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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Last time I saw Skinny

   In March 2009, I took "Skinny" back to court - as you may recall, his appearance had been rescheduled. Though he was still around town, I never really saw him after that day. Several years later, heard he was still in general region, having moved one county south. This is final chapter of our *relationship.*
***
   It seemed like I was back in fifth grade, only instead of "How I spent My Summer Vacation," I was writing a report on how I spent my day, finishing with a not-too-detailed projection for weekend.
   Dang but it was cold Thursday morning! I went over and let friends' dog out to euphemistically *avail himself of the facilities,* returned home to do so myself, then crossed town and picked Skinny up at the yard. While driving eastward, mentioned the incident a week prior when a helicopter had flown over and I'd had a momentary thought regarding guilt by association. We simultaneously recited the adage, "A person is known by the company they keep."
   Arriving two counties over, I parked same place I had previously, noticing several vehicles parked on inside lane. I admitted that, were I the paranoid type, I might think they were trying to hem me in and block my exit. Skinny told me when he drove, he parked so there was nothing in front of him. As we were against a raised curb, I offered to move my car. He said we were fine.
   We entered courthouse and I wondered if this visit would prove as pointless as our last. At least he'd been given more than 24 hours notice this time. Skinny went into district clerk's office, paid his $411 fine, and got his receipt. Clerk was friendly and made small talk, saying after living in a metropolitan area, coming to work here was like stepping back in time 40 years. [Ain't that the truth.] Skinny told clerk judge had told him if he paid fine before court convened again,  he wouldn't have to come back: Skinny said he'd like to have it in writing. [Erring on side of caution, don't ya know?] We kept our eyes on that receipt as a copy was made; it was then taken down hall and filed with clerk. Finally, judge came out, shook Skinny's hand and said he was good to go. Skinny replied, "Nothing personal but I hope I never see you again." Judge said maybe he could stop and just pay a social call next time he was in town. Right.
   We went upstairs to courtroom. In 'same old same old' department, saw a hefty blonde in same red and black argyle-patterned sweater she had worn in February. I wondered aloud if it were her *official* courtroom sweater and Skinny figured probably so. A shackled prisoner was brought in: I leaned over and whispered, "If it were me, I'd probably be asking, 'Do these stripes make my ass look fat?' " Then I inquired, "Who's the guy in the red tie?" Skinny told me that was his lawyer and to be nice. When am I not nice? (Don't answer that.) so I just observed it was an improvement over pukey green tie he'd worn last tie he'd worn last time. Judge read off, "Docket number ...: State of Texas versus Steve Martin."
   Skinny and I turned to each other and, sotto voce, said "Well excuuuuuuuuuuse me!" One has to find comic relief where one is able.
   Skinny's court-appointed legal counsel came over and said he was going to ask for "Ten for ten," which would put Skinny on probation for ten years. Skinny said he would rather spend a year jail. Anyway, presiding judge finally called his docket number and I learned Skinny's middle name - which I have long since forgotten. Skinny approached the bench, lawyer said he had made all his dates so far, and even the one time he had not received prior confirmation, he had come virtually at a moment's notice. Judge said Skinny would be taken off county docket but should appear before this court, 14 May. We got our coats and left.
   During our drive westward to our home county, Skinny made a couple calls: work - to let them know he was on his way back; his housekeeper, to let her know he would call her later; then he briefly contemplated a third call but decided against it because "She'd want to talk ..." I commented, "Hey, I'm just the chauffeur." Skinny assured me I was an integral part of this, not just his ride: I was a credible witness that his comments about *the way the courts operated* were true - and I had documented it.
   Took him back to work, he gave me a $20 for gas and said he'd call me later. I went home and had lunch, including Milky Way Dark I'd had Skinny buy at convenience store. Then I went up to library and started work on my report.
   Around 2:00 that afternoon, went over to let dog out again; spent a little time wrestling with him, then played fetch with squeaky bunny toy. Friends came home and after we'd visited a while, I returned to my humble abode. Rest of my evening was pretty quiet: watch TV and crochet.
   Friday dawned cold and wet; sun was not visible behind cloud cover but sky got lighter. After 30 minutes of mentoring, bought a few items at Walmart, got four gallons RO [reverse osmosis] water, and cashed check from last article I'd sold to newspaper.
   Recently decided to purchase one newspaper each week, as my contribution to keeping the industry alive. after all, I make my living - meager as it is - from working at a newspaper. as an aspiring journalist who occasionally sells a story, it is in my best interest to assure longevity of medium in which I work.
   Here is "planning ahead" part: decided to gas up car, then buy Friday paper, to read Saturday morning; I was already cold and wet so might as well have something tangible to show for it. Now I wouldn't have to get out in the morning unless I went to library. Saturday is one of the few days I don't have to set an alarm, so can rise at leisure. Perhaps I'll fix a pot of Earl Grey tea, toast a slice of pound cake and, if wind is blowing, listen to my chimes while reading newspaper. Life's simple pleasures really are best.
***

