The Rest of the Story

by Bob Sparrow

everest-khumbu-ice-fall

Dom crossing Khumbu Ice Fall on Mt. Everest

 

Charged with a most difficult task of following Suzanne’s eloquent reprise of her emotional account of Melissa Harrington Hughes’ 9/11 experience, and given that I have barely seen the outside of my home in the last six weeks, I submit a rather pedestrian look at updating some past blog stories.

Nepal Earthquake

Previous blog links:

     Emails from Nepal    http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=3943

     Feeling the Nepal Earthquake Here at Home   http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=3893

nepal-earthquake

Kathmandu, Nepal earthquake

The rest of this story begins with an email from our trekking guide in the Himalayas, Dom, saying that he and his family (wife and two children) were still living in a tent due to their home being destroyed by the earthquake in April 2015 and asking for some help.  Patrick and I and several friends sent money to him back in May 2015, but due to the earthquake, the trekking business was not doing so well in Nepal so Dom had limited income opportunities.  I decided to ask our most-generous neighborhood if they wanted to help.  They responded in spades and I was able to send Dom over $1,000, which in Kathmandu is like a year’s income. Contributors commented on how nice it was to donate knowing that all the money was going to where it’s suppose to and that it is someone with a personal connection.  Dom was most grateful.  I asked him if he could send some pictures of his family and the surrounding area so that I could share them with the neighbors who contributed.  He did, including a picture of him on Mt. Everest, getting to Camp 4, which is over 26,000 feet in elevation.  He was attempting to summit Everest without oxygen, something only a handful of people have done.  He did not do it this time, but he said next time he will use oxygen and get to the top.  Thankfully Dom is back in business.

ramsL.A. and the NFL

Previous blog link:   Why L.A. Will Never Get an NFL Team                                http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=3835

In April of last year I predicted that Los Angeles would never get an NFL team for a variety of reasons.  Whether L.A. actually got an NFL team was still up for debate after the Rams lost their season opener to the 49ers 28-0, but after a win against a tough Seattle team last Sunday, my prediction is now officially wrong.  It was worth it just to watch Pete Carroll go apoplectic on the sidelines.

Murder on the Road to Hana

Previous blog link:   http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=2595

sc

Capobianco – looks innocent to me!

I was driving by myself on the road to Hana, with no alibi, on the day Carly Scott was declared ‘missing’ in the area and subsequently found murdered.  I did pick up a strange female hitchhiker that day, but I swear I am not a person of interest!  Steven Capobianco, however is, in fact he has moved on from a ‘person of interest’ to being incarcerated and standing trial for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Carly “Charli” Scott.  He is also accused of setting her vehicle on fire.  Scott was 27-years-old and five months pregnant at the time with an unborn child fathered by the defendant.  Capobianco has pleaded not guilty to the charges.  The Maui trial has been on-going since June 27, 2016; yes, two-and-a-half months!  Evidence presented thus far implicates Capobianco as the murderer.  Stay tuned for final verdict.

Hip, Hip Away

Thanks again to all you well-wishers – the hip is great; played golf last week (score not important and it’s really none of your business); and walked 5 miles on Thursday. In no time I’ll be smelling those pine trees in the local mountains.

 

 

 

IN THE STATE OF “POMA”

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

The Poma remnants

The Poma remnants

Well, another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Which means that I’m spending today cleaning out the refrigerator and wondering why I bought so much food.  There is something about Thanksgiving that must make my “starvation gene” kick in.  I buy groceries like we have had nothing to eat for months and end up with enough food to feed an army.  Unfortunately, with only six of us in the house, we end up being a very well-fed army.  Or, as our daughter said this weekend, we are in a “poma”.  That is a hybrid word she coined on Thanksgiving night as we sat watching football in a  stupor – a combination of pie and coma.  It aptly described our mental and physical states.  And that was before the 49ers played so badly that the owner apologized to the fans. Maybe the players were in a poma too.  But no matter how bad we felt, we were still better off than the people who ventured out to shop in the newly formed “Thanksgiving Day Sales”.  I want to go on record that I am totally against the stores opening on Thanksgiving Day.  Can’t we still have a holiday that celebrates food, family and football without Target and Walmart getting involved?  The stores all claimed that the early opening times would avoid some of the mayhem from past Black Friday sales when so much pushing and shoving took place.   Hmmmmm…let’s just re-cap how that little experiment worked.  For your reading pleasure, here are some of the highlights from the “new” Black Thursday:

