Roads Not Taken

by Bob Sparrow

Two roads diverged in to a wood, and I

Took the one less traveled by ,

And that has made all the difference.

                                                                            Robert Frost

No, this is will not be a dissertation on Robert Frost’s most-misunderstood poem, but rather the musings of this traveler, who has found too many ‘Road Closed’ signs during this pathetic pandemic!  They are all roads not taken!

And while I have thought that I was on this mythical road to nowhere, I discovered that there is indeed a Road to Nowhere; it is in North Carolina, but it actually does go somewhere, it starts in Bryson City and ends at a ‘tunnel to nowhere’ inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

People who were more ambitious than just building a road or a tunnel to nowhere, created a Highway to Nowhere, actually there’s several of them, the most famous is in Baltimore, where one mile of freeway runs through a park.  Not to be confused with AC/DC’s Highway to Hell, which it may seem like we’re on right now, but there really is one of those too, in Western Australia, so named for the number of fatal accidents that occur there. What you don’t learn from these blogs!!!

And as we think about ‘things to nowhere’, and what more appropriate time to think about that than now, how can we forget the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’, which got a lot of national attention when Sarah Palin was governor of Alaska and the Vice Presidential running mate of John McCain in 2008. The project encountered fierce opposition outside Alaska as a symbol of ‘pork barrel’ spending and was never built.  So apparently  you  still can’t  get  to  nowhere  from  Alaska.

Personally, I can’t think of roads to anywhere without thinking of the ‘Road to . . pictures;’ yes, that what they called movies back in the day.  The ‘road pictures’ starred Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, who were always in some far-off country, fighting for the affections of Dorothy Lamour.  And even though I knew that these movies were filmed on the back lot of the Paramount studio in Hollywood, using blackface ‘natives’ and phony sets, they gave me the travel bug and the desire to create my own ‘Road Pictures’, which I subsequently did when I traveled to a number of exotic destinations like Kathmandu, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. But, ironically, I have never been to any of the seven destinations depicted in those ‘road movies’, but they’re on my bucket list!  For the record, they are, Road to Singapore (Year made: 1940), Road to Zanzibar (1941), Zanzibar is a city on an island off the east coast of Tanzania, Africa.  Who doesn’t want to go there?!!  Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (Alaska) (1946), Road to Rio (de Janeiro 1947), Road to Bali (1952) and Road to Hong Kong (1962). In the movies, Hope was constantly breaking the ‘forth wall’ to address the audience directly, such as when Crosby was getting ready to sing, Hope would turn to the camera and say, “He’s going to sing folks, now is the time to go out and get some popcorn”. There was actually an eighth picture that was going to be made in 1977, called Road to the Fountain of Youth, ironically, Crosby died of a heart attack that year – if he could have only gotten to that Fountain of Youth!  Little-known-and-less-cared-about-fact: Two of the very top singers of their generation, Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley, died in the same year within a couple of months of each other.

Critically, these movies probably get a grade of C-, and perhaps that’s even being a bit generous,  The plot lines were rather thin and predictable, but Bob Hope was funny, especially when he’s adlibbing, Bing Crosby could sing and Dorothy Lamour was certainly worth the boys fighting over.

OK, sorry for droning on about movies that were made some 70 years ago.  Forgive me, my cabin fever is beginning to boil over – there have been just too many roads not taken!  I can’t wait to get on the ‘Road to Anywhere’!

 

 

 

 

THE “GET OUT OF JAIL FREE” CARD

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

 

As you may have read, Arizona is the COVID hotspot of the world. Yep – you read that right – we’re #1 not just in the U.S., but in the world! This week our health care professionals have warned that if things don’t improve, they are going to invoke the triage experts.   Or as they are colloquially known, death panels.  My friends and I decided in addition to avoiding COVID, we need to avoid a broken hip, as some death panel may figure it’s easier to shoot us than fix us.  I admit that I have not been taking this latest news well.  For a variety of reasons, we have not travelled more than 20 miles from our home in almost a year.  So you can imagine our relief when Arizona began vaccinating older citizens last week.  I am not eligible, but my husband was and we were able to get an appointment last Thursday.  Typical of any government-run program, the state has managed to make registering as complicated as possible.

Here’s how I imagine the staff meeting went when they designed the enrollment system:

Manager:  So, we are going to start vaccinating the general public in Arizona.  We’re starting with people age 75 and above.  Tell me about the enrollment system you’ve designed.

