Saturday, November 27, 2010
We began Advent last Sunday so we know Christmas is near although Walmart wanted us to think it was right around the corner in September. It's interesting how shopping and baking and everthing else associated with Christmas that used to make me groan are now fun since I have three little elves to do them for.
What I have always loved about Christmas is the stories: on tv and in the movies, books, magazines, on-line, conversations with friends. Just give me a glass of eggnog (without the rum-I think it ruins it), a throw to wrap up in or my furry blanket (Ambi, the cat), and a Christmas story. Christmas stories are my junk food. It's the only time of year that I constantly watch Lifetime and Hallmark movies and I almost always like them, even the really corny, shmaltzy ones.
I read Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber lately and thoroughly enjoyed the sweet, simple tale even though it was predictable, and I looked forward to seeing the Hallmark movie last Saturday. It was horrible! Since the author was the executive producer, it seemed like a fair bet that the story would be kept relatively similar to the book. It's a good thing I'm not a betting woman. The names were kept the same but basic premises, as well as characters' personalities, were completely altered. I'm sure if I had not read the book first, I would have thought the movie was cute -- when will I learn?!
Do you have Christmas favorites that you watch or read every year? If you know of any that are not so popular -- Miracle on 34th Street; Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa; Home Alone; Christmas Story (I wonder if Ralphie is on Social Security yet) or White Christmas (one of my favorites along with Christmas in Connecticut) -- I'd love to hear of them.
Happy shopping, baking, reading and watching.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
My beautiful little Kylie (granddaughter, aged 3) who wishes to be called by her "real" name, Princess Kylie, told me not long ago that she really likes pink and purple so, being a doting grandma, I told her I would make her something that's pink and purple. I don't know if any of you are old enough to remember the song, Purple People Eater, but that would probably aptly describe this project; I'm glad to say though that there isn't "one eye" or "one horn" on it.
I can't pick up a crochet hook in the summer -- it comes out when the weather is cooler and I can bury myself in mounds of soft yarn. The problem is my cat, Ambi, thinks that the yarn is her toy so as I wield the hook, she tries to chew the yarn; giving her her own supply doesn't divert her.
I can't stop adding rows so I went back to Walmart today to buy more yarn. A lovely sales person offered her assistance and gave her opinion when I asked. That was a unique experience in itself. A Walmart employee who is available, speaks English and offers help without being hunted down and tackled and then misunderstood?
The last time I was at a Walmart at a different location, I skirted the entire store looking for yarn, finally found a sales woman who didn't know where it was, so she found another employee who brought me to the other end of the store and pointed to a small appliance aisle. She said do you see it? I said, no, there is no yarn here, to which I was told, "Oh, yarn, I thought she said 'iron'." Back we went around to the section where I first started. So today, I felt like this woman was my new best friend and left positively giddy with yarn not only for Kylie but for my little guy, Logan, too.
Back in the '70's there was a very popular memoire, The Happy Hooker, by Xaviera Hollander, a wealthy madame on the Main Line of Philadelphia. There is an entirely different connation here but I do feel like one happy hooker as I turn skeins of yarn into some funky looking gifts for my babies.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
How's that for making you scared to continue to read?
As you are well aware, this is the fifth year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Good Morning America has been showing clips of the devastation wreaked on Louisiana and Mississippi during that time. The news coverage always affects me, both out of sympathy for those poor people and for my family. My husband Stan worked dilligently in procuring trucks and clean-up supplies to be sent to Mississippi for the restoration company where he was employed as their warehouse manager.
He and I would go to his daily radiation treatments at Emory (to which he insisted on driving) and he would be on his cell phone much of the way home, arranging for equipment to be shipped to the sites where employees from his company were stationed. He was totally committed to this effort and on the morning of August 31st, he struggled downstairs to watch the latest news details on Katrina. I told him I would see him in a little while. I was awakened an hour or so later by his cell phone. He had fallen asleep on the couch before turning on the tv. I told him that he was having some nap and not to scare me like that because he looked as if he were dead. He was.