   I don't recall if I drove Skinny to his May date. In September 2011, I returned to my native Michigan and am now happily retired. Every now and then I ponder and muse - a pastime which brings pleasure, bemusement, and sometimes a degree of wistfulness.

'Til next time, I'll be wandering and wondering ...

Monday, February 6, 2017

Courtroom drama: Another day, another docket

[NOTE: This was written before 2010 and though naming people and places might not amount to anything, I have tried to maintain privacy of individuals connected with this little narrative.]

   It was 7:59 A.M. when I picked up my long lean friend from his work place and we headed eastward. On the way, he placed a phone call: it was his daughter's 18th birthday and he expected to hear from her. Furthermore, if he did not hear from her, he would be coming to the town she lived in.
***

   Courtroom dramas should be more exciting. My buddy leans over and whispers, "Surely, I'm not supposed to be in L-town this morning." I asked didn't he know which court he was scheduled to appear in? He informed me that the whole mess began because nobody ever told him where he was supposed to be. Then he looked toward the bench and said, "Nah, it's here, 'cause that's the same judge. The one who told me to be here."
   An office of the court approached and asked if we had any pocket knives or cellphones. I gave my keys to Skinny so could take his cellphone three flights down and put it in the car. The very act of handing over my keys is an act of trust; this is somebody I met a month ago at the library. We have similar tastes in reading material and find ourselves able to have meaningful conversation. This last is a premium commodity, the value of which is not to be underestimated. He is back so quickly, he must have taken the elevator: even with his long legs and agility, it ill-behooved him to risk being held in contempt for not being on time.
   One lawyer looks like "Allen" - the responsible brother on Two and a Half Men. Skinny's counsel was not present. There were three or four other folks and their respective representatives. We had taken seats in front row.
   A woman stepped before the bench and judge has difficulty with correct pronunciation of her non-Anglo surname. He observes she is empty-handed. This is a divorce case and he ascertains that her mother-in-law signed receipt for registered letter by which the man was given notice of intent. Judge determines there needs to be a reset date when woman is in possession of documentation with her spouse's signature, not his momma's. Judge asked, "Are you writing this down?" and I feel a momentary flutter in my belly, thinking maybe I'm doing something I shouldn't ought to. Then I looked up and saw a clerk had come in: it was she to whom question had been addressed. She asked if a specific date had been set and magistrate replied, "No, just whenever they get it done." Believe me, the *behind the scenes* action would never sell: too boring for television.
   A beefy fellow with a sneer, bad haircut, and a badge, enters through a door marked "District Clerk." A dweeby-looking strawberry blond guy, smaller than the swarthy dude, strolls over. He has chin whiskers, wears glasses, is shod in slate blue ostrich boots, and clad in jeans and a white shirt. He hikes his gun belt up over his not-quite-spare-tire belly, and the two men confer briefly. On other side of bench sit two blonde-headed women on either side of a laptop. The "Allen" lawyer steps up and says, "I think we're really close; I just need to consult Mr. C another moment." Giggles erupt and another lawyer, jowly and older, walks through and says, "Just a minute, Judge." I glance surreptitiously over my right shoulder and observe there are more people present than I had initially perceived.
   It occurs to me that, fleshed out a little, this might make one of those educational comic books. A lot of people used to read Classic Comics and I'm all for anything that educates folks, stemming the overwhelming tide of ignorance.
   Skinny, sitting to my left, shifts his weight a little: there is still no sign of his court-appointed counsel. A young woman on far right of front bench informs guy behind her, "You'll just have to stand here and listen to what they say." Meanwhile, the Two and a Half Men guy approaches the bench, flanked by Mr. and soon-to-be-ex Mrs. C. Hearing them affirm desire to dissolve their union, mutters, Skinny mutters, "A damn divorce!" The woman is awarded spousal support in amount of  twelve hundred dollars a month from this month (February 2009) through a goodly part of 2011. As a divorced man himself, Skinny is appalled and wonders how come she deserves to walk away with that much money. Our differing viewpoints are biased by gender and, though it remains unspoken, I figure we pretty much just agree to disagree.
   Again, Skinny wonders about his need to be here but judge himself told him date was February 19. He had figured this would be easy enough to remember, since it happened to be his daughter's eighteenth birthday. Next up, the parties of 'J', 'W' and her counsel, stand before the magistrate, having reached agreement. The three issues of divorce, conservatorship, and one other legalese term, have been detailed in an eighteen page report. Pertinent items are detailed on Page Six of said document. Wife's attorney states, barring magistrate's insistence, he will forego reading it aloud. (Thank you, Lord!) Then 'J,' who has listened patiently while he was more or less defamed, stepped forward and agreed that until such time as he had two consecutive negative hair follicle results for methamphetamine within a ninety (90) day period, he would not be alone with the couple's children, ages eight and twelve. All this takes a while and the dweeby-looking dude leans against the wall, while the swarthy fellow stands at "parade rest. " Something inside me was glad it was the Anglo who was slouching. Wife also demands $195/month child support. Beside me, Skinny nearly has a cow. I smile and say, "At least it's not twelve hundred." Judge kindly wishes 'J' all success in his efforts to get/stay clean. 'J' exited courtroom.
