Monday, May 31, 2010

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 31 in 2010). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service, first enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War.

Today, as Americans, we are celebrating Memorial Day. For many of us, it's a day off from work, a day for family gatherings, and it marks the unofficial start to summer. However, let's not forget the reason for this holiday. It's an opportunity for all Americans to remember those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedom. To those individuals, I say a heartfelt thank you.

The ultimate sacrifice, what could possibly be a greater gift to anyone? Certainly when it comes to defending the ones you love, there is no greater measure of that love. How about others with whom we have differences? Is it more important to defend our beliefs or more important to accept others for theirs? That is really what lies at the heart of this age old dilemma. So, on this Memorial Day, I propose we remember the fallen, preach for greater tolerance and acceptance, and pray for peace, the ultimate solution!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

His name sure rings a bell

Most younger, music aficionados would recognize the name John Fogerty. For the vast majority of those individuals, they would be thinking of John Cameron Fogerty (born May 28, 1945) who is an American rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known for his time with the swamp rock/roots rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) and as a #1 solo recording artist. However, for those of us who remember May 29th, 1978, there just may be a different face associated with that name.

I remember a John Fogerty whose birthday is indeed May 29th, 1978, the Monday of Memorial Day weekend that year. He arrived shortly after 6 in the morning while most of us were still sound asleep. His excited parents brought him to their home which resided over the office, the primary residence for several of his Aunts and Uncles before him, as well as a couple of his cousins presently. Obviously, 51 Sparhawk St. has been and still remains a "relatively" important address in this family.

Of course, being the first grandchild, he drew lots of attention from the energized family generation before him. His mother quickly learned how to hold him, vacuum, and talk on the phone, all at the same time, mothers, the original multitaskers. Grandpa's truck quickly became "Johnnies Truck", and it even bore his name. Something his grandfather had never done for his own kids. His Uncles were determined to teach him the fine art of fielding ground balls, hitting a baseball, and shooting the all important jump shot, while his mother and grandmother were convinced he'd be a star by dressing him up as the "Little Hummel" boy in a look alike contest. All reasonable aspirations, but John was the oldest, and he had a slightly different course in his mind for his future.

John heeded the words of Horace Greeley, however, and went West where he could spread his wings over the wide open spaces of the Wind River basin of Wyoming. This is where he apparently has found his "niche", building log homes, telling stories around the campfire, and you perhaps guessed it, writing and singing songs. The outdoors, that's what he loves and where he belongs, not among his white collared colleagues and contemporaries. He once told his mother that being in an office just wasn't for him, and he was right.

So, to my nephew who has found a kindred spirit in another singer/songwriter with a "remahkably similah" name, congratulations on your personal success and achievement. Happy Birthday. It's just too bad that you have to share the spotlight with this other singer dude because we recognize the real John Fogerty. In fact, his face doesn't look at all familiar, but his name sure rings a bell!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Graduation day

Certainly for anyone born on May 27th, this is a day that carries obvious significance. However, for a certain few, this is a day that simply may come and go without fanfare, but for me, it was another step in the journey of life. May 27th marks the 32nd anniversary of my college graduation from the "Zoo", aka UMass, Amherst. Frankly, there isn't anything too special about the day for me either, except that I remember my sister and her husband were unable to attend because she was in the final days of her confinement with their first child. She was expecting, and this was going to be the first grandchild for my parents. Naturally, the whole family was excited about this, so my sister was given a "written excuse" for her absence.

However, when she graduated from college we were all "expected" to be there because, except for my parents, none of us went to her HS graduation. In retrospect, it's now time to say I am sorry for not going to yours. After all, she was the only one who attended Amesbury HS but not actually in Amesbury. The old Amesbury HS burned down in 1964, and it took the "confounding" fathers 2-3 years to determine the site for the new school. By the time construction was completed, this sister had attended all of her 4 years of HS in the neighboring town, long bus rides and no physical building to call her "alma mater". However, she persevered and starred in her Senior class play, "Pride and Prejudice", making us all very proud, as we sat in the front rows of the Town Hall auditorium.

