Collecting Sports Cards

This weekend I was educated by a third grade and a seventh grade boy about the phenomena of collecting sports cards. Now, I’m so old the only cards I collected were baseball cards, which we frequently attached to the spokes of a bicycle wheel to make it sound like a motorcycle or we played a flip game to trade cards. Of course I could buy five or so cards for a quarter and get a delicious piece of bubble gum.

Well, according to my new boy friends collecting cards is a big deal, not to mention a big money maker these days. Special boxed sets can reach thousands of dollars each, while some beginner sets average $50. Cards are available in any sport from the obvious baseball, basketball, football, hockey to soccer and wrestling. Sports cards may be submitted for grading to a number of companies like Beckett, PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator), and SCG where a card’s worth is determined on centering, corners, edges, and surfaces. To possess a score of 10 increases the value when compared to a one or 2. Further, this authenticity service costs a minimum of a hundred dollars per card!

Some cards may feature an actual signed autograph, a sticker autograph, or a piece of material from the player’s jersey. These additional enhancements increase the price of the card. In fact, yesterday when I was in the card store with these boys, they showed me an autographed card of a current football player I’d never heard of that was $3,000! Much more expensive than any of the signed jerseys hung around the store.

Granted I have little experience with boys this age, but it seems to me this is a giant ripoff–a small piece of cardboard printed with a photo and stats sold at the average price of ten dollars. Yet, the more I think about it as the mother of daughters, my girls collected credit cards–far more dangerous!

The Academy

As most of you know, I will launch The Academy, my third novel this week. It is a provocative tale that focuses on mass shootings, in an effort to advance the conversation of the availability of weapons to the public. It is not my intent to financially benefit from the sale of The Academy, which is available on Amazon. If you want a free copy, just PM or email me.

Please know, though, the plot of this book is not as far-fetched as it may appear.In November every national news outlet reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was investigating threats to US schools and universities. Though, the investigation is on going, the Bureau believes 50% are coming from overseas. Yes, that’s a lot to wrap one’s head around. Yet, if one reads reports on the tragedy in Ulvade, Texas, how does an eighteen-year-old, high school drop out, with no job, drive to the scene in a new $70,000 truck, wearing and armed with $10,000 of equipment and kill nineteen children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School? Good question? Follow the money.

Mixed Nuts

Of course, the title brings immediately to mind, the debacle and soap-opera drama played out this week on the floor of the US House of Representatives. Twenty toddlers stalled the election of Speaker McCarthy 15 times. Now, they may have found their antics hilarious, but how could I respect the opinion of one who was well aware of the sexual harassment of Ohio State athletes, or the GED grad from Colorado, or the Floridian who likes under-aged young girls, or the dumbest blonde in Georgia?? Further, while they knew their efforts were in vain, they continued their childish behavior by nominating Trump and other random folk. The only folks laughing were the rest of the world, who thought America had lost its marbles.

Yet, the purpose of my blog today concerns real mixed nuts. You know the kind you’re gifted in a fancy holiday tin, or the can you buy in the grocery store. Forgive me, if I sound boujee, but when I fly distances greater than two hours, I fly first class. At my age, I far too old to tolerate the cattle car mentality of some travelers and crammed-in seating with runny noses and fits of coughing. When I flew last month on American, the flight attendant served each of us a bowl of warm, mixed nuts at cocktail time. Since I had nothing better to do, I entertained myself by watching people eat their treat and discovered I’m an unusual nut eater. Most folk just took a handful and dumped them in their mouths. One dude picked up the bowl and poured the entire contents down! Me? I prefer to savor the taste of nuts by kind. Why waste a great cashew by mixing it with almonds? Or why mix a pistachio with pecans?

I guess it’s trivial how folk eat their nuts. Too bad it wasn’t trivial in DC last week.

January

The first month of the new year named from the Roman god, Janus. A two-faced god, who was said to look backward with pride and forward with hope. However, I’m reminded of the question: why is the rear car window smaller than its windshield? The answer is simple: it’s more important to where you’re going than where you’ve been. And as I age, I agree. Certainly, I think I had a good past. Were there things I could have, should have, would have done? Sure. A myriad of things, but do I get any do overs? The past is just that–gone. Now, my only choice is to look forward.

I’ve never had ESP; I’m not a seer. I can’t see the future. Hell, I’m lucky if I can find my car keys or glasses at any given time. But I can look forward to tomorrow, even though, I’ve no way of knowing how many I have left. I’m excited to introduce my newest novel, The Academy, later this month and anxious to meet my first grandchild next month! Thankfully, I still dream big dreams filled with both hope and enthusiasm for 2023.

Happy New Year friends. Enjoy your memories, but embrace your future. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t let the grass grow under your feet. Our world needs us to move on!

Christmas Past

One week from today it will be December 25, when folk all over will awake with excitement and anticipation of a new doll, a bicycle, a prime rib roast, or figgy pudding (whatever that is. Sounds awful.) As I laid in bed this morning and contemplated another arrival of Christmas, I was engulfed with fond memories. Then this afternoon, the UPS left a box at my door. I checked the label to be sure it was mine because my boxes usually come emblazoned with a capital A.

