Local News

I do get a kick out of reading the local police blotter. It usually provides me with a few moments of levity and a respite from the crazy, big world out there. Of course, I don’t always read things the way others do.

I chuckled when reading about the guy yelling at pedestrians. #WWJD. I also thought maybe it was Jesus who flagged down the six people on the patio area in the first blurb.

Visions of this ethereal figure waving a staff. Breaking up the gathering of partiers. That’s God’s work right there. 🙂

That line though. They didn’t locate him. Comedy gold. Because if it was Jesus? You do the math. #disappeared #catchmeifyoucan

The last bit about the resident having an “issue with a squirrel” made me laugh out loud. I love it when the local newspaper italicizes phrases. I imagine the officer doing “air quotes” when relaying this information. Do we really need the police as mediators for your issue with a squirrel? That truly sounds like a job for social services or a counselor. Or, honestly? Just do your darned best to work it out with the squirrel. I’m sure a compromise can be met if both parties are willing.

Enjoy the day. Give yourself a break from the serious news for a few minutes.

It’s all how you read it.

Accidental Gardener

Some seasons are better than others.

For everything.

Life. Health. Happiness.

Some of it totally out of our control. Dare I say most of it.

Even gardening. Some seasons are better than others. And some things are out of our control. Or, at least, out of my control.

I love gardening. Relish the actual planting. Ready to hunker down and patiently witness the fruits of my labor. Whether it’s an actual fruit or a beautiful blossom.

But with me? It’s tricky. I forget what I plant. At the beginning of the season I am at the starting line, organized with “plant markers”, and ready to go! Then it all slowly falls by the wayside.

One minute I’m thinking I sowed peas and much to my surprise a pile of beans rises from the soil. Or even one bean 🙂 Whatever. Aren’t peas just the lil fellas inside beans?

It’s all so confusing.

I was happily showing my raised garden bed to my friend, Karen.

I said, “Nothing yet but I think that one’s a pepper plant.”

Her response, “It doesn’t look like a pepper plant to me.”

Anyway, don’t want to digress.

This year was no different when it comes to the “Wonder what’s in Mary’s garden” theme.

For months I thought I was going to find zucchini crawling up the trellis. Nope. Baby, we got pickles. Pickles, baby!

Due to weather it was not a bumper crop this season. Of anything. Tomatoes took longer and wanted to peak in the Fall. Nothing in the garden really wowed me. My interest waned.

Except for a couple of potted plants. I was beginning to shift pots on the back patio. Deciding which ones would join us inside for the harsh winter months.

Besides the bright geraniums I was definitely leaning toward my lemon and fig trees. Had me a little Mediterranean thing going. Honestly, though, neither did much of anything except survive the summer. Just like me.

But I had noticed my fig tree recently showing signs of bearing fruit. I had mentioned this, in passing, to my husband. He, who literally hails from the native land of figs. But I didn’t show him my observations.

Yesterday, I moved the fig tree into the house. Proudly showed my husband the start of a glorious fruit. This beautiful, healthy plant, although a late bloomer, was finally showing its true colors.

He took one look at it and said, “That’s not a fig.”

I said, “What??? Yes, it most certainly is. That’s what’s on the label.”

“So, humans never make mistakes and mislabel something?”

“No, I’m sure it’s a fig plant.”

He continued, “Mary, it’s not a fig. It’s a freaking eggplant.”

I still didn’t believe him. No matter what my eyes told me. I immediately began an internet search for fig leaf and fruit images.

So, you see my confusion? Laugh out loud.

Then, there is this. My compost bin. A symbiotic relationship if ever there was one. I fill it with dry clippings, fruits, vegetables and it generously produces organic matter which will enhance my soil. We both benefit.

But said bin now appears to be moonlighting as a tomato vender. These accidental tourists, who I neglected because they weren’t in my “planned” gardens, exploded. I could hardly access the bin with all the tomatoes springing out of it. Almost October in New England. Always a surprise.

Let’s just say this post is fraught with meaning and lessons. Take from the bounty what you will. Or need.

Sometimes the best things are unplanned.

Planning can be a good thing. But be flexible.

Labels are meaningless.

Listen to those in the know.

Embrace the unintended.

Control what you can-let everything else go.

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck -it might just be a duck.

If you can’t tell a zucchini from a summer squash? Who actually cares? Don’t beat yourself up. Probably tastes like chicken anyway.

Wishing you the very best week. Intentional or not.

Any Questions?

Hope everyone is doing well and surviving the heat. I can write this knowing that, wherever you are in the world, your face most likely has a slight sheen to it. Hmph. Global warming isn’t a thing?

Yesterday, I went to the drive-through pharmacy. Thank goodness, America got that one right. I pulled up to the window.

