A ‘Tweener’ Feeling About Christmas

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First off, I’m not a Grinch-type, nor do I have an attic full of ornaments and lights and reindeer waiting to be planted on the front lawn. I have yet to try peppermint latte, and while I have a red stocking hung by the chimney with care, its more because my Dad made them for all four boys about 1,000 (okay, 50-something) years ago, with our names in felt and a glittery star at the toe. Putting it up is a reminder how we– and I include family and the many, many friends he treated so kindly– miss his cookies and good cheer. Like Santa Claus, everybody liked Dad.

Several cousins are coming to visit this holiday season, mostly because they want to be with Mom, who at 84 moved to the assisted living side at her senior community at the end of August, but hopefully because we haven’t seen each other in a while. Frank– who was Skip for the first thirty years I knew him– retired this year, and he is financially set to do whatever the heck he wants over the next couple years. He even mentioned going to Minnesota for some *really* cold weather, not something you normally hear from a true Florida Boy. He’s got three terrific kids, as do two of my brothers, Steve and David.

That’s where the ‘Tweener’ thing comes in, because having someone truly special in life to share such times with is way ahead of wondering what you can or should be considering gift-wise. While I could actually use a new basketball, how fully I’ll throw myself into this season of cheer is open to debate. I’ll drink your spiked egg nog, I’m good with any Woman who wants to walk around with some mistletoe and surprise me– hopefully its a worthwhile kiss– and I travel with a small bag of food behind the seat in case I run across someone on a street corner who needs a break from that necessary worry, even for a day. I’ve got six stamps on hand, so a couple people get cards.

late crewdoes tree12-17Okay, I just signed up for a Hawai’ian pig roast, and my experience on that is, no problem smiling about next Saturday. Brother Steve has an oyster roast on 23rd, and THAT’S always a winner, with enough testosterone–guys only at this event–  to float a battleship. Our church group’s 33rd annual Christmas tree sale ends in a couple days, and that’s been an uplifting experience, too.

The hitch of not being a Grinch– a role that’s soooo easy to slip into– or (overly) Super Positive Person for holidays– is over-thinking the Why not? that kind of comes with being a single guy, mistletoe or not. Yeah, yeah, I know its supposed to be about the Christ child’s birth, Peace on Earth-Good Will towards Men (and all other categories of humanity), but isn’t there some “What about me?” when you see a hottie elf nuzzling a geeky guy in one of those super-ridiculous tree lights suits? Without being disrespectful of the many who have much less, not having a couple things to open and wow! at someone’s thoughtfulness for getting it (or perhaps a negative if you recognize its a re-gifting with zero thought), that you’re getting the coffee on (as usual) and hanging out till church, football games and dinner is a relative downer.

It doesn’t seem legitimate to protest that things aren’t exactly as you’d want them to be

When brother Dave, Donna, Maria, Curtiss and his wife, Stephanie came down a couple Glenn w-captainsyears ago it was a great couple days, and even the recent Thanksgiving I got to participate in with twenty others in Gastonia, with food and beverage aplenty, was a harbinger of why many find the holidays somewhat depressing: It doesn’t last. We watch Trump being good (for Trump, no excessive butthead Twitter-ing, and there’s got to be PLENTY on his pea-pickin’ mind right now) at President George H.W. Bush’s funeral for a couple days, but there’s no doubt in our minds that’s going to change real damn soon, right? You don’t expect a three-year old grandchild to be perfect after the 26th either.

In the bigger picture, it doesn’t seem legitimate to protest that things aren’t exactly as you’d want them to be at a specific time. I pity the millions who will make New Years resolutions for 2019, knowing that 99.7% of whatever weight, job, relationship, economic, personal or altruistic promises they make to the Universe or whomever they’re accountable to in their goal-setting awaits failure. I’ve never worried about ten pounds too much-not tanned enough for swim suit season, never sworn I’d move into a perfect new, high-paying job before New Years. I loved the insurance commercial about Mayhem, who was resigned to doing the mundane safety stuff until he found out resolutions rarely make it very far into the new year, because he could be his regular self, the pressure was off at that point.

