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Of Politics, Sports and Sex

OK, so there won't be a LOT on here about sex, but tell the truth, that's most of the reason you entered this site, right? So, I'll slip some things in from time to time just to keep you coming...back.

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Friday, August 31, 2018

life again imitating art

My Dad used to tell us that the biggest challenge in watercoloring was convincing yourself to stop.

It struck me recently that the exact opposite is true of getting to the gym.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Ain't life grand?

We can use colors to clash horribly or merge beautifully.

We can use words to express opinions that make people turn ugly and defensive or we can use them to make beautiful poetry or literature.

We can watch a human being walk into a school and rip 17 kids to shreds with bullets and hate and in a matter of minutes, lifetimes will be impacted forever, sometimes in immediate death, sometimes in emotional scars that last a lifetime.

We can look outside and see delicate snowflakes gently floating down to earth juxtaposed against a background of the pink buds of a tree in mid-April bloom.

Thus is the beauty, ugliness and confusion that surrounds us and challenges us everyday.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Not to mention a gift to civilization

Harvey Weinstein probably used to think of himself as God's gift to women. Given all that has happened around the world with the #MeToo movement, I'd have to agree that at great cost to the victims, he was exactly right.

Monday, March 19, 2018

I like to think the left is the feminine side...though i also prefer the feminine back side

Interesting that it's considered a compliment among my female friends to observe that a man seems to be in touch with his feminine side but if a man were to tell a woman that she seems to be in touch with her masculine side, it would be an insult on multiple levels.

Not saying I disagree, just interesting, and a little revealing, about just what is open to interpretation.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

And there's the (back?) rub

Wow. 6 months later. And here now, 6 months worth of deep thought:

It seems like women in particular and semi-stereotypically, as opposed to men that is, put a lot of emphasis on judging whether they want to sleep with a man by how he treats her leading up to that decision, when the better test of a man's character is how he treats her after they have slept together.

There's probably a joke that could follow as to having things ass-backward, but that's an image that probably isn't appropriate in this context.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A sense of where I am

They tell us that as we get older, our sight diminishes. Then why do I feel like I see so many more things than I did when I was a boy? The colors, the shadows, the souls of those I love and particularly those I don't.

They tell us that as we get older, our sense of smell diminishes. Then why do I feel like I seem to enjoy the smells of so many more things than I did when I was a boy? The flowers, the honeysuckle and Cheryl's amazing meals cooking on the stove?

They tell us that as we get older, our sense of taste diminishes. Then why do I feel like I seem to enjoy the taste of so many more things than I did when I was a boy? Tastes dramatic and slight, foods exotic and familiar.

They tell us that as we get older, our hearing diminishes. Then why do I feel like I seem to enjoy the sounds of so many more things than I did when I was a boy? The giggling of children, the cutting of a skate blade on ice, the wind blowing through the trees and their leaves gently settling down on the ground.

They tell us that as we get older our senses erode. But I feel like I have a better sense of the glory of all that surrounds me, of how wonderfully lucky I am, the value of the incredible people in my life - friends and family, than I ever have. I value the sounds of silence as much as I do the joy in the voices around me; the sight of a beautiful woman as much as I do the changing colors of the leaves this month; the taste of a good cheesesteak and the subtle seasoning of a pile of truffle fries; and even the touch of or by a fellow human, whether in the throes of passion or a gentle touch on the arm.

Ain't life grand?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Thoughts of Pain and Joy

Somehow, given what happened in Las Vegas Sunday night, it just doesn't seem right to post anything here that doesn't in some way speak to it. Events like that usually take a while to hit me fully. At first when I heard what happened, I had the usual thoughts of "Oh no, not again." And I watched maybe 10 minutes of coverage to get the overall sense of what happened, but then found myself annoyed that my favorite morning show - Morning Joe - had been taken over with this story.

But then, as yesterday wore on, I found myself getting sadder and sadder, just past melancholy (sounds somewhat appropriately like a country music song title).

