By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I left you in Part One with military spouses and prostitutes – quite the juxtaposition.  So let me continue …

One of the most moving and emotional parts of the Coming Home series is when the service member walks down the tarmac.  Spouses dissolve into tears and as they bury their heads on each other’s shoulders you can see their relief.  Relief that the soldier is home safely and relief that, at least for the foreseeable future, they will be a united family unit again.

But the real story of the hardships of military life lie with the children.  During the set up for the surprise homecoming,  Matt Rogers  spends time talking with the children in the family.  These interviews offer a very sobering view of the sacrifices these kids make.  Most of them are mature beyond their years.  They have to be.

They see other children on their base receive news that a parent has died or been severely injured.  With one parent gone these children learn to be more self-reliant, older siblings step up to take care of younger ones, and at important occasions in their life they are forced to acknowledge the reality that their mother or father will not be in attendance.

Birthdays and graduations are the events mentioned most often, but if one listens carefully to what the children confide to Matt you can tell that their parent is missed most in the smaller moments.  A son wants to share with his dad that he made the basketball team, a daughter is starting school and her mom is not there.  Parents are missed when kids are tucked into bed at night or when they come home from school with hurt feelings and need some comforting.

So when the Coming Home surprise unfolds and the children learn that the clown at the circus is their dad or the person in the ump outfit at the ballgame is their mom, it is one of the best moments on TV.  Shock and disbelief are their first reactions, but then as they are wrapped in their parent’s arms something else happens.  Most of these children begin to cry.  Not normal “happy tears”.  They shut their eyes and sob so hard that they can’t catch their breath.  And in that instant you see all that they’ve been bravely holding in for so long:  the worry, the absence, all the missed small moments.  We know it’s coming every episode, and yet we cry every time.

Given how tremendous this program is, we were taken aback by the Lifetime Channel’s decision to replace it with a show about prostitution.  Believe me, I have nothing against sex and I do realize the communal bar has been set pretty low for what passes for entertainment these days.  But to suspend a show that pays tribute to the unacknowledged heroes among us with a show about a madam ….that is substrata stuff.

Apparently there are a lot of other people who feel as we do and have barraged Lifetime with emails calling them everything from pond scum to unpatriotic.  Surprisingly, the “suits” at Lifetime listened.  Coming Home will be returning to their line-up on May 30, the real Memorial Day.  If you want an hour of TV that will make you humble, proud and appreciative of your small moments, I encourage you to tune in.  I guarantee you won’t regret it.


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

There will be lots of news coverage this week about Memorial Day.  Unfortunately, most of it will be about hot dog recipes, furniture sales and half-off  underwear at the department store.  Few people remember that before 1971, Memorial Day was always observed on May 30.  Then Congress got in the act, declared it to be the “last Monday in May” and – voila! – the three-day weekend was born.  Now many Americans view Memorial Day as the kick-off to summer versus a time to reflect on those who have served our country and lost their lives.

So this week we want to pay tribute not only to those who have died, but to those who serve without much recognition – military families.  A couple of years ago we stumbled on a television program that puts the spotlight on these families and in the process, gave some perspective to our lives.  It’s called Coming Home.

I’m sure you’ve seen bits on the news about returning service people who surprise their kids by showing up at school or a ball game. Who doesn’t get choked up watching them?  Coming Home  includes some of these reunions but it goes one step further: they work with one service person and his/her spouse to plan an elaborate homecoming to surprise their children.  Often times whole cities get involved to throw a parade or professional sports teams lend a  hand to the cause.

Matt Rogers hosts the show and does in-depth interviews with the spouse and children of the returning service person.  And it is during this portion of the show that we are reminded that we really don’t have any problems.

The spouses of deployed service people have to be and do everything for their children:  supervising homework, ferrying kids to music lessons, attending sporting events or dance recitals, and being the shoulder to cry on when something goes wrong .  They must run the household singlehandedly, managing repairmen and maintenance, keeping everything running smoothly.  The financial hardship alone is stressful for many of these families, and most of all, they’re just plain lonely.  Add to all of that the constant worry for the safety of their loved one and it makes for a pretty difficult way of life.

