Sports Announcer

 I surprised at least one friend when I posted, “WPS a runaway game. NC needed the mercy rule. 21 runs for Arkansas to their 2.”

“I never would have guessed you were a baseball fan,” wrote my former co-worker John.

“We were traveling. I kept hubby updated as he drove,” I answered.

Initially I didn’t realize I had married a sports fan. With no TV, poor radio reception and lots of children to supervise, we did not need to import crowd noise.

I knew my Hoosier bred and born hubby loved basketball. He worked long hours at the lab yet found time to take the boys to games, put up a hoop and checked the scores. Although I came from a family of basketball players, following my first college basketball game, my roommate observed, “You looked bored.”

“I was.” I never returned. I focused on books, sewing, music and family.

Then one day, he hauled the radio outside.

“Why are you doing that?”

“I want to hear the game.”

And that began the evolution of our home from no games and no TV home to black and white and eventually a large, modern, flat screen. During games I often escape to the sewing room. Doesn’t bother him, he stands in the door during games to announce scores and amazing plays.

I nod, snip threads and rev the machine.

Razorback football hardly warranted any TV time last fall. “Ahh, they will never get it right.” “Come on. Hold onto that ball.” “We need another coach.”

Razorback basketball reached the Sweet Sixteen, and he glowed.

Then came this year’s Razorback baseball team with one victory after another. “This pitcher is incredible,” hubby gushed. “They may start out slow but they usually end up winning,” he said repeatedly.

Too busy to leave my lounge chair, I accepted the ball game as background noise with the occasional excited command, “You gotta watch this replay.”

The ball flew across the plate. Sometimes a bat caught it. Someone caught it. I nodded and returned to my project.

This spring we took several trips during important games with little or no radio reception.

During the tense play-offs with New Jersey IT the radio failed. “Usually I would root for them as the Cinderella team, but I really want the Razorbacks to win,” my sometimes sports fan declared.

He fiddled with the controls. I cringed at annoyingly loud, static radio broadcasts until I heard nothing intelligent. Using my cell phone, I found a site with online, live statistics.

“They made a run,” I read aloud. For the next couple hours I tapped the phone every few minutes and reported the latest score as he drove. The NJIT wins took the Razorbacks to the super regional playoffs. The first game found the two of us traveling in the deep woods. He drove, I read the stats.

“Does this little diamond with dots show players on base?”

“Yes.”

I quickly deciphered the terse comments as the Razorbacks scored run after run.

“They need the Mercy Rule,” I said proud that I knew it meant the officials should say, “You win.”

“They don’t do that in college,” he said.

The Razorbacks won 21-2 against the North Carolina TarHeels on Friday. My cell phone provided the stats for the game on Saturday. We were home in time for the TV announcers on Sunday. I bet the Razorbacks wished they could have carried over a couple of those runs for those games. They lost 5-6 and 3-2.

That ended my season as announcer. I may not love the game, but I do love my guy, and he really wanted to know the score.

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The giving spirit

The impulse to give sweeps over a child and they find a gift.

For my two year old, venturing out that spring day, the cheerful daffodils burst forth with color right at his level. As I chatted with the neighbor who planted the crocuses, he grabbed a daffodil in his little fist and pulled. The green stem yielded. He triumphantly toddled over and presented the flower to me.

I smiled with regret at the gift, “Thank you. It’s pretty, but we must not pick our friend’s flowers.” The old gardener never said a word. As a great-grandmother, she knew children.

As did the mother of Tyler, our three year old great-grandson. He came into the kitchen as I sat at the counter inspecting the colorful gift bag of treats she had given me and the Mother’s Day Card. “We are late and I didn’t get it mailed, but we were thinking about you,” she laughed when she handed it to me.

“No worry,” I said and opened the card.

That’s when Tyler walked in. He saw the card and bag in front of me and figured it out, “it’s your birthday?! I have a present for you,” he declared so excited to celebrate a birthday.

He walked over to the corner, climbed up on the counter and grabbed a wooden stand holding the outline of a dinosaur.

“I painted it for you,” he asserted handing me the blotchy colored piece of wood. He had used every paint color available to him that day The colors ran together into a purple swirl of colors.

