LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WILLS FAMILY THROUGH MARALYS' MEMOIRS: A CIRCUS WITHOUT ELEPHANTS AND A CLOWN IN THE TRUNK

Thursday, January 17, 2019

WHO ELECTED RUSH LIMBAUGH AND ANN COULTER TO RUN OUR GOVERNMENT?


           


President Trump did.  Because that’s who he currently listens to--plus his Machiavellian aide Stephen Miller.  (Miller’s high school teacher describes him as “brilliant but scary.”) 

Now that most of the grownups, such as Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense secretary James Mattis have been drummed out of the administration, Trump is surrounded by “yes” men . . . so he’s turned instead to Limbaugh and Coulter for advice. It’s these two who have mocked him as “weak”—the most derogatory term anyone could use for this narcissist.  The country now witnesses a near-inhuman drive to prove those two detractors wrong. Here is a man who would take the stings of an entire country before he’d accept the criticism of two spiteful souls who have called him “weak.”

Still . . . there IS  a solution, if only the Senate majority weren’t so afraid of Trump’s “base.”  (Another few weeks of shutdown, and the “base” is likely to fade away). The Republican Senate, with agreement from the House,  must send Trump a bipartisan bill calling for an unconditional end to the shutdown.

Trump will veto this, of course.

With most of the Senate in agreement, they will vote to override the veto.  The Government will re-open and the Senate will emerge as heroes.  And God knows, they haven’t enjoyed that role in a very long time. 

With all the media talk of solutions to a devastating stalemate, almost none have suggested the Republican Congress can end the impasse once and for all—if only they summon the will to do it. 

There must be millions of Americans who wake in the middle of the night—as I do--with a sense of horror that our country is quite literally falling apart.  In my dreams I hear myself screaming to our Senators . . . Do what you have to do!   And do it NOW!  









Thursday, January 10, 2019

A HELLUVA PARTY




A HELLUVA PARTY


            It all began in July, when I mentioned casually to Tracy that our next wedding anniversary, on January 3,  would be our 70th.    

            Her response was anything but casual. “Oh, Mom,” she said with high enthusiasm, “I’m really glad you mentioned this early.  Usually you tell us the day before. Now we have time to do something.” 

            The something turned into a production that was so above and beyond, that Bob and I will revel in it forever.  Everyone in the family played a part—and indeed it took a family army to make it all happen . . . which in total produced an extraordinary event.

            The overall Captain was Tracy.  Together she and Paul located a caterer who created pulled pork, roasted chicken, beans and salad—most cooked in a spectacular oven on his property.  But that was just the beginning.  She found a special bakery and ordered a cake.  From then on, the rest of the family geared up and the event began to swell, like pancake batter spooned onto a griddle. 

While initial plans were for “family-only,”  to be held at Betty-Jo and Chris’s,  our kids decided (thank heavens), “Hey, they see us all the time. Let’s include friends,” and with that the party grew beyond the confines of anyone’s house—and instead Tracy secured the social hall of Tustin’s Presbyterian Church.  (A little side note here:  One of my good friends confessed,  “If you hadn’t included friends, I was going to crash it anyway.”) 

The rest was done by elves who worked semi-secretely, mostly out of sight of Bob and me.  One of them was Dane, now head of Video Resources, who gathered various family seniors to come and speak for a short, but professionally-edited video.  Since Bob and I had not been given a preview, it was as much a surprise to us as everyone else. With most of our immediate family up there on a huge screen, mainly talking about us, we loved it.

Dane also brought a professional sound system for that night, when various family members provided “off the cuff” remarks directly to the audience--including Bob and me,  who were anything but unprepared.  Unlike everyone else, we’d both written our statements weeks earlier.  Bob did his sitting down, adding so many fascinating-- but additional--details about his early life (before me),  that some of us wondered when, if ever, he’d get around to mentioning his marriage. 

