Wednesday wanderings the second week of 2022

Good morning all and happy Hump Day. Let’s get out today and wander around some, weather permitting in your area. Even if it is snowing, dress warmly and listen to the crunch of the snow beneath your boots.

I have about finished cutting up a strategically located Wax Myrtle in our back yard that fell over due to all of the rain and wind about ten days ago. It provided such privacy from one backyard neighbor’s view. Now, we can see their house more clearly and vice-versa. Wax Myrtle’s smell nice, so as I took the smaller branches to the curb, I had an aromatic walk. I have cut up many a tree due to high winds from hurricane remnants or just windy storms as our backyard has a small forest which we left for privacy. But, I hate chain saws and love to exercise. So, it is a slower process that takes days.

Today, we will be shedding our house of the many versions of Christmas ornaments we have in the attic. I think we have enough ornaments for ten Christmas trees. We label them by year, but in essence we have the brown, copper and gold Christmas ornaments, we have the blue and silver ones with an artificial white tree when we put up two, we have several variations of red and green ornaments, and we have colored and white lights. Right now, we have pulled them out of the attic and have small paths to walk around upstairs. If I report a sore back tomorrow, you will know the reason why. It won’t be due to the tree cutting, it will be due to ornaments removal. My guess is other folks have this problem.

I have noticed the marketers are mailing less now that Christmas is over. I am sure they will pick up the pace, but the respite is much appreciated. I have shared this before, but my sister gets marketing mail for my mother who passed away several years ago. And, my mother never lived in the house where my sister lives now. This is the definition of eternal life – you remain on marketing lists forever. When my sister tries to remove my mother’s name, they just change it to my sister’s. I wonder how many trees are killed sending mail to dead people?

Speaking of marketing, I saw where Congress is going to address the number of calls, as they did before. Talk about a waste of time. Counting the fingers on 435 members, they do not have enough digits to plug the holes in the marketing dam. Now, many of the calls are recorded voices trolling the listener. You can tell by the delay, then spiel. Yesterday, Samantha called me, but she was not really there. We usually don’t answer, but if it is real person, I want to tell them to please take me off their list. I think I am up to 768 “final” calls to extend a car warranty, get a better interest rate, etc. “Final” must mean “eternal” as in the previous paragraph on mailers.

Those are few wandering thoughts for the day. Best wishes on all your errands and chores. May the force be with you.

Opportunity missed – a revisit

Happy New Year. This is a repeat of an old post from five years ago. Its message is still apt.

One of my favorite quotes about opportunity is “Opportunity is missed because it is often dressed up as hard work.” To me, this speaks volumes. Too many look for easy answers, when success comes from doing some heavy lifting.

Along these lines, in his book “Outliers,” two of Malcolm Gladwell’s four traits of successful people involve opportunity. I should mention the other two are being smart or talented enough and putting in 10,000 hours or more of practice. But, the two pertinent to this discussion are recognizing opportunity and seizing opportunity.

A quick example illustrates this point. By the time he was age 21, Bill Gates was one of the top programmers in the world. Why? He had the opportunity to work on the mainframe computer after 1 am at the University of Washington. As Gladwell points out, it was recognizing this opportunity and getting up or staying up to program while others slept or had fun. He was learning.

Gladwell points out that even the smartest of people sometimes overlook opportunity. In a genius grant project, money was given to watch these geniuses flourish, but many of them were not successful. The reason is they missed opportunity. The ones who were successful either saw opportunity or had someone who brokered opportunity for them.

Some very smart people fail to see that they are in competition for people’s time, interest and money. By waiting until something is perfected or their schedule frees, that opportunity may be gone.

So, what conclusions can be drawn from this brief discussion. First, don’t be frightened of hard work. A man will never be shot while washing the dishes.

Second, keep your head up, network, ask questions and just be involved in your surroundings. Connect dots by looking for or asking about things you see in someone’s office or something you saw online.

Third, be prepared for these moments. Do your research on companies and people that you are meeting with. This will help in making those connections.

Fourth, seize opportunities. If you are driving and see an interesting shop – stop the car and pull in. This is a metaphor for business, volunteer or investment opportunities. Since the average person has had eleven jobs by the time they’re forty, take a chance on something that interests you. But, honor that interest and invest your time in it. These life experiences will build your wisdom.

Opportunities abound. Look for them. Seize them. Work them.

Always tell the truth – you don’t have to remember as much

An old friend named Mark used to have a daily updated greeting on his business phone, where he would include a quote with a life lesson. My personal favorite of his is the title of this post. “Always tell the truth – you don’t have to remember as much.”

