Living in Paradise

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Money, Money, Money

My daughter said a perplexing thing to me a couple of days ago: Kids these days don’t care about money.

As you know from previous blogs, my daughter and I don’t see eye-to-eye politically. But I thought we were in lockstep when it comes to money. She and I have always liked having it and spending it. She, however, is not so much into earning it.

I had already chastised her for implying that my man and I were “too busy” to come north to my grandson’s high school graduation. As though it was something we casually tossed aside without much thought.

There was much angst involved in the decision not to drive from southwest Florida to Evansville, Indiana, last week for the ceremony. Even criticism from some close friends. But I had to admit to my daughter and myself that I didn’t feel comfortable making the two-day drive alone. And my man was managing three construction projects and workers.

He definitely was too busy. I was just timid.

So, having reminded her of why we didn’t attend the ceremonies, I hesitated to challenge her latest assumption that money is just too mundane for the younger generation to focus on.

This isn’t her first head scratcher. She has also told me that kids these days don’t care about gender.

Based on what I see on my newsfeed, many young people care a lot about gender and how they can use gender fluidity to draw attention to themselves. Like Demi Lovato who announced the other day that she is nonbinary — not identifying as either male or female all the time.

And, really, Demi most of us wouldn’t care if you identified as a dog or cat if it made you happy. We just don’t need to hear about it, especially when there are more pressing issues in this world.

If Demi’s gender is a question mark, apparently money is not for her. Internet sources that seem to know these things peg Demi’s wealth at $33 million.

I have memories of sending my grandchildren money for Halloween and Easter, along with Christmas and their birthdays. There were many dark years when I got no thanks or acknowledgement of my gifts. So maybe my daughter is right. They don’t care about money.

I would contend, however, that kids don’t care about money in the same way most of us don’t care about it. If we don’t have any, we care a lot.

My daughter’s two children have never had to think about where their next meal is coming from or how they were going to pay for the private school they attended. The oldest graduated from college debt free a few weeks ago. The youngest will be heading off to school this fall under the same arrangement. Neither of my grandchildren have held paying jobs in the summer. Both have cars.

Perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that both have been Bernie Sanders supporters and that my grandson gave a shout out to Eugene V. Debs in his graduation speech. Debs was a well-known socialist from Terre Haute, Indiana. Debs is also a man revered by Senator Sanders, who has never held a real job but has instead been on the public payroll as a politician most of his life. Bernie only seems to care about other people’s money and how he can spend it.

In essence, both of my grandchildren – like most children – have grown up in a socialist society where they haven’t had to work for anything and all their needs have been met. Why should they care about money?

As happens to all of us sooner or later, I suspect my grandchildren will one day realize that money does matter. Luckily, they live in a country where they can earn enough to feed and house themselves and their families and have something left over for fun.

If I’m wrong and my grandchildren really don’t care about money, they should let me know right away. I can change my will and leave my few dollars to the millions of people in other countries who don’t care about money either because they are too busy focusing on finding something to eat and a safe place to sleep.

A Degree of Madness

My amazing and wonderful granddaughter graduated from college today. In four years, no less, and in spite of a pandemic. I’m very proud of her, and I mean that sincerely.

Even though I didn’t attend my own college graduation because I had a job to go to and no life-after-college subsidy from my parents, I was happy to see her in her cap and gown. I could tell she was excited.

She’s a great kid and her parents gave her the best college graduation present of all: no student debt. Mine did the same thing for me half a century ago, although hers probably spent over $200,000 and mine less than $15,000. It’s the value of money thing.

My daughter sent my ex and me a link to the ceremony on a three-way text. My ex and I, being of like mind on most things, decided to critique the ceremony in our own private texts.

My granddaughter’s college is one of those east coast liberal establishments where the phrase points of view rarely has an “s” included. Even in Florida, when I tell my friends which school she attended, they smile sympathetically and give me a little pat on the back.

Before I talk about the ceremony, I want to share that it was about a year ago that my granddaughter renounced her white privilege on Facebook and then later called for the police to be defunded. I’m sure all of the fresh-faced and masked graduates also sitting in the building named after Barbara Walters shared her feelings.

So, I had expectations and, well, I guess I wasn’t disappointed.

