Saturday, April 22, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Playing Opossum

F LoBuono
There was a recent post from a Facebook friend who was confronted with the "dilemma" of what to do with an opossum that was hiding under the shed in her backyard. She was frightened by its size and the fierce appearance of the animal (they have a mouth full of pointy teeth). She also feared that the creature would harm her dogs. So, of course, she elicited help from her Facebook friends. Most of the comments where of this variety:

They are such disgusting creatures. They creep me out! Lore it out of it's hiding place and blow it's friggin' brains out!!


Let's get a few things straight here. Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) are indeed funky looking to say the least. Some would say that they are downright hideous. Even their name is not "normal": it's spelled with an "O" but is pronounced with a "P". And, they are marsupials, the most primitive class of mammals on earth. That means that have existed, virtually unchanged, for millions of years. And, THAT means they are very good at what they do.

And, what exactly IS it that they do - besides mess up our garbage cans?

Well, they do a great job of eating things that are really harmful to us - like ticks, devouring thousands of them each weak. They also consume other disease baring pests like mice and grubs. Obviously, this helps prevent the spread of diseases like lyme. And, they are SO non-violent that their only defense when attacked is to play dead (i.e. playing opossum). No, they won't be attacking anybody's dog soon.

In other words, despite how they LOOK, they are useful creatures worthy of our respect. So, why DO we see them as so loathsome?

This is typical of human nature. We tend to fear, and then reject, those things that are foreign and/or strange to us. We renounce the simple opossum simply because of its rather unpleasant appearance, without considering what the animal has to offer. They have dark, beady eyes, pointy teeth, a rat-like tail, and disheveled appearing fur. I mean, what's to like? But, the lesson is to look beyond our preconceived notions of how things should appear and concentrate on what they can contribute.

It is the same with people. Never decide something's or someone's worth solely by their appearance. Don't judge a book, a person, OR an opossum, simply by their appearance.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Peg-Board 4/20/2017

Still waiting for these chicks on Pinterest to put grapes in a crockpot and make wine.... it's like they're not even trying.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Today's MOSTLY TRUE SHORT STORY: The Little Fig Tree

F LoBuono

When we were kids, my brother, sister, and I spent lots of time at my grandmother's Brooklyn town house. Located on Avenue W, between Ocean Parkway and Coney Island Avenue, the house was a classic piece of early 20th Century architecture: solid brick construction, center-hall skylight, 3 floors, front and back porch, garage, and a tiny patch of earth that passed as a backyard.

On that tiny wedge of land, my grandmother planted a fig tree. Legend has it that she grew it from a cutting of a tree taken from her ancestral property in Sicily. Wherever it came from, she treated it with the utmost TLC - almost like an adoptive child. She dutifully watered it during the hot, dry summers. She pruned off dead branches in the fall. She even carefully rapped it in burlap to protect the plant from the cruel winter winds.

We all reaped the benefits. That tree produced some of the most delicious figs I've ever eaten. And, it did so year after year.

Eventually, my grandmother aged to the point where it was no longer feasible for her to live alone in her townhouse and we had to place her in a nursing home. My family kept the home for a time until we could decide what was the best way to deal with it. We did our utmost to maintain its condition. But, of course, certain things would eventually fall by the wayside - like my grandmother's house plants (mostly begonias) and the little fig tree in the back yard. It was if that bush had lost its mother. After a few weeks, the fig tree appeared to be in distress, almost lonely, if you will. We did everything we could to try and save it - extra water - fertilizer. Nothing worked. The little tree just seemed to get more and more despondent. Eventually, nothing that we did would bring it back,and it simply died - we felt of loneliness.

My grandmother passed soon after. Perhaps, on some little plot of land somewhere, they are together once again.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Today's LESSON IN SARCASM: The Trump Doctrine

F LoBuono

Bomb the shit out of anyone who even thinks of threatening us. Kick the crap out of ANY uncooperative airline passenger. Screw any transvestite who uses the wrong bathroom. Fuck the environment. Blast endangered animals. Deprive women of their right to choose. Deport the filthy Mexicans. Deny the loathsome Syrians entrance. Lie whenever it is convenient. Strip due process from stinking minorities. Hate those who may be different. Worship wealth over justice. Save money by denying Healthcare for the most fragile. Spend money on weapons. Degrade science. Mock intelligence. Reward idiocy.

