Category Archives: Homeless

Peanut 2016

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It’s not easy being this cute.

Most of you know that Peanut entered our lives back in April, but what you don’t know is he has become quite the celebrity around these parts. I guess that makes me part of his entourage. 

I can’t go anywhere without him being recognized! Our once 40 minute walk can now last well over an hour, as I stand on the sidelines while Peanut is mauled by his fans. By “mauled” I mean petted, hugged, talked to and scratched. 

The majority of Peanut’s fans are under 4ft. tall and 6 years old. Of course there are a good amount of adult admirers that give a passing “he’s so handsome”, “look at that handsome boy” and the most commonly heard “aren’t you a cutie?” but the little ones are certainly the majority. I just love these pint-sized bundles of honesty.

Just the other night I was walking my furry version of the Biebs alone, due to hubby’s long day, when I was immediately stopped by the cutest little red-headed boy down the street. This little guy can spot us coming a mile away. I have no doubt he is president of the Peanut fan club.

Boy: Hi Peanut! Apparently I vanished.

Peanut: Moves in for some love. As if he doesn’t get enough.

Boy: Hey, where’s Peanut’s dad?

Me: Oh, he’s taking a nap.

Boy: Did you make him take a nap?

Me: No, he likes to take naps.

Boy: Why?

Me: Because he had a long day at work and he was tired.

Boy: Why?

Peanut: Laying on the ground like a throw rug from all the petting.

Me: Well, he had to get up very early and he just got home and that made him tired.

Boy: Did he say “hi” to Peanut?

Me: Yep.

Boy: Ok. Bye Peanut, I’ll see you tomorrow. He was on his way to a hot game of Candyland on the porch next door.

Me: See ya!

Peanut: Starts to come out of his love coma to continue his walk.

We continued on our way to get some much needed business out-of-the-way before running into a brother & sister team. Emma & Mikey are adorable. They are usually bathed and sitting on the step with their parents, patiently waiting for the ice cream truck when we come by. They can barely contain their excitement! 

Emma: Hi Peanut!  Mikey: Hi Peanut! Mikey is Emma’s echo.

Me: Hi guys you look all nice and clean in your pj’s.

Emma & Echo: Do you just have one dog?

Me: Yep, just Peanut.

Peanut: Flat on the sidewalk in all his glory.

Emma & Echo: Does Peanut get a bath before bed?

Me: No, just when he starts to smell.

Emma: We don’t smell, but we have to get a bath every day. Mikey: Yea

Me: People are different from dogs.

Mikey: Why?

Emma: Sitting next to Peanut scratching his belly.

Me: Because dogs have fur and they can’t get wet every day. Why am I suddenly nervous?

Emma: Did you see the ice cream man?

Me: No, but I heard the music he must be close.

Emma & Echo: YOU DID? YOU HEARD THE MUSIC? WHEN?

Peanut: Jumps up thinking a riot is about to start.

Me: Umm a couple of minutes ago, I’m sure he’ll be here soon. Yikes!

Emma: Does Peanut like ice cream?

Me: Yep, he likes vanilla.

Mikey: Do you buy the ice cream man for him?

Me: No, he just has a little of ours.

Mikey: Oh

The ice cream man is approaching so we said our goodbyes as Emma & Mikey screeched with joy. Note to self: Do not mention you have any knowledge of the ice cream man’s whereabouts to small children.

Next up two of the cutest little boys you can imagine. One with white hair like a miniature surfer and the other sporting brown hair and a freckled face. Cute as can be so I know they had horns. They are best friends and reminded me so much of my son and his buddy Tommy when they were small. They were both 4 years old. I know because they made me guess. The dynamic duo or double trouble … depending on the day.

Duo: What’s your dog’s name?

Me: Peanut

Duo: Giggling…Peanut? Like a food?

Me: Yep, just like the food.

Duo: Why did you name him a food?

Me: I didn’t. He already had the name when we got him.

Peanut: Having his head rubbed by two hysterical children.

Duo: Giggling. Repeating the word peanut as if it was the funniest thing they ever heard.

Me: Laughing at their laughter.

Duo: Peanut you have a name of a food. Giggles. You smell like a peanut. Giggles. 

Me: I don’t think he smells like a peanut.

Duo: Does he smell like a poop? They are rolling on the ground with Peanut laughing.

Me: I knew it.

Duo: What?