Hurricane Katrina's ravages are still felt by many people: victims; those involved in rescue operations, and all who witnessed the horror on television and radio. It has a special significance for me. I still bear the scars of my personal destruction but I have to say that I have been blessed with peace and acceptance recently. I wish the same for all.
Friday, August 6, 2010
One fateful day a few years ago, after much warning that baby boomers had to spend more money on advertisers' products and services, my ears were assaulted by some jarring hip-hop number. Fox 97 was no longer an oldies station. How would I start my day without Randy and Spiff's "Stupid Criminal" stories and the tunes that made me feel good (and young)? A little of Delilah, "The Queen of Sappy Love Songs," was okay at night but the mornings needed help.
Well, joy to the world ("and all the little fishies in the deep blue sea") -- we now have a new oldies station, 106.7. I guess every generation identifies with the popular songs of their youth and my teenage years have a sound track of Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkle, and all the groups that were part of the British Invasion. My neighbor, Nancy, and I argued about which group, the Beatles or the Dave Clark Five, would last longer. She won.
Just hearing the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Supremes or any of the Motown crowd makes me jump up (not while driving) and move around like someone possessed. My poor cat becomes frozen and just stares at me and I know she's thinking, "uh, oh, here she goes again."
Nostalgia is the core of the oldies and they bring back sweet memories. The fast songs are fun to sing along with and the slow ones epitomize my teenage view of romance: The Righteous Brothers singing "Ebb Tide," and the Duprees crooning "You Belong to Me." My all-time favorite song is still "Words" by the Bee Gees.
Randy and Spiff are back to ushering in the morning program with their goofy wit and conversations with listeners. The DJ of the afternoon is Scott Shannon whose raspy voice and slightly arrogant manner can be annoying but that's okay because he plays great songs.
To quote a golden oldie: "It's the kind of music that soothes the soul; I like that old-time rock and roll."
Monday, July 19, 2010
He was in great form and good humor and hasn't slowed his routine down much at all. He drives to 8:30 mass every day and takes Holy Communion to old, sick people. A bit ironic, but when he's not experiencing pain or suffering from exhaustion, he's up to speed.
We chatted a lot, which means I heard some stories retold for at least the 99th time and learned a couple of new tidbits about our family that apparently have floated to the top of his memory after over 70 years. He remembers the names of all 13 boys in his eighth grade class and assured me he could tell me all the girls' names as well. I don't doubt that at all.
I have learned that old people usually love to talk about their youth and are especially fond of retelling war stories and recollections of how they met the love of their life. Since I love to read and my favorite novels are about families, I don't usually get too antsy listening to Dad's reveries.
While at the breakfast table, my nieces and nephews were talking about their summer reading lists and a couple of them were dreading having to read certain books. This is something I hear often since I answer the library help line and try to find specific titles for children to read before going back to school. There is no question about the value of reading during the summer. Studies have proven that children can slip as much as two reading levels during the two-month period.
The best case scenario with reading lists is that children are introduced to books and authors they wouldn't otherwise have read. My niece, Abbie, fell in love with "Gathering Blue" by Lois Lowry in seventh grade and has been re-reading it every summer since then, as well as her other reading choices. My daughter also found a couple of novels on school reading lists that she reads over and over.
The worst cases are those times when children who aren't avid readers cannot obtain a book that might interest them because of very long waiting lists at libraries and short supply at the book stores. I answer calls on the libray help line from panicky mothers who are desperate to find books their child needs to read. When they find out they're at least number 55 on the hold list for all the titles they think the kid might read, they try to get anything on the list.
I know reading materials for students need to be monitored or many teenagers would dive into graphic novels or vampire tales and not even attempt to read anything else. And I don't agree with those people who say, "As long a they're reading, it doesn't matter what it is." Sure it does. My fear, though, is that children are being turned off to reading in general because of one "boring" book. If they stick with it, they may find they actually enjoy it, although they probably won't admit it, but they may also choose not to pick up any book if they don't have to.