It's been a bad month or so lately:

- multiple massive hurricanes
- an equally devastating earthquake
- the sudden death of Ted, our good friend of 45ish years, his memorial service/celebration the day before the Las Vegas shooting
- my seeming to too often upset people I love without my always understanding how or why or certainly, intention
- and also sometimes being upset by people in my life, mostly just because I'm too damn sensitive

And now this awful shooting spree. It's hard to know whether to try to look past these things and focus on the many good and positives things in my life and in the world, or whether to stop and feel the pain of those impacted, honoring and validating their losses. And try to do what we can to either help alleviate their pain, or to do what we can to keep them from happening again.

I guess I'll just try to do my best to do all of the above. 

When I got home last night, I had planned to have a drink with Cheryl down by the pool to process all sorts of thoughts about these and many things. But instead I was surprised almost immediately by my awesome niece, Becca and her dad Richard who were here for our friend's life celebration and who I thought had already left.

And so, we all spent the evening in each others' company - Cheryl, me, Becca, Richard, Laurie, our recently deceased friend Ted's son Beau and his girlfriend and a variety of others.

And I am reminded of the value and importance and primacy of the need to surround ourselves with those we love as frequently as possible. And feel the pain, and laugh and revel in our joys, and try to do better every single day.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Here's some advice: Don't take advice

I was talking with a young friend and co-worker today, let's call her Monica, because, well, you know, about us middle-aged guys giving advice to younger people. I was telling her that I've often thought about starting a website called (Hey - still available for just $3495!), which would consist entirely of, well, aphorisms, gathered from anyone who wanted to submit a lesson learned or advice on various subjects that always seems to fit certain situations. Or maybe I should call it That one seems available for nuthin!

And in reply to my idea, Monica said, "But do you ever really learn from taking advice? Isn't it better to learn something on your own than to just take someone's advice?"

I loved her observation so much, I told her I would make sure to add it to the website.

(Dang - now I can't get the Magilla Gorilla theme song out of my head.)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Maybe not every boys' dream, but mine dammit

Hugh Hefner died yesterday. I see where he was quoted in 1967 in Time magazine as saying: 

‘I’m living a grown-up version of a boy’s dream, turning life into a celebration.’

Me too, Hugh, me too.  In his case, he had everything to do with that. In my life, Cheryl and all our amazing kids and my friends and extended family are totally responsible. 

And even though one can argue that he had way more than I ever did or will, I had the more important thing - a life filled with love and easy trust of the people around me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Of course there are times Cheryl and I are alone together when I'd prefer they maybe weren't with us just then

A few weeks back, a 90+ year-old friend, let's call him Gerry, since that's his name, rose to speak in (Quaker) Meeting to say that he had read an obituary recently where it said that the deceased had gone to be with the Lord, leading Gerry to wonder why the Lord hadn't been with the fellow before he died too.

I told Gerry that of all his messages I'd heard him share in Meeting over the past 60 years, that was my favorite.

I have a similar question. Why, when someone dies, do we say that the person " no longer with us?" In some ways, my Mom and Dad are with me more now than they were when they were alive.

And I suppose by some measure they are still alive too, if only in my heart.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Alternative alternatives

I guess I first realized I was out of touch with the country's mainstream views back in the late 1960's when I was 12 years old and I realized that people who watched Hee Haw actually laughed at the show while I laughed at anyone who did.

As time goes by, I think I am getting even further out of the mainstream. For instance, on these topics, I don't think my view is the same as either the left or the right:

Confederate statues - If I were a Southerner, I wouldn't be leading the fights to keep them up, I'd want to have them taken down from the embarrassment of what they mean. As a Northerner, I can see an argument for wanting them to stay up to show people exactly the kind of racist, subhuman mindset that thought owning other human beings for your own economic benefit was just or moral by any definition or rationalization. And maybe selfishly, I might want them to stay up to remind those knuckleheads that we won, dammit, and that Good won over Evil.

Colin Kaepernick - When I see him protesting during the anthem, if I were a military member, I would take pride that the causes I put my life on the line to protect were there in all their glory, like the right to free speech, including protesting one's government, which would get people killed or thrown in jail in much of the world.

