Dec 08 2017

Fast away the old year..

On this day in 1660, a woman (either Margaret Hughes, or Anne Marshall) appeared in the role of Desdemona from Shakespeare’s Othello, marking the first time a woman had appeared on an English public stage. [Photo: The Globe Theatre]


I pulled my head in out of the window and listened. I heard the reindeer on the roof. I could hear their hoofs pawing and prancing on the roof. “Shut the window,” said mamma. I stood still and listened.

From A Visit from Saint Nicholas (In the Ernest Hemingway Manner) by James Thurber. Read the entire version from the December 24, 1927 issue of The NewYorker.

It’s Friday and, as you’re reading this, I have exactly 76 hours of work left at the day job for the remainder of 2017. I ain’t gonna get everything done. I’m not worried. It will be waiting for me when I get back.

I’m not going to stress over it.

I’m also trying not to stress over all that “has” to be done between now and Christmas Day.

Trust me, not all of that is getting done either.

I’m endeavoring not to stress about the news, which generally involves not listening to it.

They say that “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts.”

I don’t know who “they” are but that’s not very helpful to someone who is trying to eliminate sugar from his diet.

Truth is, and I may have already written about this but it’s Friday and I’m too lazy to go back and look, since the fall and the hospitalization, I’ve been off track on the eating plan. Not to mention the fact that I don’t dare go back to the gym locker room until this infection is completely gone. Although the plan is Monday to go work out and come home to shower. That’s the plan anyway.

I’ll spare you graphics but let’s just say that the antibiotics are at war with the probiotics in my system and I really want to stop taking them. All that to say that it hasn’t helped the eating plan.

And now it’s the Christmas season and I forgot to turn my clock back ten pounds.

I’m not trying to rush us through Christmas, I love this season. But there’s something to be said about looking forward to the clean slate of a new year. Hopefully with a clean bill of health.

I love to sit in front of The Tournament of Roses Parade with a cup of coffee, or twelve, and my calendar/journal for the year. It’s on those mornings that I plan the things I hope to accomplish in the coming year.

Sometimes I’ll even make it to Valentine’s Day before reality sets in and I have to revise the plan.

This is not the post I intended for today. I’m still working on that one. But I’m not going to get stressed about that either.

And, in spite of the title, I am also not fasting for the remainder of the year.

Finally, Irish flute player, James Galway, was born on this day in 1939. I saw Galway perform at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia in the summer of 1988.


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Dec 07 2017

Hark how the bells

On this day in 1941, the Japanese Navy Air Services launched an attack on the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, in what was then the Hawaii Territory. This drew the United States into the World War II conflict.


Folks, I’ve just received a special news bulletin: “You have something on your front tooth.”

As spoken by the character Tex Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

American actor and comedian, Ted Knight, was born on this day in 1923 (died 1986).

Around the country on this day there are events and articles commemorating the events of that horrible Sunday morning in 1941 some seventy-six years ago.

Today, I’m not looking back quite as far. But a couple of things happened this week to take my focus back to forty years ago. December 1977.

One early morning this week, I think it was Tuesday, I got the news that a college friend, and fellow actor, had passed away. He was living and working in DC where he was also very active in theater. We talked on several occasions about seeing each other’s shows. We never did. There’s more of a post brewing there, but I’m not quite ready to write it.

Then Tuesday evening I was in Virginia Beach for work. No, seriously. I had a meeting in the Hampton Roads area so I went and spent the night at First Landing State Park. It’s a perk of the job and I take advantage of it when I can.

But I needed to pick up coffee for the morning in the cabin. So, on my way elsewhere I found and stopped at a local Harris Teeter.

Not that we need any more new grocery stores in Richmond, but I like Harris Teeter.

Anyway, out front I heard the familiar ding-ding-ding of the Salvation Army bell. I knew I had to stop and make a contribution.

See, forty years ago this month, I was standing on the street corner in the Bronx ringing one of those Salvation Army bells. Several of us from Asbury College had taken a bus to New York to do just that. Our quarter system was set up to give us an extended Christmas break and each November and December a couple of hundred of us would sign up to work with the Salvation Army for our Christmas job. Just before Thanksgiving, we’d scatter all around the country.

I chose New York, and thought I’d be with other friends. Instead, one guy whom I’d met but didn’t know, and I were sent to the Bronx.

On the ride from the Salvation Army headquarters to our home for the next five weeks, the Captain said “You’ve gotten the worst assignment you could have.”

That being my only experience like that, I’m not sure that I can really agree. Only because I don’t know better.

But I do know that we padlocked our kettles to the light posts so that they wouldn’t be stolen.

I also know that the kind manager of the shoe store would allow us to come inside on our breaks to sit and get warm.

And I know that, three days before Christmas, the manager turned around and said “That guy just held me up.” A customer had come in and pretended to buy shoes. At the cash register he showed the manager a gun under his coat. With twenty or thirty people in the store, the manager had no choice but to give him the money.

All in all the Bronx was quite an eye-opening experience for a 19-year-old from Southwest Virginia.

It wasn’t all work. And it wasn’t all scary.

I also got to see three Broadway shows. The last of which was Yul Brynner in The King and I. I bought my ticket for $7.00. (that’s right, seven dollars).

Things happened and I never went back to ringing bells on another Christmas break.

I remember that time. I remember the good work that the Salvation Army does. A couple of times here in Richmond my family and I have volunteered to ring. We probably need to think about doing that again next year.

What I know is that, forty years later, it’s still nearly impossible to pass by one of those red kettles.

At least not without feeling guilty.

We’ve just come off of Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, both swiftly followed up by Giving Tuesday.

Everybody wanted my money.

Every. Body.

I get it. There’s not enough to go around.

And still if you’re reading this, and if we’re all honest, we have more than we need.

I’m not telling you that you have to put money in the red kettles. I think it would be great if you do.

But it’s not going to hurt any of us to be a little more generous. A little more giving.

It won’t be a perfect gift. There was only one of those.

And we’re remembering that as the journey to Bethlehem continues.



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