Category Archives: Growing up

100

“Who’s thaaaat?” I asked with my three-year old heart filling with love.

She laughed.

That’s your father when he was in the Navy!”

“Wow.”

I sat and stared at that picture for the longest time.

My dad was an incredibly handsome man, and I adored him.  I still do.  And he is still the handsomest man I’ve ever known.

Today would have been his 100th Birthday.

mr-whiskers

Dad loved this picture.  Mr. Whiskers.  1917-2000

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Let’s Go To Town!.

Tired of calling your senators and congressman/woman?  Maybe what you need to do instead is go to town.  Town Halls, that is.

Yup.  Here’s another way to raise some hell.

The Town Hall Project 2018 is a website that posts public forums for senators and members of congress.  Meetings where you can go and listen to and talk with the people who claim to represent you.

If you have questions, problems concerns with what is happening in our government, in our world, go to town.

If you think that keeping Obamacare is important to you, go to town.

If you think that maintaining Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as you’ve expected them to be when it was time for you to collect on what you’ve paid out for decades, go to town.

If you think that protecting the environment is important to you, go to town.

If you think that Trump’s Executive Order banning Muslims should be revoked, go to town.

If you have other opinions that I haven’t listed and that you feel your representatives in Congress need to hear about, go to town.  And bring friends.  Bring lots and lots of friends.

The Town Hall Project 2018 has promised to update its website regularly.  So bookmark it, and show up.

American Democracy is no longer a spectator sport.  Get it in gear.

 

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Call Me “Rigger” on Election Day

So you thought I was a more or less law abiding citizen, except for when I bribe French government officials.  In fact, reality is far worse.

Because on Election Day, November 8, 2016, I will be in an undisclosed polling booth, watching.  And I’ve even been trained for this nefarious activity.  In fact, I’m one of the folks Donald Trump is so concerned will “rig” the election.

It’s true.  A coordinated effort has been made by the Democratic Party.  You see, on Saturday, I went to a class where my fellow instigators and I learned what to do.  And “fixing” an election is as easy as taking candy from a baby.

What did we learn?

Well, you may have to cover your ears/eyes/heart.  Because it is evil unbridled.

  1. Study the Virginia voting regulations.   They include information on acceptable forms of ID, what to do if a voter’s name on ID doesn’t match the one on the roll (if a woman got married, for instance, or if there is a slight misspelling), or the voter has moved, etc.  The regs say what is legal and what is not.
  2. Arrive at undisclosed polling precinct obscenely early (5-f’ing:15).
  3. Bring baked goods.
  4. Observe the non-partisans set up the voting machines.
  5. Check that all voting machines register “0” prior to the doors opening to voters at 6.
  6. Share baked goods.
  7. Watch as they open the doors promptly at 6.
  8. Monitor that voters are not hindered from voting.
  9. Assist the election official (the “Chief”) in instances where the voter has a problem — incorrect ID, came to the wrong precinct, not registered, name or address doesn’t match the voter list.  We learned how to ensure that the Chief follows the regulations.  As legal folks, we understand how to read the regs.
  10. When appropriate, let the Chief and/or voter know what alternate IDs are valid.
  11. If necessary and there is no legitimate way for the voter to cast a regular vote, have him/her cast a provisional ballot.
  12. Make sure nobody who has cast an absentee ballot votes again.
  13. Monitor the length of the line, let Dem HQ know if there are problems.
  14. Ensure the voting machines are working.  Let Dem HQ know if there are problems.
  15. Enjoy baked goods, lunch, coffee and bathroom breaks when possible.
  16. Repeat.

Nefarious, no?  Downright wicked.  The evil continues all day until the polls close at 7 p.m.  Then comes the fun stuff.

  1. Make sure that anyone in line at closing time is allowed to vote.  That’s the rule.
  2. Ensure that the officials close and lock the door once everybody in line has voted.
  3. Verify that the number of voters who checked in = the number of votes cast (adjust for provisional ballots cast, naturally).
  4. Ensure that the Chief contacts the Secretary of State and reports the correct number of ballots cast for each candidate and the tally for any ballot initiatives voted on.  Presidential.  Congressional, local, ballot initiatives.
  5. Collect personal items.
  6. Go home.

Try to stay awake long enough to learn who won the election.

rigger-2

My badge from last time with my friend, Rigger.

I should tell you that when I did this in 2012, there was one incident. I’m sure you’ll agree it was obviously voter fraud.

An 86 year old woman came in to vote, but had already voted absentee.  She forgot she’d voted already.  She had trouble walking and had been dropped off at the voting station by her daughter.  “Oh, I guess you’re right,” she said when told she had voted already.  “I forget things sometimes.”  I called her daughter for her on my cell phone, and the woman and I chatted as she waited, eating baked goods.

