from that mythical COVID-19, including around 2,000 of our precious medical workers; the fires of California, causing death and destruction in numerous ways, some perhaps yet to discover for those who were breathing in smoke-filled air for weeks and weeks; the lengthy aftermath of our November election, for which I will curb my comments on those who apparently have given up on our long-standing process of democracy; racial tragedy, during which it felt like we have moved back to the 1950s in regard to progress in our America where, supposedly, all are created equal; horrible financial loss for so many resulting in inability to feed families, pay mortgages and rent, and on and on.

We have much to mourn about. But there is more. There’s always more.

There is a sense, today, that many survived. Many used innovation to keep their businesses going. Film makers figured out how to safely make movies and TV series. We learned how to zoom – even we old folks zoomed. We kept many businesses afloat via takeout and curbside purchases. We learned how to cook better. We got good at Facetime, we developed ways to show love at a distance, care for others less fortunate, and give in ways more generous than before 2020. People volunteered, both in organizations and informally, neighbor helping neighbor. And we cared, as Americans, that black and brown persons were being mistreated, still, by our system, scorning a few bad apples who in violent and horrid ways caused death and heartbreak, George Floyd being just one of many victims. We wept, we shouted and protested, we wrote letters, and we got out the vote in hopes of change, in hopes of a kinder nation. We did our best to support and attend to those broken by all this, new ways of therapy popping up into our consciousness. 

We prayed, wrote, cried, bore the absence of hugs and contact, grieved our losses in new and limited ways. Weddings were scaled down to a mere few players, sports events and play were cancelled, and we learned it was safer to go to church in front of a computer until other, safe in-person methods were developed.

I learned to fix things. I did some thinking. I cut my own hair three times and there will be one more trim happening this evening. I learned to sew masks, and sew I did. I found out I’m a good cook, evidenced by the addition of several pounds. Then I figured out a way to shake them off. I did more thinking. I sat on the sofa, staring at news shows, unable to move at times. I got up and danced in my little one-bedroom apartment. I side-kicked with my grandson with a Hitchcock class he was taking at college, watching and discussing along with him, a rare privilege for a grandma. I witnessed my son marry his beloved in the most tiny of ceremonies. I walked. A lot. I walked with friends and family at the cemetery, by myself around the outskirts of the mall parking lots, around nearby schools, at the beach, and in my apartment building’s parking lot. I bought a lot of seafood treats, and I quietly cursed at non-maskers. I have never said the word “asshole” so many times in one year. I talked to friends and family, and worried along with those of them who contracted COVID. I had therapy by zoom, dealing with anxiety and depression that burst through my efforts of “getting through” alone. I got down and dirty with both God, and in self-reflection, a frightening yet freeing practice.

But mostly? Mostly I learned yet again how very precious my people are to me. That through complex feelings, difficult feelings, love proves stronger than anything. Love, stronger than fear, than anger, than isolation. And that was the most important highlight of all.

 
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Old Lesson from Marge, Redux

Posted by Kathy on Apr 15, 2020 in Uncategorized

Life hasn’t always been like this. But for my mom, and millions like her, there was a different version of the corona virus story.

It was 1942 when my parents, ages 17 and 18, got married. They had both graduated from high school, and Dad was stationed in Georgia for basic training in the Army Air Force, training to fly planes. He had enlisted because of World War II. After just one semester at Penn State, Mom took the train south to join him. She couldn’t bear to be without him. The high school sweethearts were so young that Mom had to get permission from her parents, long distance, to get married. They consented.

My dad very much wanted to be a pilot, but during maneuvers, each time the plane turned over, his stomach did, too. He was disappointed, but in retrospect, his inability to control his bodily response may have made it possible for me and my three siblings to enter the planet Earth. A lot of soldiers did not make it home alive. (Dad ended up playing his clarinet in one of the Army bands, giving us bratty kids, years later, multiple openings to tease that he and his clarinet saved the world from the Nazis.)

Once married, Mom found tiny apartments or single rooms, one after another, depending on where Dad was stationed. Housing was unreliable and inconsistent. She was alone, except for the rare times Dad could get off the base for a day or so. These were trying times, and she was not always in a safe situation. She was young and vulnerable, navigating a life that was far from the cushy one she had left behind. But she and Dad persevered. A year and a half later, she gave birth to my brother Bob at the base hospital, beginning a happy, if unstable series of stories of raising a baby in wartime.