As for me (who preferred to stand so I could see all the faces), some divergence crept in, but I mostly covered the conflicting aspects of the smartest, but most unpredictable personality I’ve ever known.  And trust me, I should have been prepared for a surprising life.  Bob was never ordinary, but a brilliant oddball right from that first dance at a Stanford Jolly-up.  

The next day he invited me to go on a "beach party."--which, as it turned out, consisted of him, me, and an acquaintance with a Model T who was persuaded to drive us-- while he, like an English butler, drove staring straight ahead, but saying nothing. When I protested about this screwy arrangement, Bob said, "Of course it's a party. I've brought grape juice, cheesy crackers, and we're going to the beach."   

Who else would summon you from your dorm by standing under your window and whistling--like he was calling his dog  to come out and play?  .    

I’m not sure either of us offered keys to the success of a long marriage—except that, despite the tragedies that everyone knows about, and some mostly-hidden conflicts between the two of us, here we both are, still married.  And we couldn’t be happier that we’ve still got each other.

And glad we are—that the members of our immediate family, for reasons beyond just us, are terrific people, all married to winners . . . who in turn have produced their own winners, and ultimately some great grand-kids whom we cherish.  And hey, in that fourth generation we’ve got as wide a variety of disparate personalities as you could ever gather in one spot—including a twelve-year old who knows ten times more about world geography (and other stuff), than I do, and a four-year-old who willingly passed out little dishes of cake to the guests—until someone observed that she was first taking a bite out of each serving before she handed it over.    

As a family,  and as individuals,  so many contributed to the evening that I will surely leave someone out.  Beyond General Tracy came Chris and Betty-Jo, who, almost secretly, gathered table settings, but also little pots of flowers, and most remarkable still, small photos of us for each table.  Their grand-kids must have spent hours wrapping silverware in napkins and tying each of 120 items with a ribbon and bow.  Only later did we learn that Betty-Jo woke at four a.m. that day, worried that her little pots of flowers, left outside, might freeze, so she got up to bring them in from the cold.  Thus ending her night.    

Tracy’s Paul, plus his two daughters, plus friend Peter, spent the entire evening in the church kitchen, warming the dropped-off food—four kinds—ladling it into serving dishes, mixing two kinds of punch,  arranging the serving table, and making sure the food never ran out.

Ken’s Melanie did so much extra cooking of various canap├ęs—most of it out of our sight—that she earned, once again, the title of hostess with the mostest. (We’ve been to her house in Virginia many times, and can vouch for her quiet but spectacular success with anything edible.)  As another gift to us, Melanie and Ken also secured the evening’s steel-drum music. 

It was Dane again who gathered four good photos of Bob and me, carefully chosen by Tracy and granddaughter Christy, to massively enlarge into stand-alone posters, which helped decorate the social hall.

And speaking of Christy . . . knowing that Bob and I love crossword puzzles, she somehow found the time and expertise to create a long crossword solely devoted to events in our lives. Though it was both clever and difficult, (the leading clue was, “The trip they’d agree was their favorite,” while the answer was, “impossible to say,”) numerous guests proudly showed us they’d managed to complete it.   

Meanwhile, the day of, Tracy, Betty-Jo, Chris, Christy, Melanie, and various great grand-kids, turned the social hall into a magic kingdom, with every detail covered. I remembered waking one night, days earlier, and wondering if they’d forget silverware and paper napkins.  What a joke!   Our kids were dozens of steps beyond such mundane concerns.

The evening itself was beyond anything Bob or I could have predicted.  Our kids dictated that we should sit like royalty—make that a king and queen--at a head table where our subjects could drop by to visit.  Which nearly every one of our 110 guests did. 

Meanwhile, how were we to get food?  Two of our great grand-kids, Nora and Malena, not only parked themselves at our table, but kept jumping up to go fetch us servings of dinner.  They seemed fairly anxious that we were well supplied.