To my older sister, my mother's carbon copy, thanks for enduring the disappointment of not having us there on your graduation day. You played Elizabeth Bennett on stage, but off stage, you have been larger than life, and for that, I have been forever grateful. Happy Graduation Day, even though I am a little late!

Evolution suffers a setback or does it?

The caveman has been a very well recognized part of our natural history since the dawn of time. Fortunately, for some, that evolutionary history has brought with it a sense of civility and culture that our earlier ancestors likely failed to exhibit. Although the caveman did possess a very keen insight, however basic perhaps, into those primal forces which were necessary to keep men and women compatible. The space that bears his name is at the very epicenter of his personal comfort zone, and that would be the man cave. Evolution has brought about many great advances, but the contribution of the man cave remains a vestige of the past which should never be overlooked. Please allow me to illustrate some salient points about the "man cave" that will likely keep it permanently off the endangered species list.

During my lifetime, I have subconsciously found myself seeking the refuge of the "man cave". When I was in college, I spent my summers sleeping in the family tent trailer, partly because of its solitude, but in part because of its intimate connection with the outdoors. Later on, the "man cave" was the wood shop, my idea of a real "boardroom", where I was able to retreat for some serious downloading. Since the wood shop, I have actually set up camp in several manly environments, first Man Cave I, then Man Cave II, and now my safe haven is the ultimate Man Cave, or the Farm. Each has served a very fundamental need, initially one of survival and then ultimately one to call home. I suppose my experience hasn't been much different than my wandering ancestors in that regard, or anyone else for that matter who has yet to give up the vagabond life.

As you see, it may very well be part of man's DNA to hunt, gather, and eventually retire to the confines of the cave. The evolutionary process led us to a crossroad that "required" a decision, give up the man cave or move on. Well, from my perspective, the man cave is critical to survival, only instead of moving on, the man cave today is simply an "on site" destination, a personal space to call home. In fact, it's potentially a home within a home for some, but for me, I just call it home!

Monday, May 24, 2010

No leg to stand on

We have all heard the expression, "he hasn't got a leg to stand on". Simply put, it means there is no argument and the chance to change the outlook on things is unlikely. However, if you don't use it as a metaphor, you may just mean it quite literally, and for one of my dear brothers, it appears the die is now "casted" for his summer plans or at least his leg is.

During a recent visit to my folks, my brother dutifully exited the afternoon group "debriefing" out on the front lawn to take his is son, Chachi, to baseball practice. It was his dad's turn to get him to the park on time. Upon arrival, it was evident that most of the parents had dropped their kids off with the coaches and had gone about their business for the next few hours. After some negotiating, little Chachi was able to convince his dad to stick around and help out. That decision sealed his fate the summer. After avoiding a foul tipped ball, my brother fell to the ground, no pain, no noise, just like a "brother" load. Unable to get up, he was assisted to the bench by the coaches and managed to make "the call" home for some advice. The report of his patella being felt in his thigh was a subtle clue to me that he "had a problem". Upon arrival, I found him sitting on the bench, an unfamiliar place for him; however, these were markedly different circumstances than during his playing days. After the exam, it was determined that he had indeed ruptured his patella tendon, not good for anyone who wants to stand on his own 2 feet.

Now that he has had the requisite surgical repair, the summer plans for hiking and whatever else requiring 2 good legs, will have to be put on hold. As for my brother, he has been a trooper through his misfortune, and has barely whimpered an utterance of disdain or mentioned the certain discomfort of it all. Thankfully, he is on the road to recovery, and as for being in a hurry, forget about it because you can't "shake a leg". Just remember what we Red Sox fans say, there is always next year, so keep the faith!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dad, let's just call it a wash, OK?

How many times have you done business with someone and at the end of the transaction, simply asked to have the bill sent to you. At least in the "old days" that would have been a rather typical scenario. Nowadays, however, payment is expected at the time of service unless other arrangements have been made. In fact, I have been asked to pay as much as half down and half on delivery. Does any of this sound vaguely familiar? When it comes to certain debts, I am sure the real cost of repayment cannot be remotely achieved, and let me explain why.