Let’s talk about rations. For those of you who may not know, during WWII, the government limited the purchase of supplies of some of the basics which were in scarce supply because of the need to divert some to the soldiers overseas. Gasoline. Rubber products like tires. Butter. Eggs. Meat. Bacon. Canned goods. Coffee. Milk. Tea. Sugar. And more. People would get monthly ration books to use to purchase designated items. Once the stamps were used up, that was it, for those certain rationed products, until the next month.

As my brother Bob’s first birthday approached in this time of war and sacrifice, Mom made plans to make him a simple birthday cake. For weeks, she’d scrimped and saved up enough of her rations to buy the ingredients. Mom was a super-mom from the start. Her baby boy gave her tremendous joy in the uncertain time of war. She’d had natural childbirth, and breastfed Bob before it was popular to do either. So in anticipation of his little birthday celebration with Dad and a couple of others they had come to know in Georgia, Mom baked that special cake. I can picture how lovingly she made it. When it was time to take it out of the oven, something went very wrong, and the glass baking dish slid out of the oven and crashed onto the floor.

Mom was devastated. The cake was ruined. She told her close friend Shirley, who came over to the apartment to see if there was any way to salvage it. There wasn’t. But Shirley opened her pocketbook and gave Mom replacement rations so she could buy ingredients to make another cake. And this friend, according to Mom, carefully pulled out areas of the cake which did not contain splinters of glass, to eat for herself.

During the present pandemic, when I hear that our stores are out of toilet paper, bread, or other basics, I think of Mom and how she managed her complicated life during the War. When I make a product last longer by extreme conserving, I think of my dad, the King of Conservation, who lived his long life with the lessons learned during the war. When I get groceries from a small nearby grocery store, whose employees willingly shop for me and others, overworked and inundated as they must be, and deliver it curbside for those who need that level of service – or of friends who do pick-ups and drop-offs for older folks like me with health issues – or when we share what we have with others, I think of Mom’s friend Shirley, who gave up her own rations for another, someone who demonstrated, in a small way, an important truth…that we are always greater for love and sacrifice.

 

 
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Breaking Free

Posted by Kathy on Apr 5, 2020 in Thoughts from ME, Uncategorized

For some reason, the coronavirus pandemic and how it affects us has been stirring up some old memories of my mom’s experiences during her life time. I wish she were still here to guide me through, but even recalling her stories gives me strength.

As I sit here during this trying time, isolated and alone, I go through various phases of inspiration and despair – and everything in between. This morning, I thought about it in terms of what solitary confinement might feel like, although admittedly my little 560 square foot apartment is hardly a jail cell.

This is the story I recall hearing my mom, Marge, tell us:

When she was 11, in the 1930s, she was sent from home in New York to a girls summer camp in Maine. Her brother Bob, several years older, headed to a boys camp just down the road from her. Presumably, they were happy and excited to go.

Her brother Bob (my Uncle Bob) was happy enough at his camp, but for my mother, camp was a disaster. She hated it. It was not a warm and fuzzy place, she was homesick, and she desperately wanted to leave during those first couple of weeks, which soon and unfortunately coincided with a measles outbreak there. (She was not infected.) Everyone was quarantined, and her camp experience was already lousy, quarantine or not. She wanted to leave, but that was out of the question, not permitted, no matter how unhappy she was.

Somehow, her brother heard about this and went, at a distance, to check on her. The camp directors allowed her to see him to talk, at a substantial distance. But for my mom, the sight of her beloved big brother was too much for her. In an 11-year-old “outta my way” moment, she ran. Past the boundary, she ran. And right into his comforting arms.

The camp directors’ response?

“Well, now you’ve done it. You might as well go!”

Nice, huh? They did nothing to get her back. I don’t think they even called her folks.

Mom’s brother Bob took her with him, and it was arranged for her to go to the summer house of her parents’ family friend, a woman whose name I don’t recall. Bob stayed at his camp, and the family friend called their parents to update them. The family friend asked her parents if young Marge could stay with them for a few days. She had an idea brewing.

So, Mom spent a few lovely days with this family. She swam, laughed, was taken care of, and on the day she was supposed to head back to New York, the family friend asked little Marge to come sit with her a moment.

“Would you like to go for a little drive with me?” she asked.

They drove to Camp Waziyatah in Waterford, Maine, which was a girls camp at the time. (Never mind the scandal decades later.) The family friend chatted with her friend, who was part of the camp management, while my mom went off to meet a group of girls. By the end of the day, my mother was having so much fun that she could barely stand to leave. The girls were putting on a play that evening, and Mom was involved with it and having a wonderful time.

“Can I stay? Please?” she asked.

