Warning…………..Soap Box Ahead!!!!!

(I came across this “blast from the past” (2014) and just had to share one more time!)

calvin & political philosophy blame voteAnd so it begins…………………….. the writing of my 49th “diaryofanut” post!!  I vowed to myself last night that I would tackle this writing task today no matter what interrupted my day.  I must admit that the “interruption” I had in mind had more to do with taking care of, or being visited by, my grandchildren, but what actually threatened to derail my commitment to this blog was the political e-mail I received this morning followed by a political article that I read!!  I can clearly hear the collective sighs issuing forth from all of my long-suffering family.  I know that they are all praying that I will “fall off of my political soapbox” before I write something that will further stigmatize me, and by association, them as well.  You know, I honestly have been trying very, very hard to quell my “ranting” about politics these days.  I also know that my family has been trying equally hard to prevent any utterance of a political nature when they are around me, lest I lapse into some incoherent tirade.  It seems that my genetic make-up is one which precludes me from “sitting on the fence” and just “‘letting sleeping dogs lie” when I find a cause to which I am totally dedicated.   At this point, it seems appropriate to give a little shout out to my very dear Aunt Evie (who departed from this life in 2010 at age 94) to whom I owe my “great awakening”.  You see Aunt Evie was an avid talk radio listener who possessed an insatiable curiosity about everyone and everything………….oh, and by the way, she also thoroughly enjoyed her nightly “cocktail” and smoking her Virginia Slims Ultra-Light Menthol 120’s!!!.  I usually called her every night to chitchat about the day’s events, and so it was that in April of 2008 as the two of us were engaged in our typical light-hearted discussion, she became very insistent in asking me who was this person, Bill Ayers, whose association with the then Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, was the top news story.   Now at that particular moment in time,  my radio dial was set to 1460 AM which happens to be our local sports station, and the only thing I knew for certain was that Bill Ayers had absolutely nothing to do with sports!  Beyond that, I had no clue as to who he was or why he would be deemed newsworthy.  At any rate, I promised her that I would Google his name and report back to her the next evening.  That, my dear readers, was the beginning of the saga of this “right-wing” nut!!!  I think even Aunt Evie lived long enough to regret having ever asked the question that unleashed the “sleeping giant”!!  LOL  I do know from my sisters, that Aunt Evie would occasionally confess to them her worry that I was going to make myself sick if I continued to become so animated and upset about politics.  Aunt Evie…………..I truly do thank you……your thirst for knowledge compelled me to become more inquisitive about the who, what, when, where and why of some of life’s most perplexing issues.  ♥

Aunt Evie on a motorcycle in the game room at the old Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe.
Aunt Evie on a motorcycle in the game room at the old Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe.

Switching gears entirely…………….Easter 2014 was a truly a unique experience for even the Clark family.  Christine unwittingly put out an e-mail invitation for an Easter dinner gathering at the old homestead.  Do you think she was surprised when she received replies that 67 of her closest family members RSVP’d that they were happily attending??!!!!  More to the point…………….was Mike surprised????????  We all thought Christmas at 104 could never be topped, but I do believe this Easter gathering was one for the record books.  Fortunately, the weather cooperated and the front porch, the backyard deck, the basketball court were all put to good use……..even the Easter egg hunt went off without a hitch!!

clark family picture easter 2014
Who are all of these people and what are they doing in my yard????? was asked by #1. Christine #2. Leah/Erin/Katie/Tori #3. Mike

I have a question…………………..do you suppose there is any way the powers to be could come up with a way to speed up the game of baseball????  I know that the MLB went in exactly the opposite direction this season with the new “instant” replay (now there is an oxymoron, if I ever heard one!!!).  Everyone knows that I love the Yankees, but even at that, the plodding slowness of the game from the rituals the pitcher goes through before he throws the pitch, to the rituals the batter goes through before and after he steps into the batters box, to the ritual of the catcher, the pitching coach and/or the manager when they walk out to the mound to talk to the pitcher…………omgosh…………it sometimes makes me want to scream for mercy!!!!!!!!!!  Oh dear, I am beginning to feel the “Carole syndrome” :) coming on as the whiner and complainer in me is showing, but it is only to defend myself for feeling guilty about not wanting to hang out for the seven or nine innings of the grand-kids’ games.  Megan called me at 6:30 PM the other night as I was planning to catch one of Natalie’s games which was slated to begin at 6 PM.  I was just pulling out my driveway when my cell rang and Megan asked if I had forgotten the time of the game (she worries about my memory!!  sheesh!!).  Anyway, I told her I was on my way and she replied, “Well, it’s already the second inning!”……………….bingo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  My plan was pretty well thought out unbeknownst to Meg………. or so I thought.  I had been told that there was an hour and a half time limit for 4th graders and so I figured that if I left my house at 6:30ish, I would catch the last forty-five minutes of the game (which was still stretching my attention span!!)  however as the clock slowly ticked down to 7:30 PM, I learned from one of the parents that it was actually a two-hour time limit!!!   As I am now feeling a twinge of guilt for my lackluster enthusiasm, I hereby offer all of my grandchildren an apology for not fully embracing the opportunity to see each of them play an entire game.  And truth be told, I sort of feel the same way about soccer even though at least the players are constantly moving (sorry Sophia and Sydney!!).