The university president Cristle Collins Judd (it seems to me that only elitists and serial killers use their full names) appeared to be a genuine person that young people could relate to. She talked a lot about meeting new students and having marshmallow roasts with them but skipped over the part about filling their brains with a one-manifesto-fits-all way of thinking.

I went to the kitchen to fix myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after 25 minutes and came back to hear one of the students talking about the “senior gift.” I don’t know, but I’m guessing that the senior gift was a financial contribution made by graduates to the school. It was not a collection of the works of William F. Buckley Jr. or Ronald Reagan for future use.

We wouldn’t want fresh young minds to have different perspectives to consider as they move on in life.

I texted my ex: They are already talking about money. I was wondering if I should warn my granddaughter that it would get worse. Think about how much they got out of Barbara Walters for the fancy new building that bears her name, The Barb.

The commencement speaker was Congressman Jamaal Bowman, an educator newly elected to House of Representatives from New York’s 16th district. My daughter said my granddaughter was eager to work for him. My ex knew who he was. I think we both shuddered but I couldn’t see his reaction.

I was actually enjoying his remarks about “unlocking the brilliance” of children from all backgrounds and classes by giving them the same opportunity to do great things. Then he said the words white supremacists. Not once but twice. I think he threw in a racist or two; I stopped assimilating his words.

Why did he have to sully his remarks with the same old song we’ve been subjected to recently. Does he really think this country is full of white supremacists? Has he forgotten that nearly 600,000 northerners lost their lives or were imprisoned fighting against slavery in the Civil War?  Was the civil rights movement just so much bunk?

My ex did not take kindly to the remark, nor did I.

I was sharing Bowman’s comments with a friend who observed: “The Marxists tried to divide people by class. When that didn’t work, they decided to use race.”

Then he mentioned the announcement by the American Medical Association – the largest organization representing physicians and medical students across the nation – that it will replace meritocracy with “racial justice.”

In simpler terms, the American Medical Association is now embracing critical race theory.

Earlier this week, the association released an 86-page three-year roadmap outlining how the group will use its influence to dismantle “structural and institutional racism” and advance “social and racial justice” throughout the healthcare system.

And, silly me, I was hoping they would be devoting themselves to learning their craft and taking good care of all of us. Some of them could use more medical practice.

In a world that feels like it is suffering from madness, I’m hoping that my newly-graduated granddaughter is able to overcome the far-left ideology she has been subjected to for too many years now and thrive as a free thinker who understands and embraces all points of view, without prejudice. I pray that is possible. I’m not holding my breath.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the university to which my children paid almost a quarter of million dollars couldn’t be bothered to pronounce my granddaughter’s last name properly.

 

Turnkey Trash

To such current popular phrases as “woke” and “dope” and “critical race theory,” I’m adding my new favorite, “turnkey.”

In real estate terms, turnkey is supposed to mean a move-in ready, fully furnished home that doesn’t require any major repairs or improvements before it is livable. In real life, turnkey means: “You just bought my house, and I’m leaving all my s–t behind for you to get rid of.”

The true meaning of the word hit me full force the other day – again I might add – as I was cleaning out the condo my man just bought for our “future use.” His definition of future use is the state we arrive in when we can no longer tolerate the steps and the property taxes that go with our three-story island home.

“This is the last time I clean out a little old lady’s house,” I told my man as I bagged another stack of chipped plates, unmatched glasses and artificial flowers for the recycling bin. “Didn’t she ever throw anything away?”

The answer is no. Some people just can’t bring themselves to part with their stuff. My mother was one of those. Not a hoarder; you could walk through her residence.  But when I cleaned out her apartment after her passing at age 94, I found the temporary driving permit I got when I was 15 ½.

I had to shake my head. Why did she have it in the first place – and why did she keep it?

The permit was the least of it. There were at least 100 library books shoved under the bed and the couch. She had been a big library volunteer at one time, maybe even a member of the board. I guess that’s why she felt no need to return the books after she finished with them.

She also had her share of chipped plates and unmatched glasses. Not as many as the lady who owned the condo we just bought, but a goodly amount nonetheless.

I remember that when my brother and sister-in-law visited my mother from California, they were aghast at what they found in her refrigerator. Little scraps of aluminum foil covering something that looked other worldly. Paper plates with half-eaten sandwiches. Ice cream with an inch of ice on top of the cream.