It is truly a humbling experience to watch this program.  So you can imagine my surprise when I learned that Coming Home went off the air.  Replaced by a series about prostitution. Honest.

Stay tuned for Part Two where we’ll write about the brave children in military families and the fate of Coming Home.  Same time, same channel, on Friday.

Welcome to ‘A Bird’s Eye View’

     Yes, you’re in the right place; you don’t have a virus; well, maybe you do, but that’s a whole different subject.  This is Morning News in Verse and you are either receiving this in your email (thank you subscribers, we love you) or are getting it through Facebook (we love you too, but it’s more like a puppy love).  Due to an increasingly diminishing number of requests, we’ve made a decision to change our format from mostly verse and some prose to mostly prose and some verse.  Our number of ‘hits’ tell us that it’s what you would prefer as well.

     We’ll still make fun of the Headlines, Money, Sports and Life, but only occasionally; rather, we’ll proffer samples of ‘A Bird’s Eye View’ of life-observations.  Sometimes our observations will be from the road, usually the one less traveled, and sometimes they will be from just around the corner.  Sometimes we’ll write about insignificant, Andy Rooney-kinds of things and other times we’ll offer observations on this process of growing older, but not necessarily up.

So let’s start with our new name, ‘A Bird’s Eye View’; it is, of course, a play on words of the name Sparrow, but it also has some family history to it.  In 1940 our parents moved to Novato, a small, northern California town, where our father, Jack (yes, Jack Sparrow, but no relation to Johnny Depp) bought the Novato Advance, a local, weekly newspaper, and at 26 became the youngest newspaper publisher in California.  It was truly a ‘Mom and Pop’ business – our dad hand-set the type and operated the printing presses while our mom, who could also operate a pretty mean linotype machine, attended the town meetings to gather the local gossip, or news as she called it.  She also spiced up the paper by chronicling the comings and goings of Novato’s social elite, such as they were.  Those familiar with small town newspapers know what we’re talking about.  Jim and Mabel Cranston were visited on Sunday by Mabel’s sister, Iris from Ukiah; she brought an apple pie – Jim had seconds.  Our mother originally called her column, A Little Bird Told Me and later changed it to A Bird’s Eye View.  When we recently asked her about why she changed the name, she first said, “Who are you two?”  At 93, we forgave her for not remembering the details of a newspaper column from nearly 70 years ago.  Our theory is this: etymologically speaking, ‘A Little Bird Told Me’ sounds like second-hand information, like we’re not sure if this is true, but we heard from someone that yadda, yadda, yadda. ‘A Bird’s Eye View’, on the other hand, seems to suggest more of a first-hand, optimum perspective of things.  Our mother could neither confirm nor deny our theory.

However the name came about, we’ve decided that it’s ours and we’re bringing it out of retirement.  We hope you enjoy our new direction.


By:  Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Each year, due to family birthdays, my husband and I are usually on a road trip on Valentine’s Day.  This means we have been able to be with family on this “day of love”, which is a good thing.  Each year we both purchase Valentine’s Day cards that we think best express how we feel about one another.  There’s only one problem: my husband leaves the card at home in his dresser drawer.  Every. Year.

The first few years this happened I would hand him my card with great anticipation, waiting for him to read the sentiment and then what I had written to him about our relationship.  Then he would look at me and say sheepishly, “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.  I left the card at home again.”  Each time I heard those words I was crestfallen.  And the scene repeated itself so often it became like Groundhog Day.

I would think: how can a man who remembers to bring his favorite cookies and his golf magazine on every road trip forget a card that is lying out on his dresser?  I admit, I was pretty pissy about it the first few years.  But then circumstances (and quite possibly some maturity) made me realize that it’s not about the card.

