Sunday, December 31, 2006


HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE ... can the New Year be far behind!

In the previous Compassionate Criticism piece I purposely wrote about the holiday season from a very narrow perspective -- just the Santa Claus story. I chose not to address the specifics of the various religious observances. This exclusion does not reflect disrespect for any, but the Santa story does seem to allow a certain inclusiveness that most can unite around for celebration without raising theological issues.

As for Santa, here's the resolution of the Santa story in that previous post. My granddaughter now expresses absolute conviction regarding her conclusions about the physical existence of Santa. What this means is that she has joined the grownup world of those who know the full Santa story. She did not want to disillusion her grandmother on this topic which is why she did not speak her new found belief sooner.

As for truth versus myth, rather than feeling she has been deluded by the adults in her life, she behaves as though a certain right of passage has occurred; that she has used her reasoning skills to establish a truth. There is little doubt she will welcome the celebration of the holiday, including a visit from the jolly old man, again next year. Wonder if we'll want to go out on the Internet again next year to consult NORAD? ;-)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


The email I read that day alerted me that a young mind was busy analyzing information which was affecting her perception of the fabled holiday figure I knew as Santa Claus or Saint Nick, other names around the world. The message said several young minds had been exchanging observations, reasoning with increasing skepticism as to whether or not this jolly old man really existed.

I was told I should be prepared for possible intense questioning, since the previous holiday there had been, unbeknown to any of us at the time, serious scrutiny of handwriting samples on gift cards. Of special focus were those from Santa, Mrs.Claus, Saint Nick, The Elves, The Reindeer (by name, of course,) and Grandma and Grandpa. My handwriting, especially, and that of the fabled white whiskered one were suspected of being surprisingly similar, the message concluded. Being forewarned with this email alert provided me an opportunity to be forearmed so I would not be taken unaware.

Some weeks would pass before a face to face encounter would occur, so I had time to ponder the gravity of this situation and how best to address the matter. I reflected back to the time I had taken the initiative, explaining to my young children (including the mother of the present young skeptical mind,) the reality of the Santa story. I had emphasized the spirit, intent, and meaning symbolized in the character and the story, while minimizing the commercial aspects even then increasingly exploiting children and adults each year. I stressed an intent to keep enjoying the joyous spirit of that holiday season, which they could enjoy with us if they so chose.

Interestingly to me, these many years later, I have learned that my discussion of this topic was not remembered, along with a certainty information regarding the truth of Santa's physical existence was learned later, from friends. Personally, I think a decision was made by my children on some unconscious level to continue enjoying the spirit of that story as I explained it, or maybe their denial just set in, because we had continued to "play the game," which I persist in doing to this day, and long after my little talk.

This present day's situation might well go the same way -- or not. Soon my guests were with me. As family gifts began appearing one by one beneath the tree, I periodically made reference to the white bearded red suited man by name, talked of him making his rounds to fill stockings, possibly more. Also, on occasion I joked about the "naughty and nice" list he kept with the help of his elves. My comments were greeted with a strange little smile or maybe just a "un huh." Once in a while I might catch hushed voices in brief exchange with one another. Later I would be told a furtive questioning glance had been directed at the parental figure, who reported simply shrugging, or mouthing responsive words to the effect "You'll have to ask her" or "You tell her, I'm not going to." The "her" was, of course a reference to me and my persistent reference to this old gentleman as though he really would come to our home.

The eve of that special holiday came and my granddaughter hastened to the computer to seek out NORAD, then began periodically checking Santa's trek from the North Pole. She provided reports: "He's in in in New York City -- he spends a lot of time there." Then the actual celebratory day came and went, along with some gifts bearing tags from none other than Santa. Not one question was ever raised regarding his existence.

I learned later that my granddaughter offered several explanations upon questioning, as to why the subject of Santa had not been broached. Basically what was revealed was that Grandma was perceived to be enjoying this story so much, my granddaughter just couldn't bring herself to spoil Grandma's fun. So, this encounter I had anticipated did not happen after all, perhaps due to my granddaughter's compassion, or because she thought I still believed in Santa and did not want to ruin the holiday for me.

But, you see, I do still believe in Santa -- the spirit of the season, and the goodness in all mankind that spirit symbolizes.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Sun. 12/24 is the eve of the Christmas celebration, Mon. 12/25. The Hanukkah celebration draws to a close at sunset Saturday 12/23. The day after Christmas, Tues. 12/26 begins a celebration of Kwanzaa. Some of the traditional wishes for all include:





We begin to get a sense of the diversity of belief systems that flourish in this country with just these holidays at this particular time of the year. There are even more celebratory dates in other months on our calendar associated with groups of different belief systems from these, but not limited to: Islam, Buddhism.

This seems a perfect time for each group to come together to seek ways in which they are the same. I, for one, would like to see significantly increased attention from laymen as well as their leaders toward this end. They all profess to espouse a belief in practicing so many of the same positive qualities to which most say they aspire. How can so many have gone so askew from their beliefs into practicing behaviors diametrically opposed to their beliefs? That must be what has happened or we would not be experiencing our current world state of affairs.

I just want to express my desire and wish for this world that all receive the gift of PEACE ON EARTH!

Saturday, December 16, 2006


This holiday season finds us once again observing special days and periods of time many of us associate with events symbolizing matters of special significance. I appreciate, respect and recognize such celebrations including: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa. In honor of the very first one which started yesterday, here is my wish


* * * * *


Travelers this holiday season from around the globe are, or will soon be, packing their bags in preparation for trips. Some may just go a short distance in their cars, others far greater distances. Some will have short day trips on an actual specific holiday, others may have trips of longer duration. Some will visit family or friends. Others may use the time as a vacation for shared time with another at varied locations within our country and the world.

Some of us aren't going anywhere. Instead, we're awaiting others to arrive with luggage in tow. Some may not have visitors from elsewhere, instead may enjoy a time with others in their local area, or even relish time to themselves. Certainly over the years, the numbers of people with whom I've celebrated the holidays has differed at various times from large groups to just two people.

Just as I spent my first Thanksgiving alone this year (see November Archives sidebar links to "Thanksgiving Alone"; "Adventure Alone On Thanksgiving,") there may well come a year, or years, when I will spend this holiday season alone, too. I can well imagine being quite content should that ever be the case, but I may never really know what my feelings may be in any situation until I actually have the experience.

This year, though, I look forward in the next few days to the arrival of loved family members who will be with me for about two weeks. I'll not engage in any part time work during that time, so in addition to what plans we've made, we'll be free to do as the spirit moves us. Sounds good, but I'm so far behind on holiday preparations I'll be lucky to catch up for the '07 season!

In the scheme of issues that matter, this sounds rather strange to say, but I find myself thinking about what luggage will accompany my visitors. You see, as I've been examining the contents of my home with an eye to what I should jettison as unnecessary space absorbers, I have become aware of my accumulation of luggage, some of which is clearly excess baggage.(see November Archives links on sidebar to "Old Things"; "Disposition of Old Things.")

My thoughts stray to my first luggage which came as a gift when I graduated from high school. The three-piece Samsonite set ranged in size from the large tourister piece to an intermediate size case, the much smaller obligatory boxy-looking overnight case with a mirror on the inside of the opened lid that is thought to be a necessity for a woman, all in a medium-dark preferred sky-blue color. This is luggage that withstands all assaults as graphic 1950's black and white television ads demonstrated. The outer case is hard, waterproof. I could stand on it; jump up and down on it, and a heavy man could do the same, and this luggage would be undamaged, able to tolerate all mistreatment whether I traveled around the world on a merchant ship, on the finest luxury liner, in an airplane or car, on a train or bus. Baggage people could throw it through the air, let it drop on a concrete surface and my luggage, all the possessions inside, would be intact and survive.

My beloved older brother gave me this gift of luggage. Later when he visited in his cross–country move from California to New Jersey, he allowed me to have a night out driving myself alone to town in his Mercury convertible with the top down. With the wind blowing in my hair that warm sultry night, I sensed the promise of adventure that life held for me as the car rushed forward down the highway toward I knew not exactly what. I just knew I wanted that feeling to last forever. I looked forward with great anticipation to my future, all the places I would accompany that luggage.

But first there was our senior class trip that included a visit to the New Orleans that has been altered in more recent years, having been subjected to the devastating Hurricane Katrina and the negligent government assistance. Those many years ago, after the pleasures of New Orleans, my senior class trip then took me first to the coast of east Florida, then its west coast, before we returned home. With my luggage dutifully christened, I took another auto trip further north on the Atlantic coast with my brother's family that included a new baby girl.

Then, with the luggage broken-in, the time had come for it to go to college. The suitcases did a yeoman's job getting me through those college years, back and forth to home, a few weekends, visits with new friends in their homes, off to competitive events. Those trips and all others required great tolerance from those cases, as I had a tendency to pack everything, and more, into them, often having to apply considerable weight just to get them closed.

Of course, I didn't begin to use all the items I took along, but just never knew when I might need some of those extra clothes or other items I crammed inside. Best to be on the safe side. Better to have too much than too little. Besides what if I had that rare experience of accidentally soiling clothes that couldn't be worn again until laundered and there was no time for laundry? So what if the odds of that happening were slim; I better be prepared for the possibility it could happen every day I was gone on any of these trips, was my point of view.

