Sunday, June 6, 2021

Books of May

The Plot:  I enjoyed this story of a writer who was a one-book wonder and because of his stalled career is teaching creative writing at a nondescript school somewhere in New England.  One of his students tells him the plot of a novel he's writing.  It's awesome.  When he learns that his student died, he writes the book himself.  You have to read on to find out his how life changes to the good and not-so-good.  And no, I didn't figure out the ending although some reviewers on Amazon did.  Even if I had, I would have enjoyed the story.

The Last Thing He Told Me.  After her husband goes missing and leaves her with his daughter, she learns what really happened.  It's on the best seller list.  I give it a B+.

A Gentleman in Moscow.  The story of a man under lifetime house arrest in an elegant Moscow hotel and how he makes the best of it.  A charming story, lovely writing.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Signs of Our Times, Part 2

 Sign on a Maternity Room door: 

Push. Push. Push.

Sign at a car dealership:

The best way to get back on your feet--miss a car payment,

Sign outside a Muffler Shop:

No appointment necessary.  We hear you coming.

Sign in a veterinarian's waiting room:

Be back in five minutes.  Sit. Stay.

At the electric company:

We would be delighted if you send in your payment on tine; however, if you don't, you will be de-lighted.

In a restaurant window:

Don't stand there and be hungry; come in and get fed up.

At the front of a funeral home:

Drive carefully.  We'll wait.

At a propane filling station:

Thank Heaven for little grills.

In a Chicago radiator shop:

Best place to take a leak.

On the back of a septic tank truck:

Caution:  This truck is full of political promises.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Birthday, 2021

 At 9:15 a.m. today, I became exactly another year older. My daughter asked me the other day if I was excited about my birthday.  "Not so much," I told her.  "I've had so many."  Indeed I have, but this one was especially lovely because I was able to celebrate with my children in person.  My daughter came yesterday and my son and daughter-in-law today.  They brought me the cutest birthday gift ever--a drawing of a cat wearing glasses and reading To Kill a Mockingbird.  So funny.

This has been a weird year, hasn't it?  COVID lockdowns, people unrecognizable because they're wearing masks, vaccines, elections, and Zoom, Zoom, Zoom.  I wonder what to do with the masks I have collected in various colors to match my clothes.  Save them in case there's another spike of the virus?  Give them to Goodwill?  But who would want them?  Maybe just keep them as a memory of this crazy year.  

I wonder if people will continue online shopping now that stores are open again.  Will Zoom's stock go down?  (I don't know if they're listed on the stock market.)  How long will the toilet paper that people hoarded last?  Will sour dough bread replace whole wheat?  How many projects begun during lockdown will be completed? How many hobbies taken up out of boredom will continue?  Will people give up their sweats for business attire or will extremely casual become the new office-wear?  

I am only hoping this next year will be calm and safe and normal again... for all of us.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Signs of our Times, Part 1


Sign on a shoe repair shop:
We will heel you.
We will save your soul.
We will even dye for you.

Sign on a blinds and curtains truck:
Blind man driving.

Sign at a gynecologist's office:
Dr. Jones, at your cervix.

Sign in a podiatrist's office:
Time wounds all heels.

Sign on a septic tank truck:
Yesterday's meals on wheels.

Sign at an optometrist's office:
If you don't see what you're looking for,
you've come to the right place.

Sign on a plumber's truck:
We repair what your husband fixed.

Sign at a tire shop:
Invite us to your next blowout.

Sign on an electrician's truck:
Let us remove your shorts.

Sign in a non-smoking area:
If we see smoke, we will assume
you are on fire and will take appropriate action.

Enjoy!  To be continued next week.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

A Memory for Mother's Day: My Mother's Shoes

 My mother was a tiny woman, barely five feet tall, with dark hair and blue eyes.  The youngest of six children, she grew up in an immigrant family in Omaha, Nebraska.  There were few luxuries for the sisters in their home.  Her one indulgence was shoes.  Once when she was a young girl, a shoe manufacturer remarked upon her small, pretty feet and asked her to model his brand of shoes.  Elated, she asked her mother for permission.  It wasn't granted.  In my grandmother's eyes, model equaled prostitute and in no way would she grant her daughter's request.

Mother grew up, married and moved to Austin, Texas, where she gave birth to my sister and me.  Although she dressed us in outfits from Neiman Marcus, lavished us with music lessons, dance lessons, tennis lessons, private preschool and elaborate birthday parties, she never spent much on herself.  Except for shoes.  Her love of footwear continued through her life.  She wore size 4B, the same size as shoe store samples, and she filled her closet with every sample she could find--high heeled pumps and sandals, white shoes and black, spectators and sporty wedges.  My sister's boyfriend once said, "Mrs. Dochen, you're the only lady I know that wears high heels in the kitchen."  Of course she did; they made her taller.

She gave me and my friends her old shoes and dresses to use in our endless games of dress-up. One of my friends was crestfallen when she outgrew Mother's sample size shoes.

High heels were her pleasure and in her old age, her downfall.  One day she tripped going up the stairs to the porch.  Her glasses fell off and the earpiece pierced her eye, leaving her partially blind.  She never wore high heels again.

When dementia stole her memory, her communication skills and her awareness of the world around her, my sister and I moved her to a nursing home.  There she wore ugly shoes, "old lady shoes" she would have called them if she'd been able to comment on them.

After the move, my sister and I cleaned out her house.  We saved her room for last.  When we opened the door of her closet, there were dozens of pairs of her shoes.  Memories of our mother's life, lined up two by two on her closet floor.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Books of April

 Later.  A young man recounts his life and his gift of seeing and conversing with dead people.  Not Stephen King's best.

A Case of Need.  Written by Michael Crichton before he became an international best selling author.  He uses his medical background to tell the story of a doctor trying to help his friend who has been accused of performing an abortion that resulted in the death of a young woman.  Loaded with so much medical jargon that there are end notes at the conclusion of each chapter to explain the terminology.  Would you believe a doctor would investigate this?  Not really.

Watcher Girl.  Another book with an unbelievable premise:  a young woman returns to her home town to apologize to an old boyfriend for breaking up with him years ago despite the fact that said boyfriend is how happily married and a father.

The Secret Lives of Colors.  The author discusses white, pink, yellow, red, blue, green, brown, purple and black and their various shades.  We see and learn about each shade, including anecdotes about how it was discovered, mixed, used, named.  Fascinating.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Two Choices


Two Choices,
What would you do? make the choice. Don't look for a punch line, there isn't one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection.

Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?'

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.'

Then he told the following story:


Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?' I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning..'

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt.. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.


At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. Athe pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first!

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!'

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

By time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball. The smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay'


Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!'


Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.


Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it's least fortunate amongst them.

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