?`s and ANNEswers

Ten minutes to write. Less time to read.


It’s the day after the Chicago Cubs clinched the National League Championship. They are now on the way to their first World Series in over seventy years.  Let it be noted that they lost that one.  In fact, the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908.

Generations of Chicagoans have come and gone and never seen their beloved team play in this fall classic. Now that the Cubs are competing against the Cleveland Indians this coming Tuesday, many fans don’t know how to react. They’re so used to seeing the hapless home team lose.

Where were you when Kennedy was shot? When the Challenger exploded? When Bin Laden was killed? When Sandy Hook happened? Perhaps someday people, especially in and around Chicago, will ask: “Where were you when the Cubs won their first World Series in one hundred eight years.”

It’s four wins away.

So let me share where I was when the Cubs won the right to appear in the World Series last night.  Earl and I were in Indianapolis with his family, many of whom are die-hard Cubbies.  Those who weren’t played along.

We’d created a viewing area in Alex’s garage, complete with TV, munchies, beer, and an extremely effective heater.  Every lawn chair in grabbing distance was commandeered for the event. Every jacket was too.

As the game wore on, comments on the price of tickets for the World Series abounded. So did wishes that we could all be at Wrigley Field. Together.

But, honestly, even if we all could afford the mega-price tickets, it would never be as much fun as being together with family in a garage in Indianapolis, drinking beer and vodka (although not at the same time) and finally beating the Billy goat’s curse.  If you don’t know what that is, you’re not a diehard Cub fan.

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Will of the People

Last night’s final presidential debate for this election held about fifteen minutes of my attention before I returned to watching the Chicago Cubs work their way toward the World Series. But I heard Trump’s comments on supporting Hillary Clinton if she wins the election.

Basically, for anyone living on an ice floe in the Arctic and not privy to television or a smart phone, Trump wouldn’t say what he’d do, preferring to leave us in “suspense.”

It is tradition – no, it’s what our country is based on — that the defeated candidate accepts the vote and makes a statement that he or she will get behind the winner for the sake of the country. Think of Al Gore when he lost because of hanging chads. He did not keep us in suspense once the final tally was done. Mitt Romney didn’t either. More recently, think of Bernie Sanders who said he would support Hillary Clinton if she got the nomination.  He didn’t keep us in suspense either. What would be the point?

Donald Trump won the GOP nomination because he won more votes in the primaries than his opponents. Granted, there was talk of placing someone else’s name in play at the convention; but in the end a popular vote worked in Trump’s favor.

If it works against him now, there will be no suspense.  There will simply be a poor loser and greater rancor across the land.

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Found Time

I don’t where the term “found time” derives from, but I learned it from a friend one day while we were mall walking. Turns out a meeting I had with someone got cancelled, which meant I had a couple extra hours to devote to something else. I mentioned this to S, my mall walking companion.

“You’ve got found time,” she said. “Isn’t it wonderful?”

It’s not that I didn’t want to attend the meeting, but the thought of a couple extra hours in the day was just as appealing.  I’m one who makes lists for the day’s accomplishments; and more often than not the list doesn’t get done before the day goes down. So found time is special.

The thing is: How do I spend it?

Sometimes I tackle my To Do List and get further ahead than I would have otherwise.  Other times I revel in extra reading or gardening or playing piano. And then there are those occasions where I simply take a little nap.

Regardless, found time is a special gift. I hope you recognize it when it drops into your life, and I also hope you guard it well.

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Teeth . . . And Other Bothersome Things

The bad news is that I need some serious dental work if I want to enjoy eating for the rest of my life. The good news is that I have a wonderful dentist who is up to the job. The question is: Am I up to it?

Intellectually, of course I am.  But you have to understand that I had my first root canal at the age of ten, and dentistry wasn’t the painless profession it can be today. Memories of those early experiences make me almost fetal in a dentist’s chair. However, I’ll grit my teeth (No pun intended.) and think of what wonderful things I’ll eat when it’s over.

Then there’s the recent Town Hall Debate.  I didn’t see it and have no regrets. I only wish there were less than four weeks to go until this presidential election is over. I’m gritting my teeth about this too.

