?`s and ANNEswers

Ten minutes to write. Less time to read.

Visit Spectacled Bear…

While I’m not blogging on this site for a while, you can still follow what I’m up to by visiting Spectacled Bear Publishing, a project that’s very near and dear to my heart.

Spectacled Bear is a new company I founded that’s committed to publishing gentle books for children. Our first one, Philip & Phoebe, recently hit stores, the internet, and Amazon. Currently we’re considering our second offering.

Visit the site and learn about the SB team. Meet S. Bear, who sends a weekly blog from the Andes. You’d be surprised what this bear knows. See the roll call of children who’ve given Philip & Phoebe a thumbs up. Discover that there really is a spectacled bear in the animal kingdom. And be the first to learn how Spectacled Bear is saving gentle reads from extinction one book and one reader at a time. xo, Anne

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Dorping Out

No that’s not a typo; I’m inventing a new word that means “taking a break to ponder what to do next.”

Three weeks ago the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years. It was euphoric. Two weeks ago, Donald Trump won the Presidency of the United States. It wasn’t euphoric . . . at least for me. I went from the heights to the depths. And I suspect many others, regardless of who they voted for, did too.

The news since then hasn’t been better. In fact, because of where I live – all local offices, for instance, found Republicans running unopposed — it’s made me cautious with whom I speak. It’s a new wariness for me, and I don’t like it. Which is why I’m dorping out.

I shall not be posting any more this year, nor shall I allow my posts after this one to be followed on Facebook or Twitter or anyplace else. I do not want to add to the anger that’s “out there.” I don’t want to debate with friends nor do I want to offend them. So I submit we all dorp out and make it a time for reflection as we near the year’s end.

We might want to review the Peace Prayer of St. Francis too.

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Tenth Man

It’s been two days since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after a 108 year drought. Chicago is going crazy, although in a good way; and today the parade winds through the city.

I’ve pondered what I could add to the celebration. Sport columnists are paid to dissect the game. Newscasts are on the scene. And almost everyone knows someone who’s passed on without enjoying this singular moment.

My husband talked about his Dad, who never saw a championship. One of the last photos of my Mother, the one that was displayed at her wake, is of her and her husband at Wrigley Field. And don’t forget Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, and Harry Carey.

The only thing I haven’t seen elsewhere (and perhaps I’ve just missed it) is the seventeen minute rain delay.  I’ve heard that the Cubs huddled in a meeting to focus on who they were, how far they’d come. And when the rain stopped, they went out and broke the Billy goat curse.  I believe Ben Zobrist deserves the MVP for the series, but the rain deserves the title of Tenth Man on the Field that night.

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Had breakfast with a good friend this morning; and, as is often the case, we got around to discussing grammar. It wasn’t as serious as defending the Oxford comma, but it was just significant. It was about the word ‘soon.’ And we decided that it’s an expandable term.  As in, my ‘soon’ might not be the same as someone else’s ‘soon’.

Case in point: I have a gardener who’s helped me with my flower beds for fifteen years. When I need him, I call.  And he says, “I’ll be there soon.”  The thing is, I’ve learned that when he uses that word, he means sometime this week.  But when I hear it, I imagine that he’s on his way. This has caused more than one disappointment.

Somewhere in those fifteen years, I learned to say, “What day of the week is Soon?” And he would be more specific. The disappointments diminished once the word was clarified.

Another case in point: Yesterday I returned from Albany, NY, via American Airlines.  As we were descending into O’Hare Airport, the attendant gave the usual disclaimer: “Tray tops and seat backs must be returned to their original positions because we will (Even though ‘shall’ is the correct word) be landing soon.  I suggest the flight attendant put a period after positions, because it’s possible everyone on that plane had a different definition for ‘soon’. Given what you’ve already read, mine was “We’re landing now.”

But I’ve flown enough to know that isn’t what the pilot means.  He’s really saying, “Flight attendants, do your job before we go into final approach.” I adjust the tray table and my seat back and have learned to wait.

Tomorrow, I’ll share what I did this afternoon. It wasn’t over soon enough.

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Too Much Time

Two months from yesterday is Christmas; a week after is New Year’s. Are you ready? No, neither am I. And four weeks from tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I’m not ready for that either. In fact, I’m not even ready for Halloween.

It used to be that each of these events had its turn in the calendar without being infringed upon by the next event. For example, once upon a time Christmas decorations and parties and gift buying didn’t begin until the day after Thanksgiving. And frozen turkeys didn’t go on sale until the last Trick or Treater was tucked in bed. But no longer.

No wonder it feels as if time is speeding up.  Stores display their fall merchandise as children get out for summer vacation and decorate for Christmas the end of September. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter often trip over each other.

I used to think it was a function of age; the older I became the faster each season passed.  But I think it’s exacerbated by the whirlwind that is retail and the pressure to keep that bottom line black.  Santa might like red, but it’s not a good thing for business.

Still, all this marketing is having the opposite effect on me.  I am not more prepared because there is more time given to each of these things.  If anything, I’m more saturated; and I’m opting out of making most holidays a big thing. In fact, I don’t even plan to be home for Halloween.

If that makes me a curmudgeon, so be it.

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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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