Pardon my digression, forty-seven (47) years ago, I was principal of an Ohio vocational high school and advisor to the yearbook. In those days, vocational education was a “dirty” word, until one’s car wouldn’t start or they needed a bricklayer. High school counselors encouraged masses of alleged misfits to go to our school, for they’d never be successful at doing anything else. In short, the vast number of those junior and seniors who enrolled came with labels, such as loser, bad boy, incorrible, juvenile delinquent, or drug abuser. Now I had begun my teaching career there four years earlier and had experienced just “normal” teenagers. Sure, they were different from the highly-motivated, academic superstars, but they were authentic. I learned early on that if I ask a question, I would receive an honest, candid answer. In fact, I loved them for their no bs answers, and admittedly I enjoyed their shenanigans.

When it came time for me to select the yearbook for the 1974-5 edition, I chose Paula. She was an enigma: extremely bright and creative, yet wrapped herself in a cloak of mystery. I was amazed by her perceptive view of the world and her level of adult understanding. In fact, she peppered numerous yearbook pages with the proverbial wise beyond her years quotes, from such people like Billy Graham, Robert Kennedy, and Winston Churchill.

I opened the UPS box today and read the enclosed card. Then I opened the pictured tin. OMG! Cookies from my homeland. What a sight to behold. Plus, each one brought back a taste of memories from Christmases past. Excuse me, while I savor the biscotti and reminisce about my years at the vocational school, which turned out successful graduates, like Paula, a social worker; Tony, an Ohio State University welding professor; Jamie, a hotel manager; and Sandi, a chef with her own Cleveland restaurant.

I’m honored to be remembered forty-seven years later by Paula and all the other students I taught along the way. But believe me, the pleasure was all mine; I loved what I taught, and I loved who I taught. Christmas is a wonderful time to remember those who brought and bring us great joy. Happiest of Holidays.

Things I Do NOT Want for Christmas

As a child, I was never jazzed by opening a present containing necessaries. Really? Some gift giver expected me to be exuberant over underwear, socks, or pajamas? As a soon-to be-bride, I had to psyche myself up before I went to the shower, where folk expected me to be excited about towels, sheets, pot holders, and spatulas.

Currently every member of my family is badgering me about what I want for Christmas, so I decided to make a list of what I don’t want. First, I do not want gift certificates to Hobby Lobby nor Chick-fil. Both of those establishments’ policies run contrary to my philosophy of employee-treatment. My only recourse is to not shop there.

Secondly, I do not want any more sit-arounds, and I’m not talking about furniture. Knick knacks, signs, pottery, random crap that just collects dust and has no useful purpose. I’ve already got a house full of unwanted, worthless stuff. And to go on on worthless stuff that would further include things like pizza warmers, anything pumpkin-scented or flavored, and hats. Yes, I detest hats, which mess up my do. Stocking hats, cowboy hats, and baseball caps. (Speaking for baseball caps, who ever dictated the obnoxious fashion of wearing them backwards? Ridiculous.)

But the worst thing I could be gifted is a damn puffer jacket! Yes, I’m well aware it’s winter, and yes, I’ve a closet full of flannel, sweaters, and stylish wool coats. I do not want a puffer jacket, nor puffer coat. In fact, I’d rather fall in a snow drift in Colorado and freeze to death than to be wearing a puffer jacket. I work hard at not being the Pillsbury Dough Boy, nor the Michelin Guy, so why would I walk into a trendy restaurant looking like the Goodyear Blimp?

But since my family will be very disappointed by my blog, I shall confess what I DO want for Christmas. No, I’ll spare you the trite world peace comment. I want my family to look around their own communities. Are there children or schools in need? Children who will never know the joy of a new bicycle nor a new pair of Nikes? Children who never had a new book, an art set, nor a backpack. Are there area food banks begging for donations? Are there folks living on the streets? Are the animal shelters in need of supplies, adoptions, or foster care?

When you’ve looked around your world, just write me a note, send me an email or text, and share what you did. In short, nothing pleases me more than the gift of giving.

The WORST Day of My Life

December 14, 2012. The day that former President Obama recently called the darkest day of his presidency. The day of the Sandy Hook Massacre when 26 people lost their lives. Twenty of which were between six and eight years old. Unfortunately, I was president of a large, suburban district school board ten years ago, and I have never recovered from that unconscionable tragedy.

The trend continued. No longer were theaters, malls, big box stores, nor houses of worship safe. Then in May of this year occurred another mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. My son-in-law, Brian, offered his “view” on these random killings. I listened and mentally tried to refute his theory, but the more I researched it, Brian might be right. Then he added, “You should write a book.”

