Saturday, July 25, 2015


What! You didn’t know your country had a motto? It is sorta like a theme but not an anthem or a fight song or a bad tattoo. Seems everyone has a motto. Who knew?
 A motto (derived from the Latin muttum, ‘mutter’, by way of Italian motto, ‘word’, ‘sentence’) is a maxim, a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of an individual, family, social group or organization. Mottos are usually not expressed verbally, unlike slogans, but are expressed in writing and usually stem from long traditions of social foundations, or also from significant events, such as a civil war or a revolution. A motto may be in any language, but Latin has been widely used, especially in the Western world.
My family’s coat of arms bears the motto, “Vernon Semper Floret,” Vernon being a family name and the other two words signifying “always blooming”.
My state (or commonwealth) has a motto, “Sic Semper Tyrannis”, translates from Latin as “Thus Always to Tyrants”. If you are a tyrant, don’t come around here.
E pluribus unum”—Latin for “Out of many, one”—is a phrase on the Seal of the United States, along with Annuit cœptis (Latin for “He/she/it approves (has approved) of the undertakings”) and Novus ordo seclorum (Latin for “New Order of the Ages”), and adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. Never codified by law, E Pluribus Unum was considered a de facto motto of the United States until 1956 when the United States Congress passed an act (H. J. Resolution 396), adopting “IN GOD WE TRUST” as the official motto.
“IN GOD WE TRUST” first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864 (but not as a national motto) and has appeared on paper currency since 1957. A law passed in a Joint Resolution by the 84th Congress and approved by President Dwight Eisenhower on July 30, 1956 declared “IN GOD WE TRUST” the national motto of the United States.
A phrase similar to “IN GOD WE TRUST” appears in the final stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key (and later adopted as the U.S. national anthem on March 3, 1931 by U.S. President Herbert Hoover), the song contains an early reference to a variation of the phrase: “And this be our motto: ‘IN GOD WE TRUST.’”
The change from “E Pluribus Unum” to “IN GOD WE TRUST” was generally considered uncontroversial at the time, given the rising influence of organized religion and pressures of the Cold War era in the 1950s. The 1956 law was one of several legislative actions Congress took to differentiate the United States from atheistic Communism. Earlier, a 1954 act added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. Some states also adopted mottos with religious overtones during this time, for example Ohio's “With God, all things are possible”.
“IN GOD WE TRUST” was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956 as an alternative or replacement to the unofficial motto of “E pluribus unum”, which was adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created and adopted in 1782. Secularists have expressed objections to its use, and have sought to have the religious reference removed from the currency.
Advocates of separation of church and state have questioned the legality of this motto, asserting that it is a violation of the United States Constitution, prohibiting the government from passing any law respecting the establishment of religion. Religious accommodations state that this entrenched practice has not historically presented any constitutional difficulty, is not coercive, and does not prefer one religious denomination over another.
“IN GOD WE TRUST” as a national motto and on U.S. currency has been the subject of numerous unsuccessful lawsuits. The motto was first challenged in Aronow v. United States in 1970, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled: “It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency 'In God We Trust' has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise”. The decision was cited in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, a 2004 case on the Pledge of Allegiance. These acts of “ceremonial deism” are “protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.” In Zorach v. Clauson (1952), the Supreme Court also held that the nation’s “institutions presuppose a Supreme Being” and that government recognition of God does not constitute the establishment of a state church as the Constitution's authors intended to prohibit.
Aside from constitutional objections, President Theodore Roosevelt took issue with using the motto on coinage, which he considered to be a sacrilege using God’s name on money.
The constitutionality of the modern national motto has been questioned with relationship to the separation of church and state outlined in the First Amendment. In 1970, in Aronow v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the motto does not violate the First Amendment to the Constitution. The United States Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue.
What is trust?
In the social sciences, the subtleties of trust are a subject of ongoing research. In sociology and psychology the degree to which one party trusts another is a measure of belief in the honesty, fairness, or benevolence of another party. The term “confidence” is more appropriate for a belief in the competence of the other party. Based on the most recent research, a failure in trust may be forgiven more easily if it is interpreted as a failure of competence rather than a lack of benevolence or honesty. In economics trust is often conceptualized as reliability in transactions. In all cases trust is a heuristic decision rule, allowing the human to deal with complexities that would require unrealistic effort in rational reasoning.