Idiot #1:  We’ve got this!  Our systems works on the Chrome and Firefox browsers so it’s very accessible.

Manager:  But the vast majority of older people either use either an Apple or Microsoft  product.

Idiot #2:  No worries – we’ve instructed them to download either the Chrome or Firefox browser.

Manager:  Ummmm, okay.  But most of these people have no idea what a browser is and downloading is something they do with their dentures every night.  They think Chrome is what’s on their wheels and Firefox describes the hot number with the boa that walked into the bingo room last week.   Well, maybe someone can help them download the browsers onto their tablet or phone.

Idiot #3:  Oh no – the site isn’t compatible with tablets and phones.  They have to be use a desktop.

Manager:  Let’s hope this goes well.  I assume you have enough server capacity to handle the demand for enrollment?

Idiot #4:  Oh yes, we’ve got plenty of room and backup capacity.

Manager:  So once they get on the site they just sign up?

Idiot #5:  No.  First they create an account, then they have to retrieve a verification code from their email, then come back in and verify their account.  Then they go to the site and search day by day for an opening because we figured it was just to much work to put a calendar up showing “next available” appointments.

Okay – that’s my imagination but I don’t think I’m far off.  As anyone who has the sense that God gave geese might have predicted, the systems crashed on the first morning and the “help” line wait time was over three hours.  The statement from the Department of Health is that they didn’t anticipate the number of people who would be signing up.  Really?  We’ve been one of the worst hit states since the pandemic began, we have a large vulnerable population (over 75) and they have all been cooped up at home for almost a year.   Which is why I have so rudely characterized the people working on this as idiots.

It came to light yesterday that the state used Google to design the website.  That goes a long way toward explaining why they designated Chrome as the go-to browser.  It is shameful that they are using this event to steer people to their product.  Luckily, after much hue and cry, they finally enabled people to use Safari.  Silicon Valley has spent a lot of time lately talking about how they are improving the diversity in their workplace.  Well, here’s an idea – why don’t they put someone over the age of 65 to work on a program for people over the age of 65?  Now, there’s a concept.

In any event, my husband received his first shot last week so we are one step closer to getting out of jail.  We’re going to spend some time this week planning our summer vacation trips.  Somehow it feels like we’re one step closer to normal.  Hooray!!!

 

Songs for the Times

by Bob Sparrow

John Legend and Sara Bareilles

We know that all that 2020 brought us, doesn’t go away with the flip of a calendar page, although we will have a new president next week and no doubt the press will be kinder to him.  But with the vaccine rolling out and no major holiday gatherings in the immediate future to bump up ‘the curve’, we have reason for optimism.

I have observed that music has helped sustain many during this pandemic; so I thought I’d share with you a few YouTube videos that were written during or about some of our more ‘trying times’ of the past and present.  Hope you enjoy.

(Click on the links below and a separate link will appear, click on that to watch the video; if it doesn’t take you to the YouTube video, just copy and paste the link in your browser)  A brief advertisement may come up initially, it will either go away on its own or you can click “Skip Ads” to stop it.

  1. This first song harkens back to 911 and is a song Alan Jackson wrote right after the bombing of the twin towers in New York City.

Where Were You (That September Morning)?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvnlyeBN3sU&list=RDzvnlyeBN3sU&index=1

    1. Grace Potter’s song, Eachother (words put together on purpose) is a song about the Corona-19 pandemic, which includes, among others, Jackson Browne.  This song, and the next, coincidently echo the word ‘enough’ – sharing Suzanne’s focus on it last week.

We’ve got each other

And for now, that’s enough

Eachother

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_N8fVhQn8w

  1. This raw, emotional duet by Sara Bareilles (my favorite female artist, who co-wrote the song with Lori McKenna) and John Legend, is my favorite of this group of songs. In spite of the fact that the song was written a few years back about immigrants, if you listen to the lyrics, it fits today.

Be the hand of a hopeful stranger

Little scared, but just strong enough

Be the light in the dark of this danger

‘Til the sun comes up

A Safe Place to Land

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht2NCrlghS4

  1. I had to get a song that was a little more up-beat, with a positive thought as I didn’t want to leave you in tears; so here’s an oldie but goodie from the Bee Gees.  Incidentally there is a great documentary about this group on Netflix called, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.  Hope you’re following their advice and . . .