“Is this milk any good,” my sister-in-law asked after noticing a sour smell coming from the cardboard container?

My mother grabbed a glass, poured some into it and took a sip. “It’s fine,” she responded sweetly.

My sister-in-law swore it had chunks in it.

The refrigerator in the new condo was spotless, I’m happy to say. But the small grill I found on the top cabinet had definitely been used and not washed. Why oh why? The pots and pans might have been run through the dishwasher but remnants of food remained. In fairness, she had been renting the place for the last couple of years.

Still, there were at least 10 sippy cups at the back of one cabinet. If your grandchild is now old enough to enter the local bar, it’s time to dump the baby dishes.

The cleaning ladies had done their best when the tenants left last month. They made the beds and folded the towels, hanging them with little shells in pockets they created. I have no clue how they did that. But I also don’t know who would want to put those dingy, dirty-looking towels next to their bodies.

Pillows? Your pillow, with its yellow and brown stains, is never going to become my pillow, no matter how much I spent on your condo.

Every year our church has a charity event that includes a rummage sale. It’s a great outlet for those people who have finally come to realize that their “stuff” must go. Blessed are those who don’t leave their trash behind for other people to clean up.

Questioning Their Views

The stories that appear on my newsfeed often leave me scratching my head and asking questions. Like today, when I clicked on an article about Joy Behar, co-host of The View, which I never watch, and Caitlyn Jenner. I guess I was in a mood.

I thought Behar had retired from that show months ago, but her face and asinine comments keep popping up on the Internet. She knows how to stir the pot.

Apparently on today’s show she “misgendered” Caitlyn Jenner while talking about Jenner’s announcement that she is running for governor of California. That means she referred to her as a him — not once but many times.

I’m not berating her for that error. In our family, where a beloved granddaughter is now a treasured and much-loved grandson, we sometimes make that same mistake and are gently excused – and corrected – because we are, uh, old and often not with it.

But it seems Twitter users were all too happy to call Behar out over her pronoun error. Leap to judgment is what so many do so well these days.

In criticizing Behar for her alleged transphobia, some folks took the opportunity to criticize Jenner for her politics. That’s when it got interesting.

“I don’t know why Joy misgendered her but it’s an important reminder that we don’t misgender people even if we don’t like their politics,” tweeted Yashar Ali, a gay journalist who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, has uncovered various scandals involving political figures and is well -known for his love of elephants. An interesting obsession for a Democrat.

Charlotte Clymer, a transgender who is director of communications and strategy at Catholics for Choice, had this to say about Behar’s faux pas: “Appropriate response: Caitlyn Jenner is deeply unqualified hack who doesn’t care about anyone but herself. Her views are terrible. She is a horrible candidate. Inappropriate response: Misgendering Caitlyn Jenner because you think transphobia is okay here. It’s not.”

When did it become okay to call someone a “deeply unqualified hack … terrible and horrible?”

I checked and Behar is leaving The View in August, if anyone cares. Still time for her to stir up more trouble for herself and for my newsfeed to decide I must be fascinated with her and her mouthy remarks. Please don’t flood me with Joy Behar stories. I was just in a mood today.

The next article that caught my attention was an interview with the mother of the 16-year-old girl who was shot and killed by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer earlier this week while attacking another teen-ager with a knife.

Noting here there was nothing from the mother of the girl whose life was possibly saved by a policeman responding to a 911 call. Not one word.

“I want the world to know that Ma’Khia Bryant was a very loving 16-year-old girl. She was my daughter, my baby,” the woman told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “I was shocked when I heard the news. No parent should have to go through this.”

Any death of a 16-year-old is a tragedy. But what struck me about this article that talked at length about the mother’s grief was the following sentence: “Ma’Khia was in foster care at the home where the shooting took place.”

No judgment. Just a lot of head scratching and unanswered questions, like normal.

The Prince and My Book

I watched the funeral of Prince Philip today and found myself feeling wistful.

I was thinking about those days when acting with dignity and respect for others was expected … where people didn’t come to funerals wearing jeans and carrying their cell phones … where a life well-lived that included service to others was something to celebrate.

