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This and That on a Grey November Day

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Wiki Photo

In my previous blog, I wrote about the USS Grayback, and the submarine’s connection to the Village of Allen, MD. Time magazine has recently posted a story about the Grayback’s discovery. I share it with you should you be interested. https://time.com/5723782/wwii-submarine-uss-grayback-found/https://time.com/5723782/wwii-submarine-uss-grayback-found/

Mt. Washington Photo

For many years now the wife and I have been members and supporters of the Mount Washington Observatory. On our first climb to the top, we were driving our 1976 Plymouth. On the way down our Radiator imploded and we sprung a leak. We were fortunate to find a shop on that day that made a temporary repair and we made it home to Connecticut. Quite frequently I pop onto the mountain’s web page and check the weather up on high. The observance @ 11:30 on 11/23/2019 was: Temp – 11.3f Wind Speed – 56.2 mph Windchill – 11.6f

Way back when in my Marine Corps days I was an Aerographer at one time. From that experience, I have always been interested in weather. I share with you the U.S. Navy job description of that occupation. The school I attended was a Navy school at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in NJ. https://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/enlisted/community/crypto_it/Pages/AG.aspx

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So much to be thankful for. Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Don’t forget to check on the elderly. Today, 11/23/2019 we celebrate our 54’th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary Grannie.

A Couple of Shares With You

A while back I posted a commencement address by Admiral William H. McRaven.

Each month in a local paper, our daughter Kathryn posts an article on Population Health. When I read the article, I got all chest puffy and proud of my daughter’s material as well as learning that a family Sunday Night gathering was remembered. I feel Admiral McRaven and my daughters post kind of go hand in hand.

In case you didn’t see my McRaven post, here is that excerpt. Here is a part of the commencement address to the graduates of The University of Texas at Austin on May 17, 2014 by Admiral William H. McRaven.

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Google Image

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack — that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

(Text of entire speech if interested: https://jamesclear.com/great-speeches/make-your-bed-by-admiral-william-h-mcraven

Daughter Kathryn remembers Sunday nights long ago.

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From the Salisbury Independent: Here’s our July Population Health article from Dr. Kathryn Fiddler, our Vice President of Population Health at PRMC.

So, I grew up in Connecticut, one of three children of a State Trooper and a nurse. One of my best memories was of Sunday nights. My dad would work on preparing for the week. My dad would get out his badge, his belt buckle, and his rank. He would then ask us all to get our shoes lined up. We only got one pair of shoes at the beginning of the school year, and they were usually leather.

My mom would get her white uniforms out. He would lay all his uniform parts out on the floor. He would get out the ironing board, take out his brass cleaning kit, his leather kit and proceed to wax, polish, and iron. He would shine his brass until it glistened, polish our leather shoes until we could see ourselves in the toes, and then iron his uniforms and my mom’s.

Sometimes he would teach us how to do it, other times we just sat and talked with him about our day. It was a labor of love, and also pride for himself and our family. When I joined the Air Force, I continued that ritual, polishing my boots, ironing my uniform…. Today, I still polish my shoes and iron my clothes, preparing for my week.

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I’m guessing it works with daughters also.

We are all so busy. We move throughout our weeks driven by kids, family, jobs, community commitments, friends, and so much more. We rarely get a minute to breathe. What I have found, is this simple act of taking time to prepare makes a difference and allows some of life’s chaos to turn into calm. Taking a break to plan can have a positive impact on our well-being. It gives us time to pause and look ahead.

What if all we were able to take a pause, one day a week and prepare? What could we accomplish? We could plan a few lunches or dinner meals at home, avoiding fast food drive-throughs for a day. We could plan time to talk a walk, exercise at the gym, ride a bike, maybe spend time with family or friends. We could even make time to plan for our health. We could schedule an annual physical, a mammogram, flu shot, or much-needed colonoscopy if we need one? What about a few minutes to check any prescriptions and make sure they aren’t about to run out?

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Think of how much money we could save, the stress we could lower, health we could improve. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” What would it hurt, to stop wishing for life to slow down, and instead, plan for it? Maybe try it this week, stop for 15 minutes and write down one thing you plan to do for yourself, then DO IT. Let me know how it goes!

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.
Any changes to the original posts are editorial changes by the Rooster

Bricks and Things

A couple we consider good friends, who live down south in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, were recently at a wedding in Leadville, CO. The wife of the couple is a fellow blogger, who goes by the handle as Merling Muse, life in the mountains. Were the husband a Blogger, it would have something to do with trains, I’m sure. They recently made a cross country trip to attend that wedding, and blog about it along the way.