And, above all play golf.

That is all.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Today's MOSTLY TRUE SHORT STORY: The Whole World Smiles With You

F LoBuono

Rexie and I were bounding up Broadway, approaching the corner of Main St. It was a spectacular early Spring day, especially in comparison to the most recent spate of dreary, dismal weather. The warm sun kissed our faces and the gentle breeze caressed us, filling our hearts with the feeling that everything was once again right with the world. I'm sure that the simple joy of the day must have been reflected in our brisk pace and in the look on our faces - the popular song, Walking On Sunshine, might provide an appropriate sound track.

I noticed two women approaching. They also seemed to also be enjoying the day, window shopping at the Chocolate Shop located near the corner. One of them was observing Rexie and I as we gleefully continued our sojourn. Catching my attention, she said:

 I don't know who has the bigger smile on their face - you, or the dog.

Of course, this turned whatever grin I might have had into a full blown, beaming smile. It was if someone had taken something already pretty damned pleasant and made it even more so.

I love this town.

It can be so nice to share the joy - and, it's so easy to do.

Remember: When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Peg-Board 4/12/2017 Child Rearing

The pediatrician told me my daughter is going through a growth spurt . . . as if the 4 inch floods she's been wearing didn't give me a hint.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Syrian Ambivalence

F LoBuono

When I was a kid, both of my parents took the time to teach me how to deal with bullies. And, they shared the same philosophy: never start a fight and walk away if you can. But, never let anyone touch you or shame you. And, if you have to, strike back with conviction. Let them know that you are force to be reckoned with.

I have followed these teachings my entire life and they have served me well. As a young man, I encountered many bullies. I hung out with a pretty tough crowd and any weakness, actual or perceived, was dealt with harshly. You had to be strong to survive. And, I was. No, I was never that tough. But, I was tenacious in defending those principals. I would take a lot of shit. But, at some point, I was just not going to accept it anymore and you'd have to fight me - you might kick my ass, but you weren't going to get away without a tussle. I lost most of those fights (if not all). But, that didn't matter. At some point, the bullying stopped simply because they knew that EVERY TIME they picked on me, they would have a fight on their hands.

With this in mind, I have very mixed feelings about our Country's recent retaliatory attack on Syria. The cause of the retaliation could certainly be seen as a righteous: Forces loyal to Syrian president Bashir Al Assad used deadly nerve gas against their own people, including many women and children. The images of suffering and dying children were enough to fill anyone with horror. They apparently had that effect on President Trump who subsequently ordered the missile strike against the Syrian air base that allegedly launched the attack, claiming that a "red line" had been crossed. The United States was taking direct action in response.

This action has filled me with a great deal of ambivalence. On one hand, there seems to be no doubt that Al Assad is little more that a brutal dictator with little love for his own people. Most of the world, with the exception of Russia and Iran, see him as a monster who needs to be replaced. In other words, he is the consummate bully. And, as I mentioned above, at some point, the only way to deal with a bully is to punch him in the nose. Our missile attack can be seen as that punch.

However, on the other hand, I have some doubts as to the long term effectiveness of this strategy. As with most of Mr. Trump's decisions, they seem to be made quickly and viscerally. Normally, this can be a recipe for disaster.

First, it has not been COMPLETELY confirmed who exactly perpetrated the attack. It LOOKS like government forces executed the attack. But, we need more than just that. What if another entity accomplished this attack and made it LOOK like the Syrian government did it in order to create an intense, international backlash? This is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Second, why now? Syrians have been dying by the thousands for years - and, by various methods. Sure, nerve gas is particularly egregious and horrifying. But, isn't death from above, ultimately, all the same: death from above - whether it's by a 1,000 bomb or a nerve agent? In the end, the results are the same: dead innocents. Why have we not acted sooner? I'm sure there are many complicated reasons (The President seems to be discovering this about a lot of issues) for our failure to do more. The path to our future involvement in Syria is unclear.  One of Mr. Trump's campaign promises was to never get involved there. Now, by his actions, apparently, that policy has changed - or, has it?