 

  • In Romeoville, Illinois a policeman was dragged from his car in the parking lot at Kohl’s by a shoplifter he was trying to apprehend,

    At least there are no knives in sight

    At least there are no knives in sight

  • In Las Vegas, a man was shot in a Target parking lot when two men accosted him and tried to steal the HDTV he had just purchased,
  • In Virginia a man was stabbed in the knee with a knife after two men got into an altercation over a parking spot,
  • In Carlsbad, California a man was stabbed in the stomach at the entrance to a mall, ostensibly jockeying for position to be the first to get his hands on a brand new TV.
  • At a Houston Walmart people were trampled and fights broke out when shoppers laid down on Samsung TV boxes to “reserve” them.  (I actually had to laugh thinking about the genesis of that shopping strategy:  “Okay, I’ll go get the Game Boy and Barbie Doll, you go heave your body over the Samsung box until I come around to pick you up.”)

The most telling of the “Black Friday” incidents occurred in Nanuet, New York, where two Costco employees began fighting in the men’s room before the store opened and one of them stabbed the other with a box cutter.  You can only imagine the conversation that preceded their tiff.  They were most likely fighting over which one of them had to go out and face all of the fruitcakes that were lined up at the store entrance, waiting to get their hands on a bargain-priced electric potato peeler or a jumbo container of gouda cheese.

Clearly, the goal of the new opening hours on Thursday did nothing to stem the violence – or stupidity – of the shopping public.   But I suspect that the big stores will open again on Thanksgiving next year because I just read that the extra hours translated to record profits for them.  It seems hard to believe that we might become nostalgic for the “good old days” when people were just pushing and shoving.

As for me, I’ll stick with Cyber Monday, where traditionally people shop from their employer’s computers so they can take advantage of the fast T-1 lines.  Not to mention the added benefit of looking like they’re working furiously on their computer when in reality they’re perusing the latest Best Buy ad.  Even though I am now retired, I still like looking at the deals available today.  And I have the extra added benefit of safety – I am fairly confident that neither my husband or Dash the Wonder Dog will stab me while I’m shopping.

GRATITUDE

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

GratitudeIt’s getting to be that time of year … when we blow right past Thanksgiving and start hanging the Christmas or Hanukkah lights. Traditionally, of course, before Target and Walmart took over the holidays, Fall was a time for people to take stock of their lives and give thanks for their blessings.  A friend recently told me about a holiday tradition that I thought it was quite ingenious:  at every holiday dinner each person must say what they are grateful for, using the first letter to spell out the holiday.  So in other words, their dinner gets a lot colder at Thanksgiving than Easter.  I never was a faithful viewer of the “Oprah” show but watched it enough to know that she encourages people to keep a daily journal listing everything that they are grateful for that day. Heck, I can’t do anything every day except brush my teeth and eat, so keeping a Grateful Diary is out of the question.  The concept, however, is intriguing. So this week I decided to combine the two ideas and in that spirit create a GRATITUDE list for the season.

 

G – Girlfriends.  Where would I be without them?  Together we laugh, we cry, we hack our way around a golf course, and we create.  They are, in short, my sanity.

R – Relatives.  I have a wonderful family and I know I’m very lucky that we like and love each other.  NOT ONCE  have  we had to have police intervention at a family gathering.

One of my more subdued friends

One of my more subdued girlfriends

A – Alan, my husband.  He gets me through good times and bad … and loves me even when I don’t have any make-up on.

T – Tea.  Sometimes there is just nothing like a good “cuppa” to get me through the day.  And since I discovered FOAM at Whole Foods, it’s even better with that piled on top.

I – Inspiration.  I am surrounded by very imaginative women who are artistic and talented in ways I never will be.  But they inspire me to improve whatever I am doing.

T – Time.  Somehow it seems I never have enough of it.  How did I ever work? Now I love it when an appointment gets cancelled.  There is nothing like the gift of TIME !

