Asking Forgiveness or Permission…..

Many, many years ago I and a friend wanted to do something that quite frankly would be utterly not allowed these days. (It was questionable then, too). So I had my first encounter with the phrase, “Better to ask forgiveness than permission because some asshole will always say no.” We went ahead and didn’t encounter an issue, but that was another of those “youthful indiscretions” that could have easily gone awry. (The details aren’t important) A recent local situation brought this memory to mind along with a common misconception about this phrase.

I have heard others cavalierly toss this out when faced with the sudden realization forgiveness might not be granted. People have a tendency to think their “initiative” or “boldness” will count more heavily in their favor. It very often does, particularly if the action results in something good. Even so, though, it can also lead to friction within a group as not everyone may be in the “forgiving” mode. The point though is it doesn’t always. At those few times I’ve witnessed the reaction of the one “not forgiven” the common reaction is one of disbelief followed by an emotional response of anger and/or pleading for reconsideration. (More about that below)

A boss of mine later expanded on the idea with his three “rules”. First, make sure what you want to do is legal. Second, think it through carefully and be able to explain your reasoning. Third, accept the consequences if things don’t go as planned. To reinforce the above paragraph, that meant prepare myself if the action/decision didn’t work out correctly or forgiveness was not in the mix. This is one of those life lessons that served me well and I passed it on to numerous subordinates during my career.

Might Miss Another Party….

In the scheme of things, this isn’t an overly important point, but it did bring an interesting memory to mind. I’ll start with the main thing.As I mentioned in a previous post, last year was granddaughter’s fifth birthday and the first one she was to have as a “major event”. Our present to her was to be the venue, a popular place with a specific children’s birthday party package. She was inviting people months ahead and then, as timing has it, her March 13th day hit right before the official shutdown. At that stage, however, parents were becoming concerned and most basically told the kids they weren’t going to be comfortable with attending. The venue acknowledged they’d had many cancellations and so the decision was made. The grandparents from Maine did come down and they had a special day which helped take the sting out of no big party. Granddaughter hasn’t forgotten though and apparently the decision again this year is “not yet”. They are looking for something extra special so we’ll see what that turns out to be.

Anyway, reaching way back to when her dad was a baby, as I have explained, his dad was killed when he was only four months old. Single parenting with an infant and being on active duty in the Army came with more challenges than I want to get into. And as often happens when the “needs of the Army” and the “desires of the individual” conflict, it’s not hard to guess who wins. This is how I found myself on the way to a specialized school at Fort Ord, CA in Monterey for almost four months when the child was only ten months old. Most at the school did not have their families with them and since I didn’t really have anyone to care for him for that length of time (as was suggested), they made an exception for me to have him with me. However, being the only single parent, especially with an infant, came with yet another set of challenges. We were divided into work groups and since several of the individuals in our group were also parents, they rallied around to help at least some and those who weren’t parents got into the swing of it. As the child’s first birthday approached, they were startled I said I wasn’t having a party for him. The fact is birthday parties for a one-year-old is for parents and grandparents to have cute photos. Unknown to me, the group decided that wouldn’t do and our “dinner out” that night segued into a surprise party complete with messy chocolate cake and a ride on an indoor merry-go-round. They also gave me a touching framed multi-photo piece of photos one of the guys had taken over the series of weekends as I brought the baby along for times we when went out to lunch. And yes, I do still have that hanging on the wall.

Holding Onto a Record…..

I will admit conflicted feelings about the NFL. I’m still angry they allowed the game/organization to be politicized when they had other options. On the other hand, setting aside the adverse economic impact of COVID-19 closures and restrictions, in normal circumstances, it is not only the highly paid players, owners, etc., who make a living from football. There is the associated revenue for many, many small businesses in and around stadiums and then there is the intangible love of the sport. With that said, I’ll segue into the point of the post.