As I come to the close of this longish story, it needs to be said that relatives and good friends came from long distances to be part of the event.  Among them were Geoff and Amber and great-grand-kids from Eureka, long-standing family friends from Tucson, our son Kenny and Melanie from Virginia, granddaughter Juliette from Raleigh, North Carolina, and farthest of all, Tracy’s daughter, Jamie, husband Mike, and the baby of the clan, Eva, all the way from Amsterdam. 

In some ways, you could call Eva the mascot of the evening.  Only seven months old, Eva has a crown of dark hair (more than I've got ), and was the evening’s pass-around pack,  never crying, but sometimes offering her Queen Elizabeth wave. 

The best I can say is, it’s not always easy being 91 and 89, respectively.  But the anniversary party—at least for that night—made it all worthwhile.   
 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

IT'S A DUCK. AND IT'S DEAD!


IT’S A DUCK. AND IT’S DEAD!

A Trail of Adventure Through Six Generations


Occasionally a great-grandchild says something so startling it becomes the basis for a book title.  But first you need the crazy situation that sets this up.

After years of hearing tales about my two grandfathers—one,  a bastard child born in Stuttgart, and the other a Wall Street tycoon who parlayed $500 into millions--I’ve been lucky enough as well to collect lively vignettes about our six kids, our ten grandchildren, and our 14 great-grandchildren.

Thus, the trail of adventure which began in the late 1800s continues until today—with “outside the box” genes built into our family’s DNA.  And never mind that some of us are connected to the law or medicine, many of the funniest tales come from members who aren’t necessarily connected to anything—except themselves.    

My husband, Rob, who has a reputation for popping out with words nobody expects,   has been a consistent mentor, supplying just the right phrase when I needed it most. Of course he now thinks he wrote the book.   

Newly published in late fall, the “Duck” has inspired enough enthusiasm so it’s now wandering outside our family and making itself known.

For those who want copies, it can be found on Amazon.  Or better yet, for an autographed volume, contact me at Maralys@cox.net. I can send a book, media mail, for under $3.00,  or two copies, priority mail, for $6.70.  The copy itself is only $10. 

Thanks and Merry Christmas to all of you who take the time to read my blogs.   

Saturday, October 20, 2018

WHY ISN'T HE IN JAIL?




For years this man has hired immigrants at bargain wages to build his hotels,  and then refused to pay them what they had coming.

For those same years he secured the services of independent contractors for his projects—lighting specialists, cabinet makers—and then “discounted” their bills, knowing only he had the resources to fight back in court.

Not so long ago,  he lied about the values of home appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers, not only taking fraudulent discounts from tax assessors, but also cheating renters within his establishments.

Within all our memories he created a so-called “university,” presumably to make his students rich, promising hand-picked professors and the divulgence of fail-safe lessons, only to fail on every count—refusing to repay his victims—until the courts intervened.

According to the New York Times’ exhaustive research,  this man has cheated New York State and the Federal government out of untold millions in owed taxes, which he has escaped paying only because he and his henchmen are willing to scheme and maneuver and hide and outright lie to ensure he never pays what he owes. Is it any wonder he refuses to reveal his tax returns? .   

Even today he gets away with flaunting the foreign emoluments clause in the Constitution, enriching himself with Saudi Arabians and other non-Americans who patronize his Washington D.C. hotel.  We all know it; nobody backs him down. 

But, hey, as president, he’s already told several thousand lies to us—the public--all verified by fact-checkers.  Still, not one member among the Republicans in Congress seems willing to hold his feet to the fire—presumably because they fear alienating the voters who adore him—those dupes wearing the MAGA hats. Among Republican office-holders, selfishness prevails.  My job is more important than admitting our leader is a verified crook.

Men with lesser crimes  are currently behind bars, doing hard time.  

Why isn’t this man in Jail? 

Why--even in what is obviously an upside-down world—do we allow this person to continue serving as President?  




Sunday, October 14, 2018

MORE ABOUT THE FERAL CAT--THE DRAMA GOES ON




How was I to know, a few days ago, that our cat story was far from over? 