The lady pulls back the plexiglass, “Can I help you?”

I almost said, “Yes, I need directions to the interstate.”

“I need help weeding my garden.”

“I could use a hand with some pesky neighbors.”

“How do I fix my Spotify? The songs keep skipping, every minute or so, in the car.”

But I bite my tongue and reply, “Hi! Here to pick up a prescription.”

Why else would I be at a pharmacy on a Sunday afternoon? But I digress.

She asks, “What’s your name?”

Not, “What’s the name?”

I wasn’t picking up a prescription for myself. It was for my dog. Does she really want my name? To create confusion?

I immediately think, “What’s the right answer to this?”

So I blurt out, “Thumper.”

She just looks at me. I look right back with the utmost seriousness and say, “I know I don’t look like a Thumper.”

It is what it is.

We exchange niceties. She has two more hours on her shift and the day off tomorrow. Seems thrilled.

Transaction winding down.

Do I want the receipt? No. Because I want to save a tree. This particular pharmacy is known (world wide) for their mile long receipts filled with coupons, surveys, etc. No lie. No exaggeration.

As I am leaving she asks, as every pharmacy employee does, “Do you have any questions?”

I looked at her and said, “Yes, I do have a question.”

“What on earth was my Mom thinking when she named me Thumper?”

She chuckled and off I went.

Hope you all have a wonderful start to the week. Remember to be kind to those out there who serve us in so many ways.

And if you can’t be kind?

Be funny. That is a kindness.

Make It Easy

Hope everyone is well and enjoyed their weekend.

I had a busy week. But all good.

Wherever I roam, whether alone or in a pack, I usually pick up a pearl or two of wisdom. Thankfully.

One of those pearls came from a woman who I had the pleasure of lunching with this past week.

A group of us had visited the “Beyond Van Gogh” immersive exhibition. It was wonderful. I’ll share a few photographs in my next posting.

Afterwards, we had reservations at an Italian restaurant. The woman sitting near me was a retired judge and we were chatting about this and that.

During the course of conversation, she recalled, “My mother said, “Make it easy.”

I absolutely loved that.

Don’t complicate things.

Her mother always said this.

It does not mean take it easy. Although that certainly is not bad advice either. It means make it easy.

If you make it easy then maybe you can take it easy.

Isn’t it amazing, even with the vast wisdom and experiences of the world, the best advice many people ever received somehow circles back to their mothers?

So, as we begin another week, my wish is that you all make it easy.

Our youngest, Hannah, graduated from university this past weekend. She earned her degree in December but walked the stage in May. It was a time of celebration for our family. So very proud.

Now, as an American mother, are there times when I breathed sighs of relief that my child was no longer in elementary school? Yes, I admit that I have, even though those years were the absolute best. Amazingly fun, formative years.

But those would be the stupidest sighs of relief I’ve ever emitted.

Because shootings in the USA (note: not the world) are commonplace.

Everywhere. My children and loved ones are still vulnerable. We are all vulnerable.

Grocery stores, houses of worship, college campuses, workplaces, concerts and many other places.

It’s just particularly heinous when innocent children are gunned down in their elementary classrooms.

We absolutely need to come together as a country-regardless of political affiliation-and demand change.

Jaysus, this life is already very short and it’s getting shorter and shorter, by the minute, for many (in this so-called advanced country) due to gun violence.

It’s coming to a neighborhood near you if we don’t do something about it.

In 2017, the daughter of a woman who worked at our elementary school in California (and gave us our first school tour) got shot in the head with a bullet. The twenty-three year old was attending an outdoor concert in Las Vegas when a man fired more than 1000 bullets into the crowd. This young lady survived. Sixty (yes, that’s right, sixty) people did not. Four hundred and eleven people were wounded. Yes, you read that correctly.

Two weeks ago there was another shooting. Dr. John Cheng was shot and killed at a church in Southern California trying to disarm a man. He practiced in Aliso Viejo where we lived. The name was familiar and kept resonating with me. Yes, my daughters saw him on a couple of occasions at the medical center where he worked.

You’d be forgiven if you missed that because it was just two weeks ago. We’ve already moved on to be horrified by the numerous shootings since then. This was directly on the heels of the mass murder in Buffalo.

In fourteen days, we lost beloved community members, a well-respected Doctor and sweet, little school children. In a grocery store, church and elementary school. Places which were once considered safe. This is just a two week period.

Ten years ago when a gunman went on a rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School my little niece and nephew were attending school in the neighboring town. They were in lockdown mode-as were many of the schools in the area. My niece was sent into a cubby and my nephew was under the desk. We were the lucky ones because we were able to celebrate Christmas together. The families of twenty innocent children, along with six adults, were not so fortunate. The entire community was reeling with horror and grief.

