Wednesday, July 29, 2020

I’m Easy…

I’m very easy to talk to. Like my mom and my sister, people seem to naturally open up about things EVEN IF THEY WEREN’T ASKED!

I remember when I was young and my family went places (like Palisades Amusement Park in NJ – oops, I guess I AM that old!) my dad would take my sister and me on rides while my mom (who was disabled) would take a seat on a bench and wait for our return. Invariably we would come walking back to find a small crowd around my mother and just talking, it was almost like she was holding court, LOL. Others who weren’t interested in going on the rides gravitated to her and simply TALKED, they would always turn to my dad and praise my mom saying that they hadn’t enjoyed conversations like that before.

This seems to be a talent that both of her daughters inherited.

I’ve found on occasion that being easy to talk to is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse. Don’t get me wrong, as anyone who knows me can tell you, I do love to talk and I pretty much will talk about anything. Sometimes the folks talking to me also seem to want to talk about anything and sometimes it’s things I really don’t want to hear about! As a reporter interviewing a subject I’ve heard about exploits and secrets and I’ve actually turned to more than one person and asked “Would you prefer I don’t put that in the article?” It seems that most don’t even realize how much they’ve told me.

When friends and acquaintances have approached me because they “need to talk” I’ve been told secrets that they certainly don’t want anyone else to hear; I don’t ask to be told these things and even remind most that some things they should keep to themselves. I’m proud to say I haven’t spilled the beans on anyone yet! I’ve heard tales that would certainly have ramifications and cause a lot of family arguments. While I don’t think any of these secrets could be considered criminal, some have been whoppers and would definitely break families and a few even might cost some a job. Tempting though it may be to include of few of these tales, with names and circumstances changed to protect the “innocent”, I haven’t even included these tales in my fiction writing.

Yes, I like to think people enjoy speaking with me, but there is a drawback. A FEW of these people who have told me their secrets have become embarrassed thinking that they would be “caught” in their lies — as I said, I don’t tell others — but I imagine a few of them do worry, some even become a bit paranoid. And thus the drawback.

Please know, I would only break your confidences if it kept you from harm or harming someone else — otherwise, my lips are sealed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Team Players

Whether it’s the work office or a volunteer organization, you can get more things done when people work together — just like any coordinated TEAM.

Surprisingly though some people take a back seat when it comes to getting things done, BUT sure do let their mouths make their presence known. Unfortunately the negativity they tend to spread sometimes has an effect on other people and their willingness to help. There are those folks who will make snide and unsubstantiated allegations, I guess somehow they feel some sort of warped power.

Luckily while there are some borderline volunteers/workers that may get discouraged by the rhetoric, the negativity sometimes makes others more determined to get the “job” done the RIGHT way.

From a 2013 article in Psychology Today, “Why is this? Why do people so often want to hurt and harm others? Decades of research indicates that there is much truth in the popular belief that people are mean to others in order to feel better about themselves.”

It seems that if a person feels bad about themselves, they try to cast those same negative qualities on others so that they are no longer the “bad guy”. The lower a person’s self-esteem, the more they want to “see” the bad in others in the hopes that they can start believing “hey, I’m really not THAT bad.”

And from The Atlantic, “According to their understanding, we judge the power of others relative to our own: When we feel powerful, others appear less so --and powerlessness and smallness often go together in our minds.”

I volunteer in the community where I live, I try to use my natural talents and experience to make my community just a little better; and yes that certainly does sound a bit egotistical on my part! There are those who just want to complain, cast aspersions against others, and stir up trouble where there is none… all because they are trying to make themselves feel better!

I’ve tried to pull the obstinate into the mix and letting them have a part in getting the job done; sometimes it works. I would love to see all that negativity being channeled and turned into positive efforts. To steal a cliché, think of the mountains we could move if we worked together. But each of us can only open the door, we can’t force others to feel the same way or as strongly as we might.

To be honest most times I don’t even bother engaging them in their silly little games. I understand that by not engaging them they are not being given the power to feel better about themselves — but at the same time engaging the troublemakers would only waste MY time trying to get things done.

So in effect the morale of this tale is not to let others’ anger or complaints discourage you when you are simply trying to do your part. It’s not personal, it’s not about YOU.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Dear Mario

Mario 2008-2018

It’s almost two years since you left us so suddenly. One morning you were just playing and the next you were gone. I don’t think I will ever really get over that.
We brought you home as a tiny kitten. It was so funny how you and your brothers CHOSE US that day we visited the animal shelter; you and Luigi stuck your little kitten claws into Marc’s sweatshirt and refused to let go, and Tigger beckoned to us through the bars of his cage. The three of you knew you had to come home with us that day.
You gave us ten beautiful years — and your name fit you so well, you grew from a tiny little kitten into a “Super” Mario, big and beautiful, and oh so affectionate. You were truly “My Gentle Giant”. We were in the middle of moving when you passed and we had such plans of you and your brothers running through our new home… we brought you with us anyway, you’re buried out back. 
I know you were greeted by our cats that came before you, Pumpkin, Dusty, Peppe, Shadow, Issabelle, Whiskas and Stumpy (actually your "nephew"). I really miss each one, please say HI for me.
Your dad and I have had the pleasure of cats living with us for almost our entire married life of nearly 45 years. There’s always been mischief, and lots of purring and cuddles. Our two-legged children (Jenni and Marc) grew up knowing your love and protection, and being so much richer for the experience of having “pets” in the house. Both of their grown-up homes are filled with four-footed members as well.
Mario, I always think of you, especially at this time of year, both for your birthday and for the day that you left us. I wish you had been around longer even though the ache of losing you could never be less.
Unfortunately, cats (and dogs) don’t have the life expectancy of humans and each one takes a little piece of our hearts with them as they pass. Yet somehow each cat (and dog) seems to make our hearts bigger and able to love more. Visits to the animal shelter always proved the ability to love another, and maybe even more than one at a time. We have been blessed to have had our four-legged companions live with us and show us how capable they are of loving us as much as we love them.

