The Good, The Bad and The Zucky

There are piles of books in the Messeder residence, as the Resident Home Decorator often reminds me, especially when she enters my atelier – which is a French word for “studio,” itself a fancified substitute for “office,” which, to me, sounds too darned, well, officious. I’d much rather sit in my studio with a drink and my books, and maybe … But I digress.

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Where’s the money?

“Operator, will you help me place this call.” The opening line of a Jim Croce song reminds me of the days when my aunt was a Bell telephone operator – one of those women without whose assistance one could not make a telephone call to a town 15 miles away. Telephone operators in those early days had their fingers on the pulse – and the actual wires carrying the conversations – within their domains.

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The time is NOW

The gunman was said to have been armed with a rifle and a handgun when he took control of a classroom in the Texas elementary school Tuesday.

“He shot and killed, horrifically, incomprehensibly, 14 students and killed a teacher,” (Texas Gov. Greg Abbott) was quoted in published reports later that day.

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Sometimes, some places, war is necessary

Occasionally I peruse columns I’ve written to see whether I have changed my mind. For instance, I have not changed my opinion that too many Big Media reporters cloak their reporting with an emperor’s robe of non-information as they all seem to read from the same press release, and turn phrases of one into clichés of the other.

Repeatedly, for instance, we heard emphasized how much gasoline prices had increased “from the previous year,” with no mention that the “previous year” had sent gas prices plummeting when people stopped vacationing and commuting during the early years of the pandemic.

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Europe’s Yellowstone Ranch

The events in eastern Europe over the past week (or 16 years) compare eerily with an episode of the popular television series, “Yellowstone.” Of particular note are the responses from several of our politicians who have pronounced their admiration for the biker club leader, er, Vladimir Putin.

In the TV story, a passing motorcycle gang cuts a barbed wire fence and moves into the pasture to build a fire and drink some beer. They are having a grand time when a couple of hands from the ranch stop to advise the intruders they were on private land and should leave.  A fight ensues and the bikers leave rather than be buried in the pasture.

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See the trees

Reading a book this week about Mother trees, I felt a need to find a picture of the author. I do that a lot. It is part of my relationship with the storyteller.

Sometimes I dig a little deeper into her background. Mostly I learn of her life from the story she tells, but my mind always wants to see her face.

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The path not thought of

Sidney Poitier left us last week, after my deadline for submitting my weekly wanderings. The myriad of TV accolades almost uniformly left out one of the most memorable of his scenes – at least to a certain young man then only two years out of high school.

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Calling Santa Claus

The thing I remember most about Christmas was Dad waking us kids up as he stood outside us kids’ bedroom windows, shouting at Santa.

“Wait! Stop! DON’T GO! My kids want to meet you.”

We heard sleigh bells jingling, but every year was the same thing. By the time we would get downstairs, the Jolly Old Guy would be gone, along with the homemade Toll House cookies and milk we had left for him.

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It’s in our DNA

An event this week moved me to repeat a column I wrote in August 2001. Most of it, anyway. Here, slightly edited for length and modernization, …

OK. If a kid shot one of my grandkids, I’d get testy and hard to get along with. If another kid merely picked on one of my grandkids, school administration would be wondering whether I had a cot in the principal’s office.

Ask my kids. Their schools were used to seeing Dad in the corridors, chatting with teachers and administrators.

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Seasons of change

He found the old man under the grape arbor, silently rearranging vines that were not in obvious need of being rearranged. Clearly, something needed said. He was not certain what.

Finally, the old man spoke.

“You’re getting married soon,” he said. “You won’t be coming home on vacations anymore.”

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Politicians and other birds

Morning Glory flowers have segued into their final stage: seeds for next year. Each former flower has become a pod with five tiny black seeds perfectly fitted. Outside my window, a Cardinal, a woodpecker and a Mockingbird have been devouring the bright red dogwood berries. That avian affinity for seeds is how we got the marvelous Morning Glory wall on our front porch rail.

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Plane, mountains and strangers

Being a tourist in distant countries has been an eye-opener.

I was stationed in Rota, Spain with the U.S. Navy. It was a six-month deployment with my Jacksonville, Florida-based patrol squadron, during which time we flew patrols to keep track of what the Russian navy was doing in and near the Mediterranean Sea.

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Context is everything

Submitted for your consideration: a new television offering.

“The Chair” is a dramedy – part drama, part comedy – on Netflix starring Sandra Oh as the first woman chair of the English Department at a small liberal arts college.

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He really wanted to know

Much of what follows was a column I wrote 20 years ago, almost to the week. My then-newly declared life partner and I had returned from a celebratory cruise around the Caribbean. We had visited the Yucatan Peninsula, Grand Cayman Island, and Jamaica, and spent a couple of days at sea, being waited on. Not a bad life – for a week.

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On the wall

The verdict in the George Floyd murder trial was a little hard to hear. Floyd is still dead, and former Officer Derek Chauvin’s family has lost its father and husband.

At almost the same time the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial was being announced, a 15-year-old girl was shot by police in Toledo, Ohio. In the weeks leading to the verdict declaring Officer Chauvin guilty of murder, a young man was killed by an officer who claims to have mistakenly drawn her pistol when she intended using her Taser. And a 13-year-old boy, his empty hands in the air, was killed by an officer who made the “split-second decision.

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The cost and the promise

Monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield mark the positions of the various leaders and their forces.At the site of a battle that began the end of a war to decide whether any men should be allowed to own other men, we still concentrate on the battle rather than its meaning. The people over whom all that blood and treasure was shed remain largely ignored.

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Stuff happens

Plainly seeable even in shadow, if we look.Events of the past few months have been weighing heavily on many of us, I fear. The pandemic some of us knew was coming has kept us cooped up in our homes, if for no other reason than most places we would like to go – places we would meet for breakfast, parks where we would jog and picnic, or cubicles where we would work – have been closed.

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