We Remember

This past weekend was the twentieth anniversary of the attack on America on September 11, 2001.  I spent a good deal of time reflecting and praying on this event, as well as some others that seem to stay with me.  I wasn’t born when the December, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor happened, but my parents talked about it frequently with me.  I understood, after 9/11, that they felt the same way then that we did when we watched in abject horror as planes crashed into the World Trade Towers, then the Pentagon, then a field in Pennsylvania.

               The emotions don’t leave you; they simmer forever in the back of your brain or deep in your soul. 

               I was thinking, too, about the turbulent decade of the 1960’s – the horrific events that dotted that era, starting with the Bay of Pigs and then the assassination of our President.  More assassinations occurred in that decade – starting with Medgar Evers, then Malcom X, Sam Cooke, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. People who spoke out against wrongdoing, injustice, and inequity were targeted by killers during that decade.  Meanwhile, we were marching, protesting, and fighting to end our involvement in a war in Vietnam.  Some of us, naively as it turned out, thought we had prevailed throughout those dark years.  We thought that the changes in law that upheld civil rights for minorities, for women, for the underprivileged were the foundation of a new America.

               That was true.  But the foundation has serious cracks, as we’ve seen in the past few years. 

               The one thing that seemed positive in these events was the way Americans came together in the aftermath.  After Pearl Harbor, America joined the World War.  We fought to free those who were captured, enslaved, tortured and killed simply because they worshipped differently or looked differently.  And we prevailed.

               After the 1960s, we passed landmark legislation ensuring the rights of Americans in minority groups, and with disabilities, and laws that ensure women could make safe choices about their own bodies.  We enacted laws to strengthen voting rights and assist in voter registration.

               After 9/11, we banded together as a country to fight terrorism, both foreign and domestic.  We changed the way we travel, willingly (though with some cheerful complaints) to be sure no one boarded a train, bus, or airplane with weapons.  We strengthened security measures and regulations and were happy to do it.  We did all this, while displaying the American flag on our homes, on lapel pins, and in store windows.

               America came together to ensure the safety of all Americans.

               I supposed that’s why the current atmosphere both puzzles and concerns me.  We have been fighting a new and deadly virus for twenty months.  The smartest and most skilled medical professionals tell us that we must socially distance ourselves, wash our hands frequently, wear masks inside and/or in public, and get vaccinated. 

               Wow.  No marches, no protests, no young people being sent off to fight in foreign country, no assassinations.  Just get vaccinated and wear a mask.

               You’d think we have done all this by now.  You’d think we’d have the virus, and now its’ horrible variant, dead and gone from our country. But no, somehow, this “fight” seems too difficult for some Americans to process.  They want to cry “medical freedom” (which, by the way, is not in the Constitution so I’m unclear what they mean). 

               If they don’t want to take their blood pressure medication or their insulin, that’s fine. They only kill themselves.  But not taking this vaccination can harm others.  That’s not medical freedom.  That’s just wrong. 

               They claim they don’t “trust” the science.  But every day, they trust the science that built their vehicle, their television, their phone, and the processed food they put in their bodies.  They trust the science that built their guns, and the breweries that make their favorite beverage.  So…I just don’t get it.

               It’s a war, America.  Come on, wear the mask.  Get the shot.  Too many people have died for our real freedoms for us to disregard their sacrifices.

Sports Talk

As avid sports’ fans, Matt and I watch a lot of sports on television, mostly collegiate.  We are especially faithful to the Big Ten, and football is a major pastime in our house each autumn.  For decades, I enjoyed the commentators of the games.  I like to hear the back stories of the players and coaches and Matt enjoys – or used to enjoy – the commentary on what is happening on the field.

               Then, some of the commentary began to change over the past decade or so, or at least it seems that way to me.  We often get annoyed by the fact that the commentators of the game we are watching – most usually a Big Ten game – spend a lot of time talking about games that are occurring in other leagues.  This resulted in us muting the sound for long periods. [Let me digress just a moment to add that the scroll at the bottom of the screen on one of the networks is equally irritating.  It takes up precious room and I honestly don’t care who’s been traded in the NFL or what hockey team or soccer team has an injured player.  But that’s just me.]

