Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Making Snap Judgments About Others

 

There are a two people living in my continuum care complex that I don’t like and didn’t from the minute we met. I’m trying hard to understand why I make snap judgments about people because there are others living here that I’ve loved from our first encounters. Right or wrong I like to think of myself as a student of human nature and as one I decided I’ve got a rare opportunity to exam if first impressions hold true. In past work or social situations it’s been easy to avoid people who at first glance made me not want to get to know them better, but here that’s not so easy to do. Here there’s a core group of us---twenty-five or so---who take part in most of the activities and/or group meals while the other twenty-five living here are like prairie dogs who spend most of their time underground to protect themselves from predators. We might see them popping up at the mailboxes and going to or from their cars but that’s about all.

Recently my building acquired our fifth prairie dog, an aloof retired engineer, who seems determined to ignore all attempts others have made to get more than a “hi” greeting out of her. It’s quite the talk of the town as one might have said in a past century. At first I thought it was just me and I internalized the cold shoulder as being from one of those tall skinny, well-put together women who is afraid to ride in an elevator with a fat person because she thinks she’ll get fat by osmosis. But she also gives a cold shoulder to our resident Cheerleader so I had to slap my insecurities back into place. I’ve mentioned the Cheerleader before. She’s a cute, energetic do-gooder blonde who probably hasn’t had a mean thought in her head since babyhood when her mother tried to switch her from the nipple to a bottle. The engineer walks Energizer Bunny fast and keeps on going whenever someone says “Hi” or asks, “Are you new here?” Even the Cheerleader has given up on trying to make her feel welcome and like we're an inclusive, friendly community. The Cheerleader is popular and a force for good and she works hard at getting to know the newbies and introducing them to others with common interests.

Where was I going with this post? Oh, ya, I’m trying to figure out if my first impressions of people have held up after getting to know them better. I was wrong about T-shirt Tom the lawyer who I thought was stuck up and rude because he asked to sit at my table once then two minutes later said he changed his mind and wanted to eat alone. He turned out to be to be a nice guy. He says living with all us women has made him a better person. In the workplace, as a partner in a law firm he had to carry himself with a certain air that he didn’t name but here, he says, he has learned to totally relax and be happy. (The table incident I'm chalking up to him being like a fish out of water when he first got here and trying to make small talk scared him.) He’s got the nicest family. His sons all have a nightly zoom meeting with him and we’re often posing for photos that he shows to his five boys--kind of a talking blog, I’m guessing, as he tells them about his day. He’ll shop on Amazon, mark something in a Wish List and his one son is in charge of ordering the stuff and getting it shipped to Dad. (We get Amazon deliveries here 2-3 times a day.)

T-shirt Tom is the most dramatic example of me misjudging a person here but then again he admits to having mellowed out since moving in so did I really misjudge him or did the change make the difference? The Cheerleader too, when we first met I was leery around her because I thought maybe her goodie two shoes persona was an act. However, I quickly figured out that, yes, she is the real deal. But I don’t put her in a column where I misjudged someone because I purposely reserved my judgement of her for the first few months and she has my goodie two shoes cousin Judy to thank for that. I hold Judy in high esteem and as proof that angels do inhabit the earth. 

For the most part, though, my first impressions have held up and I’m happy about that. I have not seen anything to change my mind, for example, about the two pretentious souls I've disliked from day one. I’d hate to think I've gone through life discounting and misjudging people based on little more than a vibe I can’t name. Call it instinct or snobbery or a past life experience whispering in my ear, I can usually tell if I'm going to like someone in the first five minutes of meeting them. Probably not fair, but after my mini introspection here I'll continue making snap judgments but I'll leave the guilt of doing so behind.

I don’t have any real friends here and I’m not surprised or unhappy about that. I’ve only had two really good friends in my entire life: one in the third of my life who I met in kindergarten and then my husband in the last two thirds of my life. Both friendships were honed through years of mutual trust and spending quality time together. At the ripe old age of eighty I don’t have the time to build those kinds of friendships again and for what? Just to lose them? We’re already lost 5-6 of the original residents who all came into this new place together last October. But I do have an eclectic group of interesting neighbors to chat with or play with or eat with whenever the mood strikes me and that’s worth a lot in the grand scheme of growing older. 