U – Unburdened.  As I’ve gotten older I no longer feel like I “have” to do stuff.  I now say “no” when I feel like it.  This is probably why older people are deemed “cranky”.

D – Dash the Wonder Dog.  Duh.

Dash, The Wonder Dog

Dash, The Wonder Dog

E – Elusiveness.  I am a literal thinker (I’ve taken the test on Facebook to confirm this) but I love that big parts of my life are elusive.  When you think you no longer need to try new things – and fail – life becomes too predictable.  It’s always good to have something beyond your grasp – like losing 10 pounds.

That’s my list for this year.  Next year it could be something entirely different although I suspect that, with good behavior,  Alan and Dash will be on it. Although Dash really is the only “shoe-in”.    As word games go, I thought this was a good exercise to go through.  I may even try the holiday version for Thanksgiving (family members, be warned!).  I still don’t think I’ll ever be disciplined enough to do a daily Gratitude Diary, but it sure feels good to stop once in a while to take stock in all of the things, and especially the friends, that make life good.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.  As for me?  I’m off to think of a word that starts with “T”.

A THANKSGIVING MASH-UP

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson mashed potatoesLast summer, in the bright sunlight of August, our 10-year-old grandson looked me squarely in the eye and said, “Mimi, at Thanksgiving don’t forget the cranberry sauce and the mashed potatoes.  Especially the mashed potatoes.”  I have no idea why he thought I might forget these staples of our Thanksgiving feast, but for him to mention it months ahead of time means it’s pretty important to him  So that makes it pretty important to me.  The thing is, I think mashed potatoes are the hardest part of preparing Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m usually in the throes of making the gravy and getting all the side dishes in the oven and then in the middle of this frenzy I have to mash the darn potatoes.  I’ve been stressing about this over the past few weeks and combing the internet for mashed potato recipes that I can make ahead of time.  But I worried that the potatoes would get mealy or dried out if not prepared at the last minute. It finally dawned on me that I was giving this far more thought than it deserves –  if mashed potatoes are my biggest worry, I’m a pretty lucky person.  So I turned my attention to my Thanksgiving “grateful statement”.  Like a lot of other families, before we dive into the bottomless pit of calories that is Thanksgiving dinner, we each have to say what we are grateful for during the past year.  I have one rule:  you can’t say you’re grateful for your family, your friends or your health.  Those are things that should be appreciated every day.  So I began to think about what I might cite as being grateful for this year. Of course, Dash the Wonder Dog is the best thing that happened to us, but since I think of him as family that eliminated him from contention.

As if on cue, the next week two of my former teammates at Bank of America posted pictures and stories on Facebook of their latest volunteer trips and I knew I’d found my “grateful statement”.  While the rest of us loll on sandy beaches or go skiing at beautiful resorts, Evan Boido and Mike Clement spend their “vacation” time in parts of the world that are most in need of their kindness and expertise.  I don’t know about you, but I’m very grateful that there are such people in the world, so in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m going to tell you a bit about them.

Evan Boido was accepted as a member of Global Volunteers (http://www.globalvolunteers.org/organization/default.asp) several years ago.  Their mission is to engage short-term volunteers on long-term projects to create, nurture1385378_3565115021953_107721808_n(1)  and sustain the wellbeing of the world’s children so they can realize the full promise of their human potential. They send volunteers to the poorest areas of the U.S. and around the world.  Evan accepted an assignment in Romania, caring mostly for orphaned infants and toddlers with physical or mental disabilities at the Barlad Children’s Hospital.  As you can imagine, this could be heart-rending work but Evan dives into each mission with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose.  Over the past few years she has made a huge difference in the lives of countless children.  The staff of the hospital try their hardest to care for the children but they are over-whelmed.  Without the efforts of Global Volunteers such as Evan, many of these children would languish in their cribs with little individual attention.  This past trip Evan brought along her niece, Shannon (pictured right with one of the children) to make it truly a family affair.  Evan has gotten to know and love many of the children over the years – she is overjoyed when one is adopted and crestfallen when one succumbs to their medical problems.  As much as the hospital gains from the Global Volunteers, I know that Evan gains even more from the time spent with “her babies”.