Of *COURSE* I’ve asked for the stockings I put in my stocking to be filled appropriately with a desirable Her. What I’m going to be glad about is Mom still recognizing me (most of the time) when I pick her up for church, for Mike, who never asks for the rent money absolutely on time (unless its poker week), and if he fixes the head he broke off the choir boys cutout, I’ll be glad to put it on the porch and put some framing tree lights in the window behind them. I’ll kiss under any mistletoe when prompted, just because. I’ll watch ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (original version) with spiked egg nog and know I’m not him,  watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and consider whether I’m that kind of difference maker in other peoples lives. I will *never* say “Bah, humbug!”

That it probably only takes getting another good gig work-wise (half a loaf is still good) to brighten things brings HOPE, and isn’t that what the season is truly about? Positive expectations people, and Season’s Greetings! to all who might need a little extra cheering to make it though. I’m not a Grinch, you probably aren’t either. Tweener isn’t *bad*, not with all the alternatives and/or blessings we have to help us over The Small Stuff.

And while you’re up, could you get me another egg nog?

 

 

 

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Yes, America, it’s that Simple

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No, this isn’t a post-election apocalypse, just the end of our Oyster Roast.

Thanksgiving Day I stopped by the fire station around the corner, and was glad the crew chief remembered me from bringing meatballs & sauce dinners a couple years ago. I brought dinners several times to two stations as a committed Thank you! for having given me another Christmas with my Dad at one point. I’d stopped by to say thanks over the years, finally decided I could do better.

I offered the hope that all their brothers trying to stop California from being a huge torch- and whatever calls Big 3 had for the day- were safe.

curt-stef-photo-bombThe next point isn’t about nephew Curtiss and Steph’s picture (I just really like it), it’s a straight-up, 180-degree political turn-around on Facebook with a guy from high school. Hard core Republican, I guess, but mostly on side of how athletes disrespect the flag version Trump flogged vs. freedom of speech and NOT what the kneeling was about, which was awareness of how many young black men were being shot to death by white police officers.

As many have noted, only VIETNAM has split large parts of America (as cynically planned by administration here in 2018) in recent memory, although those Stoneman-Douglas kids anti-gun tour certainly brought massive crowds into the streets– over 700 marches in one weekend

We can agree to disagree, on a factor that shouldn’t have split people so effectively.

I always mention ‘Nam was overrun the spring of my senior year in high school, 1975. I never served, all four guys in my Dad’s line did. Respect for those who serve has nothing to do with the message of kneeling, a pointed, silent event, not what Trump brands it with S.O.B! flourish. We can agree to disagree, on a factor that shouldn’t have split people so effectively.

On Facebook I mentioned dropping by that fire station, thanking them for service as first responders, and Tony Malizia, the long-time Air Force- 39 years– with stripes to the elbow for each three year hitch–guy from HS wrote it was cool what I’d done, they were the real heroes.

He also wrote that he’s taken politics out of previous gear, that  the country had so much more that bound us, which is certainly how we’d all like to live. I responded that was why I’d essentially reached out. For a lot of reasons, our COUNTRY is going to need to pull in same direction, heal and not commit continuous-contentious stressing. It seems likely indictments or publication of what could-should be damning stuff from Mueller’s investigation will upset the United States a while longer, and I believe Chief Justice Roberts, “We don’t have Obama judges or Trump judges…” even if everything Kavanaugh does will be under a microscope.

I’m heartened by how, under close examination (almost, sorry GA) every step of the way, there was absolutely NO DOUBT how America felt about VOTING for change. Don’t relax and think 2020 won’t be just as contentious people.

That tribe in the Dakotas that  managed to abide by having addresses, and people providing transportation so their voting counted, INSPIRATIONAL.

Like the judge said, “Both sides should turn down the rhetoric.” If I’m right in thinking it only took agreeing to disagree about the message or disrespect of pro athletes kneeling, we’re kind of back on a regular track. I mentioned going to school with the guy, right? He was a lightweight wrestler, Bob Massaroni’s best bud from forever.

Thank you again for your service.

Yes, America, that simple. 

It felt like a Pretty Good Week with Mom

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It might be Mom’s last road trip, but Paul and Kaitlyn’s wedding was worth it.

November marks essentially two months since Mom moved from independent to assisted living side of the senior community (Carmel Hills) where she’s been since we moved her from Tampa, FL to Charlotte three Junes ago. I was her primary caregiver for seven months, and lunch-making, shopping, medication consistency, appointments, walking and just being around were the essentials. I worked my presence down to twenty hours a week for the last month before she moved to the assisted side.

