Archive - Apr 2013

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April 28th

Woodbridge, RFD

The sky was not as grey on Wednesday as it was on Tuesday. There were patches of blue overhead, but still the horizon was layers of grey, like a Rothko painting of a gray British flannel suit. I don't remember much more of that day, I was still in shock.

Thursday, I got up and made my oatmeal and raisins. I put the water on to boil for coffee and sat down to check my email and social media. There are rituals in our lives that carry meaning. The orange in the stocking at Christmas, the five kernels of corn at Thanksgiving. They remind us of past hardships and present pleasant times. There are other rituals that may have started just as habit, or as conscious choices to improve our health, but become part of what sustains us through trying times. My morning oatmeal is like that. I got up and went about my life in a normal way, even though the normal has been rent in two.

In the evening, I rushed to the Democratic Town Committee headquarters. There were two important tasks to be tackled. The first was to come together and share our grief about the death of our First Selectman, Ed Sheehy. There were many red eyes and warm hugs. The second task was to nominate a candidate to fill Ed's place on the ballot.

People spoke in shaking voices lauding Ed and seeking to find ways to honor him and do what he would want us to do. Ellen Scalettar was nominated to be our new candidate, a long time friend of Woodbridge, and a long time friend of Ed.

Ed was a brilliant man, a great leader, the sort of First Selectman few municipalities are fortunate enough to have. Yet Ellen is cut of a similar cloth and is also great candidate. The fact that she was our State Representative for many years, and ran for statewide office also helps, with just over a week until the election.

The next stop was Town Hall, where there was a special meeting of the Board of Selectmen. The chair in the middle, normally occupied by Ed, was empty. There was a moment of silence. The selectman appointed current Selectman Beth Heller, to be finish out the rest of Ed's term.

There was a chance for people to speak about their memories of Ed. As I listened, I thought of the final episode of MASH. Something great was coming to an end, and we were all gathered to be part of it. Yet if there was a television show to capture Woodbridge during the Sheehy years, perhaps Mayberry RFD would be better.

These days fewer people remember Mayberry RFD. It went off the air the year that my family got its first television, but I remember watching old episodes. Probably even less remember the days of Rural Free Delivery. The show was a video portrayal of an idyllic small town, previously captured by Norman Rockwell, and later tapped into with Ronald Reagan's Morning in America advertisement.

Norman Rockwell, Andy Griffith, and Ronald Reagan captured the sort of town that we moved into about the same time that Ed became our First Selectman. Yes, there were the odd experiences and mad cap adventures of a small closely knit town that made both Mayberry and Woodbridge endearing; the drama over where to put a new ball field, the efforts to save a country club, the conflict around the BBQ pit at the firehouse, the issues around animal control, and there was the wise old Ed Sheehy, like Andy Griffith, calmly working us towards fair solutions.

Friday, there was the wake. Many of us stood for an hour or more to honor Ed and comfort his family and one another. From the wake, I rushed off to the pot luck dinner at the local school. Fiona was in the Multi Age Group program, which some say boasts the best pot luck dinners in town.

Saturday was the funeral; the local Catholic church packed to the gills, the antique firetruck, carrying the coffin, only to break down, perhaps providing one last twist on a very special show.

Now, it is Sunday morning. I return to family issues which I seek to balance with my work commitments and with the final week of the municipal campaign.

To all my friends: stay involved. Let's make Woodbridge RFD, the sequel to The Ed Sheehy show, just as special.

April 23rd

R.I.P. Edward Maum Sheehy

"O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,"

It's times like these that I reach for my trusty old beloved collections of poetry. I started the month with T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

I celebrated my mother's birthday, the first since her death, quietly while I attended a conference. The following Monday, I texted my middle daughter, who works about a mile from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, to see if she was okay.

I've kept myself busy, perhaps too busy. I haven't had as much time to write as I would like, but there is so much that needs to get done. Yesterday, I went to an Institute of Medicine Roundtable, then rushed off to hear Ken Lenz declare his candidacy for First Selectman in Orange and up to Woodbridge for the Preliminary Town Budget meeting.

And they tell him, "Take your time. It won't be long now.
'Til your drag your feet to slow the circles down"

During my years in Woodbridge, Ed Sheehy has always been our First Selectman, tall of stature and as steady as any Nutmegger from the land of steady habits. Ed was at the meeting last night as a well crafted budget was presented to the town. There was little discussion, for the budgets under Ed's watch have been the most sensible I've seen of any municipality.

This morning, as I drove to work, I received a phone call. It was the sort of phone call that you know is bad news before you answer it. Not because of who was calling or the time. Yes, it was a little early in the day for that friend to be calling, but not that out of the normal. It was just the sort of feeling you get. I was about to get on the Parkway to work. I had my headset on so I could answer the call without pulling over, but I wondered, should I change course, not get on the Parkway to take the call?

