And Then It Was Five…..

People sometimes wonder how I manage to get so many things strung together. Yesterday was one of those days. I have a standing Friday Happy Hour and it was also the Friday for a monthly luncheon. A task that was originally scheduled for Monday had to be postponed and was going to be on Thursday. Then, something else came up which could only be done Thursday, so slipped the other task to Friday morning. Okay, now I’m at three and that’s manageable.

Two extra tasks came up which I wanted to take care of Thursday as they were both close to where I was going to be anyway. As I was completing one, I sent a text to arrange the other. Oops, individual wasn’t going to be available until Friday – okay, that can work as it was close to where I was going to have Happy Hour which happened to be in a different place than usual because it was combining some work with enjoying wine. When I opened my email after returning home, an individual I was trying to meet up with wanted to know if I could make – you guessed it – Friday afternoon. Ah yes. Okay, by fitting that in between the luncheon and the other, I could allow for an hour which should be plenty of time.

So, I make a run down to Key Largo Friday morning for meeting one; scoot back by house for short time to check email before heading to luncheon. Repeat before 3:00 meeting. Text to ensure individual is available for next meeting. That’s a go and I head in for that. Sit down, get started and receive phone call to verify I will be at the “working HH”. Oh yes, I’ll be there. And that’s why when I sent the 8:00 a.m. email out dealing with another major task I explained I would be out most of the day and would respond to questions this morning. Well, I did take the one call from a recipient who was on her way to the airport and needed to check one detail before beginning her international flight.

Day One Lost…..

Okay, the kids’ trip did not start well as they were caught up in the “hundreds of flights cancelled” (or however many there were). We did get notified in time for them not to have left for the airport. That was annoying enough. The real kicker is they were re-booked to have to fly through Boston today instead of direct which means getting into Fort Lauderdale at 5:30 if no more delays. Instead of a leisurely evening last night and all day together today, the trip will be more tiring and I’m driving back in the dark. Neighbor was coming for dinner to have some special time with the kids as he has known them the longest. We slid that to 7:30 and Hubby is working all day. I will prep a bunch of stuff for him to start dinner if needed.

Fortunately I scheduled the dolphin encounter for tomorrow and that’s the most time critical aspect. On the other hand, this is the first time in bringing them down to encounter such delays and it was bound to happen sooner or later. During all my years of flying there were lots of relatively minor issues and a few incredibly inconvenient ones. When son was only about four, we were weathered in at Boston to the point they finally decided to bus us to Portland. This was in the age before cell phones and the grandparents lived an hour and a half from the airport. The bus was of course full and son had to sit on my lap the entire time. He was an experienced traveler by this stage. We had started out in Louisiana fairly early that morning, so you can imagine the situation. I explained everything to him though and during that drive of almost three hours, he didn’t fuss or whine and grandparents had whiled away their time by having dinner close to the airport. I doubt he remembers it although he might.

In Praise of the Tortoise…

Okay, not a holiday theme, but I was in a meeting earlier today that brought this to mind. I have no idea how often the old Aesop fable of the Tortoise and the Hare has been told nor is there probably any way to know. The spin-off sayings of, “Slow and steady wins the race,” etc., all convey the same concept. There are other instances where being slow is indeed inertia and someone does come along and “light things up” to help achieve a goal.

Locally we have two important projects that languished for decades; not for lack of want or effort, but because getting the resources was complicated. In both situations, a group of people steadfastly kept plodding with an occasional “surge” until resources finally improved. The specificity of the projects – one of which is still not complete although far enough along now as to seem genuinely on track – is not important.

The aspect of the meeting I had this morning involves the art side of the community. When the last art galleries closed in the 2008-2010 real estate bust, there were hopes they would recover as did the general market. That didn’t happen and while efforts to date have not been successful, the adverse impact of COVID was and continues to be a factor. However, there are some things “bubbling along” – okay, “simmering” might be a better word – that won’t necessarily bring galleries back yet, but may provide more routine venues for artists. There are still pieces to be moved into place and that’s what some of us are working on at this point. It’s always tricky with scarce resources and “collaboration, not competition” is vital. We’ll have to see what happens as we continue to be more tortoise than hare, and do hope the fable is proved to be correct again.

Desert Storm Memory……

I was guest speaker at one of the local Woman’s Clubs yesterday with my presentation of, “Inadvertent Pioneer”. This was in honor of Veterans Day. That presentation is focused on the transition time of 1974 thru 1995 when significant changes took place for women and I happened to be part of it through a series of circumstances.