The trip brought back many great memories of a trip Uncle Bob, (wife’s brother, who is no longer with us) and I made in 2010 via Rt#50 all the way. Miss you and that “First One Today” Bobby !

So, bloggers post, and those who get to read them can comment about that post. On occasion I get a bit wordy, My response to Anne was so wordy, I thought I’d steal from it and make it a post.

My response to Anne’s Blog

Our daughter Sarah was married on 7/2, in an Anglican church built in 1733, which sits on the bank of the Wicomico River. Bricks in the church were baked in the same kiln as a home we lived in for five years 20 years ago. They were shipped here by boat from Williamsburg, VA. A bit of Brick History, should you be interested: https://brickcollecting.com/history.htm

Mom helping daughter Sarah get ready for her walk down the aisle.

Mary Agnes and I have been to Leadville, and have long thought of returning for the train excursion. Mary Agnes was enamored with Molly Brown, thus the trip to the high back then. https://mollybrown.org/about-molly-brown/

We did take the train ride to Silverton that year. https://durangosilvertonrailroad.com/?gclid=CjwKCAjw__fnBRANEiwAuFxETx5mCHb8ZdUybu40BWcIvcIeVb8SjGjsPQkvwL-Rk_I3gg4ymKeumBoCUWgQAvD_BwE

We have a granddaughter who graduated from USAFA, class of 2012 (Samantha) and for four years made trips to the Rockies. Brother-in-law Bob Romspert and I delivered Sam her car to her at the start of her junior year.

We used old Route #50 to cross the country and only hit an Interstate when we had to cross the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Great memories with a now departed companion of that awesome trip and our time together.
https://www.roadtripusa.com/the-loneliest-road/

For me, the highlight of that trip was stumbling upon Bent’s Fort.

Congratulations to the newlyweds Anne & John.

I Continue

Daughter Sarah, her beau Greg, daughter Kathryn, wife Mary Agnes and yours truly The Rooster, spent the better part of a week in San Antonio, TX not long ago. The reason, Sarah’s son, and our grandson Thomas, (Tommy) was graduating from Air Force Basic Training at Lackland, AFB. We also spent a couple of meals with nephew Noah, a 2018 graduate of the USAFA who is in Drone training. Here’s a site on the subject if interested: https://www.aetc.af.mil/Flying-Training/

As you read this Tommy is now at Sheppard AFB, Texas for further training with the Air Education and Training Command.

So there you go, something to read and possibly follow up on a trip of your own one day. There’s lots to see in this great country of ours. Get off the Interstate, travel the back roads and small towns and meet the people who make this country what it is. You might just wind up in Allen, MD one day.

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

Fox dies in the Coop

This bit of news from France was posted on the “BBC” web site and forwarded to me by daughter Kathryn. I share it with you. Apparently, the young Fox, are not sly.

Chickens ‘gang up’ to kill intruder fox on a French farm

13 March 2019
Caged battery hens
Getty Images
According to the farming school, hens, will easily confront an animal that lacks vigor.

Chickens in a school farm in north-western France are believed to have grouped and killed a juvenile fox.

The unusual incident in Brittany took place after the fox entered the coop with 3,000 hens through an automatic hatch door which closed immediately.

“There was a herd instinct, and they attacked him with their beaks,” said Pascal Daniel, head of farming at the agricultural school Gros-Chêne.

The body of the small fox was found the following day in the corner of the coop.

“It had blows to its neck, blows from beaks,” Mr. Daniel told AFP news agency.

The farm is home to up to 6,000 free-range chickens who are kept in a five-acre site.

The coop is kept open during the day, and most of the hens spend the daytime outside, AFP adds.
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Despite what you think, chickens are not stupid.

When the automatic door closed, the fox – thought to be around five or six months old – became trapped inside.

“A whole mass of hens can arrive together, and the fox may have panicked in the face of such a big number,” Mr. Daniel told the regional newspaper Ouest France (in French).

“They can be quite tenacious when they are in a pack.”


Captains Two

Rather than go with Sam’s “A Day In My Life,” I’m just plagiarizing, with her permission of course, and shall call it “Captains Two,” plus the four Greats. That will be Mia, Ana, Dax and Zoe. Enjoy the kid’s travels while in Europe for the next few years.

The Captain says:

Upon getting home from my work trip I learned it was time to pick up one of our two tables we had ordered. The table we would be picking up was in Northern Netherlands, or Holland, and was our new coffee table.

