The Super Bowl is coming, and this is a very exciting event for most Americans.  Anyone with a life is either hosting or attending a party,  right?   In my younger days, I always attended these parties, feeling that  I had to feign interest while scarfing down a bunch of greasy, high calorie snacks.  What’s wrong with me?  Why don’t I like football?

Everyone has a superbowl party, but now everyone likes football

Maybe it’s because I attended parochial schools for the first 12 years of my scholastic life.  At my Catholic girls’ school,  the nuns were more into Christian doctrine drills than football drills.

I didn’t play sports, and if I got sucked into some neighborhood game, I literally sucked.   The first time I got hit by a baseball was the last time I held a bat.   I bear a permanent scar on one eyebrow because I stood too close to someone swinging a golf club.  Once, some kids on my block decided we should all play football.  I got so confused that I walked to the park and played on the swings.  I do like to swim, but my form is pathetic.

In college, I actually dated a football player for a while.  Not sure what that relationship was all about, but it didn’t last. (Dodged a bullet there.)  I went to a big ten school, and everyone in my dorm or sorority house went to the games.  I enjoyed that, because I had the place all to myself for a few hours.

I knew I should be more athletic, but it never worked out.   After college I tried to play tennis off and on through the years because it was the “in” thing to do and I thought it was an easy way to exercise.  I met some nice women who actually were good tennis players, but the most I  got out of the sport were some  cute tennis dresses which I later donated to the Goodwill.

In every job I ever held after college,  football  was very important.   Professional meetings never got off the ground until the discussion of last night’s game or this or that player had been thoroughly exhausted.  I tried to fit in by nodding and smiling but I don’t think I fooled anyone.  Probably, I could have bonded more with my male co-workers if I had at least had an opinion on who was the best quarterback.

Fortunately, my husband of 30 years has little interest in sports.  He does root  for the Corn Huskers because of his home state, Nebraska.  And he  understands football, which helps me on the rare occasions when we do decide to watch.  Sometimes we get worked up about the Super Bowl, because there’s usually an underdog that we’re rooting for.  Or, because we’re Hoosiers, we liked to brag about the Colts when they were in their heyday.

Some people don’t like football because the professionals make too much money.  I don’t really care what someone gets paid to get their head bashed, and it doesn’t bother me if they kneel during the national anthem.   It’s a brutal sport, and as far as I’m concerned, should be eliminated from all school athletic programs.

Happily, we are past the age where we get invited to Super Bowl parties..  Next Sunday, we’ll probably turn on the television for a while just to watch the commercials and halftime entertainment.  And then we’ll go back again toward the end of the game.  But the truth is, I’d rather read a good book

DOWNSIDE of being BABY of the FAMILY

If you were not the baby of your family, you probably envied the sibling who was.  You thought they got all the attention, were pampered, and spoiled. As the baby of four siblings, I have to disagree.  Here’s the downside of being Baby of the Family:

My older siblings, consisting of a pair of twins and the eldest—were 4 to 5 years older than I was.  This meant that during family meals, I  sat  in a high chair or booster, listening to them conversing among themselves , while I was merely a silent observer.  Do you think this changed when I was an adult?  Absolutely not.  Even when all of us had spouses, they talked politics and money over my head, while my opinion wasn’t even asked for.  I never complained about this to anyone, because I was so accustomed to that left-out feeling.

In the nineteen forties, most people sent and received volumes of printed Christmas Cards.  I remember when I could first read, and the surprise at  seeing my name included in the names of my parents  children.  Wow, I thought, I really am a part of this family.

While older siblings may think the baby of the family is spoiled, it doesn't always feel that way

Then, there was the hand-me-down issue.  That was the day of hand knit sweaters.  After years of wear and washing, they were typically matted and shrunk, but they fit, and if I wanted to stay warm in the winter, there was no alternative.  Other hand me downs included faded dresses, and coats with frayed sleeves and mismatched buttons.  Easter and Christmas were the exceptions.  My mother always sewed new outfits for those occasions.  So I really looked forward to going to church on holidays, in my brand new clothes.