Anyway, this presentation always stirs memories of different parts of my career. As I’ve posted before, my husband and I were with Second Corps Support Command (2d COSCOM) under the VII Corps for Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was moved to the newly established Task Force Bennett and I stayed with the COSCOM Headquarters. In practical terms that meant he was further forward in the desert than I was and we did see each other briefly occasionally when our duties overlapped. During the main part of our deployment, we did have some trailers as office space at the headquarters (we did move three times I think it was before we folded into King Khalid Military City after Hussein surrendered). Most of the headquarters was in tents; the large ones for mess hall, operations, etc.,  – smaller ones for living. One of the things we had to get used to were the sudden, violent dust storms that would appear in the same way squalls do. We often saw towering “dust devils” in the distance which were interesting to observe. The type of storm I’m talking about would appear with little notice from a clear, hard blue sky. Think of one of the large tents like you see at events except instead of open sides, the sides are down and pegged into the ground. Now think of that same tent being literally snatched up a few feet off the ground, twisted and set back down, partially collapsed. The storms rarely lasted more than maybe ten minutes and weren’t always that intense. Everything was obscured though and you certainly didn’t want to be outside without protection. As far as I know, no one ever got hurt, but cleanup always took a while.

Louisiana Trip, Day 5…..

Birthday arrived yesterday and Daddy made it for over an hour before he tired and needed to return to his room. He enjoyed cupcakes, ice cream and the lady who does his hair every few weeks brought by some treats as well. One was an unbaked cookie ball rolled in coconut that tasted a great deal like a lemon tart. We had about nine of us there and a couple of the residents also stopped in the activity room. Through a very strange situation, my sister and brother-in-law didn’t make it after all and the step-sister in Texas had previously said they couldn’t come. The idea is both those sets will try to coincide a visit in a few weeks. The youngest whose name I have forgotten meant we had four generations represented; not unexpected when the oldest is 97. The rain did stop prior to everyone arriving and with the sun out, it was a bit steamy although we  were inside so it didn’t matter.

Brother and I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant last night. Not that we have a shortage of Mexican restaurants in Homestead, but my sister-in-law doesn’t care for the cuisine so it was what he wanted to do. There are actually four good Mexican restaurants in Minden/Dixie Inn; three of which serve alcohol. (One does have to have one’s priorities). My favorite doesn’t have quite as much atmosphere as the one downtown, however, they have a signature dish I really like. It’s a “Ranchero style” with either chicken, steak or shrimp, and has a little tomato, roasted green peppers, onions, all in a cheesy sauce (not heavy). The flavors are well balanced. Oh, and when they put the basket of tortilla chips on the table, they are often still warm from the fryer. And yes, the salsa is homemade.

“We Can’t Help Everyone”……

In writing for our weekly community paper, I have and continue to cover many non-profits and often pass them along in posts here. Some are events held by the national/international organizations like the Kiwanis and others are regional or local. I have also covered multiple small groups that aren’t able to sustain even though they had good intentions. Running a non-profit requires a certain level of organization and some administration as it should if you’re going to ask people to give you money. There are, unfortunately, those groups that do spend far too much of their revenue on “administration” rather than programs and even worse are those that are out-and-out scams.

Setting aside the negative aspects, I’ve also previously posted about the sheer number of legitimate organizations means no one – not even the multi-billionaires – can contribute to all the worthy causes. Which leads to the phrase, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone”. I used that as a lead-in to this week’s article about one of the local non-profits that has managed to sustain since they started a few years ago when I first learned about them. ( I did a post as well, but that’s been a while. The lady and her husband began with a small group of friends and have grown. Their mission and goal are to help people who are going through a “tough time” and just need a bridge to help them across the turmoil.

One of my favorite stories of many was the cheerful young man who worked at Starbucks and was a student at the local college. Aside from paying for college, his wages went to help his single mother and younger brother. So, one of the organization members learned his old car had broken down and he was waiting to make enough money to fix it. This meant taking the bus and walking to work and school which of course meant even less free time than he usually had. The first discussion was to pay for the repairs, but his car was really old. Another member had a basic used car, yet still serviceable and they said they would contribute that. Someone else did take it in to make sure it was tuned up as well as fueled. They delivered it to the young man who was stunned and incredibly grateful. While this was more of a “big project” if you consider the value of a used car, most of the good deeds they do are smaller in scope, yet greatly help the recipient.

The Comedy of Pompous….

Having now finished watching the series “Northern Exposure”, I had never seen the first season of “Fraiser”. That was another one we didn’t watch routinely and at only half-hour, the episodes can’t include as much as an hour-long show. For those who may not be familiar, it was a spin-off show from “Cheers” where the psychiatrist Dr. Fraiser Crane, played by Kelsey Grammer, leaves Boston after his divorce and goes back to Seattle to become the psychiatrist for a call-in radio show. His brother, Niles, played by David Hyde Pierce, is still a practicing psychiatrist. Their father, a tough cop who certainly hadn’t envisioned both his sons being so very different from him, was forced to retire when he was shot in the hip. In not yet healing, it became apparent he could no longer live at home so the first episode and several subsequent ones were the utter disruption when the decision was made for him to move into Fraiser’s well-appointed apartment. Niles has a large, expensive house with plenty of room, but his wife (whom I don’t think we ever see) has many issues that are also worth a chuckle. Naturally, there is a spunky British live-in added into the mix who helps care for the father (played by John Mahoney) and his scruffy dog Eddy.