               A couple of years ago, we noticed a new annoying trait in the yakking from the commentators.  They still talk about things unrelated to the game we’re actually watching, often to the point of missing a key penalty or play.  Then, they started getting a little repetitive with catchy words or phrases. We first observed this with the term “tempo.”

               Suddenly, we had to hear the two (or three) announcers discuss how the “tempo” of the game was a critical factor.  Matt says this started when Oregon began to change up how quickly they snapped the ball.  Well, okay, I get it.  It was new and interesting.  About the three thousandth time I heard one of the talking heads say “oooh, tempo,” I was registering dismay, if not annoyance.

               Last year the new word of the season was “physicality.” Honestly, I’m not sure that’s a real word.  But announcers would exclaim and extol various players for their “physicality.” Okay, if I was out there on the field and tackled someone, or sacked someone, or broke a tackle, yeah, that would be pretty amazing, and they should exalt my physicality.  But it’s not me.  These are college level football players.  Most have been playing, working out, and training for at least eight years, often more.  They can bench press the weight of a small car.  They can run a 4-minute mile.  They often weigh upwards of 300 pounds and are over six feet tall. So, it’s really not a big surprise that they possess “physicality.” It would be strange (and scary) if they didn’t.

               This year, right off the bat, I was aggravated during the first Ohio State game.  The announcers said, many times, “they are making the Ohio State coaches coach.” Really? What do they think any coach is doing during a football game?  Playing cribbage? Having a cheese tasting?  Coaches (at least any I’ve watched) are consistently coaching on the sidelines.  Just observe them yelling, huddling, talking frantically into their headset, pacing, and running alongside plays.  I don’t think the other team’s behavior is “making coaches coach.”  They already are coaching.  This is just a kitschy way of saying that a team might have surprised the opposition with a play.  The commentators just have to be cute.

               It’s infuriating.  As long as I’m pointing out silliness, quit sending people down to ask the coach at halftime really dumb questions like “So, you’re ahead by 20, are you worried?” or “You’re behind by 3, what are you going to tell your guys?” We already know the answers and you’re just delaying the coach getting into the locker room.  

               Here’s my advice:  Just call the game, guys. 

Getting Older

Our dog has been with us nearly 13 years. Come this Christmas, we will celebrate his 13th year with us and he will be…maybe 14?  More than likely, 15?  When we adopted him (and he rescued us), the vet said she thought he was a full-grown black lab/Great Dane mix about two years old.  He was the height of a large lab and weighed 72 pounds.  In the following several months, Forest gained an inch in height and 28 – 30 pounds (depending upon the season).  So, we concluded he must have only been a year old when we got him.

               But we could be wrong.  Either way, he’s getting pretty aged for a large dog.  According to statistics, his mix of breeds only live an average of 9 to 10 years, so every day is a blessing.  And honestly, as he ages, I feel my own age as well.

               When he started getting white around the muzzle and up his back legs a few years ago, I noticed the first of the amazing grey hairs on my own head.  As his coat has developed more and more white, so has mine.  His are a little more prominent, because his coat is shiny coal black. My dirty blonde/light brunette coloring favors hiding the grey a little better.

               Then about a year and a half ago, we started noticing his back legs getting stiff.  He had an occasional fall or trip on the stairs, but never with an injury.  I commiserated with him, because when I sit too long, my knees stiffen, too.  I creak and groan and limp around for a few minutes until the joints get a little lubricated.  Fortunately, both of us still have our original joints, but that means they stiffen. They also ache in the rain – this is not an old wives’ tale!

So when I started popping glucosamine, he started taking pain pills and anti-inflammatories.  My arthritis is holding steady and is being contained with my over-the-counter supplements.  His, however, is steadily getting worse.  And with each passing month, the list of things he doesn’t do anymore grows.

He no longer wants to play fetch.  Well, he wants to, but he can’t really.    He used to take two walks a day. If we didn’t take that second walk, he’d lie up on our back hill and refuse to come in the house, letting us know he expected that second trip to the woods.  Nowadays, he wants one walk, though he has to take a break at least halfway through. 


               I used to love that second walk myself.  In fact, I still do.  But I find myself going slower to allow him to rest, and realizing that the slower pace is easier for me, too.