Ten years ago.

Could we have ever imagined something like that could happen again? And again? And again? And again? And again? And again? And again? And again?

The NRA held their convention just hours away from Uvalde. Prominent politicians continued to spew the same old canned responses while acknowledging the NRA is the backbone of their political movement. For those way in the back-I don’t need to spell this one out for you.

Fatherless children. Where are the parents? Arm the teachers. Have police on every campus. Video games are the cause. We don’t have a gun problem-we have a mental health problem. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

These are things we hear immediately after each and every American massacre. Along with the promise of many prayers.

Arm the teachers? I know plenty of teachers and they do not want to be armed. They already have an extremely difficult job.

Police on campus? Where on earth would we even find all these police for the 130, 930 public and private K-12 American schools? Or the nearly 4000 universities and colleges. What about all the other places massacres have occurred?

Mental health issues? Yes, no doubt we are experiencing an uptick in this area. And worsened by the isolation of Covid. I’m all for more focus on mental health issues. Especially in schools. Educate students on “if you see/hear something-say something.” Identify and address bullying. Care for our vulnerable youth.

Fatherless children? Not a new thing.

Where are the parents? Probably working most of the time. Especially if they have fatherless children.

Guns don’t kill people. Give me a guy with a knife in a crowd any day of the week. Let us all investigate stabbing massacres in the USA. It’s not our thing. Ask anyone around the world.

Canada is receiving flak for tough new limits on firearms because, in reality, they don’t want to end up like their neighbors to the South. In response, U.S. Senate Minority Leader stated, “There is no verifiable link between guns and shooting.” Wait, what? I’m no genius but that one flummoxed me. And if I wasn’t confused enough the Governor of Texas responded to the Canadian proposals, “Guns aren’t the problem. It’s doors.” Umm, okay.

When my family and I traveled (or lived) outside the USA many of my fellow Americans asked me this question. Time and time again.

“Is it safe there?”

Coming to a neighborhood near you.

https://www.everytown.org/

Porch Pirates

My eldest had Covid a few months ago. Not a bad case, thank goodness. But knowing she was somewhat isolated in her apartment I figured she might appreciate some love. I got busy preparing a care package.

I was mindful of not cluttering up her space and tried to keep the package thoughtful. Only my kids would (or would not) appreciate my bizarre amalgam.

So, I enclosed a handwritten note expressing good cheer, pride and love.

Then a new pair of black/gray leggings (with some leopard spots but not overdone) and three pair of cute socks. Individual cups of Kashi cereal for those “on the go” days. Face masks for pampering-not the Covid kind. Vitamins. Lens wipes. Phone holder necklace. Tea with laxative. Melatonin. Eye drops. Vanilla room spray and handmade soaps from my friend’s Dallas business “Abundantly Aromatic.” Stationery-some new and some she created as a child.

She’s thirty now. 🙂

So I carefully packed the box and headed to the post office.

After a few days, I asked if she had received it. Nope. I checked the tracking record and it showed that the package had been delivered to the door. I had her check with the landlord/neighbors. Maybe someone took it inside the house. Nope. I put in a query with the post office just in case there had been some mistake in address. I soon received an email letting me know that the investigation was closed. Nothing left I could do. The crazy thing is she was home at the time.

I was upset. It was not worth a ton of money. But it still bothered me. That people would go onto someone’s property and help themselves.

I might have ranted to my husband about New York not being my favorite place.

He might have said, “See, I told you.”

I might have replied that once my rant was over I would love New York again.

Apparently there is even a term for these folks. Porch pirates. Yes, it’s a thing.

Anyway, I had visions of the pirate dressed in an eye patch, leopard leggings, reading the personal letter to my eldest, cleaning their eyeglasses with the wipes and having a go at the rest of the contents.

I could only hope that they were enjoying a cup of tea after having a few extra strength supplements.

Am I twisted?

My advice for the day is this. Ensure that a signature is required for packages.

Have a happy weekend!

Eating Memories

Good morning! I hope everyone is doing well. At least, okay and hanging in there.

Big sigh, right?

It’s been awhile but I plan to take pen to paper more often. In reality, more like fingers to a keyboard.

I watched an episode from a series recently. Wasn’t crazy about it. But I am just one person with my own opinion.

I was, however, fascinated with the premise of this particular vignette. I’m not sharing the name or actress because you might want to give it a go and I do not want to sully your thoughts.

A woman, whose Mom has Alzheimer’s, peruses through the old family photo albums.

Who hasn’t done that when visiting our parents? Poking through boxes of photos, sitting on beds or sofas, in our childhood homes. Asking, “Who is this?” Or “How cute!” Maybe, “Remember that day?”

This daughter removes photos from the plastic sleeves.

Then she eats them.