My husband tells me he loves me every day.  Not just on Valentine’s Day or our anniversary.  He tells me that every time I go out the door and when we go to bed at night.  He does little things like get my paper for me every morning and sets up my coffee so it’s ready to brew when I get up(okay, this has gotten easier since we bought a Keurig, but still…).  All in all, he’s a great guy who treats me very well.  I finally realized that these little daily acts are far more important than a $4 Hallmark card.

So, ladies, if you’re a bit disappointed in your spouse or significant other today because you didn’t receive a card or – and this is the worst – your husband sent flowers to your home instead of your office, please take a lesson from me and look at the bigger picture.

And if that bigger picture isn’t so good either, dump his sorry butt!


This week I’m in Hawaii and have just turned off the news,

And focused on relaxing, taking in some sunset views.

So my world consists of trade winds and walking on the sand

And sitting by a palm tree with a Mai Tai in my hand.

This week I do not wonder, ‘Is the market bull or bear?’

My big concern is where to place my reclining poolside chair.

This week I will not wonder, ‘Should I buy or should I sell?’

But just relax in places that I’ve come to know so well.

This week there’ll be no sniping or my sarcasm to share;

Just the squawking from the birds that fill the morning air.

There is nothing to be learned, as I will not try to teach,

As I sit and watch the waves as they crash upon the beach.

I know this week is ending and my life will rearrange,

And my lazy, ‘island attitude’ will surely have to change.

I know that soon my office will be getting lots of use,

But please forgive this one last day where I can just ‘hang loose’.

Turn Bad Resolutions Into Better Resolutions

By Bob Sparrow

Some of you have already put your New Year’s resolutions on paper; hopefully they’re in pencil.  Most of us have had some vague ideas rattling around in our heads about how we’d resolve, no, how we’d ‘wish’ this new year would be different from anything we’ve ever experienced in the past.  The fact is, while there is typically a lot of ‘resolutioning’ going on at this time of year, there is very little that is actually resolved.  I’m not trying to be a downer here; I’m just trying to keep you from another year of disappointments – resolution after resolution succumbing to reality sometime in January, or if you’re lucky, February.  I therefore offer you a guide for keeping your resolutions . . . real.

Bad Resolution: I’m going to lose weight  The average American adult gains about 2 pounds per year; the average gain in weight over the holidays is about 5 pounds.  Even if you got one of those oxymoronic diseases where you painfully, but thankfully lost 10 pounds while feeling miserable, you’ll go right back to your poor diet and lack of exercise as soon as you’re healthy enough to sit up and eat a bag of chips.

Better Resolution: Fat people are jolly, resolve to be jollier.

Bad Resolution: I’m going to join a gym  This is part of the above lie you’ve told yourself about being healthier this year.  Gyms prey on people like you in January with deals to get you in the door – they know you’ll never keep it up, you know you’ll never keep it up, but you resolve that this year is going to be different.  It’s not; save the $29 ‘special offer’ and all the money you’ll spend on ‘I’m looking good’ work out gear.

Better Resolution: Walk to the nearest gym, look at all the saps who were duped this year, walk home and enjoy a Cinnabon. 

I’m going to spend more time with the kids:  This assume that the other demands on your time are going to diminish – they’re not.  You love your kids, you want to spend more time with them, but are you going to work less, play less golf, miss your favorite TV show?  No.  Besides, you’re kids are getting older and they want to spend less time with you, but will want to see you when they need money.

Better Resolution: Spend ‘quality’ time with the kids, whatever that is and keep cash handy.

I’m going to be better at work:  A mere turning of the calendar page is not going to make you a better employee or employer.  Yes, you can agree to treat Dottie in accounting a little better, but you know she’s going to piss you off when she asks for all those expense receipts.  And the only way you’re going to become a better salesman this year is if the economy gets better.

Better Resolution: Try to keep your job.

I’m going to be a better person: This is sort of the ‘catch all’ resolution; it’s great because it’s vague enough to keep you unaccountable.  It can encompass everything from being a better spouse (this is fine until you realize that your partner hasn’t made the same resolution) to finding god (if he wanted you to find him, don’t you think he or she could make that happen?).

