Archive for July, 2018


It’s still July, so I still have my red, white, and blue “things” around the house. That’s my also my excuse for repurposing a Fourth of July blog, which is also a voting blog.

Here it is.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived down the street from us in Revere, Massachusetts. He was the best friend our family had. Or so I thought growing up in the early 1940s.

“Roosevelt gave me this job,” my father would say, tapping a small brown envelope of cash, his week’s wages.

“If it weren’t for Roosevelt and the WPA, you wouldn’t be getting new shoes for school,” my mother would remind me.

I pictured a benevolent Mr. Roosevelt driving the old truck that picked up my father and his cronies, day laborers, from the corner of our street, taking them to the construction site of the day. I imagined the WPA, whoever they were, helping my mother shop for my school clothes.

My parents, as well as our neighbors and friends, were acutely aware of House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s All politics is local. My father’s (metal) social security card (below) was a prized possession.

It seemed to me that every year was an election year, every election important to us. My mother especially was always campaigning, urging people to sign this or that petition, to vote, vote, vote. Our front window was never without a sign, RUSSO FOR MAYOR, AVALLONE FOR COUNCIL, SIEGEL FOR SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT.

And it all came together on the Fourth of July. Independence Day and Voting Day were the biggest holidays in our lives, competing with Thanksgiving and Christmas, but better because there was no back-breaking food prep or lugging a tree up the stairs. My father died on July 4, 1981—I’ve always felt that he timed it that way, going up with the glorious fireworks on Revere Beach.

Following politics, debating issues, voting, are still a priority for me. Being invited to contribute a story to LOW DOWN DIRTY VOTE has been a highlight of my year. Thanks to Mysti Berry and the grand array of colleagues in this anthology!

I’m thinking of making a poster of the LOW DOWN DIRTY VOTE cover, and propping it on my lawn.

Good Job, and other annoying phrases

. . . where my dark side is revealed.

“Good Job” is my current least favorite phrase. Take a walk through a suburban mall and count the number of times you hear it—from a mother while she helps with personal care in a restroom; or from a father to a child who allows himself to be buckled into a stroller. One time I was stuck in elevator while a toddler insisted on pushing the button, though he was too short to reach it. Finally the mother lifted the child, he pushed the button, and—yes—”Good job!” the mother said.

In my day (this is a historical blog) “Good job,” if it was heard at all, referred to handing over babysitting money, and the tone was more like “there better be a bigger wad next time.”

An unsurprising corollary to “Good job” is preschool graduation, complete with tiny caps and gowns. What? All that fuss when all the kid did was allow himself to be driven to school?

While I’m on this tack, I might as well get off my chest some other phrases that, for whatever reason, drive me crazy.

No worries. This can mean anything from “I’ll take care of it” to “It’s okay that you ran into me.” It can also mean “You’re welcome,” which is the same number of syllables, so where’s the advantage?

Going forward. Admittedly, the person who uses this the most is a current (7/22/18) spokesperson on TV. She uses it instead of “in the future” (too vague for someone purportedly giving us specifics?) or “I have no idea when”.

The last time I accepted a "young lady" comment.

Young lady. When spoken to me (old, gray, sporting a cane) exclusively by men, young and old. No woman of any age has ever called me “young lady” – we know better. I wish I could think of a good comeback. “May you die young” is probably too harsh. What if I add “so you won’t have to hear this” — still too harsh?

Happy Mother’s Day. Another phrase that seems directed only to women. Personally, I have no reason to celebrate this “holiday” – I didn’t have a mother in the traditional sense of someone who loved me unconditionally, nor have I ever been a mother. I noticed no one wished my husband a Happy Father’s Day, even though he actually is one. Next year, I might respond, “Thanks. All my children are in jail.”

It is what it is. Just say “I heard, you but I have no advice whatsoever, and really don’t feel like hammering this out with you.” Just sayin’.

Where have all the flowers gone?

I’m tired of seeing this “poll question:”

If you could visit the past, whom would you have lunch with?

So I thought I’d answer it, once and for all.

If I could time travel, I wouldn’t waste it on the past. I’d go forward.

I’ve lived through a few decades of the past—I know what it’s like to get by without running hot water and electric knives and cellphones. And I’ve read enough about the days before plumbing and the zipper.

I’d like to know what becomes of women’s marches and noise-cancelling headphones.

I’d love to go away for a while and rest, and then come back and talk to the grandchildren of the Millennials. That would put us at around 2060.

PAPER, in widespread use in 2018 a.d.

Some questions:

1. What’s the official language of the United States?

2. Does Safeway still have two aisles of pet food and only half an aisle of cheese?

3. Did Jennifer Lawrence’s face ever wrinkle?

4. Does anyone use paper anymore? For what?

5. Did anyone stop the rain?

6. Did we ever give peace a chance?

What would you want to know?

All Hat

Note: this blog appeared earlier on Ann Parker’s website. Now there’s someone who has resurrected the Old West with her engaging Silver Rush series.


I’m not the first person who comes to mind when delving into conversation about the Old West. Or even the New West, for that matter.
But I do have a stepdaughter who is a prize-winning horsewoman and here’s what she said about a newcomer to the ranch.
CC: He’s all hat and no cattle.
Me: Huh?
CC: You know, he talks big, but no action.

Camille, hat, and photobombed horses (courtesy CC and the Cable Guy)

So there it is. The West creeping into my personal lexicon. Here’s a bit (so to speak) of its history:
Originally used in reference to people imitating the fashion or style of cowboys. These people wore the hats, but had no experience on the ranch — thus, all hat, no cattle. Similar to talking the talk without walking the walk, also used in reference to wannabe gunslingers.

It’s going to be hard not to overuse this newly learned phrase.