Kinderdijk was recommended to us by the man who built our table and we are so glad he did. The weather was perfect and the crowds were low. Dax and Zoe loved taking a vehicle ferry and then riding a boat to the windmills. One of the windmills we toured housed a single family of 14!

Zoe & Dax
Dax
Zoe

Next was another castle. Though the baroness was Jewish it survived WWII thanks to the wits of the staff left behind. They hid anything that could be taken off the walls in secret passageways. If they received news of German troops coming close they would begin to clean and manicure the grounds. When asked what they were doing by German troops, the staff would respond getting the estate ready for your leadership. Thinking their leadership was about to arrive, they did no harm to the property.

Dad & Dax
Zoe

And finally it wouldn’t be a Davies Day Trip if we didn’t go out of our way to see Amsterdam and the dyke system that has reclaimed the lowlands of the Netherlands.

The longer we’re here the more we want to travel. This should mean more actual travel leading to more blog posts. Enjoy! -S

Where in the World?

Son-in-law hangs out Gunners door and captures this shot (pun) leaving Baghdad, Iraq a few days ago.
Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

A Graduation Address

Watch Shonda Rhimes’s Wonderfully Candid Dartmouth Commencement Speech

My daughter and I share stuff back and forth. Today when I opened my mail, this was waiting for me. Yes I know, a lengthy read. but worthy to be read by those going forward in this world of ours. Take ten minutes or so and read it. If you know of a young one out there going forth in the world, share it. If you think it worthy, don’t thank me, thank my daughter, that would be our first born, Kathryn. She has that uncanny ability to motivate people, mentor our youth and inspire many.

I’ve also read somewhere that going more than 12-1,600 words, you tend to lose your audience. I apologize for that, however, this is what the lady said, and what I’m sharing. Didn’t someone once say ‘Go forth and multiply”?

By Lindsey Weber

https://www.vulture.com/2014/06/watch-shonda-rhimes-commencement-address.html

I share with you. Shonda Rhimes gave Dartmouth’s commencement address on Sunday, noting to the sea of students that she was worried that she might “pass out or die or poop my pants” midway. But! She made it — imparting much general wisdom and some added tips on being someone whom many people assume effortlessly “does it all.” (The secret? “You don’t.”)

Her speech begins at 1:41, and you can read a full transcript below.

President Hanlon, faculty, staff, honored guests, parents, students, families and friends—good morning and congratulations to the Dartmouth graduating class of 2014!

So.

This is weird.

Me giving a speech. In general, I do not like giving speeches. Giving a speech requires standing in front of large groups of people while they look at you and it also requires talking. I can do the standing part OK. But you looking and me talking … I am not a fan. I get this overwhelming feeling of fear. Terror, really. Dry mouth, heartbeats superfast, everything gets a little bit slow motion. Like I might pass out. Or die. Or poop my pants or something. I mean, don’t worry. I’m not going to pass out or die or poop my pants. Mainly because just by telling you that it could happen, I have somehow neutralized it as an option. Like as if saying it out loud casts some kind of spell where now it cannot possibly happen now. Vomit. I could vomit. See. Vomiting is now also off the table. Neutralized it. We’re good.

Anyway, the point is. I do not like to give speeches. I’m a writer. I’m a TV writer. I like to write stuff for other people to say. I actually contemplated bringing Ellen Pompeo or Kerry Washington here to say my speech for me … but my lawyer pointed out that when you drag someone across state lines against their will, the FBI comes looking for you, so…

I don’t like giving speeches, in general, because of the fear and terror. But this speech? This speech, I really did not want to give.

A Dartmouth Commencement speech? Dry mouth. Heartbeats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.

Look, it would be fine if this were, 20 years ago. If it were back in the day when I graduated from Dartmouth. Twenty-three years ago, I was sitting right where you are now. And I was listening to Elizabeth Dole speak. And she was great. She was calm and she was confident. It was just … different. It felt like she was just talking to a group of people. Like a fireside chat with friends. Just Liddy Dole and like 9,000 of her closest friends. Because it was 20 years ago. And she was just talking to a group of people.

Now? Twenty years later? This is no fireside chat. It’s not just you and me. This speech is filmed and streamed and tweeted and uploaded. NPR has like, a whole site dedicated to Commencement speeches. A whole site just about commencement speeches. There are sites that rate them and mock them and dissect them. It’s weird. And stressful. And kind of vicious if you’re an introvert perfectionist writer who hates speaking in public in the first place.

When President Hanlon called me—and by the way, I would like to thank President Hanlon for asking me way back in January, thus giving me a full six months of terror and panic to enjoy. When President Hanlon called me, I almost said no. Almost.

Dry mouth. Heartbeats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.

