Category Archives: Holidays

A Phila — A Philan — A Good Deed Doer

A week or two back, on Gibber Jabber, I responded to a question (because that’s what happens over at Gibber Jabber, she asks questions and you answer them.)  I said that my dream job would be to be a philanthropist.  A good deed doer.

They're called ... (Google, natch)

They’re called … phila — philan — “Good Deed Doers” (Google, natch)

 

And of course, if I could, I would give the world a whole lot of good stuff.

But this week I’ve found myself to be the benefactor of a good deed doer!  Yup, Me!

A very generous, very wealthy man gave me, John and mostly Duncan a lovely hunk of land in Maine on Mount Dessert Island where we are right now.

For many years, we’ve been coming to this island with our various dogs.  Acadia National Park takes up much of the island, and it is an amazingly beautiful place to hike or just sit and watch the sea from a pink mountaintop.  Acadia is magical.

But there are leash laws in Acadia, as it is a National Park.  And while we haven’t always been strict adherents to that particular rule, well, the park is full of people, some of whom don’t really want to meet my dogs (imagine!).

Last year, we found out about Little Long Pond. It is a family preserve, owned by the Rockefellers, with hiking trails, carriage roads and a lovely, well, long pond.  Dogs were allowed to run free there.  In all 1,000 acres of the place.

Little Long Pond Boat house

And this month, David Rockefeller celebrated his 100th birthday by giving this piece of land to Duncan!  Well, and me.  And John.  And you!

FREEDOM!

FREEDOM!

To celebrate his 100th birthday, he donated the land which abuts Acadia National Park (much of which his family had also donated) to the nonprofit Land and Garden Preserve, so that they will keep and preserve it AND CONTINUE TO LET DOGS RUN FREE!

Thank you, Mr. Rockefeller!

Thank you, Mr. Rockefeller!

Thanks, Mr. Rockefeller.  We wish you many happy returns.  We know we will have many happy returns to Little Long Pond; and we will think of you and thank you each time we do.

*     *     *

 I am not a particularly good photographer, but I have a camera shy dog.

 

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Filed under All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Dogs, Duncan, Good Deed Doers, Health, Holidays, Humor, Maine, Pets, Taking Care of Each Other

Do I Hear Five?

On May 29, 2011, I was fifty-four and a half years old.  And I was seriously irritated at the GOP in Congress.  You see, they had announced that they were going to take away Medicare from those then under 55 years old.  And that meant me.  I spouted off about it to anyone who would listen.

They’re gonna take Medicare from ME!  I’m 54-1/2!  That’s where they’re gonna start!

After the first 528 times I mentioned this fact to each and every person I could corner, I still felt unsated.  I wanted to tell more people of my irritation.  Whether or not I knew them.

And so I heard a voice inside my head (something I rarely admit to):

Go forth, it said,  and start a blog.

Oh and give it a stupid name to keep yourself humble.

And so I did.  Both of those things.  FiftyFourAndAHalf was born with this post.

Blogging has been a completely different experience than I expected.

My original plan was to do a political/humor blog.  But in spite of a never-ending source of fodder, I found that I wanted to write about other things, too.  That part didn’t really surprise me.

What surprised me was that blogging, and Word Press, became a place where I met new friends, discussed topics important to me.  Where I laughed and cried along with folks I will probably never meet.

Thanks, everybody.  And while I’ve been writing less than usual and reading less than usual, I love the special place that is the ‘sphere.  So, yeah, thanks for being out there, for reading, and for giving me stuff to read too.

From Daily Kos.com

From Daily Kos.com

 

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Everybody Hates Birthdays

It’s Duncan’s First Birthday!

There are presents!

There are treats!

There are new things that squeak!

And there are these damn hats.

What’s with these damn hats?

 

I am going to bite that woman.

I am going to you, Mom.  Hard.  Really, really hard.

 

Now that he’s a year old, Duncan is no longer a puppy.  So he has to behave.  Right?  Right?

Actually he’s started behaving better already.  He didn’t eat the hat.  That’s a start.

 

 

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Earth Day/Birthday — Recycled Recycled Post

Today, April 22, is Earth Day!  It’s the 45th Anniversary of the very first Earth Day.  Here is Walter Cronkite’s report on the first Earth Day, 1970:

It would also be my late sister Judy’s 63rd birthday.

Whoever made the decision to turn Judy’s birthday into Earth Day chose wisely.  Judy was a born environmentalist and recycler.