With the blog finished, I made some assumptions--none of which came true.

As readers of the first blog all know,  our attempt to entice the nearly wild cat out of our house with an open patio door and an outside dish of cat food, was more than a failure: instead we awoke suddenly to a house full of policemen. There they were in the hall outside our bedroom, waking us with their clunky boots and huge flashlights. I leaped out of bed and realized to my horror WE were under suspicion—and never mind that I was standing there in my nightie, and never mind my trying to explain about the cat. “We have to see your husband,” they said, and when I said he was still in bed, one of them repeated his demand and pushed right past me.  What!  Do you think I killed him?   

So much for any sleep that night. 

But the cat was still with us . . . and so was our determination to have him gone. But that second night, if anything, turned out worse. Once again we prepared the open-door, outside-food trick—and this time I did NOT accidentally touch the house alarm.

Instead, just as we went to bed, I saw through the hall window what I supposed was the cat eating from the food dish. Elated, I ran to the family room to close the door. 

No cat anywhere.  Instead, four huge raccoons were out there, circling our dishes,  eating the cat food.  “No!” I screamed at them.  “No!  No!”  The four beasts took off running.  Defeated, I brought in the wet and dry food—what was left of it.  To forestall their return, I cleaned up everything they’d spilled.  Clearly, night-time, open-door lures were useless.

The third night was the topper.  While Rob watched late-afternoon TV with the patio door open (in case “Rat Cat” just happened to go for a daytime stroll),  I glanced outside. A quick look told me, once again, the cat was out there. Again I raced to the family room—and there I saw, INSIDE our breakfast room, three raccoons circling the dish of cat food. I screamed, and two raccoons rushed outside. 

Not so the fourth one.  He stood in our breakfast room staring me down.  I could tell what he was thinking.  Are you going to stand there, blocking my way, or are you going to step back and let me escape?  Your call, Lady. 

I moved back three steps, and the animal rushed past me and toward the open door. With his cane, Rob gave him a swat on the behind as he darted outside.   

We were now down to limited solutions.  “I’ll have to get a HAVE A HEART trap,” I said.  But when the feed-store lady demonstrated the monstrous power of the trap, I brought it home with a heavy heart.  “You and I are not going to set this thing,”  I said.  “If we mess up, it’ll take off an arm.  Someone else will have to do it.”  

Still, that afternoon I came up with a different plan . “Let’s get several family members to stand in the family room.  One of us will take a stick and beat his hiding places in the den. When he runs out, we’ll funnel him out the patio door.” 

Before the family could get there, Rob did indeed beat against several objects in the den, and suddenly the cat ran out—looking, as always, like an oversize rat. But he didn’t escape through the open door. Instead he disappeared. Later, Rob found him hiding in our small, utility bathroom. Quickly Rob closed the door. We practically cheered.  

When Dane and his girlfriend, Zhanina arrived, we planned our final move. With three of us standing in the utility porch, the fourth would roust the cat out of the bathroom, sending him out the back door.

That’s when a famous saying came to light.  The best-laid plans of mice and men . . . Slowly Dane entered the bathroom. But nothing happened.  Rob called out, “Poke him with my cane.  He’ll run out.”

Still silence from the bathroom.  Rob added, “You can pull him out with the other end.”  Dane didn’t reply, and we couldn’t tell what was going on.   

Then, from outside the room I heard Dane say, “Here, Kitty, here, Kitty.  Zhanina joined him.  The silence went on. Rob and I waited. Finally I gathered the cat was crouched behind the toilet, not moving.  “Will he bite?” asked Dane, and we said we didn’t think so. Eventually Dane picked him up, and the two came out. Then Zhanina took him in her arms.  “He’s trembling,” she said. She held him closer.

Instead of throwing him to the coyotes, the two young people stood there leaning over our animal, cuddling him.  Zhanina carried him outside, still in her arms.  All at once I saw him differently—a scared-stiff animal who had lived for six weeks in our house, eating only at night, afraid to ever be seen. 