   A slightly overweight woman, wearing red and black argyle-patterned sweater, walks through courtroom. Skinny speculates she is an assistant district attorney (ADA). There are whispered conversations going on all around. I ask Skinny if he has a number for his lawyer guy and am told, "He's supposed  to take care of this; I'm not to bother him." It is my opinion, a little bothering is warranted; Skinny uncrosses his long legs and folds his arms across his chest, mumbling that he's "fixin' to do quite a bit of *bothering*."
   The beefy dude and the dweeb are talking to the judge. My companion mutters, "Prison guards." I ask if they're on crowd control; he tells me "Bailiffs, yeah," then asks, "Haven't you ever been in court?" What can I say: my courtroom experience is limited to a couple bouts of jury duty and two uncontested divorces.
   New people are coming in; I hear a woman ask one of the recent entries, "You still got chickens?" Skinny leans over, making observation that one of the three fellows is having a horrendously bad hair day, then goes back to a newsletter he brought along to pass time. Shows me an ad, "50% or half off - whichever is less" and rolls his eyes. We've been sitting on this hard bench for well over an hour, as people have come and gone. I lean to inquire, "There's nobody you can ask, huh?" I am answered with a terse, "Uhn-uh." There might oughta be more *n*s in that sound; either way, the answer is a definite no. I had gone back to book I was reading, and occasionally taking notes. Another attorney arrived; he was middle-aged and average looking. He was in shirt sleeves and wore a hideously ugly tie. I had a feeling.
   Hearing a resigned sigh from Skinny, I asked, "That him?" An exhaled breath, "Yeah." The older lawyer and a guy who resembles Craig Nelson character from Coach, sat flanking Skinny's representative. Nondescript fellows come and go; one addresses Skinny, asking if he is "Mr. Hunt." Skinny says no. I finish my chapter and wonder just how much longer we are going to be there. I see a fellow who looks like someone I know. Skinny informs me that despite a questionable background, this person was recently elected to public office. (Sound familiar?) On ride home, Skinny further informs me person who previously held the position was under investigation for cattle theft. (It just gets better and better, doesn't it?) Anyway, did not leave a favorable impression of law-enforcement.
   Couple females in striped prison garb are brought in - one wearing pink handcuffs. Rolling his eyes again, Skinny mutters, "Pink handcuffs; now I've seen it all" to which I reply, "Well, they are girls." One of the suits is wearing a red tie; looks kind of pimp-y to me. At first I think it's the only red tie in the room, until I notice the Two and a Half Men guy has a maroon tie with an emblem thingy on it. So, maroon is in the red family, but at least it's not *sure enough* red. I know some of these details are girly and irrelevant, but I sat there a very long time: I had to look at something. I turn my pinkie ring. It is one of the 'talismans' I've chosen to wear today. The other is a small sterling silver dragon on a fine silver chain, acquired from late sister's estate. Dragon is my sign on Chinese zodiac. I know: meaningless detail.
   At about 10:47, Skinny's lawyer and the mistaken identity guy come over, engaging Skinny in conversation a minute or so. In a colossal demonstration of the right hand being sadly clueless regarding what left hand doeth, Skinny's case wasn't even on the docket. Bondsman said if there was any fallout, he'd tell the judge it was his fault. Skinny figured that wouldn't do him a whole lotta good if it was his [own] butt sitting in a jail cell. The long and short of it is, we were free to go. After waiting almost two hours, we find out it's been a waste of time. Five minutes later, we are three flights down, have hit the head, and are driving westward - going home. Skinny fumes, "And folks wonder why I have 'a bad attitude,' why I drink."
   During the drive back to McCulloch County, he receives a call from Child Protective Services. This is a direct result of the call he had placed three hours earlier. What I gleaned from his side of conversation was, he was expressly forbidden to seek contact with a child who had reached age of consent. He had not [to my knowledge] received court cooperation, nor been provided means of parental contact. In my opinion, it sounded not just iffy, but illegal and immoral - I concede I only knew his side of the story. He placed another call to CPS, which remained unanswered. Skinny said there would probably be black helicopters looming overhead in the immediately foreseeable future because nobody was going to keep him from his daughter, now she was 18.
   Took him back to work; he thanked me and gave me gas money. He'd already told me he was glad to have me along as a credible witness to inefficiency of judicial system. For the record, I did see a black helicopter in the distance when I left him in the yard.
   What a day - it wasn't even noon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Resistance is NOT futile - letter 126