Better Resolution: Don’t perpetuate any of that Internet drivel that tells you you’ll have 17 years of bad luck if you don’t pass it along in the next 15 minutes to your 50 closest friends.

Hope this helps, you’ll thank me in February.  Happy Same Old Year.  The reality is we like you just the way you are.  OK, we’d like to see a few changes, but that ain’t gonna happen.


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

2011 was not a good year in our household.  This year some health issues, the death of a friend and the roller coaster stock market caught up with us.  And yet, here I sit on New Year’s Eve, convinced that 2012 is going to be a GREAT year.  I’ve polled a few of my friends and their sentiment is exactly the same – they all are looking forward to 2012 with great optimism and hope.

What is it about human nature that we completely suspend reality at the beginning of each year?  We forget that life’s road is bumpy and that each year brings some amount of problems and worries.  We forget that at our age, every doctor’s appointment holds the possibility of being a life-altering event.  And we forget that the world around us (especially in an election year) can be a very hard place to find comfort and joy.

We look at January 1 as a fresh beginning, the slate wiped clean of any problems, and only great possibilities spread out before us in the coming 12 months.  Granted, for those who face overwhelming health or personal issues this may not hold true, but most of us are in complete denial about potential pitfalls in the coming year.

Today we believe that all things are possible.  Today we believe that the new year will bring us contentment, good times and we will finally be able to discard our “fat clothes”.

So here’s to a wonderful 2012 to us all.  May your year be filled with good health and good times.  Happy New Year!!!!

Is Santa Claus Coming To Town?

If you haven’t read my sister’s post from Tuesday, you should; it captures the spirit of the season.  This post is more reflective of someone who’s been drinking the spirits of the season.  But the humor is a gift, as Suzanne mentioned, from our father, who always had a twinkle in his eye and something good to say about everyone.

By Bob Sparrow

The following questions about Christmas carols came into our mail bag this week and I thought I should share some of our answers with our readers.

Will I have a White Christmas?  No, it’s now politically incorrect to have a Christmas of white, black, brown, yellow, red or any other color attributed to human flesh.

Who wrote:

     Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow – Sammy Cahn wrote it as he boarded a plane in New York headed for Palm Springs.

     All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth – The first goalie for the New York Rangers

Did Santa really kiss mommy under the mistletoe last night?  Apparently there’s been something going on between Mommy and Santa for some time; do you wonder why at 9 years old you are over-weight and have a white beard?

What’s the meaning of Fa La La La La La La La La in Deck the Halls?  There’s an interesting history to this song, the Halls and their neighbors, the Kragmeyers were like the Hatfields and McCoys, always fighting.  The Kragmeyers actually created a disparaging song about the Halls that was filled with profanity; they sang it every Christmas with the intent of decking the Halls in a fight.  The music was so beautiful the song endured, but the ‘Fa La La’s’ were substituted for the original lyrics that would make a sailor blush.  That should put a smile on your face the next time you sing it.

How’s Grandma?  After being run over by reindeer several years back, she’s now up and around and feeling a little better since winning the reckless driving suit against Santa that paid her $3.4 million plus attorney’s fees.  She now resides in Palm Beach, Florida.

Did all the other reindeer really laugh and call Rudolph names until one foggy Christmas eve when he guided Santa’s sleigh with his bright red nose?  Really?

In the song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, what do the lyrics ‘Christmas eve will find me where the love light gleams’ mean?   The reality is, it’s hardly a comforting song; the man singing it is in New Orleans at a business convention and away from his wife on Christmas eve, so tells her not to worry he’ll be in the red light district, where the ‘love light’ gleams, while she’s at home trying to explain to the kids exactly why daddy’s not home for Christmas.