“Happy birthday,” he was so proud to give me a craft he made all by himself. I laid it beside the bag of treats to take home.

Before we reached home, we stopped at my son’s house where Henry, 8, just celebrated his birthday. Flush with birthday money, he insisted he wanted to buy sweets for his family. His mother negated the bags of candy but okayed the purchase of one box of ice cream bars. Henry proudly handed one each of his siblings, his dad and his grandparents. “He always wants to spend his money on others,” his mom said.

I already had a hint of that. On the kitchen window ledge I have a tiny, plastic trophy and a tiny, plastic toy fish tank from Henry. The trophy declares me the number one Grandmother. The hand-size tank reflects his desire to share his fascination with the unique toy with us. I placed the dinosaur beside them.

I don’t keep every child’s gift on display. Some I store in a drawer of mementos. One I received years ago. During a visit, Basil silently held out a green yarn monster with blue sponge feet that he had made at church. He never explained. He simply handed it to me very seriously. I still have it.

I only have the picture of the day I came home from the hospital ready to introduce the new baby boy to his big brothers. All the boys gathered around. I wondered how the two-year-old would react to no longer being the baby. After all he still clung to a nightgown he had claimed as his comforter on sad days.

The baby stretched, opened his eyes, looked around and began crying. The two-year-old stared, turned and ran to get what the baby needed. He returned with the bright red nighty. Wordlessly, he thrust it at the newborn and watched expectantly waiting for the baby to calm.

That’s when I knew this big brother would be okay. He had quickly given his most cherished item as freely as only a loving child does when they feel that impulse to give.

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Remembering Forrest

 An hour before meeting for lunch with my husband’s oldest brother Forrest he called. “I got Marie up but she is not responding.”

“Sounds like you need a doctor,” I said.

Forrest called. An ambulance took his wife Marie to the hospital where she stayed a couple weeks receiving treatment for a severe infection.

“We will meet for lunch next time,” we said. Then Forrest contracted Covid. Maybe he was exposed while working at the food pantry. Maybe he caught it when he delivered vehicles for dealerships. It doesn’t matter. Covid sent him to the hospital for a month. Finally we received news of his transfer to rehab to rebuild his strength.

A few days later, early in the afternoon, the next older brother Frank called, “Forrest had to go back to the hospital.”

“That does not sound good,” my husband observed.

Within hours Frank called back, “Forrest died.”

Not the outcome we anticipated for the brother who defied his doctors after heart surgery and shrugged off his prescribed medication, “I don’t need that stuff,”

He survived and kept active. Some concluded, “He is just too stubborn to die.”

His health, energy and stubbornnes meant his wife could stay home. Years ago she fell and broke her neck. As a paraplegic she could answer the phone, cook, do dishes and laundry and supervise the home schooling of a couple grandchildren. Still she depended on him every day for help getting up and going anywhere. When the infection cleared she left the hospital with many prescriptions.

Forrest brushed aside the necessity of the hospital. He insisted, “I usually catch the signs of infection and give her vitamin C I just missed it this time.”

After she returned home, he shoved aside the prescriptions and gave her massive doses of Vitamin C several times a day to finish clearing the infection. That same medical assertiveness challenged the nurses during his Covid hospitalization. Other than oxygen and some help, he knew what he needed. He had been right about his wife and his heart. Why wouldn’t he be right about what he needed for Covid?

No oneh told Forrest what he needed to do and he lived to see his 85th birthday. He lived to see six adopted children grow up and have children and grandchildren of their own.

He left us all with a mixture of memories.

“He had such a good hearty laugh. I am smiling just thinking about it,” my daughter recalled. No matter what time it was, he always greeted folks loudly with his signature, “Good morning.”

“He called all of Dad’s kids, ‘George,’” my son recalled.

In the days after the phone call, my husband mused, “he sang baritone and competed in musical competitions in high school. After high school, Forrest, Frank and a couple of friends formed a quartet and made a record. When the friends moved away, Forrest singing career ended.”

