Category Archives: Holidays

Earth Day / Science / Judy

Earth Day.  The Science March (which I sadly can’t attend until Science gets around to curing my damn Crohn’s Disease).  My late sister Judy’s birthday.  So I’m reposting this.  Hey – Jude believed firmly in recycling!

***

She’s been gone now for 17 years, Jude.  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 65th 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 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.  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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Annual Tune’s Up

It’s that time again.  I’m gonna make you listen to this song:

Yeah, you guessed it.  It’s my birthday.  I am, not surprisingly since I have been blogging under the stupid blog name FiftyFourAndAHalf for 5 and a half years, well, I’m older today.

Old.  Probably older than you; probably shorter than you, too.  Life just ain’t fair.  I’m older and shorter than people I can’t even see…

Today is my 60th birthday.  I’m not a big fan of my birthday, for reasons you can find here:  Still, it’s a day.  A decade.  Something to celebrate with my husband and son and good food and cake.  Gotta have cake.

And it’s something that is way better than the alternative.  Yup.  Way better.

To the handful who have been along with me since I was, actually 54-1/2, thanks for all the times we’ve laughed and cried together.  To my  new blogging buddies, welcome again.  Thank you for stopping by; I hope you stick around.

Blogging has been a wonderfully fun way to spend time over these last 5-1/2 years, and counting, cause I’m not planning to stop.  I see no reason to stop.

Because people my age are getting gross. So what else can we do?  :/

Love you guys!

 

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Tradition!

Every year at this time, I write about my New Years’ tradition.  It’s a good one in that it is free and guaranteed to bring you good luck or your money back.

Normally I also post it after I am pretty sure folks have consumed enough to not be concerned about the guarantee.  This year, I’m doing it early.

OK.  Here it is:

At the stroke of midnight,

OPEN the back door

and force OUT all the BAD LUCK;

open-back-door

Of course, it’ll be dark.  And not this house.  Google Image

THEN

OPEN the Front Door

front-door

This one’s not mine, either.  It’s Google’s too.

AND LET IN THE GOOD LUCK

It doesn’t matter where you are, you can do it there.  Or you can wait and do it when you get home.  It’s just important to get the bad luck out and the good luck in.

This year, because, well, because 2016 has sucked BIG TIME, I recommend holding open the back door a good long time to be sure to clear out all the 2016 bad luck.  Obviously, we closed the doors too soon last year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY

AND

LET 2017 NOT SUCK AS MUCH AS WE EXPECT IT TO

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The Beast

Lemme get this straight.

duncan-christmas-2016

Photo Credit:  Jacob

A big fat guy in a red suit

will come down the chimney,

And I’m Supposed to Let Him In?

HO, HO, HO!

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Home For Christmas Again

She told the story every year with a warm smile on her face.  Sometimes her eyes got a little bit misty.

“It was 1943, and the War was on, and your father was in the Navy, on a ship somewhere in the Pacific.  We never knew where he was.  Like all the other boys I knew, he was in danger every day.  We lived for the mail, we were terrified of unfamiliar visitors in uniform.  A telegram sent us into a panic.  And ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ had just been recorded by Bing Crosby.  It was Number One on the Hit Parade.”

That’s how Mom started the story every time.

Of course I’ll Be Home For Christmas was Number One that year.  Everyone, or just about, was hoping that someone they loved would, in fact, be home for Christmas.  That all the boys would be home for good.  But all too many people were disappointed.  I doubt there were many dry eyes when that song came on the radio that year or for the next few.

Mom and Dad got engaged right around Pearl Harbor Day, but the War lengthened their courtship significantly because Dad enlisted shortly after the attack.  It was to be a long war, and a long engagement.  But Mom was in love with her handsome man.  But Dad was even more so.

Mom, Circa 1943

Mom, Circa 1943

 

My Dad was drop-dead gorgeous, and I have heard that in his single days, he was a bit of a ladies’ man.  Every girl in town, it seemed, had a crush on Dad.

Dad, Circa 1943

Dad, Circa 1943

 

In fact, my Aunt Sally once told me that she had been manning a booth at a church bizarre one Saturday in about 1995, when an elderly woman came up to talk to her.

“Are you Freddie E’s sister?” the woman asked Aunt Sal.

“Yes I am.  Do you know my brother?” Aunt Sal responded.

“I did,she sighed.  “I haven’t seen him since we graduated from high school in 1935.  Sixty years ago.  He was,” she stopped to think of just the right word, “… He was dream-my.”

“He still is,” Sally quipped.

One day not long after after Mom had passed, Dad and I were looking at some pictures I hadn’t seen before.

“Dad,” I told him with wonder looking at a particularly good shot, “You should have gone to Hollywood.  You’d have been a star.”

“Nah,” Dad said.  “Mom would never have gone with me.  And once the war was over, well, I wasn’t going anywhere else without her.”

Dad circa 1935

Dad circa 1935

Dad never quite got over feeling lucky that he had Mom.  And he never stopped loving her.

But back to Mom’s story.

“It was Christmas morning, 1943, and I went over to visit Dad’s mom and dad.  Grammy E’d had symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease for seven or eight years at that point.  She could still move around (she was later, when I knew her, almost completely paralyzed), but she could barely talk.”

