Wednesday, August 31, 2011


My neighbor and friend Jean died last week. She would have turned 93 this November. Despite being that age her death took us all by surprise. Just a few weeks ago she was walking the 2 ½ blocks to 7-11 to buy a pack of cigarettes. Just a week before her death she was down in the basement doing her laundry, tending to her garden, checking on the health of her younger neighbor Ann, who celebrated her 80th birthday this spring, she was sorting and organizing all of our mail for us and she was ensuring the portico light was turned on.

Suddenly this fierce, funny and independent woman who loved the occasional vodka tonic took ill and within days died. Thursday morning she was talking her to her daughters and then she closed her eyes and let go. Jean died the way she wanted to at home and quietly. She had never been to the doctor’s or the hospital and she refused all care during her last days. The only medicine she had ever taken was a baby aspirin. There was no funeral and an obituary was not put in the paper, like I said she was fiercely independent and wanted to leave this world with no strings attached.

Every year Jean would ascend the 64 steps to our place for our annual holiday party an after dominating and charming the crowd she would announce it was time to leave all the men in attendance would vie for the opportunity to escort her back down the steps to her front door.

Jean would always gather our mail for us when we were on vacation, when we returned we would find it neatly placed in a little gift bag usually with a ribbon tied into a bow closing the bag. During our annual neighborhood yard sale she would get up early and spend the next few hours helping us drag stuff out and would invariably buy one or two things. We knew she did need the items but she just wanted be supportive of our efforts.

A couple of months ago I stopped Jean as she was about take her walk to 7-11 and offered her a ride. She said she enjoyed the walk, the exercise was good for her and she was going to do it until she could not longer. That’s pretty much how it worked out for her.

Jean was 2 years old when women were granted the right to vote. She was 21 when WW II started in Europe. She was 45 when JFK was assassinated and she was 90 when Barack Obama was elected President. Imagine the history Jean had witnessed throughout her life. Yet, I never heard her mention much about the past and she never really discussed the future either. She preferred to live in the present.

Our charming little building will never be the same without Jean Lillis and everyone who lives here benefited from having her live among us.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mommy, They Are Just Like Me

I found this on-line at about 100 different websites, I am not sure who or what the original source is.

It gave me something to think about. I blog about tonight (I hope).

“Mommy, they are just like me.”

My oldest son is six years old and in love for the first time. He is in love with Blaine from Glee.

For those who don’t know Blaine is a boy…a gay boy, the boyfriend of one of the main characters, Kurt.

This isn’t a ‘he thinks Blaine is really cool’ kind of love. It is a mooning at a picture of Blaine’s face for a half hour followed by a wistful “He’s so pretty” kind of love.

He loves the episode where two boys kiss. My son will call people in from other parts of the house to make sure they don’t miss his ‘favorite part.’ He’s been known to rewind it and watch it over again…and force other to, as well, if he doesn’t think people have been paying enough attention.

This infatuation doesn’t bother me or his father. We live in a very hip-liberal neighborhood, many of our friends are gay, and idea of having a gay son isn’t something that bothers either of us. Our son is going to be who he is, and it is our job to love him. End of story.

He is also six. Six year olds get obsessed with all kinds of things. This might not mean anything at all. We always joke that he’s either gay, or we have the best blackmail material in the history of mankind when he’s a 16 year old straight boy. (Take that naked bath time pictures!)

Then the other day we were traveling across the state listening to the Warblers album (of course), and in the middle of Candles, my son pipes up from the back seat.

“Mommy, Kurt and Blaine are boyfriends.”

“Yes, they are,” I affirm.

“They don’t like kissing girls. They just kiss boys.”

“That’s true.”

“Mommy, they are just like me.”

“That’s great, baby. You know I love you no matter what?”

“I know…” I could hear him rolling his eyes at me.

When we got home I recapped this conversation to his Dad, and we stood simply looking into each other’s eyes for a moment. Then we smiled.

“So if at 16 he wants to make a big announcement at the dinner table, we can say ‘You told us when you were six. Pass the carrots’ and he’ll be disappointed we stole his big dramatic moment,” my husband says with a laugh and hugs me.

Only time will tell if my son is gay, but if he is I am glad he’s mine. I am glad he has been born into our family. A family full of people who will love and accept him. People who will never want him to change. With parents who will look forward to dancing at his wedding.