Such a contrast to his work as a heavy equipment contractor including years of fixing and cleaning septic systems. His work with sewer lines took him to a convention in Tennessee with his wife, son and his son’s bride. They left right after the young couple’s wedding. They all traveled together to the sewer system workers convention in an RV. Not a typical honeymoon. But it fit Forrest and his family. He was a character. He was loud, hard and stubborn with a voice that carried music and confident assertions on everything. It is a voice we will not hear across the table the next time we visit the old home town.

 

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Sunday School time

 A second grader wandered into Sunday School with fuzzy cloth kitten ears perched pertly on her head. She looked at the teacher and said, “Meeow.”

The teacher looked up and waited for the child to sit down. Kitten sat, reached for an activity sheet and insistently purred, “Meeoow!”

“You have cat ears,” the teacher observed. Kitten smiled and did not meow again. She joined another generation of elementary aged children whose parents had decided to make Jesus a priority in their lives. 

The class comes with mixed abilities. Some read easily. Others need help. Typically girls work quietly on worksheets and sit while listening to the lesson. Recently, two girls connected the dot-to-dot picture of robes that the Bible character Dorcas made and then spontaneously designed unique patterns for each. Boys hastily finish the worksheets and use the time and space to draw superheroes and video game characters.

Often one eager little girl recognized the story of the week and burst out telling her one minute version. That may have been all the third grade boy remembered. During story time he slid off his chair and under it, pulled himself up and straddled it for five minutes before tipping over sideways. 

One week, two visitors entered. Same size, same age, same dark blonde hair. The taller one asked, “Can you read?”

“Yes,” the second visitor shrugged, of course she could read. She was in second grade after all.

“I can’t.” the questioner declared, astonishing everyone.

In years to come, the non-reader advanced to the fourth grade unable to read. She could only watch during simple Bible drills where children are challenged, “Find Genesis. That’s the first book of the Bible.” or “Find Revelations. That’s the very last book of the Bible.” Others flipped easily to the front and back and pointed to the word Genesis or Revelations. She watched.

Another child with more advanced reading skills abruptly changed the class routine one Sunday. The teacher said, “find the story of the parable of the sower in Luke 8:4. Look for the big number eight and the little bitty number 4.” Having the children do this emphasizes that the lesson comes from the Bible. Usually, after the passage is found, the teacher presents the story, but not that week. That week the third grader began reading the passage aloud. She read the entire story as the teachers listened with raised eyebrows. After that the children read the scripture for the week’s story.

Sometimes acting out part of the story helps focus attention. Before the lesson on David and Goliath each student received a sticky paper wad to toss at the wall marked with Goliath’s height. Sticky wads hit Goliath’s belly and chest before one boy smacked Goliath in the head. His wad stuck. Everyone clapped.

Children this age celebrate newly acquired skills. The most emphatic was the first grader who sat down and announced, “I know just about everything.” The teacher simply diplomatically said, “I want to tell you a bit more.”

Children know the classic stories and assume the answer to every question is “Jesus.”  That was true until the week siblings visited for the first time. They heard the questions and simply stared blankly. They did not know what to say when the teacher asked, “Who loved you enough to die on the cross for you?”

The sister and brother had no clue. Their parents, who had known those answers at age five, had not conveyed the information at home nor taken their children to church to learn it. That day served as a vivid reminder of the importance of Sunday School and that it only takes one generation for Biblical truths to be lost.  

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Every home needs one

           The rectangular wrapped box felt heavy in my hands. “Every home needs one of these,” my roommate said as she handed me a wedding gift.

“Thank you,” I tore open the package to find a sturdy cardboard box picturing a food grinder. I lifted the lid and saw the cast iron augur, clamp, wing nuts, wooden handle and screws. I had never used one nor seen my mother or grandmothers use one. “Thank you, I am sure it will be useful,” I said and set the box aside for the next gift.

About once a year I found it useful for grinding cranberries to make cranberry salad. Berries popped as I cranked; the auger grabbed berries, pulling them down into the hole to grind them into small pieces that oozed cranberry juice to the floor. To catch the cranberry dribble, I placed a shallow bowl on the floor under the grinder.