“I’d like to keep him,” Dane said, and Zhanina agreed.  “We’ll give it a try,” they said. So Rob and I gave them everything the cat had come with—wet food, litter box, dry food.

Since from the start we never knew where this feral-cat story was headed, we now don’t know for sure how it will end.  All I can say is, those are the two kindest young people I’ve ever met.  With luck, our feral cat will think so, too.        

After they left, I began thinking about the kids, and how they handled the situation . . . and how because of them my attitude changed, and how in the end it was all for a simple reason: kindness is catching. 



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

MIDNIGHT DISASTER WITH A FERAL CAT





We should have seen this coming earlier--like weeks ago.  But who could have predicted a bad situation would simply keep getting worse?

It all started so routinely, and mostly because Rob is known to love cats.  As for me, I’m not nuts about them . . . but yes, we’ve had a few I actually loved.

When I speak of “a few,” that’s because cats love being outdoors, and over many years we’ve enjoyed seeing our half dozen different pets chasing across the lawn and up and down trees, dizzy with happiness.  The best ever was Pretty Boy, who was too quick and strong to succumb to predators; instead, loyal to us even in his last hours, he died prematurely, age eight, of kidney failure.

On the other hand, we’ve seen pathetic “indoor” cats sitting in window sills, staring longingly outward into a heaven they’re never allowed to enjoy. We “get it” about those cats and their owners; we’ve learned to our sorrow that the outdoors, here in Orange County, is a dangerous place for felines. Suffice it to say, we’ve lost at least three to coyotes.   

After Pretty Boy’s cute little successor stubbornly refused one night to come inside and we never saw him again, we vowed No more cats.

That should be the end of the story.  It isn’t. 

For a year, now, Tracy has been urging us on. “I saw this nice story about a lovable kitten. Dad needs another cat for his lap.” We kept explaining why this has worked out badly in the past and how we don’t expect a different ending. 

Still, she came up with something new. “One of Dane’s employees is moving to Vermont and needs a home for the family pet.”  In spite of protestations about clawed-up furniture, frequent trips, and coyotes, she persisted, “Your furniture is already clawed. He’s eight years old and mature. He’s house-broken. He won’t be a problem.”

Reluctantly we said okay. With that, the grateful owner arrived—with new cat carrier, sparkling litter box, a carton of wet canned food, a self-serve container filled with dry food.  And a huge, less-than-beautiful tabby. Vaguely, I remember a questionable history: an understated mention of cat-found-on streets, all by a prior owner . . .    

When today’s owner placed his pet on our cat tower, it appeared all was well.  The man petted him a few times—no response from the cat—and soon the animal ran under the nearest sofa and disappeared.

As of now, five weeks later, nobody has ever petted him again.  That’s because you can’t pet something you never see.  Well, not perfectly true.  Rob has had a few brief nocturnal sightings, and two different evenings I’ve seen him streaking down the hall to god-knows-where, resembling an oversize rat. Yet thanks to cat-lovers assuring us this strange situation will be temporary, each night for nearly forty nights we’ve dutifully provided wet food and cleaned the well-used cat box. And each morning the food is gone. 

At first we located two different hiding places (into which we couldn’t reach), and begged him to come out. That ended quickly. For now we can only guess where he’s been holed up, though we’ve supposed part of the time somewhere in our very neat guest bedroom.  We both now want him gone. We’ve tried closing off parts of the house, just to corner him, but no luck.  We even laboriously took apart a suspect cabinet.  He once resided there, we knew,  and thought he’d returned.  But no sign. 

Yesterday we discovered the ultimate in bad feline behavior: behind the bed in the guest bedroom were five piles of cat poo.  Both of us exploded.  “He’s out of here!”  I shouted, and Rob agreed.  Tracy tried to be helpful.  “Just put his food outside and leave the door open.”  Well, that wouldn’t work in the daytime, during which we’ve never seen our phantom resident. So last night Rob propped open the back patio door and I carried out two kinds of food. Worried that yet another wild animal might eat the food, or even come in, we left on the outside lights and prepared for bed.    

