Wednesday, May 31, 2017

November 22, 1963… “the day the music died”

I was 16 years younger than our newly elected President Kennedy and like many of my age group it was like having an older brother in that big white house in DC. We were filled with hope and enthusiasm and we actually believed if we followed his lead we could make the world a better place. When he started the Peace Corp I was fascinated by the concept and the only thing that kept me from joining up was being married with 3 children.

As I write this it is JFK's 100th birthday and he is being remembered and lauded in many ways. I have my own fond memory and here it is:

In 1952 JFK was running for the US Senate in the state of Massachusetts and his mother Rose was one of his biggest backers. She decided to host a series of teas in and around the Boston area to introduce John, (or “Jack“, as she called him). I was in my Junior year at Boston University studying for a Journalism degree and our class received an invitation to attend one of the teas.

It was considered quite a coup to be invited so I was thrilled. I was not disappointed. Not only were Rose and John there but most of the rest of the female side of the Kennedy clan as well... serving tea and sweets and extolling the virtues of their brother and son John who was more than charismatic as he “played” the room, teacup in hand.

So, here we are, 65 years later and I can't help but wonder if we will ever hear that sweet music again. Playing off key and out of sync seems to be the norm with our current administration.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Another email to the NC Senators …

Freedom of speech is not allowed in many parts of the world and I can't imagine living under those constraints. I am so thankful that this does not apply to our country. 

When I sent my first emails to Senators Burr and Tillis I received no answers. I felt like they were lost somewhere in the Washington, DC void and I almost gave up. Then I realized that just writing and sending them was cathartic and I kept it up. All of a sudden I started getting answers from them both. I'm sure they were stock remarks but at least it shows that someone in their office is aware that I exist. If any of you have concerns, like I do, just put them down and send them off. There's power in numbers and they know, just as we do, that 2018 is not too far away.

Here's my latest … #14:

Dear Senators: I am praying that the horrendous budget proposal that Trump has sent to Congress will not pass. I work at our Counties Free Care Clinic and we care for those who have no insurance. If Medicaid is cut back in our State it means that we will see an even greater increase of applicants to our Clinic. Our patient base is enormous and we can barely keep our doors open now so it is unlikely that we will be able to help them. The inevitable outcome would be to put us back where we were before the ACA ... our ERs deluged with patients who have absolutely no way to pay for their services. We all know what a disaster that was and that we, the tax payers, were the ones burdened with the cost.

I can't believe how incredibly insensitive Trump is to the needs of these down trodden people that he swore to represent and hope that you, as a Republican Senator, will not follow his lead. You have a responsibility to these constituents and I pray that you will have the courage to do what's right for them. After all, they may be poor but they still get out to vote.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Not Barnum & Bailey … but memorable !

As the Big Top closes out its 146 year reign it brings back this memory:

In 1985 my little town of Vass, NC, with barely 700 residents, played host to a small time circus to raise money for a local charity. People from near & far came for the one-night performance and Tiny Tim was the main attraction. He plucked his ukulele while singing his off key theme song “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” and the audience loved it. I couldn’t stay, however, because I had to be up very early the next day to get to my job in the ER of our local hospital.

Imagine my surprise upon arriving there early the next morning to see a familiar looking figure dressed in a long, dark overcoat, at the front desk.

It was Tiny Tim holding a small paper bag and demanding to see the ER Dr. “immediately”. He refused to be registered and was getting more agitated by the minute. Finally he opened the bag and produced a urine sample that he swore he had obtained from a girl in Vass (!) She, according to Tiny Tim, was accusing him of getting her pregnant and he wanted the Dr. to prove her wrong.

The whole scene was getting more and more bizarre. Both the Dr. and the nursing supervisor tried to tell him that it was way too early to determine anything but Tiny Tim just became more obnoxious. He started yelling about “my rights as a citizen” and “people taking advantage of me because I’m a star”, and it was at this point that the news photographers arrived.