There are the other members of the radio staff and personalities to add humor as well as the pricey coffee shop where many scenes take place. There is the constant display of how pompous both sons are juxtaposed against the common sense of the dad and assistant. At the same time though, there are the moments when the dad or assistant stop to see things from Fraiser’s perspective to draw out the gentler person he can be. A few poignant exchanges serve as reminders that most of us do at times get caught up in our own views and perhaps fail – or are slow to consider another as valid.

Birthday On the Approach…..

As it is birthday eve, Mother Nature is being a bit “blustery” and so diving tomorrow is more than I care to mess with. They cancelled yesterday afternoon’s trips and according to Hubby, the wind and waves definitely picked up the latter part of this morning. As long as I can get a dive in by Tuesday though it still counts as a birthday dive. Depending on what else I have tomorrow, I might jump in the pool to get wet at any rate. We are joining friends this evening though who are down from New Jersey. That steered me more toward a leisurely lunch out Saturday and nice steaks at home Saturday night. Yes, that’s the day after, but again, it’s close enough to count.

Since we have trip to D.C. area coming up that will also involve some nice dinners out although it’s difficult to know how things will be with the COVID situation. Hopefully, not as bad as last year’s trip with hotel services curtailed. On the other hand, we have that to use as a gauge, so don’t expect it to be worse. Other friends we haven’t seen in quite some time are coming up from North Carolina and while my girlfriend does have business to attend to she might take part of Tues, the 14th off. If she can’t, we’ll still all have dinner, plus the performance and the gala after for “catch-up” time. The reason we’re staying close to the Kennedy Center for the night of the performance is because the gala always runs late and at least we’ll have a short distance to go when we unplug. It is a school night due to how they had to reschedule from last year’s date and I don’t think the kids have decided yet if they will get up extra early to take granddaughter to school or let her skip a couple of hours. It probably makes sense to wait and see before making that decision.


Speaking of Jobs and Working Together….

Okay, my plan to post yesterday got completely away from me with a series of errands and having three articles again for the paper this week.

A longtime business (market and cafe) has closed in Kendall which is up the road a bit. People are posting about their memories and sad to see it go. We were only there a couple of times and did enjoy it. Like so many family owned businesses though, sustaining through the generations can be difficult; especially for the third and fourth. One of my “beats” for the community paper is multi-generational businesses and I’ve written about many of them. Two generations is not uncommon as the child/children often literally “grow up in the business”. This is a usually combination of struggling to make it as a “mom and pop” whatever it might be and therefore needing to use the business for day care/after school, then finding tasks for the child/children to do which segues into part time work. At that point, there is generally a growing appreciation for the business, a thirst to learn and do more or the other side of the coin, “I’ll put up with this until I can go my own way.” If there is more than one child, it can be split as to who wants to keep with the family business and who wants to follow another path.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts my career intentions had been to go into the Army to get the G.I. Bill to pay for law school and enter the small family law firm. In staying in the Army for a career instead, the cousin closest to me in age and his younger sister did both go to law school and took over the practice. Male cousin stayed with it and female cousin went the judicial route. So, that’s the third generation. Male cousin’s sons were not remotely interested, but female cousin’s oldest daughter is not only a relatively new lawyer, but also married to a lawyer. They’re in Mississippi and the daughter acknowledged the small – and I do mean small – Louisiana town may not be quite what they are looking for. On the other hand, they do have a toddler now and it is a good place to raise children. Who knows, there could be that fourth generation to step into the office after all.

Unfilled Jobs…..

Although I try to stay away from politics per se, certain social aspects often come close to, if not actually share a line with politics. I genuinely don’t know how many people are continuing to stay unemployed because of drawing extra pay through COVID-19 relief. There are no doubt some as there always are. What I do know is there are “Now Hiring” signs in many places and restaurants/hotels are having an especially hard time finding employees. A response is, “Then employers should pay more.” In some cases, I agree. I do not agree with the concept of a minimum wage of $15/hr, but that is not exactly the topic here.

There are conflicting studies that show a raise in the minimum wage causes jobs to be cut to accommodate the increase in labor costs and studies that show no job loss. I suspect either may be correct depending on the type of company and location. The reality is  minimum wage and low-paying jobs are intended to be entry level, or perhaps second-job opportunities, or augmentation jobs for someone who wants a degree of income with no real responsibility. A “fairness issue” arises when those are the dominant type of jobs available in a location so there is little chance of “getting ahead”. That also applies when the cost of living is such that even making more money may not help lift one from having to live paycheck-to-paycheck with no buffer in the case of an emergency.

What I do know is this. Companies who want to hire and retain employees and can do so increase pay and benefits in order to have a stable qualified workforce. Small to mid-size companies may simply not have the capital to do so. In the small company I worked for after I retired from the Army, the owner was great about getting around to talk to all the employees. (That changed as the company grew and was one of the reasons he and his co-owner wife eventually sold off most of what became a “group”.) Anyway, during one session, the subject of increasing compensation was raised. The boss nodded and said something like, “Everyone always wants higher salaries. We understand that. We have to stay competitive. If we charge too high a price for our services, we won’t get the contracts and can’t stay in business or grow.” The belief that any company that refuses to pay employees a bigger salary is motivated only by greed for the bosses is generally not correct.