Who is GOD?
In monotheism and henotheism, God is conceived as the Supreme Being and principal object of faith. The concept of God as described by theologians commonly includes the attributes of omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), Omni benevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence. In theism, God is the creator and sustainer of the universe, while in deism; God is the creator, but not the sustainer, of the universe. Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one God or in the oneness of God. In pantheism, God is the universe itself. In atheism, God does not exist, while God is deemed unknown or unknowable within the context of agnosticism. God has also been conceived as being incorporeal (immaterial), a personal being, the source of all moral obligation, and the “greatest conceivable existent”. Many notable medieval philosophers and modern philosophers have developed arguments for and against the existence of God.
There are many names for God, and different names are attached to different cultural ideas about God's identity and attributes. In the ancient Egyptian era of Atenism, possibly the earliest recorded monotheistic religion, this deity was called Aten, premised on being the one “true” Supreme Being and Creator of the Universe. In the Hebrew Bible and Judaism, “He Who Is,” “I Am that I Am”, and the tetragrammaton YHWH are used as names of God, while Yahweh and Jehovah are sometimes used in Christianity as vocalizations of YHWH. In Judaism, it is common to refer to God by the titular names Elohim or Adonai, the latter of which is believed by some scholars to descend from the Egyptian Aten. In Islam, the name Allah, “Al-El,” or “Al-Elah” (“the God”) is used, while Muslims also have a multitude of titular names for God. In Hinduism, Brahman is often considered a monistic deity. Other religions have names for God, for instance, Baha in the Bahá'í Faith, Waheguru in Sikhism, and Ahura Mazda in Zoroastrianism.
Or Egyptian gods….
Aker – A god of the earth and the horizon, Ammit – goddess who devoured condemned souls, Amenhotep son of Hapu – A scribe and architect in the court of Amenhotep III, later deified for his wisdom, Am-heh – A dangerous underworld god, Amun – A creator god, patron deity of the city of Thebes, and the preeminent deity in Egypt during the New Kingdom, Amunet – Female counterpart of Amun and a member of the Ogdoad, Anat – A war and fertility goddess, originally from Syria, who entered Egyptian religion in the Middle Kingdom, Anhur– A god of war and hunting, Anti– Falcon god, worshipped in Middle Egypt, who appears in myth as a ferryman for greater gods, Anubis– god of embalming and protector of the dead, Anuket– A goddess of Egypt's southern frontier regions, particularly the lower cataracts of the Nile, Apedemak– A warlike lion god from Nubia who appears in some Egyptian-built temples in Lower Nubia, Apophis– A serpent deity who personified malevolent chaos and was said to fight Ra in the underworld every night, Apis– A live bull worshipped as a god at Memphis and seen as a manifestation of Ptah, Arensnuphis – A Nubian deity who appears in Egyptian temples in Lower Nubia in the Greco-Roman era, Ash – A god of the Libyan Desert and oases west of Egypt, Astarte – A warrior goddess from Syria and Canaan who entered Egyptian religion in the New Kingdom, Aten– Sun disk deity who became the focus of the monolatrous or monotheistic, Atum– A creator god and solar deity, first god of the Ennead, Baal– Sky and storm god from Syria and Canaan, worshipped in Egypt during the New Kingdom, Ba'alat Gebal– A Caananite goddess, patroness of the city of Byblos, adopted into Egyptian religion, Babi– A baboon god characterized by sexuality and aggression, Banebdjedet– A ram god, patron of the city of Mendes, Ba-Pef– A little-known underworld deity, Bast– Goddess represented as a cat or lioness, patroness of the city of Bubastis, linked with fertility and protection from evil, Bat– Cow goddess from early in Egyptian history, eventually absorbed by Hathor, Bennu– A solar and creator deity, depicted as a bird, Bes– Apotropaic god, represented as a dwarf, particularly important in protecting children and women in childbirth, Buchis– A live bull god worshipped in the region around Thebes and a manifestation of Montu, Dedun– A Nubian god, said to provide the Egyptians with incense and other resources that came from Nubia, Geb– An earth god and member of the Ennead, Ha– A god of the Libyan Desert and oases west of Egypt, Hapi– Personification of the Nile flood, Hathor– One of the most important goddesses, linked with the sky, the sun, sexuality and motherhood, music and dance, foreign lands and goods, and the afterlife, Hatmehit– Fish goddess worshipped at Mendes, Hedetet– A minor scorpion goddess, Heh– Personification of infinity and a member of the Ogdoad, Heka– Personification of magic, Heket– Frog goddess said to protect women in childbirth, Heryshaf– Ram god worshipped at Herakleopolis Magna, Hesat– A maternal cow goddess, Horus– A major god, usually