Suddenly, in only three short years, my college days were completed, as I felt a sense of urgency and went to school year round. The luggage was forced to accommodate an accumulation of those few years to not only take back home with me, but to leave that home the next day to return my parents to a northern Midwestern state we had left some years earlier for warmer climes. Once I returned to that earlier state of residence, the luggage continued to be given opportunities for trips in and about the state,as well as to other states. I generally packed to the limit as usual, with the luggage finding itself in the trunk of one of various cars I owned over the years. Along the way I purchased a miniature suitcase-shaped case much preferred for use over the overnight case, so I added it to this now four-piece hard blue Samsonite luggage set.

Perhaps in those years, a highlight for this luggage was a flight to a location outside our country involving a Miami layover on a hot night filled with heavy humid air that brought moisture exuding from my skin as I stood outside my room in the moonlight not yet ready for sleep. Later I learned this classic weather condition had preceded a hurricane that moved-in the next day soon after my flight's departure which included a short stop in Panama before reaching the South American country of Ecuador.

Upon arrival I had some concern the luggage had chosen to stop somewhere else along the way, but fortunately not too much time lapsed before the bags were delivered to me. I'm never quite sure when the luggage doesn't arrive when and where I do, whether or not the bags had a mind and agenda of their own, or if other more animate forces have come into play making erroneous choices that have influenced the outcome of the bags travel destination.

I had a fun, interesting and educational two weeks visit with family there, but the return flight with my young niece had an unscheduled departure delay of a day or so. I was told such a delay was typical of the more casual approach to time and schedules there. A stop in Peru, was followed by another unscheduled stop in Jamaica. This latter stop, when I first looked out the window as the plane was descending, left the visual impression we were going into the ocean. Since this wasn't a seaplane, for a short time it made an interesting diversion in this return trip. All the while I hoped my luggage would float and would not desert me willingly or otherwise. I was relieved when it was not required to float and later arrived on the ground when and where I did.

There were other trips, mostly to eastern U.S. locales, but eventually, those suitcases were treated to a honeymoon trip north, that included exploring the upper peninsula of Michigan. Then, there were all sorts of trips to the north, south, east, and west USA via auto and a few in a small single engine aircraft. Not too long after the honeymoon, luggage styles were changing with the bags exterior beginning to soften. Eventually, one Christmas I was given a new set of blue softer-cased luggage. I felt obligated to use it some. I never liked it as well as my Samsonite that symbolized so much to me -- freedom, adventure, travel.

There was no thought of parting with the Samsonite luggage then, and great reluctance now. In the meantime, the second set of softer luggage has given way to new luggage that is even more soft, with wheels and handles, partitions, more zippers and pockets than I can count. What this means is, that often I can't remember which pocket holds what. Oh well, I can still cram lots of my "stuff" inside, and it even protrudes outward to allow me to put in more stuff.

As if that's not enough, I still have my husband's old Samsonite hard luggage, and he had a piece even bigger than my biggest one. Then, there's also the newer softer replacement luggage he had. I'm not just sure, but I might even have a piece or two of my mother's older luggage stuck away somewhere around here. But, wonders of wonder, it's quite possible I might actually have parted with her old luggage, the age of which would have preceded my Samsonite. Seems to me I remember just some rectangular shaped boxes with snap locks and carrying handle. The exterior consisted of thin lightweight materials, perhaps a little thicker than a heavy cardbord, or maybe a thin plywood-like material that formed the suitcases shape.

Now that I've started thinking about the old luggage, and writing this, questions come to mind. Has the time come to part with some of this luggage as just more "baggage" amongst my belongings? Why am I keeping some of this luggage, anyway? Should I leave smaller pieces of luggage inside bigger pieces for storage, or should I use each of the individual bags to store other "stuff" inside, and then I can store the bags -- somewhere? Rental storage areas are not a solution for my needs.

I live in a California style one floor plan house -- no attic suitable for storage purposes, no basement at all, only my garage for storage, which has quite enough, thank you. How could life get so complicated? I've found these ponderings about luggage as excess baggage coming to mind ever since, on one of those earlier blog pieces I mentioned above, Buffy (see Arrrgh sidebar link) made a comment triggering these thoughts. As if I can't think of enough complex problems I need to work out, blogging friends have to introduce even more. Thanks a lot! ;-)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Some or all who read this probably know the routine of having to suddenly take on tasks with which they have previously been unfamiliar. The past six months or so, since my husband passed away, I've been doing just that. I am reminded of all this, because it suddenly occurred to me that one more unfamiliar task is approaching with the end of the year. State and federal income tax figuring can't be far behind.

Over the years I made an effort to try and understand how various vital but menial tasks were accomplished for the efficient functioning of our household, even though I was not the one who would be performing some of them. When that unexpected day arrived that I had to assume those responsibilities too, I was surprised that procedures which had seemed quite simple, seemed a bit more complex than I imagined. I expect that was probably because I hadn't actually performed the steps or process on a regular basis.

For example, I've spent a lot of time these past months reading instruction manuals, studying picture diagrams labelled A, B, C, etc. They say, "If you have Model ..." whatever, followed by 17 digits with a few alphabet letters thrown in "... go to Figure 12 ... but if you have Model ..." 17 more digits and alphabet letters mixed in "... then go to Figure 13 ..." Then, do this or do that, but if this happens, do another thing. Be sure to turn this off before you do that. If none of this works, try something else.

The time also came to tackle systems with no written instructions. I remember years ago when my husband was trying to figure out two different sets of security-type lights without benefit of an instruction manual. He would become so frustrated, and I was so glad to not have to even think about the problem, much less resetting them as daylight and darkness hours gradually changed, along with the human-devised Daylight Savings Time coming and going, complicating matters even further. I've only been able to find the control for one system, and that's the one my husband could never get to work right. I think I need to reassess these pain-in-the-tush lights for possible conversion to a more current digital operation.

Then there were the separate front and back sprinkler systems with his subsequent changing controls and two different systems, the care and cleaning of the permanent filter in the air flow system for the air conditioner and the furnace, remembering when to put out the trash then adjusting for delays with holidays. Keeping all the trash sorted correctly in the first place has been a great boon though we had pretty much become accustomed to doing that -- environmental greenery in one container, but certain other green items have to go into the regular trash. Then, of course there are the recyclable papers, bottles, cans, etc. in a third container. I'm keeping it all straight, pretty well. I'm getting everything put out to the street on the right day, even adjusting correctly for holidays. I'm glad our community is so environmentally concerned, so I'm not complaining.

And then there are the vehicles, as if all the above wasn't enough. My husband had managed complete care of the automobiles, including keeping the gas tanks filled (we have to pump our own gas in Calif.,) oil and air filter changes, tire pressure checked, cars washed, etc. Years ago when he wanted to be in control of the autos, I had been happy to relinquish the responsibility for all these tasks to him.

I haven't pumped gas since I was fifteen, when girls/women didn't do those kinds of things. I had a summer job at this stop-in-the-road little store/gas station. Today it would be an auto mart, only self-serve. But in the early 1950's more than a few drivers were shocked when I checked the car's oil, too, as the couple who owned the operation expected. But, the owners where I worked didn't allow me to go near the cash register, or behind the counter. They had stashed back there items in little packages they usually and secretively sold to men, that my underage eyes should not see. I also, had to do double duty in their personal kitchen at the back of the store. That was when I determined I would never ever own any cooking utensil with a copper bottom based on all the scrubbing of theirs I had to do day after day after day. But...I have digressed.

There are many menial but important tasks to keep life running smoothly. These are just some of the ones with which I was confronted these past months.

None of these tasks are that difficult, it's just the unfamiliarity of how to go about certain ones, even though in my single days many years ago some of them I handled without a second thought. But a lot has changed since then. I'm having to take the time to figure out all of it. Integrating these activities into my schedule of responsibilities has required some adjustment. Sometimes, when some new unexpected task has emerged, it has seemed like the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back.

There is a feeling of accomplishment and confidence as familiarity through the repetition of doing becomes more commonplace. Occasionally, during this process, some small seemingly insignificant interaction with a heretofore stranger can acquire magnified importance, if only for the moment.

The other day I visited a service location with which I was quite unfamiliar. I had occasion to speak with several different employees in charge of various phases of the business. Sometimes I asked what I imagined sounded like rather dumb questions. Each time, I briefly explained how long we had been customers, that handling this task was new to me and why. Everyone was courteous. After I had completed my final contact, a supervisor who had overheard that conversation quickly turned to me and said, "We'll take good care of you here. If you ever have any questions, just come to see me."

It was the end of my busy day, the end of a hectic several weeks and month and I was tired. The thoughtful message from that supervisor was just what I needed to hear. I left that business establishment with a nice warm feeling of confidence that I would, in fact, be taken care of there in good fashion in the future. I felt renewed encouragement that I would be ready for whatever the next unexpected challenge might present. I thought again, the world really is filled with nice people, despite negative experiences we sometimes have, all the news we hear to the contrary.