And that began five of the most meaningful and happiest summers of her life which, is why our family started coming to Maine years later to visit – and later, to move up (for some of us – the smart ones).

This morning, I pictured that scene of my mom fleeing into her brother’s arms. That desperation to leave seclusion and isolation. The freedom to run, to hug, to hold and be held. Now, there is a part of me that wishes I had the impulsivity of an 11-year-old, that I could allow myself to throw caution to the virus-filled wind, to wrap my arms around someone – anyone – just for a minute. But my 60+ year-old brain and moral compass, at least in this case, won’t allow that.

When this is over, my own brother is going to have to peel me off of him, along with pretty much every friend and family member in my path.

Get ready.

 
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Day 4 – or is it 5?

Posted by Kathy on Mar 17, 2020 in Uncategorized

The first day or two of quarantine while waiting to get results of the corona virus test had been kind of interesting, ignoring the part about being sick with what felt like an cold virus with an extremely leaky water hose. Maybe that’s all it was. I still don’t know. I’m somewhat symptomatic, but am on the mend.

But the initial intrigue is fading fast. I’d been as optimistic as a school girl heading out with her Scout troop for a weekend camp-out. Ready to take up the challenge. I’d wondered what it might be like to be in relatively comfortable isolation for a few days. I’d focus on small house projects. Let my hair and makeup go, and maybe even have that often-sought-after me time.

Last evening, at the close of Day 3, that changed. More than I could admit to myself, I was missing human contact, very, very much. I was losing optimism, hearing the realities of the viral spread. It was like a curiously appetizing hunk of cheddar you discover at the back of your refrigerator. There might be mold molecules present, but you don’t understand the impact until you turn the cheese over and see that big, gross, fuzzy, blue patch.

My laundry pile is growing, and I have no accessible machines while confined. I have some food, but I’m starting to lose interest. Cheese, bread, and butter. Bread with butter, cheese on the side. Coffee. Heated bread, butter melted. I have other food, but it all seems to taste like, uh, bread, butter, and cheese. Even the soup tastes like that. And it’s not.

My fears and panic which led me to a crying meltdown last night around 7pm immediately following a news segment have been replaced by a kind of existential wandering. Should I write? Why bother. Home exercise? Eh. I sit. Look at the TV. Get up and pee. Cough. Write for a few minutes. Pick up paperwork I need to read and work on. Sit. Cough. Drink water. More water. Sit. TV. Pee. Cough.

The projects lined up on the table are now begging to stay napping.

My initial experiment to refrain from plucking facial hair to see what would happen over time gave way to a few swift moments with my frightened tweezers, the innocent victim of my humor gone missing.

It’s raining out, and the gray background doesn’t help.

But over the course of the past eight hours today, there was occasionally – just barely – a tiny peek through the clouds. Not exactly sun. No. I wouldn’t call it sun. More like a teeny piece of paper someone drops in front of you at a store checkout line. You notice it, fleetingly, and mindlessly turn back toward your own business at hand. But then you see it again. And you end up saying “Excuse me, I think you dropped something” and they say thanks and pick it up, because even though it’s barely bigger than a postage stamp, it holds something important, something that person needs, something that is, in some tiny way, significant enough to their day that without it, their path will not allow them to move forward.

I don’t know if I can even identify what the scrap of paper was for me today. But somewhere between waking up this morning hung over from a feeling of doom to now, something within interrupted the breadline-to-bathroom path long enough to make a grocery list and call for help. Something nagged, ever so quietly. Something or someone in the chaos of electronic contact and input, something moved some of my cells over just enough to feel a tap on my shoulder, a message saying “Excuse me…”

Tomorrow, I’ll have to start all over again to figure out how to keep some segment of solitary life moving.

It will start with the tiniest whisper.

 

 

 
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Waiting and Watching and Hoping and…

Posted by Kathy on Mar 16, 2020 in Thoughts from ME, Uncategorized

 

 

I’ve had a lot of time to think during the last few days, as I wait for results on my corona virus test. In my last blog (Testing 1-2-3) I shared the surreal experience of getting tested – like something out of a sci-fi film. In that fictitious piece of fiction, I am the star – the patient. (Also, my hair looks good.) Acting career and other delusions aside…

I hope my COVID-19 test result is “negative.” But that’s irrelevant at this moment.

I’m waiting, at least temporarily confined, in my apartment.

In my apartment. My sweet, small but lovely apartment, where I have a little outdoor garden spot, wonderfully fun friends, and am only a few minutes’ walk away from stores and restaurants. I hope to be able to go out for recess sometime.