Some young people call asking how many pages a book has and then request the Cliff Notes. Of course, you always have those who have no intention of reading the book and want the movie version. One young guy wanted the movie of "To Kill A Mockingbird." I told him we had the book available and that he would proably like it but he said, nah, he just wanted to watch it. Another thorn in education's side!
I do remember seeing "My Antonia" by Willa Cather on my reading list every year for the duration of high school and avoiding it like the plague although I have no idea why. It is still on reading lists so it obviously endured the test of time despite my snubbing it.
You YA writers have a huge challenge: Turn those video game addicts into eager readers. Their moms will love you for life and I bet we'll have long waiting lists for your wonderful stories.
Happy reading and writing.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Summer clothes are designed for those lovely individuals who become golden brown even when lathered in SPF 45 and who have nothing to hide on their legs. Varicose veins or razor cuts wouldn't dream of marring those limbs. And some even sport discreet (?) tatoos. I know there are 101 products on the market to "simulate a tan." The one time I tried using one, I had orange stripes for a month and am not brave enough to go that route again, even with all the new and improved brands available.
Try to find a nice, light-weight pair of slacks or casual pants that reach the ankles, besides khakis. Capris and shorts are great -- for most people. It isn't the stores' fault; they can't sell what isn't produced and I am quite obviously in the minority with wanting to cover up.
Remember that old song "Itsy, Bitsy, Teeny, Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini'? That describes paranoid me when I look in the mirror at my pale, scarred bean poles sticking out from what appears on the hanger to be a cute garment. "And in the locker, she wanted to stay."
I don't want summer to end to soon but I sure do look forward to Fall clothes.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
How hard could it be to locate a telephone number in a book devoted solely to providing telephone numers of businesses in my area? Two out of three of these current directories do not list that location at all; only "The Real Yellow Pages" does. Conversely, I haven't received a White Page directory in forever. There was a time when you would see some residential pages tossed in before the business listings but no longer, at least in my area. Go figure.
Then there is the case of using my home telephone for which service is provided by a huge, major company that is said on many commercials to reach anywhere in the country and I guess virtually every point beyond, outside of Mars. Maybe -- but only if you position yourself near my front door, otherwise the other party cannot hear you and you just hear fuzzy gibberish.
What is even better than getting another yellow page directory is discovering that it has been left by my front door which I never use. Invariably, I don't see it there until there has been a drenching rain and a soggy mess is sprawled on my welcome mat -- not welcoming at all! I think there is some connection to these deliveries and downpours!!!
Think green and good luck if you have to look something up in the phone book.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Well, let me tell you: working in a library and logging onto Goodreads have definitely expanded my world! I recently learned that Lisa Scottoline, the best-selling mystery author, writes a delightful column, "Chick Wit," for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She has compiled many of them as well as some additional essays into a very funny book, "Why My Third Husband Will be a Dog -- the Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman."
She writes about her mom, "Mother Mary," her 20-something daughter Francesca, her two ex-husbands, "Thing One and Thing Two," and anyone she happens to encounter in the course of a day. She writes about living in the suburbs with four dogs and covers almost every imaginable subject, including VPL and VBL (visible panty lines and visible bra lines), and believes all GG's (good girls) should be proud to show them off. Reading Lisa's columns is like listening to a friend sound off about all the idiotic things that happen in any ordinary old day. They're not big news -- they're the little gems that make us laugh and want to yell, "Yes, that's exactly what I think."
Now, maybe you'll understand why I love reading all the wonderful, funny, sweet, human pieces that you all publish. Thank you, Cathy Hall, for introducing me to Lisa and all your writing friends who feel like mine now.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The pastor introduced them: Kylie was busy modeling her new dress for "her" audience, Logan was screaming bloody murder that he had to be there at all, and Sophie just lay quietly in her mom's arms. Kylie was the first to be anointed and was quite reverent but then lost interest in the ceremony when it was her brother and sister's turn. She went to the edge of the stage, looked up at the lights, fully extended her arms, looked out at everyone with a beatific smile and then yelled, "Grandma, Grandma"! I could totally see her playing Emily in "Our Town."