Stayin’ Alive

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNFzfwLM72c&list=RDfNFzfwLM72c&start_radio=1&t=0

Hope you found some joy, solace or simple entertainment from these songs – share them with someone who you think might enjoy them.  Hope you all can be the light in the dark of this danger ’til the sun comes up in 2021 and that we all find ‘a safe place to land’.

 

ENOUGH

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I’m writing this post on New Year’s Day and thinking about all that occurred in 2020.  I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit shell shocked from the past 12 months.  We had such high hopes going into the year – a new decade before us seemed so full of potential.  The biggest controversy a year ago was the guy buying his wife a Peloton for Christmas.  Little did we know that he would turn out to be the smartest guy in the room.  We got a bit of foreshadowing of a bad year when Kobe died in January but we persevered, thinking it was a one-off piece of bad news.  Then in March, everything shifted and life as we knew it changed.  But for better or worse, we’ve made it through and with a vaccine on the horizon I am hopeful for a better year.  Or, more realistically, a better half year.  I’ve resigned myself to the notion that the first half of 2021 is going to look a whole lot like 2020.  Still, it’s a new year and worthy of some resolutions.

NOT me after months of being at home

With the new year approaching there are lots of people opining about how to make 2021 a better year.  The best piece of advice I read was to find your “enough”. Not as in, “I’ve had enough cake” because we all know there is no such thing.  Instead, the author suggested that we all learn to be grateful for having “enough” of something – food, shelter, friendship, health, money.  Personally, I think 2020 was a good year for analyzing my “enough”.  Watching innumerable people lose jobs, and subsequently housing and security, made me more grateful than ever for a roof over my head and knowledge that I had “enough” to weather the COVID storm.  I learned that I had “enough” hobbies to entertain myself for endless days/weeks/months without going completely batshit crazy.  I had “enough” self-discipline to log 13,000 steps every day this year with one exception (I can be forgiven – I had minor surgery that day).  Prior to March I wouldn’t have known that about myself but now I’m pretty proud that I did not slink into a vegetative state on my couch watching the entire “Tiger King” series.

Most importantly, 2020 taught me that I have “enough” family and friends.  My husband and Dash The Wonder Dog have been great company over the past several months, providing support, laughs and a reason to go for a walk every day.  My friends have also been a source of support this year.  I have “enough” good friends to render me one of the luckiest people around.  I read an article from Instyle magazine that posed the idea that 2020 allowed you to narrow down your true friends by using the yardstick of who you would allow to see you topless.  I’m thinking that the average age of an Instyle reader is 19, so maybe that makes sense for them.  I can tell you at age 70, NO ONE wants to see me topless so my friends might be narrowed by those I would spare that visual.  In any event, 2020 brought into focus who I really treasure spending time with and that is a good guidepost going forward.

Had we all known a year ago what we were to face, I suspect we would have thought we couldn’t get through it. But the last 12 months has taught us that we have more grit, resilience, patience, and strength than we gave ourselves credit for.  In truth, we had “enough” to get through it and we are better off now for knowing that.

I hope that 2021 brings all of you “enough” of all the things that matter to you.  While we still have a few months to go before there is some semblance of normalcy, there is hope on the horizon and for now, that is enough.

We’re All Singing the Betwixmas Blues

by Bob Sparrow

Yes, Betwixmas is a word . . . sort of – it’s the term used for the six days between Christmas and New Year’s Day – and we are now in it up to our masks.    There are names for two of these six days that bookend Betwixmas; at the beginning, December 26 is ‘Boxing Day’, which is not celebrated in America, but mostly in England and its former Commonwealth satellites (Canada/Australia/New Zealand/Hong Kong).  It started out as a day to honor servants and those less fortunate by giving them a ‘box’ of something of value.  It then morphed into a shopping holiday (apparently, they said, ‘screw the servants’) where one would take back the ‘boxes’ of whatever they got for Christmas and exchange them for a box of something they really wanted (Maybe we do celebrate it here in America after all).  At the other end of Betwixmas is, of course, New Year’s Eve; never before will so many people really mean it when they say “Happy New Year”!!! But those four days in between, particularly this year, will drive you crazy enough to actually try to eat your grandma’s brick-hard fruitcake that you got again this Christmas.

Betweixmas is a time when we really don’t know what day it is,  who you are or what you’re really supposed to be doing.  There is no school and no one is really working.  If someone goes into the office during Betwixmas, it’s not to work, it’s just to get away from the spouse and/or kids, that have been driving them crazy since the Covid outbreak.