Mom continued.  But your Dad’s mom was singing ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  Well, she was trying to sing it, any how. She kept repeating that one line, over and over again.  ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  I thought she was crazy.”

“You see,” Mom would say, “Your father had somehow managed to get Christmas leave – he was coming home!  He wanted to surprise me and wouldn’t let anyone tell me he was coming.  He was expected any minute, and there I was, trying to leave.  But I couldn’t stay.  That song made me cry; Freddie was so far away, and in so much danger.  I couldn’t bear hearing it.”

So Mom left after a while, she had other people and her own family to see.  Later Dad caught up with her and they spent most of Christmas together.  Both of them always smiled at the memory.  Dad was home for Christmas that year, just like in the song.  It was a magical year for them both.

Mom was always touched by Dad’s surprise and by his mother’s loving gesture in fighting back the paralysis that was taking over her body to try to get her son’s girl to stay.  To sing when she could barely speak.

“I’ve always wished I’d stayed.”

We lost Mom on Easter of 1997, and Dad really never got over her passing.

The song and Mom’s story took on an even more poignant meaning in 2000.  Because on Christmas of that year, Dad joined Mom again for the holiday.  He went “home” to Mom for Christmas again, joining her in the afterlife.

Even through the sadness of losing Dad on Christmas, I always have to smile when I hear that song.  Because I can just see the warmth in Mom’s eyes now as she welcomed Dad home.  This time, I’m sure she was waiting for him with open arms.

***

I re-post this story every year, because it makes my heart feel a little bit merrier.

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Happy Thanksgiving

This year I feel incredibly lucky at Thanksgiving.  Nobody at my feast will have voted for Donald Trump.

Nobody.

And they will all be relatives.

Didn’t I tell you that I’m lucky?  It’s true — I will gladly spend then next two days cooking for them.

But I know that not everybody is as lucky as me.  I feel your pain, I really do.  One of my brothers voted for Trump, as did a nephew and, I’m pretty sure, a great nephew.  But none of them are coming — they don’t usually come so I did not banish them.

It’s hard to talk to folks about this election and why we feel so strongly that the wrong side won.

It’s hard to talk about this election and not place all Trump voters into Hillary’s stupid basket of deplorables.

It’s hard to talk about this election to Trump voters and not slap them upside the head for being stupid, for placing our democracy at risk, for threatening the future of the planet either by a Trump tiff or by his unwillingness to accept that climate change is real and to do something about it.

For those of you who need assistance, I give you this video — with a shout-out to my friend Karen:

 

 

Not that it will change anything.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who are celebrating.

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I’d Like To Buy The World A …

You’ve been asking for more poop from me.  Be careful what you wish for.

Because today is World Toilet Day!

This morning, I was inspired as shit by my friend Judy when she alerted me to the arrival of World Toilet Day (which I’d somehow forgotten?!?) and to Mr. Toilet himself.  And to this article.

Mr. Toilet is my hero.  Seriously.

Mr. Toilet was not born with that name.  Nope, Mr. Toilet is actually a rich, big-hearted man named Jack Sim who wants to do good in the world with the shitload of money he made in construction.  So, being flush with cash, Jack was inspired when he read a statement by his country’s (Singapore) then prime minister:

He said we should measure our graciousness according to the cleanliness of our public toilets.

As a travel lover, let me tell you that nothing, and I do mean nothing, says “welcome” like a clean, accessible toilet.   (As a Crohn’s patient, however, I stay home a lot.)

As I said last year on this auspicious occasion,

The point of World Toilet Day is actually pretty important.  People without access to hygienic facilities risk illness, many women are preyed upon and attacked as they seek out a place to go.  Diseases are transmitted, including infections, cholera, well, here’s a picture.

The "F-diagram" (feces, fingers, flies, fields, fluids, food), showing pathways of fecal-oral disease transmission. The vertical blue lines show barriers: toilets, safe water, hygiene and handwashing. Source WikipediaThe “F-diagram” (feces, fingers, flies, fields, fluids, food), showing pathways of fecal-oral disease transmission. The vertical blue lines show barriers: toilets, safe water, hygiene and handwashing.
Source Wikipedia

Mr. Toilet founded the World Toilet Organization (WTO) in 2001.  As Judy’s article says:

It’s a nonprofit coalition of leaders from more than 40 countries who try to come up with innovative solutions to tackle the world’s sanitation and water problems.

Together these loo lovers started the World Toilet College and SaniShop, initiatives that train entrepreneurs not only to make household toilets but also to maintain them and market them in the developing world. More than 4,000 people have been trained since 2005; the WTO says that up to 10,000 toilets were assembled in 2010 alone.

But it’s the way Mr. Toilet wants to go about increasing toilets that hit me where I live.

So first you have to make owning a toilet not just rational but aspirational. You have to make a toilet come with bragging rights, like a Louis Vuitton handbag.

Aspiration is important, as you can see even rich people have really nice toilets — they go for the highest level all the time. So this is the same as the poor people. They aspire to own products that have bragging rights, like a cellphone or television. The psychology is exactly the same.

He wants to first make owning and using a toilet funny, then sexy, and then normal.  He wants to remove the taboo on poo.  He wants people to laugh about, talk about and sing about toilets.

Here.  I’ll help.

Who knew that World Toilet Day would lead me to find the theme song for my life.

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