Other hand crank devices joined the cast iron food grinder: a wooden ice cream freezer and an apple peeler. Both were hand operated.. Those manual machines took longer to use but they definitely guaranteed exercise with every turn of the handle up and around. But who considers exercise when ads announce new small appliances for the kitchen? 

Not me. I drooled over ads for a food processor, “That looks handy. I wish they didn’t cost so much.” It sounded much safer than scraping my thumb on the hand grater when I made slaw.

After a couple years of drooling, I came in the door after a Saturday of yard sale shopping, absolutely thrilled, “Look what I found today!” I pulled out an assortment of blades, bowl, and motor for my food processor.

At Thanksgiving time I reached for the noisy electric food processor and mused, “I wonder how it will work with the cranberries?” I snapped the bowl into place, poured tiny, red globes into the funnel and flicked the switch. Wonder of wonders! The dribble of cranberry juice stayed inside the container.

The food processor, with much fanfare and noise, replaced the squeak of the turning cast iron augur and faint pop of berries. I only had to press a button, add fruit and scrape out chopped berries and juice.

The food grinder moved to the back of the cupboard as did the hand operated ice cream freezer since store-bought frozen confections took less time and money. For years on Mondays I pulled out the mixer along with flour, yeast and other ingredients to make a week’s worth of bread. I expertly kneaded dough, shaped loaves and relished that first bite of bread hot from the oven bread.

Then I discovered the bread store: so much faster and easier! Still, I missed the taste and smell of freshly made bread, which explains my interest in bread makers. No kneading, no mess. “Just add the ingredients, close the lid and a couple hours later enjoy fresh bread.”

I bought a bread maker. The rich smell of baked bread filled the house until I lost interest and sold it. Then one day I wanted homemade bread, I reached for a metal bucket with a hand crank that turns the dough with a hook. I had come full circle.

        That batch of homemade bread reminded me of the food grinder in the back of the cupboard. I considered using it to make chicken salad.  I pulled out the cast iron grinder and studied it for a minute. “This should mince and mix the chicken, onion and celery.”  I clamped my 50 year-old grinder to the table and began dropping bits of meat and vegetables in the cup. It took a bit of muscle power to make a great salad with minimal noise and no nicked fingers. My roommate was right, every home does need one. 

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Just like Mom

Mother’s Day generates many memories. For me they begin in the kitchen as I use metal measuring cups just like Mom’s to measure shortening and sugar into the medium-sized white, Tupperware bowl – just like Mom’s. I snap the beaters into a hand mixer – just like Mom’s. As the machine mixes, I reflect. “I have owned standing mixers with heavy glass bowls. I sold the last one because I always reach for the hand mixer. I have a great set of modern measuring cups, yet I use my vintage measuring cups.”

That white plastic bowl was just right for cake mixes 60 years ago and still is. The large white Tupperware bowl still holds a double batch of chocolate chip cookies. For picnics in the deep woods, Mom used the smallest white Tupperware bowl filled with water and a wash cloth. In those days before wipes, she made sure we had clean hands and faces.

I have stainless steel pots and pans – just like Mom. Microwave cooking shoved them aside. But for frying, I reach for one of my six cast iron skillets in three sizes – just like Mom’s. My first skillet came from Grandma after I announced my engagement. Grandma reached to the back of her stove for her well seasoned, flavor-encrusted skillet. She never saw the black crust. She saw only that her oldest granddaughter needed a cast iron skillet for her new home. We cleaned it up, and I proceeded to build my own layers of seasoning. I now have six skillets in three sizes. I don’t need any more, but every time I see one at a yard sale, I am tempted.

My kitchen says, “Mom and Grandma knew best. Their way worked.” I wish I remembered the way my mom made that orange-lemonade she carried to picnics in a white Tupperware gallon holder with a lidded spout. I bought an identical one. I could not make orange-lemonade just like mom’s. I sold the container, though I still have the cookie sheets that I begged away from her kitchen. Originally, these were the disposable ends of a stainless steel container at a factory where my dad worked. I have had and donated plenty of other cookie sheets. I keep these. I just prefer the way they bake cookies and pizza. Memories of Mom litter my kitchen, but the sewing room definitely says “Grandma Hibbard,” especially now that I have her black Singer sewing machine in a wooden cabinet with its matching storage bench.

