May 28, 2020
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Taking the good news with bad

Some weeks it’s harder than others to determine whether things fall into the good news category or the bad news category.

Here are a few examples of where the line got fuzzy for me this week:

A study released earlier this week showed that the number of Maine people seeking emergency food assistance is skyrocketing. The report indicated that 36,800 people across the state are looking for food assistance from pantries and shelters every week. That’s double previous estimates of 18,000.

That’s a bad statistic.

The good news is that there are places like the Good Shepherd Food-Bank in Auburn and countless other agencies across the state where volunteers are stepping up to the plate, so to speak, determined to try to keep pace with the demand.

Good news was released from the Bangor Humane Society this week.

Starting Monday, Feb. 1, the staff at the humane society began to hand out vouchers to eligible low-income pet owners. Those receiving the vouchers could have their pets spayed or neutered at area veterinarian offices for the low cost of $25 for a cat or $35 for dogs, plus get the animals free rabies shots.

In case you’ve forgotten, one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens in seven years, and one female dog and her offspring can produce 67,0000 puppies in six years.

Last year the humane society accepted 774 owner-relinquished dogs, 310 stray dogs, 3,363 owner-relinquished cats and 581 stray cats.

The low-cost spay-neuter program is good news.

Based on previous-year estimates, staff thought the $17,000 earmarked for the program would last two to four months. During the first two hours that the humane society was open on Monday, after just a brief blurb in the paper about the program, $3,000 worth of those vouchers had been handed out.

By Friday afternoon, $13,000 worth had been handed out, and Executive Director Suzan Bell anticipates the money will be gone by early next week.

The bad news here, of course, is that demand is so high for those needing and eligible for the assistance. The good news is that as of Friday afternoon about 225 pets that otherwise might have never been spayed or neutered now will be.

Some good news for me professionally this week was that I was reminded I still have some decent news sources and tipsters in the pipeline. That’s important stuff in this line of work.

The bad news is that one of them — the same one who told me last October of the woman who bought five cases of bottled water with food stamps, then dumped the water out in the parking lot, returned the bottles for cash and bought cigarettes — let me know that last week another customer bought $75 worth of vanilla extract with food stamps. Not exactly fine wine, but with a 35 percent alcohol content it apparently will do in a pinch.

That’s sad on so very many levels.

On a much lighter and much more personal level, I think I did a decent job of pulling out a couple of last-minute parenting emergencies this week in grand style. That’s the good news.

My 13-year-old son called me from school on Wednesday informing me that he and his fellow middle-school basketball teammates had put together $30 as a thank-you for their coach.

“Very nice,” I said.

The bad news, he informed me, was, “We need a parent to go buy something with it. Now.”

With instructions involving a country music CD and some fast-food gift certificates I dashed to the mall area of Bangor. The bad news here is that I seem to forget that there is no such thing as a fast dash to anywhere near Hogan Road or Stillwater Avenue even in the middle of the day in the middle of the week.

The good news is the coach now can listen to Alan Jackson while eating a Happy Meal or two and I wound up with a purse full of $1 bills.

On another near miss, but in the end a successful parenting sprint, 10 minutes before my son’s designated school lunch break, I noticed his peanut butter sandwich and orange still on the kitchen counter.

Bad news.

The good news is that before I ran out the door to try to get it to school on time, I looked down at my feet and, honest to God, wondered whether I should stop to take off my slippers and put on my boots.

Not necessarily a big deal, just popping quickly into the school office, after all, and I am one of those work-at-home-in-my-sweats parents.

Slippers at noon are OK for us.

The bad news here is that my slippers don’t match. They are the same style and nearly the same size; they just are not the same color.

The good news is I knew that my showing up at school with mismatched slippers on my feet might embarrass the kid and so I kicked them off and pulled on my boots.

The bad news here is that somehow I’ve gotten to a place in my life where apparently it wasn’t going to embarrass me to wear mismatched slippers in public.


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