Category Archives: charity

Palm Fronds, The Poodle Tree and Banana Bread

We survived Irma. And did pretty well, thank you.

Aside from landscape damage and some fence sections down, the house is fine. The cats were listless and annoyed, likely due to temperatures inside the housimagese getting close to 90° during the 72 hours we were without power. All they wanted to do was eat and sleep, which is pretty much all they do during any normal day.

I made a bazillion trips from backyard to the driveway, dragging tree branches from the one shade-providing tree we had. Let’s just say that in canine terms, it was a big, shaggy dog before the storm. Now it looks like a poodle with a very bad haircut. About half the tree is gone (The Husband did the best surgery he could) and instead of throwing shade, it’s just throwing crumpled leaves.

One palm tree out front snapped in half, and about 10 palm fronds bent, pointy end towards the earth. The Husband expertly removed those, too.  It looks better out there, but my  Sunday afternoon shady car washing spot is history.

When the power returned, I used the bananas I bought pre-storm to make a good banana bread, and shared it with the ladies at my salon. I figured everyone could use a little sweetness at this point. And frankly, there’s nothing like turning the oven up to 350° and baking a loaf of comfort to remind you how nice it is that you can shut off the oven in an hour and the house will still be nice and cool.

Hurricane Irma was ugly in a different way than Hurricane Harvey. It’s made places ugly, unstable and downright unlivable by force of wind and some flooding, rather than wind plus the sheer magnitude of  rain. In both cases, people lost homes, cars, businesses, pets, power and boats. But most have yet to lose their sense of humor and determination to fix up, clean up, restore and revitalize what’s theirs and what belongs to their neighbors and community. Our own house is still a very, very, very fine house, to quote the Crosby, Stills and Nash song.  Keep donating to the hurricane relief efforts of your choice, and help make everyone’s house a very, very, very fine house once more.



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Filed under charity, Current news, donation, Hurricane Irma

Day One of a Next Life

enjoylifeIt rained all day, courtesy of Tropical Storm Emily. A surprise storm that the TV weather wonks did not see coming, despite their constant bragging about using the latest in advanced radar technology.

But a surprise like this is fine. It’s been a good first day of a different kind of life. I ran, had breakfast and got down to the business of working on what I love – writing. I took a break to clean the bathrooms, went out on some errands, had lunch, worked some more and rode my bike on the indoor trainer before dinner.  My life is still as disciplined as it was when I punched a time clock, but now it is ruled by lists on a legal pad and a pair of white boards in my home office.

I have two interviews for part-time work scheduled this week, along with a volunteer gig that I have looked forward to and missed for a long time. I have given up contact with the standard nine-to-five world, but I’ve already gained a measure of calm and purpose. It’s not the same when you don’t leave the house and go to the same job every day. There is some sense of imbalance, a lack of the sure and steady grip on life. But this is part of the process of scaring myself into doing something bigger, different and more challenging. I was very good AT my last job, and I think I left the office in a better place than it was when I started. But I was not very good FOR that job. I was not forced to think or amaze anyone or use any of the skills I’ve learned in life. I thought about taking a holiday, a kind of “gap week,” to regroup first before moving on. But my energy is good and my mind is ready to head out and get to whatever is next.


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Filed under blogging, Careers, charity, employment, freelancing, unemployment

Note To The Blondes: I Heard You


I ran a 5K Sunday, part of my continuing tuneup/workout/preparation for my upcoming triathlon. Nothing out of the ordinary; it was a nice day and a decent run. And I ran into trash talk, which is pretty much par for the (running) course for me.

The two women thought I could not hear them. They assumed I was far enough away. I may be old(er), but my hearing is still testing as perfect. They seemed to think my presence at the event was unwarranted, unnecessary and downright silly. On the contrary, I did belong there, as did everyone else who chose to show up and run or walk. Partly, it was to pay the money towards a good cause (a children’s charity) and partly because it was a good excuse to get up, get out and move.

What is the deal with women coming out to a running event, a place where we should be delighted in each others’ strengths and abilities and be willing to push each other when the need arises, and instead knock each other down with words employed by the schoolyard bullies many of us have known, our children have known and whose tactics we claim to deplore?

I felt like walking up to both of them and pointing out that since they were both clearly over the age of thirty, their matching running outfits was more the kind of thing that looks cute on eight-year-old girls, but not so much on grown women. Then again, maybe that’s their bond. Maybe that’s what they use as a way to get through the tough workouts. That and knocking their fellow runners. I didn’t say anything to them; at this point, I’ve heard the insults often enough that I’m almost immune.

But I’m not invisible. I’m the everyday runner, not the elite athlete. I’m the mid-to-back-of-the-pack finisher, not the one whose getting the award. The phrase “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt” applies to me, because  after I’ve been there, done (run) that, the T-shirt is about all I get to take home. And that’s fine. It’s what I come for, along with making some new friends and learning some new things about my running that may help me at the next race.

So don’t insult me (unless you want to do it directly to my face and in full range of my ability to at least verbally strike back) or assume I’m less of a runner than you because I’m older, slower or not as pretty. It makes me mad, but I’ll warn you, it also makes me better.


Filed under charity, Exercise, Running

A Volunteer’s Sweet Spot


Donations (Photo credit: osseous)

After almost fourteen years at the same volunteer gig, I found myself looking for something new to do with what little free time I have.