   Sometime in your life you have probably heard a phrase admonishing you to "Watch out for the quiet ones." I believe it is because quiet people do not telegraph intent, so when they act, it comes as a surprise. I'm not exactly a *ninja* in stealth department but I have managed to catch a few people unaware from time to time.
***
Hello my dear,
   Writing to my adopted daughter, I speculated on number of American [United States] women who would postpone or totally forego having children during current restrictive political leadership. In power is a group which apparently sees miscarriage not so much as a personal tragedy but as an *offense against the state,* punishable by law and furthermore, demands miscarried or aborted fetuses must be properly interred or cremated. Big Brother was apparently not bad enough: women are now threatened by Big Daddy, who is only too willing to *spank* a naughty child who commits an infraction. For years the [so called] Right to Life movement has tried to undo advances in reproductive healthcare. There seems to be such fervor for fetus rights that those of the women - who seem to be regarded simply as vessels, bearing those fetuses are completely overlooked. Is it forgotten these child bearers are living breathing women? Without diminishing the sanctity of life, I would remind those inclined to forget - while pregnancy is not always a choice, decisions to terminate should be. Furthermore, terminating a pregnancy should not be accompanied by demeaning tactics, threats, or other inhumane treatment.
   Weekend following inauguration of forty-fifth U.S. president, there were marches throughout the world, promoting the rights of women. From reports I have seen, these demonstrations were conducted in an orderly fashion. This only makes sense: one does not further one's cause by being hostile nor by engaging in counter-productive behavior.
   Writing a letter to a former classmate, I lamented inability of some to get priorities in order. People really need to learn who benefits from stirring up conflict. So far as I am aware, none of my friends or readers are even in top ten percent of world's wealthy, much less top one percent. Who benefits from hate/discrimination? What difference does it really make: who marries whom; whether one is left-handed, right-handed or ambidextrous; whether one prefers deep-dish or thin crust pizza? Our differences are as superficial as those of plaid and paisley; a matter of preference. Live and let live, love and let love. You read via an electronic device, I choose to hold a book; I write letters, you communicate through text message or email. These are not things over which one *goes to war.*
   Examine your life. Are your basic needs met? Do you have adequate food and water; clothing; shelter? Does your having diminish someone else? If your answers are yes; yes; (and) no, you are doing well. It has been said Earth cannot afford another United States. It is becoming increasingly apparent United States cannot afford United States. We (all) need to clean up our act - nationally and individually: morally; ecologically; economically.