Paradoxically, the shortest day of the year was just last Monday, so the days should seem to just fly by, but no, these days drag on and makes Betwixmas seem interminable.  Typically, it’s the time to relax after the Christmas ‘rush’ and get ready to usher in a new year, a different year, anything but what we’ve been experiencing, so this Betwixmas drags on even more than normal.

Snow Angel

The result of these shiftless days are things like creating New Year’s resolutions that are unrealistic and completely unattainable.  To wit:  you’re probably going to be a little heavier by this time next year.  That home gym that you built this year will go mostly unused next year.  You’re not going to be a better person next year, you’re going to be about the same, and you’re going to be no more organized next year than you are this year.

Usually, the novelty of the kids being home during Christmas vacation calls for some family activity – heading to the mountains to frolic in the snow, visiting Disneyland or if you’re a fan, going to a college football bowl game.  But there’s no snow in the local mountains, Disneyland is closed and the general public is not allowed to attend a college football game.  We are doomed to spend Betwixmas just like we’ve spent the last nine months – in house arrest.

So, one would think that this would have been a good time for a blog that’s really entertaining; a missive filled with little-known facts of interest that would take your mind off the tedium of the times.  But no, it’s a match for the times.

Merappy Betwixmas

 

THE ANGELS AMONG US

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I am ending this very strange year with the inaugural From A Bird’s Eye View people of the year award.  No, it’s not as prestigious as the award from Time magazine, but I believe our nominees are more fitting.  The poem is one I came across a few years ago and my hardest task for this post was narrowing down the nominees who best represent it.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten many groups of people but for all of those who have worked during perilous times this year, we want to express our thanks for your unwavering strength throughout 2020.

 

There are always angels everywhere. 

 

 

 

Perhaps we only think to look for them at Christmas,

 

 

 

When their wings can be seen and their halos glow with light.

 

 

 

But they are always there.

 

 

 

There in the quiet corners,

 

 

 

there in the shadows,

 

 

 

 

there in their ordinary clothes, 

 

 

 

and they are beautiful.

 

 

 

Make room for the angels, for they will catch you unawares and fill your heart in ways you never could imagine.

 

 

 

Speaking of angels, our dad was certainly one on Earth and I believe he continues to watch over our family. One of Pop’s hallmarks was the Ice Cream fizz he served every Christmas morning.  Oh sure, most families had hot chocolate and cider while we were drinking gin, but don’t judge – it has given a roseate hue to many a Christmas morning.  So this year we are once again sharing his recipe so that you and your family might also enjoy this wonderful tradition.

 

POP’S CHRISTMAS ICE CREAM FIZZ

Fill a blender 1/4 full with ice cubes

Add 6 jiggers of gin

Add 4 scoops of French Vanilla ice cream

Add 1 small bottle of soda water (the size you get in a 6-pack)

My brother Bob adds an egg so the white adds some froth, brother Jack doesn’t add an egg.  Personally, I’d add it just because you can then claim it’s a protein drink.

Just blend it well and – voila – you have a concoction sure to put a positive spin on everyone and every thing!

Our mom served them in a wine glass with a dash of nutmeg.  As we got older we would conspire with Pop and ditch the wine glass for a chilled beer mug from the freezer. Saved having to go back for seconds…or thirds.

Bob and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.  We know for many of you it may be quieter, but hang in – 2021 is sure to be a better year.

Could This Be Your Most Memorable Christmas?

by Bob Sparrow

Like everything else in 2020, I’m guessing Christmas this year will be a little different for you.  Probably fewer people gathered together, maybe a change from the regular venue, Santa could be wearing a mask instead of a beard and perhaps the gifts given and received might be a little different, as suggested by Suzanne last week.  But I have no doubt that the ‘Christmas Spirit’ will prevail – assuming you don’t run out of Christmas ‘spirits’.  If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes we need a change of routine in order to appreciate the routine.