And instantly a memory is evoked. She is transported back to the moment each photograph was taken. Brilliant.

Imagine if we could actually relive or feel transported to a different time? When things were carefree. Or so fun and special. When loved ones were still present.

I have my memories (although murkiness does set in the older I become) but I’d gobble photographs up, in a second, to truly feel cherished moments from the past.

We could also take the opportunity to gnaw on the “not so carefree’ photographs. To remind us of the things we don’t want to feel or repeat. And learn from them.

I wish you all a weekend of cherishable moments.

Dignity

Once a week I volunteer at a food pantry. This is a place where people who suffer from food insecurity can receive fresh eggs (from a nearby farm), protein, pantry staples, bread, sweets, etc. It is quite the operation. There is a ton of donated food. I am always amazed.

NO ONE should go hungry. And if you are in RI and know someone who needs this please send me a message. I’m Irish stock. I still read “Famine” stories and am repulsed. Those who know will understand why I used apostrophes for the word famine. It was never a famine. The thought of someone hungry actually sickens me.

It works like this. Person comes in and maybe they’re registered. So they fill out a form to check off what they need for this day. Soup, pasta, canned tomatoes, rice, olives, peanut butter, etc. Paper turned in and a volunteer is immediately filling the order-alongside a bagger/runner. The recipient moseys along because fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, pork, beef is provided on tables/coolers. When they arrive at the last table their pantry items are delivered, bagged and ready to roll.

My job, although not in the actual description, is to ensure dignity. That’s my own job description. No one should feel bad about asking for help.

So, I engage each person. I blow kisses to babies. I ask everyone how they are doing. I’m almost manic. I want their experience to be positive. Everyone should feel comfortable in this space. I talk about weather, babies, kids, health, recipes, etc.

A month ago there was a young woman. She had a job loss due to a medical condition and met with a resource in a different town to figure out things. They referred her to our pantry for food. Her eyes kept filling up-I don’t know how to describe it. She was sad but also, I think, embarrassed. But she had kids and a mother will do anything to feed her young ones. Yes, I gulped.

My message today is not too many folks want a “hand out.” Sure, there are some. But what I am seeing, every week, are people with disabilities/challenges, job loss, single parents, working poor, etc.

We need to practice and understand what a “hand up” means. And when we extend that hand it should be with utmost dignity.

The utmost dignity.

The Play

My older brother thought I should start writing again. So here it is.

I went to a play yesterday. It was great to do something normal. Everyone had a mask and had to provide proof of vax papers. Happened to be a matinee so a lot of gray hairs. Hopefully all responsible. 🙂

Spoiler alert. The play was not an uplifting ninety minutes. Although it did show signs of hope, forgiveness (toward others and one’s self) and survival. It was well acted and well done. And it was based on an author’s life (adapted from her book) and it was kind of rough.

A grandfather who abused his three year old granddaughter. I felt like puking. Divorce due to father being violent. Death of mother at young age. Heroin and meth addiction. Promiscuity. Father who randomly reached out decade later. When she communicated her issues (with him) his response was to say he was done with her. Never to communicate with him again.

Yeah, it was a bumpy ride. But she survived.

Side note: Makes me very grateful I didn’t have that weirdness in my family. I had a very simple, no frills childhood. But happy. Mom and Dad were regular, good folk.

But this play takes place when the main character is an adult and working as an advice columnist. Sharing her past with us. She recounts a time when she had a yard sale and a little boy stole something. She asked him twice why he stole from her and he denied it. The third time, after he probably felt comfortable with her, he responded, “I was lonely.”

She thought it was the most honest thing she had ever heard.

Made me think we should be a little more cognizant of others. Especially during this difficult time. These last two years of uncertainty.

Because people might be lonely.

And if we are actually listening it might be the most honest thing we ever heard.

My Siblings

I know everyone doesn’t have an easy relationship with their siblings. I hear it every day.

I do. I know I’m blessed. And I think I have to give credit to my parents.

I recently chatted for ages, sprawled out on a futon, with my little brother when he visited. The big brother has no problem slapping my hand -as I go for the kitchen garbage disposal or a wild mushroom in the backyard. LOL. I talk to him on the phone frequently.

In my hometown there has been a lot of loss during the holidays. Lot of my contemporaries losing their siblings. Can’t even lay it at the feet of Covid. But young folks. Many different reasons.

This posting is to say I love my brothers more than anything.

We don’t argue. We don’t disagree. Never. Not ever.

My husband loves it. One time, I asked one of my brothers, “Can I make you a sandwich?” And my husband told me later, “There was so much sweetness there in the way you said it. So much love.” He thought it was beautiful.

Because he knows how much I love my brothers. And if anything happened to them I would be devastated. I can’t even imagine my life without them.