Have you noticed that there is no theme to this blog post?  I sometimes just go wherever my mind takes me and apparently the mind had “no particular place to go” (some old timers might remember that little phrase was the title to a 1964 Chuck Berry song)……..Hey!!!  I think I just inadvertently identified myself as “old”!)

I  can’t neglect to give one more  “shout out” …….this time to Megan, who having worked full-time while also attending school full-time, earned her RN degree last week and who will also now be diagnosing every little ache and pain and memory lapse her Mother has!!!!  LOL…………just teasing you Megan!  Her compassionate and caring nature will ensure that her future patients will never want for empathy or quality of care. With a fire-fighter/EMT and now two nurses in the family, I should be medically well cared for in my older age (to which I have really and truly not yet arrived,  FYI!!).  In preparation for the graduation ceremony,  Megan somewhat reluctantly joined a few of her classmates in decorating their caps in order to be better able to identify them in the midst of the multitudes of graduates.  She ended up doing such an artful job that when she approached the President of the university to receive her diploma, he kept her up on the stage for a moment longer to inquire about her cap and to comment that if there had been an award for the best decorated graduation cap, hers would have won hands down!!!  A picture of the cap actually made it on to the university’s website the following day.

Outlined in blinking white lights!!!!
Outlined in blinking white lights!!!!

Interspersed with the joy of Easter and the celebration of Megan’s most recent achievement was the sadness the Clark/Heubel/Scully families experienced upon receiving news several days after Easter that our Aunt Phyllis had passed away from a sudden heart attack.  Aunt Phyl (married to my Mom’s brother, Uncle Herm) was well-known in our families as someone who, among other things, enjoyed bridge, golf and parties!!!  She was particularly at her best when telling stories on herself.  One of my all time favorite stories had to with her turning her car completely around………………. while still in her garage!!!  How in the heck did she do that?????  None of us knows to this day, but I figure she must have put the car in reverse, turned the steering wheel, then shifted gears to go forward, turned the steering wheel again, then back to reverse, then turn, then forward and repeat………….probably a hundred times!!!!  LOL  If only there had been cell phone video back then, she would have received at least a million hits on you-tube!!  Aunt Phyl………….thanks for the memories :).  Oh and one more memory…………a family classic……..the Christmas of the matching p.j.’s!!  If memory serves me correctly, Mom & Aunt Phyl unknowingly discovered the same Christmas sale at one of the department stores and purchased……………matching red pajamas for the entire family…………..even Dad and Uncle Herm!!  OMGosh, those really were the days!!!

Johnny, Cecilia on Aunt Phyl's lap, Mom at piano, Kathy, MM, Jan & Jimmy
Johnny, Cecilia on Aunt Phyl’s lap, Mom at piano, Kathy, MM, Jan & Jimmy

You know, as I continue on this journey of mine, I never cease to learn many more important life lessons.  And while I admit that I have not always been a quick nor a compliant learner, the struggles and the losses I have encountered over the years I now strangely see as blessings.  For each event has served to provide me with an opportunity for a  greater appreciation and understanding of my need to continually seek God so as to find His presence in my life.  I was reflecting on this while watching “The Bible” during Easter week.  One scene in particular has stayed with me…………..it was the time when the disciples encountered a frightening storm while out in their boat and they suddenly saw Jesus coming toward them, walking on the water.  This terrified the disciples who thought they were seeing a ghost.  Jesus told them  “Take courage! It is I.  Don’t be afraid.”  Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”  So Jesus invited Peter to come.  Peter got out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Jesus.  But when Peter took his eyes off Jesus and saw the wind and waves, he began to sink.  The point of my retelling this story that I know all of you have heard many times before, is that it was, for me, yet another “aha moment”.  Keeping our own eyes on Jesus requires the continual seeking of Him through prayer and, for us Catholics, in the sacraments.   It is when we take our own eyes off of Him and trust in our own capabilities that we struggle.  Ohhhh…………………we control people are very, very hard-headed!!!  Perhaps this passage from another devotional I am now reading will bring this all together:

Keep returning your focus to Me! I am always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.  You, however, are only human, and you will lose sight of Me at times.  I know how hard it is for you to stay focused on Me, especially when you are feeling weak or weary.  So receive My grace whenever you realize your mind and heart have wandered from Me.  And waste no time in returning to Me by praising Me in thought, word or song.  even whispering My name – reverently, lovingly – can be worship.