Say, what was all the laughing about on that one-horse open sleigh?  The sleigh riders had actually stolen the sleigh and were having a hardy prankster’s laugh.  The truth is, however, they didn’t laugh all the way, the horse developed gas about midway through the trip and in an open sleigh that’s no laughing matter.

 What exactly where the 10 Lords-a-Leaping leaping about?  Have you seen how tight their leotards are?  They’re like a cheap hotel, no ballroom.  As long as that song is, you’d be leaping too if you had to wear tights through the whole thing.

Does Santa really have a list?  No, this veiled threat evolved from a misinterpretation of the original song; the actual lyrics made reference to Santa’s speech impediment saying, ‘He’s making a lisp’.

Is Santa Claus coming to town?  No, if you’d read my sister’s piece on this blog earlier in the week, you’d know that Santa never left town.

Thank you for following our blog

Have a great holiday season and a healthy and happy 2012


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Much has been made in the press about the second grade teacher in upstate New York that told her class that there was no Santa Claus.  Apparently people are so angry that she is receiving threats.  As boneheaded as her move was, I don’t feel angry with this teacher; I feel sorry for her.  She obviously lives in a very exacting world, where Christmas is cut and dried and allows no room for the magic that occurs each year.  Of course there is a Santa Claus!  Some may call it “Christmas spirit” but each year – if we’re lucky – it enriches our lives.

Christmas is a sentimental time and like many people I’ve been reflecting about Christmases past the last few days.   I was fortunate to grow up (and still be) in a wonderful family that more than gets along … my brothers and I actually like being together.  At our house, we had LOTS of magical Christmases.  Our dad was a warm, wonderful, funny person who was in his element at Christmas with his bow tie that looked like holly and his infectious laugh.  In later years we also came to appreciate the gin ice cream fizzes that he fixed every Christmas morning!  I miss him especially at Christmas but know that his spirit lives on whenever our family gathers together.

As I’ve grown older I’ve found magic in finding the perfect gift for my husband or kids and watching their faces light up when they open it.  And just the other day I found it while making Christmas cookies for our grandsons.    It is there for all of us, usually in the small moments and memories, and makes each Christmas a time of appreciation of those we hold close.

I wish that teacher had received my friend Cheryl Ortenburger’s  Christmas letter this year, for she captured the essence of Santa perfectly in the following paragraph:

I believe that Santa Claus not only represents innocence, but is the embodiment of hopes and dreams.  He is the epitome of selfless giving.   Who does not want to personify that selfless image and be a part of making someone’s wishes comes true?  Of course, we all do!  Hence the race with the calendar and our yeoman’s efforts to find THE gift that will bring a smile to that special someone’s face.  We do this in the name of Hanukah, or Christmas, or Santa, or whatever the cultural or religious motivation.  I think Santa brings out the best in us, draws us together, and unites us in spirit.  Kids all over the world know who Santa is and excitedly await his arrival.  Although Santa has been accused of being a little commercial at times, who can help but love the jolly old elf, with the twinkle in his eye, and corncob pipe?  I think Santa represents the best part of us.  However we chose to celebrate, let’s follow the example of Santa and find the best in ourselves and see the best in others.  

I wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a joyous 2012.  And mostly, I hope no one dares to tell you that there is no Santa Claus.


 Morning News in Verse, Christmas 1971

The Top 10 Reasons Why Thanksgiving vs Christmas Is My Favorite Holiday

by Bob Sparrow

10.  Only holiday that features eating

9. Don’t have to figure out what to get my 92 year old mother

8. Not as scary as Halloween, not as expensive as Christmas

7. Don’t have to find that one Thanksgiving Day light that keeps the whole string from not lighting

6. Better Post holiday: Eating leftover turkey sandwiches beats taking down the tree, lights and putting away Aunt Mildred’s fruit cake

5. Turkeys are worshiped by all religions

4. Credit card still has room on it

3. Tryptophan puts me to sleep, figuring out what to get my wife keeps me awake

2. No insipid Thanksgiving Day commercials on TV

1. Three days to sober up