And where a person like Prince Philip could make a snarky comment now and then without being canceled. Here was an alpha male who understood what it meant to be a man and was still willing to walk two steps behind his Queen.

Those days of courtesy and kindness still exist among most of my friends who genuinely care about others. But it feels like so many in the younger generations always have an axe to grind, a self-interest to nurture, a judgment to pass about others, a complaint to lodge. It’s all about me.

I sent my granddaughter, a college grad, a check and a little note the other day. I said I was proud of her and hoped she had a good life. Then I passed on some grandmotherly advice: “Others matter; don’t judge.”

I hope my words are meaningful to her. We can’t let those values disappear.

***

If you are lining up books for the summer, be sure to include Scavenger Tides, my newest novel.

It’s a mystery that takes place in southwest Florida. The characters are fictitious, although there is a nod to a couple of my real-life compadres, Dianna the hair stylist and Candace the jeweler.

Here’s the story: When our heroine Leslie Elliott quits her public relations job to move to a small island in southwest Florida, her dream of becoming a mystery writer threatens to become a nightmare as buzzards lead her to a headless dog carcass and a human body rolls in with the summer storms and then disappears, only to reappear and vanish again.

Leslie’s search for answers and her run-ins with the sheriff take her on a journey that involves a fisherman with too many secrets, a local couple struggling to survive in a millionaire’s playground and dangerous men who will stop at nothing to protect their lucrative criminal activities.

Stephanie Williams, one of the co-leaders of the Sleuth Book Club on the island, reviewed the mystery and said: “The plot moves quickly, the characters are realistic and believable and the dialogue funny as well as accurate. Read it in one setting with a break for dinner and then back to Scavenger Tides.”

I started the book a couple of years ago and polished it up during the Covid summer. The mystery is a sequel to my first novel, Leslie’s Voice. Incidents in the book incorporate stories from the area’s past, which included drug-running at the little airport not far from where I live.

My next book, another mystery, is underway. It’s loosely based on a shooting that took place on the island several decades ago. My main character, Leslie, and reporter sidekick, Wes Avery, will feature in this novel as they have in the last two.

Scavenger Tides and Leslie’s Voice are available in Kindle and paperback versions through Amazon. Please check them out.

Lester Holt Has Fallen

Consider what television anchor Lester Holt said recently when receiving the Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism

“I think it’s become clearer that fairness [in journalism] is overrated,” Holt said. “The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention.

“Decisions to not give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of agenda, in fact, it’s just the opposite.”

Funny he should say that about six months after my daughter and I had a tense phone call on the same topic. She had been reading about one of the leaders of Black Lives Matter and his theory that censorship wasn’t all that bad. She supported that kind of thinking.

At first, I thought maybe we had a bad phone connection. When I could no longer disguise my anger at her assault on the First Amendment, I mumbled something about having to go and hung up.

We have never broached the topic again and never will. In my family, we often tiptoe around tough subjects.

But now that Lester Holt has brought it up, I feel free to once again vent my disgust with that kind of thinking. Just which ones are “unsupported arguments,” who makes the decision to present only one point of view and which view is that?

As if we didn’t know by now.

During my 30-year-career as a journalist I never failed to give the other side the opportunity to have a say – even if it meant a refusal to comment or call me back.  It was important to me to give everyone a voice. By my thinking, every opinion counts – even the ones I don’t’ agree with, like Lester Holt’s and my daughter’s.

All these years later, I still believe a journalist – a real one – doesn’t have to dwell on opposing arguments as long as he or she throws them out there for consideration.

Okay so the sun sets in the west. Yes, that’s a given. And I’m pretty sure you couldn’t find anyone to disagree with that truth. But if you could, now wouldn’t that be an interesting interview?

Some may make fun of Fox News’ “fair and balanced” slogan, which I agree can be suspect on occasion. But fair and balanced is exactly what journalists should be striving for in their coverage of news events.

We used to have an informal saying among reporters. If someone had a complaint about an article and the coverage their point of view received, we would say: “Next time it’s your turn.” And most of us meant it. When the opportunity arose – say at a press conference – there would be an evening of the score, giving one point of view more coverage than another. But still mentioning the other.

