Supporting Local Restaurants…..

I don’t intend to get into politics. We are as is being said, in “uncharted waters” (or whatever term you prefer), yet some of the restrictions set out are simply not sustainable. As more hard data becomes available rather than mostly modeling, decisions as to focused solutions will hopefully come about in the next week or two.

In the meantime, small businesses considered non-essential will see some financial assistance with passage of the economic bill yesterday. Help will not be immediate of course, which goes back to the point of the mantra of having three-to-six months of savings set aside to carry one through emergencies. Many, of course, do not have that various reasons.

In the case of a barber shop being closed, there’s nothing we can do to help them. With our local restaurants, we can, and are doing carry-out to reflect at least the same rate as we usually do, and a little more. Less than two weeks ago, when I had one of those lunch out five days in a row in addition to the standing Wed and Fri Happy Hours, Hubby joked about me having lunch out more than anyone he knew. In general though, I do have lunch out at least once and often twice a week, so there is no reason not to do that now. Fridays nights have always been pizza night for us and Hubby’s favorite is Papa Johns. Under the circumstances, he said we would use one of the family-owned places instead until they are all able to re-open for regular business. I was especially glad to see the governor here is allowing those restaurants with their liquor license to sell beer and wine to go. (The usual laws pertaining to it being bagged and no open containers in the vehicle still apply). After all, when we dine out, we always order a bottle of wine or beer. I am also glad we’re in a position to be able to do this for at least a while.


Juggling Like Everyone……

Parenting is rarely easy for people who live in the real world. Having been a single parent with no live-in help for almost six years, (age four months to just after son’s 6th birthday), I completely empathize with all parents trying to cope with the extended release from schools. Aside from so many families where both parents work which means one might have to take off, the work from home if possible comes with its own complications. Not every family can arrange dual office space to be productive plus have somewhere for the kids to be. As much as I applaud schools who are able to have distance learning, not every parent is equipped to help with it. These are the moments when the parent who chose to home school rather than go into the external workplace does have an advantage.

We are about three generations removed from when stay-at-home moms was the norm and there were only  three TV channels – four if you happened to be somewhere with PBS – so  kids in general weren’t routinely entertained by TV and of course there were no computers at the time. Going back to doing things the old-fashioned way has some good points, but it’s definitely an adjustment for those who don’t have much, if any, experience in what that means. On the other hand, families that do have plenty of electronics can access a variety of virtual “travel” and other tools they might not otherwise “get around to”.

When I spoke to the kids yesterday, I did recommend they keep a journal. None of us knows how long this will go on and not only is it extreme disruption to so much routine, there may be long-term impacts we can’t anticipate. Recording one’s raw thoughts at this time could be valuable for later. Granddaughter is at the age where she is likely to remember little of what is happening and might want to know more about it when she gets older.

Other Crisis…….

Serious musings alert. There are many unknowns the first time any generation faces a crisis. For those of us of a certain age, the 1960s were when lots of parents/grandparents weren’t certain the country would survive. The Vietnam War brought protests to a scale they had not previously experienced. There were riots with huge swaths of cities ablaze, assassinations, the ever-present Cold War and nuclear arms build-up. If we took the time to listen to our grandparents, they told of struggles during the Great Depression and impact of World War II.

This means my generation might not have fully understood the 1960s, yet most of us were changed in different ways by immense cultural shifts that occurred. We entered then into  uncertainty of the 1970s which for a variety of reasons took us to a point of the period that became known as American Malaise; gas shortages, high inflation, and the terrible taking of the American Embassy in Iran where fifty-two were held hostage for more than a year. (The movie Argo in an excellent treatment of some who escaped initial capture and isn’t even too over-the-top). The era of President Ronald Reagan brought a remarkable time with a revived economy and an ultimate end to the Cold War. On the other hand, new dangers arose. Desert Storm also brought a much-needed boost to the U.S. military, which I won’t go into in this post.

For Generation X, (those not personally touched by Desert Storm), the horrors of 9/11 was the equivalent of our parents/grandparents’ Pearl Harbor and their first impact of a world-changing event. There have of course been regional natural disasters of hurricanes, tornadoes, etc., tens of thousands have been through.

For Millennials and Generation Z, the Corona Virus pandemic may, however, be their first major-scale crisis. Perspective is important. Let us hope the current turmoil ends soon, but also work with our younger generations to assure them we have dealt with crisis before.

A New Experience For Sure…..

The advantage of modern medicine compared to the 1918 Influenza (Spanish Flu) pandemic which lasted two years, is treatments are being worked as is a vaccine. While I completely agree with fast-tracking, that is a relative term. The expression, “the cure was worse than the disease”, exists for a reason. Despite wanting to get something out and available, adverse side effects must be avoided.

Setting aside the medical aspects, the economic impact is going to be far-reaching and difficult for so many. Even though disaster funds have always been part of a recovery, they are very much after the fact and generally bogged down in red tape. How someone manages with no pay for perhaps as much as eight weeks is especially unsettling. Then there will be the inevitable scams that arise in similar situations and of course we’ve already seen the absurd hoarding aspect.