But I’m here. I am gonna do it. I’m doing it. You know why?

Because I like a challenge. And because this year I made myself a promise that I was going to do the stuff that terrifies me. And because, 20-plus years ago when I was trudging uphill from the River Cluster through all that snow to get to the Hop for play rehearsal, I never imagined that I would one day be standing here, at the Old Pine lectern. Staring out at all of you. About to throw down on some wisdom in the Dartmouth Commencement address.

So, you know, yeah. Moments.

Also, I’m here because I really, really wanted some EBAs.

OK.

I want to say right now that every single time someone asked me what I was going to talk about in this speech, I would boldly and confidently tell them that I had all kinds wisdom to share. I was lying. I feel wildly unqualified to give you advice. There is no wisdom here. So all I can do is talk about some stuff that could maybe be useful to you, from one Dartmouth grad to another. Some stuff that won’t ever show up in a Meredith Grey voiceover or a Papa Pope monologue. Some stuff I probably shouldn’t be telling you here now because of the uploading and the streaming and the tweeting. But I am going to pretend that it is 20 years ago. That it’s just you and me. That we’re having a fireside chat. Screw the outside world and what they think. I’ve already said “poop” like five times already anyway … things are getting real up in here.

OK, wait. Before I talk to you. I want to talk to your parents. Because the other thing about it being 20 years later is that I’m a mother now. So I know some things, some very different things. I have three girls. I’ve been to the show. You don’t know what that means, but your parents do. You think this day is all about you. But your parents… the people who raised you … the people who endured you … they potty trained you, they taught you to read, they survived you as a teenager, they have suffered 21 years and not once did they kill you. This day … you call it your graduation day. But this day is not about you. This is their day. This is the day they take back their lives, this is the day they earn their freedom. This day is their Independence Day. So, parents, I salute you. And as I have an eight-month-old, I hope to join your ranks of freedom in 20 years!

OK. So here comes the real deal part of the speech, or you might call it, Some Random Stuff Some Random Alum Who Runs a TV Show Thinks I Should Know Before I Graduate:

You ready?

When people give these kinds of speeches, they usually tell you all kinds of wise and heartfelt things. They have the wisdom to impart. They have lessons to share. They tell you: Follow your dreams. Listen to your spirit. Change the world. Make your mark. Find your inner voice and make it sing. Embrace failure. Dream. Dream and dream big. As a matter of fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until all of your dreams come true.

I think that’s crap.

I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing.

The dreamers. They stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they talk about it endlessly. And they start a lot of sentences with “I want to be …” or “I wish.”

“I want to be a writer.” “I wish I could travel around the world.”

And they dream of it. The buttoned-up ones meet for cocktails and they brag about their dreams, and the hippie ones have vision boards and they meditate about their dreams. Maybe you write in journals about your dreams or discuss it endlessly with your best friend or your girlfriend or your mother. And it feels really good. You’re talking about it, and you’re planning it. Kind of. You are blue-skying your life. And that is what everyone says you should be doing. Right? I mean, that’s what Oprah and Bill Gates did to get successful, right?

No.

Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.

So, Lesson One, I guess is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.

You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. You don’t have a job? Get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for the magical opportunity. Who are you? Prince William? No. Get a job. Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.

I did not dream of being a TV writer. Never, not once when I was here in the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, did I say to myself, “Self, I want to write TV.”

You know what I wanted to be? I wanted to be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. That was my dream. I blue sky’ed it like crazy. I dreamed and dreamed. And while I was dreaming, I was living in my sister’s basement. Dreamers often end up living in the basements of relatives, FYI. Anyway, there I was in that basement, and I was dreaming of being Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. And guess what? I couldn’t be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, because Toni Morrison already had that job and she wasn’t interested in giving it up. So one day I was sitting in that basement and I read an article that said—it was in The New York Times—and it said it was harder to get into USC Film School than it was to get into Harvard Law School. And I thought I could dream about being Toni Morrison, or I could do.

At film school, I discovered an entirely new way of telling stories. A way that suited me. A way that brought me joy. A way that flipped this switch in my brain and changed the way I saw the world. Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey’s Anatomy. That never would have happened if I had no stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.

Lesson Two. Lesson two is that tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you.