I’m proud of having gotten her to Raleigh for my nephews seriously cool wedding weekend in July and yes, I was worried that her meds got messed up back in Charlotte during my terrific NY week without responsibilities. I went right back into service the morning after a 17-hour return trip, handling a situation with Mom’s cable because that’s what caregivers do.

Just days after we learned about a single room opening on the assisted side, my mother caused a smoke-out, the very first time she’d *ever* tried to reheat any leftovers.  The strangest part was getting a Sunday morning call just after pre-church shower about it, because nothing seemed amiss when I’d picked her up for ice cream at 7:30 and stayed till 10:00 the previous night, and its one of those events that always counts heavily in determining when such moves are finally necessary.

It turned out between 4:45 when I called about our ice cream date, the smoke alarm at 6:30 and time I arrived, Carmel Hills had done their emptying out drill, cleared up the charred stuff in the apartment, and was back to normal. Mom never mentioned it, mostly because she didn’t remember it. Overall, that was a fortunate stroke of timing, already having a plan for exactly this move when the time came.

So that’s when we moved Mom, and its such a good situation for both her and- as I sit before a picture window with sunshine and finally changing color leaves outside- a lifestyle change I hadn’t really comprehended.

When I wasn’t jumping over there between 11:00-1:30 because she liked early lunch and card games, and post-dinner (7-9:30), I admit accepting that I couldn’t work for several hours because she wasn’t wired, and I felt guilty if I didn’t keep her involved in conversation. That changed when I turned over the primary caregiver role, and while there was always a satisfaction about my role as a caregiver in the clutch, the difference in not having to frequently divide my time has allowed an obvious, positive rise in- if not billable- productive hours elsewhere.

My second book submission– with a tightened-up 7,300 words intro– is going out two weeks early, so this past month constitutes a successful conversion for me. A golf writing and travel gig possibility from August ended with several hospital stays by client, but I’m seeing my niche writing abilities as needed under flexible circumstances on a regular basis on well-populated professional sites. There are jobs and gigs, long enough and challenging assignments that make an economic difference.

Last week was a good one with Mom. Saturday evening I took her to an Oyster Roast by our Men’s Club, to church on Sunday, and Thursday I brought her tiger lilies after I bought a necessary new laptop, because that’s what you do when Mom’s are on the same side of town as business. I got to Carmel Hills when she was about to start a roast beef lunch, and  believe me, even if I was suit and tie dressed up and had flowers, that took priority. Helpers got the flowers into a container and on a table in her room.

I also let Mom know Edna, her best buddy since 2nd grade, was going to visit in two Fridays. Of course, I’ll remind her a couple times, but that’s definitely a good news thing, and repeating isn’t any kind of negative.

At the Oyster Roast Mom kept saying she wasn’t sure she liked oysters, but she’s eaten every one I’ve fixed her before. We settled at a table with a lady and her Mom who remembered me trying to sell tickets a month ago, and they kept Mom company while I wound up managing a variety of situations with the roast. I made sure she had a wine, got back several times, and found her a good slab of chocolate cake. She appreciated getting out, so I loaded up on karmic rewards.

Mom wanted to treat to dinner after church this week, so Mike, Mom and I went to Red Lobster, beating the rush easily. As often as she says she’s hungry, Mom still doesn’t eat much, although she always has room to work with her sweet tooth, and sharing a nice warm brownie with ice cream worked without a hitch.

Mom needed a nap after the wine, and by the time I got back to the house, the Panthers were pounding the Ravens on TV, including a semi-sneaky 54-yard FG to end the first half with a 24-7 lead. I’m a FanSided/CatCrave blogger, so by the time I’d watched until the surprising 36-21 conclusion, a last touch on a good week for me included a twelve-mile bike ride.

I’m still thankful to the ex-HR person who definitively stated NOBODY had writers working in staff positions any more, that everything was out-sourced.

Having embraced that attitude, and forgetting about knocking out a straight forty hour week, the challenge remains the same—making my time worth while to a paying client.

Bringing flowers and getting Mom out several times, that still makes for a no doubt feeling about being a ‘Good Son’. Having said before that being a caregiver is about making other people’s lives go right and taking care of yourself—that still works. Having picked up the habit of utilizing smaller time frames for proposals and entrepreneurial projects, I’m better at utilizing the technology that’s making it easier for me to (relatively)  put myself in front of significant others.