I retrieved her and we sat for a moment while I assured her that I would attend every play she is ever in and there is no doubt this child will be trying to star in every production her schools ever offer. She wasted no time in running back up to the stage with her family and was totally surprised when the another family took the stage. She and Logan were then happily led to the nursery where she probably recounted her moment of fame and glory in great detail.
It was a good day, a wonderful celebration and a delicious cake made it seem even sweeter!
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Kids are incredible beings, exhausting but incredible. They welcome you into their life with their open arms, open hearts, and open mouths. They let you know how life is supposed to be. Flowers are to be planted and to make you see how beautiful nature is; swings are supposed to be pushed "really high"; stories are supposed to be read "aden and aden," and snacks should keep on coming. Not a bad lesson to re-learn: have fun playing in the dirt, experience a bit of adventure, always have a good book available, and enjoy your food! Little Sophie quietly enjoys the show from her baby seat and dozes off when the noise gets to be too much.
It sounds a little corny to say this has been a life-changing experience but it has been. My life basically ended almost five years ago but it has been reborn over and over with each new child and I'm so grateful for their love.
Real life re-starts this weekend and my old routine will basically resume but it feels much more colorful now.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I am so proud of Jennifer and Eric for how they held up when they could not have their little sweetie in their room but had to visit her at certain times in the nursery where she was hooked up to an i.v.
There must be a connection between all parents when they hear that there is any sign of distress in their newborn. Even when it is for something that the doctors keep reassuring you will be okay, anxiety steals some of the initial joy and hope becomes more necessary than possibly at any other time in life. My heart goes out to all babies and their parents and makes me aware that it doesn't only take a village to raise a child; it takes a world -- to root for the little ones, to pray for them and to support them however we can.
Sophie's picture, taken on her car ride home, is on Facebook and I will be delighted to make you my friend so that you too can ooh and aah at this beautiful little girl.
Friday, April 2, 2010
So, I must come up with an alternative. We are the people who have not a trace of Italian blood in us but have lasagne for Christmas dinner every year. So I tried to figure out what would appease all of us . The little ones are easy since they like mac and cheese which I make in a crock pot. I happened to be talking to a coworker who said she is making strombolis and she isn't Italian either. Hmmm, not too bad an idea -- she has assured me it's super simple. So, at 9:45 last night, I was in Publix buying frozen bread dough, onions, peppers, mushrooms, sausage and chicken and lots and lots of cheese to make two strombolis. I didn't mention my plans to Eric since a little surprise here and there is good for the soul.
This afternoon I had a message from my sweet son telling me they don't want me to go to any trouble and certainly don't want a ham or turkey. What they would really like is -- hold onto your seat -- a pizza from Bambinelli's. Where have I gone wrong!
Happy eating on Easter.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Then, last night, Eric called to say that Jennifer was in Piedmont Hospital, possibly in labor a few weeks early. He was sitting in their van with their two little ones in the parking lot and Kylie had to go potty. Little Sophie didn't make her debut yet so we will, thankfully, have to wait a bit to meet her.
This morning I got a text from my sister saying my father was in the hospital because of dehydration. He had fainted at church and was rushed to the emergency room but was back home this afternoon. He sounded good but I learned that he is receiving chemotherapy. My mom's twelfth anniversary is this Sunday and we're hoping for no poetic coincidences here.
Right now I'm totally relaxed and watching Jack Nicholson experience a panic attack in Something's Gotta Give, a very cute, funny movie. Life is back to normal and now I can start thinking about Easter baskets for Kylie and Logan. When I gave Kylie a little Valentine bear she told her family in Tennessee her "friend Grandma" (pronounced Gamma) gave it to her.
I hope you enjoy a wonderful Easter and that Peter Rabbit treats you very well.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Whoever came up with the quip, "aging gracefully" was probably a man or a nun but the French comedic actress, Jeanne Moreau, expressed her thoughts on it. "Aging gracefully is supposed to mean trying not to hide time passing and just looking a wreck. Don't worry, girls, look like a wreck, that's the way it goes." Not exactly encouraging, more like a challenge set up by Botox distributors!