MikeMike Clement just returned from the Congo, where he serves on the board of  the Christian Medical Institute of the Kasai  ( https://www.facebook.com/pages/Christian-Medical-Institute-of-the-Kasai-IMCK).  Their mission is to provide quality health care and health care education in that part of the Congo, the most impoverished nation on earth.  The most frequent health issues include kettle burns, oil burns, accidents requiring amputations, child malnutrition,  and fistula care. The hospital is proud of the fact that they have made strides in health for newborn children and their mothers through education and access.  But the hospital is consistently short of medicine and is in arrears with its finances since most of the indigent poor cannot pay for their medical services.  Mike, who is a communications consultant, goes once a year to the hospital to help develop strategies for fund-raising and to advise on how to keep their staffing levels within their budget.  As you can see from the picture (left), he also spends lots of time with the children.  This photo of a little boy, with his hand holding on to Mike’s shirt, says it all.  Despite their differences in culture and living circumstances, a unique bond is created when a good-hearted person reaches out to help a small child .  I have looked at countless pictures of Mike’s trips to the Congo and they all depict the locals with joyful and grateful faces, but also an unimaginable level of poverty and squalid living conditions.  And yet Mike describes these trips as “soul healing”.

So this Thanksgiving I will worry less about my lumpy mashed potatoes and spend more time being grateful that the world has people in it like Evan and Mike and the organizations for which they volunteer.  I hope that you have such people in your life as well and I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

NEWS FLASH!!!! YOUR DOG LOVES YOU!

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

DashRecently some ingenious neuroscientist published an article in the New York Times with the astounding news that dogs experience love just like people do.  I don’t know how much money was spent on this study but I think it’s pretty safe to say that most dog owners could have spared him the time and expense of the “investigation”.  We KNOW that our dogs love us.  And we didn’t have to train them to sit in one of those blasted MRI tubes to figure that out.  But it got me to thinking … maybe I can get in on this dog behavior study trend and make myself a little extra cash on the side.  As it happens, Dash the Wonder Dog, will turn one year old this month so I began to reflect on all of the “newsworthy” discoveries we’ve made over the past few months.  Purely in the interest of science, here are my observations:

 

1.  DOGS ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR AEROBIC EXERCISE

I know – you read all the time about how good dogs are for getting people out to exercise.  True, a dog forces you to get up off of your duff and take it outside.  But that’s about the extent of the exercise at our house.  Dash will lead me as far as the end of our driveway and then screech to a stop.  Apparently there is a VERY interesting bush that needs to be examined and re-examined every day.  And peed on.  As we progress on the “walk” I take 20 steps forward and 15 steps back.  There is not a leaf that goes uninvestigated.  And he has all the airs of a snotty French waiter – a little upward tilt of the head and a big sniff – as if he is trying to assess the “bouquet” of the urine left by previous dogs. Once home, he is exhausted and I head off the to the gym.

2.  DOGS ARE GREAT JUDGES OF CHARACTER

In the past year I’m sure we’ve met close to 500 people that we would otherwise have  just walked past.   Most everyone wants to stop and pet Dash or at least they give him aDash with Abby smile when they look at his face.  We have met Judy Blumberg, the Olympic figure skater, and Edward Villella, the famous ballet dancer, because they wanted to talk about Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.  More importantly, we have met countless warm and wonderful people who I happen to belive are geniuses because they thought our dog was cute.  We have actually perfected  what I call our “asshole test”.  If someone walks by Dash and doesn’t at least crack a smile, they’re obviously an asshole.  Harsh?  Perhaps.  But I’ve got a lot on my plate and I think this is as good a quick filter as any to determine whether someone is worth getting to know.

3.  DOGS KNOW A PIGEON WHEN THEY SEE ONE

Dogs are very smart when it comes to figuring out which “parent” to go to achieve the desired result.  In our house, I’m the one Dash looks plaintively at when it’s food or treat time.  And usually I’m the one who has to draw the line when it comes to discipline.  Dash has slept in a crate by my side of the bed since the day we brought him home, but a couple of weeks ago he underwent some major surgery so the vet told us to keep a vigilant eye on him.  Which my husband, Mr. “I’m Not Sure We Should Get A Dog”, interpreted as Dash sleeping on the bed with us that night.  And the next…and next…and next.  Now when I tell Dash to go to bed he runs over to my husband’s side of the bed and won’t come near me.  As to where this is headed I’ll leave it at this – Dash recently acquired his own pillow.