Did I consciously resent wearing mostly hand me downs?  Actually, I never thought about it and I don’t recall feel sorry for myself.  After all, money was scarce, and wearable clothes had to be salvaged.  It was only years  later that  I realized hand me downs made me feel less valued than my older siblings.

The baby of the family is usually sheltered from any bad news.  When my Dad lost his job, I wasn’t told about it.  And yet, I sensed there was something wrong.  Other family mishaps were kept from me, even after I had  left home.  Only when the crisis was resolved did they tell me what had happened.  This was meant to be kindly, but it left me feeling useless.  If I couldn’t help my family through trouble, what good was I?

The past ten years have made me realize the saddest thing of all about being the baby of the family.  My parents and siblings have all passed away, and I am the only one left.  Yes, I have my children, but there’s no relationship so close as that between brothers and sisters who share the same DNA.  Right now, I would give anything to go back to that moment in time when I was sitting at  the family dinner table, mutely listening while the conversation swirled around me.


Why do people buy  newspapers today?  Simple.  It’s because they like the feel of a newspaper, the leisurely way you can skip back and forth between different stories.  It’s not at all the same as online reading.  And so, it was a big disappointment when the Indianapolis Star announced that it’s owner, Gannett Company,  will no longer send us the USA today section we’ve grown accustomed to.   Help! Our newspaper is shrinking.

I realize that real, paper, newspapers have been losing money for years.  The reason, of course, is the internet.  As an example, classified ads used to bring in some money to help run the paper.  But most people use Craigslist if they’re looking for an apartment or household services.  It’s free to the seller and buyer alike!

We have had two newspapers delivered to our door for over 30 years.  Our local paper for the obits, advertising, local events, city politics, and general gossip.  For more in depth coverage  of national news and broader interests, we’ve always loved the Indy Star.  While on winter vacations in Texas, Ga., and Florida, we never found a metropolitan newspaper more to our liking, with its common sense reporting and intelligent editorials. And since my daughter lives in Indy —and doesn’t take the paper—I often know more about what’s going on in her city than she and her family do.

Reading newspapers online isn't nearly as satisfying

As retirees, one of our simple pleasures is having a morning  cup of coffee while poring over the newspapers.  My husband loves all the funnies, and has even converted me to a couple of them.  We both enjoy the bridge columns. He likes the jumble.

Often, we spend the better part of an hour rattling the papers and discussing different news stories.  Sometimes, one of us will miss a story until the other asks what we thought of it.   We may pass the newspapers back and forth two or three times to make sure we’ve covered everything.

So now, our paper will be thinner, with the elimination of the USA today section.  I hope this isn’t a portent of things to come, but I’m afraid it is.   Reading the newspapers online is not the same experience, at all.  You can’t absorb it in depth, or pass it back and forth.  And if you have achy fingers or carpel tunnel,  it can be painful reading long articles on your smartphone.

All we can hope is that our newspapers won’t  leave this world until after we do.


There’s some psychological competition between  Northerners and Southerners  each winter.  If you live in Florida or Arizona, or have spent mega bucks renting a condo, you tend to enjoy hearing about snowstorms up north.  Conversely,  Northerners who  stay at home laugh when their snow bird friends complain about a run of  cold weather Down South.  Winter brings on feelings of schadenfreude between the two  regions of the country.

Everyone enjoys a winter vacation in the South, except when the weather turns bad

While living  in Florida year round, I remember the joy of basking in the sunshine while the media blasted horror stories about ice, snow, and  power outs up north.  That felt good for a few months.   But along came early summer, and when it  got hotter and more humid, and the greenery turned yellow,  I missed cool spring rains, deep green leaves, mysterious gray skies and daffodils in bloom.   I grew tired of the torrential rainfalls, and the searing heat of summer in Florida.