Sports teams named after Native American Indians - Given the way Indians have been treated since the day we Euros arrived on these lands, we have treated them even worse than African Americans in many regards. To name the groups many of us most revere - our sports teams - after Indians could be seen as a high honor, keeping the memory of their history alive, when most people choose to ignore them. That said, words do have meanings and a name like "Redskin" needs to be changed.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Maybe older, but still mahvelous

At a certain, age, losing weight makes one feel younger and look older.

It's worth it, no matter what Fernando Lamas thinks.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Of Emma Watson's boobs (semi-clickbait if there weren't enough Emma Watson and boob references in the post already)

A facebook friend of mine, and a former high school big-time crush, let's called her Selden...since that's her name...recently posted this column on her page from Huffington Post...

(Inserting gratuitous Emma Watson Vanity Fair pic here. Hey it's in the HuffPo story too!)

...and asked the question on FB: "Would love to hear thoughts from my women friends, young and old, on this article. Is baring your boobs consistent with feminism?"

...and the first response to her q was this:

This is a really interesting question - I think I have sort of noticed two completely different strains of feminism: for simplicity's sake I'll call them American and European. European feminism is about women owning themselves completely, including their sexuality and the power that their sexuality, and other peoples' response to it, gives them. There was an excellent essay by a Swedish model who came to the United States - I'll try to find it and share it. On the other hand, the American version of feminism seems to be primarily about asserting women's absolute equality - almost to the point of non-differentiation - with men, and which looks severely askance on women who use their "feminine charms" as an asset, if you will, to shape the world around them. What do you think?

And Selden responded:

I think I always bought into the American version, believing in absolute equality, and also feeling that if you didn't want to be objectified by men, you shouldn't dress in a way that flaunts your sexuality. But I find this article to be intriguing and leads me to re-think things a bit. The idea that women should have freedom to be whoever they want to be, whether it's being a sexual being, or something else, makes some sense.

And this is what I soon added, even though I didn't qualify to answer, not being of the societally-defined feminine variety:

This is a topic I've thought a lot about, actually, and not JUST in terms of Emma Watson's underboobs. And it fascinates me. I think women just have about a 10% idea of just how much power they have and how superior they are to men in every way except physical strength. I know that isn't the point here, but it is part of it. There is nothing wrong with femininity! Well, except how hard it is to spell. It can be a tool of power...or not. It bugs me that people still see it in any negative way. Or that only women can embrace it. I showed someone that just for fun once with my wife, we painted my toenails a pretty bold red and the person said "You are obviously so secure in your masculinity" to which I said "Wouldn't it be cool if one could say that I was secure in or proud of my femininity?" And isn't a shame that until I wrote this just now, I was embarrassed to let anyone else know that we'd done that? I kept my toes covered for weeks, not wanting to remove the polish, until I finally took the time to take it off. Thanks for asking, Selden, and I loved your input too, Deirdre. Very interesting.

(Not mine unfortunately)

My fear is that by saying that "...femininity as a tool of power...seems manipulative and dishonest" is seeing femininity as a weakness of some kind. If one dives deep, I see it as saying that there is something wrong with using all of one's gifts, whether they be intelligence or sense of humor...or physical attractiveness. I see nothing negative in using one's physical gifts as readily as using any other gift. Male privilege certainly draws from size. Taller people certainly have an advantage over short people. Studies show that kindergarten teachers give more attention to their best looking students. Not saying those things are right, but it will never change, so when women don't generally have the advantage of being as physically imposing as a man, isn't it fair to use their own God-given attributes?

I am semi-obviously a big fan/defender/supporter of femininity and I'll be sad if any trend toward total androgyny continues to grow. And I also wonder if women are embarrassed or unaware or ashamed of this power they have...which only keeps them from achieving the power and equality they incredibly still don't have on a par with we inferior quasi-masculine-types. 

But in general, as my sister Judy once said about men and women, though I'll expand it to masculinity and femininity:

Vive le difference! 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Why do we care if there is a God? 