All athletes, no matter how good, come to an end to their career. The body will simply no longer hold up to the physical demand, particularly when there are additional injuries as well as the normal “wear and tear”. It is, however, also true that for the highest paid “star athletes” whether it’s the money or the continued fame, they may hold on longer than they should. It is also true when one attains that level, hundreds of thousands of people (if not more) will express their opinions about when “it’s time to quit”. This was on full display in this year’s Superbowl where both Tom Brady as quarterback for Tampa Bay and Head Coach Bruce Arians were the oldest to ever win a Superbowl in their respective positions. Brady of course set another record having now won his 7th as a QB. For every record set, however, there will be those who aspire to break it. Some will hold for decades, such as the 1972 Miami Dolphins continue to be the only team that has had a perfect season of no losses to include the Superbowl. One can imagine that thought is already circulating in Tampa Bay for next season.

There was a superb and much too short-lived TV series, “Sports Night”, in the 1990s. It was wonderfully cast with excellent writing and although a comedy, there were often dramatic and poignant themes and scenes. In one episode, they staff was cheering for an older Olympic contender in some sort of track event; a man who had been on the cusp of setting a world record, but was sidelined due to an injury. He fought his way back and did set the record. As the one sportscaster said, “Then, fifteen minutes later, a young (whatever country he was from), came along and broke that record by a fraction of a second.” He felt a pang of desolation for what the other man had endured to hold the world record for barely fifteen minutes. Another individual quietly observed, “Which is fifteen minutes longer than most athletes will ever hold it.”

When Holidays Are Tragic….

No, I’m not trying to be anti-holiday. I’ve seen multiple Facebook posts of people who have lost loved ones over the past few days. These deaths are never easy, but somehow when it occurs during a major holiday, it usually has extra impact. It can also mar that holiday for many years to come.

When I married my first husband, I was startled at the number of Christmas gifts; the regular one expected, but also one from the dog and Santa. I mean we were after all adults. And they were incredibly thoughtful gifts, the type someone puts time and effort into. Since we only had two Christmases together before he was killed, I never got around to finding out what that was about. Years later, my mother-in-law brought the subject up. As it turned out, her only sibling was a brother whom I knew had died fairly young. He contracted scarlet fever (I think it was) and died a few days before Christmas. Their father declared there would be no celebration of that or any other Christmas in the household. He never relented and so each Christmas was ignored. Once she left home, she was determined to cherish the holiday. Not that she didn’t love her brother, but she understood the two were not connected.

It isn’t just the person most affected in these cases; relatives and friends can sometimes feel awkward too about how to react. It is commonplace for the first major holiday (or any special day like a birthday) following a death to bring more pain. That can cause the individual to want to pull back rather than be around others. These feelings can be compounded if the individual doesn’t want to “spoil things for others”. If you find yourself in this situation, it is tricky. Inviting the individual for festivities and then being understanding if they decline is usually best. Or perhaps being able to have some sort of one-on-one interaction such as a luncheon can be good. It is possible the individual will want to express the sensation of additional emotion and a shoulder to lean/cry on is what is needed.

“What’s Old Is New Again”……

In yet another example of adaptation to trying to keep a small business going in the time of COVID, drive-in theaters are popping up in a lot of places. For those of us who grew up in the era, the idea was easy for families watching budgets. Pile everyone in the car, take your own snacks, ignore the kids asking for concessions and enjoy a movie together. I don’t recall all the movies we went to, but it was a fairly regular thing for us. And then there was the high school and college student part which included more than just watching the movie.

Anyway, there have been regular local festivals that featured a “movie in the park” element, but back in the summer, an entrepreneurial brother and sister were in town for college summer break. Their dad owns a large, empty lot and they decided to give the drive-in movie theater a try. As it turns out, when they calculated the cost of renting the screen and other equipment, they went on a search for used equipment instead. They found a pretty good price and figured they might be able to sell the set-up for a decent amount or not much loss. They were both due back at school in late August and so were doing this as both a way to offer entertainment that included social distancing and to see if it would work. I interviewed the brother and did a short piece for the paper. I even reached out to a couple of contacts to see if they might be interested in buying the equipment although their interest wasn’t enough to pursue it.

Someone else has recently started showing movies and I have an inquiry out to see if they either did buy the equipment or were simply inspired by the idea. I always enjoy that kind of connectivity.