And the cherry on top of my social sundae came last night when six of us revealed ourselves to be flaming liberals and we solved all the world's problems in a long after dinner 'brain storming' session proving that I'm not the only liberal who keeps her cards close to her vest until she knows it's safe to come out and play.  ©

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of getting naked in public.” 

Paulo Coelho 

Photo: This photo was taken of the line dancing class the day they did the flash mob that I wrote about a last month. It was posted on the internet by the CCC so I am not breaking anyone's privacy rights by sharing it here. Some of these ladies I've written about in past posts including The Cheerleader, Auntie Mame and Robbie's Mom.

66 comments:

  1. Interesting post and I agree. It's not so much as judging others as an instinctual knowing. Mistakes can and do happen. Sometimes there's something about the person that we think nope and then change our mind and find he or she is lovely. Sometimes we run across a chameleon character that we're drawn to and then find out later we were duped, they're not who we felt they were.

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    1. I like that..."It's not so much as judging others as an instinctual knowing." That is hitting the nail on the head and I wonder where that comes from. Our earliest ancestors had to be able to be able to do that to survive so I', betting some of it is instinct and some of it is learned from our childhood and watching how our parents interacted with others.

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  2. I love it! I love the camaraderie (when it's there) of living in a place like yours. I'm very sorry that you've had that many people pass away in such a short period of time. And I would have bet you were way younger than you claim credit for. Take care and stay safe!

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    1. Age is a funny thing. I dreaded turning 80 and now it's like a bragging point!

      Our sister campus has an a Covid quarantine going again. So your take care and stay safe is well timed. I do have to remember to be go back to social distancing, hand washing and maksk when I leave campus.

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  3. Hopefully the new prairie dog is just painfully shy and will out grow it. Maybe she is not there by choice and is resentful of everything. Interesting how you can size up a person so quickly and glad first impressions can sometimes not be quite true. Had to smile at your new "flaming liberal" core. I just went to a luncheon with some friends yesterday and there is only one in the group that follows my political leanings. We just bide our time, stay quiet and cast knowing looks at eachother if the conversation strays. Draw back of living in a red state.

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    1. Our new prairie dog is not shy, I'd bet money on it. I'm guessing she's used to be being the smartest person in the room and hasn't bothered to find out that there are a lot of people where who are well educated as well.

      I live in a Red county so I know all too well how it is when conversations stray and it's best to just not say anything or to court your words with caution.

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  4. Well, now you have me thinking, Jean. Do most of us make snap judgments about people? I'm guessing the majority of us do, but we might not want to admit it. I love the prairie dog analogy. I know a few of those. As for friends, I believe they are very few and far between. We might have tons of acquaintances, but it takes a deep level of trust and commitment to form a friendship. It takes a heckuva lot of time and work to be a good friend. Maybe as we grow older, we hesitate to invest that much in fishing for new friends. You also make the important point that every relationship has the potential to end and that hurts.

    Another good post that made me think (for me, that's rare;). Thanks, Jean!

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    1. Sometimes I think the people who claim to have a ton of friends don't define friends the same way you and I apparently do. But am learning that it's not uncommon for for someone my age to claim to only have had 2-4 super close friends.

      Glad I could be of service in the making you think department. LOL

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  5. The older I get the less I try to judge people. Age has taught me that we may never know what someone else has lived through or had to deal with. Years ago, when I was living through some stressful times, I remember wondering if anyone even ever saw me. While walking into the library, a man who has always reminded me of Ray Romano's brother from Everybody Loves Raymond, smiled at me and said hello, have a nice day. That one kindness put me right back on the right track. Since then I have always made sure I acknowledge people I meet during my day. They may not respond and that's ok. I feel that I am doing my own personal best to be a caring person. So I think I would always make sure I say hello to the new person whenever I see them and then let them decide to be more forthcoming or not.

