My first Amazon review for “The Woman Who Saved An Island”

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Format: Paperback

Sandy West seems like a character out of a Tom Robbins novel- a blissfully irreverent and unlikely shaman, living in nature and teaching through laughter, teaching that nothing is out of bounds, too sacred or too profane to learn from and laugh with. Except that Sandy West is very much real, alive and well at 102 years old, still protecting her magical (and also very real) island. Jane Fishman has done a wonderful service to record the life, the story, and personality of this amazing woman. Reading this book gives you a sense of the constant wonder and surprise of being with Sandy on the island. The book is inclusive, it does not preach but invites us and takes us along.

Brian Williams outrage seems misdirected

Savannah Morning News column

Sun., Feb. 15, 2015

The minute the words flew out of my mouth I knew they were wrong. We were talking about exchange students, specifically those sponsored by the American Field Service program.

“AFS is great,” my friend said. “I went to New Zealand on it.”

“Me too,” I piped in.  “Except I went to Holland one summer when I was a junior in high school. I’ll never forget it.”

Except that was wrong. Yes, I was an exchange student. Yes, I went to Holland. But no, I didn’t go with AFS. I hooked up with the National Council of Churches.

Oops, I thought. I’ve done a Brian Williams. I lied and I didn’t correct it. It just seemed easier because no one’s heard of the program I went with. I’m not even sure that’s the right name.

But is that so bad, what I said? Is what Brian Williams did so bad?

Oh, you were looking for integrity? People: Brian Williams is a newsreader. He’s a pretty face. He’s a suit. He’s part of the multi-national corporation of millionaires that own the media outlets. He’s part of the same group of Belgian business types that closed Food Lion on Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd (and that holds the lease on the property until 2036)  after less than a year because the numbers weren’t right. These are the same smarty-pants people that decided to open a grocery store in a part of town known as a food desert  – but without putting in a full pharmacy, willing ensuring the proper way to accept vouchers from WIC  (the federal Women, Infants and Children), without African American hair products. Smart, huh?

But where was the outrage about that? Not just from regular schlubs in the neighborhood but from people in city government (or even the owner of the property), all of whom have a certain stake in helping underserved people buy decent groceries. Shameful.

Talk about counter-intuitive. I am seeing more anger and disappointment with Brian Williams than toward Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld or George Bush.

Of course, all of that Brian Williams/helicopter/exaggerating stuff came before our decathlon hero Bruce Jenner decided to transition to what he always thought he was: a woman. Some of you of a certain age might remember Jenner’s feat in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and his face all over the Wheaties box. I do.

(Then there’s this word, “transition.” I’ve known for a while about this word. It used to be used solely as a noun as in, “We would like a smooth transition as we move forward, etc.” Then, when people started taking hormones to move from one sex to another, male to female, female to male, it became a gerund, as in, oh, let’s say, “Bruce Jenner is transitioning to a woman.”)

I think Brian Williams owes Bruce Jenner a note of thanks.  He – soon to be she – has taken over the limelight.

Some of us have bigger problems. Me? I’m looking at getting a deprogrammer. This is a dental thing, but I’m suspicious. It sounds as if I might want to get Edward Snowden involved. Maybe the good dentist wants to insert a tiny, tiny little chip into my mouth so he can learn the last four digits of my social security number or my mother’s maiden name or the code on my Apple account. Maybe it’s a Scientology thing. All this time I thought he was Jewish but maybe he came under the influence of Tom Cruise or John Travolta and nobody noticed.

It could happen, you know. Conspiracy theories abound. The other day someone told me when her father shaved off his mustache he lost a little of his machismo. With his remaining beard, this Midwestern farmer started looking like a Mennonite. Then there’s the issue with his upper lip. There was no upper lip. Covered up as it was for all those years with the mustache, it disappeared. Not a good look. But after a few days my friend swears the lip started reappearing. Is this possible?

Does it matter? In the end I’m not going to fret about confusing AFS with the Council of Churches. I’m not going to worry Brian Williams might lose a few scheckles. I’m not going to lose any sleep about Bruce Jenner coming over to our side. At least he won’t have to worry about a disappearing upper lip.