Monday, October 19, 2020

It's time for a break

Election Day is drawing near and things are getting really crazy. It seems like every commercial break, on every channel, has some tired incumbent or hopeful newcomer spewing the same worn claims and tawdry half-truths. I don’t know about you, but that’s when I reach for the mute button. Besides, I made up my mind weeks ago. We dropped off our ballots the morning after we received them.

Truth is, after months of mind-numbing campaign videos I was ready for a change……something more sane, lighter, even heartwarming. If you are in that same boat I may have something special for you. 

No matter what your political taste……Republican or Democrat……Conservative or Liberal……and especially if your are a member of our October/November generation……I invite to join me for a well-deserved break from the tedious trials of election season silliness.

Disclaimer…..Odds are some of you are already acquainted with today’s good news. If so, feel free to return again to those fun-filled times. You already know you will enjoy your visit as much as you did the first time.

What is the “good news” that could possibly brighten the dreary prospect of pandemic politics? First of all, what I recommend is humorous……clean, age-appropriate humor. Though our younger, middle-age readers will find hints of familiarity in the offerings suggested here, I know for sure our October and November visitors will appreciate the undeniable reality of late-life situations they have probably faced themselves.

So where will we turn for this taste of late-life reality, served up with a dose of humor? Let me first introduce you to Jeanne Robertson. As I mentioned earlier you may be familiar with Jeanne and her take of late-life. She has been around for a while, entertaining mature audiences for decades. How many years? I read that she was Miss North Carolina in 1963……that was a while ago.

Ms. Robertson seems to be a busy lady, scheduled for speaking engagements  all over the country. She has even appeared on Grand Ole Oprey, which I consider an important endorsement.

Best of all, you don’t need a lengthy introduction from me. Simply call up YouTube,com on your phone or computer, enter “Jeanne Roberson” in the 

search box at the top of the page, and choose from the dozens of intriguing videos that appear.

What sort of videos, you ask? How about these examples……every one of them served up with a generous helping of laughs.

*** Don’t bungee jump naked.

*** Don’t get Frisky in a tent.

*** Don’t ask the plastic surgeon.

*** Be careful here you sit.

*** The internment of Cousin Rudolph.

*** Don’t send a man to the grocery store.

*** Don’t ask a man to clean the carpet.

*** Don’t flash the bellman.

*** Don’t go rafting without a Baptist in the boat.

*** Don’t mess with Broom People.

*** Don’t underestimate a five-year old.

*** And many more.

Or perhaps you are dealing with October/November questions that have you stumped. Where might you turn for helpful advice and answers? How about an aging Ann Landers or Dear Abby, a warm-hearted soul who dispenses late-life advice……sprinkled with hard-learned knowing and unfailing humor?

That description certainly fits Mary Maxwell. Her compact Laughing With Mary videos have attracted tens of millions of YouTube viewers, addressing the challenges we face at this stage of life, answering submitted “senior” questions you may recognize with common-sense replies, laced with unfailing and insightful humor.

What sort of questions? How about……….

*** The kids think I’m crazy for wanting a facelift.

*** Is Dad having a mid-life crisis?

*** Secrets to a happy marriage.

*** Attending a past love’s funeral.

*** How to tell the kids I’ve fallen in love again?

*** We’re in our 70’s and need jobs again.

*** My sister won’t help take care of Mom.

*** A pray about getting old.

*** Seniors at the gym.

*** And dozens more.

I am guessing that for most of us a good laugh, a touch of reality-based humor will take some of the sting out of today’s chaos…..especially when the bearer of that good humor is someone who deals with the same late-life situations you and I experience.

If you are in need of a well-deserved laugh break here’s hoping I have tempted you to make your own YouTube excursion into the wholesome and oh-so-funny offerings of Jeanne Robertson and Mary Maxwell. 

Until next time…..take care.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Framing The Future


Where did we go wrong……this October/November generation of ours……we children of the 30’ and 40’s? As I look back on the times when we were one of the “generations in charge” it seems like I must have missed a few things along the way. Some of what was happening must have gone right over my head. Either that or I simply wasn’t paying attention.

In my more lucid moments I remember our generation as the product of post-WWII unity. And why not? In those trying war years our nation had come together, if only superficially, to fight a common enemy and defeat that era’s Anti-Christ.

This generation of ours was shaped and tempered by that wartime experience, when everyone, at every age, was expected to do their part in the “war effort.” Grade schoolers, such as we were at the time, were expected to save tin foil and metal cans, add our few coins to War Bond collections, and willingly forgo bubble gum and candy for “the duration.” Without knowing exactly what it meant we were being groomed to accept and support a “united” national effort.

At the same time, in our youthful and naive eyes, that unity was producing a powerful affirmation……a sense that “We can do anything.”

But now……seventy years later……it feels like that affirmation has faded for too many of our people. Something as simple as civil discourse is too often out of reach. At times it seems that we are inhabiting an altogether different world … that I scarcely recognize. 