On the first Earth Day, Judy was a new, very young mother who believed in saving the planet.  She was the first “environmentalist” I ever knew personally, and well, I thought she was nuts.  There was a recycling bin in her kitchen for as long as I can remember.  And this was back when recycling took effort.  She believed in gardens, not garbage, and she made life bloom wherever she was.

I’ve got kids,” she’d say.  “It’s their planet too!”  

But years later, Judy took recycling to a whole different level when she helped people recycle themselves.  In the 1990s, Jude, who was then living in Florida, began working with the Homeless, assisting at shelters.   Then she actively began trying to help homeless vets find food, shelter and work — to enable them to jump-start their lives.

When she died in early 2000, the American Legion awarded her honorary membership for her services to homeless vets.  A homeless shelter was named in her  honor.  So she’s still doing good works, my sister is.  That would make her wildly happy.

Jude also gave me the Beatles.  So it is very appropriate that they wrote a song for her.

You see, the night the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, it was MY turn to choose what we were going to watch.  And we were going to watch the second part of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh starring Patrick McGoohan on the Wonderful Wide World of Disney.  My four (all older and MUCH cooler) siblings were furious with me.  But I was quite insistent.  You might even say that I threw a Class I temper tantrum over it, but I wouldn’t admit to that.  But hey, I was seven.  And it was my turn to choose.  Fair is fair, especially in a big family with only one TV.

Somehow, Judy talked me out of my turn.  She was always very persuasive.  Thanks Jude.

Hey Jude, Happy Earth Day-Birthday.

*     *     *

If this looks/sounds familiar, it’s because I recycled this post from last year.  Because you should never use fresh when you can reuse something already written.  And you can never get enough of “Hey Jude.”

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Shades of Gray — Copycat Edition

Doobster of Mindful Digressions named me in a photography challenge.

And since I am really a rotten photographer (but I do Google Images with finesse), I figured, what the hell.

Here are the rules:

The rules are pretty simple:

  1. Post a black & white photo daily for five posts in a row.
  2. Invite someone different to participate each day.

Ummm, except for photos of my black and white dog, which I take in color but still end up being black and white due to the subject matter, I don’t really do black and white.  I don’t do much in color, either.

But here goes.

My old headder in color

My old headder in color

 

And now, if I can figure out how to do it …

Does this work?

Does this count?

 

OK.  I’ll do it right.  I think ..

I did it!  With Doobster's help.

I did it! With Doobster’s help.

 

I’m going with the color one(s), I don’t know about you!

These are pictures of the place in Maine where my family goes in the summer — and occasionally in the winter.

I’m not going to challenge anyone to do this — feel free to do it and link to Doobster.  But it is kind of neat to see my photo in black and white.

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Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Climate Change, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Love, Maine, Word Press

A Love (?) Story — Revisited

When I tell this story, I always have to put in a disclaimer.  Sort of like Dickens at the beginning of A Christmas Carol, when he says

“It must be understood that Marley was dead, otherwise nothing strange and wonderful could have happened.”

In this case, this fact must be understood:

I was really, really nice to everyone

Promise me you’ll remember that.

Once upon a time, I had a job at a law school.  The most fun job I’ve ever had.  I was the administrative assistant to a student organization, the BSA.  Pretty much the Boy Scouts of America, law school chapter.  The BSA members were 2nd and 3rd year students who did a lot to make the first year students happier during their (relatively miserable and difficult) first year.  They did orientation, taught legal writing, answered questions on where to go, what to do.  The office was large, with comfy chairs and a couch, a full free coffee pot.  A good, friendly place to hang out.  The members did, and so did a core of 1st years who, naturally, tried to become members for their 2nd and 3rd years.

It was a wonderful job.  Basically I answered questions and was nice to people.  Always.  A smile on my face, a laugh, a soft shoulder when needed.  It was easy to be nice in such a fun job.

Substantively, I had to know what was going on with the members’ various activities, because I was the one in the office when the 1st year students had questions.  I had to know what was going on to give the  answers.  Because that was my job.  The BSA members were all nice.  Except Monte.  He wasn’t.  He was a jerk.  Totally uncooperative.  He deserved that name.

Monte was in charge of a very important program that was one of two mandatory moot court programs for all 1st year students.  Essentially, it’s where they learned how to present and argue a case.  A whole case.  They write the briefs and argued the case in front of a panel of judges.  The students had a million questions, and they were also apprehensive, because it was an important part of their first year.  They asked ME all of those questions.

