Saturday, June 30, 2012


Summer is here in all its blazing glory -- Hotlanta reported the highest temperature today to be 106  degrees but it's only 103 at almost 5 p.m.!  Hot enough to close the main part of the library which is quite incredible. 

I like summer -- most of the time -- and love the idea of getting away for a few days.  My mom used to shake her head and say, "My girls always think they should have summer vacation."  It did take some of us more time to adust to the real world of working throughout the year but even in middle age (old for some of us), we still look forward to taking a summer vacation.

This year, three sisters and I will get together at Judy's house in Woodstock, VT, and I can't wait.  Spending five days in a quaint New England village that was once labeld "the prettiest small town in America" sounds like heaven.  I haven't been there since my son was six months old and he's now 38, so it will be a whole new experience for me.  I'm looking forward to seeing the gorge and covered bridge near Judy's home and the breathtaking landscape that Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys once explored.  And I know Judy will have some fun day trips planned and we'll undoubtedly do a bit of shopping.

What I am looking forward to more than anything though is relaxing at home with Judy, Patty and Suzie and catching up on our lives.  Judy has apologized that they don't have cell phone service or good internet access in her house and I am delighted.  Suzie is a busy real estate agent and is on call 24/7 and Patty, who owns and runs a restaurant with her family, is constantly barraged with problems and questions.  If really necessary, they can go down the hill to make a call but I'm hoping they cut that off at night.   

The last time we got together was in January when we gathered at Patty's house in Yardley, PA, near the Delaware River.  We went to see Jersey Boys in New York City and enjoyed several meals at the Continental Tavern where George Washington and his men are alleged to have wet their whistles.  We ate so much of the fantastic tapinade that our eyes were practically closed one morning from all the salt.  But it was worth it!  The very best part of our visit though was staying up late and just talking.  We laughed over family stories that we share almost every time we're together, we cried a little over losing our dad last September, and we caught up on each other's lives. 

I feel so blessed that I am one of Grace's girls, as an aunt used to refer to Mom's daughters.  With eight of their own (7 girls, one boy), ranging in age from 13 down to to two months old, they didn't need a lanky, shell-shocked, awkward 14 year-old in their home.  But they have always considered me a sister and a daughter.  One of my fondest memories is when Patty got into a fist fight with an obnoxious girl at the beach when she said I wasn't really their sister.  My last name was different (in deference to my real deceased parents) which was kind of a give-away but Patty, at 10 years old, had never thought of that.

I used to focus on how different I was from the other kids in the family.  I wasn't athletic and any of them could practically compete in the Olympics swimming events; I burned to a crisp as they turned golden brown; I wasn't as quick scholastically as they were and I defintely lacked their charm and charisma, not to mention their looks.  Now at 65, I laugh and say "Who cares?"  And they don't care either, which is wonderful.  We are bound by love, by memories and by commitment.  We are sisters, forever and ever. 

I don't know how to break it to them but my daughter has told me that I can pick some songs to be played at her wedding in October but she will not allow "We Are Family" by Sly and the Family Stone to be played.  What?!  That is my family's theme song!  I guess we'll get over it or I'll manage to sneak it onto the play list.  Keri will be too happy to even notice.

Have a wonderful summer and if you can get together with family and friends, enjoy every minute of it, no matter where it is.  Summer rocks!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gift of Grace

Yesterday was a milestone! It was the 14th anniversary of my mom's death and my 65th birthday. Now, even the federal government considers me old, although not old enough to pay out Social Security. Everyone assumes that the day must be sad for me since, of course, it brings up sad memories. Actually, in a sense, it's joyful for me because of a specific memory I'll always have.

Stan and I had gone out to dinner and to see Titanic on my 51st birthday. When we arrived home, my daughter Keri told me I had messages from several of my sisters wishing me a happy birthday but that they all sounded sad. Both she and Eric sensed something had happened to Grandmom who had been sick for a few months. Of course, their feelings were confirmed and I was clearly upset. Keri went to get me a glass of water and yelled for me to come into the kitchen. All I could think was, "What now"?

I had received a little plant, I think a type of violet, as a Christmas gift and it was sitting on the windowsill, looking pathetically neglected. I kept telling myself to dispose of it but hadn't gotten around to it.

When I walked into the kitchen to see what had grabbed Keri's attention so strongly, she pointed to the plant. First of all, Keri is not usually all that observant of home furnishing or plants so this had really struck her as incredible. The plant was totally transformed, with shiny green leaves and beautiful little purple flowers. No one had watered it or substituted a new healthy one in place of the poor little bedraggled specimen.

As I walked over to examine it, I clearly heard my mother's voice, "Happy Birthday, dear." She was still with us and always will be. Her name is Grace and she truly is a gift to all her family.

So, every year on my birthday, I smile because I know it will be a good day -- I'll receive a gift of Grace in one form or another. This year's miracle was that I received cards from my sisters on time, possibly the first time ever. I'm often guilty of that too; we have a family of procrastinators.