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    1. You make excellent points and its so true that we never know what others are going through. I'm betting we all go through periods where we wonder if anyone ever sees us. Case in point: Last night I walked into our building to get my mail and the security guard (a black guy in a sea of us white folk) spoke to me. I had my head in the clouds and walked on by without acknowledging him until I got 20 feet away. I turned around and asked him if he was talking to me, then I walked back and had a mini conversation with him. I'm so glad I did. I'd hate to think I'd add to a person's feelings of not being seen when they make an effort to be friendly.

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  6. That little vibe of dislike is instinct and it is telling you to steer clear. I trust mine to push me in the right direction, but it took years to learn to trust myself. Also, I didn't realize you could get fat by riding in an elevator with a heavy person. I'm sure that's a scientific fact, right?

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    1. You made me laugh out loud on the 'scientific fact' observation.

      Developing our ear for listening to our instinct isn't always easy as we are taught social graces so early on. As kids we are supposed to let anyone hug us and pet our heads like we're puppies. Not so much now but in my generation kids were not allowed to have personal space.

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  7. What you call snap judgement, I call intuition. Sometimes it can be wrong though…you might dislike someone not realizing it is because they remind you of someone in your past who has hurt you. At least, that is what I have noticed about me…My intuition usually proves to be right but I will give people a chance to prove it wrong (cautiously, though).

    Deb

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    1. Instinct and intuition ARE better words than snap judgements. The ladder in not a flattering quality to have where the former two makes you look smarter. LOL

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  8. Definitely instinct and an inner "knowing". I do that and those that I’m leery of, I keep my distance, but am polite. And if I can discern they are trumpers, forget it. I can longer can handle those people, so I just avoid them.
    Good close friends are few and almost always from long term friendships. If we live long enough, we all end up alone, especially those without children and grands. It’s just life.

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    1. It a bittersweet part of life to look back and know you've had good friends but know those kinds of friendship can never happen again.

      I used to avoid the Trumpers, too, but I'm starting to question if maybe we shouldn't have been challenging their thinking processes along. By our silence it gives them a false impression that their opinions are the majority opinions.

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    2. When I last saw my primary care physician, she confided to me she's a Democrat like I am because I had told her my chances of meeting any men who weren't Trumpers in our red county were pretty small. She said because she's a doctor, everyone just assumes she's a Republican so they feel free to voice their opinions without being challenged. It makes me glad I'm no longer a dental hygienist because I used to have to listen to that kind of talk too and just had to smile and do my job. And that was before Trump!

      Sometimes it pays to speak up, though. My office was made up of right-wing Republicans and for a while they had Rush Limbaugh's program playing in every room until a male patient of the doctor's said if they didn't turn it off he would shoot the speakers off the wall. I came to work the next day and Rush had been replaced by our "easy listening" local radio station. I guess the doctor figured Rush wasn't worth losing a patient (and his money.)

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    3. Our dentist used to play Rush too and my blood pressure would boil. One time my husband had had enough and total him if he didn't change take that 'shit off' he'd be finding another dentist. And that was the end of Rush for years to come in that office. But for awhile there half the businesses in the county had Rush playing as background so we started boycotting them. I blame Rush for starting the Trump Train to being nasty in politics.

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    4. Good for your husband! Medical and dental offices should be neutral zones when it comes to stuff like that. Before the guy complained to my DDS, I was working on a patient when Rush started going on about "femi-nazis" and made some lewd comment about Madonna being a lesbian and my patient's eyes got huge and his eyebrows flew up in surprise. That did it for me. I had them turn off my speaker. But Rush didn't start this. I blame Newt Gingrich for starting the whole nasty mess of vilifiying political opponents. Trump just amplified it and took it to new lows.

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    5. I'd forgotten about Newt. You're right and probably some historian could come along and find an even older example....but not from the era of mass media I'll bet.

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  9. Well, you can put me in the prairie dog column, but I'll bet that doesn't surprise you. As a matter of fact, I laughed at that name for the category, because I had a prairie dog for a pet for some years, and we did bear some resemblance to one another. I tend not to judge people consciously, but there does come a time when I realize that 'this one' is pretentious, and I'd prefer not be around her, or 'that one' is hypercritical and is best avoided.