With all that said, for every kindness and consideration that is being shown, I hope we spread those stories. Who hasn’t teared up at the clips of Italians opening their windows and doors to share the beauty of opera within the neighborhoods? Even if we can’t be creative like that, let us keep an eye out for good ideas others are coming up with and support them either with action if practical or by letting people know about them. I’ll be talking to the kids today about their situation. Living in a 1,000 (basically) square foot condo with an active five-year-old will be challenging. They do have the advantage of their weather entering true spring and lots of nearby outdoor areas. Since they both work for businesses that have been shut down for at least a few weeks, they will have plenty of family time. I suspect trading off so each parent can have a little “me time” might turn out to be just as important.

About The Latest Gap….

Ah, the ripple effect of things. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I’m involved in a lot of community work between writing for the local paper and other. Let us just say the past few days has been a bit of a scramble with the impact of rescheduling and trying to decide about rescheduling events. There was also a personal situation (nothing bad) we had to deal with that became more complicated than necessary. It all worked out, but took extra effort to do so. In other words, I have fallen behind with a post. While neither Hubby nor I have any health issues to make us vulnerable to the situation, we do of course sympathize with those who do. Like most people, we hope things stabilize as soon as possible. When that will be is of course unknown at this point.

Our trip to see the kids in the D.C. area will have to be rescheduled and we’re waiting to hear if the proposed June date for the performance is a “go”. That will actually work better for us than a possible May one, but we’ll adjust to whatever. The April scuba gathering has been cancelled and I haven’t checked yet to see what the refund situation is as trying to plan for something in 2021 tends to be a little out of my usual time horizon.

Aside from the health impact, I feel the most keenly for the economic hit, not on the stock market as that always eventually recovers. Employees suddenly out of work is a different matter. Even with the government stepping in to help, that is never a quick process. Plus, disaster funds are available, but in general, only certain parts of the country will be affected for any given disaster. This obviously has a much wider impact. We shall all have to see how this plays out.

Truth and Belief…..

Serious musing alert. I can’t begin to count the number of “King Arthur” movies that have been made. My favorite continues to be “Excalibur” with by the way, a young Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, and a little known Liam Nessom. Setting that aside, there are multiple passages about the importance of truth. In the beginning Uthur Pendragon persuades Merlin to deceive Igraine after he has killed her husband the king. In exchange, Merlin takes the infant Arthur. As Uthur rages against the bargain he made, Merlin tells him he is not “the one”, as his betrayal of others have left him untrustworthy and indeed Uthur is killed in revenge in the next scene. Fast forward years when Arthur draws the sword Excalibur from the stone. Some of the same men who killed Uthur refuse to accept him and challenge Patrick Stewart’s character to join them. “I saw what I saw,” he says. “The boy drew the sword. If a boy has been chosen, the boy is the king.” In later scenes, Merlin is either cryptic or plain spoken about why truth is important. “When truth dies, so does part of man,” (or something like that) is one comment.

The point to this post is how often we say, “truth” when it is often instead perception/perspective or belief. I’ve discussed this subject before and what brings it to mind now is the on-going divisiveness in so much of our societies about so very many topics. As I have also previously mentioned, if one makes decisions based on that, convincing someone their “truth” is in actuality their belief and perhaps not “true” in the larger sense is not likely to occur. This is not quite the same as “cognitive dissonance” which involves holding conflicting beliefs (sure, smoking can cause cancer, but that won’t happen to me). There are often times when a situation occurs and the truth may never be known. Two or more people are involved in an incident where there is no visual or audio record of what was done or said. The “he said, she said” is all that is available and thus belief comes into play if choice must be made about which version to accept. Most of us have a tendency to want to trust our own judgement and are reluctant to admit otherwise. In fact, the great Carl Sagan once wrote (although I don’t know the exact source) “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle.  We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth.  The bamboozle has captured us.  It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken.”



“Hey Mom, My Arm Is In A Cast”….

Mixed content ahead. A passage periodically goes around Facebook with something like, “I survived riding in the back of a pick-up truck, no bicycle helmet, playgrounds without rubber mats,” and several other instances of things kids raised in the 50s did as routine. My brother and three male cousins didn’t exactly have reserved spots in the Emergency Room, but they were frequent visitors. I’m not saying times haven’t changed and there aren’t some very real dangers out there we didn’t face as kids. On the other hand, ordinary kid activities do sometimes come with the risk of accidents that will range from the “band-aid and kiss” solution to the trip to the ER.

Son was not quite seven years old when that call came as he was in Maine with his grandparents. They had installed a swing set in the yard and as happens, using the swing set as it is intended apparently wasn’t quite adventurous enough one afternoon. Why not instead climb out to grasp the top rail and swing back and forth like an acrobat? The break wasn’t too bad; actually a chipped elbow. That was in the day of plaster casts and at least it was his left arm. No complications either. (Of the later trips to the ER, three were far more serious, although none the result of an accident.)

