Thinking about the disturbing scene we saw yesterday while out shopping for used furniture for our new house: hoards of hyped-up people in ‘feeding frenzy mode’, some actually running and slamming shopping carts through the Goodwill warehouse in South Jersey for ‘$.99 a pound’ special sale. We noticed the many Mercedes and such high end vehicles in the parking lot. The phrase “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is proven true.
I remember a few years when I would shop for marina work clothes at Goodwill but my friend and partner Bruce would not. We made it a point to only get him new Carthartt stuff as a small luxury in his life. But meanwhile, I thought the Goodwill shop was great!
We didn’t find any decent furniture yesterday but we are in no hurry.
On Friday Lance and I took a long walk from our home in Belmont Hills, through the roads of Penn Valley and to the neighborhoods of Bala Cynwyd to my mechanic’s shop on Montgomery Avenue near the post office. It was perfect fall weather for a walk. We’ve taken that two and a half mile walk before; he loves it. Our Australian shepherd/Burmese mix just loves to walk. It’s a welcome change from the daily beach walks we’ve taken all summer. I first came to this neighborhood when I started graduate school in Philadelphia at age 21. That was 38 years ago. I left for a while to live in Doylestown but returned when it was time to start a family. Years later after a second divorce I left to live in Ocean City for a while but returned as soon as I could afford a home here again.
I passed my closest neighbor Joe on the street in front of the house. We said goodbyes knowing that our moving day is approaching. I joked with him that I thought I would die in this house, just like the former owner (a weird long standing joke between us). He has always been a great neighbor. I came to this Jones Street neighborhood in 2003 after divorce. I told a Realtor that I wanted a house in the Lower Merion school district with a yard where the kids and I could have a tree fort and a garden. Then I told him how much I could afford. He laughed. I bought this house cash “as is” for $132,000. The only thing from the original 1901 construction is the thick stone wall frame. We rebuild everything else. We did have an awesome treehouse and a garden and greenhouse and hot tub. So many nights were spent in the hot tub looking out over the lights reflecting off the Schuylkill River and the Roxborough radio towers. It was a great house.
Lance and I started up the steep hills from our block where my heavy breathing reminds me than I’m not getting any younger. Then past the library and the community pool where we made so many family memories when the kids were young. In the 1990s living in Narberth we lived to get to the pool in the summer. I remember some desperate measures we took to get there on hot summer weekends. I remember the last time I visited in my early 40s I swam a mile as part of a triathlon training and I never had the urge to swim again.
We passed my favorite trees in Belmont Hills; oriental apricots I think. I remember speaking with the owner once. I noticed that some other houses look like they’ve have had no attention in four decades.
We passed through the roads of Penn Valley that makes me feel like we are risking our lives to cross the street. I was tense. In Lower Merion, we say, traffic lights are only a suggestion. I remember the day I saw a kid doing donuts in the small park presumably in the parents’ Rolls Royce. I called the police later when I got home. They knew about it already but seemed unconcerned. The mix of interactions of the ultra-rich and ordinary folks has always been an issue here.
We walked past the Cynwyd houses where I delivered the kids for play dates and wound up at the Cynwyd Elementary School. I remember when the school was the center of the universe for us. Then the middle school next door. Then to Lower Merion High School just down Montgomery Avenue. It seems so long ago.
Approaching the commercial neighborhood I am reminded of my friends at Rotary. Life would be have been empty without them.
When I got the neighborhood where the kids’ apartment, I lost emotional control. I had to sit down at a bench and cry. I remember that they moved there with their mom and step-dad after our marriage broke. I felt so bad, that I had let them down from a nearly perfect family life. At my lowest moment of post-breakup despair I sneaked to the house there one night and looked into the window where the kids were sleeping. But I also remember being grateful that if I couldn’t be there throwing a ball in the yard with my kids, I was really grateful that Ed was. And there was never any doubt they had a super mom. The story of how our marriage broke is compelling, but not appropriate here. I remember saying that I needed to have more quiet time to read and to write. That was about the time that I started spending more time at Money Island, my summer home now.
After I pulled myself together we walked up to the drive-through ATM. I planned to withdraw a pile of cash to pay the mechanic. By amazing coincidence an old relationship pulled up. He probably wondered who was the weirdo walking through the drive through. It turned out to be Lance, the retired Philadelphia police officer turned trainer at Friends Central School. I used to coach wrestling there. Lance was an amazingly strong positive influence. I still remember the intensity of his exercise classes. I also remember his strong positive attitude. We hadn’t seen each other in many years but he recognized me right away. I wonder if he saw that I had been crying. I explained briefly and I invited him to bring his boat and visit me at Money Island.
We continued our walk through the center of Bala village. Wow, so much has changed. I remember when I had a house charge account at the hardware store after we bought our first home there. I was a regular customer with constant remodeling projects. The hardware store, the pizza parlor and the movie theater made that block the perfect downtown small neighborhood. We passed Stephanie’s condominium where my kids grew up; where they still call home. I’m proud of them – Steph and Ed and that whole community there for being such a positive force for Josh and Arielle over the years.