As the truth is coming out about the horrible January 6 insurrection on the US capitol, there are a lot of uneasy folks who are having to explain things. These inconvenient truths are making people from legislators to opinion hosts to a former chief of staff to a former president squirm. Watching these folks do the backstroke is comically sad and not unexpected.

The truth matters. Or, at least it should. And, as Mark noted so clearly, when you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember as much. You don’t have to remember when and what you lied about. You don’t have to be hypocritical when your pattern of lying is discovered.

Whether it is politicians, churches, businesses, universities, sports organizations, etc., the failure to fess up and come clean from the outset is by far the worst way to handle things. When you know of something, tell people what happened and what you plan to do about it.

Richard Nixon got into most of his trouble covering up for the Watergate break-in. The Catholic church hid its pedophile priest problem for many decades and maybe longer. The University of Michigan has joined other major universities such as Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State for covering up sexual misconduct by a doctor or coach.

The sad lesson is by waiting to be discovered is not only the wrong thing to do, it is the most expensive thing to do. More people get hurt. And, it costs money via settlements, lost revenue and devalued brand identity. Plus, people who care about the truth will leave. Just this week, Chris Wallace, the most respected journalist at a certain network joined three others who left or had to leave the organization as they care about the truth.

The truth matters. The truthtellers matter. When the truthtellers leave or are vilified that is a bad sign for the entity. Your name is the most important asset you have.

Saying goodbye to old friends, so to speak

Yesterday, I went through my remaining old business suits and sports coats and slacks. I had donated some of them earlier, but I don’t wear them anymore unless I am going to a wedding or funeral. Sadly, the latter gets more opportunities at my age. And, since I lost so much weight, I only altered a small few, so most of these clothes no longer fit.

So, I was going through them to organize the rest for donation and maybe pick two more for alteration. These “friends” served me well over time. I was a little melancholy to see them packed to go. I realize fully they are just clothes, but they were my uniform to do my work. I loved wearing a couple that stood out – a dark green pin stripe and a khaki color suit. Each could be paired with a blue, cream or white shirt. For some reason, they gave me more confidence.

When it is all said and done, I will be left with two suits (navy blue and gray pin stripes) and three sports coats and slacks combinations. So, I will be ready when needed for the next wedding, funeral or special occasion. I did keep an old tuxedo which is sealed up, but I would need to alter that when the next occasion arises. I needed it for fund raisers for charity and select events, so it is mostly unworn. I may have worn that thing ten times tops, but it does pay for itself after a few as you forego a rental. Plus, it makes me feel like saying “Bond, James Bond.”

The melancholy paring process sure did free up some more closet space, which my wife is relishing. So, the 67/33 split in space usage is about to become 75/25. If I pare some more, my remaining clothes might end up in the guest bedroom closet. Married men know this space allocation process all to well.

The process did result in two funny stories at the alteration shop. The two young women who measure the needed alterations are very short twins, under five feet tall and I am around 6’5″ in height. To measure some alterations in the shoulders, both had to strain on tip toes to make it work. The other story is a haberdasher was there with a customer and offered to sell me new suits. I laughed and said thanks for the offer, but they would sit on a hanger, as I don’t wear them anymore unless someone dies or gets married.

Let’s hope it is for more marriages, christenings, etc. in the future.

They’re all my chairs, but you can sit in that one (a reprise)

I wrote this post in tribute to my grandmother on her birthday seven years ago. She was Thanksgiving to me.

My grandmother, who we called Big Mama, lived life large. She was quite the character and was unlike the acquiescent namesake in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” She would tell you what she thought and was usually pretty funny in so doing. The title of this post is one of her familiar sayings. When she would get up from her chair to go in the nearby kitchen to begin cooking, we would ask if we could sit in her chair. To which she would respond, “They’re all my chairs, but you can sit in that one.”

Big Mama would have been 103 on her birthday next week, so she is in my thoughts. Although, she died fifteen years ago, her memories and funny stories echo and certain events will bring them to the forefront of my mind. In addition to being a character, she was a person of character. My grandmother had a tough time the last ten years of her life, as she worked on her feet most of her life as a clothing sales person. With osteoporosis, her body would begin falling apart and she would often fall breaking things. In fact, one doctor said he believed her hip just broke, then she fell.