After the Preliminary Town Budget meeting, First Selectman Ed Sheehy went home and later in the evening suffered an aneurysm and passed away in the middle of the night. At least that is what I think the call said. I'm still in shock. The unflappable Ed Sheehy, steering the steady course, never doing anything unexpected did something total unexpected and now, I'm trying to make sense of it all.

The drive to work was quiet. There was a cold grey mist, not quite rain, not quite tears, hanging over the road. I passed a pond where the mist, over the rippled water added to the sense of the storm and the droplets that gathered on the car windows did role down the glass like tears.

I return to my book of Walt Whitman

When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

April 22nd

Health, Candidates, and Budgets

Slowly, the electronic devices recharge. It has been a long day. I think Foursquare may have congratulated me on the miles I traveled today. It does that too often. My first event of the day was an Institute of Medicine meeting, Achieving Health Equity via the Affordable Care Act: Promises, Provisions, and Making Reform a Reality for Diverse Patients. It was a thought provoking, jam packed day. It took place at the Mark Twain House and Museum. I've been to other events there, but this was the first time I got a chance to take a brief tour during the lunch break. I did not realize that history of publishing in Hartford, nor various aspects of Mark Twain's finances. It was an odd juxtaposition which I'm still pondering.

From there, I rushed to Orange, where the Ken Lenz declared his candidacy for First Selectman. I got to know Ken a bit during my campaign for State Representative, and I'm glad that Ken is running. He's a good guy and hard worker.

My next stop was the Woodbridge Preliminary Budget meeting. The turnout was light and there was little for comments. One person did ask about police activities beyond the motor vehicle information listed in the budget. I mentioned the What's New section of the police department website.

Now, as my devices recharge, I'll head off to bed and recharge my own batteries as well.

April 18th

Random Stuff

It is 9:37 according to the grandfather's clock in the dining room. It has been for several days. I haven't updated my blog since …. and today, my server failed; too much junk piled up in the logs needing to be cleared.

I am sitting at a coffee shop in Middletown, waiting for a meeting to start. I take a sip of coffee, and my raspy cough makes a brief reappearance. It has been a week since I've written a blog post; a very busy week, a tiring week, but a good week.

My brother has gotten me an invite to a game called Ingress. It is an Android based augmented reality game. It requires walking around to various portals. It has gotten me out walking more, which has been needed after a too sedentary winter. There is much more to be written about this in terms of multi-media non-linear gamified creativity.

My daughter, Miranda, has gotten an inquiry from a publisher about her book. We will see where that goes. I'm still dealing with lots of issues around my mother's estate. There is lots of interest in the house and we are hoping to finalize selling it soon.

Over the weekend, I was at the CT Health Foundation's Health Leadership Fellows Spring Retreat. It was a good weekend, exploring lots of ways to stretch my leadership skills. I read parts of my blogs for the talent show, which was well received.

I've been thinking the cough was allergies, but I've had a few symptoms of a virus. Whatever it is, I'm run down and looking for a chance to rest and recharge. At least I've gotten a blog post up. Maybe later, I'll even get a chance to reset the time on the grandfather's clock.

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April 9th

"The Silence of Our Friends"

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,

I have been too busy dealing with the little dramas of my own life to speak up recently. My blog, which has been an important venue for my voice has not been updated in several days. But tonight, I cannot sleep. Rehtaeh is dead, and I most stand vigil. I must speak up.

What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

As I read the news, it struck me how close we all are to a tragedy like this. Rehtaeh could easily have been my own daughter or the daughter of a friend or neighbor.

The first article I read started off,

Rehtaeh Parsons had a goofy sense of humour and loved playing with her little sisters. She wore glasses, had long, dark hair and was a straight-A student whose favourite subject was science.

What if Rehtaeh went to Amity? Maybe played sports or sang in the musical?

The horror of a teen hanging herself because she was raped at a friends house when she was fifteen and the school, society, and law enforcement officials doing nothing to help is striking; a pretty young white successful girl, with so much to offer.

Yet what if it were a young black kid in the city, with his dad in jail and his mother on drugs, getting screwed by a system that doesn't give kids like him a chance. What if he's in a school reformers want to privatize, where they want to focus on a core curriculum of filling in little dots on standardized test forms instead of gaping holes in his personal life and the fabric of his society?

What if it were a fifty-one year old woman, working in a male dominated department who was being bullied out of a job? Would we simply call it a 'personnel matter' and try to work out an agreeable severance package? Maybe some folks would even dismiss the bullying as boys being boys.

The article about Rehtaeh ended off with a reminder to all of us, with a call to speak up, to do something:

On March 3, Rehtaeh posted a photo of herself on Facebook next to a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”