Benito Mussolini was a brutal, arrogant, not particularly talented, Italian fascist dictator from 1922 to 1945. In 1936, he became a puppet of Adolf Hitler and later jumped Italy into World War II as an Axis power. After the Axis defeat he was shot by his own Italians and hanged by the feet, upside down. But, during more peaceful times, he was appreciated by the Italians because, under his administration, the trains always ran on time. The point of the Mussolini story is to emphasize how important routine can be in all of our lives.
I was honored last week as a person selected to do charity work on behalf of the Lorenzo Russo Estate. The invitation came to me by email in the following form: "Re: Charity Work "Dear Brethren: Greetings to you and sorry if this message came to you as a surprise. My name is Mrs. Sophia Russo, a widow. I found your email address through my husband's internet data, late Mr. Lorenzo Russo.
My wife, Eartha, and I know a young lady who lives in a city that has a paper where this column appears. We have known her for a few years, but not all that well. The last time we saw her, she had just discovered this column. She scolded me — "Why didn't you tell me you wrote a column?" Eartha was quick with an answer: "There are some things you don't brag about." Regular readers know she's right — you don't brag about writing this column.
When you drive past an area one day where you observe hundreds and hundreds of giant wind turbines slowly turning, then on the next day you drive down the highway leaning against gales that seem to be blowing 50 to 60 miles an hour pounding on you, your mind is forced to consider the power of this great energy that you can never see — the wind.
Spring has nothing to do with the calendar. So, when you turned the page to March 20, indicating the first day of spring, it meant nothing. The reason is that spring is like Rip Van Winkle and sometimes it takes long naps, and hopefully, it has no idea what it missed while it was sleeping. This year was one of those years. On March 20, spring was sound asleep and not stirring in the slightest. After that date there were cold spells, snow storms and winter blusters.
Do you trust strangers? Does it make any difference if the strangers shop at the same grocery store as you do? Here's the situation. Last week Eartha went to the grocery store early in the afternoon for a routine half-hour stop to pick up the usual necessities: bread, potatoes, milk, hamburger, etc. When she came out, there was what appeared to be a blueberry muffin, all wrapped up and somehow attached to the windshield of our car.
Eartha and I had been driving for many miles and we decided to stop, take a break and have coffee and a piece of pie. We found ourselves in a coffee shop in Valley City. We asked about pie and our waitress gave us a list of about a half dozen. I asked how the banana cream looked. She looked around, then leaned down and whispered "The bananas are black."
I just read about a well-known songwriter describing his writing methods for lyrics. He doesn't start with a song on his mind (or in his heart). He says when he feels like writing, he just sits down with pen and paper and no ideas at all and starts writing. The song sings itself while he's writing.
It's called "March Madness" — the time for basketball tournaments and playoffs — high school and college. The high school tournaments are finished now and college playoffs have culled the field down to the Final Four: Villanova, Kansas, Loyola-Chicago and Michigan. There have been 60 games in the tournament so far and 60 losers. Only four teams have avoided losing to this point.
We're lucky — we've gone to only one opioid funeral — a talented 24-year-old musician who knew he was addicted and was trying to recover, but took one pill too many. He was the son of friends. The church was filled with stunned 20-somethings. The music was beautiful, but who could enjoy it? What a miserable day.