And I have to admit, Blaine would be a really cute son-in-law


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It Does Get Better

I am having a hard time falling asleep tonight so I have been surfing the web. I came across a series of “It Gets Better” YouTube postings. For those of you who do not know they are short(ish) video postings against bullying by and against young people.

Dan Savage started this campaign as a result of the rash of young people, mostly gay, who took their own lives because they could no longer deal with the hurt that was being thrust upon them by their peers. The videos are not really geared toward the bullies but to the recipients of the bullying.

These videos have become somewhat trendy but many are still are quit moving. The President, Vice President and Secretary of State have all produced videos as well as most of the rest of the cabinet and members of congress led by the Nancy Pelosi. Many of the elites of the entertainment and business worlds have joined in. Tonight I watched one produced by a few Orthodox Jewish young men that was both heart breaking and hopeful at the same time.

It is a simple message, things may be tough now but it won’t last forever and it will get better, you will graduate from high school, you will become an adult and you will leave all of that badness behind.

I am here to tell you that it does get better. I was a tall, gangly ok scrawny, red head with glasses, a silver front tooth, and the not very coordinated son of one of Easton’s greatest athletes. I stuttered, I wore glasses, I had ADD before anyone knew what it was, and I was obsessed with my church/religion and politics. I was more comfortable with my parent’s friends than I was with kids my own age.

I had a few friends and one in particular was oddly supportive and protective at the same time. For some reason this very athletic, handsome, graceful and well spoken kid liked me and was always there to back me up. We were quite a pair from the 4th grade through high school he and his family we like a second family to me. I would stumble and trip, I would have panic attacks while trying to play football, I would try to debate him in class and in spite of the stutter he always allowed me to have my say. I am to this day very grateful for the friendship of both Donn and his family and I wish the years have not separated us.

But he or a few other “body guards” could not protect me. I was bullied, A lot. Hell, even the girls tried to beat me up a few times after getting off the 6th grade bus. I just retreated to my books and left the world for a little while.

I am ashamed to say that I participated in some bullying myself. One of the boys I helped to bully once said to me “Why are you of all people doing this?” I just looked at him and shrugged. I of course knew that I was doing it for self protection; at least they weren’t coming after me. He of course knew this and was at times guilty of the same crime.

But, through it all something inside me forced me to push on, sure I thought about just chucking it all in, quite frankly I still do. Because this shit is hard, nothing ever came or comes easy for me, everyday is a struggle but I still have hope. My guy does what he can to help it getter better for me. I have friends, I have family and most importantly through it all like Bill Clinton “I still believe in a place called Hope”.

So, if you know of a young one getting the shit kicked out him just because he is not like all the other boys or if you know of girl who is just not quite fitting in, reach out, tell him his is great, tell her she is special. Tell them it does and it will Get Better.

If they need more information or if you do please check out the below websites.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I Wonder If They Really Care