She ran the Boys and Men’s Clothing sections of the stores where she worked in a large, small town. Her clients were lifelong, as men would get out of college and go see her to be fitted with a business wardrobe. My favorite story about Big Mama was when she teased her cheap boss in front of the President of the company who had come to visit. After lending the President her pen to write something down, he put it in his pocket. She said, “Sir, that is my penMy boss is too cheap to buy us pens, so I brought that one from home.”  That got a chuckle, albeit a nervous one from her boss. She made the company so much money, she would not get chastised for telling the painful truth.

Yet, when I think about Big Mama, I think of Thanksgiving. Our ritual was to pack up our family and go to her house for the holiday. The family of one of my mother’s sisters would attend as would several of Big Mama’s close by siblings and their spouses, whose kids lived far away. Even after she could not walk much, my wife and I would go and she would direct us on how to make the various dishes. With her fingers ravaged by arthritis, I would tell her as she would micromanage too much, “Big Mama, don’t point that crooked finger at me,” to which she would laugh. To do this day, I make Big Mama’s cornbread dressing, which is the name it is given. To me, it is my way of paying it forward, as our house has become the go-to house for Thanksgiving.

Big Mama was the next youngest of a family of twelve. The rhythm method was not very effective as a birth control means. She got her large personality from her mother, whom everyone in the community called Mama, even my mother and her sisters. Mama was also the local medicine woman, as the hospital was so far away. Big Mama told us the story of her younger brother who knocked his front teeth out as he attempted being a gymnast unsuccessfully. Mama sat him down and boiled some water, while she rinsed his teeth off. She placed a towel in the hot water and gave it a quick rinse and told her youngest son to shove the towel into his gums. The gums swelled up and she jammed his teeth back in and they held. Big Mama learned from the best.

I have written before about my quiet grandfather. He and Big Mama were a perfect match, a yin and yang. My grandfather that I knew was my step grandfather, as Big Mama’s first husband did not stay home very much. She divorced him at a time when few people did, so it shows that she was not going to live with her mistake any longer. Being a small community, everyone understood. But, her greatest heartbreak was when she had to bury her youngest child, my favorite aunt. No mother or father should have to bury a child. I cannot imagine a greater heartbreak. While hard, we are heartbroken, but less surprised when we have to bury a spouse as we know that is part of the pact. Yet, a child should outlive his or her parents. Even when the child is in her fifties, it is still hard, especially after the child had health issues all her life.

She mourned my aunt’s passing until she died. Like any mother and daughter, they butted heads, but loved each other greatly. We all did. Big Mama, you are the best. You are one of the biggest characters I have known. You also were a person of character. We are better for having known you and you are still missed. Happy Birthday.

I am thankful (a reprise)

The following post was written nine years ago. We are up to 36 years of marriage and are now retired, my mother has since passed due to Alzheimer’s complications, our children are now adults, my sister moved up here to be close by and the summer moments have subsided for the most part, we think.

In the quiet before we continue our preparations for the feast and family arrivals this Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a few thoughts to my blogging friends. Please feel free to respond with your own as we have a nice community that comes together on-line from around the planet. I have seen other comments and stories on their blogs, but always welcome the company here. I am thankful for….

– my bride of 27 years. We ying and yang pretty well together on our journey. We are both dealing with her extended “summer moments” as she calls this phase of her life. I end up wearing more sweaters as she freezes us all to stay cool, but she in turn deals with my many issues and imperfections and has for years.

– my healthy family of five; we are far from perfect, but we do the best we can. And, when we fail, we help each other up and encourage us to do better. I tell people who are expecting their first child, you never know how much your parents truly love you until you have a child of your own. My cup runneth over with three.

– my mom. My dad has been gone for six years and is remembered well. She is teacher for life, both to her former students, bible study class and her children. Mom, you are the best.

– my sister who moved back to live with my mom. For adult daughters who can envision living with a parent as an adult, you can appreciate my thanks to my sister and wish for her the patience of Job, wisdom of Solomon and the space for her time.

– my new teammates at work. I left a bigger company with many bureaucracies and listmakers who wanted to tell people who knew what they were doing, how to do their job. I am now with a small company who has people who know what they are doing and we try to do something unique – provide the opportunity to do their job.

– my former colleagues at my old job in my office and around the world. You are the company, not that bureaucratic mess. Good people over come bad structure, but it should not be so hard. I miss the ones who gave a damn about serving our clients and each other.

– my friends and relatives. It will be great to see many of them today. And, although I am not in touch with friends like I should, I remember them well. Plus, my new job allows me to see more work related friends and colleagues. That is very nice.

– and, finally, my new blog friends. I enjoy reading what you think, how you think, what you believe and your life based context for these perspectives. I very much enjoy your reflections on your history and current joys and challenges. Keep on writing and I will keep on reading and offering a comment or two.