For the second time in as many years, my siblings and I assembled at the family home to complete the desperately needed paint job on the house and garage we had started last year. Fortunately, the weather prevailed again, and we were able to, this time, essentially put the finishing touches on the project. At the end of the day, somewhere between the socializing on the lawn and dinner, I would remind my father that he could anticipate receiving an invoice for the job any day. Of course, he was ready and willing to pay the bill the moment he was aware of it, as he always had in the past, no questions asked. Naturally, we shared a few chuckles during that part of the conversation because we both recognized the real truth about this "imaginary" invoice.

Account Number...8@SCH-ESTES

1125.00...Paint: 15 gallons Gray; 10 gallons White Trim
60.00...Brushes: 6 brushes; 6 rollers
30.00...Caulking: 6 tubes
1000.00...Incidentals: food and beer

12,215.00...Total Cost

As I "contemplated" preparing the "invoice" for my Dad, I thought about all the sacrifices that he and my Mom had made over the years for the family. Perhaps the biggest expense would have been feeding a family of 8. Let's assume 3 meals a day for 18 years times 8 kids. That's 157,680 meals with an average price of $5.00 so roughly $788,000. Then there are the college educations at an average cost of $12,000 per child, so that's roughly $96,000. Now let's throw in the 4 cross county camping trips, the trip to Encampment and the multiple trips to visit relatives; how could you put a price tag on all that? As for the other day to day expenses, it would be simply mind boggling to "guessitmate" that.

I am no Accountant, but we would have to cook the books slightly to get this spread sheet to balance out. As I see things Dad, I think you and Mom have earned all the "credit" that you so richly deserve, and anytime you need something, just let us know. So, on second thought, maybe we should just call this one a wash because you appear to have a considerable credit balance, and remember, you can use it at anytime, day or night!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Which would you choose?

Remember Larry Bird? He was perhaps one of the most exciting players to play in the NBA in the 80's and 90's. Imagine this now. You are offered tickets to see Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics play against the Atlanta Hawks starring Dominique Wilkins in an NBA playoff game or go to your niece's birthday party. Which would you choose? Well, let me tell how the story unfolded.

I just happened to be enjoying some rare time off from residency training, so I was at home visiting my parents. The time coincided with my niece's 5th birthday, and having been away for so many years, the idea of being part of the celebration was exciting to me. Then came the offer. I was invited to the 5th game of the Celtics-Hawks game, and what Celtics fan would pass up an opportunity to see Larry Bird and company in the playoffs at the Boston Garden? You guessed it, Uncle Stevie. It was a tough choice, but to be around this bright eyed 5 year old with her million dollar smile and family was all it took to convince me that this was the right decision. After all, I knew I could watch the game on TV with everyone, so how could anything else top that?

Over the years, I have made some, shall we say, questionable choices, but this was one that I never regretted. I do remember the outcome of that game 5, because the Celtics lost. They had to go to 7 games to win that series in a classic duel, one for the ages between Bird and Wilkins in which the C's won. It remains a classic, but being part of the family celebration far out weighed that alternative or "anything" that would have come from that experience. Happy Birthday Ms. LMF. As much as I enjoy watching all those Boston sports teams, they don't compare. You have been, you are, and always will be a winner, a perennial champion to me!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Life, it's involved with water

Water is at the very core of almost everything in life, and in fact, we depend on its availability daily. Nearly 70 % of the Earth's surface is covered by water, and remarkably, almost 70% of our bodies is composed of water. Is this coincidence, or has nature simply found that desirable formula to keep everything in balance. I subscribe to the notion that our divine Creator has had a hand in this, but each of us has to come to our own conclusions about that. Regardless, I think that there is little argument that water is fundamental to our survival. However water, in excess as in the case of floods, can be a curse or during a drought, its lack can be life threatening. So, as you can see, there is a delicate balance between the two. As in the case of congestive heart failure, water, too, can become the enemy. This week a very dear friend of mine lost his father, not because of some accident or other misfortune; he died because simply his tired body could no longer keep things in their proper, physiologic balance.

