100.

Betty White would have turned 100 today. We won this book in a hospital charity auction back in 1999. I read it back then and it just occurred to me that I need to read it again. We also made a donation to Pima Animal Care Center here in Tucson in Betty’s memory.

We need more people like Betty White in the world.

Privacy.

There were certain taboo subjects around the family dinner table when I was a kid. The news would be on the television in the other room; Dad was most likely keeping an ear on that. We didn’t talk about religion and we didn’t talk about politics. Ever. Once in a while politics would come up at Gram and Gramps’ across the street, when that whole side of the family was together, but they would end up in heated discussions and Dad would retire to the living room to read a magazine. It was usually an aviation magazine.

I was always taught that one’s religious beliefs were private. It was considered rude to be loud about your religion. Different kinds of religion were fine, just be quiet about it. So that’s what we did. My religious beliefs, which grew into more of a spiritual belief, were between me and what I believed in. The only thing we did that was outwardly religious on a daily basis was say prayer before supper and I don’t really know why we did that. Habit, I guess. Readers may be surprised to find out that I still say grace before dinner. It’s one of two rhyming numbers I’ve said all my life and the rest of my family here in Tucson goes along. Sometimes they slap their hands and yell “break!” when I’m done and then we start eating. I’m happy and fortunate that my chosen family goes along with this tradition from my biological family.

Because we were always taught that religion is private, I still find it surprising when someone starts spouting hallelujahs or “Praise Jesus!” all over Facebook, like God needs an affirmation via Mark Zuckerberg. I have a few friends from high school and quite a few relatives that will post vague social media updates, “I really need prayers today. I can’t say, but pray for me”. I always picture myself dropping an American quarter down a well and hope for the best, because in my mind they’re basically using their power of prayer like a wishing well. My spirituality doesn’t work that way but I don’t mind throwing a coin in the wishing well if it makes others happy. It’s when people use their religion to beat you over the head with a Bible; that’s when I get cranky. Speak softly. Listen. Keep your beliefs close to your heart. No need for a billboard.

Having traveled in all 50 states I can safely ascertain that many Americans feel God needs a bumper sticker, he needs guns, and he hates a lot of stuff. This is the all loving God they talk about, of course.

Too many religions are just nuts.

Words.

I strive to choose my words carefully. I occasionally choose the wrong words when conveying thoughts; usually for emotional impact or as a result of personal heightened emotion. When using words with a sting, my voice is louder and higher in pitch, even when I’m sharing them via keyboard online.

I’m focused on using better words to help bring down the temperature of dialog. Everywhere. Online, in conversation, it doesn’t matter.

One of the things I most admired about my father was his capacity to keep calm and his discipline around language. I heard my Dad swear. Once. Maybe he just minded his language better around his children. I rarely heard him say something negative about someone. If he did, it was out of frustration.

Dr. Maya Angelou is on absolutely on target; words are “things”. Once we realize this, we understand what we’re putting out into the Universe through communication and language.

RIP Mary Ann.

Dawn Wells, Mary Ann from “Gilligan’s Island” has passed at age 82. She died of complications from COVID-19.

Erma and Irma.

During my lifetime I’ve known two women named Erma. Actually, one was named Erma and one was named Irma. The latter I knew in person; the former I knew by way of newspapers and books.

Now, I’m going to clue you in on something. I’m not a housewife and I have never been a housewife. But even as a youngish lad I enjoyed reading my grandmother’s books by Erma Bombeck. I knew nothing about puberty and sexually reproductive practices, so I had no idea what Erma Bombeck was writing about when she lost everything in The Post Natal Depression, but her style was humorous and friendly, and after seeing her segments on “Good Morning, America” (usually when I was home from school with the flu or something), it was easy to read her passages in her midwestern accented voice. Erma Bombeck wrote in a “wry” way but she always made me laugh, even if I didn’t know what I was laughing about. I had no relationship with cottage cheese, I knew very little about cleaning alabasters (I think it had something to do with a bird cage), but I did dream about travel and I could identify with the idea of Mom and Dad arguing in the front seat of the 1978 Chevy Impala.