When I graduated from Dartmouth that day in 1991, when I was sitting right where you are and I was staring up at Elizabeth Dole speaking, I will admit that I have no idea what she was saying. Could n’t even listen to her. Not because I was overwhelmed or emotional or any of that. But because I had a serious hangover. Like, an epic painful hangover because (and here is where I apologize to President Hanlon because I know that you are trying to build a better and more responsible Dartmouth and I applaud you and I admire you and it is (very necessary) but I was really freaking drunk the night before. And the reason I’d been so drunk the night before, the reason I’d done upside down margarita shots at Bones Gate was because I knew that after graduation, I was going to take off my cap and gown, my parents were going to pack my stuff in the car and I was going to go home and probably never come back to Hanover again. And even if I did come back, it wouldn’t matter because it wouldn’t be the same because I didn’t live here anymore.

On my graduation day, I was grieving.

My friends were celebrating. They were partying. They were excited. So happy. No more school, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks. And I was like, are you freaking kidding me? You get all the fro‑yo you want here! The gym is free. The apartments in Manhattan are smaller than my suite in North Mass. Who cared if there was no place to get my hair done? All my friends are here. I have a theatre company here. I was grieving. I knew enough about how the world works, enough about how adulthood plays out, to be grieving.

Here’s where I am going to embarrass myself and make you all feel maybe a little bit better about yourselves. I literally lay down on the floor of my dorm room and cried while my mother packed up my room. I refused to help her. Like, hell no I won’t go. I nonviolent-protested leaving here. Like, went limp like a protestor, only without the chanting—it was really pathetic. If none of you lie down on a dirty hardwood floor and cry today while your mommy packs up your dorm room, you are already starting your careers out ahead of me. You are winning.

But here’s the thing. The thing I really felt like I knew was that the real world sucks. And it is scary. College is awesome. You’re special here. You’re in the Ivy League, you are at the pinnacle of your life’s goals at this point—your entire life up until now has been about getting into some great college and then graduating from that college. And now, today, you have done it. The moment you get out of college, you think you are going to take the world by storm. All doors will be opened to you. It’s going to be laughter and diamonds and soirees left and right.

What really happens is that, to the rest of the world, you are now at the bottom of the heap. Maybe you’re an intern, possibly a low-paid assistant. And it is awful. The real world, it sucked so badly for me. I felt like a loser all of the time. And more than a loser? I felt lost.

Which brings me to clarify lesson number two.

Tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you. But don’t be an asshole.

Here’s the thing. Yes, it is hard out there. But hard is relative. I come from a middle-class family, my parents are academics, I was born after the civil rights movement, I was a toddler during the women’s movement, I live in the United States of America, all of which means I’m allowed to own my freedom, my rights, my voice, and my uterus; and I went to Dartmouth and I earned an Ivy League degree.

The lint in my navel that accumulated while I gazed at it as I suffered from feeling lost about how hard it was to not feel special after graduation … that navel lint was embarrassed for me.

Elsewhere in the world, girls are harmed simply because they want to get an education. Slavery still exists. Children still die from malnutrition. In this country, we lose more people to handgun violence than any other nation in the world. Sexual assault against women in America is pervasive and disturbing and continues at an alarming rate.

So yes, tomorrow may suck for you—as it did for me. But as you stare at the lint in your navel, have some perspective. We are incredibly lucky. We have been given a gift. An incredible education has been placed before us. We ate all the fro-yo we could get our hands on. We skied. We had EBAs at 1 a.m. We built bonfires and got frostbite and had all the free treadmills. We beer-ponged our asses off. Now it’s time to pay it forward.

Find a cause you love. It’s OK to pick just one. You are going to need to spend a lot of time out in the real world trying to figure out how to stop feeling like a lost loser, so one cause is good. Devote some time every week to it.

Oh. And while we are discussing this, let me say a thing. A hashtag is not helping. #yesallwomen #takebackthenight #notallmen #bringbackourgirls #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething

Hashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them. I will hashtag myself into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing on your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show. I do it all the time. For me, it’s Game of Thrones.

Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies towards making the world suck less every week. Some people suggest doing this will increase your sense of well-being. Some say it’s good karma. I say that it will allow you to remember that, whether you are a legacy or the first in your family to go to college, the air you are breathing right now is rare air. Appreciate it. Don’t be an asshole.

Lesson number three.

So you’re out there, and you’re giving back and you’re doing, and it’s working. And life is good. You are making it. You’re a success. And it’s exciting and it’s great. At least it is for me. I love my life. I have three TV shows at work and I have three daughters at home. And it’s all amazing, and I am truly happy. And people are constantly asking me, how do you do it?

And usually, they have this sort of admiring and amazed tone.

Shonda, how do you do it all?

Like I’m full of magical magic and special wisdom-ness or something.

How do you do it all?

And I usually just smile and say like, “I’m really organized.” Or if I’m feeling slightly kindly, I say, “I have a lot of help.”