Going Away To College Would Have Been Nice……

Serious content alert; not somber though. I have previously posted about my personal belief that we do not promote non-college paths to success enough in our culture. Aside from the fact the trades and other hands-on careers are vital to our communities and economy, many individuals are far more suited to those than an academic pursuit. Choosing a non-college job is something to celebrate, too. Added to that, college costs (as with medical and housing in lots of places) have been continuously artificially inflated for a variety of inappropriate reasons. For all the bad that has come with COVID, it’s possible expanded distance learning might help bring college costs down.

I have also mentioned in the past we lived in a small college town and the rule was simple in our middle class one-income family. Go to school there with either a scholarship or working part time. Yes, going away to college would have been nice, but it wasn’t financially feasible. There are multiple factors to consider of course if the decision is made to do so and a major one is out-of-state. Most states have a good-to-excellent university systems with significant cost difference for in and out-of-state tuition. Yes, there are some specific careers where your university can matter when it comes to hiring. It is not a factor for the most part. For example, if being a a whiz on Wall Street is the goal, attending a well-known East Coast university can be important. If being a nurse or teacher, there is no reason to pay out-of-state tuition. If the goal is to nurse/teach in another state, a separate  board certification might be required, but the degree itself should be adequate preparation. Another route is strongly consider attending a community-type college for the first two years (especially if getting an Associate Degree), then completing the Bachelors at a four-year college or university. With the ridiculous costs of college, these are viable options to keep potential debt low.

Income, Profit, and Making a Living……

During dinner last night with friends, the discussion entered the realm of the difficulty in making a living in the arts. There are multiple dimensions to this, but if one strips to the core, it’s relatively simple – all be it disconcerting. As much as people do enjoy the arts, for those who have money to spend, what they are willing to pay is a different story. Almost as important is the reality there are many, many talented artists/artisans (this includes writers), and as in any commodity, markets are often “flooded”. Oh, for the sake of this post, I’m referring to freelance. Yes, there are teaching positions, but that’s a different path.

Unlike numerous careers where you won’t become wealthy, but you can earn enough to achieve and sustain middle class, few in the arts are genuinely likely to achieve that. Certainly not if there’s a family to care for as well. The tiny percent in the arts who do “make the big time” help fuel the dream though of all who have such aspirations. (Yes, there are also those who create only for “art’s sake”; that though is yet another topic).  The desire to create, whether it’s acting, art, craft, dance, music, or writing is something that should never be discouraged as it is a profound aspect of being human. Balancing the drive with “real life” is the trick as I’ve posted about when we were faced with son’s intent to be a dancer. And of course I’ve written  plenty about my own experience which was part of last night’s discussion. In never having the commercial breakthrough, my writing has been a consistent tax write-off, but the IRS does get a bit touchy with year in and year out of that. Since I do primarily self-publish and I no longer publish at least one book a year, it  works out that I “make a profit” every few years. That is very much a relative term as it means yes, I have more income from writing than expenses. Let us say the ability to make a living with that income is not the same. On the other hand, I’ve refined the process to where my costs are no more than we spend on an average vacation and we do both take pleasure in my books.

October Trip, Day 2…..

Okay, have philosophically accepted the drawbacks of very limited amenities. In the final frustration of the night the Italian place the front desk gave us a menu for did have a nice menu. Ordered pizza – usual Friday night fare. The 45 minute delivery time wasn’t an issue; at least until 1.5 hours passed. Call to the place assured Hubby it was out for delivery. By 9:00 (2.5 hours), I went to the front desk and explained the situation. The young lady did apologize and I selected two cold turkey club sandwiches and chips from the limited options available by that time. Who knows what happened to the pizza or what the guy told his boss. At least we had been planning to pay cash so there was no credit card charge. The sandwiches were good although hardly what had intended.

The weather is pleasant and we got a walk in this morning. Daughter-in-law and granddaughter arrived for us to visit a bit, let Grandpa give her the camera he’d bought. It is rated for up to 30 feet underwater so naturally it went with granddaughter and I when we headed to the pool. Since she didn’t have mask and fins there wasn’t much “swimming”, but almost an hour of playing around. We had the pool to ourselves which makes it nicer as not all adults enjoy sharing a pool with small children. At graduated depths to five feet, she can now stand in the 2.5 and 3 foot water with a little to spare. It was not what would call totally comfortable from a temperature perspective, but inside meant there was no wind which really helps.