Mario, Luigi & Tigger

If you are looking for love…
visit an animal shelter.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


I’ve talked about my genealogy research many times, but I was remembering back to, I think it was 2008, when a distant cousin on my mom’s side began an intensive search to find as many relatives as possible. To my awe, and annoyance, one of my first cousins made it very clear that she was vehemently opposed to this family tree being built and had no interest in it — her pronouncement of “I’ve got too much family already” shocked many of us. What an insult that was!

Several of us were perturbed and felt that she was too self-centered (and indeed through the years she lived up to that hype). But I have often wondered HOW could you have too much family? I am very aware of a traumatic time period where my husband and I lost all four parents within a four-and-a-half year period. I guess when you have family and loved ones, you are vulnerable to that aching pain when you lose someone. Maybe avoiding that pain is worth it, to some, by not allowing yourself to grow attached to someone else; but then look at all of the joy you are missing out on.

 Since that first distant cousin whet my appetite for learning all about my roots, my lineage, and my legacy, I’ve actually gotten to meet (sometimes only in the virtual sense) many, many relatives. I’ve learned things about my family that I hadn’t even thought of before and now, since so many of the older generation are gone, I am having to dig up more of this info on my own. I’ve learned that my paternal grandmother (my dad’s bio mom) was one of at least nine children and I have gotten to meet a couple of her great-great nieces and nephews, or better known as my third-cousins. I had no idea anyone of that side of the family even existed. I’ve actually made good friends with some of the people who share my bloodlines. I’ve become friends with distant cousins on my mom’s side as well.

And yes, it is true that you open yourself up to more heartaches when you care about more people, but the times you can speak with them and share, and find out how many similarities you actually have, it fills your heart with joy and wonder. It’s unfortunate, but I know that I probably will never get to actually meet some of these people face-to-face, but luckily our internet capabilities do allow us to “see” each other and talk in real-time. Being surrounded by family is just so warming. I think the biggest problem I have is not being able to spend time chatting with each, there just isn’t enough time.

And of course my long-term friends and more immediate family members are not lost just because I’ve reached out through the vast web of relations. By the way I saw a meme on Facebook today that said simply “If you’ve been friends for more than seven years, you may as well be family”. Indeed some friendships (non-blood) have lasted longer and have been closer than some people in the family you are born into. Whether there is actual blood between us or not though I could never close myself off to the people that surround me, virtually or in close proximity.

No, you never can have too much family.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

I Say Po-TAY-To, You Say Po-TAH-To

The original title of this week’s blog post was going to be “The Dumbing Down of the English Language” but then after an interesting discussion I was reminded that we each look at things from different perspectives. (The discussion was on Facebook of course, where else during these days of social distancing do you have the chance to discuss topics with such passion?)
There was a recent article about Houston realtors wanting to formally drop the term “Master”, such as in suite, bedroom, bathroom, etc. from their listings and replacing the term with “Principle”. I immediately thought of the bathroom unit attached to the bedroom my husband and I use; when we bought this house the description called it the Master Suite (aka the Master Bedroom and the Master Bath) and these two units take up one entire side of our home. The other side of our house has two more bedrooms (which we use as a den/office and a guest room) and the Main Bathroom. My first inane thought was how confusing it would be to say the Main Bathroom and the Principle Bathroom! Then of course I started thinking of all the places we could replace the word “Master” — Master’s Degree, Master Chef, Masterpiece, and (sorry) Masturbate…
Then I went on the read the article and learned the reasoning behind the change and I truly felt some guilt for making fun of it. It is the belief that America’s descendants of slaves associate the term Master with their history of slavery and having to serve AND BE OWNED by often cruel Masters. While some part of me still sees no need for the exclusion of the word from realtor listings, another part of me feels a little guilty for not immediately understanding and being sensitive. After reading the explanations and the descriptions of slaves who were both brought here against their will and then subjugated, actually bought and sold, and OWNED by MASTERS, I understand now my need to be sensitive to the horrors and possible triggers of this and other terms.
It isn’t that I wasn’t thinking, I just didn’t understand the perspective that descendants of people who were OWNED and subservient had. I will try better to understand the views, associations, and pain that such terms cause. And if indeed the word is struck from general use then it is my goal to accept it fully. In the end it is all about perspective and it sometimes blurs the right and wrong, but once it’s been pointed out we need to be more considerate of each other.