And Gordon Lightfoot, a musical idol of mine for years. Earl and I paid dearly to see him a couple nights ago, but we left at Intermission. I needed to do that to preserve my memories of his wonderful lyrics and his wonderful voice.  The first remained, but the second didn’t. I’ve made a vow not to pay to see aging rockers and balladeers anymore. After seeing Simon and Garfunkel, Eric Clapton, and now Gordon Lightfoot – and hoping they were as good now as they were then – I’ve learned my lesson.

Then there’s the University of Notre Dame football team and the Chicago Bears. Enough said!

Finally, we need to find a different supplemental health insurance plan for Earl.  It’s a long story, and it’s boring. But the bottom line is that this is a project that will take at least ten to twenty hours to solve before December rolls around.  It wouldn’t be that difficult, except that everyone we’ve spoken with wants to refer us to someone else for answers. Maybe there aren’t any.

Still, with Haiti having been devastated once again by a hurricane and political strife rampant in many countries, these are all First World problems. Thanks for listening anyway.

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Baseball in October

Last night, I watched the first game of many in the race for this year’s World Series. Not only are the Chicago Cubs in contention, but the team has a fighting chance to win its first World Series in over one hundred years.

When I was a young girl and living with a mother who adored baseball, I was regularly expected to listen to the Giants or the Cardinals depending on where we lived at the time.  Mother’s all-time favorite team was the Giants when they were located in New York. When they moved to the West Coast, she became a Cardinals fan. I still recall listening to the play-by-play on her tiny radio in our equally tiny apartment. We lived in St. Louis, MO, then and the heat index was formidable in September. But we ignored it for baseball.

There were only two leagues, and the winner of each league played the winner of the other in the World Series.  Whoever won four of the seven post-season games won the whole tamale.

Today there are still two leagues, but they are divided into divisions that are still sub-divided into wild cards when the World Series is on the line. All this means that there is a run-up similar to the football frenzy leading to the Super Bowl where certain teams qualify in post-regular season play.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m a Cub fan and want the team to reach the World Series as much as anyone. At the same time, I am disgruntled that the baseball playoffs are just starting and probably won’t end until next month.  I suspect the teams’ owners like an extended season and an even more extended play-off; and one reason is the money involved. Still, I wonder if it’s really good for the game.

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Off the Grid

For years the first thing I did upon waking was visit my computer to see what had transpired over the night. Were there personnel problems at the company I worked for? Were there banking issues? Was someone trying to reach me with a problem? I couldn’t resist taking a peek at the day’s challenges even before I brushed my teeth.

A couple months ago I tried something new. Before I went to bed, I closed my email program. And before I opened it in the morning I dressed, had a cup of coffee, and practiced piano, one of the loves of my life. I found my brain was more focused on the things in my personal life that are important. Previously, my brain concentrated on the emails that had come in overnight.

Now I’ve taken this a step farther. I don’t keep my email program – that would be Outlook – open all the time. Instead, I read my incoming messages, send responses or add items to my daily To Do list, and then log off. So I don’t hear the gentle “ding” of an incoming message and don’t have to resist the urge to see who sent it. You’d be amazed at how much time this has freed for other pursuits.

I can practice piano for an hour and then log back on. Those people in my inbox haven’t waited that long.  I can log off and finish my work before checking in again.  It might be a couple hours, but I’m still responding promptly. I can even have lunch without feeling I should be at my desk.

The Internet is a wonderful thing, but we need to use it for our own benefit and not the other way around.

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The VP Debate

Last night’s debate between the two vice-presidential candidates convinced me that such a program is a waste of time. First, it wasn’t really a debate.

A real debate is a formal activity where one side expresses all the reasons for advocating something – for instance, allowing automobile dealerships to be open on Sunday – while the other side argues against the issue in question. The speakers have researched the topic extensively and do not interject their own personal opinions.  Nor do they interrupt each other. Or call each other liars.

The history of televised presidential and vice-presidential debates in our country has leaned less toward true debate and more toward yelling matches over which the moderator seems to have little control.

Last night’s program, for instance, had the moderator and candidates all talking at the same time more than once.  It also offered nothing new in terms of what we, the audience, already know since most of the questions were ignored in favor of party line sound-bites.

Frankly, I’m tired of all this faux debating.  And in the case of the vice presidents, is there anyone who votes for the head of the ticket because the possible second-in-command is so charismatic? Is there anyone who hopes misfortune will befall the President so that Number Two gets a chance?  I hope not.