I really hate to think of myself as overly concerned about looking my age but each new birthday imprints its greeting around my eyes and cheekbones. It seems that one part of the female body has a tug of war with the other. I have a couple of friends near my age who wish they were thinner, but they have beautiful, smooth, full faces. I caught a profile of my face and I'd swear the air was let out of one of my cheeks which looked like a deflated balloon.
Gloria Steinem once wrote that on her 60th birthday she was talking to someone in the ladies' room of a restaurant and mentioned what she was celebrating. The other woman told her she didn't look 60 but Gloria replied, "Yes, I do; this is what 60 looks like." It may have been the first time the other person had ever heard a woman over 30 admit her real age.
A couple of years ago, I heard people saying "60 is the new 40"! Obviously, Mother Nature wasn't informed of this and doesn't believe in cover-ups. So, on Easter Sunday, I will hit the ripe age of 63 and I will eat all the cake I want --maybe some butter cream will lodge inside my cheeks (probably the wrong ones!).
The best way to deal with our imperfections staring at us in the mirror is a sense of humor. Then we can convince ourselve that the new flaws are just laugh lines. Ha ha ha!
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Both Eric and Keri inherited Stan's athletic DNA. (I do not possess one trace of that gene). Eric has lived and breathed sports since he was three years old and has an assortment of scars to prove it. His daughter now is three and has abandoned ballet for T-ball. She only really joined dance classes for the tutu and she wears that with her princess tiara constantly! Her dad, the assistant coach, is so proud. He is also pretty shocked that she listens to him when he tells her to run and mucho impressed that she has a powerful swing despite her wiry frame.
He was not prepared for what happened at the last practice. He knows that three and four year- olds are prone to sitting down in the field and throwing pebbles. But he never saw practice interrupted for hugging. There are only two girls on the team, both named Kylie. They apparently discovered that all important gift that girls seem to recognize instinctively -- friendship -- and they just couldn't contain themselves.
Cathy recently wrote about the Oatmeal greeting card line and I keep picturing a card with two little girls in their helmets on a ballfield, oblivious to their apoplectic fathers, hugging each other and grinning their heads off. But a humorous quip escapes me. If you think of something, feel free to send it to Oatmeal.
Eric tells me that Kylie is just like me -- she never keeps quiet! Well, we have other things in common too: we both wear glasses, love books, and are huggers! It makes Gramma's day to know this.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
That means though, with the way time has been soaring by before I can even appreciate it, summer will be here in a blink of an eye and I will (horrors) have to look for summer clothes. I do not like summer clothes -- I like turtlenecks. I love the scene in "Something's Gotta Give" where Jack Nicholson asks Diane Keaton why she is wearing a turtleneck in the summer (at the beach no-less) and she tells him it's because she likes them. She is my heroine. (My husband used to tease me about them too and I told him the same thing).
I think trying on bathing suits ranks right up there with prepping for a colonoscopy. My daughter is working out with a trainer now and eating better -- so she is more positive about the bathing suit situation. She and her buddy Rebecca started a blog: Seasonshapeup.blogspot.com,
and it is really pretty informative on how to eat better, etc., in a realistic way. Both girls are doing well and I'm proud of them. I would be extremely grateful if you wonderful ladies would pleeeeease check out their blog once in a while so that the magazine sees that people are reading it (other than mothers).
Let's hope the weather keeps shaping up and that we don't get sleet on Easter!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
My brother-in-law Bob, the life of every party, who never met a stranger, and who entertained anyone who would listen for hours, (usually with the same stories), died of bone cancer on Thursday. It probably sounds like a cliche to say that his wife and siblings are glad he is no longer in horrible pain or still in a coma that lasted for a week, but in this case it is absolutely true.
It has been a rough year for them. Grace (Stan's sister) works at Gwinnett Medical Center and is well-versed in medical matters. The two of them spoke about his impending death openly and without fear or emotion and were pretty shocked that he lived as long as he did. Their love for each other and family was so obvious and inspiring.