 

Prostate cancer news is Joyful! Awesome! when your best friend says ’10 years’

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Photo by Jim De Ramos on Pexels.com

Having mentioned how a knee replacement from last December has affected my life so positively more than once, getting a couple videos from my best friend in college- Ivan Marquez– about surviving prostate cancer for ten years is a valid point to assess time and circumstances and how it affects those we love.

More than anything, my desire is to encourage communication, because that always make a difference with major illnesses. Not everyone reading this will care, but beyond understanding the medical marvel side requiring ninety pills a day and a whole lot more, there’s a very real feeling of Joy that bursts forth when you learn something that’s heroic or unexpectedly Good. The fact I reached out another time Friday to share something I was proud of with him and got something so decisive back, that rarely happens without a small, extra effort.

It requires a little fleshing out,  but I’ll preface things by noting my Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was dead in two years, and he died almost five years ago. How could you not think the worst was coming for your best friend?

After Dad told us (four brothers) about diagnosis, we were more than a little surprised when doctors did anything surgical. They don’t usually think that chemo and radiation improve quality of life in eighty year-olds, but in trying to implant a few radioactive pellets to kill the suspected cells, Dad was taken off Coumadin, had a stroke that night, and lost his desire to eat almost anything beyond power shakes. That Christmas he was a bag of bones. While he survived another Christmas and died in late January from congestive heart failure—a family weakness, my Uncle Don died two days earlier in the same Tampa hospital from it—he wasn’t close to the friendly, active guy he’d always been.

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The four choirboys, now 50 years old- Dad was an artsy guy

My brothers all agreed that we wish he’d discussed it with us vs. just told us the prognosis, because it was his being relatively healthy and a desire not to leave Mom alone that drove his decision to try the pellets vs. rigors of chemo-radiation. The next thing we knew, the stroke was a fact. I drove to Tampa the day after I learned Uncle Don died, I would have gladly driven down many months before that to beg Dad to reconsider the course he eventually took, but we’d all assumed we’d get another chance at that.

I’m certain I went into denial when Ivan first called about his prostate cancer, because it was a well known and vicious killer. When he called briefly last year about his survival, I asked why he hadn’t told me, when of course, he had.  While I periodically sent him notes or articles I was proud of and he responded with, “Good going, keep it on the blacktop (vs. driving into a ditch)” I always assumed he was keeping the ugly negatives from me, although he’d never really been a guy who wrote much. I called every once in a while– most recently when I vacationed in upstate NY for a week– but didn’t get responses, which reinforced that notion.

It didn’t occur that he was frequently busy with hospital (Mayo Clinic) things, just that he wasn’t responding, so it must be bad- and hopefully I’d get some notice about a funeral.

Ivan created a fine men’s volleyball program at Concordia, then dropped the coaching when he became the Commissioner of EVIA (Eastern Volleyball Inter-Collegiate Association) because his ‘men beat boys’ recruiting style was built on getting ‘older’ stud players who flunked out on scholarships elsewhere a second chance back on campus to play and finish their education. Although legal, he didn’t want any potential negatives to come back at the school.

I’m certain I went into denial when Ivan first called about his prostate cancer,  because it was a known and terrible killer.

The video he sent—which was done by students in the Communications Dept. at Concordia, where he’s been the Athletic Director since 1995—gave me 1000% more insight to his situation, and also showed he still talked and treated others as he always had. He speaks of Concordia athletics in terms of ‘playing with the toy’, meaning figuring out how to do something better or desirable for the program.

The point about communication is that you often HAVE to keep pushing people to share, because many don’t want to be pitied or thought of as weak– you can’t talk about the regimen without admitting it mostly sucks, which he admits in the video. Many equate not talking about it with sparing you the boring details of ugliness, and maybe that was a righteous reason for me in past, but I’m getting on the phone shortly so I can communicate how important it is to me to get more of my best friend back.

One Really Good Story: I get to take a portion of credit for Ivan’s career, because after I repeatedly beat his brains out in basketball back in the early 80s– surviving the heat stroke waiting to happen that 90-plus degree Tampa afternoons always is– he said, “Nope, I can’t go back to Puerto Rico and play in some league if I can’t stop THIS guy’s jump shot.”