The more I think about a possible answer, the less I care if there is one.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Or maybe they are the ones who listen and tell us what a dumb story it was

I wonder how often we tell stories that are more fun to tell than they are to listen to?

Our best friends are the ones who listen and laugh anyway. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

On the other hand, they might see a marketing opportunity for increased business from Trump voters

Somehow, an incredible 64,600 read my last post of 2016. (Yet in this blog's entire history, only 157,800 people have ever viewed any page of the entire blog.) I'm not sure why it was read 64,600 times, and I'm even less sure how it was that that many came across it, but seizing on such momentum in order to maximize my distinct and oh-so-valuable literary contributions to the world, I have made exactly one post in the 10 months since then, a post read by exactly 35 people.

So back at it this week then, with what I hope will be a series of posts coming from notes I've taken, often after a beer or three that I've memo-ed to myself into my phone, usually while down on our pool patio late into the evening while amongst friends, that will hopefully still make sense when I read them again fully sober. If not, I'll post them anyway, in case anyone chooses to read them after they've had enough beverages that maybe makes them more understandable. More understandable that is, than those last few sentences.

So my first post-worthy observation is simply this:

I wonder if the PTBs (powers that be) at the company Big Lots have mandated that every store manager, as his or her very first priority every morning when they come into work, check to make sure that the letter L hasn't fallen off their store sign during the night:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

And maybe this thought is God's way of getting me to stop posting anything else

News Item:

"God Will ‘Take Care Of’ Climate Change If It Exists.”

Republican candidate Rep. Tim Walberg told a constituent last week that God can solve the problem of climate change if the global phenomenon truly exists:

"As a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us. And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.”
Makes me wonder if there are any religious fundamentalists who think that the increased visibility and acceptance of homosexuality is God's way of addressing world population overcrowding concerns.

OK, maybe not worthy of my first post in 6 months, but I had to post something to break the logjam.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Postscript to the Previous Post

(See post below, first.) On the other hand, I think I will write a little more about the impact of the election on me and the people I love. The other, currently inaccessible, entry has more to do with political wonky stuff. This one has to do more with my psyche.

The morning after the election was a dark day: for me, for all 4-6 kids, for my friends. I’m not including Cheryl here because she was already upset even before the election. She was so unnerved by politics in general, and I believe the Presidential race in particular, and what politics was doing to her, that she didn’t even watch the election returns. This from a delegate to the Democratic Convention just 4 years earlier. She was depressed about the election many months before the rest of us came to be.

But as dark a day as it was, I found it to be the perfect time to re-order my priorities. This is part of what I wrote on my Facebook page the next day, part of a much longer post that is what the other post-election blog entry will consist of: “So it’s back to basics. Back to connecting with each other. Back to making people feel validated in their life’s choices. Back to volunteering to help those who need it, from the old widow down the street who needs the leaves raked in her yard to helping feed people who have less than us, to, well whatever might be one’s passion. What drives you? How can I help? How can I help my kids help? What can I do to put a smile on someone’s face?

"I find myself feeling like I did when I came back from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota a few months back. A need to re-focus on all that is good and most important. Re-prioritizing. So I learned that then…and apparently needed to be taught it again last night. I get it, God. No need to keep finding ways to beat it into me! I’m good. Thanks, though!”
And so since I wrote that, almost 4 weeks ago, how am I holding to it? I see it as a strong challenge to my Quaker beliefs – am I still able to see that of God in everyone, even supporters/voters/enablers of someone to run the world who has said and done the terrible things DT has? I need to, I have to, and so far I have.

I want to walk ever more peacefully upon this earth, with my family, with my friends, but in some ways even more importantly, with people I don’t know and may well never see or interact with again – the receptionist at the doctor’s office, the driver who cut me off, the person who posts something demeaning on Facebook.