I won’t go into all the ugly details on why I left. Short version: another volunteer with a drinking problem plus anger issues made it difficult and dangerous to be in the same place at the same time. I figured it was easier to leave than to call my husband from either the emergency room or the jail, depending on whether I failed to duck a flying fist or threw the first (and likely last) punch.

It’s hard to walk away from what you’ve loved and done for a long time, even if you’re not getting paid. My dad was a volunteer firefighter for years, and always said it was the only job he ever really loved. Never made a dime at it, and it took a lot of his time, but he never regretted any of that. As a volunteer for many years, I understand how he felt.

I found a new place to spend time and do a little good, however. A homeless shelter recently opened, and they needed help sorting donations and getting them ready for clients to use, both at the shelter and after they leave, when they have steady work, are sober and healthy and ready to set up their own households. My first day was yesterday, and in five hours, I don’t think I made much headway, thanks to the enormous amount of stuff in the donation area. It’s overwhelming that so many people care, and it’s a good thing that I am one of those chaos-into-order types. I love a good mess. Nothing gets me wide-eyed and buzzed more than madness that needs a method.

I know I found a good place, because I was genuinely disappointed that the donations room was closed today. I wanted to return and keep working, even though any hope at bending and squatting required a couple of doses of OTC pain meds.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Day is Monday, Jan. 21. Points of Light and the Corporation for National and Community Service are urging those of you who can to spend that day in some form of community service. You can learn more about how you can help at



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Is It Hot In Here, Or Is The A/C Busted Again?

Air conditioning

Air conditioning (Photo credit: niallkennedy)

In Florida, air conditioning is not merely a need, a necessity and a daily expectation.

It is a birthright. It is as much a part of the normal routine as left-lane slow drivers and seasonal out-of-towners in socks and sandals.

And at the moment, the A/C in my office building is broken, yet again. In other words, it’s slightly cooler outside in mid-August than it is inside. I’ve been here just over two hours, and I’m on my third thirty-two ouncer of ice water. And did I mention that our restrooms are being renovated and therefore out of commission, necessitating a trip to another floor for relief?

All this could be amusing, if it wasn’t a repeat performance. It could be forgiven if the building manager was actually someone who could manage a building; she’s an accountant by training who thought managing an office building was something fun that she could do on the side for extra money. So far, the only extra money she’s seen is the money that’s gone out to pay for repairs and lawsuits. Note to all you wanna-be landlords and property managers who think how cool it would be to work in this field: don’t, unless you plan to be good at it and full-time when you do it.

I know there are worse places to be living and/or working. Plenty of places in this country not only lack air conditioning, but reliable plumbing, heating and electrical systems, to say nothing of basic food and medical care. We respond to national and international disasters regularly with open hearts and generous wallets, but we often miss the daily long-term suffering near us. Perhaps because it tends to be quieter. Instead of the roar of a tsunami, or the grind and crash of an earthquake, people who do without the basics every day seem to do so with less noise; not because they are happy and peaceful, but perhaps because the situation leaves them resigned and hopeless.

I like giving to charity, and I prefer it to be as local as possible. Don’t get me wrong; I feel for people who lose everything to earthquakes, tornadoes, civil war and other disasters that don’t impact me personally. But when I want to see my money translate to improvements first-hand, it goes to the folks who take care of my fellow locals. And speaking of care, the A/C is finally back on. Now, on to more charitable thoughts. Like putting some money into the local economy with a lunch out tomorrow.

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Filed under charity, donation, Uncategorized

Step out the door and into someone else’s hungry world

In spite of years of living thinly, columnist and blogger Donna Freedman has always managed to find money to donate to good causes. She keeps the spare change she finds all year, adds it up, adds a bit more on top of that,  and writes a check to a food pantry or homeless shelter for the amount. That spare change allows her to stretch her ability to donate, and the money allows the shelters and pantries to buy food in bulk when the need is there, which is pretty much a year-round situation these days.

No longer are we hearing about food giveaways just at the holidays. Pantries are receiving double and triple the number of requests from previous years, and the increased demand stems not from the chronic poor, but from formerly middle and upper-middle class families who are used to having homes, jobs and nice possessions, but have lost most or all of them to unemployment, loss of health insurance and the rising cost of food, gas and rents.

I happen to live in a nice area. Homes are a mix between 1960s two-bedroom cottages and McMansions on the water, with everything in between. It’s a neat bedroom community with low crime and attentive, caring  neighbors. This is one of the more expensive counties in the state in terms of cost of living. Yet, with all the wealth, the resident celebrities, the mansions, yachts and golf courses, the hungry and needy are not far away.  There are 125 agencies in the county that help feed the needy, according to the local United Way. You don’t need to go far to find hunger in this town.

I’d like to join Donna in asking you to step outside your world for a minute. No matter how little you have, someone else has less than you. Someone is lying awake nights, wondering what’s for dinner tomorrow, and it has nothing to do with making a choice, because there is no choice when there is no food. Imagine your pantry with nothing in it. Imagine your refrigerator as an empty space. Imagine deciding between the utility bill and breakfast food. For the over 50 million Americans living with poverty and food insecurity, there’s nothing to imagine; it’s all much too real.

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Filed under charity, donation, hunger, poverty