FYI- If you’ve watched college or beach volleyball, he was the thinker who determined that volleyball missed the TV spotlight championships usually draw because only service scoring (vs. every point) meant some five-set matches went forever with side-outs. He brought his alternatives to several coaching friends with clout (BYU, UCLA) and today its 25 points wins, and the 5th set is like sudden death, only to 15.

911, Mueller-Trump, or a Hurricane: Which one should have your attention?

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If you only have the attention span or ability to focus on a single subject at a time, what would be on your mind today? Many would say ‘Remember 9-11!’ and that would certainly be appropriate. A large number would undoubtedly select some sliver of the on-going saga of Trump cruelty/BS policies-Mueller investigation-possible impeachment-upcoming elections, and more than a few would point to (as of yesterday) a Category 4 hurricane named Florence that is bearing down on the Carolinas.

The anticipation of a Thursday landfall is a Reality, but it’s not necessary to forget about the other two.

9-11 of course, is a significant historical event, a devastating attack that was truly world-changing. The second has been a slow-rolling situation that has split this country in ways that only Vietnam or our incredibly bloody Civil War of nearly 160 years ago (‘The War of Northern Aggression’ in these parts), but that hurricane is almost here and very Now. Having seen the flooding and destruction from a close hurricane pass for eastern North Carolina a few years ago, yikes. Recognizing that when they say GET OUTTA THERE! so publicly to several million people, you reallllly should do something to prepare for the potential worst.

Last night I congratulated a gal-pal who bought her way out of a shared condo lease about a half-mile from the South Carolina shore just a month ago. It looked like a financial disaster then, more like a gift now.

Here in Charlotte, NC, almost 200 miles from the coast, nobody has forgotten Hugo (1989), and while there was a semi-freakish confluence of two pressure systems that essentially ushered-spun it this way after it hit Charleston, I’m not feeling immune to possibility it happens again. Back then, a good-sized tree came down along side of my brother’s house vs. on it, but more importantly, *I’M* here now, and current house is surrounded by large, OLD, oak trees.

Politically, I’ve checked my voter registration and will do my part to remove Trump from a position on the world stage that he’s deliberately butchered, starting with the House, but I’ve never had to dig out from under a natural disaster (or a bombing either), and yes, that brings a certain pause to all other parts of Life.

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Watching ‘The 2000’s’ on TV the other night, will praying do anything about 8-10 inches of rain an hour for several days that Katrina did to New Orleans or more recently, Houston? Here in ‘The Buckle on the Bible Belt’— and bless what the legendary late Billy Graham epitomized as a messenger of God plus over 1,100 churches listed on Google might mean—its going to be a tense week, considerably longer if we take a direct hit.

Last night I congratulated a gal-pal who bought her way out of a shared condo lease about a half-mile from the South Carolina shore just a month ago. It looked like a financial disaster then, more like a gift now. I still object to the kind of disaster relief that rebuilds homes in a place that will almost inevitably be destroyed again, but its not mine either, and that certainly counts in a significant way.

Right now it’s a terrific September morning, Carolina blue sky with a smattering of fluffy clouds. That’s probably how it looked to New Yorkers that evil, disastrous day 17 years ago. I’ll never forget how a co-worker hung up her phone and said, “An airplane just crashed into one of the Twin Towers!” and opining that was unbelievable accident, not knowing it was a BIG plane vs. just a two-engine Cessna or such. That a second plane hit the other tower and this country watched an almost surreal scene unfold all day—with three more planes-as-bombs elsewhere– was as big as anyone could imagine, a modern-day Pearl Harbor of fanaticism.

One group of passengers—and the memory of a ‘Let’s roll!’ final word of determination has produced goosebumps like I haven’t had in a long time– forced one terrorist piloted plane to crash in Pennsylvania instead of allowing it to continue on its murderous mission of crashing into the White House, and that’s something we should have a collective, ultimate respect for.

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It was related to helping my Dad vs. 9-11, but making spaghetti dinner (with modesty aside, great meatballs) once a month for three months at two stations, was my way of saying thanks.

It’s awesome that we have people who care about others enough to sacrifice themselves, which is how our military-police-first responders are somehow rigged mentally. Its almost hard to believe Nike chose an out of work QB vs. those cops and firemen of 2001 or a Pat Tillman, who left his job playing football in relative safety to give his life in Afghanistan- as worthy of an advertising campaign and rolling it out this time of year. Even knowing, and agreeing with, the reason Colin Kaepernick started kneeling in protest, its not like they didn’t know there were better examples.