Friday, December 08, 2006


December 7th has passed, and I did not hear mentioned what occurred on that Sunday in 1941 on any radio station, TV station, from any individual, or read about it in any publication or blog I encountered yesterday. I should qualify that report by stating my exposure to all of those sources was quite limited, as were the short intervals of free time I had throughout the day and the evening to encounter, or specifically search for such information. In years past, in the same circumstances, the absence of such mentions would not have been the case, but I am quite confident that surely the topic has been written about and discussed somewhere, perhaps quite extensively and I just didn’t have time to become aware of it.

Maybe the time has come to concentrate our commemoration on Memorial Day in May and Veterans Day in November each year to honor those lives specifically lost on that fateful December 7th and all veterans. We do not want to forget those individuals, the lessons of that day, or that war, World War II. We want to continue to honor all those who contributed to our countries survival as a nation. We have had no war remotely equivalent to it since, in terms of needing to respond defensively using offensive tactics. The maiming, death, and dying, of course, are always present in all wars. Have we become desensitized to these losses?

Whether or not this anniversary has received attention elsewhere, I was given pause for thought about the day, the significance of the subsequent events, our country and our place in the world. This is the date, when I was just a young child, the history books refer to as “The Day of Infamy” for it was on a 1941 Sunday morning in what is now our state of Hawaii at Pearl Harbor that the United States of America was attacked, beginning our engagement with the forces in the Pacific arena determined to take over our country in World War II, often abbreviated WWII, aka “The Big One.”

These are two of many sites to search for additional information:

Many years later as a young mother in her mid-thirties, long after the end of WWII, I stood on the landing area at Hickam Air Base on the island of Oahu in Hawaii where our Air Force had experienced so much loss that December 7, 1941. I was acutely aware of the ground on which I stood, remembering what happened those many years earlier. I was awaiting the arrival of a young non-military loved one, who might not have been present had his father not survived military service in the Pacific arena during WWII.

I wonder how many younger people realize that had our country and our Allies in other countries not prevailed, the United States of America would not exist as the democracy (republic) in which we have been privileged to live since the end of WWII ?

My family now includes Hawaiian members who were living in those islands in 1941, other family members who served in the U. S. Armed Forces during that war. We all thought, as did those who lived through World War I, including some of my family, that WWII would surely be the “war to end all wars.” We were mistaken.

Since that time we have had a “war” that was referred to as a “Police Action.” We later had a war our country initiated based on a known false report of an “enemy” attack on our military. In that instance we were quite sure that would never happen again. We were mistaken.

Most recently we find ourselves once again embroiled in a war, which like the previous one, which was started on known false reports, this one, too, resulted in serious issues dividing not only the people of this country, but the people of this world. I would like to believe that when this war ends, that we will not make that mistake again.

We also thought at the end of WWII, as the pictures, black and white news reels, and first-hand stories of the horrors of genocide revealed the Holocaust, as we became aware of the atrocities in concentration camps, as we learned about the unspeakable acts against non-combatant civilian men, women, children, babies, the fetuses yet unborn, by those we knew as our enemy, that never again would this be allowed to happen in this world. We were mistaken.

What has to happen so that we are not doomed to repeat all these mistakes in the future?

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Football Prediction Correct: My astute sports analysis courtesy of my husband and for fans of college football, the Big Ten Conference:
Ohio State University #1 -- University of Michigan #2

Why is it that we can be uncomfortable going to a restaurant alone, even under ordinary circumstances, much less a holiday? Is it simply because we're uneasy about what other people will think? "Ah, she doesn't have any friends, poor thing. I wonder what's wrong with her?"

Claude had an interesting account in a recent post at Blogging In Paris (link on sidebar) of her adventure eating out alone in Paris after her husband died. Comments to her along with those in my piece about my "Thanksgiving Adventure Alone" keep circulating in my thoughts.

I've noticed, and even done this myself on past occasions, that people, mostly women, eating alone, or maybe just having coffee, will bring along a magazine or usually a book to read. Men typically have a newspaper. Now why would we do that? Are we uncomfortable just sitting there looking around, noticing some others glancing at us? Are we wondering what they're thinking -- about us? Do we need to feel occupied somehow to convey we are engaged?

Maybe some of us alone at a restaurant just want to read, while enjoying having someone wait on us. Maybe when we don't bring reading material we simply want to contemplate our thoughts. Maybe we're just passing through from one place to another and this is a meal and rest break. Must be lots of other reasons why someone would eat alone.

In my case in the last thirty years or so, when I most recently started eating alone on occasion again, I was reading textbooks for classes I was taking, or using precious moments to bone up on information I would need to know for testing purposes later. In other instances when classwork was no longer a focus, I sometimes had other household organizational notes I was making. Then, there were those occasions when I simply was there to eat, or just have a relaxing cup of coffee with nothing to occupy me -- a break between my household responsibilities and those for my mother at her residence.

As I recall those years with my mother, I think of all the press about the boomers being a "sandwich generation," as though this was new. I think about all of us who were "sandwiched" long before the boomers were singled out as somehow unique in this regard. I don't think many boomers are so naive as to believe all the press put out about them, but I don't think it hurts to remind those who might believe that rhetoric, that many in the older generations have been there, done that, too, -- working, school, family, parental/other family member care. But I'm digressing from the topic of eating alone in public.

I can recall somewhere in the past when I initially had occasions to eat alone, sometimes having an uncomfortable feeling. I think I must have realized at some point how self-centered and egocentric my attitude was, to think all these other people would be paying that much attention to me, after a possible casual glance when I first appeared. I couldn't help being reminded of the similarity with that early teenage stage when many youth believe the world revolves around them. Some want to hide away from any they don't know and can become quite sensitive if any stranger even looks in their direction, much less directly at them.

I think also, going to a new restaurant filled with unfamiliar faces can cause a bit of anxiety. I think there is much to be said for returning to an older familiar establishment if someone is uncomfortable eating alone in a new restaurant. In my experience, as with other businesses I frequent, the faces become familiar, the staff or other repeat customers recognize my face and I theirs. I soon find myself thinking of the environment as familiar, welcoming and the people friendly.

Certainly the experience might be enhanced by the fact that I would never short change the staff on their tip, since they have to pay income tax based on the size of my bill whether or not they get a tip. Based on previous experience, I concluded since sometimes I ordered a larger meal (larger tip,) that when I only wanted a cup of coffee they didn't begrudge keeping my cup filled when that was all I ordered.

Now, I will confess that there can be some risks for a woman eating alone in a restaurant. Fortunately they are few, but not too many years ago I had a young man begin a conversation with me. He seemed quite sociable and not unattractive. At some point it became quite clear that he had mis-perceived why I was there and had an agenda quite different from mine. When the light dawned on me what he was about I gently but laughingly said to him, "Don't you realize I'm old enough to be your mother?" When that didn't deter him, I added, "I have a son who's probably close to your age." He seemed unbothered by that information. The fact that I was married was of no importance to him either. Perhaps if I didn't take commitments seriously, or I had been single, I might have viewed the situation differently. Circumstances as they were, I wasn't interested in getting into further conversation with him, so that was that. Perhaps men may, too, find their presence alone interpreted by an occasional other as erroneously indicating they're searching for companionship.

But then you don't have to be alone for others to take note. I was with my mother and my two small children in a restaurant one evening about twenty-five years ago, when I glanced somewhat repeatedly at a seemingly familiar face who happened to observe my glances. The next thing I knew the waitress told me he was picking up my check. I thought what the heck, why not accept, so nodded a thank you from our distance and kept trying to figure out why he looked familiar.

Some time after we had left, it dawned on me that he was the lead actor in a new detective TV series I had watched the night before on which, coincidentally, a friend of mine had had a role. I was sorry I hadn't made an effort to talk with the man who bought our dinner. He probably was feeling flattered that he was being recognized, which would have told him that I had viewed his TV show.

More holidays will soon be upon us, in fact several, in the order of their calendar advent: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and that's not even counting New Years and events of the new year. There are many reasons why any one of us could be alone on a holiday or any ordinary day. If you happen to be out and about as a couple, with other family or friends, and notice someone alone at a restaurant, you probably don't necessarily need to feel sorry for that person. It just might be they are welcoming the time alone to themselves. Whatever the circumstances, which you likely will never know, a warm and friendly smile will probably be welcomed.

I surely hope anyone who may find themselves considering eating out alone whether on just a regular day or evening, or a holiday, will place the convenience, pleasure and enjoyment they can derive from the experience well above any concerns they might have about being alone.

Holidays alone may be more challenging, especially if we've been accustomed to being with others. Enjoy the meal, being waited upon, and treasure those memories of other times which you can summon forth with each bite of food and sip of beverage you take.

Being able to be alone and not lonely has been my experience almost for as long as I can remember, having long ago become comfortable with myself. This doesn't mean that I don't miss other people who may now be forever absent from my life. I, too, sometimes wish that others who are elsewhere, or otherwise engaged, might be physically present with me. But, I do have my memories, thoughts and can contemplate future plans.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Between the Internet connections problem, more recent computer security concerns for a couple of days, and my usual work-related end-of-the-month paper work crunch, not to mention some other issues, posts on this blog will likely be a bit more erratic than they were for awhile. So look for posts here when you see them, is the best I can say now, at least for up to a number of weeks. My health is hale and hearty, my attitude upbeat, so for any of you who have expressed concern, be concerned no more -- thank you for caring.

