Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Thanksgiving: James Maute

During this season of thanksgiving, I’ve been writing posts of gratitude. Who are we thanking today?

Thank You, James Maute

Dear James,

I can’t tell you enough now grateful we are to have such a neighbor as you. You and your family have lived here on this same block with us for about twenty years, and you’ve been a great neighbor.

You keep an eye on things. You know who’s who and what’s what. The neighborhood is safer with you around.

You’re cordial, friendly, and fair.

You’re always offering to help with yard work and such. And wow, have you been helpful!

I will never forget how helpful you were to Lorie as her health was declining last fall and winter. You were a blessing to her and to her family. You were a blessing to her dogs and cats, too.

And your yard is a joy! It makes us happy when we drive or walk by. The flowerbeds are gorgeous, but the decorations add a lot of fun to the mix. People can see you have a sense of humor as well as an appreciation for beauty.

It makes us even happier to see you and your family sitting up there enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, the view from your perch overlooking the north end of Broadway.

I’m including some pictures of your yard I took this year. Here are some from early summer, when you first started planting things and getting the flowerbeds in order.

And here are pictures of your fall and Halloween decorations. Wow, how those plants grew!

I thought you’d like this picture of that citronella geranium you raised from a cutting. I know the citronella makes you think of Lorie.

And James, you’re fun to be around. We’ve enjoyed your occasional visits while we relax in the backyard.

James, this place wouldn’t be the same without you.

We’re glad you’re our neighbor.

Blessings to you.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Thanksgiving: Laura Ward

As it gets nearer to Thanksgiving, I’ve been writing posts of gratitude. Who are we thanking today?

Thank You, Laura Ward

Friend Laura,

This is such a pittance of the thanks you deserve for the steady work and effort you put into our community. I was about to write “neighborhood” or “district,” but community really is your focus, and this place is better for all you do. I’d say you are tireless, but I know you are not. It must be exhausting.

Yet you are usually quite upbeat. At the risk of making you sound like a unicorns-and-rainbows whacko, I contend that you do kind of leave a glitter trail of uplifted spirits everywhere you go.

Let me count the ways. You contribute in the best ways (that is, with your service and care) to the Old Munichburg Association (including heading up Southside Pride Award and the Oktoberfest Kids’ Corner), to the Historic City of Jefferson and its Golden Hammer Award, to Building Community Bridges, to the Southside Neighborhood Watch, and I’m sure a lot more that I don’t know about.

Also, for years, you’ve been an excellent City Council representative for our ward. It’s great to know that we’re represented by someone who truly cares about the destiny of these antique houses as well as the mostly un-wealthy and socially diverse people who live in them.

You even took the time to arrange for an official award for one of our other neighbors, who decorates his front yard with all kinds of beautiful flowers and plants, turning it into an eye-catching, happy scene for passersby, even though his home (rented from a less-than-stellar landlord) is in terrible shape. That award, the gathering, the attention, brought some well-deserved recognition to that man for his hard work and care.

. . . Kind of how you deserve an award.

I wish I could be like you. I wish there were more people like you.

I’m glad you’re our neighbor.

Blessings to you.

Thank you.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Thanksgiving: Cardinals Manager Mike Shildt

This is another Thanksgiving post. It’s just me, sharing gratitude with the universe, or, at least, the Internet. Who are we thanking today?

Thank You, Cardinals Manager Mike Shildt

Dear Mike Shildt,

I rarely write fan letters to anyone. No, scratch that, I’ve never written a fan letter at all. But this is different. This time, it’s different.

I feel genuine heartache that the organization fired you, especially after that amazing winning streak at the end of the season. I have to admit I don’t know much more than what I read in various media, but I do know what it’s like to be let go of. The awful shock. And I know what it’s like to have a boss whose decisions and direction I disagree with. I also know what it’s like to have a boss who has your back, as well as what it’s like to have a boss who stabs you in the back. I know what it’s like to be in the middle, between the big boss and the people I manage.

I usually only listen to the ballgames over the radio (I much prefer it to TV), and I always make a point of listening to the postgame, and in your comments you always struck me as the kind of boss I’d like to have. No apologies, no blame, just a constant analysis and movement to the future, toward progress, improvement, growth.

You, and the players, did the best you could with the hand you’d been dealt (by fate and by the front office), and I’m sure your confidence in your players meant everything to the team.

When the pitchers were blitzed by injuries and the team was struggling to win games, a lot of people seemed to think your optimistic postgame comments were out of place, but longtime fans—and you, obviously—know that one of the secrets to winning is to rely on your strengths, and not to flail about, second-guess, and change things all the time. We knew you were waiting for reinforcements.