The thing I remember most clearly: you seldom saw children playing outside in residential neighborhoods.  Kids stayed inside in the air conditioning all summer.  Hard to believe, but the sameness of perpetual sunshine gets boring after a while.  Then, i yearned for the crisp cool air and brilliant foliage of an Indiana autumn.

Let’s say you’re spending $3,000 a week for a condo on the beach in January.  Your enjoyment of each expensive day is inversely proportional to how bad the weather is back home.    On the other hand, a week of cloudy, cool, days in your rental seems  like a wasted $3,000.   Added to that regret is the hassle of packing your car for days ahead of time and  staying in motels  along the way, which may have bedbugs and lumpy mattresses.

Of course, some very lucky people own homes or condos in resort areas, and can afford to fly back and forth at will.  I’m not talking about those fortunate folks.  I’m thinking of the millions of people who pack up the car and endure the discomforts of a very long journey for a relatively short winter vacation. Driving hundreds of miles back and forth can be hazardous.   Unexpected misery along the highways may include big city traffic hassles;  blinding rains;  snowstorms in March; Spring  tornadoes, hour long traffic stalls due to deadly accidents; and food poisoning in strange restaurants.


Finally, one day, you decide that after a certain age,  going South for the winter isn’t really worth the effort.  You get in a load of wood or install an electric fireplace.  You invest in warm flannel sheets. And then, one night in February, you find yourself comparing temperatures between here and there.  When you see a bad weather forecast in  your old resort city, you smile to yourself, thinking of all those folks shivering in cold damp condos and yes, you feel a bit of schadenfreude*.


*schadenfreude:   pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune


Yesterday, it began to snow and blow here in Indiana.  I  reached for a can of salt crystals to sprinkle on the sidewalk, and found they had melted into a solid mass.  Panic.  I grabbed my coat,  and drove over to Rural King for a new can of sidewalk salt,  and free popcorn.  By the time I got home,   I was so hungry that I finished half a bag of popcorn before I’d taken off my cap.  It’s true.  Cold weather makes you hungry. Watch out for Winter Weight Gain!

Out bodies get hungrier in the winter
Watch Out For Winter Weight Gain. Have a cup of green tea instead of a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

There’s a lot of research to explain why our bodies respond to decreasing temperatures with hunger. It’s an instinct inherited from our ancient forebears. Apparently, the healthiest members of the tribe  survived by upping their calorie intake as the days got shorter and colder.

Cardiologist  Ira Ockene explained to National Public Radio.:

“We are driven by things implanted in our brain a long, long time ago.”

His research conducted at the University of Massachusetts Medical  School found that, in 593 participants from 20-70 years old, people consumed an average of 86 more daily calories in the fall than in the spring.  Worse yet, that increased to 200 extra calories per day in the winter.

He explained that when the days get dark earlier, we’re biologically compelled to seek out more food  and eat faster than usual — an ingrained behavior he likens to what a chipmunk does.

Ockene  also cited an earlier study in which participants ate more as the season changed  but reported still being hungry despite the larger meals.  This  suggested the seasonal effect on hunger might overpower normal satiety triggers.

Okay, so we don’t have to feel guilty about putting on a few pounds over the winter.  On the other hand, there are ways to ward off those hunger pangs.  As soon as your stomach starts demanding more food, stop a minute and tell yourself that you live in a warm place, not a cave, and you don’t really need to stuff yourself with chocolate chip cookies.

Heat a cup of  water in the microwave, and reach for a bag of green tea.  Maybe give it a little flavor with some mint or peach  tea.  Sit down and drink it slowly. There now, your stomach is calming down.  You’ve warded off the winter hungries.  Now, go do something else to take your  mind off food.  Read a book.  Scrub the kitchen floor.  Play a game on your computer.

And remember,  spring is just around the corner.


The word “teenager” didn’t even exist until the early 1950’s.  Before that, teen aged children had some pretty serious things on their minds.  Their parents were just coming out of the depression and World War II.  Many teens were  lucky to have a roof over their head and 3 meals a day.  They made their own entertainment, playing ball, and outdoor games like Kick The Can.   They  didn’t have cell phones or cars or laptops.  And they didn’t take guns to school.  Now, teenage angst and school shootings are on the rise.