And those things are true. But they also are not true.

And this is the thing that I really want to say. To all of you. Not just to the women out there. Although this will matter to you women a great deal as you enter the work force and try to figure out how to juggle work and family. But it will also matter to the men, who I think increasingly are also trying to figure out how to juggle work and family. And frankly, if you aren’t trying to figure it out, men of Dartmouth, you should be. Fatherhood is being redefined at a lightning-fast rate. You do not want to be a dinosaur.

So women and men of Dartmouth: As you try to figure out the impossible task of juggling work and family and you hear over and over and over again that you just need a lot of help or you just need to be organized or you just need to try just a little bit harder … as a very successful woman, a single mother of three, who constantly gets asked the question “How do you do it all?” For once I am going to answer that question with 100 percent honesty here for you now. Because it’s just us. Because it’s our fireside chat. Because somebody has to tell you the truth.

Shonda, how do you do it all?

The answer is this: I don’t.

Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.

If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am probably missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the tradeoff. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother. You never feel a hundred percent OK; you never get your sea legs; you are always a little nauseous. Something is always lost.

Something is always missing.

And yet. I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them. I like how proud they are when they come to my offices and know that they come to Shondaland. There is a land and it is named after their mother. In their world, mothers run companies. In their world, mothers own Thursday nights. In their world, mothers work. And I am a better mother for it. The woman I am because I get to run Shondaland, because I get write all day, because I get to spend my days making things up, that woman is a better person—and a better mother. Because that woman is happy. That woman is fulfilled. That woman is whole. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who didn’t get to do this all day long. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who wasn’t doing.

Lesson Number Three is that anyone who tells you they are doing it all perfectly is a liar.

OK.

I fear I’ve scared you or been a little bit bleak, and that was not my intention. It is my hope that you run out of here, excited, leaning forward, into the wind, ready to take the world by storm. That would be so very fabulous. For you to do what everyone expects of you. For you to just go be exactly the picture of hardcore Dartmouth awesome.

My point, I think, is that it is OK if you don’t. My point is that it can be scary to graduate. That you can lie on the hardwood floor of your dorm room and cry while your mom packs up your stuff. That you can have an impossible dream to be Toni Morrison that you have to let go of. That every day you can feel like you might be failing at work or at your home life. That the real world is hard.

And yet, you can still wake up every single morning and go, “I have three amazing kids and I have created work I am proud of, and I absolutely love my life and I would not trade it for anyone else’s life ever.”

You can still wake up one day and find yourself living a life you never even imagined dreaming of.

My dreams did not come true. But I worked really hard. And I ended up building an empire out of my imagination. So my dreams? Can suck it.

You can wake up one day and find that you are interesting and powerful and engaged. You can wake up one day and find that you are a doer.

You can be sitting right where you are now. Looking up at me. Probably—hopefully, I pray for you—hung over. And then 20 years from now, you can wake up and find yourself in the Hanover Inn full of fear and terror because you are going to give the Commencement speech. Dry mouth. Heart beats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.

Which one of you will it be? Which member of the 2014 class is going to find themselves standing up here? Because I checked and it is pretty rare for an alum to speak here. It’s pretty much just me and Robert Frost and Mr. Rogers, which is crazy awesome.

Which one of you is going to make it up here? I really hope that it’s one of you. Seriously.

When it happens, you’ll know what this feels like.

Dry mouth. Heart beats so, so fast. Everything moves in slow motion.

Graduates, every single one of you, be proud of your accomplishments. Make good on your diplomas.

You are no longer students. You are no longer works in progress. You are now citizens of the real world. You have a responsibility to become a person worthy of joining and contributing to society. Because who you are today … that’s who you are.

So be brave.

Be amazing.

Be worthy.

And every single time you get a chance?

Stand up in front of people.

Let them see you. Speak. Be heard.

Go ahead and have the dry mouth.

Let your heart beat so, so fast.

Watch everything move in slow motion.

So what?

You what?

You pass out, you die, you poop?

No.

And this is really the only lesson you’ll ever need to know …

You take it in.

You breathe this rare air.

You feel alive.

You be yourself.

You truly finally always be yourself.

Thank you. Good luck.

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

Cereal or Serial ?

In yesterday’s Blog, I used the word cereal, as in Serial Killer. Just as an FYI, it was done purposely. You see, the visitors were coming in the morning hours when one might eat cereal. My smart ass daughter had stated, ” how do you know they’re not Serial Killers”?

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Over some years now of following Anne’s blog and viewing the Mehrling family and friends, I was quite sure Serial Killers they weren’t. The only thing they could be found guilty of was their van, which of course failed them once again. Perhaps it should have stayed at the funeral home where it became disabled not so long ago.