I have food, enough to last me at least a couple of weeks or more, if I’m not picky.  So many people cannot say that, on any day. My situation is likely temporary. Theirs is not.

I have heat if I need it, cool air if I need it; I don’t have a washer and dryer, but I have access to these in my building, normally. Meanwhile, I have enough clothes. Most, I don’t even wear. Not that I’m a fashion plate. Far from it, as anyone who knows me could attest – and undoubtedly chuckle about. Most of my things are many years old, some literally decades old. I will never give up my warm fuzzy fall coat, even though it is disintegrating, thread by thread, at the cuffs. My point is that I have more than enough clothing. If this crisis goes on too long and I need to stay confined, I can probably call a laundry service or wash them by hand as needed. I have running water. Many do not have any of these luxuries, and some of them live here in the USA.

I look out my window and see my ol’ previously-owned 2006 BMW, scratched, needing a good cleaning and TLC, and think how nice it will be to take her on the road again, to pick up some good takeout food,  do some shopping when it’s safe, maybe drive to the beach just four miles down the road. Spoiled? Yes. Grateful? Definitely.

I spent most of my adult life investing my being in family, friends, personal faith formation, and my work as a nurse. I am most thankful for that. I got to a reasonably stable place financially. Not amazing, but good enough. It wasn’t always like that. There were rough times. I don’t think being comfortable makes me spoiled. But it makes me think.

We find ourselves in current times of school closings, children needing food, and those in high risk groups requiring the herd protection of healthy others.

We will need to be the best neighbors we can be.

We will need to do our part to adhere to safety recommendations; to help those who normally are doing “just fine” and those who are not doing well in everyday life even without a crisis. Whatever contributes to an individual that lands them in the category we conveniently call “marginalized” is unimportant. We are called to be brothers, sisters, theysters, without compromise, without prejudice. Without defensiveness. We need to do what we can, individually and systemically, to help in an ongoing manner. With or without COVID-19. We must understand that living under the financial grid and being in need is simply that, no matter what the demographics. Being in need is being in need.

Observe the empty grocery shelves. Some worry about the comforts that may go away for a long time.

I worry less about what is available at the store and more about what’s present in our hearts. There’s no glory in stocking up for the end of days, perhaps finding yourself very alone surrounded by your material goods.

Be generous. Now and always, as you are able.

Be tolerant. Things are not always what they seem.

Be grateful and thank your medical people who are going above and beyond.

Be ever more mindful of what is important. 

And how we can truly become one for another.

Give it some thought.

I will, too.

And let’s leave some stuff on the shelves – and in our hearts – for others.

 

 
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How I’m Spending my Summer Vacation

Posted by Kathy on Jul 26, 2019 in Uncategorized

Every summer for the last couple of decades, I’ve made a pledge that, barring disaster, I would stay in Maine for the summer. Bear in mind that a normal Maine summer lasts only about a month or so, as best put in my favorite old Maine joke, “Maine has two seasons: July and Winter.”

So far I have resisted leaving the state. This is the first summer I can recall, in a very long time, that I have kept my promise to myself. I feel like a slug, and I love it. Maybe this is what vacation feels like.

My days begin with writing, coffee, and more writing. I take a walk nearly every day. Yesterday I walked on the beach and sat, reading a book. I have finally located the combination to my bike lock which I’d so carefully put it where I would “surely find it” months ago, so one of these days a bike ride is going to happen with my old purple Huffy 3-speed. I’ve been playing cards with neighbors, eating out, seeing friends, and properly putting my still-full storage unit out of my mind, at least most of the time, until my conscience rears its ugly frugal head. At about $150/month, well, that could pay some bills and still buy me a new bathing suit, allowing me to throw out the one that’s so worn it threatens to break apart at the seams, and I only wish I were kidding.

It’s absolutely fascinating to see how spandex breaks down after twenty years.

Question: How many people does it take to clear out a storage unit?

Answer: One, if she would just speak up and ask for help.

But – it’s summer. Time to have an ice cream cone on warm evenings, not to worry about things undone. To try to stay stress-free and not watch the news quite so often. I’ll break my Maine-only rule to witness my grandson David check into his dorm near the end of August, but that’s in the Boston area, so I think that counts as Maine. And there will likely be pizza, so – vacation.

I say my prayers at night, watch old reruns of The Office, sing in church, and talk to my “away” kids on the phone.

Now I have to go, because there are only five days left of July. It’s a beautiful day out.

And I can’t wait to see exactly where I’ll be when the seams give way on my old suit.

 
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Hi, Apple? It’s Me, Kathy

Posted by Kathy on Apr 14, 2019 in Uncategorized

Dear iPhone,

It’s 9am. I am home, checking for texts, emails, shenannigans on Messenger…and just like every other day, I see a pattern. Once upon a time, I was taught that the meek shall inherit the earth. I now know it will be you. You are not meek.

My angst started a couple of years ago, when I thought I was ready for Messenger. My writer friend Cathy from California was one of my first contacts. We enjoyed the occasional “Good for you!” and “Wow! Congratulations!” as we each ventured into the world of getting books published. Soon, we were texting like old pals. And although I will always love her very dearly, our contact is now less frequent, as sometimes happens in our busy world. Yet, no matter what, she will forever remain in my thoughts and on my page, for every time I send an email to anyone, or a text, or smoke signals, my own name – Kathy – shows up as Cathy.

“There’s a way to fix that,” says my older daughter.

Uh huh. I’ll get to that after I figure out how to transfer my contact list from my old email address to the new one. After I group business emails into appropriate folders. And after I check to see exactly which virus protection is on and which one is off in my computer. Et cetera.

Ms. or Mr. iPhone, I get that you want to be right. After all, even in the best of relationships there is often a childish component. A yearning to win. That’s why God invented marriage counselors. I’m willing. You?

But for now, I give up, Mr. Microsoft/Ms. Apple/Siri or whoever you are.

Here’s the thing: I loved my parents fiercely, and they loved me back and gave me my birth name  – Kathryn – later shortened to Kathy for daily purposes. But you have proven to be smarter, stronger, and for lack of a better phrase, you have more staying power than the parent-child bond.

So you win. I give up. You are bigger and better than I am. I am weak, and maybe I won’t be inheriting the earth after all. It’s all yours.

Sincerely,

Cathy

 
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The Look of Things: Getting Political

Posted by Kathy on Jan 21, 2019 in Uncategorized

Maybe it really is all about the accessories.

A couple of days ago, students from Covington Catholic school in Kentucky boarded buses and headed to Washington, DC  to participate in the March for Life.

By now, you probably know that their field trip became a big news story when media outlets reported that a student wearing a “MAGA” hat disrespected and “stared down” Native American activist Nathan Phillips.

A number of my fellow-liberal buddies posted on FB about this incident. Many were harsh in regard to the teen in the forefront, Nick Sandmann. The vitriol spewed in these threads that followed reminded me of a witch hunt.

So I did what seemed appropriate. I viewed a number of videos, over and over again, each time trying to understand the situation and to be objective. Each time, I questioned why people were condemning the student. True, some of the other students appeared to be disrespectful. Not Nick. Participating in this perfect emotional/political storm was a small but vocal group identified as the Black Hebrew Israelites who voiced their own protests toward the kids in heated, harsh language, language that I will not repeat. At one point, they verbally harassed an African American young teen from the school group, who was subsequently and vehemently defended by his peers. Meanwhile, Mr. Phillips was beating a drum in the face of Nick, who stood, smiled at times, even looking down at the drum, probably anxious as hell and not knowing how to respond. At one point, I thought he was suppressing a laugh, possibly trying to be polite. I might have had to suppress nervous laughter, too.

But here is what Nick never did: He never made a remark. He never moved toward Phillips. He never did anything that in any rational thought process can be called even close to disrespect.

The whole thing left me wondering. A lot.

Would this have happened if the MAGA hats were not present? And by “this”, I mean would the media have made an instant call to judgment and condemnation? And by “this”, I mean would people across our nation have been up in arms, calling these kids entitled rich kids (or so, so much worse)? And by “this”, I mean what if the students were promoting female rights, or at almost any other kind of rally? I ask you who have condemned the kids here to imagine that they were wearing “pussy” hats (a term I find personally offensive) instead. Seem different?

Make no assumptions about my motive. I am not, and never have been a supporter of Trump, nor his presumptuous, ridiculous “Make America Great Again” catchphrase, now undoubtedly a handsome source of income for hat makers. I am Catholic, but socially liberal.

But I call it as I see it. This kid was framed. He was framed by a media looking for a juicy partisan-fest. He was framed by people who had an agenda long before Nick and some of his less mature buddies stepped foot on the bus in Kentucky.

And he was framed by what now has become an everyone-has-an-opinion knee-jerk (emphasize jerk) ocean of social media op-ed wannabes who have forgotten the golden rule.

I have some advice for all young people: In spite of the unfortunate way adults behave, do your best to stay kind and respectful. Stay strong in the face of false accusation.

And one more thing.

At the next March for Life rally?

Lose the MAGA hat.

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