Active kids are likely at some point to get hurt and medical emergencies do occur. In truth, I can’t recall if the lingering scar on my sister’s forehead had been the result of stitches or if that was a case where maybe stitches should have been required. For sure, the cut on one of my fingers was a borderline situation, but neither of us were anywhere nearly as accident-prone as my brother. Anyway, granddaughter is proving to be a bit on the daring side. It is possible all will go without incident. The day may come though when the call is, “Hey Grandma and Grandpa, my arm is in a cast.”


Much More Complicated Than Anticipated…..

We are continuing to check off certain improvements to the house. The whole house water filtration system is working nicely. The next part was replacing the front door and the outside lights. For those who don’t live in Miami-Dade County, replacing a front door is quite a process. This is due to code reference being hurricane resistant. The cost is of course far greater than an ordinary door and thanks to the architecture of the house, these are custom which also increases the cost. This was not a personal choice as all the houses were designed this way by the builder. While they do look nice, it’s not something we would have included.

Anyway, I had no idea the installation was as complicated as it has turned out to be. It has to do with re-drilling the holes for all the hinges and apparently the bottom plate where the door closes has to be fixed into mortar. This, also unknown to me, involves tearing out all the existing wood and rebuilding it. I suppose I should have gotten a hint when the first thing they did this morning was drape plastics over all the furniture. My idea they would be finished and gone by around noon is obviously not remotely accurate, although they do seem to be working as quickly as they can. The other good thing is once this is done it ought to last a very long time. It’s somewhat like getting the new fence. If you pay the extra for the higher grade, it should not require replacement for the foreseeable future. Granted, this does also assume the whole issue of a hurricane doesn’t alter everything. As a reminder, the county did face up to reality after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in that building codes were out of date and not properly enforced. This is why our county and Monroe (covers the Florida Keys) now have the most restrictive wind-storm codes in the country.

Interesting Discussion……

I have once again been put onto a news story that became more complex than originally anticipated. Our once a week paper doesn’t have “breaking news”, although I do get short-notice calls at times to scramble to get a story when the timing is right (or generally wrong from my perspective). As I may have mentioned in a previous post, notwithstanding the fact I wanted to be a writer from around age 9 or so, I never wanted to be a reporter. (Sorry, Lois Lane) I still resist the term despite having been writing for the paper here for quite a while. And yes, I really do contribute to the community.

Anyway, a gentleman who has a service dog due to his PTSD from his Army years did an editorial about “Fake Service Dogs” that was passed along to our paper. Since it involved a former military individual, it came my way. His letter was very pointed at people who are falsely having their pets declared as emotional support animals (ESA) and causing problems for genuine service animals.

In being fair to those who function from misunderstanding as opposed to selfishness, there are actually four categories; service, emotional support, comfort, and therapy dogs. (Yes, there are other animals used, but we’ll stick to dogs here) In essence, service dogs are highly trained, specifically so to behave safely in public places. Although the remaining types have been shown to provide benefits, the same level of training is rarely the case. ( has a lot of detail).

There is plenty of data to show the health benefits of having a dog. As more people seek to have a dog declared in an ESA capacity, the focus may shift more to what benefit the human receives than to the training/temperament of the dog. In other words, while a dog may bring comfort. etc., to the human half of the pair, how does it behave in public, especially if it is crowded? To add to this, capitalism and entrepreneurship being what they are, identification of ESAs has become a marketable commodity.  On-line sites provide the identification, vest, and leash for the dog for a fee. Of the two sites I checked, my impression was the prime consideration was not about the dog. One expert with a service dog organization said there are sites that will issue the documentation based on nothing more than a photo of the dog.

Being unwilling to acknowledge the unsuitability of a dog is no different than someone who doesn’t recognize when their child is ill-behaved. Deliberately having a dog falsely declared as an ESA is no different from an able-bodied person borrowing a Handicap tag in order to get a better parking place. As I said, I discovered some interesting things during my research.



Losing Someone During the Holidays…..

Strong emotional content alert. Yes, I know – what a sad topic. The fact is death doesn’t respect the holidays and there has been a recent flurry on social media about how losing a loved one during the holidays is particularly cruel. For many years, I didn’t understand why my first husband’s mother made such a big deal out of Christmas. There were gifts all over, to include those from the family pets. She would take obvious pleasure in picking out gifts for every person and just as obviously go to a great deal of trouble in making the selections. (I still use the wonderful leather attache she gave me years ago for my travel computer.) I don’t recall exactly when I learned this; I knew she’d had only one sibling, a younger brother who’d died as a child. As it turns out, he’d contracted scarlet fever (or something like that) and died not long before Christmas. Part of her father’s reaction to the tragedy was to declare there would never be another Christmas celebration in the household and apparently he refused to yield from that position. All she could do was wait and make her adult Christmases as enjoyable as possible.

The closer a loved one’s death is to a holiday, the more difficult it is to separate the loss from what is a time of celebration. If the individual is quite aged and the death not unexpected, it can be a bit easier and the regular holiday can become instead a type of memorial. When it is sudden with little or no warning, the emotional blow is intensified; at times to the point of devastation. For those who have been through this, there is almost always an equal measure of anger, of raging against the unfairness. At the time, the inability/unwillingness for any kind of traditional celebration is a common response. How future holidays are handled is another matter; one which can bring people together or have a lasting and perhaps unintended impact.