*****

There are poll observers from both parties at many polling stations across the country.  It is one of the ways that our system ensures the integrity of the vote.  As a man I respect and admire said earlier today:

WASHINGTON — President Obama said Tuesday that Donald J. Trump should “stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.”

Speaking at a Rose Garden news conference with Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, Mr. Obama also called it “unprecedented” for any presidential candidate to “discredit the elections” before any votes were even cast, as Mr. Trump has done repeatedly in recent days.

“One of the great things about America’s democracy is we have a vigorous, sometimes bitter political contest, and when it’s done, historically, regardless of party, the person who loses the election congratulates the winner, reaffirms our democracy and we move forward,” Mr. Obama said.

Speaking of the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power after presidential elections, Mr. Obama said, “That’s how democracy survives.”

“I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history, any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s unprecedented. It happens to be based on no facts.”

Elections Matter. 

Vote on November 8

Make sure you know where to vote and have appropriate ID in states where ID is required.

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Generally Speaking Redux

Maybe I’ve mentioned once or twice that my brother, Fred, was a wonderful big brother.  I really don’t exaggerate.  If  you could have made up the perfect big brother, it would have been Fred.  But you probably would have given him a better name.

Fred is 3 years older than me.  And he played with me all the time.  He didn’t beat me up.  He wasn’t mean.  He let me tag along wherever he went.

He actually seemed to enjoy my company, too.  Or at least, it never occurred to me that he might not be enjoying it.  Perhaps I was late in picking up some social clues.  Anyway, I can honestly not remember Fred ever hurting me, or setting me up to fail, or doing any mean big brother things to me.

He was my hero.  When we tucked towels into our jammies and jumped off the back of the couch, I was not just pretending Fred was Superman.  He was Superman.  Of course I also thought that our dog, Tip, was SuperDog when we called him “Kripto,” tucked a dishtowel into his collar and pushed him off the back of the couch.

It was during the late 1950s and early 60s; we saw Westerns on TV and in the movies — The Lone Ranger, Branded, How the West Was Won, and more.  There were a lot of shoot outs at our house, too, because that’s what we played most of the time.   Fred invented great games for us.  Cowboys and Indians, gun fights, sheriff and posse.

Fred was always the hero.  Me?

I was the bad guy who got outgunned and had to keel over and die.

I was the outlaw brought to justice by the handsome sheriff.

I was the squaw who had to skin and cook the deer.

I always lost.

I felt good that at least I had a better part than Tip.  Tip was the deer, and Fred and I would chase him around pretending to shoot him with arrows.  Fred and his friends once caught Tip and tied him onto our broom and carried him Indian-style, to roast over our pretend fire.  Tip escaped and didn’t want to play Indian for a week or so.  We did not eat him.

Tip was much less cooperative for some reason. (Google Image)

Tip was much less cooperative for some reason. (Google Image)

Losing wasn’t a condition for Fred to play with me, but it was reality.  Fred always won.  He was always first, fastest, bravest.  He was always the hero.

Fred’s pretend horse, Thunder, was faster than my horse, Lightning, even after Fred discovered that in real life lightning comes first.  Fred showed me pictures of lightning in “the big dictionary” – a huge reference book we loved to look at.  It had the coolest pictures and lots of words we couldn’t read.  If something was in the big dictionary, it was fact.  Period.  “In real life,” Fred said, pointing to a picture of a scary bolt in a stormy sky, “Lightning is faster than thunder.  But not with horses.”

I really didn’t mind.  If Fred’s horse was slightly faster than mine, that was OK.  We were a team.

But one day when Fred wanted to play Cowboys and Indians, I’d had enough of losing.  Maybe I was growing up.

“I wanna be the cowboy,” I insisted.  “You always get to be the cowboy.  I always get shot.”

“OK,” Fred said.  He didn’t argue or try to convince me to be the Indian.  I should have been suspicious.  But I’ve always trusted Fred completely.  I knew he would never be mean to me.

“OK,” said Fred, again, thinking up a new game.  “You can be a General!  I’ll be an Indian, ummmm, I’ll be called Crazy Horse.”

“OK!” I said, excitedly.  A General!  I wasn’t just cowboy.  I was gonna be a general!

I blew my bugle, called my troops to arms.  My imaginary troops and I rode off on our stallions to fight the Injuns.

I blew my bugle again and my (pretend) troops surrounded me.  We heard Indian war whoops from Fred and his Indian braves.  Fred/Crazy Horse and his braves came at me, surrounding me and my men on all sides.  But I wasn’t worried.  I was a general.  And even at that age, I knew that the cowboys always win.

And then Fred shot me.

I did not flinch.  I did not fall.  I did not succumb to my wounds.  I screamed bloody murder:

“I’m the cowboy!  You can’t shoot me!