I wish you a happy Easter and hope you will receive much love and grace.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Name Game

Did you ever look up your name on Google just for the heck of it? Depending on how common your surname is, there are bound to be at least a few other individuals listed.

As you know, I have the last name of Johnson, so even with the rather different first name of Anita, I expected to see a number of ladies so named. I wasn't thrilled to see that my name is defined in the urban dictionary as a woman in need of sex! I had been introduced to someone a while ago and he laughed when he heard my name but at least was gracious enough not to explain why. Well, obviously his manners weren't that great since he laughed.

I then limited my search to Anita M. Johnson and found that I could view her criminal records in seconds. Another listing showed a person with that name had recentlly died. I found all three listings to be quite depressing but then did see some smiling faces with that name on Facebook. Not one of them appears to be either a sexual savage, behind bars or dead.

Shakespeare's Juliet said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet." Or in the words of Popeye, "I yam what I yam."

If you can't judge a book by its cover, I guess you can't judge a person by her name. Thank goodness for that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Unexpected Adventure

About a month ago, my wonderful and funny friend, Cathy, asked if her readers have pen pals. I was happy to report that I did in fact have one although I've been told recently that the correct term is "virtual friend."

Ruth and I met on GoodReads and have been emailing each other for almost a year now. We decided to actually meet in Washington DC and stay at the home of her sister, another GoodReads friend. We shared so many laughs, talking about everything from books to family and just about anything imaginable.

The three of us were all interested in seeing the new Museum of Crime and Punishment -- they reportedly show how CSI is made -- and went there on Tuesday. We had been there only a few minutes and had just looked at the documents on Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing when the floor shook pretty violently and there was a loud rumbling as if a big train was passing beneath us. There was always a chance this was some really realistic simulation, maybe a scared straight tactic, but then the lights went out and a blood curdling cry rang out. The lights came back on and a very frightened employee tried to usher us out and told us, "We might be having an earthquake." We couldn't get out that way and were redirected to another exit. Most of us were feeling beyond relief to just be outside and to know that that this was not a terroristic attack but one man stood there, demanding that he be reimbursed for his ticket.

We spent a couple of hours standing in the sun outside Union Station with throngs of people since all the buildings in the area had been evacuated. Many of these individuals had been there on September 11th, almost 10 years ago, and this, I'm sure, was an eery deja vu experience for them.

A few hours after it all started, we were grateful to be relaxing at home, watching reports of the earthquake and the havoc it wreaked on various buildings, including the Washington Monument and Union Station.

This was a wonderful trip for me, giving me the long anticipated opportunity to meet my lovely friend and her wonderful family. It was also a wake-up call to appreciate the peace we experience every day. I really don't mind that we missed out on seeing the other exhibits at the museum but I just might write to them to request a refund.

Pax vobiscum or "peace be with you" for those who didn't have to translate Latin in high school and those of us who had to look it up because we couldn't remember the exact wording!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


It has been forever since I shared any thoughts here and that's due in part to my spending every spare minute either playing Scrabble on-line, reading, or sneezing at the pollen. I guess I'm not a "real writer" since I haven't felt compelled to put everything I think in print. Instead I go around the house and in the car, belting out screechy poems that I make up on the spot and that crack me up and make the cat fear for her life.

I have recently succumbed to my sister's suggestion to try to expand my world and have some fun. That translates to: Stop playing Scrabble and reading so much and get out there and meet someone. Hah! Books are a much safer bet. If I don't like one, I immediately stop reading and bring it back to the library. If I'm not winning at Scrabble, I quit the game and start a new one. You can see how patient I would be with meeting men.

I heard about Senior People Meet, an on-line dating site, and after telling myself there is no way on this earth at my age -- just turned the decrepit age of 64 :) -- that I would even consider doing such a thing, I signed up "for free." That must be the phoniest come-on line since "What's your sign?" I answered a couple of questions about myself but did not inclulde a photo. I was immediately informed that I was sure to find oodles of wonderful partners with my specifications: a widower within approximately a five-year range and five mile radius. Rather limited, I agree, but what the heck, they asked me what I wanted.

The site also told me to get started on my new adventure right away by paying for the first three months. Whoe, what happened to "free"? So I put in a note to please disregard any profile info they had on me since I did not want to participate. And then they sent me the first batch of potential new friends. Dating sites are not good listeners, also made clear by the individuals selected for me. One man, who is probably a lot of fun as he was obviously hoping to appear with martini in hand, was posted as being 73, a good five years older that requested, although I think he lied and is closer to 103.

The notes keep coming to post my picture and pay my money. And the pictures of eligible men keep coming. I realize now that my vocabulary and theirs are very different. Does "legally separated" qualify as eligible? And how by any map do Brunswick and Savannah fall into my local area when they are six hours away without heavy traffic? They do send profiles of some very nice looking and interesting sounding people -- who are a good 10 years younger than I. A crazy lady I may be -- a cougar I am not (I don't think).