4.  DOGS ARE CAREFREE

We humans could learn a lot from our dogs about chilling out a bit.  You don’s see them worrying about whether the house is clean enough for guests or what might happen if the 49ers lose.  Life to them is about sleeping, comforting and playing.  Not a bad way to go through life – not caring one whit that their owner might be the teensiest bit mortified as they “do their business” in the middle of the hardware store.  Certainly I’m not suggesting that we all take on that particular trait (God forbid) but as the bumper sticker says, “A little less bark and a little more wag” would probably do us all some good.

2013-08-07 09.46.59-1 (2)5.  DOGS HELP US TO APPRECIATE EACH DAY

Alas, as every dog owner knows, dogs just don’t live long enough.  Seems to me that some researcher ought to be working on that. It seems unfair that we should have such devoted companions, only to lose them far too soon.  The last time I had to put a dog to sleep I cried for weeks.  Years later just a picture of her would elicit tears.  So I started a tradition with Dash the first night we brought him home.  Just before we go to sleep (and it’s ever so much more convenient now that he is right next to me) I take time for one last snuggle and to review our day.  I talk about the things we did and the people we met.  I tell him what a sweet boy he is and thank him for another wonderful day together.  Because I know that the days go by much too quickly.  At the end of his life, I will know that I told him just how special he is every single day of his life  .

But today we are a long way from that day….today we will play fetch until my arm gives out and I’ll probably put some funny hat on him and stick a candle in his kibble.   And I’ll try to figure out how I can make headlines in the New York Times stating the blatantly obvious…DOGS ARE GREAT!

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BEWARE THE FIGHTING ARTICHOKE

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Old College Football

College Football in Simpler Times

September means only one thing around our household – college football season starts. We await the beginning of each season as a child might await Christmas. In July my husband buys the college football preview magazines and begins to plot out our weekends for the fall. He is a life-long USC fan (it’s going to be a long season) so every year he gives me their schedule to mark on our calendar with instructions not to plan anything silly when a game is on. “Silly” is defined as dinner with good friends, going to a play, or God forbid, a trip to the emergency room.

So every Saturday, from September through the bowl games in January, our day unfolds with military-like precision: we wake up and don our “Saturday pants” (which is anything with an elastic waistband), we cut out the sports schedule from the paper and circle all the games we want to catch, we watch ESPN “Game Day“, and then plunk ourselves down for a Bacchanalia of football. We finally rouse from our chairs around midnight, at which point we take our stupefied selves to bed. Some might suggest that the whole day has been stupefied, but we love our college football.

Artie-Artichoke

Our own Artie the Artichoke

One aspect of the game that is getting more attention these days is the team mascot. It used to be that some poor sap put a paper mache head on and ran along the sidelines like an idiot. But like all else with college sports, the team mascot has become more sophisticated. They have races with the opposing mascot, they do push-ups after every touchdown, and their outfits often look like something out of a Tim Burton movie. There are, however, a few exceptions to this sophistication. The first one is right here in my own backyard: The Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichoke. That’s right – our mascot is a vegetable. I don’t recall an artichoke being particularly fearsome, unless you count being stuck by those little prickly things at the end of the leaf. A couple of years ago Artie (as he is familiarly known) was #1 in the Top Ten Most Weird College Mascot contest. He beat out the Delta State Fighting Okra. We don’t even grow artichokes in Scottsdale but the story goes that a few years ago some computer science students were upset about the amount of money the school spent on the football team. So they managed to get a campaign going to find a new mascot for the team, plotting to suggest the artichoke since they thought it would be so embarrassing to the team. They drove a hard (and probably rigged) campaign and Artie won the day. Ironically, the students, including the football team, soon embraced the cute little vegetable and today Artie is a beloved member of the campus.