And how can it be more important that I treat people I don’t know, as or more kindly than my family and friends? Because my F & Fs are already wonderful, loving, FORGIVING (of me) people. It is the people we don’t know who we need to set a higher standard for, both in how we deal with them but also in our expectations of them. I need to do my best to bring the best out of them.  That means driving more slowly, though certainly not too slowly! It means not just thanking someone for something, but taking an extra two seconds to throw them a smile – a smile that lasts past that fleeting second that goes with the thank you.
This actually happened with me a few days back, at the aforementioned doctor’s office. After I finished checking out – paying, getting a printout for bloodwork – I thanked the woman behind the counter, smiled, and just held it for an extra moment, while looking carefully into her eyes. And even though I’m quite certain that if that woman came up and sat next to me this very moment, I’d have no idea who she was, for that brief moment, I felt like I had a significant, kind human interaction with her. I don’t know if it had any impact on her day, but the return of her smile certainly made mine.

And that’s what I expect of me going forward. Not to dwell in the ugly negativity it would be so easy to slather myself with in the face of what happened November 8th. But to use it as the proverbial wake-up call, challenging and changing my previous perspective, making the world a better, more positive, kinder, more loving place.

As clearly as it seems that 2016 has been one of our worst ever. I want the lessons I’ve learned, starting with Pine Ridge and continuing through the election results, to make 2016 the best year ever.

At least a little catchup...and hopefully a lot

So…two months since I last posted anything…and a lot has changed since then. Well, actually only one major thing has happened, which is that we have a new President-Elect. Not the one most of us expected it to be, though I did post on my Facebook page the Friday before the election that I not only expected Trump to win but that by Tuesday it was even more likely that he would win. As the next 4 days unfolded, I pulled back on those predictions, partially because of the FBI Director’s re-clearing of Hillary of any email wrongdoing, but also, I’m ashamed to admit, because of the virulent protests of my friends who were certain she would win by plenty. As can be said of so many more important decisions in one’s life, I shouldn’t have let their opinions sway my own.

What I couldn’t get rid of though, was a gut level feel that the passion for Trump outweighed the passion for Hillary, particularly in central Pennsylvania. And it led to my new political theory that the Presidential candidate whose voters have the most passion will always win. I believe that can be said of every winning candidate in my lifetime, at least going back to 1976, and likely even back to 1960 and beyond.

Anyway, the other thing that has happened recently, is that we were hit here at work with a nasty ransomware demand and at least for now, have lost all access to our saved files, folders, software, network and even the internet for 3 days, which wasn’t as bad for me as everyone else here as I was sidelined with a nasty cold, so I stayed home anyway.

So, since I have no access to any of those things at present, the beneficiary will be this here blog, where I will try to write up some entries I’ve put off for, well, months now. If I get some completed, I’ll save them and post them sporadically, so they don’t all crash through at once.

I had also started one long Election Reaction-based post that I’ll post later. I had saved it at work and of course, can’t get to it again yet.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Smoke on your pipe and put this in (West Side Story reference)

Karl Marx once said: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people".

Given the decrease in people’s attendance at churches over the past 40-50 years and the epidemic level increase in the use of opioids, I am starting to wonder if the reverse could now be true, as opiates now seem to be the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions…and the new religion of the people.
Or maybe it's Donald Trump.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

So Dad maybe is STILL the Easter Bunny!

For posterity:

Soon after Trev was born, I wanted Dad to hold him and whisper some advice in his ear – some words to live by so I could remind him of it when he got older.


Dad thought for a minute and with me expecting something very profound, he said “Listen to your parents!”

To this day, Santa writes that on his thank you note for his cookies, and the Easter Bunny writes it at the bottom of the instructions to the kids for hunting for Easter eggs and presents at our house when they get home from Meeting.

Wise man, that guy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Letter to the President

Hello Mr. President -

I write today in hopes that you will please consider the case of Native American activist, Leonard Peltier. As I'm sure you know, Amnesty International placed his case under the "Unfair Trials" category of its Annual Report in 2010. 