I have to say I admire people who will subject themselves to the comments and barbs by cowards such as myself and are willing to "flirt" with someone they've never seen. I wish them all well and hope they meet lovely women.

Yesterday, I was helping a nice woman whom I would judge to be my age or a smidge older find some travel books and we chatted as we looked for them. She told me that she and her husband were celebrating their anniversary by going on a trip. I asked what number it was, assuming it was probably around their 40th, and she answered that they've been married eight years. They were both widowed and met on They had lived just a few short miles away from each other. She looked really content. I guess that showed me a thing or three!

For now, I think I'll just keep meeting wonderful, dashing guys in my books and be stimulated by a challenging game of Scrabble. Don't knock it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Little Things -- for Better or Worse

Too many of my musings revolve around the weather -- how un-creative is that! I feel almost guilty sitting here with the door to my porch open and enjoying 60'sh weather while my friend in New York braved 9 degrees a couple of days ago to go to an exercise class. I think my skin would turn blue just looking out the window at that -- she obviously is a much more disciplined and committed person than moi. Spring-like weather also makes me ramble and ramble and ...

While at work the other day, I found a little thank you note in my cubby that a former supervisor had sent me after a party held for her when she left our library system. The woman was usually very buttoned-up, opinionated, likely to scream when she felt the urge and told you exactly what she thought.

She has another side, a very kind and caring one. The short note spoke volumes to me about her true personality and not just by her words. I happen to like blank notecards because I have big, awful handwriting and hate having to swiggle around the printed generic sentiment and always end up going to the back of the card. I used to put little arrows pointing to the back flap but have figured out that the recipient probably would turn the page to see who sent it to them. Duh! As I already said, I ramble. She used a blank card and instead of writing on the left side and then the right, she wrote straight across both sides. She wasn't going to be held back by margins or centerfolds to express her feelings which were beautifully articulated. I have never thought of treating the inside of a card as one sheet of paper but for someone like me who is either forced to write very small or to only be able to fit five words on one side, it makes perfect sense. Eureka!

So, I was sitting at the front desk at work, feeling warm and fuzzy and thinking about how little things can mean a lot. Then a woman came up to me with a book that she had put down in "just a little bit of water" to which I told her there would be a little bit of a fee, $19.99, since the book was destroyed. She was horrified, beligerant, outraged and all those adjectives which means she was not pleased. Her husband seemed to understand my point, and my supervisor's when she came as back-up, and did his best to rush her out. Poor guy. We have so many really lovely customers that you have to just dismiss the mean ones.

Then one of our regular customers who resembles Bauregard Lee, the groundhog, came by the desk and threw (literally) a small picture at me and mumbled something. When I said, excuse me? he snapped "It was in a book." It was nice of him to return a little girl's picture that someone had apparently used as a bookmark and had forgotten but his clear message was that we are so negligent that we don't find items left in materials returned to us. And some of those items that we have found over the years have been interesting ones: a bra, used diapers (when our drop box was near the street and people mistook it for a trash can), a jail release form with the man's picture in his orange suit, baptismal and First Holy Communion certificates and countless other things that don't belong to us.

Well, it is time to go to work and see who will be lovely and who will be ugly today. I have coworkers who check to see if we are going to have a full moon to predict the general attitude climate. Not me. Spring is in the air here, at least at the moment, the daffodil leaves are shooting up and the pollen has not yet blanketed us in green. It is a lovely day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Is Spring Really Here?

Did the groundhog see his shadow? I've had enough of winter and am so happy we're having spring days although they might be teasers. It's cool enough to hang onto my turtlenecks and sweaters but warm enough to read on the porch and enjoy being outside.

February was always the yuckiest month in my opinion -- cold, gray and no hint of spring being on its way. Then in 1972 I met my husband, 40 years ago yesterday in fact, so it took on a different aura. When we were still up north, I lost my voice for about a week every February. I don't remember my family clapping during those periods but they may have.

Stan's sister Grace lost her husband February 18th last year (the same day my real mother died in 1962), so we went out on Friday for lunch and shopping and had a really good day. We agree acceptance is a wonderful thing! Then, today, she brought her sister, Janet from NY, also a widow, to my house and we had such good conversations. It was one of the best times I've had with them and made me grateful to have good in-laws. You know what they say about not being able to pick your family and the same goes for not being able to pick your husband's family.

I just finished a book about family, set in Ireland (surprise, surprise for me!), Civil and Strange, and I can't begin to write or pronounce the author's Gaelic name. It was a little different from my normal chick lit -- more like a modern classic -- but I really liked it. The title is taken from advice given to Ellen, the main character, by her Uncle Matt when she moves to his small town, "Be civil and strange," meaning be polite but don't tell anyone your personal business. Of course, the nosy snoops find it all out anyway, usually fairly incorrectly, but it makes for a good story and a good study on human nature.

Think Spring, laugh a lot and keep writing. I love reading your blogs.