shown as a falcon or as a human child, linked with the sky, the sun, kingship, protection, and healing, Hu– Personification of the authority of the spoken word, Iah– A moon god, Iat– A goddess of milk and nursing, Ihy– A child deity born to Horus and Hathor, representing the music and joy produced by the sistrum, Imentet– An afterlife goddess closely linked with Isis and Hathor, Imhotep– Architect and vizier to Djoser, eventually deified as a healer god, Ishtar– The East Semitic version of Astarte, occasionally mentioned in Egyptian texts, Isis– Wife of Osiris and mother of Horus, linked with funerary rites, motherhood, protection, and magic, Iusaaset– A female counterpart to Atum, Khepri– A solar creator god, often treated as the morning form of Ra and represented by a scarab beetle, Kherty– A netherworld god, usually depicted as a ram, Khnum– A ram god, the patron deity of Elephantine, who was said to control the Nile flood and give life to gods and humans, Khonsu– A moon god, son of Amun and Mut, Maahes– A lion god, son of Bastet, Maat– goddess who personified truth, justice, and order, Mafdet– A predatory goddess said to destroy dangerous creatures, Mandulis– A Lower Nubian solar deity who appeared in some Egyptian temples, Mehit– A lioness goddess, consort of Anhur, Mehen– A serpent god who protects the barque of Ra as it travels through the underworld, Mehet-Weret– A celestial cow goddess, Meretseger– A cobra goddess who oversaw the Theban Necropolis, Meskhenet– A goddess who presided over childbirth, Min– A god of virility, as well as the cities of Akhmim and Qift and the Eastern Desert beyond them, Mnevis– A live bull god worshipped at Heliopolis as a manifestation of Ra, Montu– A god of war and the sun, worshipped at Thebes, Mut– Consort of Amun, worshipped at Thebes, Nebethetepet– A female counterpart to Atum, Nefertum– god of the lotus blossom from which the sun god rose at the beginning of time, Nehebu-Kau– A protective serpent god, Nehmetawy– A minor goddess, the consort of Nehebu-Kau or Thoth, Neith– A creator and hunter goddess, patron of the city of Sais in Lower Egypt, Nekhbet– A vulture goddess, the tutelary deity of Upper Egypt, Neper– A god of grain, Nephthys– A member of the Ennead, the consort of Set, who mourned Osiris alongside Isis, Nu– Personification of the formless, watery disorder from which the world emerged at creation and a member of the Ogdoad, Nut– A sky goddess, a member of the Ennead, Osiris– god of death and resurrection who rules the underworld and enlivens vegetation, the sun god, and deceased souls, Pakhet– A lioness goddess mainly worshipped in the area around Beni Hasan, Ptah– A creator deity and god of craftsmen, the patron god of Memphis, Qetesh– A goddess of sexuality and sacred ecstasy from Syria and Canaan, adopted into Egyptian religion in the New Kingdom, Ra– the foremost Egyptian sun god, involved in creation and the afterlife, Raet-Tawy– A female counterpart to Ra, Renenutet– An agricultural goddess, Reshep– A Syrian war god adopted into Egyptian religion in the New Kingdom, Renpet– goddess who personified the year, Satet– A goddess of Egypt's southern frontier regions, Seker– god of the Memphite Necropolis and of the afterlife in general, Sekhmet– A lioness goddess, both destructive and violent and capable of warding off disease, Serapis– A Greco-Egyptian god from the Ptolemaic Period who fused traits of Osiris and Apis with those of several Greek gods, Serket– A scorpion goddess, invoked for healing and protection, Seshat– goddess of writing and record-keeping, depicted as a scribe, Set– An ambivalent god, characterized by violence, chaos, and strength, connected with the desert, Shai– Personification of fate, Shed– A god believed to save people from danger and misfortune, Shesmetet– A lioness goddess, Shezmu– A god of wine and oil presses who also slaughters condemned souls, Shu– embodiment of wind or air, a member of the Ennead, Sia– Personification of perception, Sobek– Crocodile god, worshipped in the Faiyum and at Kom Ombo, Sopdu– A god of the sky and of Egypt's eastern border regions, Sopdet– Deification of the star Sirius, Ta-Bitjet– A minor scorpion goddess, Tatenen– Personification of the first mound of earth to emerge from chaos in ancient Egyptian creation myths, Taweret– Hippopotamus goddess, protector of women in childbirth, Tefnut– Goddess of moisture and a member of the Ennead, Thoth– A moon god, and a god of writing and scribes, and patron deity of Hermopolis, Tutu– An apotropaic god from the Greco-Roman era, Unut– A goddess represented as a snake or a hare, worshipped in the region of Hermopolis, Wadjet– A cobra goddess, the tutelary deity of Lower Egypt, Wadj-wer– Personification of the Mediterranean sea or lakes of the Nile Delta, Weneg– A son of Ra who maintains cosmic order, Wepwawet– A jackal god, the patron deity of Asyut, connected with warfare and the afterlife, Werethekau- A goddess who protected the king, Wosret- A minor goddess of Thebes, Yam- A Syrian god of the sea who appears in some Egyptian texts
Or these….
