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Amazing what you see in blot of ink

Maureen Chesson said it looked like a puppy, more specifically a poodle.

Caroline Breen thought it looked like a whale.

John Brown said, no, it looked more like a front-end loader dropping a load of dirt.

The conversation occurred during a Lakewood Ranch Rotary Club luncheon Thursday while we awaited the announcement of $115,000 in grant awards to charitable organizations.

There was a big ink stain on my shirt, the result of carelessly popping a pen into the pocket upside down without a cap.

I first noticed the stain somewhere between stopping to watch a semi-tractor fire at U.S. 301 and State Road 70 and arrival at the Rotary lunch.

The folks at my table were really nice about it, almost as if they went out of their way not to embarrass me by not saying anything about the stain. In truth, they pretended not to notice. But I knew that they knew.

So rather than let a perfectly good shirt go to waste, I decided to give my table mates the Rorschach ink blot test.

That’s the psychological test given to people to determine personality traits and mental health issues.

In all honesty, the Rorschach ink blots look like absolutely nothing to me, probably indicative of an empty mind.

“What’s it look like to you?” I asked.

Toni Milholland, president of the club, thought it looked like a pipe. Remember those? Sherlock Holmes used to smoke one.

“A poodle with its nose in the air,” said Stella Olinger. “A leaky pen,” said Laurie Hagberg.

My ink blot reminded Laurie that her husband once splurged on a beige Armani blazer, only to have it ruined by a leaky pen.

Oh, well, at least my shirt was only a shirt.

In the grand scheme of things, the ink blot made no difference at all.

What did make a difference was the $115,000 in grants that the Rotary Club was able to make to several dozen charitable organizations.

Maybe it’s reading too much into it, but the Rotarians were able to increase their grants by $19,000 over last year, which was a really, really tough year for everyone. The hope here is that the increase in grant funding is another indicator of an improving economy.

Without exception, the recipients were so appreciative of the grants, and so passionate about their causes.

So many of the charitable organizations exist to help families cope with overwhelming problems.

Easter Seals Project Rainbow received funds to operate a respite program for parents of children with special needs.

The children get to have lots of fun at Easter Seals once a month for four hours, and parents get a break.

Manatee Glens provides programs for adults and children with mental health or substance abuse problems. One mom stood up and said Manatee Glens helped her teen daughter, who has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The child would go into kicking and screaming fits when in a car headed to school. Manatee Glens helped control the disorder. Manatee Glens gave the child’s life back, and it gave the mother her life back, too.

The grants also will help Manatee Habitat for Humanity carry out its “A Brush With Kindness” project, where seniors and others who can no longer maintain their homes get a little help in doing so.

Did I mention that the grant recipients were so appreciative of the funding they received from the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch?

Oh, yes, and it didn’t take a Rorschach test to see that.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.