Archive for December, 2009

My granddaughters, daughter-in-law and I were having a girly day in Sanford, FL today, browsing and having lunch. Just as we passed a bar on a side street a tall, massive policeman in blue came loudly stumbling out the door. “Don’t bother coming here,” he slurred, “the place is closed, closed for the day.” We looked over our shoulders as he slapped the door shut hard, and said, “You didn’t see me here, didn’t see a thing.”

“No, nothing, “I said, “and take a look at our license plate. I’m sure you’ll not want to stop us anytime, will you?”

The cop carried on with his ruse until we all broke out in laughter. You gotta love small towns.

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I am the Barney Fife of Neighborhood Watch captains. Last week I shattered every safety rule. Well, two of them anyway, all the while telling myself this was the right thing to do. Now I know the most natural thing in the world is to make excuses that compromise your safety. What is unnatural is suspicion when people are doing every day things. What is unnatural is imagining an attacker is going to jump from a bush or hide in your car or worm his way into your home. You don’t really believe that can happen to you, do you? So you listen to your better angels. I can only hope those better angels are protecting you if you ever compromise your safety rules. Mine were.

I won’t go into details, but unknowingly I locked myself in the house for two hours the other night with a registered sex offender. I had an overpowering reason in my mind. Only after he left did I decide to run a Google check. He behaved as a gentleman and everything ended well, but I am totally disappointed in myself for being so stupid.

While still wearing a hair shirt for my deed, I did it again the following day. Again it was dark, and I questioned the unseen man knocking on the door. My rule is to ask a stranger to step to the kitchen window so I can see him, but he sounded as if he were straining with the heavy box he said had been delivered to his house by mistake, so I opened the door. In my defense, I knew the screened door was locked and could give me time, but that’s not good enough. Now I couldn’t see my name on the box, but once this man I had never seen before told me he lived at 105 up the street, I opened the door and took the package from his hands. Pause for a moment to picture that. My door is wide open, my hands are full of a heavy box and a stranger is standing at the door. Good thing he was a neighbor.

I am exposing my stupidity in the hope that you will remember this the next time this happens to you – and it will. Don’t let your guard down; don’t be polite at the risk of your life. Do the unnatural thing: imagine the worst and don’t take any excuses from yourself.

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Tis the season I don’t have time for 2,000 words, so their equivalent will help me touch base. This is what is  going on in my wildlife garden right now. At least six Monarch caterpillars have hatched on the broad leaf Monarch plant that grows as high as the eves out front. It’s a caterpillar condo with the finest acomodations. These guys hatch on the leaves, then start munching them for sustenance. The ones with finer tastes take a table by the beautiful blooms and have a regular luau.

One has already begun his new cycle. He’s formed a “J” and will soon create a beautiful, gold crowned crysalis, after which he’ll emerge in a week or ten days as a Monarch butterfly to start the cycle over again. I could not resist taking the Jesus candy cane off my lapel to hang beside him. The similarity smacked me in the face.

A glance up the well lit street and my house looks pretty bare of decorations, but then on closer look, nature has added trim no store could match.

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Don’t we all have an unrealistic, totally off-the-wall dream? Tell me I’m not the only one. Mine has been since early childhood to slip a cape over my shoulder, tie a bonnet under my chin, and play in a Salvation Army street corner band. Guys and Dolls when it came along decades ago did nothing to dampen that yearning. But there I was playing only a clarinet instead of a brass instrument, and playing that none too well.

In defense of the shallowness of my wishes, Jerry and I have long supported the Salvation Army. They do wonderful work with great humility. In nosing around the web I found this unattributed fact sheet and learned many facts I didn’t know. See if you do, too. And when you have finished, think about making a donation “where it will do the most good.”

Revised 2/08 Fact Sheet

(Based on International and U.S. Statistics)


 The Salvation Army provides assistance to those in need 365 days a year.

 Founded by William Booth in 1865, The Salvation Army is an international organization that meets the physical and spiritual needs of people in 113 countries around the globe, without discrimination.

 With 8,500 centers of operation in the United States, The Salvation Army assists nearly 36 million individuals nationwide throughout the year – almost 5 million of those during the holiday season alone.

 83% of your donation to The Salvation Army goes directly to program funding to help people who need it most.

 The Salvation Army operates several domestic violence shelters nationwide, where abused women and children can get a fresh start in life, safely and confidentially.

 When you shop at Salvation Army thrift stores, you are supporting adult rehabilitation centers that annually help more than 216,000 people from every walk of life fight substance abuse and return to their communities as participating, contributing members.

 The Salvation Army’s Alegria program in Los Angeles provides transitional and permanent housing and specialized support services to homeless and low-income families affected by HIV/AIDS.

 The red Christmas kettle debuted in San Francisco in 1891 in the guise of a crab pot. A depression had thrown many out of work, including hundreds of seamen and longshoremen. The campaign proved so successful that by 1900 it was imitated nationwide.

 Movie actors Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Mae West, and Joan Crawford have all appeared in movies with Army characters.

 More than 3.5 million people volunteer for The Salvation Army nationwide.

 The Salvation Army operates a Missing Persons Program, which helped more than 187,000 people last year.

 The Salvation Army’s Community Care Ministries visited more than 3.3 million people with special needs in hospitals, nursing homes, and correctional facilities last year.

 The Salvation Army assists nearly 19.8 million people with basic social services each year.

 The Salvation Army provided an opportunity to camp for more than 193,000 underprivileged children, seniors, and adults last year.

 The Salvation Army was at the frontlines in World Wars I and II, offering comfort and pastoral guidance.

 The Salvation Army provided nearly 76,000 job referrals last year.

 Peter Drucker called The Salvation Army “by far the most effective organization in the U.S.,” in Forbes magazine.

 The red shield dates from 1896 and serves as the trademark for the Army’s social services.

 Known for their brass band music, The Salvation Army has approximately 2,500 brass bands worldwide.

 Since the 1920s, a Salvation Army brass band from Southern California has marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

 The phrase “on the wagon” was coined by men and women receiving the services of The Salvation Army. Former National Commander Evangeline Booth – founder William Booth’s daughter – drove a hay wagon through the streets of New York to encourage alcoholics on board for a ride back to The Salvation Army. Hence, alcoholics in recovery were said to be “on the wagon.”

 The first Salvation Army band was formed in 1882 by accident. Charles Frye and his sons offered their services as bodyguards for Salvation Army street preachers. They began playing music on their brass instruments to give them something to do while they protected the officers, and soon after quit their family business to lead the Army’s music department.

 The Salvation Army led in the formation of the USO – United Services Organization. The USO operates service units, which serve members of the armed forces abroad.

 “Strawberry Fields Forever” in the Beatles 1966 song by that name, is John Lennon’s nostalgic reference to a Salvation Army orphanage called Strawberry Field In Woolton, England. Lennon is said to have played with childhood friends in the trees behind the orphanage when he was a boy.

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Oh, it’s snowing on the bleached woods of the Wekiva River, wetting my anhinga’s wings. How cool is that?

Thanks, WordPress.

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