For the last several years, my friend's dad had been battling heart related issues. He'd had multiple admissions to the hospital to correct CHF. During the summer of 2008, he had one of those bouts of heart failure which landed him in the hospital. However, once he rallied and turned the corner, he was discharged home with the help of his family to keep him on track. His children made every effort to pitch in where they could, and at times, even the grandchildren were pressed in to service. It sounded an awful lot like my family and how we have made the commitment to keep our parents in their own home, even with their added needs. Well, while one of the adult grand kids was on a shift, she found herself getting up in the middle of the night to check on her grandfather, only to find him "obsessing" and weighing himself to see if he was retaining water. While he was on the scale, he pointed out to his granddaughter that "they were involved with water", so this ritual was of paramount importance, in spite of the hour. He weighed himself and recorded the information faithfully, so he could see if the trends were of concern. What was particularly fascinating was its simpleness. However, for his granddaughter, it was a moment in time that will be forever etched in her mind. That's the real gift, the gift of memories like this that we can cherish and share with the generations of family to come.

In fact, the inspiration for this blog came from 2 sources, 2 of my sisters and my good friend. My sisters suggested the family start annotating the stories of our parents, so we could pass them along, and my friend and I discussed the various modes of communication that people use today, blogging, tweeting, texting, skypeing, and good old fashioned story telling. So, here I am telling a story about my friend's father and his granddaughter, as if it had happened within my family personally, although in a way, it had. Friends like mine have been just like family, and I am blessed to have a wonderful family and such caring friends. Everyone who knew Mr. C will miss him, especially his family, but he provided many of us with the material for stories like this to keep his memory alive. In the meantime, we are involved with water, so give me a minute while I pour myself a glass of water, nature's champagne, to satisfy my thirst, because boy do I have a story to tell you!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Painting by numbers

My parents have lived in their present home now for over 50 years. When they first purchased it, my uncles thought they had paid way too much for it. However, it does have 6 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, and is on a quiet street which were all important considerations when they picked the family home. It sure seemed like a wise decision, considering the eventual size of their family. Over the years, they have made several changes, and have done the usual upkeep, but for the most part, they have made it their home. In fact, they have lived in it so long, it no longer is known as the Walker house.

Of course, one of the major maintenance responsibilities is keeping it painted. My sister painted it in 1964, I painted it with friends in 1972, and my brother and his friends did it again in 1978. However, for various reasons it wasn't until last year that the family could convene to spruce up the place, and consequently, the paint brushes came out of moth balls. With Mother's Day and my Father's birthday each falling in May, it seemed logical to coordinate the "painting party" around those 2 events.

When we began, the crew consisted of my older sister, my youngest brother and me. After some discussion, we all decided to go with the traditional gray that it had been the color "forever". We prepped the surfaces and then primed them, just like the professionals. However, with each passing hour, several new members joined in, first my other younger brother and then my brother-in-law. The radio was set to classic rock, and this just set the "tune" for a lively discussion down memory lane. We'd have our coffee breaks in the shade of the old oak tree, and when they could, Grandma and Grandpa would join us. We ate our lunches picnic style and of course, enjoyed a frosty beverage at the end of every day in the late afternoon sun. This was a working vacation, but no one was complaining, because we were simply enjoying our selves. We got to reunite in a way that most adult family members rarely do any more.

With each day, the progress became more evident, first one side then another and another. By the weekend, the work force had swelled even more, and it had the look of an Amish barn raising, only we were painting. In spite of our best efforts however, the project fell short of completion. That didn't matter to us though, because we enjoyed ourselves so much and with what we were able to accomplish, it was far greater than having done nothing at all.

Yes. The painting party of 2009 was nearly a complete success, but it was the party "favors" and the scintillating conversation among the invited guests that I really enjoyed. This is one party I'd like to see become an annual event, only next time, let's choose a slightly different color. I am tired and "gray"!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Life takes a 180, for a rare few

I suspect most of us are familiar with the expression of things taking a 180 degree turn. Generally, this refers to a complete reversal of direction from the one that currently is being taken. However, in the case of some aging parents, and one in particular, May 13th marks the completion of the 180.