So, as we prepare for whatever this holiday will bring, I can’t help but recall my most unusual Christmas – it took place in 1968.  As a backdrop for those who weren’t around then or as a stark reminder to those who were, 1968 was a crazy year!  The U.S. was ass-deep in a very unpopular Viet Nam war, causing unrest on college campuses in the form of protests and draft card burning.  Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated; the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, Richard Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace to be elected to his first term as president, streets were filled with civil and gender-rights protests – some not so peaceful, 82 crewmen of the USS Pueblo were held captive most of the year by North Korea; Mao Tse-Tung celebrated 20 years as communist leader of China and the Zodiac killer (who has yet to be found to this day) is on the prowl in California. In December of that year, three Apollo 8 astronauts, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders, became the first to circle the moon, in preparation for the first moon landing seven months hence.

Don and me in front of house in Atsugi, Japan.  Dec. 1968

In 1968 I was an Ensign in the Navy (ours!) and in July of that year I received orders for Atsugi Naval Air Station, Japan.  By December, my wife and I and our dog, Xoon, were living in a small, two-bedroom house, surrounded by Japanese neighbors, about four miles from the base on Dog School Road – apparently, there was a dog school nearby; I’m not sure if it was a pre-school or a pee-school.  Thousands of miles from home in a foreign country, we were planning for a fairly lonely Christmas, our first and only one without family or friends.  Then, about two weeks before Christmas, I got a letter (no cell phones or even email in those days) from my best friend, Don Klapperich, who was a Navy F-4 jet pilot, assigned to the aircraft carrier, USS Coral Sea.  He wrote that their ship, that had been on combat duty in the South China Sea, was coming into Yokohama for Christmas, and that their squadron (VF-151) allowed them to send for their wives to spend the holidays in Japan.

What great news!!!  What was going to be a very dismal Christmas, just got significantly better.  Don was not only my best friend, but my singing partner from high school, and since he had his guitar with him (not in his aircraft, but on the ‘boat’) and I had mine, Christmas Eve found the four of us gathered around our ‘space heater’ chatting and singing songs, which I recorded on a reel-to-reel tape.  I still have the recording, which I converted to a CD, and when I listen to it today, it takes me back to that most-unusual Christmas far from home.

That cold Christmas morning we woke up to no presents under no tree and no stockings hung by the chimney with care – we had no chimney.  But we did exchange gifts, then drove to the Officer’s Club on base, which had a TV, in order to watch our astronauts circle the moon and provide us with that iconic ‘Earth Rise’ photo.

Iconic ‘Earth Rise’ photo – December 1968

As we headed back home for the evening, we looked to the sky and saw a bright, crescent moon and marveled that three astronauts were up there circling it.  So, when I was expecting a lonely Christmas far from home, it turned out to be one of my most memorable Christmases ever.

My point, and I apologize for the rather circuitous route in getting to it, is that this Christmas will undoubtedly be different, presumably like no other you’ve ever or will ever experience, but with a little luck and a positive attitude, it may turn into a Christmas you’ll never forget – in a good way.

We’d love to hear how you’re planning to make this Christmas a pleasantly, different one.

 

OUR ANNUAL USELESS GIFT GIVING GUIDE

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Each year at this time we try to perform our civic duty by providing suggestions for silly and useless gifts for the upcoming holiday season.  Last year I included such things as a harness for your chicken and a “Pull My Finger” Santa.  Boy, was I ever off the mark.  As it turned out, the most useless gifts for 2020 would have been tickets to a Broadway show, a gift certificate for business attire, or a European river cruise in July.   So I’m cautiously taking a different approach to the list for 2021.  Herewith is a list of what I hope will be useless in 2021:

Coffee Mug Map of My House: When I was a kid the phrase “shelter in place” meant we ducked under our school desk for a 5 minute drill.  This year, while we weren’t confined to a 2×2 space on a grimy linoleum floor, we did have to spend a whole lot more time inside our homes.  Venturing from the kitchen to the patio was the 2020 equivalent to a European Grand Tour.  

 

Toilet Paper Ornament:  Never have so many struggled to obtain such a pedestrian item.  Toilet paper became the Holy Grail of paper products.  People were trading semi-precious stones for a roll of Charmin like they were at a Middle Eastern bazaar.  One would think that we had become a nation full of diarrhea-prone idiots. There were jokes going around that in 2050, when people are cleaning out their parent’s homes, they will find a stash of toilet paper that will last another 100 years.  The summer brought some sanity to the situation with plenty of stock on the shelves but, alas, the recent uptick in Covid has caused people to lose their minds again.  Look for large quantities of tp for sale on Ebay when this thing ends.