Recently, he started needing pill pockets to take a few of his many pills each day.  He used to grab them out of the air as we tossed them, but now he sniffs each pill carefully and there are a few he simply will not take unless they have peanut butter, cream cheese, or a pill pocket on them.  I used to take no pills at all, and now I choke down 5 in the morning and 4 at night.  I don’t need peanut butter, but I do find that a little dark chocolate as a reward afterward helps me feel better, at least mentally.

Forest’s eyesight and hearing appear to be diminishing, too.  That could account for why he can’t nip those pills out of the air very well.  It also could explain why he doesn’t follow commands as well as he used to do.  But for that matter, I’ve had two cataract surgeries myself, and frankly, I’m retired.  I don’t have to follow commands anymore.  Seriously.  There are a few perks to this aging thing.

So Forest and I are aging, somewhat gracefully, together.  This getting older thing is not for the faint of heart.  And I’m grateful I have my dearest furry friend to help me.

Telephone Rant

Likely my recent telephone woes have been because we still use a landline.  For those of you who don’t know, that’s a phone that can receive and make calls and can have a voicemail function.  It’s connected to your home and is not portable – at least not outside the home – hence “land” line.  And it does nothing else but those three things. 

Old school, I know.  The annoying, scammy, shameful folks who like to prey on us older and dumber (or so they think) folks, love landlines. Right now, I have a top three on my personal list of annoying entities that call my phone several times a day.

Now before I start my rant, let me say, that yes, we have caller ID.  And I could just not answer.  Or I could just hang up (mom would spin in her grave at this display of poor manners). Or I could block the numbers (which sometimes works, but usually they just use another stolen caller ID). But at my house, any number of three of us might be taking a nap. This could be happening morning, afternoon or evening and these calls are incredible.  They are relentless.  And the people are definitely on my poop list.

The first one is from the “Medicare unit.”  The caller ID does’t say that and when pressed on this obvious misrepresentation, the person will admit they are the “medicare unit of some health care agency.”  Seriously?  I waste several minutes of my life explaining to Kevin or Joe, whose primary language is consistently something other than American English, that I don’t appreciate these calls and to remove me, please from their lists.  They call back – often the same day – from another number.

Sigh.

Second on my annoying list are the warranty people…who asked them anyway?  It’s been 8 years …EIGHT YEARS…since we purchased our car. If we wanted another or extended warranty, I’d likely have (a) called them, (b) notified my dealer, or (c) returned any of their 300 mail notifications.  Get a clue people.  How about this?  When we bought our truck 7years ago, we paid for a LIFETIME warranty to be included in the price.  Yet, these warranty ghouls still call us every month or so.

Sigh again.  At least these people only call once a month.

Last week,  I tracked at least 8 calls every day from “medicare unit,” “warranty division,” or my new favorite “the police alliance league.”  This so-called charity is so sketchy that they don’t have a caller id that is official (it always has spam risk or some random cell number), they don’t appear on charity navigator (HUGE issue) and they are likely NOT a 501(3)(c) but merely a “non-profit.”  They tell me that they “use donations to support law makers who support law enforcement.”

Every call, I ask the same thing…which lawmakers are those?  I get either hung up on, the spiel repeated, or some shaming comment like “don’t you support our police?”  Well yes, I do.  Emphatically.  However, I have seen some absolutely abhorrent behavior from our federal and state “lawmakers” who are NOT supporting police.  They are not acknowledging the destructive and hateful behavior on January 6 and are blaming others than those who actually participated in that day of domestic terrorism.  I watched the atrocities live on television as they happened, with my heart in my throat and now I’m watching the “law makers” dance around and act like it was an “altercation” and a “misunderstanding.” So I believe “WHICH LAWMAKERS ARE YOU GIVING MY MONEY TO?” is a valid question.  Since I’m not getting an answer, that particular organization’s professional callers will continue to get my wrath.  You’d think they’d stop calling.  But they don’t.

Final sigh.

Why don’t these people get jobs that actually help others?  Drive down any street and you’ll see “now hiring” signs.  For heaven’s sake, please get these people off my phone line and into a job where someone might actually benefit.  Pour concrete, bake bread, deliver pizza.  Do something besides harass me (and wake me from a lovely nap).

Rant over.

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