    On the other hand, a couple of people in my life ought to be in the "avoid at all costs" categories precisely because they're hypercritical, or pretentious, or whatever. But there's something about them that I cherish, and that tends to override negatives I'd just as soon avoid in other people. It's always interesting when it happens.

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    1. Prairie dogs are cute so I wouldn't mind resembling one in looks or actions.

      I know what you mean in your last paragraph and it all boils down to people are complex and not as easy to pigeonhole as we'd like to think. And just as we overlook some things we don't like in people we enjoy they are no doubt doing the same with us.

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  10. It's fun to have people to hang out with, but my days of having close friends are probably winding down. I've worked hard at relationships and maintaining them, but lost a number of friendships during the pandemic. Sad but understandable. I trust my gut when I meet people and am usually correct.

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    1. I can see how people can get so lonely as they age and lose friends and spouses. I'm glad I'm here where at least I can find chit-chat when I'm in the mood.

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    2. Good Advice. I'm going through the same thing. Friends that I've had for years are now passing away. Can't get friendships (lost) that have survived decades.

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  11. I've had several good close friends in my lifetime and have enjoyed a close friendship with a woman I met here when I moved to the coast. We had art in common and were both Democrats, so that's a good place to start from. Sometimes life events and changing habits can end those friendships, but they were good close honest relationships - until they weren't. I shared the blame in each case.
    I think we all make quick judgements and it's not out of pettiness - more from caution. We've all probably befriended an acquaintance who turned out to be all high maintenance and very little pleasure, and once that's happened, we learn that caution.

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    1. So true about caution. I'm leery of people who come rushing in strong like they want to be your new best friend. They often turn out to be clingers who will suck the life out of you if you let them.

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  12. Instinct and intuition followed by actions. I'm a Taurus and I start out being accepting of everyone until they cross a line. I can even be forgiving once. After that, I pop down out of the way.

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    1. A good way to navigate in this world. More power to you.

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  13. I find it sad that so many of us think deep friendships can’t begin late in life. I moved to a new state at 75 and found a group of warm, welcoming women I cherish and enjoy spending time with. History isn’t the only glue for friendship.

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    1. That's an inspiring thought to add here, thank you for doing it.

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  14. My first impressions of people are sometimes off the mark. Most of the time reliable. I live in a 55 and over condo complex. I moved from my home in the woods 8 years after my husband died. I guess I'm mostly a prairie dog. I enjoy taking my daily walks alone. Good for my mental and physical health. If someone sees me walking and jumps in, that's ok. The problem is that I don't want to get into a fixed schedule where you have to walk at a certain time with certain people. (Hey, I am retired not on a time schedule here.) I do go to an exercise class twice a week here. That way I get to know the news in the neighborhood. Quite frankly, I say Hi to everyone and my neighbors sometime look the other way. No problem. I keep waving!

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    1. I never did like walking with other people. I've tried it in the past and it's never going to happen again. If I want to smell the roses along the way I don't want to have to answer to anyone for doing so.

      I say 'hi' to everyone too unless I've got my head in the clouds and don't even see them. If people don't say 'hi' back I figure they're having a cloud day of their own.

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  15. Oh,I'm so glad you found some kindred political spirits. As you know, it can be tough around here. :-) And belated Happy Birthday! I can't believe you're 80...you are well kept. ;-)

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    1. You are so kind to say that about my age. I can't believe I'm 80 either.

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  16. Haven't we all met someone that we just don't like from the get go, it is instinct that is rarely wrong

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    1. Gosh, I hope I'm not the only one who has taken an instant dislike to someone.

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    2. I’ve felt that way with a couple or so people I’ve met in my life. I think it’s a natural instinct. For me, it’s been sensing a coldness, arrogance or phoniness which I didn’t like. You definitely aren’t alone.

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    3. And that is always a welcome thing to know, isn't it.