Me: I knew one of you was going to say poop.

Duo: Out of control over the fact that said poop.

Peanut: Looking at me for help to escape the crazy.

Me: See ya guys.

Duo: BYE Peanut….poop….still laughing.

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Vote for “P”
He Never Smells Like Poop

Every night we make our rounds like we’re on the campaign trail. While Peanut is greeting strangers and kissing babies I’m holding his poop bag like a demoted Secret Service Agent. Ya know, Peanut  just may be the one to take 2016. If I can get the voting age changed we’re talking LANDSLIDE. 

Peanut 2016: I sniff butts, I won’t kiss them.

Peanut 2016: I wag my tail, not my tongue.

Peanut 2016: The only tail I’m chasing is my own.

Be the Dog: Be faithful … Be a good listener … Love unconditionally and Enjoy the Ride!

Les Miserables and Social Injustice

This is a wonderful piece on Social Injustice. Take time to read it through, there is a very important message to be heard.

musingsofanoldfart

My wife and I have long been fans of the musical Les Miserables, so yesterday we took two of our children to see the recently released movie with Hugh Jackman as the lead character of Jean Valjean. We were not disappointed and enjoyed the movie immensely. Of course, a few people have noted some of its imperfections, yet on the whole, it is a very moving experience and fills in a few details that the play could not.

As an aside, I also enjoyed the dramatic movie made a few years ago with Liam Neeson in the role of Valjean. As for the recent musical version, I would encourage you to see it , whether you have seen the play, early dramatic movie or not. If you have seen the play, you will be even more moved by Anne Hathaway’s Fantine singing how life has killed her dreams. The music is so wonderful, sometimes the everyday tragedy  of…

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Got Truth?

I’ve been pondering about writing on this subject, but I decided it was necessary.

On September 11th this year I had the pleasure of being in NYC one of my most favorite places to attend the taping of a very popular TV show.

My feeling was the ticket availability was due to the lack of enthusiasm for venturing into NYC on 9/11, but I don’t think that was the case. It seemed to be business as usual 11 years later.

As we headed out in the wee hours of the morning, I couldn’t help but notice how this day seemed to mirror 11 years ago, as far as the weather was concerned anyway. It was absolutely perfect with clear blue skies, cool air and bright sunshine. No one expected the darkness we all experienced later that morning and I certainly didn’t anticipate what I experienced 11 years later, which was absolutely nothing. No extra kindness, smiles, eye intact  or a word spoken the entire 2-hour ride for that matter.

The Faces of Vulnerability. LIFE

My Facebook, however, was exploding with images reflecting the towers draped in flags, flickering candles with prayers and, of course, the famous shot of the fireman planting the flag on the rubble. It was borderline annoying considering what I was experiencing in the real world.

All of these powerful images were met with the words “Never Forget.” News Flash….we’ve  forgotten something very important. Not the event, that will be embedded in us forever, but the lessons seem to be MIA. What happened to our vulnerability? 

As we were sitting on this bus, without an empty seat, I couldn’t help but notice the silence. It was deafening for god sakes, not a word was spoken.

I couldn’t help but think “If this bus blew up could I depend on this crew of statues to lend a helping hand?” Hey, I don’t walk around in fear of the sky falling, however, I don’t dismiss the possibility to the point of disconnect with the people around me.

Have we forgotten that the target that dreadful day 11 years ago was not the physical structures of these massive buildings, it was the strength they represented?

The real targets were our freedom, tolerance and decency. What happened to a sense of humanity? 

As I sat outside of a cafe waiting for my nephew to eat his 100th meal of the day, I watched a homeless man being passed by an endless sea of people. Did I mention he was an Army veteran, oh and that it was 9/11?

I understand people get tired of  giving up their dough to strangers that might be complete frauds…I get that whole thing. What bothered me was no one even made eye contact, he was invisible. 

Well, call me what you will I had to give him something before I left. He stood up, shook our hands, thanked us, complimented my nephew’s bow tie and explained his recent homelessness. He was legit, alive and very visible and long as you’re willing to open your eyes! 

Have we forgotten that we witnessed the worst of an ideology of fear and hatred, and the best of the American people? What happened to our unity? 

I was the last to enter the bus to return to Philly, only to find there were no seats..or so I thought. Apparently there was a seat being occupied by Louis Vuitton. Simmer down folks, not the man the travel tote! Seems like the designer travel tote, who was not a paying customer, suddenly had more value than me. After numerous requests, the bitch woman reluctantly moved Louis to the side without an ounce of acknowledgement to my existence…I was invisible. 