The other day I was watching a snippet of an upcoming CBS interview with Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, on CNN. Young Biden was hawking his new book (isn’t everyone these days) and talking about his addiction to drugs. The interviewer seemed sympathetic. Poor Hunter appeared to have tears in his eyes.

I was thinking about the Senate report I read on all of Hunter’s business activities abroad while his father was this country’s vice president, the suspect messages on his computer and the investigation into his taxes. No mention of those, of course, on CNN. This was a borrowed segment guaranteed to promote sympathy for the fallen child of the president.

CNN didn’t include any part of the segment that might have dealt with those other issues because CNN has given scant coverage, if any, to Hunter Biden’s reported misdeeds over the years. Their viewers might be shocked they were hearing about Hunter for the first time.

We stopped watching Lester Holt a couple of years ago for the very reasons that he thinks are okay. It didn’t feel like we were getting the whole story from him even though we liked his manner and delivery. Sorry, but we don’t happen to think that fairness is overrated.

Now we often drift over to BBC for our news coverage. Not that it’s any better, but the reporters’ accents are always a delight and make my man feel right at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The President’s Bite

I’d like to share with Joe Biden something an attorney told me about 20 years ago: “The first bite is free.”

That advice was shared with me shortly after the outside cat that was living at our house sunk his teeth – unprovoked – into the chest of my neighbor’s young grandson. His parents were both lawyers.

My heart went out to the child, first. Then I began worrying about what, if any, legal action the parents might take against me and my husband for giving free reign to a vicious animal.

Sad to say, we had the cat put to sleep. We couldn’t risk anymore unwarranted attacks on her part. And I had many scratches on my legs to prove that she wasn’t all that loving.

I thought of that cat – and oddly enough, the American taxpayer – when I read in the news today about the Biden’s dog, Major, attacking yet another federal employee. The altercation took place at the White House South Lawn where the employee was working.

A White House press person told CNN that Major, the Biden’s adopted German Shepherd, was “still adjusting to his new surroundings.” But this was not his first nip, as the White House referred to it.

Unfortunately, once a dog or cat is prone to biting, there’s no going back.

And that is exactly what is happening with the president and the American taxpayer.

Joe Biden was elected as our leader under the guise of being a moderate – a politician who has the interest of all of us at heart. He is a man who will not cave into the unrealistic demands of the far left, we were led to believe. So, while he may be taxing and spending – as all politicians like to do – it won’t be that bad.

The first bite came in the form of the $2 trillion so-called Covid relief bill passed on March 7. The bill provided financial relief for middle and low-income families, extended unemployment insurance and tax credits for families, plus earmarked $70 billion to increase vaccinations and Covid testing. I could go along with that.

But it also included $150 million for grants in arts and the humanities, $93 million in additional spending for the legislative branch administration, $100 million for expanding broadband services in rural areas, $50 million for the safe return of FBI, drug enforcement and U. S. Marshalls stationed abroad during the coronavirus, $60 million to support operational delays at NASA due to the coronavirus and on and on.

The grand total was more than the nip the Biden dog likes to inflict. Did we really need to spend that much?

The second bite appears to be arriving on March 31 in the form of an infrastructure bill that will cost $2 trillion. $1 trillion in the proposal is expected to go toward traditional construction and improvement of roads, bridges, rail lines, ports and schools, while improving power grids. President Trump had floated similar ideas with no apparent support from Democrats while he was in office.

I remember a news commentator saying recently that the infrastructure is no problem in China. If they need a new road, they build it. Well, yes, they also operate as a totalitarian government, which isn’t our style – yet.

The second part of the spending package aims to tackle racial and gender equity – whatever that means. This part would dedicate money to education and programs designed to increase female participation in the workforce, which is already slightly more than 50 percent. Must we women do everything?

The big nip in this bill comes in the form of a corporate tax hike that boosts the current rate from 21 percent to 28 percent. Who among us thinks that raising taxes for corporations won’t have a trickle-down impact on all consumers? Looks like we’ll be waving goodbye to all the corporate money that recently returned to the U. S. from offshore accounts.

I’ve heard there are many more proposals to come – all with big price tags and increased taxes.

Eventually we’ll all feel the bite.

 

Raised Eyebrows

My friend Candace texted me the other day and asked if I wanted to take the eyebrow master class with her.