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  17. You've made me really think about this one. I guess at my core, I'm a chameleon. I'd be considered a prairie dog for a few months. I would scuttle about, keeping to myself, but watching and learning. I'm not an instantly social person, it takes time for me to feel comfortable, especially in a new setting. I make an extremely bad first, second and 30th impression.

    Once I settle enough to be myself, I begin to relax and not feel as anxious. Eventually people start to notice that. Making friends in those initial months, though, is impossible. For this reason, I've always been kind of an outlier. I think I've missed some great relationships because of it.

    This being said, I'm nothing like Energizer Bunny. I may not initiate an interaction and lay low for a while, but I would never be rude or dismissive when greeted. I would at least speak and try to appear normal until I could escape back to my habitat.

    In my experience in dealing with a Bunny, she's not happy. The level of Bunny's unhappiness is apparent in the complete rejection of her environment and the people in it. I don't think she'll be there long.

    Shout out to flaming liberals living in red states...

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    1. I don't think our Bunny is unhappy. I think she's just looking at this place like an ordinary apartment---which it is in most ways---where she comes and goes from her busy life and she hasn't got the time to get to know what this place has to offer. This is a continuum care complex.

      I used to call myself a chameleon when I was dating because I'd try to like or learn about whatever a guy liked. When I finally I quit doing that is when I met Don. LOL

      I don't think there is anything wrong with sizing up a new group of would-be friends before revealing too much of yourself.

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  18. Popping over from Cheerfulmonk. I can so relate to all of this because I am very guilty of making snap judgements about people. Then again, there are plenty of people who dislike me based on what they've been told rather than what they've experienced.

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    1. You bring up a point no one else has so far and that's while we're feeling guilty about judging others too quickly, everyone else is probably judge us the same way. LOL

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  19. “Writing is a socially acceptable form of getting naked in public.” I love it! Speaking openly in some quarters is dangerous, sometimes beginning in one's childhood home, then in an office, or in any situation one can't leave, like a CCC. Oh gosh, I would be a cardholding prairie dog at a CCC. All the external permission of the resident cheerleader would just grate on me and I'd want to shout at her "I'm not an extrovert you know, so stay the hell away!". I wouldn't of course, knowing I'd have to live with chatty fallout that would just interfere with my preferred mode of being. It seems you're able to confide in us as friends do here, though you may hold certain cards to your chest even here! I'm grateful to be privy to your published musings.

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    1. The Cheerleader confused the heck out of me at first because I was not used to someone being that friendly right out of the gate. But she does know when to back off and is quite intuitive about that. She was a teacher in the lower grades and has a playful side you can't help but like.

      This place is like any other place where you see the same people repeatedly----co-workers, volunteer jobs, church, family---the people as individuals grow on you or they don't.

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  20. Has anybody else here tried to identify Auntie Mame, the Cheerleader and Robbie's Mom? I've spent too much time looking at that photo! I even enlarged it so I could see better! Ah well. It looks like a good and happy group!

    It's an interesting thought. I believe in being friendly and it's sad the Bunny doesn't even want to acknowledge her fellow neighbors, even if she'd prefer not to be in conversation. She's missing out on a lot. Even with the diversity of people there in their interests or beliefs, one can always find at least a small group of more kindred spirits and value the positives in the others. I pity that, actually. I'll say one thing for Rick's mom (well, I'll say other nice things too), she may be ditzy, vague, flaky and at times drives him nuts (more than me!) but in her facility she knows just about everyone, made dozens of sugared Easter eggs to give to her fellow residents, always welcomes the newbies. She's good people and I'd want her as my neighbor! She wouldn't give up on Bunny!

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    1. No, and I wouldn't tell you who is who in the photo if you did try to guess. LOL

      Rick's mom would fit right in here. Because this is an independent living apartment part of a larger health care community I think outsiders tend to forget we are free to come and go as we please and that having a social structure here is the icing on the cake not the cake itself. If you've got an outside social life that you love you don't need to network here and I'm guessing that's the case with our Bunny. She's just newly retired and younger than most of us.