No way in hell! I can’t write a book about my worst nightmare, my greatest fear. In spite of my repugnance, my conscience took over. If not you, who? Thus, in July I began to write The Academy. I cried, I laughed, and I even vomited once during the process. Based solely on Brian’s theory and totally a figment of my imagination, this book is heinous, provocative, and perhaps, frightening. Further, it is not suitable for those under 18 years of age.

The Academy published this week on Amazon in paperback-format only. (My very pregnant daughter, techno-guru had lost most of her patience with me to reformat for Kindle. If my book is widely received, I may issue a Kindle version.)

I have absolutely NO desire to make money from the sale of this book. The message is of UTMOST importance. I urge you to read it, think about it, and to act. With the holidays, my order for advance copies has been delayed until the first week of January when I will host a complimentary book-signing party at my casa. Those who email or private message me will be sent a complimentary copy. If you read my book and like it, spread the word.

First Day of (Puppy) School

My mini Bernese Doodle, Annabel, and I went to puppy school yesterday for our first class. My normally gregarious and energetic baby was reduced to a quivering mess. She and I couldn’t participate in the teaching of sit because she refused to stand; she just sat and stared at the other three rambunctious labs.

Of course, I was a bit embarrassed by her behavior, but then I recalled my own fears when I walked into new situations. Particularly, junior high school. I’d come from being a top dog sixth grader into a foreign world of sophisticated ninth graders. I was intimidated by their dress, style, and sophistication. During passing period I frequently managed to get bumped in the hallways or jostled in the cafeteria lines.

After a day or two of the cafeteria, I decided to take my lunch. I looked around the seemingly vast room, and seeing no one I knew, I sat down at a long table by myself. I was about halfway through my brown bag when she sat down. Oh ye gods, I was horrified! The most frighening girl in the ninth grade sat down next to me! Not even across from me, but next to me, sat Sally Sargent. Dressed in a white blouse and skirt complete with nylons and white tennis shoes, she began to eat cafeteria mystery meat.

I felt the perspiration spring across my forehead and was nauseated. I’d heard stories about Bullets–that’s what the boys called her. (I’m sure you understand why.) For some unknown reason, I reached into my lunch bag a pulled out a cherry tomato, but instead of popping the whole thing in my mouth, I bit into the middle. Much to my horror hundreds of seeds shot sideways all over Sally’s white skirt! Oh no, I’m about to be beat up by Bullets right now. I’m dead. But Sally was much too busy fawning over some guy who just sat down across from her. I snatched up my lunch and fled.

I had a talk with Annabel last night and told her this story. Hopefully, next week she’ll be able stand and sit on command. To be continued….

What About Us?

Since most of the elections are over (except in Arizona), the posturing of those elected has begun. Many breathed a long sigh of relief from the multitudes of disparaging TV ads and the constant political rhetoric. We looked forward to a period of contentment before it begins again in 2024. We were hopeful a spirit of cooperation would be the norm, and that politicians would strive to work together for the good of America and her citizens.

Contrary to our hope, the elected wasted no time to pledge retaliation, the removal of all opposing party members from legislative committees, and the continued destruction of states’ rights. Climate change issues, the January 6 investigation, and tax cuts for the poor and middle class are no longer priorities. Medicare and Social Security maintenance is threatened. Why?

I believe most folks aren’t jazzed about confrontation; we want to get along with our friends, family, and our neighbors. We want to work together in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation to resolve our issues and/or differences. And further, we are miffed by the jockeying and ‘good ole boy’ business as usual. Recording Star, Pink’s lyrics sum up our current situation:

We are problems that want to be solved. We are children that need to be loved. We were willing….

What about all the times you said you had the answers? What about all the broken ever afters?

What about all the times that ended in disaster?

What about us?

And so, I ask from about us? What about the USA?

Change the Filter

“Thank you, Alexa, for reminding me to change the air filters.” A necessary chore in most home across the US. In fact, filters are found in many products from coffee pots, to car engines, to cameras. Yes, they all need changed. But it’s time to change the most important filter of all–the human filter.

Politics is flush with those incapable of knowing when to change or clean their filters. Number 45 is a good example. His unnecessary mocking of Lying Ted, Ron Sanctimonious, and Youngken as Chinese. Is that really becoming of a President? James Robison of Life Outreach International, an evangelical minister and former supporter said he told 45: “Sir, you act like a little elementary schoolchild and you shoot yourseelf in the foot every morning when you open your mouth! The more you keep your mouth closed, the more successful you’re gonna be!”

Another example is the heir-apparent Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, who vows retaliation. Against whom? The Democrats? Well, so much for the Congress working together to resolve issues, he’s planning for war. My list could go on of politicians, like Arizona gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake who promised to secede Arizona from the Union upon her victory. Obviously, she was totally clueless about the Arizona Constitution. And yes Kari refuses to concede her election loss because it was rigged. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Herschel Walker must have never been to school with some of the strange notions that spring from their mouths, as conspiracy theories or Georgia is the greatest country in the United States.

My advice to all elected politicians and wanna-be’s is simple: Think before you speak and silence is golden.