The many who ran towards that disaster instead of away are justifiably held in awe, and if the NYPD and NYFD hats and shirts don’t come out as often as they did in the early years, that’s on us for forgetting.

In a simple, definitely personal and political thought, we can only hope those people we elected to represent our interests as a country, who SHOULD do something about the wrongness and despair caused by wrong-headed and often enabling inaction in Congress– based only on self-interest of a political party– somehow gets a similar ‘Let’s go” spine.

As for the hurricane, we have a spare bedroom…

MAX-GREAT WEDDING! Headlines Ten Day Tour Triumph

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Starting a road trip with an enormously fun and significant familial event—nephew Paul and Kaitlyn’s wedding, after ten years of togetherness—is now my favorite way to ensure a top quality experience no matter what.

I completed a very personal, mas macho drive of 15 hours and 790 miles late Monday evening, through constant on-off rain, some extra heavy downpours with accidents in West Virginia (including three semis) and a car at end of the bridge at Lake Norman as I got back to Charlotte. It’s never a bad idea to give thanks about safe traveling, wedding was an event that kicked trip off superbly though.

Around here (NC) they count a lot of things as being ‘blessed’. 1,870 safe miles as ‘lucky’, that’s  never a bad thing either.

Taking I-81 north through PA to I-88 and coming up the back route to Schenectady, NY, made earlier driving cross-country on North Carolina-Virginia back roads a relative pleasure– 88 rode like a square wheel for most of 120 miles.

On that long return trek, I confess to a bit of pucker factor– actually, from the turn to Charlotte at Ft. Chiswell alllll the rest of 135 miles back– through mountain downhills behind windshield-obscuring spray off trucks, faster than I really wanted to roll. The fact brother Dave and I put new brakes on front of Bullitt2 just three weeks ago got an Amen as well.

After chopping a local course into small, small pieces for nine holes that first Tuesday, (whacking) a bucket Friday confirmed I was getting proper training for what should become a primary factor in my Next Gig. Having to improve your long game as part of any career requirement is far from onerous.

As a road trip, I was quite precise on hitting time and place goals based on dead reckoning and experience, even working my way through ‘The Lotta Trucks State’, Pennsylvania. Being shotgun on three-day pilgrimages to Florida meant something tangible growing up, specifically reading (and refolding) maps for Dad, and competence on knowing where I am makes all travel less hellish for me.

As an exceptional opportunity to relax from all responsibilities– especially primary care and companion for an 84-year old mother still in independent care– upstate New York with bro and family was exactly what the doctor ordered. A well-struck medium bucket of balls before a rainy Friday afternoon (of two days) at Saratoga racetrack just punctuated the appeal of all things Good About Vacation happening so close to plan. With plenty of thinking time both ways, this last ten days was a pivot point, and while having to improve my game as part of a second career requirement isn’t a tough situation, that’s part of a new One Thing on my mind.

The decision to attend Panthers training camp in Spartanburg, SC on Sunday afternoon instead of a planned attendance this very soggy Thursday morning isn’t The One Thing, nor does it signal anything about a fan-factor lacking. I’ll also miss the big Fan Night in stadium Friday night, but I’m really looking forward to watching a real practice. Like Elijah Hood, local Charlotte guy now in Panthers training camp said, I’ve never taken the opportunity all these years, and I arrived in 1995, same as the Panthers. If seeing D.J. Moore go high for a bullet from Cam and then run away from a safety happens on a sunnier Sunday, so be it.

Run C-MC (Christian McCaffrey) should be on display about any time he’s in and you watch a handful of plays during this sorting of talent in Spartanburg. Starting out, any estimates about his potential reception numbers in 2018 are considerable– 100 seems safe, or at least not that outrageous. I want to see that guy up close.

The Reality of primary care returned early Tuesday morning, waiting for a Spectrum tech to fix Mom’s cable (yay! for job handled well), shopping, and getting her meds machine refilled and back on right routine.  Its not a grind after vacation, still what has to happen so someone else’s life rolls well, too. In a most positive fashion, that weekend of wedding and allll that came with it family-wise– that entertaining and Goodness we shared– that’s important to what makes Life, and of course VACATION, a great time to relax and be satisfied to the max.

