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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Saying goodbye

In the last few weeks, many notable luminaries have passed from our midst, now part of history, and all having touched our lives on many different levels.

The list of names is long for such a brief period of time: “infomercial king” Billy Mays; actress Gale Storm; actor Karl Malden; the “king of pop” Michael Jackson; actress Farrah Fawcett; “late-night sidekick” Ed McMahon; author Frank McCourt; actor James Whitmore, and broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite.

I remember flipping television channels and catching sales pitches from Mays, and giggling at the antics of Storm and retorts by McMahon; going into a hairdresser and asking for a “Fawcett” cut and sitting in a darkened theater enthralled by performances of Whitmore and Malden; humming a Jackson song and being moved by McCourt’s words, all fine watercolor memories, but for me, Walter Cronkite’s death brought more reflection than any on that list.

He had been a part of my life in the 20th century, perhaps more than any of the others.

It’s odd, but I have vivid memories of where I was and what I was doing when Cronkite broke the heart-rending news of John F. Kennedy’s assassination; the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald; when “one small step” was taken for mankind on the lunar surface and then again, when Apollo 13 Commander James A. Lovell reported he had “a problem.” He was there for us during the violent demonstrations in Chicago reporting the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and he was always there as the numbers of casualties rose day-by-day during the Vietnam War. He was there during the Watergate Scandal; he was there announcing the death of President Johnson and the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. He was a trusted voice and image, always there, always reporting events as they unfolded in real time.

Cronkite also reached back into history and as presenter and host of You Are There during the 1950s and then again, in the early 70s, he took me on historical newsworthy voyages of the past, opening each program with, "All things are as they were then, except... You Are There." and concluding each of those fascinating mini documentaries by saying, "What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times... and you were there."

For many years, Cronkite illuminated us all with his accurate and thoughtful reporting. I will miss this “most trusted man in America” and I will miss his other verbal signature, “that’s the way it is.”

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Entertaining idea: Birthday parties for a good cause

Today we are going to take a bit of a break from bizarre food and cover some ground on a story of real importance that I posted earlier today on my page. Please share this with as many folks that you know. It's for a very good cause.

The distinguished and celebrated actor, James Cromwell once said, “Pets are humanizing. They remind us we have an obligation and responsibility to preserve and nurture and care for all life.”

This same philosophy has been demonstrated day-after-day by a unique animal shelter known as Second Chance, located in the small and tranquil community of East Brookfield, Massachusetts, whose reach is nationwide.

Second Chance, with a grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, has instituted a notable program, Party for Pets, which has been designed to not only help animals, but provide birthday fun for children along with a good lesson in the grace of charitable giving.

Second Chance Animal Shelter is a rare breed of shelter, in that it is known as a “no-kill facility,” which means instead of an animal being euthanized if not claimed, Second Chance provides medical care, food, shelter and socialization training if necessary for animals until a new “forever-family” can be properly matched to adopt them.

Over the years, this 1200 square foot facility has done the impossible, and given thousands of dogs, cats and assorted creatures a “second chance” at life after being surrendered or abandoned by their caretakers.

In 2008, the shelter rose to national prominence as one of the top 20 facilities in the United States from over 1,000 shelters nationwide and was feted by the Zoo-Too Corporation, the Humane Society of the United States, the Shelter Planners of America, and the Pedigree Adoption Drive Foundation for the important work they do in creating loving homes for adoptable pets while promoting proper pet care with vaccination and spay/neuter programs

Now, more than ever, with the extended recession and unemployment decimating numerous household budgets, Second Chance has risen to the call and taken in an ever-increasing number of pets as families struggle to keep a roof over their head and food on their table.

If your child, or a child you know, has a birthday coming up, the Party for Pets program will provide a special party package for kids who are having a birthday and who are willing to ask their party guests to provide gifts for the shelter pets instead of themselves – it can be pet food or pet toys; designated shelter supplies or monetary donations; whatever is easiest to mail or ship back to Second Chance.

The child’s party package will arrive prior to their birthday and includes various party favors for their guests along with a special t-shirt for the birthday girl or boy.

In addition, if you live within driving distance, kids can bring the pet gifts to the shelter after their party and they will get a personal tour of the facility.

Whether you ship the gifts or bring them in, all children are encouraged to provide pictures with their written reflections on why they chose to have a "Party for Pets," and they will be featured on the “Star Supporters” web page of Second Chance.

To register for this important program simply follow this link.

As the child in your life celebrates his or her birthday, it will be an opportunity for them to reflect on the importance of their good deed and generosity, which helps to provide a re-birth or second chance for a homeless pet.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The top 11 things I will never eat (or have eaten and will never do it again!) Part 2

4. Heart - I put this in the same classification as those pesky kidneys – soapy flavor and I wouldn’t try again even if it were prepared like this.

5. Lutefisk – I heard about this delicacy from listening to Garrison Keillor talk about lutefisk on Prairie Home Companion. As far as I’m concerned, anything that looks like this after it’s been cured in lye is a definite pass for me.

6. Jellied corned beef – Nah-ah! This is the way corned beef is supposed to look.

Okay… what’s your take on this?

And, by the way, I’m being playfully wicked about this video but this is kind of where I am at with Lutefisk, although I’m sure some folks really enjoy it. I hope.….