Enough for now. Take care,
Jo Ann

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Three Hour Lunches and Hanging Curtains [letter 125]

Good afternoon,
   Have just returned from my first-ever three-hour lunch and have to share experience in best way I know how. For me, that means a letter. Not sure how much back-story is required but will fill in spots as it becomes necessary.
  Have been in this apartment over two years and my satisfaction level is way beyond seventy-five percent. I do have bedroom issues - not what you're thinking ... well, okay, that too but that is not something one can take to housing manager. No, my [primary] complaints are 1) bedroom does not have an overhead fixture; and 2) there is a security light just outside my window, so getting the place dark enough to readily facilitate sleep is difficult. During my occupancy, I have added more curtains, but have persistently fallen short of black-out perfection.
   Had recently added a tension bar to hold another layer; that night I went to bed and was *pretty much* satisfied - until a muffled crash alerted me tension bar had fallen. Nothing for it but to shield my eyes with sleep mask and see how things would look on the morrow. I am still scheming to achieve a greater level of darkness but meanwhile must deal with other minutia. This is where a brief review of late December 2016 comes in. On 22 December, went to Tecumseh Senior Center; when I went to leave, car wouldn't start. Traipse back into building, Kim calls somebody at City Office and an amiable young man shows up to give a boost. He follows me to service station, in case car cannot be started after refueling. Fortunately it does and we go our separate ways. I drive home, leave car running, gather stuff to recycle AND my checkbook. After county recycle center, drove to auto parts store, where I was informed of need for new battery. It's not like I spend a ton of money on Christmas, so the sticker shock was not fatal.
   Less than three weeks later - Wednesday of this week, to be precise - I get in my car, intending to go to lunch at senior center; car won't start. Someone from center drives over to get me and I let it go for rest of day, except for telling housing office personnel of my difficulty and saying I would be in touch if jump-start were needed. So, on my way out to luncheon appointment, stopped by office briefly and was wished good luck. Within five minutes, called on cellphone and requested maintenance man's assistance. Cables were judiciously applied and a satisfying vroom was produced. Made a stop at auto parts place, car was checked; all systems were go so non-start incidents were deemed a fluke and I went on my merry way.
   Walked into the bar - which has an excellent burger & beer lunch special - where we had agreed to meet and saw classmate who had not joined us before. We commanded the long table usually occupied by a bunch of rowdy guys; it felt really good. Five or six fellows came in after a while and had to make do with putting two tables together in a corner. Upon leaving, one of their number jovially commented on our rowdiness and I thanked him for noticing. Lunch tab was graciously picked up by gal who had nice windfall from lottery. This venture turned out so well we decided to make the next one at a similar establishment west of town. What the heck? Spread the love, right?
   A couple friends made sure my car started and we all made our various ways to scattered points of county, where we would regale others of greater or lesser significance with details of our three hour lunch. In my case, that would be you.

Until next time,
Jo

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Life ain't for wimps - letter 124

Hello my dear,
   It seems positively forever since I've written. Checking records, I see it has been nearly a month. Earlier I was penning a letter to a young fellow in the Midwestern United States. He is barely a teen but seems wise beyond his years and carries on a remarkably adult conversation. There is definitely hope for this younger generation, in my estimation.
   News here in U.S. - now election is over - has been dominated by number of celebrity deaths. There is much *weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.* Darling, you know I am a sympathetic and compassionate being but I find myself murmuring, "Cease and desist already." Death is sad business. Life is serious business - though it has its lighter moments.
   Famous people may have done nothing to earn their notoriety but their every action is noted, lauded, criticized, and/or emulated. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to all but those immediately affected, someone nurtures a child's desire to read; helps with cost of maintaining/restoring  a stranger's sight; visits a nursing home and simply listens as residents talk, because everyone else is too busy to bother.
   I understand grief, or at least am well acquainted with it. Bereavement can disturb one's psyche, leading to illogical actions, but for the life of me I cannot understand some of the "tributes" such as massive displays of, say, toys at site where child-care facility was bombed. Does it not make more sense to make a donation to another school to honor memory of one destroyed? And bouquets; bouquets will rot and have to be hauled away by sanitation workers. Take them to nursing homes or hospitals or even a volunteer site to brighten some very drab lives. Emotions which are properly and imaginatively channeled can produce admirable results.
   By all means, take time to grieve when you are saddened: it is the healthy thing to do. Then do something to make sense of living. Nobody gets out of this world alive; while we're here, let us make the most of it and *go out with a bang!*