When certain players were not playing up to their historical levels, you didn’t (you probably couldn’t) send them away to the minor leagues. What could you do? I suspect your hands were tied. You didn’t have a limitless array of players.

It seems that when a team is losing, the coaches and managers get blamed, but when the team is winning, all credit goes to the players. And people are fond of pointing out a single misplay (on the field or as a managerial call) and use it to condemn someone who has otherwise done very well. That’s not fair. And if there’s one thing you seem to stand for, it’s fairness.

Even as the storms of injuries tossed the ship, you kept the ship’s wheel steady. When galley boys had to be brought up on deck to do the job of boatswain, your confidence enabled the youngsters to perform admirably (given the circumstances). That’s what a skipper’s supposed to do, and you did it well. No wonder the players like you.

I always enjoyed hearing your interviews. I enjoyed the games I heard; the team clearly improved with you as the manager. Of course, I really enjoyed that run at the end of the season. Amazing what happens when all the pieces are in place, and when reinforcements finally arrive.

During these pandemic years, listening to baseball has been a real godsend. We don’t go out like we used to, but having the game in our home summer evenings helped our minds and spirits to travel everywhere the Cardinals did.

In future seasons, I’ll keep thinking of your impact on the Cardinals, as players you scouted and coached continue to have long, fruitful careers. Development is a huge part of the Cardinals, and that’s one reason we’re so proud as fans.

You’re full of integrity; you’re everything a baseball manager and boss should be. You’re a class act. I know that some team will snatch you up, and that we’ll be seeing you coaching in another postseason, too. And soon. I wish you the best. Thank you.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Thanksgiving: Dr. Brandi Nichols

Hey, everyone, as we get nearer to Thanksgiving, I'm posting about some of the things, or people, I've been thankful for this year. It’s a chance to share some gratitude with the universe, or, at least, the Internet. A new bit of gratitude! Let’s get started!

Thank You, Dr. Brandi Nichols

Thank you, Dr. Nichols and all your associates at JCMG who eased my mind and took care of me last November, December, and January as I moved through the slow, unnerving (scary) process of determining what my, um, postmenopausal female symptoms were being caused by. I haven’t needed to go down this aisle of the supermarket for some years, now.

This was especially not fun during a pandemic, before the vaccine, and it was not fun during the holidays, either. And I should never have Googled my symptoms, nor should I have done keyword searches on the precise terms y’all provided. I should have just listened to you and your nurses (and my better sense): we don’t know anything until the biopsy comes back, but the odds are very great that it’s no big deal, so no reason to worry.

. . . But you know.

I have to be honest, I felt kind of out of place in your waiting and exam rooms, with glamour photos of very-pregnant women and of cutie-pie babies with those flowery headbands hanging on the walls everywhere you looked.

I’m a fifty-something lesbian, not much about me is maternal, and that mommy stuff is soooo not my scene. But I can see why you have to kind of promote and celebrate what amounts to the bread-and-butter part of your practice, the “up” side of female anatomy and physiology, since the other end of it—which my case kind of represented—isn’t particularly joy-filled.

I apologized to you for no doubt being a bummer, when you probably got into being an ob/gyn because of the miracle of reproduction, but you surprised me by saying that you are really interested in all facets of your job, and that you really like to remove polyps, too, and you kind of get a charge out of it.

I don’t remember much about the morning of the procedure when I was groggy from the super-early appointment and then woozy from the anesthesia and from the weeks of being on edge over the whole thing. But while I was waking up, you did take the time that morning to talk to Sue and reassure her that everything went well, and that nothing problematic was anticipated.

The last time I saw you—and hopefully, indeed, the last time I will ever see you (look, nothing personal, okay?)—it was seven weeks after the procedure, in a follow-up visit. Your office had already called me with the results (benign, yay!) a week after the procedure, but I was glad to have the chance to talk with you and ask any remaining questions.

Again, not only did you take care of my unwanted polyps, but also, you really helped ease my mind. And I really appreciate it. I realize that a lot of it was just my luck, but you really set me at ease. I consider it a blessing that I could just move on with my life, basically as if nothing had happened.

So thank you very much.

Addendum: Since the events I described, this year I found out that two of my friends did have the dreaded, less common outcome. Both are fighting, one particularly hard. So along with the relief I feel for having dodged the big-C, I’m comforted to know that you’d take good care of me if that had been my diagnosis, too.