Meanwhile, I put this post together during my hit and miss Internet connectivity while in the throes of erroneously believing I could simultaneously maintain my sanity and the then status quo of activity on and offline.

Life's little resentments can sometimes assume greater import in our mind than what they realistically deserve when we consider everything occurring in our lives.

I recently became angry, impatient, frustrated, discouraged, disgusted and tired when a persistent intermittent repetitive problem caused my computer to lose its Internet connection, suddenly and randomly for varying lengths of time over a period of the past several weeks. More than once I was stopped mid-email, during blog post, or would find at varying times of the day and night I suddenly could not access the Internet. Finally, my small bag of tricks exhausted, I resorted to phoning my DSL provider's Support System.

This isn't how I intended to follow my Thanksgiving alone experience piece -- grousing and grumbling. I want to talk about all those eating alone comments and observations, but at another time. Thanks to each of you for your views. I want to thank Ronni Bennett for the Time Goes By piece (see link on sidebar)"Online Friends" in which she quoted the feelings I had with being unwillingly offline; also, for letting readers know of my computer tech issues. Her observations about feelings associated with online friends pretty much pinpoint what so many confirmed in their comments that I, too, have experienced.

Now, I'm sure everyone with a computer who has needed technical support has a story to tell, but I feel compelled to expunge the negative residue dwelling within me from this on/ offline experience which has manifested itself in resentment by writing my personal account highlights as follows:

It was a dreary night and the maiden running through the down pouring rain with her long red hair streaming behind her, arms waving in the air, was screaming unintelligible sounds at a darkened figure darting in and out the shadows ahead of her. Suddenly the figure stopped, but she continued to race toward the shadowed image ... oops, this isn't the story I intended to tell. This is what being offline without my computer has done to my mind -- an improvement, no doubt, by some measures, but I still have a long way to go.

Here's the scoop about my contact with my DSL provider. I've spoken with five different support tech reps, was promised call-backs at specific times which occurred only 50% of those occasions; actually received a promised call-back one time, only instead of within the promised between one and two hours maximum it was more like seven to eight hours and at 10 P:M. -- a bit late don't you think? Of course, that's better than the call-back that never came at all. I was also promised an assist with a Sr. Technician which never happened either, when one of my support techs recognized an inability to solve the problem. I did receive a regular Tech's call which turned out to have contributed to the next Tech's (# 5) temporary solution.

Tech # 5 was able to connect me to the Internet finally, but this is at less than optimum levels from my point of view, and not at all the level for which I am paying. However, some other concerns have arisen which need resolving by other than my DSL provider. If his diagnosis of the problem is correct, then I cannot hold my DSL provider completely responsible for my computer's problem. I'll know in the weeks ahead.

I am not unappreciative that he finally re-connected me to the Internet, despite the slowed speed, but this does not void the residue of resentments acquired during interactions with my DSL provider support system (not my first.) I will attempt to purge myself of those resentments here and now as follows:

I resent having to ask for repeats from personnel in another country because there's so much noise of others talking in the background much like a boiler room operation, sometimes loudly, rapidly, gratingly high-pitched male voices, often in an unfamiliar language which, unfortunately, is perceived as additional noise, making perception for anyone of any age more difficult.

I resent the annoyance and impatience I heard in a couple of the service persons voices. In one instance the speech production of the English phoneme /h/ was not clear, nor was the differentiation of phoneme /t/ and /d/, even though single syllable words were offered in an effort to show the difference between the two when providing code I was to type. I still required them to repeat as I needed clarification. I'm sure phone quality audio contributes to the lack of clarity, but there should be an expectation on the part of service people, especially those speaking any language with an accent, such repeats might be necessary and just a routine part of what they might have to do in the course of providing their service.

I resent being asked my age (of course,I didn't have to answer.) I had to ask myself later, if the "disconnect" which followed shortly thereafter, with no return call forthcoming, though he had my number, could possibly have been because I honestly told him I was 71 yrs.

I resent being abruptly told I was tired and when I protested, was asked to look at the time, 10 p.m., as though it was past my bed time, when it was obviously really the support person who was tired and wanted to end the session.

I resent being told to hire a tech person when the Internet access provider had not yet ruled out their connection as being the problem, or found a way to make the Internet connection.

I resent being told a download of a new IE program was the cause of the problem, despite my pointing out these problems were pre-existing that download by a week or so. Common sense told me the logic I was being given did not compute.

I resent being told to go buy an old IE program to re-install 'cause common sense told me there were other solutions, which later proved to be the case.

I resent that the first tech support person never called back after we were disconnected though he had the number.

I resent the second support person promising to call back the next day and then not doing so.

I resent being told a Sr. Tech would call within one to two hours, then the call back, not from a Sr. Tech at all, didn't come until seven to eight hours later and at 10 P.M. It was one thing to have been in the midst of problem solving at 10 P.M. and wanting to continue toward resolution, quite another to be called at that hour to initiate problem solving -- 8 hours after such a call was to have been received.

I just gotta lot of resentment! Am inclined to think many newer users of tech services as well as some other older people might have given up on all this long ago -- quite frustrated by the whole thing. Perhaps that's what some of the personnel hoped I would do. Heaven only knows I'm no expert, so maybe I'm missing something, but wonder if this is a typical experience for those availing themselves of needed Tech Support for which they presumably pay in their monthly fees?

I feel better now and look forward to writing about more positive matters in the future.


Friday, November 24, 2006


Thanks for all the good wishes and virtual hugs sent my way for my first ever Thanksgiving alone. I especially appreciated the stories others shared of some of their observations or feelings and experiences in similar situations for whatever the reasons. Here's how my day went ....

I awoke a bit later than usual to a cloudy cool (for us) Thanksgiving day with the temperature in the 70's. I had no pre-conceived expectations about what I would feel, or experience, much less any finalized specific plans for this holiday. Depending on ones perspective I really didn't do anything this day. This was a day when I seemed to "pot around" as I sometimes characterize the mindless actions I take moving randomly from one thing to another. However, there was the restaurant adventure, but that comes later in the saga.

As I contemplated my day, I gave serious consideration to remaining in my cotton knit P.J.s, in which I would just lounge around, as I have been known to do on occasion, sometimes thinking that sooner or later I'll get dressed. My husband and I, for he had been known to do the same thing, often joked on those occasions about when we would actually get around to getting dressed, ultimately concluding at some point as the hours rolled by, that it was just too late in the day now, and no longer made sense to do so.

But, I have been a bit more cautious about allowing myself to do that since my husband died. I have been a little apprehensive that I might more easily fall into the habit of indulging myself in that manner to the extent it could be a problem. I didn't think it would be, but I am aware of the pitfalls if such behavior becomes excessive as can sometimes happen in times when we undergo major life changes.

So, I did make a conscious decision to get dressed, having concluded by then that I would go to a nearby restaurant for my Thanksgiving dinner. Just in case I might instead have wanted to order something, I had phoned them the other day to inquire as to whether or not they provided a carry-out dinner, which I was told, they did not. Probably the only restaurant of this popular franchise in our area that does not.

I then had asked did they take reservations, "No, we don't take reservations." But, "Yes, we are open for dinner but only for a few afternoon hours between 1 and 5 p.m." I decided I would simply do whatever the spirit moved me to do come turkey day, since this attempt to possibly plan ahead wasn't working and I really didn't want to bother checking further anywhere else.

On turkey day morning, having dressed, I decided to check my email for any possible information updates from my young 'uns. Well, of course, once I turn on the computer, check that email, I can't just stop there. I decided to take a quick look at other emails and then was pleasantly surprised to see comments on my blog. I thought surely everyone would be too busy for that. Well, of course, that was all the stimulation I needed to go visit some blogs, then the next thing I knew I caught myself dropping a comment here or there. Fortunately, I had earlier exercised the good sense to set my kitchen timer to remind me when that restaurant would open, just in case I lost track of time as I have been known to do, once I am in the blogosphere orbit.

The timer went off, and off I went. Imagine my surprise when I was asked at the restaurant if I had a reservation. I said, "I didn't know you offered them" ... that "I had been told you didn't." No explanation given. As I waited to be called for seating, I heard a young server call out a man's name for a "carry-out turkey dinner." Sure enough, she handed him a bag which he carried out of the restaurant.

Periodically, a slightly older but still young woman (but just about anybody is young to me any more) made the rounds checking for people who had no reservation and for their name. When she would come to me she would spontaneously say my last name before I could, then quickly add, "Yes, I know about you." H-m-m-m, I thought, what does that mean?

Despite the discrimination I felt over the reservation/carry-out contradiction, I should point out that I had a very pleasant demeanor through all this, and really had a lackadaisical attitude, like whatever happens, happens, and I just want to see how it all plays out. This kind of attitude is a luxury to be indulged only if one does not face a time crunch schedule.

Probably no more than fifteen minutes later, my name was called. As I approached the woman with whom I had signed in, I paused and quietly said that I didn't understand about the contradiction in reservations/carryout, then quickly moved on. I was seated in a booth large enough for four people. Almost immediately, I felt guilty taking up all that space with so many family groups waiting.