I have it because a couple years ago I asked my cousin Susie, “what happened to Grandma’s sewing machine?”

“It’s been sitting unused at my mom’s house since Grandma died,” Susie said. The next time I visited she gave it to me. We hauled it from New York back home in Arkansas. When we set up the machine, seeds and nest fixings fell to the floor. Hubby doused it with penetrating oil to loosen its gears. I pressed the pedal. It slowly began stitching.

“It does not sound very energetic,” I said, still pressing the pedal. Slowly its speed increased. Then it sort of shook its head like Rip Van Winkle, waking up and taking off lickety split. During mask-making last year, I thrilled at the way it sped down a seam. Now I find myself gravitating to this straight-stitch machine for 95 percent of my sewing. As I sew, I think about the dresses, jumpers and blouses Grandma Hibbard made for us.

Having these kitchen and sewing items at my house isn’t the same as having Grandma or Mom here on Mother’s Day, but with these little reminders, each day truly is Mother’s Day with them.

 

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He climbs because it is there

Men climb Mount Everest because it is there. Kids climb everything else for the same reason, which explains the ladder my daughter found on the patio table by the carport and her son Eli perched upon the roof.

She posted on Facebook, “You know you better brace yourself when your teenager has put a ladder on a table near the roof.” She posted pictures of the ladder and her son grinning down at her. She included pictures of him walking around the roof viewing the neighborhood. She concluded with a video of him entering the house through the window of the upstairs bathroom.

Good thing he has long legs and arms because he had a long stretch from the window to the floor. He leaned into the room, placed one hand on the closed commode, the other on the counter and angled himself into the room, reaching his knee across the sill down the wall to the floor and then lifted his other leg into the room.

“Was that your best idea ever?” his mom asked in the video.

He answered a breathless, bemused, “yeah…er….no.”

A few days later she posted a new picture of him laying on the peak over their carport on the day he earned a 100 on a math test.

Then, suddenly, the roof escapades ended. “I had to put a kibosh on ladder-use for minors after the girls started climbing, too. They were up there acting like it’s a block party.” She posted a picture of sisters and brother perched above the carport before she stored the ladder permanently.

That boy’s mind ascends the heights. He keeps pulling and pushing to find his limit, including grabbing the metal bar installed above his bedroom door. Better that than the door frame. Those teen muscles need movement and stress to develop along with his imagination and insight.

Before his sister’s soccer game at a hidden field, he discovered an abandoned, towering brick building. He and some others had to check out the three floors. Vultures lived on the third floor.

A bunch of concerned adults told the kids they had to to come out, or exploration would have continued. We watched the game before meeting at a food shack with picnic tables. We all parked in front of the three billboards that outlined the shallow parking lot. As we waited for our number to be called, the adults sat. The kids explored the area behind the billboards. They found an abandoned railroad track. “Let’s go to the railroad track! Look! There is a homeless colony!”

Eli followed his sisters until he saw the ladder on the backside of the billboards. Soon, he called from behind the billboard, “Hey mom! I can go to the top. It’s safe.”

Give the lad a ladder and he will climb it – even if the end of the ladder hangs above the ground.

“No, you shouldn’t do that,” she said without looking.

He urged her, “Come. See the ladder.”

She went. I thought she kiboshed that idea until I saw Eli peering over the top of the billboard, casually leaning his arm on the top of the sign as he watched the traffic pass. He had found an access ladder that workers use to change the sign. Eli simply reached high and pulled himself to the first ledge, accessed the hidden ladder and began ascending places his sisters could not reach.

“One of the advantages of being tall,” his mom said and posted a picture of him smiling as he casually watched the traffic. Today a smile on the sign. Perhaps tomorrow a flag on top of Everest.

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Sidewalk supervisor

My sidewalk supervisor put his stamp of approval on the new bridge at Calion. For years, every time he drove that way, he inspected the work and muttered suggestions. The project began years ago with widening the road. “They are cutting down trees,” he observed as we drove by miles of fallen trees. “They are preparing to make a wider road and bridge.”