I’M THE GENERAL!

Fred calmed me down and took me by the hand over to the big dictionary.  He turned the pages and showed me a picture of a general in a cowboy hat with blond curls.  He looked just like me.  Except for the mustache (mine grew in many years later).

Thanks a lot, Google

Thanks a lot, Google

George Armstrong Custer.

“That’s General Custer,” Fred said.  “Crazy Horse killed him.  Or Sitting Bull did.  Some Indian killed him at the battle of Little Bighorn.  The Sioux Indians surrounded General Custer and his men and killed them.”

I didn't have a chance

I didn’t have a chance

If it was in a book, in the big dictionary, well then,  I had to die.  It was right there in black and white with a color picture.  It was my fate.

We went back over to the battlefield (the front hall) and started the battle again.  Again, I blew my bugle and rallied my troops into a circle around me.  Again, the Indians pressed forward, surrounded us.

Again, General Custer got shot.  And this time he/I was brave.  I clutched my heart, tossed my curls and fell dead.

*     *     *

I owe my devotion to the underdog and my tendency to look everything up to my big brother, who is still wonderful.  Today, I will be visiting my big brother/hero, coincidentally, so I decided to re-run this post.

Because today,  June 25th is the 140th Anniversary of the Battle of Little Bighorn.

And speaking once more as General Custer, I deserved exactly what I got.

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The Show Must Go On, Usually

Of course I said yes, even though I had never before had any interest in going on stage.  It wasn’t every day that I was asked to participate.  Usually it was the popular kids who got to perform.  I certainly didn’t qualify.

But Liza was in charge, and Liza was my friend.  Liza was also the tallest kid in 6th grade.  I was the third smallest (Betsy and Annette were smaller, if you’re wondering).  So I was perfect for the part of George Washington’s granddaughter.  Liza, the playwright and tall person, would play General George Washington at the end of the Revolutionary War.

We were set to perform Liza’s play in front of the 4th, 5th and 6th graders on the big stage in the auditorium.  We were even allowed to open and close the stage curtains!

auditorium

Google Image

My part was small, but important — General George Washington’s granddaughter, Nelly.  This is how my big scene was supposed to go.

Following a couple of battle scenes, General George/Liza appears in the living room of his granddaughter, Nelly, who is delighted to see him.  Nelly/Elyse runs up to Grandpa/Liza, and jumps up to give Grandpa a big hug, and say:

“Grandpa!”  Then I was to slowly get down, looking at how Grandpa George/Liza is dressed — in civilian clothes, and continue: “Where are your pretty soldier clothes?”

“I have put them away for good, Nelly,” Grandpa George/Liza responds.  “The War is over.”

It didn’t quite go that way during our performance, though.  Because you see, I was a little bit over excited.  So when it was time for my big scene, well …

The curtain opened…

“GRANDPA!” I screamed, and I ran at Grandpa George/Liza like a ball of fury, and I jumped!

I jumped so hard, in fact, that Grandpa George/Liza dropped me on my butt before falling on his.

You know the adage “the show must go on?  Well I’m assuming I’d never heard it.  I was quite young you see.

I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to deliver the rest of my lines.  Liza managed to choke hers out, somehow.  We were greeted with riotous applause when we did our curtain call.  I’m pretty sure that the kids in the audience liked the improvised version better than the original.

It was years before I would get up the courage to get on stage again.  And while I never again literally fell flat, I did have additional humiliating experiences, so obviously my fear was justified.

***

I tell this story because someone who followed me in school, and performed in my high school acting group just hit the big time.  And not with her butt.

Alison Porter, who won The Voice last night, also grew up in my hometown, Westport, Connecticut.  She is wildly talented.  And upright.

 

Of course I have never met her, or seen her perform in real life.  Still, it’s good to see a hometown girl make good, standing on her own two feet.

 

 

 

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Earth Day/Birthday Redux

You may have seen this before, but I tried to write something new about my sister Judy.  And, well, this piece really just sums up who she was better than anything I’ve come up with since.

She’s been gone now for 16 years.  Not a day has gone by since that I haven’t wanted to talk with her, laugh with her, or, alternatively because she was my sister, smack her.  There really isn’t a relationship like you have with a sister.  Even long after they are gone.

*****

Today, April 22, is Earth Day!  It’s the  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 64th 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 food, shelter and work — to enable them to jumpstart 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.

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Mansplainin’ 101

I’m still without a computer, but thought I’d share this clip.

UPDATE!!!

Because I love you, I am adding a picture I forgot about.  The real reason why men fear vaginas.

SteckengebliebenBecause they get stuck in them.

[This is from a post of a while back — happily recalled when Lisa (Tops) from Life in the Top Down commented.

Life, and blogging, can be so damn much fun!

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