Happy Thanksgiving. This holiday is truly what is best about America. The others pale in comparison. I hope people around the world have something similar they can call home.  Best regards to all.

The Yogi of malapropisms (or Yogi-isms)

A malaprop is defined as “the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect, as in, for example, ‘dance a flamingo’ (instead of flamenco).” A malaprop or malapropism is the closest word(s) to describe what a rather famous baseball player would articulate to reporters on a recurring basis. The player had the iconic name of Yogi Berra.

Yogi was actually a very good and well-liked ballplayer on a very good team, the New York Yankees. As the Yankees were in the World Series with regularity, reporters had a lot of access to Yogi and what would become known as “Yogi-isms.” The funny thing about Yogi-isms is while they may sound unusual, they actually had a basis of simple truth holding them up. In other words, when you studied what he was trying to say, it actually made sense.

Here are a few Yogisms

It gets dark early out there – Yogi started as a catcher, but as he aged, he was moved to left field because he was such a good hitter and needed to be in the line-up. Late in the afternoon, the sun would cause shadows in the outfield which made it hard to see the baseball coming your way.

The future ain’t what it used to be -This may be my favorite Yogi-ism. In essence, things are happening so fast in the world, predictions of the future need updating. This is even more true today with technology advances.


It ain’t over ’til its over – This may be truest of all Yogi-isms as he has witnessed many a come from behind victory as a winner and loser. The game is not over until it is over. There is always a chance to win or lose, so finish the game.


When you come to a fork in the road, take it – This one needs to be read with a smile. You think you know what he means, but it is funny to play it against Robert Frost’s road not taken. Which way should you go? In Yogi’s mind, make a change. Or, is he saying stay the course? Or, maybe he is just saying don’t stand still, make a choice.

You can observe a lot by watching – this is one of the obvious truths. Shut up and watch what is happening. I have often felt reporters just loved to hear Yogi talk, so they would make big deals out of anything he said. Since we still have too many folks that are not present in the moment, this Yogi-ism is good advice. Pay attention, you might learn something.


Baseball is 90% mental; the over half is physical – this is one of his more famous lines. Math must have not been his strong suit. Or, more than likely, he forgot the first percentage when he closed out his point. Any endeavor has a mental aspect to it, even one where there is a ball, bat and glove involved.

Yogi-isms are priceless. They are funny, yet profound on occasion as the examples above portray. When I said he was well-liked, that is not an overstatement. He was charming and self-effacinig. He did not look like a star player, like his teammate Mickey Mantle, but he was a very good one. Kids, especially, just flocked to Yogi.

Please let me know your reactions and any other favorites.

Just a few truisms (and a word about Joe)

As my wife and I traveled to a funeral for an extended family member, I had time to reflect. on a recent post about the “Second time you die,” meaning when the last person who remembers you passes away, you die for a second time. The point of the post is how do you wish to be remembered?

My cousin Joe passed away after a life well lived. He was a devout man who loved his wife and family. He also gave back to his community, his church and his profession. One of three wonderful eulogies noted he was a “servant leader” meaning a leader is measured by how many people he helps, not vice versa. That is a wonderful way to be remembered.

Remembering Joe reminded me of some truisms we should not forget. Here are a few to digest and offer feedback on:

If you get up with an attitude of let’s make it a great day, you have a better chance of fulfilling that prognostication. The opposite attitude is also true.

If you have the impression kindness is a weakness, then you could not be more wrong. Reread the comment above about servant leadership. A great leader deflects credit to others and asks how can I help?

If you go looking for trouble, don’t be surprised if you find it or it finds you. Some people place themselves in harm’s way and are surprised when harm befalls someone, even them.

If you surround yourself with people who care less you about you and more what they can use you for, get new friends or acquaintances.

If you feel you are the odd person out, then you often are. There is an old saying that when three adolescents find themselves alone, one often becomes the foil. Don’t be anyone’s fool.

If you treat people the way you want to be treated, do not be surprised if you are treated well in return. A very old book called this rule “golden.” You can actually disarm people or lessen tension with kindness.

If you remember this saying, people will pay more attention to what you have to say. You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion.

If you give to others, it usually pays you a psychic income in return. Feeling better about yourself, especially when you give anonymously is an amazing gift to you and the recipient..

If you put someone down to elevate yourself, it will usually come back to haunt you. One thing is for certain, the person who is being put down will always remember it. Some may be slow to act, but they won’t forget.

If you work for an employer who treats people poorly when they exit, get your resume together and look for another job, as that could be you someday. Treating people with dignity matters.