Aphrodite- Goddess of love, beauty, desire, sex and pleasure, Apollo- God of music, arts, knowledge, healing, plague, prophecy, poetry, manly beauty, archery, and the sun, Ares- God of war, bloodshed, and violence, Artemis- Virgin goddess of the hunt, wilderness, animals, young girls, childbirth, plague, and the moon, Athena- Goddess of intelligence, skill, peace, warfare, battle strategy, handicrafts, and wisdom, Demeter- Goddess of grain, agriculture and the harvest, growth and nourishment, Dionysus- God of wine, parties and festivals, madness, chaos, drunkenness, drugs, and ecstasy, Hades/Pluto- King of the underworld and the dead, and god of regret, Hephaestus- Crippled god of fire, metalworking, and crafts, Hera- Queen of the gods and goddess of marriage, women, childbirth, heirs, kings, and empires, Hermes- God of boundaries, travel, communication, trade, language, and writing, Hestia- Virgin goddess of the hearth, home and chastity, Poseidon- God of the sea, rivers, floods, droughts, and earthquakes, Zeus- King and father of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus and the god of the sky, weather, thunder, lightning, law, order, and justice.
The separation of church and state is a description for the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state. It may refer to creating a secular state, with or without explicit reference to such separation, or to changing an existing relationship of church involvement in a state (disestablishment). There may also have been disputes between church and state. Most meetings were held in the church. As that was the “place” governments met to discuss policy. Finally the church needed their sanctuaries “back” for religious purposes only. Therefore, the separation as governments built their own “town hall” meeting places.
Although the concept of separation has been adopted in a number of countries, there are varying degrees of separation depending on the applicable legal structures and prevalent views toward the proper relationship between religion and politics. While a country's policy may be to have a definite distinction in church and state, there may be an “arm's length distance” relationship in which the two entities interact as independent organizations. A similar but typically stricter principle of laïcité has been applied in France and Turkey, while some socially secularized countries such as Denmark and the United Kingdom have maintained constitutional recognition of an official state religion. The concept parallels various other international social and political ideas, including secularism, disestablishmentarianism, religious liberty, and religious pluralism. Whitman (2009) observes that in many European countries, the state has, over the centuries, taken over the social roles of the church, leading to a generally secularized public sphere.
The degree of separation varies from total separation mandated by a constitution, as in India and Singapore; to an official religion with total prohibition of the practice of any other religion, as in the Maldives.
In English, the exact term is an offshoot of the phrase, “wall of separation between church and state”, as written in Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. In that letter, referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Jefferson writes:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”
Jefferson was describing to the Baptists that the United States Bill of Rights prevents the establishment of a national church, and in so doing they did not have to fear government interference in their manner of worship. The Bill of Rights was one of the earliest examples in the world of complete religious freedom (adopted in 1791, only preceded by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789).
So my country has a motto, like a vision and a mission, and to remind us it is printed on every dollar in my pocket. I will wave our stars and strips and pledge alliance to the flag ‘under God’ and sing the Star Spangled banner and hope whatever God(s) we trust will pull us through another day without bombs dropping on our heads or fires burning down our forests or bridges folding under lack of maintenance or being shot watching a movie or that value of that dollar in my pocket is still worth a dollar at the end of the day.