Here I made the ultimate bad move. From long habit, I set the house alarm. With that, the fireworks went off, reminding me a major door was wide open.  Hastily, I punched in the code, a phone call from the alarm company rang only once, and the key pad read, “Police call cancelled.”  Rob said, “Who was that call?” and I said, “It’s okay. It’s all okay.”  I believed what I said, and still nervous about our open door, at well past eleven we went to bed.

An hour later, just as I’d fallen sound asleep, Rob suddenly stirred. “What’s that noise? Somebody’s in the house.”  I was instantly awake. It was more than just noise.  Outside our bedroom a bright light was more or less jumping off the walls.  I leaped out of bed, ran past the doorway.  And there in our bedroom hall were three men—all with huge flashlights, all wearing green uniforms.

“Our hall is full of cops!”  I shouted back to Rob, still in bed. 

“What are you doing here?” I cried, thinking,  And how did you get in?  

“What is your name?”  one of them asked,  and I was so shaken I could barely get it out. 

I began trying to explain about the cat.  But disoriented as I was, the words made little sense, even to me.

Now sternly.  “What is your birth date?” What has that got to do with anything? I mumbled dates, then went on about the cat, and why the door was open, and how I’d cancelled the alarm setting, and how yes, the patio door was thrown wide, and if you look, you’ll see the dish out there with gravy morsels.    

“We need to see your husband.” 

“He’s still in bed,”  I said.

The man pushed past me.  “We need to see him.”  What?  Do you think I murdered him? Insistently, he kept going, on toward the bedroom, and shined his torch on Rob—who, in his night shirt, was now standing in the doorway. My husband, always wise in bad situations, greeted him nicely.  

I swear, I was finally making sense about the cat, but that gang of uniforms didn’t leave for at least twenty minutes.  Afterwards, we found they’d opened every closed door—a good many blocking off cat-free rooms--and left us wide-awake, jangled, and me with a full load of blame.  

And how has it all ended?   Well, so far it hasn’t ended. Last night, significantly past midnight, we brought in the cat food, closed a few additional doors, and decided the wicked creature must be in the den—the “overflow room,” so messy it was the one place we hadn’t thoroughly searched.     

Sure enough, after a much-too-late bedtime and a too-early wakeup, the tempting kitty tidbits were gone.  We’re both exhausted, but worse, we’re still in possession of the world’s spookiest, ugliest cat--which Rob now refers to as “the rat cat.”  We think we know which room he’s in. But hey, that’s only half the solution.  How do we get rid of him . . . short of setting a house fire? 

Anyway, I hear firemen are really good with cats.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

DESPICABLE TO THE CORE




And a crook, besides. 

This is the man we call President. 

Just last night he publicly mocked assault victim Dr. Christine Ford—exactly like he mocked a disabled reporter, a few years earlier.   To our horror, his audience laughed, cheered, and clapped.  Who are these people? 

According to the New York Times, he and his father cheated the government of millions of dollars, the son accepted 413 million from the dad, and later claimed to be “a self-made man.”  Yet his base doesn’t care.  Who are these people? 

The New York Times investigated for a year and a half, examined literally thousands of documents, and made their conclusions--that he’s nothing but a con man--available to the entire country . . . enough to cause a popular uprising.  Yet among numerous states, not a ripple of protest. Who are these people?  

Our Senate leader, Mitch McConnell,  and more than half the United States Senators,  are willing to “go along” with a man  who lies, cheats, and is personally abhorrent. Who are these people?  

And when . . . when . . . will the rest of us demand a change of leadership? 


P.S. According to the New York Times 1700 (and counting) law professors across the United States have today sent a letter to the Senate stating that Judge Kavanaugh does not have the temperament to be a Supreme Court Justice. .