If you take away only two things – remember that golden thing and the two ears and one mouth proportion and you will do fine. These are just a few thoughts to contemplate. Let me know what you think. Tell; me a few others that spring to mind.

Joe, you are remembered well by many. If there was any doubt, I have rarely if ever witnessed a minister choking back the tears during a eulogy.

Forgetting a name is a humbling experience

Yesterday, I was thanking a blogging friend, Polly, for her re-blogging a post I wrote. All was good until I called her Barbara on her own blog and mine. I can offer up excuses, but this is attributable to operator error. We had a good laugh after several mea culpas, I realized after I had done it that something was amiss, so while I was confirming my faux pas, Polly noted in reply that her name was Polly not Barbara. Big oops.

I would like to say this was the only time I have done this. But, two name calling errors come to my mind. First, I was with my wife and daughter on a Saturday at a restaurant awaiting an order. As I went to get the order when our name was called, I bumped into someone and his family who I knew I had met at one of my clients, yet I could not call up his name.

I said hello and then went back to our table. Then, the nightmare started. He came by to meet my wife and daughter and still nada in my memory banks on the name. So, I introduced my side of the conversation, but simply had to pass on his side, embarrassingly so. What I recalled later is I have been in a number of big meetings with this client, so I had met him with many people. At least that is plausible, but still embarrassing.

Second, this one is more embarrassing.as I know the person pretty well from some charity work. After a concert at a small venue we attended with another couple, I bumped into my friend and her friend as we were leaving. Introductions ensued, but I failed miserably on my end. I drew a deer-in-the-head-light blank. We laughed about it as we parted ways with our friends and then it hit me who that was on the way home. So, I called her to leave a message with more mea culpas. As my wife pointed out, you knew her enough to hug he, but not introduce her.

These are just two that come to mind from a longer list. My favorite name omission came from a good friend, who forgot his own wife’s name. He introduced her at a big reunion as “Jenny,” so she corrected him and said, “It’s Jeannie.”

Unfortunately, this problem will likely get worse as I age. Hopefully, I will always remember my wife’s name, but with two mothers in our family who died of complications due to Alzheimer’s, I hope that won’t be the reason. If I don’t remember a name, I may have to borrow my charming wife’s skill at calling people “Sweetie” or “Chickie” or something else when she draws a blank.

What are some of your stories on drawing a blank?

The second time you die

There is a Jewish saying that goes something like you die twice – the second time you die is when your name isn’t spoken anymore. In other words, when the last person who knew who you were passes on, your name will die with them.

This saying shows how short a time we are on this earth. So, we better make the best of it. I have long told my children what I learned. Your name is the most important asset you have. When people hear your name, what do you want them to think?

Would it be she was a real a person? He would give the shirt off his back. Or, would it be, I never trusted him. She was selfish and mean-spirited. Knowing we cannot please everyone, we can strive to be the best version of ourselves. We can endeavor to be kind, fair, honest, hardworking, etc. and when we fall short, we can acknowledge that we have and make amends.

Even if we are not effusive or outgoing, we can still represent ourselves well. More often, it is the folks who do not draw attention to themselves that do the heavy lifting and show up everyday on time. As I have been around the block a few times, I have observed that a person’s true value is often uncorrelated with how much they beat on their chests. The louder the false bravado, the more dubious I become about the boasting.

My step-grandfather was the only grandfather I really knew. My mother’s mother divorced her first husband as he was a “rolling stone” as The Temptations used to sing about. Ironically, my blood line grandfather’s brother, was one of the finest of men and he and my step-grandfather would fish together. Neither of these fishermen were boastful. They were hard working men, who spoke little, but when they spoke, you listened.*

I remember my step-grandfather as he was a very generous and genteel man. He was a builder, a master bricklayer which left his hands quite rough. Fishermen and women know that you need to be careful handling catfish, as their fins can slice your hands. My grandfather’s hands were so rough, he could simply grab a catfish, unhook it and throw it into the bin. I also recall a day when five us caught about one hundred fifty fish. My grandfather caught over half of them but he never said a word as he would reel them in.

False bravado is not a term one would use to define my step-grandfather. But, he is remembered well. And, he is remembered in the manner in which I would like to be.

*Note: My bloodline grandfather’s brother married one of my grandmother’s older sisters. So, two brothers married two sisters. Yet, the irony of my grandmother’s second husband being a fishing buddy of the brother of her first husband is interesting. The other less ironic note, is both sisters were gregarious characters, who married and settled down with quiet men.