I recently returned from an 8-day service trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota with 14 members (including my 15 year old son, Trevor, and 7 other teens) of our Quaker Meeting in Downingtown (Chester County) PA, organized by the William Penn House in Washington DC. (We were joined there by 2 of Sasha and Malia's classmates from Sidwell - 2 really amazing kids, by the way - Emmett Stern and Liam Kirsch.) We found terrible conditions on the reservation (80% unemployment; poorest county in the USA, life expectancy of 48 (!)) but also a number of people trying to improve the lives of the people there by teaching them about sustainable organic farming.  We helped them with their work there and then helped set up and then participated in a sun dance - a very sacred ritual that outsiders aren't usually allowed to be a part of...though I'm sure they would welcome you and your family if you asked nicely! :-) 

Anyway, in speaking with folks there, it was clear that there is a great deal of pain surrounding the case of Mr. Peltier, who they feel was given an unfair trial. They very much hope you'll review his case and find that he should be set free before you leave office.  

Thank you for your consideration, Mr. President. 

With gratitude for all you've done,


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Everyone has heard of Catholic guilt and Jewish guilt, but with absolutely no knowledge of what either of those things entail, I submit that Quaker guilt can’t be any less powerful.
Quaker guilt surrounds the idea that we aren’t doing enough in the world. We aren’t doing it right. We need to make more of a positive impact on the world.

Over the years, a number of young people have said to me how unhappy they are with their jobs, primarily because they are embarrassed by it. It isn’t an ideal job, not because of the pay or responsibilities or because it doesn’t meet their passion. It’s a feeling I am well familiar with because I was once that kid. Heck, I was once that adult. And whenever one of those kids comes to me with that concern, I tell them this story.
Many years ago, one of the people from our Quaker Meeting who had known me since I was wee, passed away. I’ll call him Jim. Jim McQuail. Just a random name. He was a guy I had a great deal of respect for, and after listening to the messages at his Quaker memorial service, I realized that my respect for him was dwarfed by the dozens of people who spoke that morning. I don’t remember a single message specifically, but every message was about some way Jim had helped that person in their time of need or struggle. Some of them were clients of Jim’s, hiring him as their CPA, and some were members of our Meeting, and others were just friends he’d made on his journey through life.

(I said earlier that I don’t remember any of the messages specifically, but come to think of it, I do remember one, from his wife Virginia. Ever the blunt speaker, either with a comment that could make you feel a mile high or as low as could be (having been on the receiving end of both examples), but always said in love and with a smile, Virginia listened to nearly an hour of adoring messages reflecting on what a wonderful person Jim was, when she rose to speak, all of us expecting Virginia to add another touching tale to those already proffered. She stood, paused, and said “Well, now, he wasn’t THAT great!” The place erupted.)
Anyway, when the service was over, we headed over to the schoolhouse across the driveway for a luncheon reception where I found myself talking with a childhood friend, Jim’s nephew David. David asked me what I was doing with my life, and I told him about my accounting job and how, even though I generally liked my job, I felt unfulfilled, as I didn’t think I was making much of a positive impact on the world.

David listened to what I had to say and when I was done, he gave me a disappointed frown and said “Weren’t you just in Uncle Jim’s memorial service?” I told him that indeed, I had been. And he said the words I’ve never forgotten and have repeated so many times over the years:

“Then you heard all those people stand to talk about Uncle Jim. Did you hear any of them say anything about his job? About how he had saved them money on their taxes? About financial advice he gave them as their CPA? No. They all talked about the huge impact he had on their lives as a person, the help he offered, the personal advice he gave.”

Thanks, David. And thanks, Jim, for setting such a wonderful example.


Monday, June 6, 2016

And I'd bet The Donald would assume the Blacks aren't very good swimmers for some reason

You know you’re too obsessed with politics when you get this email, look at the subject line, and assume there is a Donald Trump joke waiting inside.

Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 8:44 AM
To: Jamie McVickar
Subject: Invite From the Blacks

Hi from the Blacks!

If anyone forgot to RSVP to the pool party today no worries, come on over! 

Please see the below information from Sarah Black regarding their end-of-year party!