But Monte was in charge and wouldn’t let me know what was going on.  He wouldn’t answer my questions.  He wouldn’t keep me informed or involved.  I invariably had no answer to give to the poor student who really needed one.

Now, it might surprise you to know this, but I really hate to look stupid.  So one day I’d had enough of being unable to help, unable to answer questions I was supposed to answer.  Unable to do my job.  So I took Monte into the back room and politely explained in the nicest possible way, why he had to do things my way.

He responded, and I quote:

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”  And he left.

Me, except I’m blond. And in color.

To this very day I have never been so mad at anyone.

I went back to my desk fuming, steam coming out of my ears, angry tears, the works.  As I stood there, shaking mad, a tall, blond 1st year student entered the office, came up to me and said – oh I don’t remember what he said.  But it was a question about that program.  Monte’s program.

“I DON’T KNOW.  YOU WILL HAVE TO ASK MONTE WHO IS A COMPLETE JERK!” I screamed at the tall, completely innocent blond guy.

He stood there, put his hands on his hips, shook his head and left the office.  He never returned.

I remember it clearly.  Well, except all I can see in my memory is the outline of a tall, faceless blond guy.  Standing there, hands on his hips, shaking his head and clearly thinking “what a bitch she is not very helpful.”

John did not propose then and there.

In fact, we didn’t even cross paths again that we know about during the two years we were there together.  We met again in DC through a guy I was dating who worked with John.  Years after I broke up with the other guy, John asked me out after we met up again at a party.

Whenever someone asks us the “how did you two meet?” question, well, I make sure I tell the story.  Because John claims I fired nuclear weapons at him, which is a slight exaggeration.  And it makes me look bad.

Really, I didn’t shoot at him.

But hey, my husband can never claim that he didn’t know I could be a bitch.  And that has been worth its weight in gold (or nukes) for almost 30 years.

*    *    *

This is an old piece that I’m replaying for Valentine’s Day because, well, it’s one of my favorite “love” stories.  And because there are lots of new followers who didn’t read it.  If you already read it, you can stop here.  See?  I told you I was nice!

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Filed under Humor, Family, Stupidity, Law, History, Criminal Activity, Holidays, Wild Beasts, Huh?, Christmas Stories, Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy

Got History?

There is a restaurant I just keep going back to.  Sweetwater Tavern in Sterling, Virginia.  I don’t know why I keep going back, exactly because it was the scene of one of my most embarrassing moments evah.

Still, I return. Went there just a few days ago, as a matter of fact.  They have terrific food and good beer. So I guess that explains it.  Plus, it keeps me humble.  Humbler.  Yeah.  Humble-est.  Or at least quiet.

Nevertheless, if you go with me, I’ll tell you the story. Unless John’s with us. Because last time, when I tried to tell Jacob the story, John hushed me up. Imagine! Now why would he do that?  He looked around the room and kept saying “keep your voice down!”

Actually, if it weren’t for my husband, it would never have happened. Not at all.  So it’s his fault.

And, if it weren’t for our friend Rob, who was visiting us from Geneva, well, it absolutely wouldn’t have happened.  So it’s Rob’s fault, too.

Me?  I’m innocent.

You see, both John and Rob are Civil War buffs. When Rob was visiting a couple of years back on Martin Luther King Day and it was a beautiful, warm, sunny winter day, well, what else was there for us to do but visit a Civil War battlefield?

Luckily for us, we live in Virginia. Civil War battlefields are a dime a dozen, ’round here. [Fortunately, the fears I wrote about in Great Balls of Fire have not materialized. Yet.]

Anyway, the three of us decided that we would head off to visit the Manassas Battlefield. For those not living in Dixie (Civil War – Land for the non-initiated) I’ll just let you know that Manassas was the very first battle of the Civil War, on July 16, 1861. Folks from Washington made a day of it – they packed picnics and took carriage rides out there from the Capitol to see the Yankees whup the Rebs. They called it the Battle of Bull Run.*

Only it didn’t happen quite that way.

The Rebs won. And when they had a do-over  the next year  on August 28–30, 1862, well, the Rebs whupped us again.

Of course, that’s not how the whole war went, though, was it.  Nope.  The NORTH won the Civil War!