I glanced away from the table, gazed out through a translucent white lace curtained window at the trees whose leaves were in full fall color. Their gold and red leaves were intermittently falling while more cars entered and parked underneath their branches. Those exiting their cars were heading around the corner of the building toward the restaurant's front entrance. I was not aware of any thoughts in my mind, but suddenly I felt tears welling in my eyes. I was surprised, despite knowing this can happen at any time, though I was not consciously thinking of my husband. I patted the tears away with my tissue and began thinking about the restaurant's interior environment while looking around inside.

The waitress appeared, was pleasantly friendly with an exuberant bubbly manner. After answering her inquiry as to what beverage I might want, I mentioned my guilt about the large booth, that this was my first Thanksgiving alone. She quickly, with good intentions, stated, "Oh, you won't be alone, I'll be here with you, and I'm good company!" Well, I think she would have been, but she was so busy running from one table to the next, to the kitchen and back again, taking a photo of the family across from me for them, then later trying to pacify the young food-picky boy at that same table, she couldn't possibly have had time to socialize, nor had I expected it.

Simultaneously, at that table the mother was trying to remain composed, while the father was trying to tactfully curb some unacceptable behavior from the oldest of the three boys. I had first noticed the father in correcting mode while I was waiting to be seated when they were still in line, subsequently seated before me. I never did figure out what it was this young teenager was doing that was so objectionable. But whatever it was he was in deep do-do based on the recriminations I overheard his father directing his way.

Later one of the young sons was instructed on how important it was that he learn to speak up, as he should have done when he placed his order so that he didn't get all that now unwanted gravy over his turkey and potatoes. I became aware some time later a discussion was ensuing about relatives, including grandparents and uncles, they apparently had not seen for some years, but would be visiting at Christmas. Characteristics, manner, behaviors, likability were being discussed to familiarize the boys with those they would be meeting. The lads all seemed really well-behaved to me -- just another American family -- but a very special one to many other loved ones, somewhere.

Not too long after I received my beverage, the young woman who had first asked me if I had a reservation, suddenly appeared at my table. She leaned over in a conspiratorial manner, speaking softly to me that they didn't take reservations, nor did they provide carry-out dinners, but there had been an unexpected turn of events. I then learned she was the manager, now at wits end, that forces greater than her were prevailing in her bailiwick. She was struggling to regain control. I must have offered a sympathetic manner, perhaps that I was in a, "Please tell me more" mode. Instantly, she sat down across from me at the table. She went on to explain that some of her employees had taken it upon themselves to start taking reservations and receive take-out orders at some point.

She said she was beside herself, her whole system was in disarray, she was going crazy with this inconsistent organization. Furthermore, she would never ever again hire anyone under 30 years of age! Quite obviously, I now knew who the culprits were. I just didn't know which ones were under 30 years of age. Having relieved herself of her built-up tensions and frustrations for the time being, she hastily arose and departed down the aisle, back to her post, I presume, to face another four or five more hours of restaurant madness, as this was already taking place and they'd only been open an hour.

With all this excitement, it's rather anti-climatic to say, I enjoyed my turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I easily had left-overs of everything which delighted me. I brought them home as left-overs are among my favorites from holiday meals. I, also, brought along the dinner's piece of apple pie, which was promptly relegated to the freezer. You see, the day before Thanksgiving, I purchased a whole mince meat pie with rum sauce, only available around the holiday time. I really like this pie, as did my husband. I know it's only a glorified raisin pie, the way most make it now, but it will do.

You see, we were spoiled. When I met my husband, in addition to his jazz music avocation, he was the only non-family member partner in a small Midwestern market that sold only prime grade meats, top quality local fresh farm produce, and other top-of-the-line quality items. They made their own mince meat, with meat, as it should be. I have never ever found any other comparable mince meat, so have contented myself with what is available. But I have to tell you, my Mother made a raisin pie I really liked and these mince meat pies don't taste much different from her raisin pie. Oh, for some real mince meat, again.

Once I was back home from the restaurant, I thought another "quick" check of my email might be in order. As a relatively new computer user, less than two years, I still encounter new-to-me computer (whatever you call them) features. I received one special email -- an animated musical Thanksgiving greeting created by a British artist, Jacquie Lawson sent to me by a dear friend from whom I had not expected to hear. Then, those always welcomed, but never demanded, phone calls from my young 'uns and my one young 'uns young 'un. (Oops, that's a real tongue twister, so "Sorry 'bout that" -- remember that quoted line from the old TV series Get Smart which Don Adams was always saying?)

Well, I've digressed, then digressed from my digression, so this must be a good place to end the saga of this adventure. Interesting how much drama there can be in just ordinary day-to-day life if we just look around us and listen.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Earlier I read "Time Goes By" and Grumpy Old Lady's Thanksgiving post -- a must read for all. I unabashedly say, my emotions were so affected that I knew I must write a few thoughts of my own.

I'm planning to spend my first Thanksgiving, ever, alone. Probably others have had this experience, but it will be new for me. I don't feel a sense of trepidation about being alone for this holiday -- that's just the way it is.

Family wanted me to travel to be with them, but as much as I would have enjoyed their company, I simply didn't look forward to the process involved in getting there, then needing to return home quickly, as I have work the next day. In those travel instances I would have needed to go half-way, or all the way across the country. There are no other family members here, nor are there family between here and where those loved ones live. I'm sure there are many others for whom there is also a separation from those for whom we care, and they us, due to geographic distance this holiday.

So each of us adjusts in our own special ways to being physically alone. I don't really feel alone. I'm surrounded by memories and memorabilia, plus there will be some activities I'll want to undertake around the house. There will likely be phone calls, but even if there aren't, we just emailed and spoke on the phone within the past day or so, and likely will again before the coming weekend has passed. Still, because of this first, being alone, I wouldn't be surprised if thoughts should enter my mind of previous holidays with family and friends who are no longer living.

I've realized, for at least the past ten or fifteen years there would be a diminishing number of loved ones living nearby in the years ahead. I've known most of my life that this possibility would probably eventually become a reality. I just know it in quite a different way now, because it has become a reality. Certainly I experienced the loss of loved family members and friends even as a young person, and periodically during the ensuing years. Some succumbed to accidents, others to disease, including a self-initiated departure. Some were very young, others older. Some were even said to have led a long full life, thus were ready to depart this world. But there was that loss which somehow signaled what was to come.

I was most impacted with the realities of life and death when my mother died sixteen years ago, a few short days after Thanksgiving. There was something about the loss of a beloved parent, which resulted in my realization a significant life change had occurred. I was now part of the oldest generation. My mother was 89 years old, only four months from being 90 yrs of age. She had lived about ten years longer than her mother lived. Mother's last two years were not as I would have wanted them to be, especially considering she was mentally alert almost until the last breath she took while I was by her side.

Since that day, there has been an increased sense of keen awareness of loss each time another loved family member or friend is no longer present in the world in which I now exist. I am most aware of that sensitivity this particular Thanksgiving, my first without my husband. Certainly I accept I may suddenly feel flooded with emotion for seemingly no reason of which I am consciously aware. That doesn't happen often any more, but it still happens. I am no longer as surprised as I was the first time it occurred after some period of what I thought was emotional resolution. Whatever the feelings, whenever they may occur, they will be welcomed, another part of life, and maybe part of this holiday.

This Thanksgiving I am acutely aware of how very much for which I am thankful ... my family ... my friends ... new friends and acquaintances I've made in this virtual world who are uniquely real ... memories ... health ... hope ... anticipation of the future. Most of all, I'm simply glad to be alive.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

"HANG ON SLOOPY" - OSU 42 vs UM 39

That's right, the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes football team won their game against the University of Michigan Wolverines Saturday afternoon. The sports announcers broadcasting from Columbus described the day's sunny weather at the horseshoe-shaped OSU stadium in terms that conjured for me one of those warm fall days I so remember treasuring this time of year in Ohio, because I knew freezing temperatures, rain, ice or snow would be present all too soon. This late in the year the weather conditions Saturday sounded much like what we called Indian Summer - a very special time in any given year that might or might not suddenly make its appearance after a cold snap, the first frost.

I should say right up front that a part of me shared the disappointment experienced in another family member's household as her favored team lost in their valiant effort to upset the Buckeyes winning season much as they have sometimes done in years past. Her Michigan team came close to a tie or even winning this game, but close isn't quite good enough. There is little doubt the University of Michigan has the second best college football team in this country.

So many memories came flooding back as I actually sat down and watched the whole game. I understand the rules of the U.S. version of football (that word refers to soccer in the rest of the world,) and a number of other sporting games, plus even some of their finer points. Over the years I even enjoyed watching some of the various games, but I did not enjoy an extended steady diet of any of them.

Many years ago I found this diet, to which I was being increasingly involuntarily subjected, had become for me of overdose proportions. For self-preservation I sought relief from the sensory bombardment of incessant televised sporting events by occupying myself with other matters. Watching this game Saturday was clearly a departure from my usual activities for many years.

Years ago, I enjoyed watching portions of selected college football games during which university bands performed during half-time activities. But the broadcasting powers that be found they could make more money with talking heads rattling on and on with statistics, and other matters which were of absolutely no interest whatsoever to me. Obviously, my tastes must reflect a minority view as I found the heads still talking all through half-time when I viewed this game.