In many ways that new reality is fueled by the internet, with its often unsocial social media, and twenty-four hour cable news, always hungry for eye-catching content. Those technological “improvements” have changed the way we gather the information we use to make decisions.

Perhaps you have noticed that in the process we have become a drastically divided country. I realize that to some degree it has always been that way. But when was it ever this bad……when even our divisions are divided? Right and Left we are divided. Conservation and Liberal we are divided. White and Black we are divided. ’Haves’ and ‘Have-nots’ we are divided. 

How could a nation as united as I once believed we were become so disjointed? Was the perceived unity I remember a mirage? More to the point, is there any way out of the quicksand quagmire we find ourselves in today? 

Fact is, we can offer a serious problem for most any taste. Just take a moment to consider the signs of the time……the more obvious ways our nation’s dysfunction has made itself known. 

One of the most intractable of those divisions is the widening gulf between our country’s ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-nots.’ Is there anything in sight that might reverse that trend? I am one of those who believe that until the ‘Have-nots,’ who make up the vast majority of our nation’s population, are provided a more meaningful place at the table their increasingly vocal complaints will stand in the way of a lasting reconciliation.

On the other hand, if a ‘Have vs Have-not’ debate fails to gain your attention you might consider Climate Change as major-league point of social division. 

I have never put much faith in prophecies, the ones claiming to foretell the future. But it seems that any seer worth his or her salt could have predicted that 2020 would be an apocalyptic disaster for mankind………at least the American branch of the species. Given that magic gift of foresight why couldn’t an adept fortune teller have gazed into his or her crystal ball to warn us of a Tropical Storm season on steroids, or how the dry and windy western half of our country was about to spawn such disastrous fires and destruction.

For those of us who cannot foretell the future the question is……how did we get to this distressing place? Have we failed to appreciate the fragile balance that allows our world’s eco-system to operate in a “human friendly” manner ………or have we consciously allowed the ‘gods of profit’ to drive their destructive, “unfriendly” agenda? In either case, why have we allowed this global destruction to happen?

In our little corner of the world 2020 will be remembered as the year the Oregon Cascades, and especially the Santiam River Canyon, turned to fire. Roma and I are rightfully thankful that our discomfort was limited to a darkened, orange-tinted mid-day overcast and days of low-hanging, ash-laden smoke. 

Still, it is hard to find comfort in that when a mere twenty minutes from our front door dozens of unfortunate folks, including a few we know personally, have lost literally everything except the clothes on their back and the vehicle they used to escape the approaching inferno. It is hard not to feel a tinge of guilt about our unmerited good fortune.

Or perhaps your complaint de jour is the plague of ‘social, racially-fueled unrest’ that has gripped our nation. Without pointing fingers or placing blame I fear that sad reality is destined to impact American society in ways we may scarcely comprehend. No matter how I approach our sad dilemma I keep returning to one unrelenting question. What about the world our grandchildren will inherit?

More to the point, how will the gradual demise of the country’s white majority……the demographic condition that some assume was God’s intended plan……impact that future?  It seems that trend, so threatening to so many, is unlikely to be reversed. And if it is not, will ‘social unrest’ remain a permanent feature of American life?

Yet, be it economic disparity, mankind’s impact on global climate, or social and racial unrest the epic problems we face have at least a couple elements in common. Each of them is deeply ingrained in American culture. There will be no "On/Off" switches, no quick fixes. Beyond that, at least for the immediate future, each of those obstacles will be impacted in its own way by the weighty presence of Covid-19.

With that in mind it seems to me that until our nation…..its leaders, its politicians, and its people…….is able to come together, and more importantly “work together,” the answers we seek will remain out of reach. Truth to tell, that “coming together,” which we have managed to accomplish in times past, will not happen all by itself. It will require a special sort of leadership. 

The status quo, circa 2020, cries out for that leadership……the sort that can help stop the bleeding, acknowledge our failings, and turn us toward the slow and tedious process of reconciliation.

From the beginning Obama struck me as one who could be that leader. Sadly, I fear that he was simply too black for many of our people to accept in that role.


On the other hand, as a “unifier” Trump will never get out of the gate. Actually, it is a role he has no interest in playing. “Bringing people together,” seeking a middle ground, is far down his list of priorities, a list that appears to be headed by “Winning at any cost.” Instead, he revels in Napoleonic posses, wanting us to believe the epic grandeur he sees in his own mind.

At this moment in history I happen to believe that Biden understands and believes in the “coming together” we need so badly. But I do wonder if he can muster the dynamic charisma it will take to bring today’s young voters into the fold. 

So many of those youngsters have been raised on “Not winning is the same as losing.” The notion of ‘compromise,’ instead of ‘domination' might be a hard sale with many of them……at least until they, like the rest of us……have spent more time paying the high price of everyone doing their own thing.

To summarize……Economic inequity…… climate change……social and racial unrest ……Covid-19

Together they will play key roles in framing the coming decade and beyond. In the hands of leaders we have yet to choose these important elements will help shape the outcomes we have yet to create. Here’s hoping we choose wisely.