And as the president says, “May God(s) bless America”

Friday, July 24, 2015


Grief is a multifaceted response to loss to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and philosophical dimensions. Bereavement refers to the loss and grief is the reaction to loss.
Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loves is gone. Grief is also a reaction to any loss. The loss of a job, a relationship, a home, a comfortable shirt, a pet, ill health all can create grief. Loss can be categorized as either physical or abstract, the physical loss being related to something that the individual can touch or measure, such as losing a spouse through death, while other types of loss are abstract, and relate to aspects of a person’s social interactions.
The five signs of grief are:
1. Denial and Isolation
The first reaction to learning of terminal illness or death of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.
2. Anger
As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us angrier.
The doctor who diagnosed the illness and was unable to cure the disease might become a convenient target. Health professionals deal with death and dying every day. That does not make them immune to the suffering of their patients or to those who grieve for them.
3. Bargaining
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control–
If only we had sought medical attention sooner… ?
If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…?
If only we had tried to be a better person toward them…?
Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality.
4. Depression
Two types of depression are associated with mourning.
The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate this type of depression. We worry about the costs and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have spent less time with others that depend on us. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance.
The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell.
5. Acceptance
Reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny us the opportunity to make our peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression.
Loved ones that are terminally ill or aging appear to go through a final period of withdrawal. This is by no means a suggestion that they are aware of their own impending death or such, only that physical decline may be sufficient to produce a similar response. Their behavior implies that it is natural to reach a stage at which social interaction is limited. The dignity and grace shown by our dying loved ones may well be their last gift to us.
Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.
Some of the ways of dealing with grief:
Nomads: Nomads have not yet resolved their grief and do not seem to understand the loss that has affected their lives.
Memorialists: This identity is committed to preserving the memory of the loved one that they have lost.
Normalizers: This identity is committed to re-creating a sense of family and community.
Activists: This identity focuses on helping other people who are dealing with the same disease or with the same issues that caused their loved one's death.
Seekers: This identity will adopt religious, philosophical, or spiritual beliefs to create meaning in their lives.
We all die. We all lose each other and we grieve. In our own individual ways we grieve. There are no instructions for emotions.
A personal reflection:
My grandfather died and I didn’t even know him. A friend of mine died in a pool while we were swimming together. The first funeral and he was not coming back out to play. My father died as he was getting scared of retiring and sudden illness. There was no time to grieve for the other problems of deciding coffins and clothing to dress him up in and a strong mom who broke down. When my mother died, and I was told she was dying, I didn’t attend her bedside. Instead I sat in the forest and wondered why I didn’t feel grief? She was my mother?
When my wife died it was sudden and over quickly. There was shock and tension and the realization that life had just changed. There is the inevitable work to go through clothing and papers and prized possessions passing some to family and friends and some to charities and some to the trash for it is over. This life is done.
After the obvious, there was the mental realization that was a fascinating process. First was to put in my mind a picture of the great beyond or at least a fantasy to calm me rather than think of her being carved up and put into jars. Second was the realization of my life, from waking up to going to bed would all be different from now on.
Through the years the tears don’t come up when a beer commercial of a dog comes on or a certain song, but it is still there. They call it grief and we all do it differently.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lawn Furniture

It is funny that if you have a lawn, you have to fill it with furniture. Just like your living room, a lawn is a space to sit and lounge and enjoy, but not covered from the elements.
My recollections are the lawn furniture boom started in the 50’s with suburbia. People were proud of their plots of land and covered them in grass to cut every weekend. And to be neighborly, started cookouts and grilling in the backyards. So the neighbors would come over and eat you abundance, but they needed someplace to sit.
So metal was a popular material of the day used for cars and refrigerators, so why not furniture. But if left outside, the metal would rust and had to be constantly painted until it fell apart. And you better buy some cushions because those suckers get hot.
Wood was always available and Adirondack chairs became a fixture for beachfronts and backyards. Unfortunately, wood roots. No matter how many coatings of preservatives, the chairs and benches and tables will splinter and will require constant power washing.
Then plastic comes along. It is easy to move because all the lawn furniture must be moved every time you mow the lawn. Yet plastic gets soft in the sunshine and loses its sterility.