I watched the entire Ohio State-Michigan game Saturday, a first for me in many years, for the emotional reasons I described in the previous post "A Really Big Game Today." I'm glad I watched the game because not only did I enjoy it, the lettuce salad and new Artisian pizza I ordered were pretty tasty, too.

Just before the game actually started, I was able to see the Ohio State Marching Band on the field as they performed their famous Script Ohio in which band members actually write in script "Ohio" as they make the formation on the field while marching and playing their instruments.

I watched, remembering when the formation was near completion the last action was for someone to dot the "i" by assuming a position above it. The person who dotted the i was someone to whom special recognition was being accorded. A former employer, when I worked at one of the local television stations had been a tuba player in the marching band as a young OSU student years earlier. He was duly proud that he had been selected to dot the i, a highly respected tradition at OSU football games.

Much later at the end of the game the band exhuberently played a familiar tune called "Hang On Sloopy" which you can learn more about at:

The memories "Sloopy" triggered for me were recalling the arranger of this tune which had become a popular OSU standard some years after we left Ohio, played by the band for football team motivation and roundly welcomed as a pep tune by the students, alumni and fans at all games and some other events. John Tatgenhorst was this arranger's name and he was an Ohio State music student when I met him. He had a handsome boyish looking face which attracted all the women, young and old. He played the drums in the Al Waslohn Quintet on the hour and one-half local live audience participation television show where we both worked. The show often had guest entertainers periodically performing in town. John was the youngest member of the show's musical group, also was married. The older musicians all referred to him as "The Kid."

John went on to establish his own music business with offices in Chicago and Los Angeles. He has written many arrangements including among his first, some for Texas university bands, others and for movie scores.

Memories continued beseiging my mind as I recalled I last saw the actual Ohio State marching band "writing" the script Ohio in San Diego many years ago with my husband and son, when the football team played in the Fiesta Bowl. That time when the formation began, I was unexpectedly and suddenly overcome with tears as recalled past Ohio times crowded their way into my thoughts -- where I met my husband, our dating days, where we bought our very first home, the feral "Mamacat," as we named her, who ultimately adopted us, then presented us with kittens, one of which became a permanent part of our then childless, later child-filled family -- so much more remembered.

I'll be really interested to see Ohio State's remaining football games this year in whatever holiday bowl game to which they are ultimately invited. Arizona's Sun Bowl seems definite. As best I can gather, depending on the outcome of other teams remaining games, one of the possibilities is the Ohio State team could conceivably be matched to play this same Michigan team again. The New Year's Day Rose Bowl, played in nearby Pasadena, has been mentioned as a possibility at some point in an effort to have a playoff for the truly best team in the country. At last report, California's USC is hardly out of the picture.

I really have never tried to analyze or stay current with how this college football game ranking system and scheduling scenario evolves each year, including this one. I have gathered that those in the know about sports find the current system an improvement over what was done previously, but even now the whole system is thought by some to be complicated, sometimes confusing, often questionable and controversial.

You can bet, my husband would have been excitedly and apprehensively filling me in on all the details with his view as he impatiently awaited the final determination as to which teams played which other teams and where. There is no doubt in my mind he would have been absolutely certain the Ohio State Buckeyes football team deserves the Number One position whoever and wheresoever they play. I'm convinced, too.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Sports fans are like no other fans. For many, their enthusiasm and allegiance to the team they've selected as their own remains with them throughout their lives. We begin to pick our "favorites" at a very early age, often simply embracing the team(s) our family members have chosen.

That's what happened to me. A family member became a fan of a baseball team in our state when I was elementary school age. We had moved from a small city where I had independent access to the city library for a number of years. That all ended when we moved to a small farm in a rural area where I was the only child and there were no others my age nearby.

A radio in our house brought in the outside world. That world included the 1948 Cleveland Indians baseball team. For lack of other activities I might have preferred, had we lived elsewhere, I gradually paid attention to the play-by-play accounts of the team's games coming across the air ways. I finally even wrote the radio station for a scoring card, and learned how to record the games, which I began religiously doing. This was, indeed, a special year for that team, as ultimately they won the American League pennant. I still remember some of the team members names: Bob Feller, Larry Dobi, Lou Boudreau, Ken Keltner, the famous ageless Satchel Paige, to name a few.

Many years later as an adult, I met and began dating someone with whom I shared some common interests quite unrelated to sports. When he expressed interest in attending baseball games, I was delighted to return some of his generosity by obtaining free box seats to a number of minor league teams' games we attended together. Sometime later, after we married, I soon learned I had wed a much more avid sports fan than I had realized. As the years wore on and TV coverage of sports increased, it seemed for every season there was a sport with which he was enamoured and persisted to be with increasing intensity, sometimes to my consternation.

But, my gradual indoctrination into supporting my husband's all time and forever favorite football team began soon after we wed. He was able to obtain much sought after tickets from a friend who had been a head cheerleader at his university, so we enthusiastically often took our seats in the stands of his team's horseshoe shaped stadium.

I remember warm autumn days, rainy cold days, bitingly freezing days, in our stadium seats, on occasion our legs covered with blankets, sipping hot steaming coffee from a thermos, watching his team in their red and white colored uniforms, invariably winning the game. The game play lacked the excitement of a football passing game with the ball sailing through the air, subject to interception, or sudden excitingly long gains, but the famous coach had devised a game plan which insured most games would be won by keeping the ball on the ground -- "10 yards and a cloud of dust" was often how these games were described. There could be excitement when a runner broke through the line or ran the ball back from kick-off the full length of the field for a touchdown.

There was one team in particular that was considered a primary rival for the champion spot in their league. This rival team or our own could have a perfect winning record, but when they played the other, there would often be an upset with the opposite team unexpectedly winning the game. In recent years, my husband's team has come close but didn't finish first in their league.

My husband derived great pleasure from armchair coaching, analyzing the team's performance potential, expressing his opinion as to their weaknesses, their strengths, as he saw them. He was a former football player himself in high school, one who received recognition and might well have had a chance for a scholarship to play on his University team's roster had not two events occurred upon his graduation from high school. The first, was the adverse effect on university football programs due to WW II, the other was the unexpected diagnosis he had a medical problem which placed him in a hospital for two years, thus altering his future life plans.

Years later after we wed, we moved to the west, then on to the west coast, my husband was often frustrated that TV coverage of his beloved team was frequently not provided in the west. Even the newspaper sports columns failed to provide much more than the most meager coverage, he complained. When the team had a game that actually was broadcast locally, this became quite an event to which he looked forward, especially in his last years.

When we were newly wed attending sports events, or watching an occasional game on TV was fun, but over the years, the abundance of sports on TV to which I was subjected, had begun to become an annoyance. Sure, I had enjoyed my high school and college sports teams, but having moved to various other states I quite lost track of them.

Generally, as the years passed by, I was frequently busy with other activities and might only take a few minutes to catch a special play, or for a quick update on the score, since I had long since had my fill of sports, whatever the sport, team, league, whether college or professional. I kept up enough to be able to participate intelligently, humorously and challengingly in the conversation when he felt the need to provide his analysis of various plays or games. He delighted in making his assessments and predictions for individual team members, each of his team's games, their whole season, their coaches and did not hesitate to point out what he viewed as their shortcomings.

In the past six months since his death, I have come to realize that I am quickly becoming sports illiterate, as I become aware how much information I absorbed from him that I took in passing, but now no longer receive. Most of all this year, I have become aware that his favorite team has had the kind of football season he dreamed about for so many years. His team is ranked No. 1 in our country. They are undefeated for the season. Later today his team will take the field in the enlarged fabled horseshoe shaped stadium where they play their games.

They will play the second place ranked team, their arch rival. Just yesterday their arch rival team experienced a loss when one of their former winning coaches died. I'm sure the players and the fans of that team while saddened at the loss,(and I offer my sympathy,) may well feel highly motivated to pay tribute to one of their own and what better way than to win the game against my husband's team. This football team rivalry has actually filtered down into our own family, but in a loving and friendly competitive way. Our son's wife owes her allegiance to her alma mater, the rival team from the state where they reside even now.

I don't know if this is connected to thoughts about this game, or why this is happening, but the past couple of days, I seem to be experiencing what I might generously refer to as "the blaghs." Only during the duration of my work and interaction with those I serve do I seem to be taken from that "blagh" place. Also, for some reason, the past day or so, I have found my emotions to be delicate. For no reason I can perceive, tears have suddenly welled up into my eyes a couple of times or so.

I have found myself thinking of this upcoming game the past few weeks, wondering if my husband's team would remain undefeated, and they have. I think the game later today is going to be carried on local television in So. Cal. I find myself thinking that I so wish my husband was here to watch it. I know our children will be watching as they, too, have felt a special interest in watching the progress of their Dad's team this season.

I think I'll order the pizza we might have ordered. I even think I will sit down and watch the whole game, as No. 1 ranked in the country Ohio State University plays No. 2 ranked University of Michigan once more in this arch football rivalry. Now if only the TV coverage would cut all the talking head analysis at half-time and show the Ohio State Marching Band with their famed Script Ohio formation.

This is a really big game today! Yes, a part of me hopes Ohio State will win -- just for my husband.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I had long red curls as a small child. Then, my mother learned how to french braid hair, so for a number of years as I grew older, I had braids that ultimately grew to a length more than half-way down my back. From that point on in my life, my hair has been of various lengths, with various degrees of waves or curls. For some years, I've had short hair which is what I most prefer now, a style I will likely keep for the rest of my days.