So could someone please tell me why we need the vice-presidential candidates’ debate in the first place?

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month Returns

Perhaps you don’t know, but I survived ovarian cancer. Which is part of the reason I wish October were not designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And this is my annual rant on the topic.

I have the greatest respect for anyone – female or male – who has survived breast cancer. But I think it’s fair to say it isn’t the scourge or the death sentence it once was.

Ovarian cancer still is. And so are other types. Shouldn’t they have a color or a month? Better yet, could we rename October to acknowledge cancers of all types?

Let me share my heroes.

My husband’s cousin Lillian has battled ovarian cancer for more years than I did.  It was discovered when it was further along, and it’s a miracle she’s still with us.

Dr. Michael Rodriguez was the oncological gynecologist associated with Michiana Hematology in South Bend, IN who operated on me and most likely saved my life six years ago. And yet, still in his early fifties, he succumbed to cancer that had nothing to do with breasts or ovaries.

Several members of Earl’s church have also confronted various cancers. Some have won; some have not. But all need to be honored for their fight.  One way to do this is to eliminate pink and proclaim October as a month where all kinds of cancers are given public recognition.

As for me, I’d want the color for this movement to be lavender. But I’d give that up if we could just rename the month.

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Making a Plan

I’ve done it hundreds of times: made a plan. I’ve made plans for parties, plans for trips, plans for getting work done, and – yes – plans for self-improvement. And, once again, I’m making a plan for this last category.

I want to increase my exercise program to where it was in the spring; hopefully, that will result in my returning to the fitness level I had then.  It’s not particularly ambitious; rather it’s more practical. Things like lifting my luggage above my head to store it in one of those impossible airplane racks. Or asking the bagger at the grocery store to “make the bags” heavy, so I can practice my weight training.  Or parking in the farthest spot from the store. Or getting down on the floor and up again without holding on or asking for help. Or standing on one leg, Yoga-style, without toppling over. And doing it for a long time too.

The real issue is: How shall I accomplish these things, since I don’t do any of them every day. Should I focus on Yoga for flexibility and balance? Or general stretching – I have several books on this – or five pound weights with repetitions? Should I consider another trainer? Or join Zumba?

Years ago, Earl told me to find something sport-oriented that I really liked and then pursue it.  “The rest will come,” he said. At the time he was heavy into working out, and I wasn’t.  But I followed his advice and took up inline skating. And he was right. The rest did come, especially after I broke my leg skating. Six months on crutches gave me an upper body strength gymnasts would envy. And the cast on my right leg certainly made me think twice about hobbling to the kitchen for snacks. I lost ten pounds without thinking about it.

So my current plan certainly gave a nod to skating, but with winter coming it doesn’t seem like a great option. Swimming, a year-round sport, has possibilities; but I have issues with the three local swimming pools after having been a member at all of them.

Just now I remember that I signed up for racquetball lessons early in the summer, but never followed up. Maybe it’s time I did. They’re paid for, which is a good thing because Earl and I are going to trim our budgets for this quarter; and maybe – just maybe – I can find the cornerstone to my current self-improvement plan.

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Slugdom Persists

On September 20, I wrote about becoming an athletic slug. No, it’s not an oxymoron; what I mean was that my former interest is staying fit had all but abandoned me and I was giving up exercise.

But now it’s worse than that. It’s been over ten days since I last blogged; almost a week and I’m still doing the most recent batch of ironing, and at least four days since I helped Earl finish the daily crossword puzzle. And forget my email inbox; it’s on steroids while I’m not.

Instead I’m succumbing to inertia, and this isn’t really like me. It’s true I’m not a bundle of energy first thing in the morning, but as the day wears on I gather momentum. Or at least I once did.

I’ve considered the usual reasons for such malaise.  Maybe I’m sick and don’t know it. Maybe I’m depressed and don’t know it (although I’m pretty certain I would know it). Maybe I’ve had a busy summer and am just resting before autumn’s activities and travels kick in. Or maybe I’m getting used to being a slug.

There is one quarter of the year left, and I’ve decided October 1 is the perfect day to begin combatting slugdom. I haven’t gone swimming, nor have I tackled my inbox. But I did finish the ironing and am returning to my blog with a confession of my condition. I’m hoping that being accountable publicly will help. Is there anyone out there who wants to form a support group?

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