So, earlier today while shopping with her mother and, my daughter, granddaughter Abby decided to put me on display for the cereal reference.

At least they were Heart Health Cheerios.

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Cereal Has Roots in Roman Myth

The Roman goddess Ceres, the equivalent of the Greek Demeter, was a calm goddess who didn’t take part in the quarrels of the other gods. Her particular responsibility was the food-giving plants, and for that reason, the food grains came to carry her name. Cereals of the ancient Romans included wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and millet—but not corn (maize), which was a cereal of the Americas.

Recent Examples (SEREAL) on the Web: Adjective

There’s something thrilling about the tension of a seemingly regular person trying to maintain a veil of normalcy, while maintaining a separate identity as a serial killer or vigilante hero. Verge Staff, The Verge, “The Verge’s guide to tolerable family streaming entertainment,” 21 Nov. 2018

Even if 2 percent of those people were killed by serial killers, that’s 387 people a year. Dylan Matthews, Vox, “Criminal profiling doesn’t work. TV shows should maybe stop celebrating it.,” 12 Nov. 2018

So all turned out well, we are still alive, the Mehrling’s are safely in Long Island, NY and Anne shall post another blog in the not too distant future.

I’m sure this has not made a whole lot of cents (oops) there I go again. Have a great day my friends, get your shopping done early, relax and enjoy the upcoming holidays. I leave you with two words, BE KIND.

                                      Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

   

A Visit to Maryland from North Carolina

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The author of https://amehrling.com/ center, Anne Mehrling with husband John on the right and the Rooster’s wife Mary Agnes and, our trusty K-9, Benjamin Franklin after the Mehrling’s  stopped by on a trip from North Carolina to Long Island, NY.

 

The Rooster and his wife were so appreciative to have the Mehrling’s stop by on their trip north today. We have followed Anne’s blog for a number of years, and she has followed mine. We have been known to frequently respond with comments towards each other’s writings. Although time committments didn’t allow the visit to be lenghthy, it was wonderful none the less, in meeting the person holding the pen. Well, the hand punching the keys at any rate.

I’ve grown to know the family through Ann’s Blog, as well as the growth of eight year old neighbor Logan and others who live close by. It’s simply amazing how the blogging world brings people together. This one short visit and life’s event sharing, paints the picture further and fills the gaps not said in a Blog.

Several days earlier I had mentioned to our eldest daughter of the pending visit. My daughter inquired, what we would do if they turned out to be Cereal Killers? No worry’s here I assured her. The only thing that turned out to be dead was their car. Seems the van they rode in was a rental with NY plates. Anne has written several times lately about their own van. It died on them once at a Funeral Home, (how appropriate)  and, most recently needed a jump to get started. Turns out this was something I cautioned her about recently. Just yesterday she wrote in an email about their coming trip the following,  “To set your mind at rest — we got a new battery for the car this morning.  Yes, it helps my mind, too”. The cereal killer got the van my daughter.

So I’ll end this Blog with a most appreciative, thank you Anne and John for taking the time out of your busy schedule to vist with us. You are more than the fingers walking across the keys. We call you our friends and look forward to returning the visit, The Rooster and wife.

elderly couple

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

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From our house to yours, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

A Share from Minnesota

Rev. Shirley Duncanson is a United Methodist Pastor. She is a graduate of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, Metro State University in Minnesota and Cleveland High School, in Cleveland MN where she grew up on a small fishing resort. Retired in 2013, she has served churches in Owatonna, Fairfax, Morton, Winona, Homer, Mounds View and most recently Hillcrest United Methodist Church in Bloomington, all in Minnesota. Shirley currently is a volunteer pastor at a nearby church. She is the mother of seven and grandmother of seven. Shirley enjoys photography, theological discussions, political discourse, book studies, and reading.

I share with you her perspective of the upcoming election. Shirley’s Blog can be followed @ https://shirleyhobsonduncanson.com/

Surviving the 2018 Campaign

Political ads are out in full force. If we want to learn something unseemly about a candidate, we can simply turn on our TV.  I am living in a battleground state.  Outside money is pouring in. A truth meter on every ad would help.    I yearn for the election to be over.   Meanwhile, airways are humming with innuendo.