As a young child, teenager, young adult, I was never subjected to derogatory words or name calling because of my red hair, though I've heard some redheads have had that experience. My mother did prepare me with awareness and skills as best she could to deflect whatever words might come my way, in the eventuality any did. I expect many parents for many reasons quite different from mine have found it necessary to arm their children with the skills to cope with possible, hurtful and demeaning, or worse, comments. What's most troubling is that some of those comments are actually made. I was the recipient of some teasing but never in a malicious manner intended to hurt or offend.

I do recall in college coming out of the dining hall one evening to walk past the gaunlet of boys sitting on the curb across from the door assessing the girls, when one said, "I'd rather be dead than red on the head." I knew he just wanted attention, but I was too tired, just getting off work with lots of studies ahead, to indulge him.

The "red" in "Joared" refers to the fact that I am a redhead. Well, at least I was, until the silver threads started creeping in amongst the golden red hairs. Furthermore, the silver threads are proliferating. The invasion continues and is insidious. Seems as though it happens at night, because when I look in the mirror in the mornings the silver threads are there, increasing in number before my very eyes. I give serious thought to staying up all night thinking this might prevent the onslaught, but the need for sleep gets the better of me. Yes, I miss each one of those red hairs. You see, I don't just like my red hair, I really like my red hair.

Most recently I am noticing the silver threads in my hair have begun to predominate in number. What that means is, many fewer golden red hairs are present with some of them darkening, too, then turning to silver. No longer do I say, " I have silver threads among the gold." Now I more accurately say, "There are golden threads among the silver."

Yes, I gave some consideration to trying to recreate the red hair color through artificial means--hair dyes. I know others, men and women, make this choice and I respect their right to do so. However, I have seen those who have become incapacitated also become distressed, demoralized, and depressed when they viewed their reflection in a mirror. Their self-image was visually shaken because of their personal appearance, not only from the effects of their illness, but the sight of their hair dye disappearing as their unwanted natural hair color emerged.

For me, personally, healthy or ill, I don't want to be thinking about whether or not my "roots" are showing, when I must go again for a touch-up, or a full hair dye job. My hair grows very fast and thick, though it recently may be thinning a bit, so would require frequent care. I don't want to spend the additional time, or dollars, required to dye it in the first place, much less to have to constantly keep it up. Another appointment I don't have to make, keep, and work into my schedule. Just one more responsibility I can welcome not having.

Those are some of the several factors that have kept me from trying to recreate the original shade of my red hair color. The primary factor is that I strongly believe in aging naturally. I'm curious to see what happens during the aging process from beginning to end, and in between, with all the possible variations in hair color, skin, body shape, whatever else. That's not to say I'll like all the changes, but I will accept them, for they are me at any given point in time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Old Business Wrap-Up: In this blogs beginning Seduction series, I referred to myself and others who read blogs but did not comment, as being called "lurkers" in the blogosphere. I want to highlight the following suggestion.

HoverersClaude at "Blogging In Paris" mentioned in a comment that hoverer might be preferable to the lurker term. Chancy at "Driftwood Inspiration" also commented there was a need for a different term than lurker.

I wholeheartedly agree since I believe the language we use is so important as are the nuances in word meanings. I, for one, will be thinking, writing, talking “hoverer” from now on, whenever I have occasion to reference those welcome readers to my blog who are simply exploring the blogosphere as was I only less than a year ago.

Joared – How do you pronounce that?

I learned at PhoneCon ("Time Goes By") that my web name was being said in some really funny strange sounding ways, at least to my ear. We had a few laughs about that. Would love to have had a recording of all the pronunciations. I had no idea others were so perplexed about how to pronounce my name. Some thought my name must have derived from a “Star Trek” character, or I was a real one. Others, I think, privately thought I just couldn’t spell, but they were too kind to say so. How is Joared pronounced?

Let me explain, that in that sudden instant when I decided I wanted to make my first blog comment, I realized I had to put a name there. I didn’t want to be Anonymous – somebody else was using that name. (I know, that’s a bad joke.) As soon as I put my mind to it, I had this sudden burst of creativity, from which a name emerged that seemed quite simple to me, in more ways than one, but it was the best I could do.

I hesitate to release the secret of my web-name-producing “combining system,” but it’s hardly unique to me. Either I release this secret information or I continue to be subjected to name mispronunciations on the next PhoneCon. The process seemed quite simple to me when I put the syllables and words together. Here’s how I did it: Jo a red. I could have used hyphens as was later suggested by another blogger favorite, Cop Car,(blog the same name,) but I didn’t think of that. Besides, I wanted to keep it really short, so I didn’t have to type a lot, plus bloggers and readers welcome a challenge, don’t they? Hyphens would have made it too easy.

Aging Names

What's in a name, is an important question when aging is discussed. The language that's used to describe older people and the nuances in the meanings of the words used are important to our lives. The perceptions of others can be shaped by those words.

One of the tools I was taught as a child with which to cope with those who might choose to harrass me, for one reason or another, was "sticks and stones may break your bones but names can never harm you." That saying probably did stand me in good stead,and may have kept me from acting out physically against those prone to feeding their own inadequacies by calling others names. I have to say, though, names can harm. They also can leave an invisible scar that can last a lifetime.

Names, words that are used to characterize others of any age should be adopted with great care and consideration so as to not infer discreditation of another as a human being. Attitudes toward others are often partially, at the very least, shaped by the words used. Throughout history various groups have been maligned and marginalized with the use of words. Aging people as a group have not been immune.

I feel a personal responsibility to sharpen my senses, attune myself to the nuances of words, to carefully listen to what others say, to be aware when I encounter demeaning words about any group, including aged and older people. I also believe, whenever possible, making others aware of the significance of what they are saying, will gradually serve over time to increase the possibility a more positive view of older Americans will prevail. I would like to believe others are engaged in the same process to bring about change in attitudes in all areas of our culture.

Monday, November 13, 2006


We've lost a newsman at age 65, due to leukemia, whose personal style of delivery I have appreciated for the past twenty-six years at CBS-TV on "60 Minutes." I watched their special program which aired Sunday night in which I saw short audio and/or video clips from his stories. Some took him into the war zone of Vietnam, other stories into death, dying, and starvation in an African country, whose leader, even denying there was a problem, stood by and did nothing to help his countries people, as did the world. There were interviews of tribute from his longtime producer, often an unrecognized but vital person in the production team.

Some video clips were heartbreaking, others poignant, and some joyous. There were memorable interviews with various individuals over the years -- some figures known to us all, others met through him. One memorable interview was with an all time favorite of mine, Lena Horne.

Ed Bradley loved music, as do I. Jimmy Buffett, a personal friend of Ed's, related a humorous story about how Ed couldn't really sing very well, knew it, but loved to do sing whenever Jimmy would invite him to join the band. They clearly were having great fun in the clips that were shown. At one point they played a clip in which Ed had said "Music is my bliss."

Ed Bradley had a special love for jazz, as I do, too, so it comes as no surprise he would, many years ago, include in his musical friendships, a young teenager, Wynton Marsalis, from a New Orleans musical family. I was particularly interested in what Wynton Marsalis had to say. He shared personal stories about his friend, Ed. He also said he and Ed had discussed some issues associated with death and funerals. Ed had reportedly told him he didn't want his funeral to be just a solemn occasion, that what Ed described was music typical of a New Orleans jazz funeral parade in the city.

Wynton Marsalis said " Ed had soul ...They say soul is the ability to make others feel good despite their condition..."

Then, Marsalis played trumpet solo tributes to Ed Bradley, first "Just A Closer Walk With Thee." Then that lively tune, "Down By The Riverside."

This world could use a little more soul.

Thank you, Ed Bradley.


Saturday, November 11, 2006


This day never goes by but what I don't think about all the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces just in my lifetime. Thank you to our veterans!

Actually, as with many families in this country, I can trace military service to a relative who fought for the United States in the Revolutionary War. An additional family story is that four ancestral brothers who had immigrated from England became estranged over the revolutionary issues with two fighting for the Union and two for England. Those latter two brothers fled to Canada when their cause was lost.

I've never undertaken a serious genealogy research, so don't know what wars, including that Civil one, in which other relatives might have served. I do know my father and uncle served in World War I; returned alive though my uncle ultimately died partially from the effects of respiratory problems acquired from exposure to gaseous substances.

More imbedded in my memory are the stories of relatives who served in World War II. Of special remembrance to me are the male and female who were in the Navy, others who attended local USO events designed to entertain the service men and women who were often far from home, sometimes bringing them into their own homes for family visits.

This Veterans Day, which internationally is known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day some places, falls on November 11 (or nearest weekday.) The day refers to the end of World War I which occurred in 1918 formally ending at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The change to the name Veterans Day in the United States came about when in 1953 Emporia, Kansas citizens observed a Veterans Day in lieu of Armistice Day. Subsequently, legislation was introduced in the United States House of Representatives for this official name change to Veterans Day. Then undertaken was a letter-writing campaign directed toward gaining support of state governors for this holidays' observance and name change. All veterans who served would be honored as this name change to Veterans Day was enacted June 1, 1954. (

I think it is important to note that the evolution of Armistice Day to Veterans Day in the United States came about because a group of citizens in the heartland of this country were determined to bring about meaningful change. I have heard from time to time over the years individuals excuse their responsibility for not actively participating in our govenment by voting in our elections because "My vote doesn't count," or, "It doesn't matter whether or not I vote, as it won't make a difference."