Actually, Google Wins

Actually, Google Wins

But when you wander around Virginia, and probably other parts of the Old South, well, you don’t really get that impression.  Nope. Not at all.

As it was, John, Rob and I should have been prepared for what we found when we arrived at the Manassas Battlefield that morning. Cars with Confederate Flags were everywhere. Mostly pickups and cars that were auditioning for the Dukes of Hazard.

 

There are more cars around here like this than you can shake a stick at. Google Image, Natch.

There are more cars around here like this than you can shake a stick at.
Google Image, Natch.

 

Because, unbeknownst to us at the time, here in Virginia, the weekend of Martin Luther King Day also includes a Virginia State Holiday:  Lee-Jackson Day. Yup. Nothing says “We Lost” more than having a holiday to honor the vanquished generals.  And one that just happens to coincides with the National Holiday honoring slain black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr!  Folks can get up to all kinds of merriment!

All morning long, there were whoops all around us of “The South Shall Rise Again!”  Men sporting Confederate Flags on their jackets, their cars.  And they were there to honor Stonewall Jackson whose birthday (January 21, 1824) was nearing.  Oh boy!

You see, it was at the First Battle of Manassas, that General Thomas Jonathan Jackson became “Stonewall.” It’s where he earned his famous nickname when as put by Wikipedia:

[Confederate] Brig. Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee, Jr., exhorted his own troops to re-form by shouting, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians!”

John, Rob and I had a nice time touring the battlefield. I’ve often said that we Americans do great battlefields. There are maps and audio buttons, knowledgeable park officials wandering around to answer your questions. Demonstrations of the firearms used, the uniforms. The works.  But it was clear from their words (and their bumperstickers) that folks around us, well, they didn’t really know their history.

 

My Picture. Take that, Google Images!

The answer, based on what we were hearing around us was: NOPE. My Picture.
Take that, Google Images!

 

As we wandered, and as we left, the three of us shook our heads constantly. Because you see evidence everywhere, not just at the battlefield, that Virginians haven’t heard the news yet — that that they’d lost the war.

Afterwards went for a late lunch at the Sweetwater Tavern. It’s a big, fun restaurant and bar, with great food and a terrific atmosphere.   We drove to the restaurant, crossing Lee Highway, John Mosby Highway. We passed the Sully Plantation, and took a wrong turn leading us towards Leesburg. The names of the Confederate heroes of the Civil War were everywhere. There is no Lincoln Highway as far as I’ve seen.  No Grantsburg.  No Sherman Boulevard.  Nope.

“Whoever said ‘History is told by the victors,’ has never been to Virginia,” John quipped.  You’d really never know that they lost, that they surrendered right there in Virginia, at Appomattox.  Because, really, they haven’t given up.

So how did that lead to my most embarrassing restaurant experience ever?

Well, we continued our conversation after we got to our table. We asked for a round of beers, placed our lunch orders, and continued commenting on all of the things in Virginia that, well, that you’d expect would be named differently. To be named by the Victors – The Yankees. Named by ME in fact.  Well, my ancestors.  Who were still in Ireland during the war.  But still …

Anyway, we talked about how, even today, folks in the states of the former Confederacy, don’t accept that they lost and are still fighting the Civil War. I mean, the War Between the States.

Our beers arrived, and, shaking my head at the bizarre attitude of folks in my adopted state, I raised my glass in irony:

“The South Shall Rise Again!” I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm.  With Irony.  With my superior knowledge of history.

And I said it, just as our African-American waiter placed a basket of bread on the table right next to me.

I stammered, shuddered, tried to evaporate.  I wished a cannon ball would fall on me – from either side, it didn’t matter.  I sincerely hoped that someone, anyone would run at me with their bayonet at the ready.  I wanted a quick death, not to be left dangling in my humiliation.

Because, really, what could I do?  I considered explaining myself to the poor waiter, but I knew it wouldn’t matter. That really, even a Connecticut Yankee like me couldn’t make reparations.

I stayed pretty quiet for the remainder of the meal.

We did leave a ridiculously large tip, though.

 

*     *     *

* For some reason nobody seems to know, streams and creeks in Virginia are called runs. I presume that’s because they run to the rivers and then to the sea. But still, if anybody knows why they are called that, I’d love to know. Because nobody I’ve ever known knows. It’s a mystery.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Diet tips, Disgustology, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Mysteries, Politics, Stupidity, Wild Beasts