But sitting on grass, wet grass or dry grass, there comes the bugs. Lots of flying and biting bugs attack those who venture out into the yard. Another industry for bug repellent sprays and contraptions is formed and blossoms to this day.
So to keep up with the Jones and keep away from the pest, people build decks to rise above the lawn. Like an extension of the house, the lawn furniture can be sheltered under umbrellas while guest can still enjoy the view of a green lawn and listen to the birds.
If that is not good enough, build a sunroom so you can air-condition the outside world inside behind glass.
It is nature’s way.

Who Is Your Favorite?

You can’t avoid it. There are people and things that are your favorites. There are favorite movies and favorite colors and favorite hairstyles and favorite cars and favorite food and favorite television shows and favorite music and favorite children….
What? Wait a minute. Favorite children?
You’ve heard the line, “She is mom’s favorite”. Or “She’s daddy’s little girl” or the ever present “That’s my boy” at every gathering of parents.
Parents pride is a sibling’s challenge to achieve. More than birthday presents or the occasion praise, children listen and know who is the ‘favorite’.
Maybe the kid who is better behaved or has the most accomplishments or is the most successful or better looking, kids know their place in the pecking order.
As rude as that sounds, we all find our place in society …and family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What do you think?

This is why we have friends. This is why we talk to each other. We want to know what someone else’s opinion is on an issue or a statement or an event.
We learn and grow by bouncing ideas off of each other. We hear different experiences and points of view that widen our knowledge base.
Teachers tell us philosophies and formulas and historical facts and ask us to us reply on a test. Parents teach us the basics of life to get dressed and eat and not poop in our pants. Religious leaders preach the virtues of right and wrong according to their God.
Yet we find confidants, those who think like we do, to reaffirm ideas and opinions. There is a certain trust in telling your deepest feelings to a friend knowing there will be no judgment.
So why is social media so full of crap?
The ability to make a comment on anybodies thought process in the most pervasive or demining way accomplishes nothing. If we cannot hear the voice of another, we can read their thought process and hopefully add to the discussion without ignorant comments. An angry comment face-to-face will usually get a punch, but hidden behind the invisible wall of technology, anyone can say anything.
For that is the freedom of speech. Bullying or condemnation or belittlement seems also to fit in this right.
If we cherish another’s point of view or opinion and learn from them, we evolve and grow. If I make a statement and do not like your response, I can ponder the reason why and categorize it with my own beliefs.
If the response is hateful, you will be merely deleted. What do you think?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hey Babe


Hey Babe,

Six years later and I’m still here and you are still there. So here is my report of the past year as if you didn’t already know.
Fall was great and then winter hit with a bang. Much colder than normal but Mister Heat keep me comfy in sweats. Only a few days I couldn’t ride due to ice and I’d judge how cold it was by the number of layers I’d wear. Note to self: Put up the winter clothes, it is July already.
I haven’t done much around the house. Got all the tools but no initiative. Oh, I did get some cushions to check off my old ‘to-do’ list. Ordered them online (I know you don’t know what that means) and got parts and pieces and one that never arrived. Still they were very nice about it and Lowe’s is still my go-to place for house stuff. Other than that, I’ve been sitting on my duff. There is still plenty of painting and scraping and sanding and polishing and cleaning to be done, but there is always tomorrow.
The yard did well through the cold. I got a string trimmer last fall and couldn’t find the refills. Wrong season, but found something to make it work. Cut some of the ornamental grass in the back and then thought that was a bad idea. It is growing back OK, so this fall I’ll attempt to trim the jungle out front. Lost a couple of boxwoods and have a couple more that are looking pale. Don’t know what happened. Probably need some fertilizer like you always mixed up. I just don’t have that green thumb.
On the other hand the bamboo is sprouting all over the place. I’ll trim that back in the fall too, but the bunnies like it as shelter.
Yes, there are bunnies again in the yard. Little itty bitty grey ones with white tails about the size of chipmunks are hopping around all over the place. And mamma has her spot over by the fence where she can sleep. And they all like blueberries.
Everyone likes blueberries. Of course grey jay came back and brought her cousins. Shoot, she brought the whole family. They are all over the place, dozens of them and just as pretty and curious as always. It is always good to see them to tell me winter is over.
Best part is I’ve not seen any cats or hawks.