Most teenagers in the early 50’s had after school or weekend jobs.  We bought out own clothes ( or made them) and paid our own way to the movies.  Since we hung out at the drug store when we weren’t working,  we saved up for money to buy cokes and milkshakes.  If someone borrowed their parent’s car, they were expected to pay for their own gas.  Most moms didn’t work, so if  Dad lost his job,  the teen had to help out with food and other basics.

Some of our high school classmates were Jewish or Catholic World War II refugees,  from places like Germany and Poland.

What kinds of job did kids have? For girls, mostly baby sitting until you were fifteen.  After that, you could get a sales job at a department store.  Guys mowed lawns and worked as stock boys. If the dad had his own business, a boy was expected to work there on weekends if he wanted extra money to take his girlfriend out on a date.  Restaurants were mostly locally owned, and there were no fast food franchises like McDonald’s where teens could work.

My country cousins had guns.  They hunted in the woods and shot rattlesnakes.  A gun was a necessity for protection if you were isolated on a farm.  Generally speaking, city boys did not have guns.

Fast forward to 1990, the year when the World Wide Internet was established.  In a comparatively affluent society (compared to 1950) kids stayed home and played on the internet. They sent e mails. watched porn, and learned about guns.  Instead of going to a movie once a week, they could watch TV every day, and see lots of violence in action . Then, in 2004, along came Facebook.

Beginning in 1998,  school shootings began to increase. During the 20th century, mass school shootings killed 55 people and injured 260 others at schools,  especially in America’s Western region. Most of the 25 shooters involved were white males who acted alone, and only nine were diagnosed as suffering from mental illnesses at the time. Sixty percent of shooters were between 11 and 18 years old.

It’s getting worse in the 21st century. According to a recent study,  more people have died or been injured in mass school shootings in the US in the past 18 years than in the entire 20th century.

Here’s how it looks from here.   Teenagers today have too much of everything, including leisure time to bully each other on Facebook, have sex, play violent video games, and yes, think about taking a gun to school and shooting someone because they’re suffering from “teenage angst.”

Is gun control the answer to the problem?  Or is there something wrong with the way kids are being raised today?


A lengthy obituary of a socially prominent woman in my town spoke of  her impressive education,  and the numerous positions she had  held in the field of journalism.   Toward the end, the writer proudly proclaimed that  the lady  was a “stickler,” quick to correct anyone’s use of poor grammar.  This made me wonder. Did she write her own obit? Or maybe it was one of her children, who thought this was laudable.  What do you think?  Should you correct someone’s grammar?


Let’s face it.  Poor grammar is usually a sign of lower social status in metropolitan areas where most people are well educated. But in rural communities, especially in the Heartland, many farmers are only two generations away from their grandparents who emigrated from Europe. Although affluent,  clean,  and respectable,  they may make grammatical errors like “he don’t” instead of “he doesn’t.” Recent immigrants of all social classes often use poor English, but if they happen to be a doctor or college professor, grammar snobs are more forgiving.

As parents, it’s part of our job to correct our children’s grammar.  And most people find it acceptable if their spouse or significant other says something like, “You don’t lay down, you lie down, dear.”  Other than that, I believe it’s rude to correct another’s grammar, especially in public.  Why would you do it, except to show your moral superiority?

In December of 2017, Fiona McDonald,  CEO of ScienceAlert  reported:  “Scientists found that people who constantly point out grammar mistakes are pretty much jerks.”   Apparently,  those who are often bothered by grammatical error have “less agreeable” personalities than those who just let them slide.  And what about those who are sensitive to typos on your Facebook page.? Psychologists say they’re less open, and more likely to be judging you for your mistakes than anyone else.

Let’s face it, most of us make grammatical errors from time to time.  We say “who,” instead of “whom,”. Or “which,’ instead of “that.”  And , God forbid, we might even end a sentence with a preposition.