Sunday, February 27, 2011


I just realized I never completed this two-parter, leaving all of my faithful blog readers hanging impatiently awaiting the word on how my un-Valentine's Day outing went.

In case you've forgotten, I organized a night out for some fellow V.D. orphans since I'm really not in the position to entertain a more serious relationship right now. We planned a grand time at an area V.D. dinner party, and as usual I was going to do a story on it and call it work, but then Old Man Winter came along with an ice storm and curtailed our plans.

So I sat home and watched a video on the computer. Yeah, I know ... I should have made up a better story. Like many of my evenings, fact doesn't often match the fun of fiction.

Stay tuned as I expect to actually get out and around in the spring! And then the adventures will really start anew...  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


My meeting with young Michael Muessig of Madison, N.Y. and his family was a tide of conflicting emotions -- while it was a time of real joy and excitement, it was also an event overshadowed by a cloud of tragedy.  

Jan. 23, 2011 was a festive occasion at the Oneida N.Y. Walmart, on a par with maybe only the annual Black Friday furor. No, it totally beat out the excitement of that pre-Christmas shopping day, because how often do you walk in on a red carpet with cheerleaders at the door and a band playing just inside the entrance?

Not to mention several hundred old and new friends there to greet you?

That was the scene as 11-year-old cancer patient Michael arrived in a limousine for his Make-A-Wish Foundation sponsored shopping spree.

Asked what he wanted for his wish from the Foundation, Michael decided on a spree of $1,000 to spend at the store. When he arrived, however, he found that original wish had multiplied several times over.

(Michael Muessig, 11, shops the Oneida Walmart in Jan. 23 in his custom-decorated electric shopping cart.)

That expected $1,000 spree quickly escalated to more than $4,000, as Walmart personnel presented funds they raised on their own, plus folks from Michael's school added in their own donation well-wishes.

(Walmart store manager Steve Stanton counts out gift cards for Michael before he starts his shopping spree.)

There might not have been any happier kid on the planet during the few hours he rode around the store in his custom-decorated electric shopping cart, wearing his brand new Colgate University hockey jersey and hat. That attire came in handy, as he was surprised in the electronics department by a visit from the hockey team members themselves.

The players gave him hugs and encouragement, and left everyone around them feeling their genuine compassion for the youngster.

(Members of the Colgate University hockey team join Michael in making his wish come true.)

Surrounded by family and helpers from the store, Michael cruised around filling his cart and several others behind him as he checked off items from his list. The excitement was infectious; for a short time, the hundreds of supporters surrounding him with their love made his grim prognosis momentarily not quite so important.

(Walmart staffers took the time from their store duties to assist Michael in his shopping, showing him to all the items on his list.)

The reality of Michael's condition soon came back with a vengeance, however, and this morning, less than a month since his Walmart visit, the Madison Central School 6th-grader passed away. He leaves behind his parents Dana and David and his three siblings Damien, 10, Ethan, 8, and Alyssa, 5.

(Top photo: Michael with mom Dana; bottom: Michael with dad David, brothers Damien and Ethan, and sister Alyssa.) 

The spirit shown in the youngster that afternoon should be a lesson to everyone. He never let his illness get in the way of his Walmart fun. Michael rode that cart with pride, enjoying every minute and not thinking about the few weeks he might have left. So, too, did all of those people around him empathize with the festivities. They didn't dwell on his condition -- they put that aside for the moment to share with him the adventure of living his wish-come-true. 

If there was ever a message to live for the day, then that was the one delivered by Michael Muessig that afternoon at Walmart. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Ah, it's almost Valentine's Day -- time for flower buying and card sending and candy gifting.

None of which I will be doing this year.

Is it because I refuse to buy into the corporate mentality surrounding the holiday as perpetrated by the Money Man, in just another commercial attempt to make me empty my wallet? That's something I can do easily enough without the M-Man's help.

Or maybe it's just that I'm single, and have been for some time now, so I don't have a recipient for any of that aforementioned boondoggle giving. Well, I always say if I was a woman I wouldn't date me. It could be because I'm really not all that good at sustaining relationships (yes, I can admit it!) and I have the divorce papers and lawyer and child support bills to prove it. What the heck -- if I was a woman I wouldn't marry me, either, so I certainly don't blame my ex. Plus her new hubby is pretty cool.

But I look around at these people getting all upset about not having a loved one on Valentine's Day and that's what I find really sad. I say, turn the event into some "me" time. Take that cash you might have put towards an expensive night on the town and blow it on something just for yourself. Even better, you can do what I'm doing ... find some other Valentine's Day orphans and get together for a night out.

Thanks to the social outreach of Facebook, I put out the invite to all my FB friends to join me, and actually got a few women and even a guy to respond (and I shudder to think of whom I have the most in common with out of those friends ... Roy, I love you too but just not in that particular way). Plans are coming together for a fun Monday night out with my buddies, including my buddy-recently-promoted-to-my-boss, so stay tuned.

I could be the making of a Valentine's Day evening to remember, just without any hanky panky. If I was a woman I wouldn't ... uh, never mind.