Memorial – May 27

As we remember and thank all the military today, droves of Americans also head off to their geranium-ready farm stands and garden centers to prepare and visit the graves of their loved ones. Annuals are planted, and whispered messages and more than a few tears are left at the cemeteries, too. You all may remember that my ONE GOOD DEED journey started on a day where I tended my parents gravesite, and I was there this weekend again, sending telepathic words of love and prayers asking for help as I move along on this earthly path. I also made two very sad condolence visits, one for one of the Cranberry Surprise Pie girls, as OGD readers will remember them. And then, to top off my rainy few days, I stopped by my young cousin’s new store in our tiny village. She is also named Erin, and it was grand to see something new and shiny and exciting after these bittersweet episodes. Life goes up and down and up again. Wouldn’t be worth it any other way.

Memories make the life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

It Had to Be Said – April 11

You know I like to keep an eye on what’s happening in the neighborhood, whether it’s a lemonade stand or a Halloween dog costume contest in the local park. Well, now there’s talk of building a waste station right next to that park on the river, and local residents are up in arms. I’m pretty sure I’m on their side, though I should read up on it a little more — I am worried about the playgrounds nearby, for example. 

In either case, I’m willing to sign a petition to look into the matter further, so I did, at the bus stop this morning. But then I had to say this to the lady with the clipboard:

“I’m sorry, but as environmentalists it just seems to me you could be signing one line on a piece of paper, rather than a heavy, shiny, four-color sheet for every single person.”

Guy next to me sniggers. Petition lady is flummoxed. As she should be.


Practice what you preach.



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Confused – April 1

This weekend I went to my hometown library, the one where I borrowed every Nancy Drew book, and when I had finished those, lit into the less satisfying Hardy Boys and Cherry Ames series. I had recently discovered my library didn’t own a copy of ONE GOOD DEED. I suffered through a range of emotions, of course, chief among them miffed and pained. So I drove over and gifted them one, inscribing it “A Devoted Cardholder Since 1962.”

There’s a tiny part of my heart that worries that this was shameless self-promotion. But I had noticed that a couple of the surrounding towns had copies of my book, and that they were often checked out. So…gifting this was a good deed, right?

Sharing is good.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

The Ultimate (sob!) Sacrifice – March 22

It’s Girl Scout cookie time at last, so yesterday I was completing my duties for this year’s stash. I got orders together from a couple of friends, prepaid for us all, and now it was pickup day at last. I trudged downtown to get the goods, feeling like a very good and virtuous friend: spring or not, it had begun to snow, and I was already bogged down with four books and a laptop on my back. (Is there a Girl Scout Alumna badge for that?)

Ruby’s dad kindly came down to the street — they live in a fifth floor walkup — with a big bag packed up with the cookie booty. I started off into the wind and weather, but after several blocks, grew suspicious. This was too heavy. I had only purchased a dozen boxes this year. I put my packages down and did a cookie count: 20 boxes.

There are few times in life where such a huge moral question comes into play: keep the Thin Mints, or return them to Ruby? I had them in hand — they were mineminemine! But if I didn’t report the error, others would suffer, and my little Girl Scout friend would have to pay — not only in cash money, but perhaps her error would result in punishment! What if my skullduggery resulted in Ruby not being able to attend Girl Scout Camp this summer, the eagerly anticipated reward to all the cookie-selling?

I stood on the corner. I was nearly free, steps from the subway and my escape home. After an intense internal struggle, my ten years in scouting won over the deadly sin of gluttony. Back I went to Ruby’s, clear of conscience, but sad at heart.

`”Be Prepared” — to do the right thing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Old Dogs – March 10

It’s funny — I have posted here over time about helping kids try to get a job in publishing, or honing someone’s resume, or the college student I mentor. All people much younger than myself. But recently a bookseller friend — one who’s older than me, and let’s remember I’m 60 — and I were discussing Twitter, and I was extolling its virtues for finding and chatting with other bookloving folks.

