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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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Breathing, reading, and other odd ideas

Posted by Kathy on Oct 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

Hi. I’ve been thinking of ways to clear my often-cluttered head. If you’re like many people, you are trying to juggle family, friends, work, faith, dishes, laundry…and yeah, things like eating, exercise…the list goes on.

Everyone’s situation is different, but most people have moments (or more) of stress and tension each day. Here are some concrete ideas to try:

 

1. Stop trying to read everyone’s posts every day. (Including mine – so altruistic…moving on…) Choose a set amount of time for social media, and experiment with it. Then put the phone down, close the computer. I often skip posts in particular groups I like and save them to read in short batches, when I have 5 or 10 minutes to really enjoy them, as opposed to feeling obligated to read/comment. You get to choose the way you spend your time on social media. Here’s a question: what do you get from it? Hint: there is no right answer. My late husband Ted used to tell me “You do not have to answer the phone every time it rings.” Your time, your choice.

2. Take those now-extra few minutes to do nothing. Or something fun of a calming nature. Read, breathe, stretch, have decaf tea, look out the window, walk, and breathe again.

3. Turn off the TV when you’ve had enough. Whether it’s politics or reruns of something you could recite back, sometimes enough is enough

4. If you pray, try making it a simple conversation. If you have a partner, hold hands, or dance. If you have a small child, color together.

5. Move gently. I have started doing modified, simple ballet moves in the confines of my own living space. (Those of you who know me can stop snickering. I never promised to be a ballerina.) But the gentle movement really feels good for those sore muscles and adult joints. Both genders can try this. Hold onto something if you’re new at it, and please, no broken bones. G-E-N-T-L-Y does it.         

 
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One Minute Movie Review: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Posted by Kathy on Jul 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

Run, jog, or ask your neighbor to drive you to see the engaging documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” – a nostalgic, lovely look at the formation and history of minister Fred Rogers’ influential PBS TV show for children – and grown-ups – who listened to his messages of love, connection, and tolerance in the slow-paced Land of Make-Believe, beginning in the late 1960s and continuing until 2001. I watched this new 2018 film, and laughed, cried, and ate snacks, while hearing and remembering his message that I’m special and loved just the way I am. But this time, I saw the way “Mr. Rogers” had responded to current events of the day, something that, as a young mom, I had somehow missed back then. When my oldest child was small, I saw the show as a somewhat placid, reliably clean and non-violent hour that, frankly, gave me a time to rest while very pregnant with my second child. With my 4-year-old safely next to me each late afternoon watching Mr. Rogers, I’d get a well-deserved nap. Now, I have an even greater appreciation for this beautiful, unique human being – one unafraid to teach the basic good lessons of life to our most vulnerable young people on the most popular forum of television. One can hope that the older ones heard it, too. Don’t ignore this film. You’re too special to miss out.

 
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Writing: learning, bite by bite

Posted by Kathy on Apr 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

I just returned from the well-loved Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Ohio, where I learned so many things about what I should be doing. I did not see playing Senior Bingo and watching Hallmark romances on the list. See, those things are  fun until you have to wear the figurative cone of shame, which in this case means finding that pile of very important contacts, connections, and writing tips a year from now under a pile of stuff marked “”THIS WEEK!!!!!” in bold, purple Sharpie.

I’m tired. Tired from traveling, tired from learning, tired from laughing. I had a cumulative four and a half hours sleep over a period of three days. That’s not true. It was more like five. I did lose some sleep because when I laugh so much, something inside me says I should stay up and write and watch lots of TV sitcoms so the humor area of my brain (located very, very close to the chocolate area) can pull in all the funny it can hold and not spill out.

Here’s my plan for this, based on the workshop:

Day 1: Get up early, make a to-do list that includes all things writing-related, about thirty of them, some of which should take, oh , maybe a year. Get car fixed, eat spaghetti, walk, have just one piece of chocolate (with caramel) (that’s dark chocolate) (in case you want to try this weekly plan), and read a really great novel I brought with me to EBWW but had no time to read because of that whole learning thing.

Day 2: Update my blog, wash hair, have cake for lunch, try to write, take a nap, rewrite this list to ease into re-entry (see part about brain contents disappearing.) Postpone daily exercise by a day.

Day 3: Have therapy, remember the “I can write” mantra of the conference, examine if I really want to keep writing as opposed to the equally fulfilling prospect of day trips to casinos, have lots of coffee, and WRITE. Danish pastry? Yes, please. Evening: sleepwalk.

Day 4: Look over notes from last year’s “Columnists” conference in June, put them on top of this year’s “Erma” conference pile, make soup, decide how many times one should may properly use quotation marks in a day of “writing” (to paraphrase an old TV laxative commercial and talking about prunes: “Are two enough? Six too many?”), have tea and a croissant. WRITE, for God’s sake. Update the blog that didn’t get updated two days ago because we all know it didn’t happen.

Day 5: Have pizza and a small (less than the height of a refrigerator) ice cream sundae to reward self. Because it’s the weekend. THE WEEKEND, PEOPLE! TIME OFF! After that, I will definitely get back to writing.

 

 

 
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Family Vacation: Be Careful Where You Step

Posted by Kathy on Jan 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

It’s winter. You’re freezing. Grab a hot cup of tea and a cookie. Here’s a little story for you. It’s free. There’ll be time enough later to suffer the winter challenges. (Click link below for full story)

Relax. (And hurry up about it)

 
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Seriously – just for a moment

Posted by Kathy on Nov 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

The Thanksgiving leftovers are just about gone, converted to sandwiches and soup, innovative snacks involving biscuits and desserts, without concern for normal mealtimes or format. That’s fine with me, as it never made sense to me that we usually ascribe certain foods to set meals.

Now – we move along toward the December holidays! This year, I make my usual promise to keep things simple. I envision a simple tree with just a few plainly wrapped packages. In my fantasy, I even see them tied with string instead of the fancy colorful ribbons. The reality is I’ve already started lists for family and close friends, and my kids have already started asking me what I want.

But for today, I will keep it simple. An ice cream outing with family, maybe do some writing, maybe read the book I recently bought by a local mystery writer…and because our national attention span is something like seven seconds, I’ll keep this message simple: Enjoy what you have, share what you can, keep the simple holiday fantasies going and give in to materialism only when it feels important.

 
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The case of being forever not young

Posted by Kathy on Nov 16, 2017 in Uncategorized
Reposted from “Lightly Roasted” – My Generation Magazine – link below for full column)
Relax. (And hurry up about it) by Kathy Eliscu
I remember those lazy days…sitting around a farmhouse table, playing board games with family, kids splashing in a kiddie pool, adults laughing, sipping cold drinks

Last summer, my niece Kathy, her toddler, and my daughter Sally, a preschool teacher, planned a trip from NYC to visit me in Maine—the baby’s first vacation. My niece is a Broadway performer who deserves “Mother of the Year” for educating her toddler in the arts. I mean, the child already says “shuffle” and actually does that tap step. In perfect rhythm.

To continue (reposted from My Generation Maine):

Relax. (And hurry up about it)

 

 

 
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Never a Cop When You’re Trying To Ignore Something

Posted by Kathy on Sep 30, 2017 in Uncategorized

Burdened: A dark tale of a driver and a bird

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