Of course it wasn’t all smooth sailing. The months and years of recovery from an assassination attempt and TBI. Absurd! Then the devastation of Superstorm Sandy on the bayshore business and how it ripped me away from my life in PA.
I thought about all the great effort that Lori put into selling this house and finding us a new home over this past year. She did a fantastic job. I deliberately disengaged from the whole process and that was the best approach for us. I know how blessed I am that she’s been able to tolerate me through all I’ve been through in the past two decades. Few spouses would put up with my drama.
When Lance and I made it to the marina work truck at the mechanic’s shop I felt emotionally exhausted. I couldn’t focus on work so I took the rest of the day off to move some lumber and household items.
It is likely that this will be our last walk through the neighborhoods of Lower Merion. Thank you for all the memories.
I know a father
Who had a son
He longed to tell him all the reasons
For the things he’d done
He came a long way
Just to explain
He kissed his boy as he lay sleeping
Then he turned around and headed home again
“Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.” – Elijah E. Cummings, July 2019, in response to Trump’s “disgusting, rat and rodent infested district” comments.
I firmly believe that ordinary citizens have these same duties of government oversight and advocacy for each other. This has been a core belief for me for as long as I can remember; even as a young child learning from mom and dad. Elijah Cummings taught me much about civil rights in my early teenage years. By the time that Methacton High School faculty chose me to receive the school’s annual citizenship award in 1976, a few months before our nation’s 200th birthday, I had already read about Cummings and had been influenced by his work.
Thank you Honorable Representative Cummings for serving as a personal role model and offering a lifetime of inspiration. Activism and advocacy is not an easy road, but a necessary one.
We do not ever really know what is in the mind of a judge who decides a case. We can only analyze the outcome. But we do know three things:
1) It is absurd to say that judges do not have predictable and demonstrable personal bias. Anyone who works with judges regularly as an underling or attorney would find the suggestion of open-mindedness in this article to be laughable.
2) The absurd political process of Garland/Kavanaugh will forever mar the reputation of the Supreme Court. The average middle-of-the-road person now sees the court as a political tool.
3) This threat to the reputation of the Judiciary won’t be fixed by denying the existence of partisanship in an academic setting like this William and Mary conference. How about data-driven analysis of case history?
When my refrigerator movers did not show up yesterday, I faced a dilemma. It was already getting dark and no response to text or call. Damn millennials strike again! My plan was well thought out. They would show up at the planned time, help me move in the new refrigerator from the trailer in the front of the cabin and take the old refrigerator that works fine but is a little smaller in exchange for their help.
In past decades I’ve moved plenty of refrigerators on my own. Once you get the doors off, it is not so bad. I learned that I can carry them “tortoise shell style” on my back even up flights of stairs. But today’s refrigerators are larger and I had doubts. Plus, I noticed a significant loss of shoulder strength and overall lift strength summer since I stopped going to the gym. At age 59 I should at least begin to consider these things. It was just too far from the bayshore and I would rather walk with the dogs. I realize now that skipping the gym was a mistake, but that’s a different story.
In addition to the physical concern, I notice an overall decline in my eagerness to tackle physical projects lately, especially in the heat. The lawn mowing, for example, was often delayed this summer before I finally get around to it.
So I decided to just do the “prep work” and then get another helper to move later. I stored the food in a large boat cooler, removed the refrigerator doors and cleaned it out. I thought that I might as well keep going while I have the time and energy. Then I removed the door to the house and the door on the the porch. Then removed the narrow door frame. So far, so good.
Now, while I had time, I could just move out the older smaller and lighter refrigerator. That went fine.
Then, before I quit, maybe I could at least get the new refrigerator off the trailer to the steps. It was ridiculously bulky and heavy. But it seemed manageable as long as I kept it tilted on an angle. Maybe I could walk it up these steps? That worked. Maybe keep going. Lets’ just get it into the kitchen before I put the house doors back on to keep the bugs out.
Wow. OK. Done! Both refrigerators moved. I didn’t think I could do it but it is done.
Only one problem: I measured incorrectly and the new larger refrigerator does not fit in the space. How did I make that error? I don’t know. Years of construction experience have taught me to measure twice. I did. I suspect a memory issue in comparing measurements at two different locations. So I moved the new refrigerator back out and is now an extra refrigerator in my porch office. The original refrigerator will get a new coat of appliance paint and go back into service. In total it cost me a half day of extra work.
Lesson learned: My memory capabilities may be aging faster than my physical capabilities. I write everything down related to my work and professional responsibilities. It is time to do that for personal activities as well.
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
– George Orwell in “1984”
Yesterday’s political lie and cover-up by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration left me surprised, disheartened and sad. I thought that NOAA was trustworthy. I used to think that the agency is guided by the scientific process. Yesterday the Washington Post reported that this is not an isolated event; that a “top official” had instructed its scientists to not resist Trump’s fake political propaganda in the recent past.
It is sad to see how far we’ve fallen as a society.