Costco:  I don’t really want Costco to become useless in 2021.  I love Costco.  How could you not love a store that produces such a perfect pumpkin pie? But in 2020 Costco has become a madhouse.  At our local warehouse lines stretched around the store 30 minutes before it opened.  When the metal grate finally lifted there was a mad rush to the back of the store for….you guessed it…toilet paper!  And paper towels, meat, Lysol wipes and liquor.  Lots of liquor.  Last week when I was there I discovered that Extra Strength Tylenol is now on the restricted list, as it is what’s recommended to thwart the effects of the COVID vaccine.  So, I’ve made my last trip to Costco for the year – I’m just not up for being an unwilling participant in the Supermarket Sweepstakes frenzy.

 

Hand Sanitizer:  My hands are chapped, my nails are split and I rub my hands with sanitizer like an obsessive-compulsive person in “the home”.  I never thought that I would switch up my perfume for “Essence of Purell”.  Early on there was a huge shortage of sanitizer but then some geniuses figured out how to use regular alcohol to manufacture it and suddenly our local brewery became the best place to score some.  Now it is ubiquitous, featured on the end caps of every store from Target to the gas station.  I think the person who can come up with toilet paper and paper towels with hand sanitizer built in could make a fortune.

Lounge Wear:  Personally, I love a good pair of sweatpants.  I have some in every color, ranging from formal black to “greet the Amazon delivery person” gray.  Prior to the pandemic I really deplored people wearing their pajamas to the grocery store.  Now it’s so common it’s startling when you see someone with pants that actually zip.  There have been numerous studies over the years around the concept of “you are what you wear” and they all agree that dressing well positively impacts self-esteem and how you interact with the world.  Based on what I’ve observed in the past few months we have desperately low self-esteem, bordering on self-flagellation.  Hopefully when we regain some sort of normalcy we will also see the return of buttons and a sharp crease.

Working from Home:  I used to love working from home on occasion.  There’s nothing like the satisfaction of doing a load of laundry in between conference calls to make you feel like Super Multi-Tasker.  But I can probably speak for every working parent that we have reached the limit of how much time we want to work from our living rooms.  Turns out that most people like the interaction with people other than their immediate family and pets.  Plus, working while trying to futilely understand your third grader’s math problems is humiliating at best.  The goal for 2021 is to get everyone back where they belong – kids in school and adults at work.  For those women whose job was already full with child-rearing and running a household, I say they have earned a very well deserved rest, complete all the chocolate and wine they can consume.

That’s it for this year.  I’m looking forward to 2021, when a finger-pulling Santa is the highlight of my list.

And stay tuned for December 21 where I will once again share our dad’s recipe for his Christmas Ice Cream Fizz.  This year we may have fewer people gathered around but if ever there was a year where we need to double the recipe, this is it.

 

 

Rudolph the Bullied Reindeer

by Bob Sparrow

Rudolph without antlers

Do you ever really listen to the lyrics of Christmas carols?  I do; and we’ve certainly had plenty of opportunity since Halloween, as radios and department stores remind us that it ‘tis the season’.

Some of you will remember a short while back when the lyrics to ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, were assailed by the ‘Me Toos’ for manipulative tactics of a guy using the cold weather to keep a female from going home on a cold winter’s night.  So why isn’t someone outraged when it come the Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer?

Sure, on the surface it seems like a benign enough, feel good, Christmas carol, about a reindeer that helps Santa and the other reindeer, find their way to our homes on a foggy Christmas Eve.  But have you ever really listened to the lyrics?

 

All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names

They never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games

I don’t know about you, but this sounds like bullying to me – laughing at him and calling him names and excluding him from whatever games reindeer play.  But once Santa and the reindeer realize that what makes him odd, his bright shiny red nose, is now a benefit to them; well . . .

Rudolph with antlers

Then how the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history

Aside from trying to imagine a reindeer shouting out with glee, it seems that all is forgotten and Rudolph will be going down in history as the most famous reindeer of all – which clearly irks Dasher and the gang.  But, if you really think about it, which clearly I have, isn’t it cruel to be calling him by the derisive moniker ‘red-nosed’, as not to confuse him with the rest of the reindeer with normal colored noses?  What if they called Donner the ‘clubbed-foot’ reindeer and Blitzen the ‘lisping’ reindeer, or Prancer the ‘anal leakage’ reindeer?

There’s more.  It is a little-known fact that both male and female reindeer grow antlers!  Males drop their antlers in November, leaving them without antlers until the following spring, while females keep their antlers through the winter until their calves are born in May.