The next several trips to Little Rock, he pointed, “Look at that heap of trees burning. Such a waste.”

It has taken years to complete this wonderful new bridge, years of my sidewalk supervisor muttering, “when are they going to get it done? How long have they been working on those girders? I thought they would be done by now.” And “I guess they aren’t working today,” as he passed backhoes, trucks and cranes lining the road on a rainy day or Saturday afternoon.

Sometimes he skipped supervising. “Let’s go through Camden this time. That road work ties up traffic.”

My sidewalk supervisor approved the improvements, “Remember when we first came down this road? It had no shoulder. They called it the ‘dump road.’ I wonder if that was because they dumped so many loads of dirt to build up the road or because you sure could get dumped off the road with one small error?”

“This road is so much better than when we first came, and now it’s a four lane.”

Finally he could dust the dirt of the job off his hands, “They finished paving the new road. I guess work on the old road comes next.” He peered through the windshield at the other side of the road as he steered around the orange cones.

The orange cones got a lot of attention through the years. Noticing their placement, he remarked, “They put out the cones. They are going to start working on the next part now, I guess.”

When the cones had been there a while, “I wonder when they are going to begin? Watch out for the quick turn through the cones to the other side of the road.”

As we drove over finished paving, he noted, “The cones are still here. They just have to paint the stripes and the road will be done.”

And then last week, surprise, surprise! No more orange cones! With only yellow and white lines to guide us, a brand, spanking new road stretched before us and into the blue sky on the bridge to Heaven. Every time we start up that steep slope at 50 miles per hour, I see only blue sky in front of us and beside us. No trees, no water, no land. And, now, no worries about being stuck behind a slow lumber truck with half a dozen wobbly logs hanging out the end or fearing cars invisibly coming up the other side of the bridge on the my side of the road.

At the crest of the bridge a wave of concrete appears, revealing the rest of the bridge and the highway before us. Four lane luxury. Such a relief after a narrow two lane highway that demanded we carefully observe the double yellow stripe, stay on our side of the bridge and watch for anyone driving up from the other direction to meet us in the middle. With two bridges, we soar upwards, confident that all the traffic on our bridge flows the same way.

It’s done. The Calion bridge is completed. For this, my sidewalk supervisor, and everyone else traveling between El Dorado and Fordyce, are truly grateful.

Now my sidewalk supervisor only has to inspect the work on the four lanes being built around Fordyce. It will take a while. The Supervisor’s job is not over yet.

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Natural healing works, or does it?

 

So many promises are made in books, magazines and weblogs advocating the fantastic results from using herbs, spices, minerals and oils. They sound so great until I turn to the index searching for specific, chronic problems. There the promises fade into oblivion, especially for those of us who have had first-hand encounters with serious mental illness. Several decades ago, I first started looking everywhere for help for my relative’s mental illness, including books on natural healing. Those books never discuss prescriptions such as the natural element lithium, which helps some with bi-polar disorder. Lithium requires regular blood tests to avoid serious side effects.

For any other serious mental illness, don’t bother to buy the natural cure literature or products. A “natural cure” does not exist for psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. Natural healing platforms offer nothing in this category. Some individuals suffering from these disorders self-medicate with alcohol or street drugs. Those options numb them for a while but do not help the individual live normally.

It’s not that the psychiatrists did not try natural cures. In the 1960s, many advocated for vitamins to fix mental illness by supplying what the body surely must lack. Vitamin B did calm anxiety. It failed to fix the psychosis.

In the 1990s new medications began entering the market that truly did allow a semblance of ordinary life for the severely mentally ill. The website for Everyday Health states, “Schizophrenia is a serious and chronic mental illness that generally requires anti-psychotic medication to keep it under control.” Chemically unbalanced minds need more than herbs, oils, supplements or vitamins. They need a qualified, trained clinician to find each individual’s best fit with a modern medication.

