Did we listen to what we heard?

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-11-03-07-amNo one had to remind me to vote, nor whom to vote for. My mind was made up months ago. I’ve paid too much attention to all the incendiary brouhaha of the campaign. I’ve lost sleep and had bad dreams.

As I walked along our street to vote this morning a sheriff’s car went by in one direction, a police car in the other. More visibility, I suppose, in the face of threats of election day violence around the country.

Is this what America has come to?

A couple of days ago I saw a video produced by a group of young entertainers who decided they had to raise awareness about one candidate. It was funny, yes, and spot on, but if a t.v. censor had been on duty, there would’ve been twenty-one bleeps. I counted.

Is this what America has come to?

The world is watching! Our country was founded by people who fled their homeland so they could be free. Recently, even the Pope commented on our political campaign and the irresponsibility of one candidate who wants to build a wall to keep people out.

Is this what America has come to?

Women fought for and finally got the right to vote in 1920. This year, a highly qualified woman is a candidate for the office of President. We’ve come a long way, baby, as the old slogan goes.

So, yes, we’ve come at least this far.

About time, but at enormous cost. We’ve lost standing in the world as the endless months of politicking has painted Americans ugly and embarrassing and laughable and scary.


In June, I was fortunate enough to sit next to my hero, political columnist Leonard Pitts, at the National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference. I was as tongue-tied as if I were still a teenaged high school newspaper editor. Finally I asked if, deep down, he thought Hillary Clinton would win the election.

His eyes drilled mine, then he scanned the table, and said, “Yes, I do. But if he were to win, it would  be the ruination not only of our country, but of the entire world.”

I hope Pitts’s is right about who will win. He’s way more attuned to all this than I am, it’s what he does. I am not, in any way, qualified to write political commentary. When I sat down to vote this morning, I was shaky, queasy.

By about 10:00 tonight the pundits will make their well-informed predictions on the election’s outcome. I’ll be listening.

Wave on.

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists contest winner, 2016 —
online, blog, & monthly under 100,000 unique visitors category.

Go one way at a time.

One of my regular morning walks takes me along a street with a boggling array of signs. It has been a one-way street as long as we’ve lived here. There have been many attempts to mark it so that drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians know which way is the right way correct way to travel.

It runs north-ish to south-ish. Walkers and cyclists can travel both ways, cars, one way. In the winter months I can see the street from the window next to my computer. Cars drive the wrong way several times a day.

Not too long ago, someone in the town’s signage department decided to clarify. First, a crew painted a double yellow line, way off-center, along the southbound side of the street. Giant “iron-on” decals show stick people walking and bikes with no riders cycling. On the other side, the wider side, stick-figure cyclists and big arrows are headed in the northerly direction too. There are no clever symbols to direct cars one way, north to south. Maybe that’s why so many cars go both the correct way and the wrong way.

Then, too, there are multiple signs on posts on both ends of the street that contradict each other.

Really, only garbage truck drivers seem to understand. They go the one direction that is allowed for motor vehicles, and if homeowners haven’t placed their garbage cans on the right side of the street, the drivers roll right on by, leaving the garbage to “mellow” for another week.

Perhaps another sign? “Garbage cans go here.”



Don’t go where I’ve been!

Screen shot 2015-03-28 at 1.59.57 PM

‘The Scream’ detail. Edvard Munch, 1853.

Paint March ominous gray pierced with crimson lightning. Color me lost: In March I lost my peace of mind, my self-confidence and, I feared, my identity. Gone, too, are convenient passwords, bank and credit card accounts, computer back-up, and any hope of nightmare-less sleep.

But I gained even more faith in family, friends, and technical helpers, all of whom pushed, prodded and guided me patiently out of the scam I fell for. Trite sayings flitted across my short-circuited brain: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” for instance.

Had I become complacent believing Apple products are inherently safe from nefarious scum who prey on gullible folk? Yes, I panicked when the Apple-looking warning appeared after I’d Googled “punctuation.” Something so innocent as quotation marks, for heavens sakes, and bam I was sucked in.

I won’t glorify with too much detail here in case the evil-doers are lurking in the closet or behind one of the icons on my desktop. But please, do not call even if the number appears to be your computer company’s; do not listen to barely intelligible techno-babble and let them convince you that your computer has fallen victim to a virus; do not permit them take over your computer to get rid of the gremlins; and do not sign up for lifetime service for any device you buy for the rest of your life no matter how good it sounds.

The dastardly deed was so easily done and so frustratingly difficult to undo. Leslie and Martin had my back, literally and figuratively, within an hour of learning what I’d allowed to happen. Carolynn propped me up long-distance, and Joanne listened to me rant, as did Jean, halfway around the world. Peter even doled out hugs and cups of tea although he couldn’t grasp what had happened to my computer, nor can he even turn on his own laptop anymore.

It took two weeks to change accounts, passwords and IDs, and many nail-biting nights trying to think what else I should change, protect, close, delete.

I spent days on the phone with a very patient senior technician at Apple. I bought a new router and modem. And then, when my ancient cell phone finally fizzled, I gave in and bought a smart phone, yet another technical gadget to outsmart me daily.

With the back-up restored I was home free, wasn’t I? But when the auxiliary devices were replaced the computer could no longer talk to them, and  I hadn’t a clue how to fix that. Gone were iTunes, iDVD, Netflix, Pages, Keynote, even my printer.  Martin to the rescue. Again.

Now, shrieking threats from the #*!≠¡ scammers interrupt our evenings, and I could write a Thesaurus entry with the list of names I’ve called myself…and them. Find me under “bird-brained.”

This whole techno-upset was about the worst thing that has ever happened to me, or maybe I’ve forgotten all the other bad stuff. I’m sure my age exacerbated my frustration and embarrassment.

Oh, we had other problems this month too — another sewer clog, frozen pipes twice — but although those still aren’t resolved, they are nothing compared to being scammed. This was a month I won’t forget and one I don’t want to remember.

March madness redefined.