End of year pool party
Come over after the 6th grade picnic; After school - 5:30pm; Monday 6/6/16
Siblings are welcome. Bring bathing suits and towels. We will have plenty of snacks and drinks  

- Sarah Black

Friday, June 3, 2016

It must be Loyal Reader Week!

About once a week, I get a spam comment that tries to get itself posted to this blog, but can't be unless I accept it as post-worthy. They are often so complimentary, I just revel in their kind words until I get to the second sentence which usually asks that I check the exciting link they provide to their particular site, which, well, don't promote the sorts of behavior we like to share on this site. Not judging though!

This one below came through a few weeks ago and I decided to copy and paste it here, just because it reeks of such sincerity...and it reminds me of loyal reader, Becca Jane, for reasons she'll understand.

WWICS Review has left a new comment on your post "Filling your blog brain shopping cart with News It...":

Very attractive theme of your blog and i have have learn your blog and it's really in very nice. Thanks.

No no, really, thank you! I'm sure your blog is Very Attractive too. :-)

Since I'm such an expert on how to be a good Mom

I received a really nice email from another loyal reader, name of Judy, coincidentally NOT related to me, but is just about the sweetest person with one of the nicest, most sincere smiles you'll ever see. And she has a blog that is 10 times better than this one, but I'm not linking to it until she promises to make a new entry, even if it doesn't have anything to do with clutter! :-)

Anyway, with her permission, here is the email she sent me:

Hi Jamie,

I've been meaning to tell you how touched I was by Reat's journal entry words you quoted in your recent blog post.  (And a tip of the hat for keeping at your blog, unlike some people ... Ahem.)  

You reminded me of a few sun-drenched memories of mine, talking to Reat while waiting for Emily to finish her art class with Paul. One time she told me she had been reading over her journals, and she said, "I thought, wow, I was a really good mother!"  Such an enviable revelation ... especially to me ... one who is overly, overly self-critical.  She was so very special.



Well, first of all, thank you for taking the time to send me that, Judy. And secondly, judging from the quality of your amazing kids, you too are "a really good mother!"

But yeah, Mom was a great mom. I guess it's safe to say that we kids saw a side of her that many didn't, and are aware of decisions she made that we like to think we might have handled differently, and, I believe, in retrospect, that she wished she had too. (As is certainly true for me as a Dad as well.)  As wonderful a mom and person as she was, she did go through some tough times when she and we were much younger, but regardless, I put her in the small category of Quaker Saint from back in her era, along with people like Enid Brown, Virginia McQuail and Jane Moore. Not necessarily parent-related, except in the It Takes A Village scenario, in which case, since they certainly all helped raise me and my sibs, I think they certainly qualify.

I know Mom worked her butt off to be the best mom she could be. Funny, now that I'm a Dad, and have been for the best 18 years of my life, partly thanks to my kids, in some ways I have both more and less respect and awe for my folks. More, because I realize how incredibly hard it is, especially in terms of time and energy. But also, less, because I, like most of us, put my folks on a pedestal. A pedestal of perceived perfection (!) that though I still feel an element of for them, the idea that my kids may feel that way about me is just crazy. Whatever nice things they might think of me as a Dad, well, thanks, it means a lot, but there is so much I might have done better.

Mom was a mom during an important historical parenting transition, one I don't think has been written about much, at least that I have seen. Up until Dr. Spock (no, not this guy), the one who wrote THE book on parenting in 1946 which was a bible to post-war moms. But even past that, the women who were moms from the mid- to late-50's and into the 60's, when the idea of kids being seen and not heard was not only questioned, but pretty much abandoned. I don't know whether it was the moms who caused that to happen or the kids, starting around the time that Blackboard Jungle (really hitting Wikipedia hard today!) was written (another of the rare books that I actually read!...ok, it's a not a rare book, it's a book read by me, which is rare. Sorry, grammar/syntax-police.) and the movie version was filmed. (Movie note: "It is remembered for its innovative use of rock and roll in its soundtrack and for the unusual breakout role of a black Bahamian-American cast member, future Oscar winner and star Sidney Poitier as a rebellious, yet musically talented student.") Awesome book, awesome movie!