Does she think I need it? Maybe cooking classes or how to improve your writing. But eyebrows?

I think my eyebrows look pretty good. I spend at least four minutes, some days more, filling in the blank spots and getting them to arch just perfectly. Not too matchy-matchy. That doesn’t look natural, a cosmetic lady once told me and her words stuck.

The eyebrow over my left eye has receded somewhat, so it requires more attention. It also has a bushy patch in the center that likes to sprout one long, dark hair. I have to keep my eye on it. No pun intended.

My friend’s question took me back to the picture I have of my teen-age self. I had very bushy brows and a large nose. With those features, how did I ever have a date? (All those years later, I still don’t care for my nose.)

I’m not sure when I discovered the tweezer, a handy device that also works well on chin hairs these days. All I know is that over the years I have been obsessed with eyebrows and what the fashion trends say they should look like. Seems that I’m one among many. The Internet says that $164 million is spent globally each year on eyebrow make-up.

As a kid, I recall being frightened by Joan Crawford’s eyebrows, especially the ones she sported in later years. They were big, dark and arched, giving her a particularly menacing appearance. I read someplace that she plucked her eyebrows so frequently when she was younger that she had artificial ones made out of mink that she glued in place.

Not sure if that was true. But whatever resided in the upper quadrant of her face did not look natural.

When Brooke Shields became popular her eyebrows were quite the topic.  Girl, get those plucked I remember thinking. And Martin Scorsese’s bushy headers are as legendary as some of his films. I tried emulating Sophia Loren’s brows back in the day but could never duplicate her look – for a lot of reasons.

Eyebrows occasionally work their way into our conversation at home, as in “Did Dianna trim your eyebrows when she cut your hair?” My man nods. “And nose and ear hair?” Another nod that doesn’t have the ring of truth. In reality, he doesn’t know or care.

After Candace asked me about the master class, I said to my man: “Do you think my eyebrows look okay?” He squinted, pushing his brows together. “I guess so. I can’t see them because they are hidden by your glasses.” And I’m a man and don’t care about those things.

The learned folks at MIT say that eyebrows have a purpose, which is helping us to identify each other. I guess that’s only if you leave them natural. They also protect our vision. Mine does seem to be going south, along with my eyebrows.

I have never been much of an eyebrow-raiser. Although I used to have a friend, JoAnn, that often communicated with me through her eyebrows. Strange but I always knew what she was trying to tell me. Especially when she stopped talking to me after my divorce.

Eyebrows aside, my preferred method of facial communication is and always has been the eye-roll. It requires no make-up and speaks volumes.

 

 

My Dog Days Are Gone

A text from a friend announced the passing of a mutual acquaintance who had been sick for some time. I expressed my condolences and then read a text from another person who was also on the string: “What about his girlfriend and his kids,” she said, sympathetically.

“What about his dog?” I chimed in.

“His dog?” my second friend responded. I could feel the judgment coming through the phone line.

“He loved that dog more than anything,” I replied – surprised she didn’t know that. “Surely he planned for the dog’s care, knowing that he wouldn’t be around much longer.”

None of us had an answer.

I thought of the many times I saw Mike and his beautiful golden retriever at the post office. The dog sitting up tall in the passenger seat of the golf cart with Mike surrounded by admiring women. Kipp, the dog, was indeed a chick magnet.

At our island’s annual dog show, Kipp was the Boca Bowser, a name given to the grand champ of all island canines. He was the second of Mike’s dogs to carry that honor. So, it was with sadness that I thought of Mike’s passing, while wondering what would happen to his beautiful companion.

Anyone who has had pets would understand. The death of a family pet is devastating. You miss the sweet thing terribly but life goes on. Maybe you get a new dog or cat to replace the departed one.

But imagine how an animal – especially a dog – must feel when one minute his master and center of his universe is there and the next he’s gone. No one can explain to the dog what happened or why his life is changing so suddenly and without warning.

Just about the cruelest thing a dog owner can do is neglect to think about what will happen to his pet if he dies first.

My friend who passed away about four years ago had a standard poodle, age 11, who was her sole companion. When she left to go to the drugstore one day she said what she always did: “You watch the house, honey, I’ll be back.”

But she didn’t come back, and the poor dog was beside himself.