It could have been worse, it could have been a cheap knock-off! I had to justify it somehow people! 

All of this, along with the negative climate that seems to be clouding over us daily, really has me questioning my own Truth to Power. Why is it so hard for us to exercise these simple tasks? 

We speak to power in three senses:

  • To those who hold high places in our national life and bear the terrible responsibility of making decisions for war or peace.
  • To the American people who are the final reservoir of power in this country and whose values and expectations set the limits for those who exercise authority.
  • To the idea of Power itself, and its impact on Twentieth Century life.

Our truth is ancient: 

  • that love endures and overcomes.
  • that hatred destroys.
  • that what is obtained by love is retained, but what is obtained by hatred proves a burden.

You can check out more on this powerful statement right here….sttp.html

Honestly, if we want things to be different, we as individuals need to take serious action to recommit to communicating rather than acting rashly, focus more on building rather than destroying and observe wisely rather than acting without thought.

These small changes can make a huge difference, not just in our daily lives, but as a nation and a world.

We can do this folks….Truth to Power…one day at a time. Enjoy The Ride!

 

Isn’t That Special

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a meeting held by the Interfaith Hospitality Network. This group does an enormous amount of good for families who have become homeless due to circumstance such as job loss, divorce and excessive debt just to name a few.

I am a regular attendee at a Quaker Meeting in my area and we were asked to participate, along with other faith congregations in the area, in a program being introduced by this group. One of the congregations has offered to open its doors to house 3 homeless families for the month of August. It will be our responsibility to make meals, host meals and chaperone over night for 1 week within the month. Sounds simple enough..right?

The evening started off with an exercise that encouraged us to introduce ourselves and provide insight to one another regarding our Hopes & Fears as we enter into this program together.  I have never felt comfortable in this arena, but like any thing else the more you do it the easier it becomes.

I shared that my Hope would be that as a group the experience would empower us to do more together either within this program or in our immediate community, followed by my Fear that our judgments wouldn’t stand in the way of making this a positive experience.

Now, I said this as a reaction to a previous experience I had a local Food Cupboard. It is important to understand the mindset of guests who are in need. For instance, if someone came in for food sporting a fresh manicure, you have to put yourself in his or her shoes and not judge that their money could have been spent more wisely.  That manicure could have saved that person from jumping off the edge. Sometimes lipstick and a hairdo make a world of difference.  As the wise director of this program stated: “You have to learn to be poor.”

We continued around the table and it was evident that the majority of the hopes & fears were coming from a positive base well, at least until we reached 2 very vocal members of the host congregation. This is the moment I realized that Hopes & Fears weren’t as cut and dry as I once imagined. I have a terrible habit of thinking everyone thinks like me….they don’t, but life would be so much easier if they did. 

One of the women, who announced she had been a member of this congregation for 52 years, stated …”I hope that there are no fights” and “I hope I don’t see a mother beating her child.” Ok, what the hell are the fears? Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, she blurts … “I’m afraid I’ll have to call 911” and “I’m afraid someone will steal chalices from the church.”  This was a game changer. Now I’m hoping I will be able to work with these people and I fear killing one before it’s over. 

These women sat across from me with their hands neatly folded on their Bibles. My fear was coming alive right before my eyes. Our homeless guests were being judged before they even crossed the threshold. Umm, yea…maybe you could open that hand rest…I mean Bible and take a peak inside ladies. 

As the evening went on, so did the fear-based questions. The behavior of these women was the
core reason I stepped away from my own faith for years. I admit I was scouting out exits at this point. 

The director of the program listened intently, but never flinched. Needless to say she has had her share of negative inquiries over the years. Once the women were done, she calmly informed them that in her 20 plus years in that position, she never once experienced any of the suggested scenarios, but there was always a first time for everything. Well played Ms. Director, well played indeed. 

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” Bertrand Russell

As soon as I committed to this project I knew it would be eye-opening, but I never anticipated it to happen during the planning stages. I was so moved by the effective listening skills of the director. Her contentment quickly altered the negative vibe in the room, which allowed us to continue planning with a much-needed positive outlook.

Note to Self:  Never follow the herd, find a spot outside the fence and Enjoy the Ride!

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