Will that person running in the Third District be a pawn of Nancy Pelosi? Or the one in the Sixth District vote 100% with Donald Trump? Which party is really out to protect the pre-existing condition clause in the Affordable Care Act? And which one is out to destroy it? Did our congressman running for Governor suddenly stop working across the aisle since he decided to run for that office? Which candidates are ready to rip off Medicare? And who is out there with big oil, when Minnesota farmers are putting up windmills and making ethanol? Can a person be against a tax cut and still be for the people in their district? Or is opposition to a tax cut a fatal flaw? Which incumbent is destroying the environment and which one cares enough to save it? How can anyone be against “building the wall?”  Is there a place for sanctuary cities?     And who do we need to fear more – Nancy Pelosi or Donald Trump? I didn’t know that Nancy was running in Minnesota, but suddenly her face is appearing everywhere.

I hate this part of politics . . . Looking for dirt on others and making it up when it can’t be found. This year, the usual distortions of reality are turning into fear-based advertising. I see this from the Republican side in a slug of new ads this week. Likewise, I’ve been  disappointed in Hillary Clinton’s “You cannot be civil with Republicans.” And Eric Holder’s “When they go low, we kick them.” Neither represents a Christian World View any more than the “Lock her up” chants at Trump rallies.

I need a time out. I want people who treat each other decently in public office. I want the Citizens United ruling overturned and names of people who pay for all the ads that disgust me revealed.   I want debates that are mandatory and candidates required to answer the actual question asked. I want those debates broadcast live and transcripts available. I might actually find out something good about each one. It might sway my intended vote.

I hope you vote this year if you are eligible.   I hope you recognize the power of a vote and the nonsense spewed that your single vote doesn’t matter.   I hope you’re able to dig through the noise of the campaigns and get to the truth of a candidates position.   I hope your vote aligns with the words and the life of Jesus –  whose concern for the poor was primary and taught us that what we do for the least of our brothers and sister, is as if we are doing it for him.   I hope your vote is one that will promote justice.

In the meantime, while the ads spew, the “mute” button on my remote is a gift, and Netflix is a safe haven.

elderly couple

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

A Reading on a Monday Morning

Back in June, daughter Kathryn sent me information about an upcoming training course at the hospital she works for, Penisula Regional Medical Center. The course was a “Basic Chaplains course,” with participants responsible for “Pastoral Care in Hospitals” upon completion.

Twenty-six years ago I also was an employee of this institution. Just one of my many hats during three-quarters of a century traveling around the sun.  I have thought of volunteering at this hospital for some time. I felt it would be a way to give back for the thirty years of Cardiological Care I have received. I’ve had quite a few positive outcomes from various procedures and am a proud, five-time graduate of the Cardiac Rehabilitation program.

So I filled out the necessary paperwork for the “Basic Chaplain Course” and was quite pleased when I found out I was accepted. I looked forward to my Thursday evenings and engaging in dialogue with my fellow students and instructor. After several weeks we would meet with in-patients, explain the services offered by the “Pastoral Care Department,” and carry on dialogue with the patients under the guidance and oversight of staff chaplains.

I proudly completed that course last Thursday and look forward to starting my Volunteer Chaplain time at the hospital in the coming days. I’ve developed of late, a habit of doing a daily reading of one kind or another. Today I happened to read, An Accessible Woman: Remembering St. Teresa of Kolkata, by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB     One part of that reading was as follows:

“The fruit of silence is PRAYER. The fruit of prayer is FAITH. The fruit of faith is LOVE. The fruit of love is SERVICE. The fruit of service is PEACE. God bless you. –Mother Teresa.”

elderly couple

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

Check your Freezer (A Share)

 

When a major storm is on the horizon, sometimes packing your bags and leaving home is the safe thing to do. But, if you’re worried about the food in your fridge being safe to consume when you return, you’re going to want to remember this brilliantly simple trick.

If the power goes out while you’re gone, everything from meat to milk will be at risk. But, if the power returns before you do, you’ll never know if your fridge was running the whole time or not.

As Sheila Pulanco Russell, from North Carolina, explains in her post, all you need is a quarter and cup of water. Put the water in the freezer until it’s frozen solid. Then, take it out, and put a quarter on top of the ice. Return the cup—with the quarter—back to the freezer.

All of that may seem pointless, but stay with us. When you return, if you find the quarter has moved to the bottom of the cup, then you’ll know your food was unrefrigerated while you were gone and it’s no longer safe to eat. Found the quarter in the middle? The food is likely still okay, but, as Sheila advises, “If you don’t feel good about your food, just throw it out.”

Where you ideally want the quarter to be is exactly where you left it—on the top. That means your freezer’s contents stayed frozen the entire time. Genius, right? Facebook agrees, too. In a matter of days, Sheila’s post was shared close to 400,000 times.

elderly couple

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.