Conversely, not so much relaxing for all those football players wanting jobs in Spartanburg, and fans will want to see the offense Friday night. Sunday will still be a good day to pursue a sportswriter and fan’s basic question: How do things look right now?

newcastlesFrom behind new sunglasses acquired for Saratoga track wear, I gotta tell you, that view is flat out Cool. Bring on the Next.

Pooh-pooh a neighbors pie-in-the-sky & kumbaya, but MILLIONS of people showed up

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There’s always something wrong with the idea of one person gunning down a bunch of others, and an extraordinary number of those events have occurred in 2018. Since my earliest, formative years in a very effective Linton High School (Schenectady, NY) journalism program, I have always identified as a Writer, but I didn’t feel quite the same about those newspaper people being killed as the slaughter Las Vegas had to shake you, simply because of volume.

It was apparently good(?) old-fashioned ‘crazy guy with a long-term grudge and a shotgun’ killing vs. that ducks in a barrel, blazing away version of FEAR that carnage in Vegas was. Does it mean it was LESS mindless and more about the gun? Guy thought about situation for YEARS before deciding *this* was the day to take revenge.

Being a periodista (journalist) brings no additional grief to the situation for me. I have no connection to journalists who were killed, just a feeling that if we back off the idea any of it is acceptable, a piece of what so many died for comes into question. Watch ‘Gettysburg’ on PBS if you get a chance, *that* was a country in full-out hate for what the other half represented. And bloodshed…! Gettysburg is on record for 52,000-plus dead and wounded in three days, and makes what’s happening now seem like piddelisky.

Many months ago I told a language student that crazy bad as I think Trump and GOP  minions have ravaged this country, those high school kids from Stoneman Douglas didn’t set the bar on civil action and effectiveness, the Vietnam War did.

THE GOOD THING is, there were over  700 protest marches across the country this weekend regarding the mess with children being taken from asylum-seeking parents on the border. Thousands being kept prisoner cages, and that’s not how we as a country would choose to roll.

Were deterrent tactics finally stopped? Great, and the world is still watching, America. The world cared about those Thai soccer players stuck in flooded caves for 18 days because they were KIDS.  Caring for children is a universal concept,  and if U.S. border fiasco is about changing focus on Russia, better let the World Cup lead.

MILLIONS of people showed up in *reallllly* hot conditions to make it known this is where the line was– and that ALWAYS counts.

Knowing LOTS of people still care about what comes between us 1-1 in this country also means win-lose on every stinking thing is unnecessary, and yes, civility could be part of that. No wedding cake for gays, no service for unpopular Sarah H.? Relax people, doctors tell you not to sweat the small stuff, and as the book says, it’s ALL small stuff. Save real indignation for your voting rights being curtailed.

Are exact numbers involved in marches required? Not by me, maybe because I still say, ‘great 11 or 12- mile bike ride’ without caring how far I rode in 94 degree heat lately. The people I talked to while getting gas, they seemed to feel a similar vibe—that this weekend showed we’re not being alone in thinking “We have to draw the line *somewhere* or this country doesn’t stand for what I was always taught it was about.”

It’s true that you only miss something when its gone, and that sense of living together instead of constantly trying to beat another faction into believing the same negative way- or more often fearing any and all others- I think I saw that again this weekend. It might have taken some prodding—and pooh-pooh a neighbors pie-in-the-sky, kumbaya crapola all you want– but MILLIONS of people showed up in *reallllly* hot conditions to make it known this is where the line was– and that ALWAYS counts.

Of the many gathered at a SouthPark orchestral concert in Charlotte Sunday evening, a sense of peace came with many picnic baskets and the ambiance of being together in relatively quiet circumstances, with family, friends, and potential friends, sharing a hot but joyful evening.

The people I spoke with seemed to have a similar vibe—that this weekend showed we’re not being alone in thinking “We have to draw a real line *somewhere*, now.

Watch Robin Williams and Maria Conchita Alonso in ‘Moscow on the Hudson’ —Being part of America, it still means something for those who come from all over. There’s ZERO chance of coming up with more workable immigration policy-wise when one half of this current House wants only their policies to stand while razing the other half. The choice isn’t MS-13 *or* wall at the border. America is still about dreams, even if for some that dream is as basic as keeping their children alive.