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  21. I suspect that if I moved into your complex, I would be one of the prairie dogs, at least at the beginning. One of my biggest concerns about moving to a retirement community is that I wouldn't be able to meet my needs for solitude under all the pressure to be social. I think I would start out fiercely protecting my solitude and then only gradually ease up a bit and be more social (but never as social as you are).

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    1. Trust me, I'm not nearly as social here as others. My social time is limited to either lunch or dinner, the monthly book club, monthly lecture and now mahjong lessons. I get lots of solitude and now that summer is coming I'll have lots of outdoor places to go for "talking with nature." There are a lot of prairie dogs living here, though.

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  22. I'm happy for you that you found a group of like-minded political friends. That's an oasis. And now that the weather is getting nicer, you can head outside for walks and maybe even set up for some sketching or painting. Being outdoors is its own relationship, you know?

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    1. I've already been out on my deck painting and I plan to do a sketching "trip" to the other side of the building soon. It really is nice to know there are other flaming liberal here!

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  23. Like the saying goes, Different strokes for different folks! I am glad your place accommodates all different types and lets you do your own thing when you want!

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    1. I wouldn't be here if it didn't. What rules they do have I mostly agree with them like, for example, it being a gun and smoking free campus.

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  24. Which one in the photo is you? It's nice you found your 'pack' :-)

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    1. I'm not in the photo. These were the ladies from our line dancing class who did a surprise flash mob one night at dinner.

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  25. I rather like Paulo's Quote, ain't it the Truth!? As for snap judgments, I tend to make them too, I like who I like and I think we know our own personal preferences all the more as we Age, about everything, including the people we want to have most exposure to or least exposure to. I see nothing wrong with that actually, if I dislike someone I will still usually attempt to be cordial, kind and respect their Humanity as much as possible. I've rarely had Hatred for anyone, but I can make exceptions... winks... but, I won't even go there, I leave it up to the Individual's behavior and Essence to dictate what kind of opinion I'll have of them. I like seeing a pix of some of the Residents, puts some Faces to the Stories even if the Names have been Change to protect the Innocent. *Winks*

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    1. I probably shouldn't have put the picture up there, but I truly am not doing anything wrong to pick it off the web. We all had to sign a paper if we would allow our image on the web or not. So the expectation is always there if anyone is flashing photos here.

      I'm not a hater either or rather I wasn't until the Trump era began and the asses came out of the woodwork.

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  26. If you think about it..most of all this hate, racism, mass shootings, Christian nationalism, bigotry all came out in the open in 2016. Yes it was there before and Fox News and Limbaugh pushed much of it, but trump opened the doors and let the lunatics out.

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    1. Totally agree with you. I read an article recently that said it was Obama's election that scared all the racists and bigotries and the internet made it easy for them to connect. Fox mainstreamed them with people like Tucker Carlson and Trump, of course.

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  27. Ruth…Ruthie…RudieMay 17, 2022 at 3:03 PM

    I am very sensitive to negative people. Arrogance often accompanies their negativity as they try to impress me, force their opinions on me, or simply try to overwhelm me with their superiority. This can all happen within a minute of meeting them. Negativity is masked in other ways too. Am I being judgmental? Maybe, but I have learned a technique to protect myself from feeling and absorbing their negative crap. Remember Star Trek when Captain Kirk would say “shields up” when the Enterprise was in danger? Well, I say “shields up” in my head whenever I am around someone who makes me feel bad. It helps and also makes me smile which tends to annoy them. So, its a win-win. LOL.

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    1. Oh, I'm going to borrow your 'shields up' coping tool. Thank you for chiming in.

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    2. Hi, Just stumbled upon your blog and am glad I did. Thoughtful intelligent writing about things I can relate to. You have some thoughtful intelligent followers as well! Look forward to visiting often.

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    3. I will. Thanks for coming by and the comment.

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    4. Great post. I usually make snap judgments too and more often than not, I'm right. What I loved most about this post though was that your found your Tribe of liberals!!!! YAY!!!

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    5. Isn't that great. The only down size is two of them go to cottages for the summer.

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