That evening when the woman’s son entered the house the dog was still waiting for his master. At bedtime he went to her room and barked and howled throughout the night.

“He was calling to her,” the son observed.

Then came the question. “Who’s going to take care of Kramer?” No one seemed interested in an old dog used to living the life of an 80-year-old. When my friend’s granddaughter agreed to take him, I was relieved. He was too big and undisciplined for me to handle. My man wasn’t interested either.

Poor Kramer lived for another eight months and then died from what I assume was grief.

On our island, where the dog population almost outnumbers the humans, the stories of heartbreak are numerous. Like the woman who died, leaving behind two small dogs – one housebroken and the other not. Her caretakers spent six months trying to find a home for the pair. Another small dog, also not properly trained, was given to the owner of the island beauty shop – a woman with a heart of gold – when her elderly master passed away. No one else wanted the messy little creature. Another dog who was given to an elderly lady as a companion was so aggressive that he had to be put to sleep.

So, when my friend Marcy sends me endearing photos of Corgi puppies, I just smile to myself and remember the fun I had with Keebler. I still miss her, along with my Shetland Sheepdogs, Mutton and Lambchop.

But there are no pets in my future. For their sake, more than mine, my dog days are gone.

A Hateful Text

I got a text from a friend the other day. He said he didn’t like the color of my skin, didn’t care for the fact that I had made some money over my lifetime, thought I was privileged and certainly couldn’t believe I would express any support for the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.

Nice hearing from you, I thought.

He didn’t use those exact words. But I got the drift. He also didn’t consider what he said to be racist, sexist or ageist. No, he was freely expressing his thoughts – the correct ones in his mind – and calling people out for “what they are or what I believe them to be.”

He also suggested that the “rich” people where I live (and there are some for sure) should have refused to take the Covid vaccine so that less privileged individuals could have gotten their shots first.

I know he got both of his vaccine shots before I got mine, and he’s 10 years younger than me. Good for him, I thought at the time.

His comments gave me the right to say what I wanted in return. I didn’t hold back, writing about the discrimination I suffered as a woman and how I had to put up with sexual harassment because “boys will be boys” back in my younger days. Nobody gave me and every member of my family a job – as happened to my friend – because of the color of my skin. But you didn’t hear my whining.

It got ugly, as you can imagine these things do. But, thankfully, my nasty words never reached my friend because my phone went dead and my lengthy text vanished into the night.

When that happened, I looked heavenward and uttered a prayer. “Thanks for not letting me be hurtful to someone I care about,” I said to the man upstairs.

I blame my friend’s outburst on several things, beginning with social media. It started on Facebook when I responded to his nasty remarks about the governor of our fair state. He’d read an article that morning about how Ron had arranged it so that rich people got all the Covid shots and black people were being neglected.

Based on local TV coverage that didn’t seem to be true. Where I live shots were dispensed at our clinic on the basis of age. Some of the wealthier people on the island still hadn’t received their shots when the clinic ran out of vaccine. They had to look elsewhere.

So, my friend bought into news reports without doing his own research. I guess I’ve never given him my “don’t believe anything you read or hear these days” lecture. I was a reporter. I know how it works and doesn’t work today.

My friend also is retired. As my mother used to say “idle hands are the devil’s playground.” Without a job to go to every morning, with its distractions and challenges, or some meaningful volunteer work it’s easy to focus on the negative.

I can also blame Covid for his comments – and Donald Trump. Because everything bad that has happened over the last year and beyond is either the fault of the pandemic or the former president. At least that is what people seem to say. And my friend hates Trump with a passion. As he does all Republicans.

I reflected on his comments and my ghost response until the wee hours of the morning, and realized that someone out there must be taking great pleasure in the way we were treating each other these days.

I have no theory as to who that is, although I remember the old saying “divide and conquer.”

Among so many, compassion seems a word of the past. Forgiveness. What’s that? And judgment? Everyone appears to have put on black robes. Open your mouth to defend someone you think has fallen victim to a vicious and unwarranted attack, and you are a hater.

Maybe we should hope for that forecasted giant electronic pulse from the sun to black out all communication for a month or so. Living without any kind of media for 30 days may be the antidote we need. When life returns to normal, perhaps we will have come to understand the importance of connectivity and tolerance.  Perhaps.