Now the other Irma I knew in person. She lived on a farm that wasn’t too far from us. My dad’s cousin’s divorced wife and kids would hang out with my mom and their kids (prior to the divorce) were aged right around my sister and me, and we’d spend plenty of summer days together. Irma and her husband Sam owned a dairy farm and we’d go over there to visit. The drive was fun in that it was across hay and cornfields on a backroad called the Sheepskin Road. Irma drove a Chevy Malibu with bucket seats (I considered this quite fancy) and the downstairs bathroom had an early 1970s era front loading Westinghouse Washing Machine. Irma was always very nice, very grandmotherly, and like Erma Bombeck, Irma was always positive and would go out of her way to take care of the people around her. Once in a great while I’ll dream about Irma and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s just a friendly way of waking up with a smile on my face.

I spent some downtime reading old columns by Erma Bombeck today. I still don’t know how to clean an alabaster (who knew a bird would get dirty?) and I don’t know anything about having a kid standing stark naked on top of the television set while I’m writing my latest blog entry, but like Irma, Erma makes me smile.

I hope the two of them have had the opportunity to share pleasantries on the other side.

Stargazing.

Clear Night on Smith Lake by Nathaniel Polta on 500px

I spent some time daydreaming about what we are going to do when we’re able to travel about this country again. I told my husband I want to drive far away from any city lights on a moonless, clear summer night and just gaze at the stars. I want my vision to be filled with the beauty of space. There’s a whole huge universe out there and I want to see its awesomeness, unimpeded by city lights. I want to watch comets dance and see satellites streak by. I want to lose myself in thoughts of who is sitting on another planet, many light years away, wondering what’s going on near that pale, little yellow dot in their night sky. I want to feel hope.

I want to lose myself in the stars.

Idling.

In these unprecedented times my head is going in many directions at once. When the world gets noisy, I have a couple of ways to get things back in order: I fly an airplane, I go for a long drive, I lose myself in technological endeavors.

I can’t fly an airplane right now, we’re not suppose to be going for long drives, and I’m probably spending too much time losing myself in technological endeavors.

What to do?

Truman has the right idea: throw yourself down on the floor and look out the window to watch the clouds go by. I’m going to try doing that a bit more today. I tried a couple of days ago for a few moments and I immediately noticed the lack of city sounds and the lack of air traffic in and out of O’Hare and Midway. The trick to watching the clouds go by is to quiet the mind. I’ve never been one to really meditate because when everyone else in the room is concentrating on their breath all I hear is my tinnitus.

But watching clouds go by? That might work.

Attempt.

I’m sitting on our balcony enjoying a glass of wine and recovering from watching much of the latest Democratic debate. This time it was hosted by ABC and then packed 3500 people into an arena to cheer and yell and get that whole “make it a sport” vibe going. If you liked candidate one the best, call 1-866-HELPUS1 from your Cingular Wireless phone. Winners to be announced next week after a concert by Dave Matthews with Hootie and the Blowfish.

I’m typing a blog entry using the virtual keyboard on my iPad Pro. Apple was quick to show off a miniature keyboard on the iPad Pro during their event on Monday, but even with iPadOS on this device I can’t figure out what gesture shrinks the keyboard. I’m still mixing up undo and redo as well and I haven’t mastered “cut and paste” with the grab and drop gesture. Perhaps I need to be facing east or something.

There are thunderstorms moving into area and even though it’s mid September it feels as stifling hot as a hot summer night in July. This weekends suppose to calm down a little bit unless someone grabs a Sharpie and changes the weather.

I’ve been pondering spirituality a little bit over past couple of days, and how spiritual beliefs can enhance one’s life instead of dictating it. I haven’t quite figured this out in my head, but I’m being a geek about it and trying to marry my love of science and reason with a spirituality around energy and love. I do not think these concepts run in opposition of one another and I do believe certain spiritual beliefs can be intertwined into one’s life intelligently. Perhaps I was moved by last night’s viewing of the fan film from the Star Trek Universe called “The Holy Core’. I also had an amazing conversation with a monk a couple weeks ago, perhaps the effects from that are still weighing on my mind.

Perspective.

Please watch this video in full screen with the audio turned on. Best enjoyed on something bigger than a smartphone screen.

H/T to Lew on my Twitter feed for bringing my attention to this.