There are other examples of dumb mascots, most notably the Stanford tree. Or maybe I’m just not smart enough to “get it”. There is the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs and the Oglethorpe Stormy Petrels. My brother, Bob, attended Westminster College at a time when their mascot was the “Parson”. It will not surprise you to know that Bob wrote the sports column for the school newspaper. He often suggested that “Parson” didn’t really strike fear in their opponents, but to no avail. They since have changed it to the “Griffin” which at least gives them a fighting chance.

ugaruss

Uga in his official football uniform

On the other side of the ledger, perhaps the BEST mascot in college football is Uga, the Bulldog from the University of Georgia. It pains me to say that because I hate the SEC and everything about it. Except Uga. How can you not fall in love with that face? An English Bulldog has been the mascot for the university since 1956, all of them owned by the same family. To date, 9 dogs have carried the name “Uga”, each descended from the original Uga, and frequently the son of the predecessor. Talk about nepotism! The current Uga attends every home football game, many away games, and other University-related functions and sports events, and usually wears a spiked collar and red jersey with varsity letter. The red jersey is Uga’s typical “uniform,” though he wears a green jersey on St. Patrick’s Day. Other special appearances include 1982, when Uga IV attended the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York City wearing a tuxedo, and 2007, when Uga VI wore a black jersey for the “blackout” game against Auburn. Shoot, this dog has more change of outfits than I do. He even has an official student identification card. He has a custom-built air-conditioned dog house and typically sits on or near bags of ice at games.

UGA VI

What does a guy have to do to cool off around here?

 

Here he is – trying to cool off after the half time show – overheated and prostate. I can so relate to his dilemma. Oftentimes as I’m running around in the midst of summer I’ve also felt like heaving myself onto a bag of ice. Granted, I’d need a considerably bigger bag than Uga, but I think he’s on to something.

So this season, pay special attention to the mascots. You never know when you might run into an Artichoke or a petrel. Or if you’re really lucky, a cute English Bulldog named Uga.

GOING TO THE DOGS

by Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Raes five boysMy husband and I have lost our minds. We recently decided to add to our family.  No, we’re not that crazy (or young).   In February we will become parents to a 12 week old Cavalier King Charles spaniel. The picture at left shows the litter at 8 days old. We don’t know yet which one will be ours, but I’m hoping it’s the smart one.  I am aware of the pitfalls of a new puppy – we can say goodbye to sleep, sanity and our clean white carpeting. On the other hand, if “Puppy Breath” was sold as perfume it would be a best seller.

I haven’t owned a dog in 25 years so I thought I should become familiar with the modern dog world. Conveniently, PetSmart was sponsoring its annual Holiday Pet Festival near us this past weekend. It offered an opportunity to see (and pet) dogs, peruse the latest dog supplies and hopefully pick up some tips.  And it was free.  The perfect storm.

The festival was held at West World, which is a HUGE exhibition center where they hold the Barrett-Jackson car auction and other large events. I figured they would cordon off a small portion of it for the dog soiree. But as I entered the building it became clear that I am horribly, crushingly, out of date when it comes to the dogs and the vast array of “stuff” available to them.

Twenty-five years ago my dog had a collar, leash and feeding bowls.  I fed her whatever canned dog food was on sale at the supermarket.  On a good day she got a piece of a hot dog or whatever scrap happened to hit the kitchen floor.  Apparently my  laissez-faire approach to dog ownership would now warrant an emergency call to the SPCA.

The “fesitval” made it clear that today’s dog requires vitamins, special organic, gluten-free food, freeze-dried liver treats, harnesses, and a bed that would have to pass muster at the Ritz.  And though not required, it was strongly suggested that if you love your dog at all you should purchase a dog massage, a day at the doggie spa, blinged out collars and sunglasses.  I won’t even go into the ridiculous costumes being offered but really…some of these outifts would embarrass Lady Gaga.

All in all it was a fun day.  There were small dogs and large dogs, and dogs that looked like they wanted to be anywhere else:

small dogs

large dogs

bored dogs

But my favorite was the dog who decided, right in the middle of the arena, to “do it’s business”.  Big time.  And guess what breed it was?  A Cavalier King Charles spaniel.  I think I’m going to need a bigger shovel.