Sunday, March 29, 2020

Discretion be damned - Biting my Tongue and it Doesn't Come Easy...

Reading an article in Time magazine about how to support Older Relatives during the corona virus pandemic... 
I am the older relative and understand the danger of a compromised immune system. My real concern is my 23 year old granddaughter who THINKS she is practicing social distancing, but is truly putting her own life at risk as well as the people she is casually interacting with. She has been a lifelong asthmatic. 
If she contracts Covid-19, she could die. But she doesn’t thinks so. And nobody is going to tell her otherwise.
She is considered an essential worker in a healthcare environment, and her workplace is taking precautions to limit her interaction with the patient population. But she still travels back and forth from home to her boyfriend’s family house. She orders take-out meals for the households and to support our local small businesses. It’s all very humane and generous. 
It is the community support that just might lead to exposure. I worry and not needlessly.
At this time, this pandemic has not peeked. The worst is yet to come according to the medical experts. I believe them. I have survived the loss of parents, a cancer treatment, thriving through an immune disease, the betrayal of a family friend and many more emotional assaults. 
I do not believe I could survive watching my daughter lose her daughter because she refused to pay attention to a warning of concern for her own well-being.
We suggested she pick a place to stay until things calm down, the curve flattens out. She dismissed that, repeating “I’m only going back and forth.” That’s not true. She and her boyfriend are doing what they naturally should be doing a young couple in love. I remember all too well the comfort of being in lust and love. I married at 18 and by the time I was their age, I had 2 kids and a mortgage. Life and all the trappings that go with it was all too real.
This is a difficult time on a lot of different levels. With the years of life us ‘old heads’ have under our belt it is difficult for the younger ones to believe our warnings could hold any weight of truth or experience. Life has been very good to this generation. With the exception of 911, many of this generation has not experienced the threat of potential disaster. Staying home is not a hardship if it could be life-saving.
My fear is that has made them cocksure and soft.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

One Step at a Time, Everything Gets Done

I met Mike and his family in 2014. We were attending the annual USA Hockey Disabled festival in Marlborough, MA. Our team, the Wings of Steel Sled Hockey team, needed a goalie. USA Hockey drafted Mike to play for us. 
Mike had just begun to explore Sled Hockey and had not yet played with a team let alone between the pipes. He played with the Wings the entire weekend and returned to Ohio as a Wing of Steel. And we looked past the fact that he and his family are Steelers and Pirates fans.We have followed Mike and his twin from High School graduation to their college experience. It’s kind of like watching a favorite nephew on a rich path of life experience. So as not to wax on too much, after reading the article below I asked him if I could share his piece that appeared in Kentwired
It speaks true from the voice of a person born with a disability who does not live his life as a disabled person. He is an extraordinarily “differently abled” person. 

Kudos, Iron Mike. Thanks for sharing your positive insight.
Here is his article below, and the link ,

Opinion: One step at a time

·         Michael Reiner

·         May 17, 2019 Updated May 20, 2019
My name is Michael Reiner, but my friends call me Iron Mike. 

My family and friends know that I love sports, WWE, and a good cheeseburger. If you have a recliner close by after I’ve eaten a cheeseburger, it’s game over. 

I live with my wonderful family in my hometown of Wellsville, Ohio. My mom, Paula, is my hero and my biggest inspiration and my dad, Bill, is my biggest fan. Then I have my twin brother Mitchell who is my PlayStation 4 partner, roommate, and best friend. And lastly we have our 6-year-old German shepherd, Bell. She protects our house and makes sure to bark at anyone and everything (by the way, Bell doesn’t like hats of any kind). 

However, as the great Rocky Balboa used to say, “Life ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” Mitchell and I were born three months premature. I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. It is a condition that tightens the muscles in my body. 

I do not let my disability slow me down. In fact, my family and I say that I am differently-abled because I can do everything in different ways. I’ve gone from walkers, to quad canes, to a wheelchair, all the way to forearm crutches. I went through 12 surgeries in 2010 and I’ve been in great shape ever since. Life has definitely been a journey. 

Here I am in kindergarten standing with one of my quad canes. I feel pretty cool in this photo. We went to go get ice cream the day this photo was taken, so that must be the reason why I felt rather cool.

Courtesy Michael Reiner

My dream is to one day work in Pittsburgh as a sports writer or broadcaster. My family and I love to go to Pirates and Steelers games. I hope to be successful in Pittsburgh so that I can continue to go to more games and enjoy the atmosphere of "The Steel City."

I just finished my junior year in the Kent State journalism program. The experiences that I’ve had with Kent State’s television station TV2 and radio station Black Squirrel Radio have been top-notch. I have learned so many things so far that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. 

I had a great semester as the Tuesday morning sports anchor for Kent State University's TV station, TV2. This coming fall, I will serve as Portage Trail County (PTC) Director. I will oversee all high school sports news coverage in Portage County.

Courtesy: Michael Reiner

Now it’s time to put the skills I’ve learned to good use. I start my internship at a local news station on Monday, May 20, and life is very, very exciting at the moment. 

I will have to add 15 minutes to prepare for my commute in the morning. This won’t be for breakfast, I already have time scheduled for that. The extra 15 minutes will be for me to button my shirt, tuck it in, and adjust my belt. These tedious things can be difficult, but they just take me a little bit of time. 

It took one step at a time during track practice for me to compete in the OHSAA State Wheelchair track events. It took one step at a time for me to qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the eighth grade. And yes, it took one step at a time to be able to walk on my own two feet. 

Everything gets done, one step at a time. 

I believe that other people with disabilities have the same mindset as I do. We all overcome struggles and move forward in our own way. Even though things can get difficult at times, I wouldn’t have my life any other way. 

Michael Reiner is a columnist. Contact him at

Monday, May 13, 2019

What if Game of Thrones is Just a Game?

What was there to be disappointed with Season 8 Episode 5 of Game of Thrones? I was not disappointed. The show went pretty much as I expected.
The hand wringing and wrenching angst of Tyrion and Jon Snow over the last three weeks made it obvious they weren’t as confident as they claimed to be about ‘their Queen’ and her oncoming volatile mental state, which was predicted early on with the oft repeated line of her father, the Mad King before his own death, “Burn them all”.
I won’t wax on about character arcs and how the Game of Thrones writers and company should have played this out. I enjoyed the ride and will see it through to the end and over and over until I cancel my HBO subscription. My personal investment of time with this series has been one of self-indulgent suspension of reality.
 If I find fault with any entity it is with HBO. HBO should have expanded the 6 weeks to 10. The shortened 6 week schedule I believe is partly the basis for the full on fabulous CGI festival that has been showcased – I’ve seen some of the set construction for demolition and the green screen at Titanic Studios in Belfast, it is a mammoth production site. No dialogue or scene set up was ever going to do justice to the special effects work.
So, here is what I am proposing as to how the last episode MIGHT end. Feel free to chime in as to whether you agree or disagree.
If the title of the last episode is titled, “Spring after the long Winter”:
  • Arya will kill  Daenerys for destroying Kings Landing and all the innocents.
  • Sansa will take over the throne, since Jon and Bran don’t want it. Tyrion will be her hand.
  • Arya Stark has a Baratheon baby after her one night stand with Gendry, melding the two houses as predicted in the first season.
  • Brienne of Tarth presents a Lannister bastard baby, a potential heir apparent, but she has no regal aspirations, so she will remain close to Arya and Sansa.
  •   Jon Snow leaves it all behind and return to the rebuild the Wall and the Knights Watch.

·         Throughout the series, women have been consistently some of the strongest characters. That might play out to the end.
At the end, regardless how inane it might turn out, I have enjoyed the ride in suspending reality for and hour or two every week.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

From a Prompt: Cockleburs, Poison Ivy, Super Baby2, Slip N Slide Failure

Poor Miss Molly, Bud Wise’s stupid Irish Setter was full of cockleburs, again. She got all matted up after running through the fields chasing the fat groundhog that seemed to constantly tease her. If it wasn’t bad enough that last week’s trip to the vet cost him an easy 100 bucks to clear a nasty case of poison ivy from Kurt Rashmen’s cheap root mulch that Miss Molly kept digging in, now he had to head to the PetSmart to get Molly cleaned up before the twin’s birthday party.

It came to him in a moment of resourceful time management that he could stop in the Target pick up the kids’ present, which was the next in the series of Super Baby2 : Invasion of the Potty Snatchers, while Molly was getting de-burred. With all his errands complete, Bud and Molly went home to begin the festivities with the kiddies.

It was the dog days of August and the kids were already in their bathing suits waiting for the hose to be turned on to fill the Slip N Slide. Bud turned on the water to get the runner filled and ready for the kids. At the same time the fat groundhog waddled across the lawn. It paused when the water began to spray and looked directly at Miss Molly as if to say, “Come on. Let’s go another round.”

With the challenge accepted, Molly launched from her position, skating directly across the water slide on all four paws and snatched the groundhog around its neck.

As she proudly presented her master with her prize, Bud saw that Molly had caused a Slip N Slide failure. Her paws had ripped the plastic runner in her pursuit of that taunting fat groundhog.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Bittersweet Comfort

Mom and Dad had been gone for over a year. They passed away within a year of each other. It took us almost that long to clean out their house, our childhood home, to prepare it for sale. 

It was a bittersweet chore, and sometimes felt more like a journey back to who our parents were in their younger years, like finding tucked in the bottom of a shoe box of old paperwork intimate notes of love my dad wrote to mom. Dad liked to write letters as much as receive them in the mail and he saved quite few letters. Mom was a collector of ‘stuff’, things of personal importance, like the pink or blue beaded ID bracelets hospital nurseries used to put on newborn babies.  Cleaning out their stuff wasn’t the real chore, although my mom was not inclined to throw out much of anything, not so much as a hoarder, but more a holdover of a post-depression mentality of “put that away, save it, I might need that later on.”

When we finally cleared out the house to mostly just bare walls it was time to freshen up the house to put it on the market and hopefully sell it quickly.

While still mourning the loss of our Mom and Dad and with our busy lives of raising our own families we dreaded the weekends of making time to work on this house for someone else to live in and make it a home of their own. This particular Saturday was one of those days. I was in the throes of helping my daughter coordinate therapies for her infant son with special needs, my sister had three small sons, ages three to six years and my brother had five girls ages five to twenty. We were all very busy with the stuff of our own lives and families.

Our house was a three story Victorian. We were weighted down with painting materials as we entered through the vestibule into the parlor. Although the house was totally empty for months there was an unmistakable scent in the air that should not have been there because the house was vacant.

At first no one said anything about it. We dropped the materials of our job at hand and just stood there in the room, until my brother said, “is anybody going to say anything or am I the only one that smells that?” My sister and I looked at each other and smiled.

It was my mother’s favorite perfume, Anais, Anais. Mom loved her perfumes and after spritzing herself she would spray the air with a quick wafting spray and say, “just to freshen the air”.

Was Mom sending us a message? She was indeed. A house is a home until it’s not. It was time to freshen it up for someone else to make it their home. Message received. Thanks, Mom.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Pennies from Heaven?

The Eagles have won the 2018 Super Bowl. Was there any doubt that the Birds would overcome the New England Patriots and Tom Brady, the best quarterback in the NFL? Of course, there was. There was plenty of doubt. There was good reason for that doubt. The previous decade (…and then some…) of Philadelphia sports, especially football, has been an emotional roller coaster ride that had more lows than highs. Even the most dismal losses tested the commitment of the Philadelphia football fan. Yet the fans endured, literally endured.
This winning season for the Eagles was cast a real monkey wrench when Carson Wentz tore up his knee and the humble Nick Foles stepped in. As a quarterback Foles had the arm and range of Wentz, but he did not project the same practical confidence and on the field certainly does not have the same eye for a receiver as Wentz. Yet, he soon gained an obvious confidence on the field and with the support of the team, he stepped up.
Soon after I sent my husband on his way to Minnesota to watch his Eagles play the Super bowl, I sauntered off to my appointment at the nail salon. As I hung my jacket on the back of my chair all my change fell out of the pocket. With the mix of quarters, nickels, and dimes there was about 10 pennies included in all the change.
Every penny was heads up.

If you give superstition any weight to fate, you will understand the importance of a heads-up penny that lands on the ground. Heads up, good luck, pick it up…Tails up, turn it over and leave it for the next person to find and have some good luck and be a penny richer for the find.
My mother was firm believer in this mantra. She religiously picked up pennies if she saw them on the ground, but only if they were heads up and if it was tails up, she turned it over and left it for someone else to have the luck of a little extra cash. I carried on this belief, superstitious or not.
I had to double check all that fallen coinage and sure enough, all the pennies were heads up. I took it as a potential omen, a message from heaven. However, the jaded soul in me decided to not get too excited and kept that secret to myself. 
This was Super Bowl Weekend. I had to carry on as I did every weekend during the season, no shifts in the routine. Now I share this story about this fortuitous omen as the fans still bask in the glory of the long overdue win.
Do I believe my Mom was sending a message from heaven with all those heads-up pennies? Maybe, but I wish she would send some winning lottery numbers.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Challenges, Choices and Lessons

This is a guest post from Robert the "Beast" Vettese. Beast plays for the Virtua Wings of Steel, a sled hockey team. As he works on his college essays, he has graciously allowed me to post his English essay as he shared his thoughts on life's challenges and the lessons we can learn along the way. This young man has wisdom beyond his years. Please feel free to comment after reading this inspirational essay.

Challenges, Choices and Lessons
By Robert Vettese

 The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. When I was younger my sledge hockey team was the best in the country. Season after season we went undefeated in our division. In every national tournament we went undefeated too. Years of hard work really does pay off.
Some of our guys went on to become Paralympic gold medalists in the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver. The work they put in was valuable and made them who they are today, representing their country in one of the best ways they possibly can, competing for a spot on the Paralympic team. With only twenty-eight spots they worked and trained to make the team.
We always thought that we could be the best team in the country. In a couple years later we lost many of our good players because of college or aging out of the youth program. In 2012 we had our first game as a younger team. We were playing as hard as we possibly could. We lost that first game but we just brushed it off because that was just one game. As the season went on we soon realized that we were not the best anymore. We were upset with our performance and just gave up. As the seasons went on we soon realized that we did not need our older players to be a team. We challenged and pushed our own limits; we bonded together, learned about each other. As the saying goes “ We win as a team. We lose as a team.”
Now still competing and competing in national events across the country, we continued to win some and lose some.

The competitions increased and skill levels began to change, but as they changed so did our mindsets. We always believed that we would be the best not facing bigger challenges like losing our games. Throughout these five years we have grown closer together not only as a team but as a family.
We try to face our failures with good attitudes, not knowing if the next game would be a win or a loss. We learned that life changes every second. The challenges we face help us improve and progress as a whole. Failure is going to always be a part of life. Failures can be hard to settle for, but they give us something to improve upon. Just like when you failed that geometry test you really tried your best on. You took your time and studied. You failed that test. The test you took the most time on. It shows what you need to improve on. Take it step-by-step, question-by-question. Improvement is always needed.

The last ten years of playing sledge hockey have really helped with so many things in everyday life. Winning for years may help with the positives and look forward to the medals-the smiles from all the young kids, the push to remaining the best. The work we go through trying to get the drills right are challenging. We might do them wrong but with every wrong there's a right. The learning curves that we all face are obstacles we can overcome, just like failure and challenges. It happens to all of us, hoping to achieve great things like my teammates representing the greatest country in the world, going for gold, but in order to achieve those goals is a challenge, hard work, and dedication.
The sledge hockey community has a quote; “Everyday I face a challenge, and how I face those challenges is with a smile and a good attitude.” Challenges are a true part of life. We get the rink on time. We go out on the ice every week pushing ourselves working to the best of our various different abilities. That's what really matters. The work that you put in may not seem like a big difference, but it will affect your outcome later in life.

Tragedy hit us in April of 2013, the end of the season fundraiser. It was a warm day. Everyone is smiling and having a good time. Volunteers were outside selling 50/50’s, all the kids in their team jerseys helping out. We ended off the night with a good note. Kids lined up  thanking everyone for coming to the fundraiser.
It would be one of the hardest time that we all faced. Just a few short days later we lost the team’s greatest role model. Her name was Jessica Shaw. Well known with the happiest smile. She filled the team with laughter, fun, and joy. She was my teacher and role model. She looked forward to the seasons and games and especially the joy on all the kid’s faces. I can remember many things she told us. Mostly she would say “Come on! Get moving!, You're not finished.” Of everything that she told us there's one thing that sticks in my mind the most. She always said, “Believe in yourself! The fun is not over yet.” She cared for us. She was the girl on the team that we looked forward to becoming. Jessica inspired each other to trust ourselves, and become the best we can be. She didn't care if you were upset or if you had a bad day. She was there to cheer you up - teasing me on the ice, and complaining about my singing. She was there just to have a good time. She loved all of us. We strive to live up to want she wanted us to be and to just have a good time. You might feel down on the scoreboard but just keep playing until the buzzer rings. Play for fun. No matter what happens just remember, “Not every victory shows up on the scoreboard.”
Challenges are what make us who we are and with the people we might meet on the way, have their inspirations shape us. They make us trust ourselves, and believe in what is possible not what is impossible.
Finally, what I've learned is that you may be the one person in the crowd, the one person that stands out, being who you are, with the brightest smile cheering on the young kids watching them take on the big kids and watching them get slammed into the boards. But it helps them develop, becoming the best they can be and even better. You watched them fail, fall and lose all hope, but you kept them going. It may be just the words "Come on! The fun hasn't stopped yet!" that keeps them moving, giving their all.
I remember when I was just a small kid getting hit on the rink against the boards, and boy did it hurt. It's helped me knowing that no matter how small you may be you can take on the big things, as you’ve grown up many things get harder.  Did I give up? No. Because they are just bumps in the road. Like blips on a radar they help get you to where you’re going. Challenges are there to lead you, not fail you. You have the choice to sit there and quit and lose hope or you face that challenge. You make the choice.