Cupid keeping the ball from Rudolph

Pictures of Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer typically show them pulling Santa’s sleigh, so we can reasonably assume that it is the month of December and thus a male reindeer would have no antlers.  The pictures of Santa and his reindeer almost always show all the deer but Rudolph, with antlers; so since the pictures are in December, we know that Comet, et. al, are all female.  Pictures of Rudolph are mixed, showing him/her both with and without antlers.  So, his name, Rudolph and the song’s lyrics referring to ‘him’ or ‘he’, would suggest that he is a male, but antlers would tell us that she is female.  That’s OK to be questioning, but it makes one wonder if this, in fact, is the source of the bullying by this team of catty reindeer.

And of course no one ever thinks about what happens after Christmas Eve, when there is no longer a need for Rudolph and his scarlet beacon.  One can only surmise that by Christmas Day the reindeer have probably return to their malicious name-calling.  I envision the reindeer playing a pick-up game of 4-on-4 basketball, as Rudolph sits on the sidelines, watching and hoping that next Christmas Eve will also be foggy.

OK, I admit it, I have too much time on my hands!

OH, TO BE THANKFUL

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

 

Well, we’ve made it to Thanksgiving.  In this weird/awful year of 2020 there were no guarantees.   If ever there was a year that a giant asteroid would destroy Earth, this would be it.  But here we are, ready to celebrate what we are thankful for on Thursday.  Some gatherings won’t have as many guests as normal since everyone except the Governor of California is supposed to limit the number of people with whom they dine.  Other families have had a really rough year – either due to health issues or financial stress.  We all know that we should be grateful for what we have and there have been about 8 million articles published about that in the last week.  There are so many that I’ve begun to think “yada, yada, yada” when I see them – they invariably with a photo of someone in a yoga pose or a cup of matcha tea.  So I’ve decided to take a different view – this week I tried to find some reflections on Thanksgiving that might just bring a smile to your face or appeal to the irreverent aspect of your humor.  After all, we could all use a laugh about now.

“A new survey found that 80 percent of men claim they help cook Thanksgiving dinner. Which makes sense, when you hear them consider saying ‘that smells good’ to be helping.” – Jimmie Fallon

“If you stand in the meat section at the grocery store long enough, you start to get mad at turkeys. There’s turkey ham, turkey bologna, turkey pastrami. Someone needs to tell the turkey, ‘Man, just be yourself.'” – Mitch Hedberg

“The Thankstini: A fun and delicious new novelty drink I invented. Cranberry juice, potato vodka, and a bouillon cube. Tastes just like a turkey dinner.”  – from How I Met Your Mother

“It’s not too much food. This is what we’ve been training for our whole lives. This is our destiny, this is our finest hour.” – from The Gilmore Girls

“Coexistence: What the farmer does with the turkey—until Thanksgiving.” – Mike Connolly

“I suppose I will die never knowing what pumpkin pie tastes like when you have room for it.” – Robt. Brault

“An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.” – Irv Kupcinet

“I’m looking forward to seeing pie this Thanksgiving more than members of my own family.” – Damien Fahey

“Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Half-time of the football game takes 12 minutes. This is not a coincidence.” – Erma Bombeck

“Cooking tip: Wrap turkey leftovers in aluminum foil and throw them out.” – Nicole Hollander

“Thanksgiving: Bringing out the best in family dysfunction since 1863.” Anonymous (for obvious reasons!)

“Thanksgiving—when the people who are the most thankful are the ones who didn’t have to cook.” – Melanie Cook

“There’s always something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. Even if it’s just not being a turkey.” – Unknown

“Money saving tip:  Be sure to bring up politics at Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s going to save you money on Christmas gifts.”

“Real ballplayers pass the stuffing by rolling it up in a ball and batting it across the table with a turkey leg.” – Tom Swyers  (This one strikes a chord with me as it reminds me of the year that a large bowl of fresh whipped cream was placed on the table in front of Bob and me and we proceeded to take take large handfuls of it and have a whipped cream fight.  And, no, we were not 10.  We were in our 30’s.  Perhaps there was some wine involved.)

Bob and I wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving.  However you are able to celebrate it, hopefully you will find something or someone to be grateful for.

Also, as a reminder, this is the last week we will be posting on Facebook so if you want to continue to read our blog please subscribe.  It’s easy, free and we don’t share your information!