U.S. history is replete with many instances which prove individuals votes and actions do make a difference. Over the years I have been aware of many such occurrences and stories. I only wish that I had written down the details about them to repeat here, along with supporting documentation as to the results of their actions and/or votes. But I can start here, pointing to the establishment of our Veterans Day recognition as an instance when citizens actions manifested themselves in a desired outcome of benefit to all our citizens.

Earlier this week our midterm election results clearly conveyed voters desire for change which may well have occurred partially because more individuals exercised their vote. Our veterans who put their lives at risk, and those we honor on Memorial Day who died, gave of themselves so the rest of us could continue to enjoy freedoms unlike those enjoyed in any other country in the world.

On this day when we honor our veterans, I hope we also make a promise to ourselves that if we've not yet registered to vote, we will do so; that we will vote in every future election. Seems to me that is the very least of our responsibilites to our country. If that is not enough incentive then, at the very least, we should do so in honor of our veterans -- not a small, but an important act, when we consider our Veterans willingness to lay their lives on the line so that each of us can exercise our voting priviledge.

Thank you, again, to our veterans!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


My earlier post about "Old Things" elicited some interesting reponses. Claude, at "Blogging In Paris" even wrote a piece at her place on the topic. Her blog also has some ever-changing fascinating pictures which have been attracting me for some time. (No, I still don't have my links set so you can click within this piece to go directly to her blog, but you will find a link on my right sidebar.)

I think I've learned what I need to do to address my reluctance to part with "old things." Claude has provided one approach to the problem. BTW I sometimes, too, digress, which she noted she had done when writing the piece on her blog, so let me say, I share her lack of attachment to places. Now back to the topic at hand.

Cop Car at her blog of the same name, provided me a very practical solution for determing the disposition of items. I've chosen to interpret and mold what she said as sorta telling me what I could do with them. ;-) Of note, is her observation that "everything kept is sentimental." Ay, and therein lies the rub for me.

Chancy from "Driftwood Inspiration" added her comment describing a mixture of involuntary and voluntary experiences plus changes in her life which resulted in the downsizing of possessions. I was saddened to hear of some of her experience.

Others who admitted similar-to-mine accumulation issues, provided reassurance that I was not alone with my dilemna. Perhaps we should form a club, but I'm hoping to not belong to it for too long.

What I have learned from all this, is that I have a number of choices. I could put the items in storage. As it is, I already have some packed in boxes in the garage. That is, at best a temporary solution for eventually, I'll need to remove them from the garage. I could have a garage sale -- for the items -- not the garage (I know, that's another old bad joke.)

Certainly I could simply donate the items to one of many groups who regularly provide pick ups in our area. Another solution would be voluntarily or involuntarily down-sizing my living quarters -- you know, move to a smaller place. I don't really want to do that yet, and maybe never, if I can manage to stay in my home.

Then, there's the suggestion to which I should probably give really serious consideration, not only for possessions I have now, but those I might obtain in the future. This is what I really derived from what Cop Car wrote: If you can't use it, lose it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


As I write this, election day news reports say the American people are sending a message by their votes that we want some fundamental changes in the governing policies of our nation.

I believe part of the message to our government officials is: you work for us, we expect you to listen to our concerns, we expect you to address the problems that are important to us, we expect you to explore solutions to those problems, then we expect you to take meaningful action that is in our best interest. I would like to believe the additional message being sent is that we want our governing officials to honor our Bill of Rights, to stay out of our personal lives.

I find the reported increased number of voters of significant interest. Just this afternoon in a nearby college town business, I noticed a young woman with the appearance of being from a country other than the U.S. This generously tattooed probable co-ed, who I later encountered at a store counter as we were each writing a check, asked me in quite clear and precise English for the current date. I responded, "Nov. 7 - Election Day -- I hope you voted." She responded sincerely that she wanted to vote, but realized too late that she hadn't registered before the required deadline.

I commiserated with the disappointment she went on to express further, and urged her to register at her earliest convenience, while the thought was fresh on her mind. As incentive to do so, I said, given your interest in today's election, I feel confident you will want to vote in two more years when there will be another important election, this time for President of the United States.

My faith is being restored that the majority of the people of this country do take seriously that the responsibility for the right to live in our democracy/republic is to be informed and to vote. I hope in succeeding elections even more voters participate.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


W E C A N V O T E !

How Many People the world over

have in the past and would be willing today

to die for that priviledge?


Just A Reminder -- this is that Tuesday

when we citizens have the opportunity

to express our views

on the candidates and issues

where we each live.

If you haven't yet voted,

I hope you do so

before your polls close tonight.


For any who can't vote today

because they didn't register,

I hope you'll register at

your earliest convenience,

so you'll be ready to vote

in the next election.




Monday, November 06, 2006


A recent weekend began with an ambivalent experience. It’s about that windup alarm clock I use, despite the fact it has failed to perform its duty on other occasions. Though no harm was done at those times, I persist in using the old clock. That Saturday morning was different. I awoke much earlier than the needed wake-up time. I should just have gotten up then, but I didn't, instead falling back asleep. Unfortunately, later, the old windup alarm clock did not go off. When I reawakened, I realized I had twenty minutes to get where I needed to be. All I had to do was my personal care, dress, make at least a forty minutes drive. I'm pretty good with math, so it didn't take me too long to figure out that if the start time for the seminar I had planned to attend was in twenty minutes, then add time for my personal care plus dressing time and driving time and I just, possibly, might exceed that limit. I hadn't pre-registered, so I stood to lose no money. I did the next best logical thing to do, which was that I decided to just roll over in bed and go back to sleep.

Later, after finally arising, I started thinking about the need to let go of that old windup alarm and use any one of several digital type devices in my bedroom and around the house with wake-up alarms, all just waiting for adoption. Maybe it's just me, but despite my welcome and enthusiastic interest in new technology, especially electronic gadgets, I find myself clinging to some practically antiquated items. I wonder why I haven't long since replaced their usage with the new stuff, or disposed of them. Not only does that apply to various technological items, but in other areas, too.

I've got a couple of old, but not old enough to be valued as antiques, radios with dials. Dials are not too common in this age of push buttons -- you know, those little round knobs you grasp in your fingers and can actually slowly turn from one frequency to another in order to fine tune the radio station you’re trying to bring in at just the right spot through all that static? They’re in nice-looking wood cabinets, but they just don’t work quite right anymore as the sound either blares or fades from hearing, unless you want to permanently press your ear against the speaker. Obviously, that's much too dangerous for your hearing, should the sound suddenly blare. I keep remembering how good the sound quality was, and I am sure somebody, somewhere, would know how to tweak them back to prime operating state, so why part with them?

I remember my uncle had a little room at the back of their house where he delighted in tinkering with radios that everyone in his neighborhood and surrounding areas brought to him to fix, as news of his technological prowess spread. Why, on a special radio he had, he used to even tune into radio stations in countries outside of the U.S. If he were still living, he would have my radios humming perfectly for me in no time, I'm sure. On second thought, maybe not, 'cause radios then had tubes inside them, and my Sony radios probably have transistors. What happened to transistors? Now we have digital. What's next?

Now I know I have some kitchen small appliances with which I need to part, but I just can't quite bring myself to do so. Back in the day -- right after I married -- I became aware my husband had been used to a lot of good ‘ol southern cookin’ which included a lot of deep fried foods. I always longed for one of those stand alone units you could use independent of your stove's burners. Just plug that fryer right into the wall socket, and you're in business. But they weren’t cheap, at least relative to the limited budget we had as newlyweds. Well, at some point, in later years, I finally was able to get one. It may have been at a garage sale, but I can’t remember now since it was quite some time ago.

Unfortunately, by that time several things had occurred. My children had long since
grown and left home. Also, many years earlier I had adopted what later came to be accepted good health practices of avoiding deep fried foods. So, what was I thinking when I bought this cooker? Yet, I look at it and think how much I had wanted one, then finally got it, cheap, but never used it, so now, I'm going to discard this long-desired item? Should I want one in the future, I'd never be able to justify in my mind buying a new one for likely one time use. Why on earth don't I just get rid of this cooker?

I also have knick knack items, in all sorts of shapes, sizes, composition, many of which belonged to my mother, which I brought en masse into my home after she died. I have no place for them. I have no use for them. I have her good dishes that I've never ever used. They’re nice but not collector items. I even have a few vases with artificial, and one of dried flowers, she had. Let's just say the flowers are not exactly looking in their prime. They aren't displayed in such a manner that others would pay them much mind, but if they did notice them, they would likely think other than good thoughts about my taste. But, I see them as I type this, am reminded of her, and so I keep them around.

At times I've thought, I'd just like to lift the roof off this house, pick up the house, and turn it upside down, dumping all the contents in a pile, then set the house back down and simply start over putting only the barest minimum in each room. I am not sure what I would do with the pile outside, because there might be something there I’d want to keep.