“Will you teach me?” my friend asked.

It can be tricky and frustrating to start out on Twitter. Its logic is sort of reverso-Facebook, so it can take a while to understand. Plus, there’s the mystery of explaining the hashtag — trying to tell someone, yes, it means something and you use it like this, and no, it means nothing but your own private jokes at the same time.

But she wanted to learn, and I thought, Good for you. And she’s a sweetheart, so she asked if she could bring her iPad over to my house on our day off and pick up lunch on the way. Of course we had a ball, and lots of laughs, she got past the initial frustration and is now a tweeting newbie.

It was just a couple of hours helping someone learn something new. But here’s what I ended up thing about when it was over — something I think about a lot, unfortunately. I love my country, you know I do, but now I live in a nation that tells me that I’m probably going to have to work until I’m 75 or 80 before I can retire. More and more I see my friends being downsized and pushed out before they’re even 50. So who’s utilizing and taking advantage of the the incredible expertise and the willingness to learn of the 50+ citizens? We need to fill in this piece of the puzzle. And fast.

My friend and I don’t make much money, but we like what we do, and we receive full benefits. We are the lucky ones.

Don’t forget — experience counts.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

First Impressions – February 22

Here’s something that doesn’t always work out for me: I make snap judgments when I meet people. I like to think I’m a good judge of character, but that really should be something you decide after a little bit of time, right? Not what you think in the first five minutes. It’s perhaps not my best quality.

So it’s a good reminder for me when I’m proven wrong (also, though, I hate being wrong). Here’s the most recent incident that brought me up short…

I was at the airport this week, and it was early, about 7:30 am. Not that that’s so early, but when you consider what time you have to get up to get to an airport and through the whole TSA thing, well, there you go. So that part’s all over and I’m waiting to board when two big groups of teenagers park themselves nearby, all passengers on my flight. Some are loud, some look slack-jawed and have arrived in pajama pants and slippers for the trip. What th’…? This sets off my crabby lady alarm, the one that might say things like, “You kids get your bikes off my lawn!” So now I’m unhappy both because they bug me, and because they make me feel old. Even though, in my heart, I am certain that I’m right to not like them. Now I don’t like them and I don’t like me.

Time to board, and of course I’m surrounded by teenagers, in front of me, behind me, and a girl next to me, who immediately falls asleep. So I forget to be unhappy for a while, because I love to fly, and I’m off on a nice trip. When she wakes up, we start to chat. “Where are you all off to?” I asked, thinking they were a team of some sort. A college had invited them all out for a group interview. Oh. Turns out, though, that my new friend was a senior already, so this was a bit of a lark. She had applied to 25 schools, and her first choice was Yale. She was a little bit worried because she was only #2 in the class, and she didn’t much like being #2.

Now it turns out she had applied to my alma mater, too (not Yale), and before I knew it I was so charmed by her I’d given her my card and offered to write a letter for her should she get waitlisted.

Who am I kidding? This girl won’t need me. And have I mentioned I am a mentor to a student at Columbia who as a community project is trying to add a new major to the curriculum and worked for Michelle Obama last summer? Shouldn’t I be learning things from her? Sure, I was totally sincere in offering to write a letter for my seatmate, and that’s a very nice good deed. But better than that good deed would be if I could remember to say this to myself every once in a while:

Who do you think you are?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Valentine’s Day 2013

Those of you who have read ONE GOOD DEED, the book, will remember the tradition I started (a tradition with myself) of sending Valentine’s Day cards to friends and relatives who are old, alone, heartbroken or just plain need a virtual hug. I almost blew it this year, but managed to get to the post office with a dozen or so at 8 am Tuesday morning, so hopefully the love will arrive today.

To those of you who have not bowed to what many consider a “Hallmark holiday,” how about this: call one person today who needs a little love. Doesn’t matter who it is. For all its commercialism, there’s something great about a day that’s devoted to love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments