The Art of the Thank You

You know the saying, “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten?” This is so true. We learn the alphabet; how to count; we learn ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Parents reinforce those lessons at home (hopefully). There is a lost art: writing ‘thank you’ notes. There is a wonderful CBS segment on writing ‘thank yous.’ Spend a few minutes and watch the segment – it will get you thinking – remembering HOW to write ‘thank yous’ and perhaps inspire you to pick up a pen (remember those) every now and then.

In the snail mail today, we received thank you notes from our nephews and niece for the holiday gifts we shared in December. Oh, the smile on my face after I read these precious words. I hope you enjoy them as well.



It Takes a Sustainable Village

Brainstorming about sustainability is challenging, invigorating, exciting and yes, exhausting. It’s a complicated topic. Tonight, the South Jersey Green Network led by Sustainable Cherry Hill, brought people from Camden, Stratford, Haddonfield and other communities in and around Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties to hear about best practices and yes, share some of the walls that pop up when trying to establish a Green Team. Sustainable Cherry Hill (SCH) sparked the network a few SJGreenNet_0724 (20)years ago and convening this third tri-county effort brought familiar and new faces to the tables for listening, learning and discussion. Donna Drewes from SJGreenNet_0724 (3)Sustainable Jersey updated the group on the new website and ways to connect with other Green Teams statewide as well as find out about grants and projects; Camden County Freeholder Jeff Nash introduced Chris Waldron, Camden County’s sustainability coordinator who brought a very strong message: make sure when you are explaining what SJGreenNet_0724 (16)sustainability is all about to people who are not on board yet – be sure you tailor that message to them. Sustainability is all-encompassing; it involves how our society will continue for generations to come; sustainability is about education, the economy, transportation, environment, housing, faiths – it’s how everything is connected and how each piece of the puzzle fits.

According to Lori Braunstein, the evening wrapped up with a brief break-out session. Facilitators from SCH and SJ Network  focused the discussions on collaboration.  Each group then reported on the major topics of discussion. People really found that section valuable and seemed to want more of that.

After hearing about successes of Stratford’s Green Team and the collaboration between the school district, business community and other regional groups, there may be more questions than answers for some communities still trying to kick-start their sustainability efforts. Sustainability does take a village; in that room tonight connections were made and the journey continues.

Forever is Not Right Now

Hillary Clinton steps down as Secretary of State Friday. She leaves a legacy as the most traveled secretary of state having logged nearly a million miles (Move over George Clooney in ‘Up In the Air). The pols started talking about a Clinton run for president in 2016 ages ago. Mrs. Clinton is really side-stepping the question as she did today in a global town hall Q&A from the Newseum in Washington. “I am not thinking about anything like that right now,” Clinton said in answer to a young woman in London, adding that, “Right now, I’m not inclined to do that.”

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropMrs. Clinton  says she wants to write another book – I’d love to hear about all the international bloopers that no one talks about; and she wants to catch up on “20 years of sleep deprivation.” That is something MANY people can relate to. Can you imagine spending the equivalent of 86 days flying from place to place and through so many time zones? Getting up at 3 a.m. for eight years and working 4 a.m. to noon was a bear – but at least it was regular hours in the same time zone. I can’t imagine.

Now, Clinton says she didn’t know Super PACs were formed to advance her name in a run for the White House. Me thinks she probably knows all about it. She is a strong woman who has dealt with a philandering (but brilliant) husband; raised a terrific daughter and is as bright as they come. She knows all about the talk and the people backing her.

No matter what Hillary Clinton chooses as her next step – now or in a few years, it would be kind for people to let her rest for a while. She has served our nation well. The least we can do is let her sleep off her weariness let her just be. She’s not saying she’ll never run for president – just not right now. So let’s let her sleep for a few days.

The Saga

When you try to get something done, you hope that things go smoothly. Obviously, life throws curves at you all the time. I talked with two lawyers today about my hip replacement recall and what comes next. I have two appointments to meet with the lawyers and decide how to proceed. The one attorney is more experienced in these cases, but he leaves me with more questions than answers. The main problem that I have to wrap my head around is that I probably have to have another surgery – sooner rather than later.

You hear about these cases all the time – but never think you’ll be in the middle of one. I wish I could go back and stop what happened to me in  May 2011 when I had the first replacement. I can’t. now I wish I could just fast forward and have this all be behind me (no pun intended). I can’t. This will be a saga that will be clouding a lot of my life in the next few years. Goodie.

Do What You Can

Without love – you are nothing. Among the messages in Rev. Dr. Tony Campolo’s guest sermon today at Trinity Presbyterian Church was that no matter what else you have going on in your life, it’s love that will get you through the day – and your life. He also questioned why there is so little commitment today; why don’t we KEEP the promises we make? He says it’s because we IMG_0695 - Copyare weak. My belief is that we give up too easily – call it weak – call it lazy. We feel like making a commitment in the moment – and then we lose interest. Campolo told a great story about visiting Haiti following the earthquake that ravaged the nation. He was solicited by young girls offering themselves to him for $10 each. He took all three to his room, ordered all the Disney movies the hotel had (8) and called room service and ordered four extra-large banana splits. After the last girl had fallen asleep following hours of watching Disney movies and enjoying their ice cream party, he felt as though he had done nothing to really help IMG_0645 - CopyIMG_0687 - Copythese young girls who would be back out on the streets again finding men who would take advantage of them. But Campolo said whether it was his own voice or the voice of God inside him, he heard the message that he gave back the childhood of those three girls if only for one night. He did what he could.

We’ve heard the message a lot recently, especially since the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy: pay it forward; do one nice thing for someone else; if not every day – as often as you can. Do what you can – and the world will be a better place.

Turkey Anytime

A turkey dinner with all the trimmings has come to represent Thanksgiving. On a cold, January day, two months after Thanksgiving, the smells of turkey and the trimmings wafted through the house today. After a morning of some work and errands, I stuffed the 10 pound bird and put it in the oven this afternoon. I even made cranberry sauce.

MacCheeseRemember your favorite meal as a child? Was it macaroni and cheese (from scratch – not the boxed stuff)? Meatloaf? Even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be comforting. Food is an amazing trigger of memories. When I think of macaroni and cheese I remember my grandmother’s casserole dish with its wood base. I was really young, so in my mind’s eye, that casserole dish was really big. I loved my grandmom’s mac and cheese. My mother also made terrific macaroni and cheese, which is probably why I have never made boxed mac and cheese.

Tomorrow, we’ll visit our son at college. We”ll be taking along some homemade spaghetti sauce and pasta and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Like mother; like son.

Smokey and Deliverance

Burt Reynolds is being treated in intensive care for a severe bout with the flu. Millions of people are sick with the flu right now, but to hear that Burt Reynolds – an actor from whom we’ve heard nothing in a long while – makes me flash back to his years in the limelight. It is hard to believe he is 76. Remember his role in Smokey and the Bandit when he was driving that hot Trans Am with Sally Field ripping off the unwanted wedding dress and veil and tossing it into the wind? Or when he 130125175620-10-burt-reynolds-t1-mainplayed the football player along with Kris Kristofferson in “Semi-Tough.” Both of those movies were 1977 hits. I remember meeting Loni Anderson in the late 1970’s when WKRP in Cincinnati was huge. Around that time, Anderson and Reynolds connected. But their five-year marriage broke up in 1993.

Now, Burt Reynolds is a 76-year-old man who reportedly fought drug and alcohol addiction a few years ago. Reynolds has been married twice; it never stuck. When I was a teenager, I remember my mom talking about how Dinah Shore and Burt Reynolds were made for each other. She was 19 years older than him. He adored her and wanted to marry her. He said dinah_burtduring a Larry King interview that he never knew her age and it didn’t matter. They truly loved each other. Someone wrote he was the male version of Rachel Welch. But Deliverance in 1972 put him in the ‘real actor’ category. He met Dinah Shore during that period; she was the darling of afternoon TV and had been famous since the 50’s and 60’s.

So, can you imagine now – Burt Reynolds laying in a hospital bed in Florida? You know he’s thinking of Dinah Shore who was probably his best friend. Maybe he’s dreaming of driving that Trans Am with Dinah ripping off the wedding dress and veil and tossing it into the wind. Get well.

Don’t Get Too Happy

This is not a great day. While I am chugging along with numerous work tasks, my mind is clouded by the message from my doctor this morning: my hip replacement will need to be replaced. Last October, I was notified that my device as they call it, was recalled. Yesterday, I received another FedEx package from the manufacturer asking me to sign a release so my medical Hiprecords could be opened to them. All kinds of red flags went up. Among other experts, I phoned my wonderful family doctor of many years, Dr. David Zalut. He called me back this morning. The end result is I will be searching for an attorney – not one of those firms that advertises on TV – to figure out what’s next. Suffices to say, I am very down about the prospect of having to go through this surgery again with potentially even more complications the next time. When things like this happen I can’t help but wonder, are we never supposed to be too happy? When you get too happy, it seems as though both shoes drop at the same time. This will be one heckuva saga in my life.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside- Think Warm-Think Earth Festival