Also, I am perplexed by the incongruity of an administration that one week BANS Syrian refugees, including desperate women and children, and in the next strikes their oppressors with vicious conviction. Unfortunately, this seems to be the modus operandi of this President and his administration. Mercurial is his way and we are left to interpret his meaning.

Only time will tell if this was the proper decision made for the right reasons at the correct time.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


F LoBuono

There must be a way.

There has to be a way.

We can't continue on this path.

It's a world on edge - closer and closer to insanity.

Reason has gone to shit.

Intelligence is mocked.

Truth is denied.

What is left when we lose our humanity?

Where is courage?

There is no one else to blame.

We are the captains of our fate.

Don't look to the heavens for the answer.

It lies within. . . Each of us.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Stay Hungry

F loBuono

When young children are frightened, they draw inwards. They are less open to people, ideas, and, therefore, learning. If a child was to grow up to live his or her entire life in some type of fear or mistrust, it is obvious that they would be "less complete" as adults. However, as we mature, we (at least most of us) begin to open and experience life without (or with less) fear, leading to a fuller, more productive existence. We learn more. We do more. We live more.

So it is with the government.

I think that we may see government as having a personality. That personality is shaped by the people who form it. They set the pace. That is a good thing - that's (supposedly) why these folks got elected in the first place. And, so is the case with the Trump administration. To their credit, they are creating the society that they promised they would. To simplify, at least in my mind, what that society represents is embodied in the President's America First platform.

On the surface, what's wrong with taking care of one's own first, right? But, when you look at it more deeply as a philosophy, you see how short term the thinking is. It's mostly based on fear, not strength. Like a frightened child, the Country is being drawn inwards. We are becoming less open to people, ideas, and, therefore learning (see paragraph 1, sentence 2). This may provide temporary comfort but it also stifles positive growth. Unfortunately, it seems that virtually every action by the government, be it Executive or Legislative, seems to be taking us in that direction. And, for better or worse, the world is taking notice.

There is a wonderfully obscure movie called Stay Hungry that stars Jeff Bridges and a very young Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bridges plays the rebellious heir to a Southern families dynasty and is fascinated by the sub-culture of bodybuilding. It is within this environment that he meets Arnold. Bridges is amazed by the intensity of Schwarzenegger's workouts and tells him so. Arnold responds by saying:

well, you can't grow without burning!

So, it is with America - you can't grow without burning.

To achieve the greatest results we have to do difficult things with open minds and hearts. To draw inwards is to live in fear and that has NEVER been the American way! And, that's another thing that I don't quite understand. The America that I know has always been fearless, open, protective of not only its own people and our best interests, but those of the world at large, too. THIS is leading. But, there is always an element of risk in leading. And, there always will be. We have always been willing to take that risk. So, why do the people who profess their tenacity about America and American values fail to see the weakness in the current approach of isolationism?

Bold people, bold nations do not live in fear. They do not cower. They do not look for excuses. They keep open minds and hearts. And, they lead.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Peg-Board 4/5/2017: Menopause

Gentleman, its not our fault....its really not.......I once read a quote that said "Middle age is a unending insult"....and not until now did I get it.......although unless I'm still kicking at 96, I'm past middle age, it's happening now....right we speak.....this thing called Menopause.....When i was a kid, my mother used to keep frozen hand towels in the freezer for her "hot flashes".....and she was always screaming and yelling...and 5 seconds later laughing at Carol Burnett..........she would just break down, or go for a walk by herself........I always thought it was because she had 7 kids (could of been part of it)....but she was going through "The Changes".....back then mothers just suffered in silence.....but I'm telling ya...the struggle is real.....never in my life did i know my thighs could just break out in a sweat.....or I would cry because my kid broke a "jelly jar", and I guess we just cant have nice things........and what the frig is with the weird increase of hair growth?....why do I suddenly have Madonna Poppa Don't Preach eyebrows?........and sleep?.....Yes, I can totally fall asleep......and sleep like a baby......until 4 a.m........What is that about?.....I'm not Amish.....I don't need to churn butter..........Menopause.....Change of life....whatever you wanna call blows ......I totally get it now Mom......