I remember a time in the late 60's/early 70's when Mom became really, really into reading up on all kinds of new parenting and education-related techniques. The book Open Classroom was especially important to her - not geared toward parenting, per se, but I know it had an impact anyway.

I guess that's all I wanted to share for now, when I think of Mom as a mom.  I guess the nicest thing, of many, that I could say about her as a mom, or more importantly maybe, as a person, was that after she died, my sisters and I decided going forward, without her as a person to help us with our day-to-day challenges, we would approach each such challenge based on WWMD: What would Mom Do. And that mindset has rarely, if ever, failed me...when I've remembered to use it.

All that said, the two things I always try to come back to related to parenting are:

1 - I believe that we play way less of a role in our kids development than we think we do, and...

2 - As our wise friend, Wanda, who lives in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands once said; "We're all doing the best we can." Amen, Wanda.

And thanks again, Judy.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Maybe I'll meditate on this if I ever start meditating

We have a guest contributor today. This was written by my mom 51 years ago in her journal, lovingly transcribed and forwarded by loyal reader, and coincidentally, also my sister, Laurie:

Monday, May 17, 1965:

I believe there is a possible story in a woman or woman and man who are trying to prepare their children for adulthood.  And with this difference: we all are doing this of course, but we are preparing them for the adult world that we know, not the world which will be in 20 years.  This woman and man of my story are like Paul and me who have a complete life in each other and in their own quiet interests.  Meeting people and having to get along with people is difficult for them.  But their children’s world will be crowded.  Their children must get along with people they meet.  And they must learn how to obtain solitude while among people.  Maybe the Friends meeting house is an example of how this is done. 

So many truths in those wise words of yesteryear. This was truly prescient:

But their children’s world will be crowded. 

How did she know?! I am frequently struck when reading Laurie's daily transcriptions, of how simple life seemed back then. It probably didn't seem simple to them, so maybe that's how they knew, but that doesn't seem to be what her prediction was based on.

And this is brilliant too:

Their children must get along with people they meet.  And they must learn how to obtain solitude while among people.

These are both daily goals and challenges for me - getting along with people who annoy me, as sadly, I am way too easily annoyed, and of course finding solitude.

I just gotta start meditating. As soon as I find a time and place where I can have some solitude.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

And that's the truth, the whole truth and maybe isn't even close to the truth

I've been so scared of this blog lately. Scared like for most of the past 4-5 months, except for that one mini-post a week or 2 back. I don't know why. I have a feeling once I get going again, it won't be hard to get into the swing again.

I say I don't know why, but more likely it's because I've known for months what my next entry had to be about. It's an entry I've been putting off about...The Truth.

I was challenged by a Facebook friend in the midst of an argum...I mean, in the midst of a discussion about religion and politics, since he and I always stay away from any controversial topics, with this question:

What is The Truth?

It seemed like one of those navel-gazing questions that I have absolutely no interest in and would only serve to make my head hurt, and I tried to wipe it from my mind, so I quickly shut Facebook down to avoid having to think about it. But I couldn't stop, and now this, 4 months later, is what I came up with:

The truth is whatever one defines it to be.

But then I realized that there may actually come a time when we find out whether The Truth was/is what we define/d it to be - a time none of us is particularly looking forward to, except those who actually are sure they know what The Truth is, even if they really don't, even if they are eventually proved to be right. That would be the folks looking forward to The Rapture, or some equally convenient belief in what happens when we take our last.

So I had to refine the definition to this:

The Truth is one of two things: It is either what we say it is, or it is something we have absolutely no proof of knowing for sure that we are right. Unless we were right in the first place, in which case, we may never know that we were.

If one believes in God and an after-life in Heaven, you will never know if you were wrong.

Four months ago, I thought that was all pretty profound. Now that I've tried to put it in writing, I think I know why I've been afraid of this thing. Because trying to put it in writing makes as little sense as anyone thinking we know for sure what The Truth is.

And head hurts.