Besos y abrazos,
Jo Ann

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Suffer the little children

   Holidays are enriched by laughter and carefree merriment. Most of us can recollect the gleeful chortles of children, even if we never had kids. Innocent frivolity is to be cherished.
***
   This essay is about circumstances which are morally painful to contemplate: children in prison. Not just young persons in juvenile detention centers until 18th birthday is reached, but lifers. State of Michigan has 363 such persons. To date, one has been released. Sentenced at age 17, he served 41 years. He was complicit in a crime which included loss of life. Who gets a second chance?
   State Supreme Court has declared it unconstitutional to condemn juvenile offenders to life imprisonment without possibility of parole, except in those most grievous cases where no remorse is evidenced. All these cases are to be reviewed and retried: a daunting task. I have only heard snippets of the NPR series reporting on this situation but the little I have heard is depressing.
   Why are so many people in prison anyway; and why are a disproportionate number of those incarcerated, persons of color? We all know there is rampant prejudice: why do we tolerate it? How can we change it? Obviously, education is one of the better tools which can be employed to bring about change. Courses in arts, languages, and humanities expose people to different cultures, opening minds to new ideas. The sooner we all see that our *differences* are not only unimportant but basically non-existent, better off we will be.
   One of the conversations I caught was a person complaining about the time and cost involved in retrials and investigations. I wanted to scream: this isn't about an over-priced pair of shoes or some other triviality, but somebody's life. Yet I got the impression speaker was dismissing these prisoners as unimportant, as nonentities: *they're only kids who won't amount to anything anyway.* It didn't have to be said in so many words - the attitude came through loud and clear. Maybe part of what facilitates these atrocities is that the offenders are children, without rights or means to seek justice for themselves.
   If you know a prisoner, may you find hope and peace of mind. Maybe your next day looks ho-hum but there is likely a bright spot somewhere in your foreseeable future. Now think of those individuals who have no hope at all. Ever. Do not be quick to judge; find compassion in your heart.
   When one of your relatives is on your last nerve, you know they will eventually go home. Well, unless your the parent and the relative in question lives with you. Even that won't last forever. So please, spare a thought for those who won't be seeing family; maybe not ever again.

Blessed be.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Snark Before Christmas [letter 123]

Well my dear, here we are:
   I was writing out Christmas cards and listening to NPR (National Public Radio) when a pal texted me.
Pal: Can you believe November is gone?
Me: Christmas is right around the corner.
Pal: Yipee!!! Whatcha doin'?
Me: Writing out x-mas cards
Pal: Yeah, I gotta do that
Me: Starts to put me in holiday mood ... the rum and coconut coffee doesn't hurt ;)
Pal: I don't know what would put me in the mood
Me: Getting laid would work wonders for me
Pal: Girl, I don't know about you, lol [In case you forgot, that's textese for laugh out loud]
Me: I still have a healthy sex drive - so sue me

   The frenzy that began with Black Friday is gaining speed, much like a snowball rolling downhill. I recall hearing about Cyber Monday [for online shoppers] and 'Giving Tuesday' - apparently so one can *atone* for all the shopping one has done in previous days. Even when I could physically shop til I dropped, I had no interest in it: waste of time and money as far as I'm concerned.
   Friends are beginning to ask about my Christmas plans and whether or not I'm going to South Carolina. (Unfortunately, not any time soon.) On my immediate agenda: write out cards to global contacts, as those will need to be sent sooner to have reasonable expectation of timely arrival; get haircut; attend Christmas parties at Tecumseh Senior Center and Orchard Terrace; put up holiday decorations; get out of this funk I've been in.
   This is one of those letters that gets written over span of couple days. When I checked Facebook, learned a friend had tagged me in a post to let me know she appreciated my letters to her. It couldn't have come at a better time: had been feeling sorry for myself, thinking I didn't make a difference to anybody. We all need actual or virtual pats on the back from time to time.
   Got cards mailed to far-flung recipients - specifically those outside United States - and just as I had expected, next day brought postcards from Australia. I was a couple days late in sending birthday greetings to Tecumseh Senior Center participants; hope they are kindly disposed toward me and in a forgiving frame of mind.
   Still have quite a few actual cards to address. I readily confess some are postcards with holiday stickers and have already *forgiven* myself on grounds so few people even write anymore, that it will do. I'm big on self-forgiveness - good for my mental well-being.
   Out to breakfast recently, told my companion I wasn't sure whether to call this  The Snark Before Christmas or Visions of Sugarplums. Decided on former, thinking nobody even knows what sugarplums are. On that note, shall wrap this up and post.

Wishing you well,
Jo Ann