The natural healing advisors also have ideas for diabetes. Practically speaking, many sufferers in this overfed country need to put down that candy bar, grab a carrot, take a walk and lose the weight. Still, plenty of folks with diabetes need more than that, including some thin, active folks who make healthy choices and still develop diabetes. Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, the only recourse for individuals with diabetes was a very strict diet with very few carbs. Even then they potentially faced a shorter life expectancy. In “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom, one of the aunts developed diabetes. The doctor trained Corrie to test the aunt’s urine regularly. Eventually, the test results diagnosed her as terminal. In that era before insulin, she knew nothing could reverse the sentence. Her aunt needed a prescription for insulin, which was not available at the time.

As I worked on this column, I came across a medical advice column by Walt Larimore, MD. He supports natural medicines (herbs, vitamins and supplements.) The questioner asked about products sold to boost the immune system against the flu, a cold or Covid-19. Larimore recognized that 25 to 30 percent of the population take supplements for their immune systems. “Unfortunately they’re wasting their hard-earned dollars,” he wrote. He went on to quote Harvard Heath “For now there are no scientifically proven (products to enhance) immune function.” He added that even the makers are aware that the natural medicines are not working. Which is why they use words such as “supports immune health” or “supplements.”

So, I scan the books, read the blogs and social media chatter. I listen to short videos (except the ones that take an hour to convey one sentence of information). I refuse to believe their hype because while some supplements help, others take your cash and pay little in curative power. I eat healthy, drag myself to exercise regularly, take a couple supplements and follow the common sense approach of folks like Dr. Larimore.

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Monetary miseries

    “Why didn’t you stop me?” the woman asked the banker.

    “I tried,” he reminded her of the questions asked when she withdrew $5,000 cash from her account. She had answered the questions confidently, packaged the cash and mailed it to a new online “friend” in another state. After a few online conversations, she felt connected and wanted to respond when asked to help out in a pinch. “You can help? Oh man! That would be so great. Can you send me cash in the  mail?”

    She could, and she did. Only after dropping the package in the mail did she question anything. Too late. The package went to an empty lot in a state far away.

    Tricked, hurt and stung, the customer, asked “Why didn’t you stop me?”

    The banker had done his due diligence. But, it was her account, her money and she had, afterall, answered the questions confidently. Since then, if she withdraws a couple thousand or so, he asks, “Is everything okay?”

    As a banker, he has seen it happen all too often to folks of every age.

    A young adult found a part time job on Craigslist. “They applied and were accepted. The employer wanted help with an out-of-state move into the area. He wanted a local person to deal with the details of moving into a rental. He sent the new employee a couple thousand to make the payments. Only the check wasn’t from a funded account. She got the check, and he needed $500 back for some reason. The shadowy, Craigslist “employer,” says, “Send me that $500 electronically,” which means “immediately.”

    “Since the ’employer’ did not send a valid check, the target sent back $500 of their own money. The check they deposited did not clear the bank. Sometimes they want you to send a money order or to buy a gift card and read them the numbers. The Craigslist fraudster will immediately go and spend the card.”

    Young people get fooled. Middle-aged folks are tricked. And sadly the elderly, especially the lonely, and those with declining mental health get scammed.

    The banker said, “We had one woman come in who had sent $10,000 in cash to another state. She had a healthy account. The voice on the other end of the phone said the IRS was after her because she owed money. They would be coming to arrest her if she didn’t respond immediately.

    “They told her to get cash, wrap it in several sheets of paper and send the $10,000 in an envelope from the post office. ‘If you don’t you will be arrested.’ they said to scare her.”

    “They usually have a foreign accent,” the banker shook his head. “People need to remember, the IRS will ALWAYS mail you notices. The IRS will NEVER call. Unfortunately, the customer believed the caller. She went to the bank, got the $10,000 in cash and mailed it. Only then did the elderly woman mention it to her son. He called the post office in the recipient’s city. That post master general found the envelope before it was delivered, verified it was hers and returned it to the sender. The family member asked that a block be put on her account to stop her from being able to do that again.    

    Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation at a bank, at risk of being scammed. The questions may feel annoyingly nosy or unnecessary, but, if asked, stop and consider the urgency for the large amount of cash or the request to return a portion of the money sent to you. If the banker asks, remember he or she is simply trying to keep ou and your money safe. Thank them for their concern, be glad they noticed and review the situation with others before sending anything.

 

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