Dinner at McCormick and Schmicks was the usual excellent meal with the complete package of ambiance, good food, service, and granddaughter hung in with no issues. The only drawback is the promised plummet in temperature was noticeable when we came out and headed to the parking garage. Ah well, no rain is forecast.

Day 1 Oct 2020 Trip….

In deciding to make the trip to the D.C. area for son’s 40th birthday (yeah, I know), I was aware of certain limitations in traveling. I’ve already posted about the surprise in discovering we couldn’t fly direct at any sort of reasonable time. I also knew we would have to pretty continuously be in masks. (10 hours as it turned out)

Now, traffic to the airport was like it used to be and I’m not going to complain about that. After all, we have access to the American Express Lounge which is a pleasant place. Except I forgot to ask the direct question and it’s closed. It would have been nice if they had posted a sign before we walked all the way down, then back past our original point to get to our gate. Okay, we get on the flight. And now we learn there will be no complimentary beverages, but hey why not have paid extra for those particular seats anyway. Our layover in Charlotte allowed plenty of time for a leisurely lunch with a couple of adult beverages. Except, the terminal our connecting flight was in has no such service and since Hubby is hauling my carry-on (no wheels) and his backpack, I’m not going to ask him to haul us back the 7+ minute walk to the other terminal. Okay, on the plus-side, the weather is good and no flight delays to this point. More to follow as we arrive.

Okay, a delay, but not too bad. Now for more frustration. We are at a hotel I will not name, but let us say it’s a nice one. So, the granddaughter was “cheated” out of the complex pool this summer due to COVID. The idea was we picked one of the three hotels in the correct location that has an indoor pool. We’re bringing the kids out tomorrow after they get off work to spend Sat and Sun night and we fly Monday morning. We will take possession of granddaughter Sunday to allow kids to have a “date day” – that also happens to be son’s actual birthday. Good plan. When I went onto the hotel website to see the restaurant, bar, and pool, there was a notice about some services might not be available. I of course immediately thought of the pool and called about that. I was assured that yes, it was open. However, knowing that things can change, I explained to the kids we would check on the pool when we arrived.

What I didn’t think to ask about was the restaurant and bar. Indeed, neither are open and by the way, there’s no ice either. Ah, and no glassware; plastic only. Shall we say, I was not happy to discover all this. Okay, Plan B. Call the Kiddo. When you come tomorrow, bring cooler, ice, bourbon and perhaps scotch. And yes, the pool is available.

The Value of Controlled Burns…..

If this is a topic you’re interested in, a longer explanation is in the article I wrote in February as Hubby had a great time taking photos.(

Daddy was a forester for many years, although he didn’t start with the Louisiana Forestry Commission until I was maybe six. That particular job was running a pine tree nursery which was pretty cool to see as a kid. I don’t recall how many acres, but there were thousands – perhaps tens of  thousands of seedlings planted. They were harvested at different stages of maturity for reforestation. After that was the move to Natchitoches where we stayed from when I in the latter part of the fourth grade into college. I may have previously posted about the house we lived in. It was small, but functional and provided by the Forestry Commission as it was on the property. The head guy chose to live in a larger private house instead. Having acres of pine seedlings was one thing, having a 120-foot fire tower next to you was something different.

Anyway, the purpose of towers is of course to keep watch, especially during “fire season”. That was generally summer with dry conditions and winds. That part of Louisiana is heavily wooded, particularly with pine, and between carelessness (never mind the year of an arsonist) and lightening strikes there were always fires. The point is, during the rest of the year, there would be controlled burns planned and executed to clear out undergrowth and dead trees. The reason is straightforward. Both of those forest elements function as “tinder” when set ablaze. The greater the amount, the larger the fire which then spreads to mature trees. The “controlled” burn is exactly what it sounds like. Firefighters and equipment are set up to ignite and manage a burn in one section before moving to another. (Sectioning allows time for the forest creatures to move out of the way). There are strict rules to follow as to how large an area is to be burned at any one time and the other major factor is wind. Burns are not initiated when the wind is above a certain level. Once a burn is completed, it takes a short period for new growth to begin.