The Old Grey Cat

The old grey cat perches on arm of stuffed chair
interested enough in being patted
to feign indifference.

I pat the bony structure
covered by long fur
and carefully work out
a few knots.

In the shadows, the younger black cat
pursues his prey;
a dust bunny, part of a toy,
or perhaps just another shadow.

When I was young
and sick or injured
the family cats
tended me.

They taught important lessons
about curling up
in the sunshine
that shone on the couch
in the afternoon.

As my mother aged
and became even more introverted
the guardian cats
became quieter too.

Now, the old grey cat
walks across my lap
from one arm of the chair
to the other
as if to say,
It’s time to end this poem.”

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Deliberate Distraction

It never occurred to me
that some of my fondest
childhood memories
were deliberate distractions.

Yet these distractions
may not have been
for my sake.

When the latest storm came
dumping more snow
on piles already too high
we made sugar on snow.

There wasn’t any maple syrup in the house
like when we had sugar on snow
when I was a kid
so we used molasses.

We sat around the table
eating the taffy like candy
cutting the sweetness
with pickles.

We didn’t even notice
the wind howling outside
until we saw a coyote
trotting down the street.

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Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit,
In like a lion, out like a lamb,
Red sky in the morning.

These phrases come to mind,
as the temperature drops, again,
and the snow piles up.

This time, we made sugar on snow,
like we did when I was young
and like my parents did
when they were young.

A coyote ran down the street this afternoon,
perhaps hoping to catch a rabbit for dinner.

The dog sleeps on the couch next to me,
but it is not quiet.
My wife is watching television
and my daughter is listening to her music.

Was it really simpler, easier years ago?
Did the invocation
Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit
make the month any luckier?

And with climate change,
what creature does March come in like,
and what will it leave like?

The red sky in the morning,
with its sailors’ warning
hasn’t yielded to a red sky at night,
promising delight.

Instead, there is just more snow.

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Schriro and Vance

As a blogger and a professional communicator, I’m always interested in trying to get to the underlying story behind the headlines, and if the headlines involve a public information officer, it is all the more interesting to me. So, the recent transfer of Lt. Paul Vance from his current position as public information officer for the Connecticut State Police caught my attention.

A press release by the Connecticut State Police Captains and Lieutenants Union questions the actions of the state police commissioner.

“The manner in which Lt. Vance was removed was inappropriate and the actions of his removal indicates a disrespect for State Police Commanders.”

So, why would a very well respected police officer be transferred in this manner, especially in a day when law enforcement officers around the country have a desperate need for spokespeople who inspire trust?

One hypothesis is that it is age discrimination. I don’t know how old Lt. Vance is, but he’s been with the Connecticut State Police for over forty years.

As a communications person, I have to wonder about a different angle. First, I find it interesting that there has been no discussion of who the new public information officer will be. One would think that with an important and highly visible position like this, a new public information officer would be announced and there would be information about it on the State Police website.

However, the State Police website, last updated on Feb 18th, list Lt. Vance as the public information officer, and there is not press release on the website about it.

Instead, information about the reassignment seems to be coming via email from State Police Col. Brian Meraviglia, at least, there is who The Day quotes.

So, who is Col. Meraviglia? Back in June, Commissioner Dora Shriro announced that Meraviglia was replacing retiring Col. Danny Stebbins. The article in the CTMirror about Meraviglia said that “Stebbins was the subject of a no-confidence vote by the State Police Union”.

There isn’t a lot more about Meraviglia besides his appointment by Commissioner Schriro. So, the next place I started digging was on her.

This is where things start to get interesting. A search in the news on Commissioner Schriro brought up mostly negative stories. The top story is NYC Prison Scandal Continues; Times Editorial Cites 'Outrageous Behavior' By Dora Schriro, Now CT Public Safety Commissioner.

This article includes a statement from Sen McKinney and Fasano,

Earlier this month, we raised questions about Commissioner Schriro not disclosing at her legislative confirmation hearing that the U.S. Justice Department was investigating the New York City Department of Corrections at the time she headed it.

A subsequent editorial by the Hartford Courant asks, Is New State Police Boss Trustworthy?.

It seems problematic when the media questions the trustworthiness of a commissioner but not the trustworthiness of the public information officer that is being reassigned.

So, why is this coming up now? Earlier this month, the CTMirror reported, Schriro’s results in Connecticut outweigh troubles in NYC.

The Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee voted 5 to 3 to recommend Schriro’s confirmation by the House of Representatives for a full four-year term

It is hard to tell what is going on behind the scenes, but if I were Commissioner Shriro, I’d be looking for advice from a well respected public information officer instead of trying to get him reassigned.

The Daily Commute

I remember driving the interstate for my daily commute
from a town that was not my home
to a consulting job I knew would not last.

I didn’t know my neighbors
or anyone in the local shops.

The commuters, all behind their own steering wheels,
were as foreigners to me.

What were their lives like
in these suburban towns
their kids in the local schools
their wives waiting for them?

It all seemed so repetitious
as bland as the TV dinners.

Yet if you could get past the veneer
you would find pathos;
the dying father,
the deranged uncle,
the drifting brother.

If you could get past the pathos
you would find the hidden passions;
amateur radio,
model rocketry,
or some rare endurance sport.

A quarter of a million miles later,
I look out my car window on the daily commute
at the young kid who must wonder what my life is like.

Keep traveling, I think.
You’ll eventually find out.

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