1. Do not use Medicare.
2. Do not use Social Security
3. Do not become a member of the US military, who are paid with tax dollars.
4. Do not ask the National Guard to help you after a disaster.
5. Do not call 911 when you get hurt.
6. Do not call the police to stop intruders in your home.
7. Do not summon the fire department to save your burning home.
8. Do not drive on any paved road, highway, and interstate or drive on any bridge.
9. Do not use public restrooms.
10. Do not send your kids to public schools.
11. Do not put your trash out for city garbage collectors.
12. Do not live in areas with clean air.
13. Do not drink clean water.
14. Do not visit National Parks.
15. Do not visit public museums, zoos, and monuments.
16. Do not eat or use FDA inspected food and medicines.
17. Do not bring your kids to public playgrounds.
18. Do not walk or run on sidewalks.
19. Do not use public recreational facilities such as basketball and tennis courts.
20. Do not seek shelter facilities or food in soup kitchens when you are homeless and hungry.
21. Do not apply for educational or job training assistance when you lose your job.
22. Do not apply for food stamps when you can’t feed your children.
23. Do not use the judiciary system for any reason.
24. Do not ask for an attorney when you are arrested and do not ask for one to be assigned to you by the court.
25. Do not apply for any Pell Grants.
26. Do not use cures that were discovered by labs using federal dollars.
27. Do not fly on federally regulated airplanes.
28. Do not use any product that can trace its development back to NASA.
29. Do not watch the weather provided by the National Weather Service.
30. Do not listen to severe weather warnings from the National Weather Service.
31. Do not listen to tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake alert systems.
32. Do not apply for federal housing.
33. Do not use the internet, which was developed by the military.
34. Do not swim in clean rivers.
35. Do not allow your child to eat school lunches or breakfasts.
36. Do not ask for FEMA assistance when everything you own gets wiped out by disaster.
37. Do not ask the military to defend your life and home in the event of a foreign invasion.
38. Do not use your cell phone or home telephone.
39. Do not buy firearms that wouldn’t have been developed without the support of the US Government and military. That includes most of them.
40. Do not eat USDA inspected produce and meat.
41. Do not apply for government grants to start your own business.
42. Do not apply to win a government contract.
43. Do not buy any vehicle that has been inspected by government safety agencies.
44. Do not buy any product that is protected from poisons, toxins, etc…by the Consumer Protection Agency.
45. Do not save your money in a bank that is FDIC insured.
46. Do not use Veterans benefits or military health care.
47. Do not use the G.I. Bill to go to college.
48. Do not apply for unemployment benefits.
49. Do not use any electricity from companies regulated by the Department of Energy.
50. Do not live in homes that are built to code.
51. Do not run for public office. Politicians are paid with taxpayer dollars.
52. Do not ask for help from the FBI, S.W.A.T, the bomb squad, Homeland Security, State troopers, etc…
53. Do not apply for any government job whatsoever as all state and federal employees are paid with tax dollars.
54. Do not use public libraries.
55. Do not use the US Postal Service.
56. Do not visit the National Archives.
57. Do not visit Presidential Libraries.
58. Do not use airports that are secured by the federal government.
59. Do not apply for loans from any bank that is FDIC insured.
60. Do not ask the government to help you clean up after a tornado.
61. Do not ask the Department of Agriculture to provide a subsidy to help you run your farm.
62. Do not take walks in National Forests.
63. Do not ask for taxpayer dollars for your oil company.
64. Do not ask the federal government to bail your company out during recessions.
65. Do not seek medical care from places that use federal dollars.
66. Do not use Medicaid.
67. Do not use WIC.
68. Do not use electricity generated by Hoover Dam.
69. Do not use electricity or any service provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
70. Do not ask the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild levees when they break.
71. Do not let the Coast Guard save you from drowning when your boat capsizes at sea.
72. Do not ask the government to help evacuate you when all hell breaks loose in the country you are in.
73. Do not visit historic landmarks.
74. Do not visit fisheries.
75. Do not expect to see animals that are federally protected because of the Endangered Species List.
76. Do not expect plows to clear roads of snow and ice so your kids can go to school and so you can get to work.
77. Do not hunt or camp on federal land.
78. Do not work anywhere that has a safe workplace because of government regulations.
79. Do not use public transportation.
80. Do not drink water from public water fountains.
81. Do not whine when someone copies your work and sells it as their own. Government enforces copyright laws.
82. Do not expect to own your home, car, or boat. Government organizes and keeps all titles.
83. Do not expect convicted felons to remain off the streets.
84. Do not eat in restaurants that are regulated by food quality and safety standards.
85. Do not seek help from the US Embassy if you need assistance in a foreign nation.
86. Do not apply for a passport to travel outside of the United States.
87. Do not apply for a patent when you invent something.
88. Do not adopt a child through your local, state, or federal governments.
89.Do not use elevators that have been inspected by federal or state safety regulators.
90. Do not use any resource that was discovered by the USGS.
91. Do not ask for energy assistance from the government.
92. Do not move to any other developed nation, because the taxes are much higher.
93. Do not go to a beach that is kept clean by the state.
94. Do not use money printed by the US Treasury.
95. Do not complain when millions more illegal immigrants cross the border because there are no more border patrol agents.
96. Do not attend a state university.
97. Do not see any doctor that is licensed through the state.
98. Do not use any water from municipal water systems.
99. Do not complain when diseases and viruses, that were once fought around the globe by the US government and CDC, reach your house.
100. Do not work for any company that is required to pay its workers a livable wage, provide them sick days, vacation days, and benefits.
101. Do not expect to be able to vote on election days. Government provides voting booths, election day officials, and voting machines which are paid for with taxes.
102. Do not ride trains. The railroad was built with government financial assistance

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I wonder how many members of the Tea Party movement really understand what they claim to believe.

I wonder how many of the Congressional “Conservatives” who voted to send this nation into default understand what government really does.

I wonder if they really care.