My Mother is presently 91 years young, and maintains her youthful enthusiasm for life, albeit slower. Equally, my Father still does his crossword puzzles, reads, and remains engaged, even though his physical appearance has him looking older. But what really separates them from their counterparts now, is their combined age of 181.

Born at the family home in Calmar, Iowa on May 13th, 1920, my father, of course, had no idea where his life was going to take him. However, because of 2 determined parents and some God given gifts, he went from that nearly one room school house to Iowa, Iowa State, Ohio State and eventually to Boston University. As my Mother always said, "your father was the first Forestry student from Iowa State ever to go to medical school". Just like in the movie, "Field of Dreams", I am absolutely sure that his patients were glad he did, rather than pursue a career in Forestry or Baseball.

His field of dreams became Medicine and his family, and in no certain order. Although he always seemed busy when we were kids, I never felt as though he wasn't there for us. Only once do I ever remember him saying that he wished he had attended more of my older sister's sporting events. He was a president of our Little League and founded the "minor league" in our town just so that more kids could play baseball at a younger age. He fought for the community's youth because he knew they were worth the investment of time and energy. He headed up the town's Health Department and gave talks on fluoridation and gave the polio vaccine when it became available, all in an effort to make a difference to young people. Yes. He had his own field of dreams. However, he also was given a gift, and he shared that with his family, friends, patients, and community.

Now that he is celebrating his 90th birthday, he and my Mother share a combined 181 years of wisdom and grace. It is for that reason that I would like to see them both take that 180, an about face, and start "aging down". That might insure all of us, their family and friends, that we would have them for many more years to come. Happy Birthday Dad and thanks. You have given all of us the gift that keeps on giving, your love, a priceless gift indeed!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hit the snooze button, again and again...

How tired do you have to be to be too tired? As I get older, I think being tired is simply a way of life. I just don't know how people do all that they do, day in and day out and then accomplish anything meaningful. However, at times, there just seems to be no choice but to go on empty.

When I was a kid, I remember being so tired at times that I'd come home after playing and just go to bed, without even eating supper. My Dad recently told me that he never saw a kid eat as much as I did when I was younger, so for me to skip dinner, must have been extreme, because I loved to eat and still do.

Throughout my school years, I often found myself falling asleep before studying or even during some classes. Fortunately, I must have absorbed enough to get through those various levels of education and eventually made it into the work force. Although residency was quite exhausting, it paled in comparison to those early years of parenthood. I remember getting up nights with my daughter and just how incredibly sleep deprived I was, but that sacrifice was worth all those sleepless nights.

Even today, there doesn't seem to be enough time in each day to achieve all that "rests" on the docket, and sleep remains a premium. My friends and I routinely start each day with some sort of exercise routine, and occasionally, one or perhaps more of us don't show up. The excuse typically is, "I was just too tired" or "after I set the alarm, I never heard it go off" to list a few. Under most circumstances, at least for me, the desire to sleep usually supercedes my will to work.

How can one reach that reasonable balance between enough sleep and accomplishing all those tasks? I sure wish I had a solution to that question. I guess the next time the alarm goes off, and I sleep through it or frankly can't "rise" to the occasion, I am not going to worry. It must be my internal clock telling me that I am on system overload, and in the immortal words of Scotty from Star Trek, "the ship can't take it anymore; she's burning up". That's when I know it's time to cool my engines. Sweet dreams, and see you in the morning, I think!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day has been recognized around the world, in various forms, for a number of years. Julia Ward Howe was the first person to fight for an official Mother's Day celebration in the United States. You may be more familiar with her name as the writer who wrote the words to the Civil War song, The Battle Hymn of the Republic:

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

Howe was born in New York City on May 27, 1819. Her family was well respected and wealthy. She was a published poet and abolitionist. She and her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, co-published the anti-slavery newspaper The Commonwealth. She was active in the peace movement and the women's suffrage movement. In 1870 she penned the Mother's Day Proclamation. In 1872 the Mothers' Peace Day Observance on the second Sunday in June was held and the meetings continued for several years. Her idea was widely accepted, but she was never able to get the day recognized as an official holiday. The Mothers' Peace Day was the beginning of the Mothers' Day holiday in the United States now celebrated in May.

Not all mothers are quite as accomplished, but for each of us, we have but one. I'd like to share just a few thoughts about my Mom on this Mother's Day 2010. She was born in October, shortly after the Red Sox had won the 1918 World Series. She is a native Bostonian who, before 2004, had lived her entire life without seeing the Red Sox ever being crowned World Champs. With the clock ticking, the 2004 Red Sox finally came through, and she now has seen the "Curse of the Bambino" laid to rest.

Her formal education started across the street from 53 Bristol Road at St. Clements where she evidently must have been a good student, as she graduated first in her class. She later attended and graduated from Regis College in Weston, MA. She clearly carried the formula for academic success with her because she graduated second in her class from college with her degree in Chemistry. In the 1940s, that would have been an extremely unusual event I suspect.

She and my father met at a USO dance at the Park Plaza in Boston during WWII. He was an officer in training , and my mother didn't want to meet just any GI Joe. After meeting his parents on the Iowa farm, they married, and went to Longfellow's Wayside Inn (founded by David Howe in 1716) for the reception, just down the street from her old college stomping grounds.

Now, after nearly 70 years of marriage, 8 children, 19 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild, she can put her feet up on her motorized, reclining chair and wonder where all that time has gone. In fact, I am sure she will be doing just that later on today with the radio tuned to an easy listening channel.

"Howe" has she accomplished all this you ask? First, it required a remarkable determination and the will to succeed. My Mother has those. She met a man who shared her same ideals, vision for success, and recognized the integrity of that "hayseed from Iowa". She married him. She nurtured and cultivated her passion for life, education, and hard work with her family by setting the example. She achieved that. As I see it, she has plenty in common with Julia Ward Howe, and that's "Howe" my mother has put her mark on all those she has touched. Thanks Mom and Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Keep your eye on the ball II

When I was younger and first learning to play baseball, I remember my father repeatedly telling me or my siblings to keep your eye on the ball until it hits the bat. Of course, when you are just learning that seemed nearly impossible; however, there did come a time when I could almost freeze frame the exact moment that the ball and bat collided in my mind's eye. That's precisely what I think my father really meant when he encouraged us all those years ago. Of course, I have written about how those profound words of wisdom that have impacted me over time, but what if your vision wasn't as good as Ted Williams', what would you do?

The passage of time generally means that we are all aging, and unfortunately, that can lead to a normal decline health regardless, even if we do all the right things. Exercise, eating properly, and not letting ourselves get too run down by getting plenty of rest typically are the hallmarks for maintaining good health. However, even if we do all these things and are blessed with a little luck, things happen. It's the natural part of aging whether we like it or not. This week, Grandpa had cataract surgery. After talking with him, he claims he has had no apparent complications, and his vision has improved considerably. He marvels at being able to read the crossword puzzles without the haze and blurriness that were present beforehand. Modern medicine is remarkable when the outcome is favorable.

This little thing called a cataract may have clouded his vision, but only temporarily. With his new and improved sight, my father has a second chance to "see" things "clearly" again. However, from my perspective, with his "insightful" thinking and crystal "clear" vision of life, he has always been able to keep his eye on the ball and that makes him 20/20 in my eyes!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo

In 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez stopped making interest payments to countries that Mexico owed money to. In response, France attacked Mexico to force payment of this debt. France decided that it would try to take over and occupy Mexico. France was successful at first in its invasion; however, on May 5, 1862, at the city of Puebla, Mexican forces were able to defeat an attack by the larger French army. In the Battle of Puebla, the Mexicans were led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Although the Mexican army was victorious over the French at Puebla, the victory only delayed the French advance on Mexico City. A year later, the French occupied Mexico. The French occupying forces placed Emperor Maximilian I on the throne of Mexico in 1864. The French eventually withdrew in 1866-1867. Maximilian was deposed by President Benito Juárez and executed, five years after the Battle of Puebla.

Now that we have had our history lesson for the day, I find myself asking, wouldn't you be celebrating too, if you had just told your creditors that you weren't going to pay your bills, and you thought that you could get away with that? From France's position, evidently Mexico planned to "welch" on the agreement, and according to the dictionary, its derivation relates to Welshmen who, according to the English, similarly didn't make good on their debts. I find this entire phenomena somewhat fascinating but "c'est la vie". Now, that's French, but they weren't about to waive the debt that was owed to them, and the Mexicans weren't about to say, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! They wouldn't have said that either because that's Latin, right? All this foreign language has my mind spinning, or maybe it's just those tasty margaritas. Regardless, I hope everyone has un buen dia, y tambien, could you pick up the tab, porque no tengo bastante dinero; hasta la vista baby!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Welcome to Hollywood

There is a sign in the Hollywood Hills which, for years, has been the symbol for the entertainment capital of the world. Its solitary existence on the hillside was once again threatened by developers, but thanks to several sizable donations, this icon will remain off the endangered species list. Little do the residents of Hollywood realize, however, that their "fair city" is not the only place in town for "show biz". In fact, if you had attended the Delaware Hayes High School musical this past weekend, you would have experienced the earth rumble, much like one of those notorious California earthquakes, when the cast drew its applause from the audience.

Delaware Hayes put on "Guys and Dolls" this past weekend after 2-3 months of rehearsals. Being a musical, it required a significant cross section of talents from the student body, as well as some hefty input of expertise from the music and drama departments. Well, for this first time attendee to this annual event, I was monumentally impressed. The young performers clearly were enjoying themselves, but for the viewing audience, we may as well have been in Hollywood or on Broadway for that matter, because the quality of this performance was every bit as entertaining. They weren't high school students, they were accomplished actors and musicians who "acted" as though they were a professional production company. The singing and choreography, along with the exquisite set designs and costumes captured one's imagination of the era from the outset. The live accompaniment from the "pit" orchestra complemented the "cast" of characters wonderfully. It was a delightful display of talent, here "off" Broadway, in our own backyard.

The storyline may have been about a crap game as it related to guys and dolls, but this was far from "crap". In fact, this was money in the bank, because this collection of young people aren't guys and dolls at all. They are an ensemble of young men and women who, collectively, pooled their talents to make themselves, their parents, their school, and their community all very proud.

Frank Loesser, who wrote the score for "Guys and Dolls" and coincidentally would have celebrated his 100th birthday on May 1st, certainly would have joined in on the standing ovation the crowd deservedly provided following the show. In this case, the performance was nothing "Loesser" than spectacular!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day, May Day

It's the first day of May, and that means it's May Day. There are a number of popular traditions around the world that mark this as a day of celebration, and according to the lyrics by Kool and the Gang, "there's a party going on right here". However, I am sad to say that, Mr. Kool and his Gang are not at my house, because the party is not going on right here. In fact, today is also known as International Worker's Day, and that's what is going "down" right here. It always seems that Spring is a good time to do cleaning, but what I have discovered is that "anytime" is a good time, provided you have the time. Therein lies the dilemma.

I started filtering through several piles of paperwork, and I still don't feel as though I have made much progress. Maybe that is why it rarely gets done, because the fruits of my labor are not readily apparent. It all goes back to that thing called stuff, and in this case, the stuff was made from former trees. I thought our society was going paperless, and instead I feel that I am constantly drowning in the mountains of paper that pass through my hands. I suspect I need to "subscribe" to the adage of, handle it once and throw it away twice. However, if I subscribe to yet another thing, I'll have that coming into my house too. I can't handle anything more.

So, as I sift through the reams of printed material at least hoping to be relieved of a fraction of this "pulp script-tion", I find myself thinking, "May Day, May Day". I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of this problem, and I am calling for help. No, it's International Worker's Day, and I am doing my work just like everyone else is. Hold your horses a minute. Isn't this the first day in May? Why that makes this Kentucky Derby Day! Let's put up our feet and "celebrate" like those horse people and have a mint julep. The paperwork will still be there tomorrow anyway. So, whatever you decide to do, have a great day!