It hasn’t been this cold in the Philadelphia region for about four years – and I don’t like it. Thinking about baseball might be where I normally wander off to – but this time, I’m thinking about April 27, 2013. The Cherry Hill Art Blooms Earth Festival Art Blooms Earth Day - Color - TEXT - Copytakes place at historic Croft Farm ( 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – rain or shine). This is the fourth year Sustainable Cherry Hill is collaborating with Cherry Hill Township to put on this free event. We are also collaborating with the Cherry Hill School District to encourage as many of the district’s 17 schools – and any other schools throughout the South Jersey area – to participate. We’re welcoming creative art, science, math or any school project related to the earth and sustainability to be on display at the festival. The event is taking place rain or shine. We have an extremely creative media specialist – Ramona Bregatta – helping coordinate activities from within the schools. We’re talking about a fashion show with students wearing gently used clothing purchased on a budget at Goodwill or a store such as Plato’s EF2012_20120428_23 - CopyCloset (Maple Shade). Or perhaps a fashion show with clothing made from found items  – ‘Trashin’ Fashin’ was the title tossed around at our planning meeting.

We are welcoming ‘green crafters’ – artists who are making items that are from materials sourced locally – or at least in the USA; we welcome businesses that focus on sustainable or resource-saving practices. We’ll have a recycling area – still under discussion; our Gardening Task Force is working on its second EF2012_20120428_03 - Copyplant exchange that will be bigger this year; the township will bring in compost so people can pick up plants along with a few shovels of compost for the  garden. Springdale Farms is a return participant; Chimp Ade (benefits the Jane Goodall Foundation) and J-Dogs are scheduled to provide delicious – and healthy – food selections. It looks as though we will have a great moon bounce for the kids – always popular along with other activities that are family friendly which will go along with Mayor Chuck Cahn’s focus on the township’s wellness program.

EF2012_20120428_59 - CopyWe’ll have two entertainment stages with student groups performing throughout the day. Also, the local DG Band (easy listening) is scheduled to sing original tunes. All this happens as the township’s week-long Art Blooms event gets underway in the Croft Farm Art Center. Local and regional artists will have beautiful workEF2012_20120428_19 - Copys on display in competition and art-for-purchase.

To really warm everyone up and promote healthy and safe biking, the second Family Fun Bike Ride pedals off from Challenge Grove just across from Croft Farm at about 9 a.m. that morning. Sustainable Cherry Hill’s Way to Go Task Force is working with the township and police department on finalizing the route. It will be an easy ride to encourage all ages to participate.

If you are in the South Jersey-Philadelphia area and want to keep up with the plans for the Art Blooms Earth Festival, April 27th, go to and click on ‘Earth Festival.’ You can also send in the information form below and I will send you information if you are interested in being a vendor, green crafter, food vendor, student entertainment group or you have a display appropriate for the family-friendly earth festival.

EF2012_20120428_99 - CopyAnd…since Sustainable Cherry Hill is a 501C3 non-profit organization and any funds we raise goes back into education and outreach, we are welcoming sponsors for our event. I can also send you the information about that when you fill out the contact form.

As I write this, I can feel the warm, power of the sun that (hopefully) will be shining on that Saturday. We have a lot of planning to do – and it’s so exciting to be part of this engaging – and free event that brings several thousand people out to historic Croft Farm.

Wild About Harry

Can you imagine having every moment in your life poked and prodded by the media? I’m not talking about the crazies (some of them) who willingly submit to so-called reality television. With instant coverage a given in this tech world, Prince Harry is among one of the most-watched people in the world. Why? He’s 28; he’s a royal; people love to be voyeurs – pick your poison.

Prince Harry is ending his deployment to Afghanistan and the media was allowed to trail him for a bit. What you see and hear is a man who has grown up in the spotlight, and clearly does not like it. He’s been captured in Las Vegas with his pants down – literally and in other locales doing, well, what many 20-somethings do – having fun. Yes, he can be reckless, but thisPrince Harry makes a pre-flight check is the time when you are supposed to test the limits – within reason. There’s a great line from the fun chick-flick “Sex in the City.” Carrie tells her assistant, Louise, “Enjoy yourself. That’s what your 20s are for. Your 30s are to learn the lessons; your 40s are to pay for the drinks.” So true.

Now, Harry will return to his buttoned-down royal duties. And despite his disdain for the media and his fervent wish that the cameras would just all magically break when they get pointed at him, he’ll be relentlessly pursued by the media as he continues his bachelor ways. You can only wonder, what would Princess Diana think about how her boys have turned out and the media frenzy that can surround them. Unfortunately, she lost her life in that frenzy, something her sons have to live with and cope with daily.