Let Me have all your worries and cares.  This may sound easy, but it is not; you are accustomed to worry-thoughts roaming freely in your brain.  So you must train yourself to bring all your cares into My Presence, trusting Me to help you.  Remember that you are never alone in your struggles.  I am always aware of you and your circumstances.  I can help you because I have all authority in heaven and on earth.  As you come into My Presence, let go of your worries and cares…..so you can cling to Me in childlike trust.          from Jesus Today

Let God have all your worries and care, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.  -1 Peter 5:7



P.S.  I started this post on my “political soap box” and ended on my “religious soap box”…………guess I had a lot on my mind today!!!!!!!  LOL

Calvin & Soap Box


In Remembrance of a Life Well Lived

The reality is that you will grieve forever.  You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it.  You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.  You will be whole again, but you will never be the same again. Nor should you be the same…….nor should you want to.  –Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

My family will once again pause to remember Crick today on this the ninth anniversary of his death.   As I continue to feel this need to chronicle and preserve the story that was uniquely his, I am once again sharing this video I made eight years ago as I feel the pictures reveal so much about his bigger than life personality.  In addition, I have included several recollections from family and friends which speak volumes about how this one “glass half-full” life has touched so many.

The heart, like the mind has a memory, and in it are kept the most precious keepsakes.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“I remember when Crick took us outside one winter to build, not just a typical snowman, but our very own igloo!!  We built it so big it lasted until almost spring!  He also helped me to buy my very first car, it was a stick shift and he helped me learn how to drive it and, after many hours of practice, he suggested that we take the car for a test drive up Cooke Rd. to see if I could handle it on a hill.  Well…..I couldn’t make it up the first hill and we kept drifting backwards toward the car behind us.  Finally, Crick put his foot over mine on the accelerator and away we went.  I think his exact words to me were, “Well, you can always sell this car to someone else!”.  He would always beg me to walk on his back and promise to give me all of the change in his pocket.  Boy, was I naive, thinking I was going to make a lot of money.  But……..he did teach me the value of a quarter!!!  Over the years, Crick would put a lot on his back for our family.”

“I started thinking about how long I have known Crick…………it has been basically my whole life!!  I remember sitting in our living room on Oakland Park and talking into a reel to reel tape recorder to say “hi” to him when he was stationed in Korea and then he would send the tape back to us so that we could hear his voice.  Crick was also there for Jimmy……there was the day that Jimmy was hiding in the bushes in front of our house and Crick went out to gently remind Jimmy that he was at home and not back in Viet Nam.  Who else but a veteran like Crick could have known what Jimmy was going through. Crick was also there when I was going to enlist in the Army Reserves and he was going to make sure that I ended up in his unit so that he could watch over me………..he even went to the commander to make sure this would happen.  For some reason I never did enlist, but I always knew that Crick was going to be there for me.  Crick has been and always will be one of my brothers!!”

“It seems like a long time ago that Crick and I were standing on the field at St. Michael’s in our wildly unprotective football gear……paper thin shoulder pads, helmets with no face guards or chin straps, and for me,…………fearing the fact that I would have to tackle his older brother, John as he came blasting through the line. Life seems to warp into hyper-speed as we grow older. I must say that although Crick and I were never terribly close growing up, I have fond memories of him: caddying with him at York Temple, the fact that he seemed to instinctively know how car engines worked, and how he always exuded this sort of Gary Cooper type…….tall, dependable, good-hearted vibe, even as a kid. And if his presence is still felt by someone as distant as I am to him, I can only imagine what his presence means to all of those who are truly close to him. It speaks volumes about how Crick has journeyed through this life.”

And so it is that as another year passes, our family continues to honor Crick’s memory by drinking of the “glass half-full” and being “grateful that we are able to put two feet on the floor”.

May his soul, and the souls of all of the faithful departed on this All Souls Day, rest in peace.  Amen

TGW (the good wife)