In retrospect we could clearly see that we’d been conned. He managed to get a front page spread in the local newspaper, as well as mentions in the Raleigh and Fayetteville ones too. The unnamed girl from Vass “conveniently” disappeared and Tiny Tim, with a big “gotcha” smile on his face, tiptoed quietly out of our lives.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Model T Ford and barbequing ????

Last Saturday morning, after listening to the news, I was about to turn off the TV when a segment on a child's show caught my attention. I had never heard about the connection between Henry Ford and Kingsford briquets and found it very interesting. 

It's a well known fact that Ford's Model T was the first affordable car ... one that even a middle class person could buy. This was due in large part to Ford's efficiency… such as his idea of the assembly line to increase production. So it was no surprise when (with the aid of Edward Kingsford, real estate agent) he acquired a large tract of timberland in Michigan in order to supply his own wood.

It soon became apparent that the sawmill produced not only the timber that he needed but also much waste such as branches and sawdust. Of course this was another challenge that Ford welcomed and the result was:

Ford Charcoal changed hands in 1951 when it was bought by an investment group and renamed Kingsford Charcoal. I wish I'd bought a few shares in the company back then !

Thursday, May 11, 2017

57 years ago …. and an update this week !

Here I am in 1970. I lived in an area of the Northeast then where it was not unusual to have graveyards with stones dating back to the early seventeen hundreds. Gravestone rubbings were allowed then and it became a hobby with me.

I was always very careful to not damage the surface of the stones. I'd use a toothbrush to remove the moss and dirt that clung to the stone crevices and then placed paper (white newsprint) over the image, adhering it to the back of the stone with masking tape. Using a thick wax crayon I'd lightly stroke the paper until the design appeared and then carefully increase the pressure until I had the desired effect.

In 1970 I was so pleased with the effect that I mounted and framed them and sent them as my Christmas gifts that year. However, I was sad to realize that I must have misplaced my own copy in our many moves since then.

So, imagine my surprise and pleasure when I received a large UPS package this week and saw that it was the rubbing that I had sent to my sister Barbara 57 years ago. She passed away a few months back and her family has kindly sent back some of her possessions that pertain to me. I can't thank them enough.
… and here it is … 250 years young !

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Another letter to the NC Senators Burr and Tillis:

Dear Senators:  I commend all of you in the Senate who are approaching the future of the ACA in a realistic manner. As far as I can see the House is just grand-standing and they look like a bunch of teenagers who have put something over on the teacher. Thank God we have you in the Senate to reign this in and actually act like the adults that we voted into office. Instead of repealing a health care program that is working for millions of Americans it makes much more sense to SERIOUSLY and SLOWLY look at all the options for changing the areas that need it and then put it to a vote. The nickname Obamacare seems to be the onus for many people.  So I wish it would be referred to by the actual name, the Affordable Care Act ... because it is truly the first time in our history that many of our fellow Americans can actually afford health care.
Trump and Australian Prime Minister 5/4/17

I assume you saw where Trump told the Australian Prime Minister that they had better insurance than we have here. Does Trump honestly not know that theirs is a universal health care system ... and that every other major country on Earth guarantees health care to all it's people, except for us (supposedly the richest county on Earth). Incredible !

No wonder Bernie is smiling ...

Monday, May 01, 2017

The BOSS …

This picture is a little fuzzy because I took it through the screened window in my office. However there's nothing indistinct about this handsome fellow ! He's definitely the boss. From the moment he spied my small bird feeder he's been in charge.

This all started about a month ago. I had just adhered the feeder to the window and was back inside at my desk when I heard a flurry of activity. There must have been 4 or 5 little wrens vying for a position on the feeder when all of a sudden they were scattered to the wind by the huge and regal Cardinal that you see here. He swooped in and has been there pretty much all the time since then.

It's actually a little eerie. I know he can't possibly be here ALL the time but it never fails … whenever another bird dares to settle at the feeder he makes himself known. And the strangest thing is that he often doesn't even feed. He just perches there … assumes his regal stance and, like a King, is very aware that HE IS THE BOSS.