Other than riding to the store everyday, I haven’t done much. Well, I did take a trip up to Pittsburgh for a brief visit with David and Maxine (you remember them?). Got to see their weaving projects and learn his music technique and see some incredible cobblestone hills. Nice ride with Art there and back and crazy wacked out friends from college.
David even came down here for a bike tour. Bought an inflatable bed for him but the pump didn’t work, so he got the regale appointments of sleeping on the floor in aforementioned cushions. Kensington Manor is still a class act.
We took a tour of his old neighborhood. It was interesting to see where a person I had only briefly known in college grew up in different circles only a mile away.
Then David and I traveled up to Delaware to visit with Art and Melissa and their critters. David went home and I stayed for a couple of days until Art and Melissa had enough of me and brought me back home. I don’t think I broke nothing and put on enough stinky stuff as not to offend, but watched some movies and talked and was a relaxing time with an old buddy. It was interesting living in someone else’s shoes.
Gregg and Nancy came down (you remember them from the backyard) for a like 80th year high school reunion and we had breakfast at McLean’s and walked around the old neighborhood. The one thing I got out of David’s and Gregg’s visit is I’ve lived in this town for so long, every block has a story.
Oh and I went up to Virginia Tech to watch a football game with my brother. I hadn’t been to Blacksburg since he went there way back in the day and the school is very impressive and big and the game was fun to be part of what I watch on television but be part of the crowd. I think the best part was some woman sitting in front of us doing cheers. It is a different world.
The neighborhood has been fairly quiet. Got some new neighbors behind and some new folks next door in Edna’s old place. Nice couple with a young baby. It is strange to hear children next door.
Three of my friend’s wives joined you. It is a club we didn’t ask to join.
The city is doing some roadwork in the neighborhood so I have to vary my paths to avoid the noise and mayhem. Seems the economy is getting better because neighbors all around are expanding houses. Some houses are just being torn down and replaced with a new mansion. The little plot of land Puppywoods has held it’s value but I looked at the city assessment and the quality was ‘good for it’s age’. Just like me.
Other than that, I’m pretty dull and boring. Premade salads, frozen pizzas, and sandwiches with a dash of OJ and V-8 and some instant coffee and lots of beer is my diet. The most healthy, not so much, but I still feel somewhat OK and now and then can sleep for more than 3 hours at a time.
Oh I forgot to tell you about the other new neighbor. We have an owl. Well not just one owl but two owls. They showed up in the fall. I saw them over by Willow Lawn and Al (that is what I call him) perched himself on the birch. I tried to chase him off but he just went from one spot to another giving me that look like ‘you dumb human, WHOO do you think you are?’ Well he seems to have settled into the yard and the other critters don’t seem to mind him now. He went through the winter and spring and has gotten accustomed to my voice so I can get within a few feet without him getting disturbed. We even talk to each other. He has this clicking he does with his mouth and he turns his head and nods. I’ve seen him wink and even close his eyes and sleep. Al snores. He is there in the morning and about 4 o’clock he give a ‘hoot’ to go off to do his owl stuff. Al is a very impressive guy.
Al’s girlfriend, I call Ollie, is much smaller and quieter, but he is very protective of her. Haven’t seen any owlet’s yet, but time will tell.
So have I rambled on enough? Probably so, but it is therapeutic for me to write you a letter every year. See you next year, one way or another.
Until then,
Your widowed husband

Friday, July 3, 2015


Beer, for me, is the drink of choice. It seems that drink we must and we must have hydration to survive, but that source of water can be adapted to include alcohol.
Beer seems to be one of our basic drinks along with water, tea and wine. Beer is basically a brewing process of combining starch and sugar and enzymes and malted grains and hops and….. So on and so on. There are thousands of variations and names and brands and flavors and more and more everyday. With the introduction of craft beers on every corner, no one has to wander very far for a pint or a growler.
Through the years, beer was the most acceptable and available and affordable beverage of choice. The alcohol content varied through the years but settled into mostly water. People buy plastic bottles of water in every shape and size and I just buy cans. The distributors keep me with a plentiful supply and I can afford the constant hydration.
There are many selections of others I could partake, but this drink seems to be my demon of choice. In the summer there is nothing better than an ice cold beer and in the winter by the fire a dark beer is as good as a steaming cup of coffee.
So I for one will carry on the legacy of this sudsy yellow potion.