She called me the morning of Feb. 18th to tell me he had passed away at 5 a.m. My real mother also died on Feb. 18, in 1962, and has been my guardian angel many times on that date. Before I went to sleep on Ash Wednesday, I asked God to let her help us in some way. I think God listened to her.
Grace is living up to her name perfectly and is doing very well, handling everything the way they both wanted. There was no wake or funeral or obituary in the newspapers. Family and close friends have visited with her and have been uplifted by her attitude. She will be hosting a "celebration of life" gathering at her house over the weekend when she will have a chance to see special friends who have moved away from Georgia. She wants it to be like an Irish wake and it sounds like it certainly will be. She'll be showing a video from 20 years ago taken at a friend's 40th birthday party where Bob and the birthday girl's husband did a little skit and were hysterically funny and entertaining. This is the way she wants Bob remembered and cherished and I believe he will be.
As I was watching American Idol last night, I thought it was rather amusing that so many of the girls sang Beatles songs, obviously trying to appeal to Boomers as well as the younger generation. The Beatles are such a part of our culture, especially for those of us who listened to their records constantly in the 60's and swooned at them on the Ed Sullivan Show. They're an international icon but they aren't number one on my hit parade. That spot goes to Simon and Garfunkle.
When Stan and I were first married, we didn't splurge on a lot of purchases (except at delis and bakeries!) but we bought Simon and Garfunkle records. The cover of Bookends still stares at me whenever I open my hall closet. I always loved Sounds of Silence and he liked it a lot too but his favorite was Bridge Over Troubled Water. Over the past week, I've been thinking about that song a lot and have been touched by how eloquently the lyrics express my feelings for Stan and the relationship between Grace and Bob.
My memory got stuck on a few words and I was afraid to look on lyrics.com because it has crashed my computer and I'm not risking ruining the library's or my daughter's. I am fortunate to have a friend who remembers song lyrics verbatim and typed them out for me. I don't know how Paul and Art came up with the words but they seem spiritual to me. (The Catholic Church doesn't agree since I could not have it played at Stan's mass but the CD was on at the luncheon afterwards.) "When you're weary, feeling small/When tears are in your eyes I will dry them all. I'm on your side when darkness fall/And pain is all around/Like a bridge over troubled water/I will lay me down."
The last part is the clincher: "When you need a friend I'm sailing right behind/Like a bridge over troubled water I will ease your mind." It makes me want to bow my head and say, Amen.
We, thank goodness, have a life to celebrate. I don't know who sang it but I like the thought, "Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music."
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I guess the book could have been written before her current bout, especially since books from the UK often are delayed with being released in the US. Her husband, whom she refers to as "himself," sends out her monthly blog and reports on terrific recent sales. He is most definitely not suffering from depression!
It's almost like hearing that a friend is sick. When you follow an author's works, you feel like you know that person through her characters, don't you? I found myself saying a little prayer for her -- maybe selfishly because I don't want her to stop writing -- but also because she is a truly funny, kind woman.
During my most cheerful moments, I couldn't compose one line as good as hers, no less many novels as well as a couple of collections of humorous essays (Under the Duvet and Cracks in My Foundation).
As we approach St. Patrick's Day, I hope her black cloud disappears and she is filled with the joy that she brings to her readers.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Okay, I had held onto my old, bigger, ugly phone that has been dropped on the pavement and swum in the toilet (I bumped it with my hairbrush one morning and it literally flew through the air into the john.) The others have not been subjected to such indignities, so don't go saying, "User problems"! So I used the old stand-by to call customer service at my provider who would not speak to me because that phone was not now registered with them. After pushing 0 enough times I finally reached someone who told me to turn on the faulty phone. Although I could not open the battery compartment because they have it sealed worse than Ft. Knox and he seemed to think I was a weak, incompetent whiner, he said he would try to work on it at his end while I stayed on the phone, which promptly went dead.
After a couple of moments, okay hours, of fretting, I realized the old days weren't so bad. I still have Ma Bell, who has changed her name, for local calls only but should I be desperate to have a pizza delivered, I'll be okay.
The new year is starting off pretty quietly around here.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
The holidays are great for celebrating with the people that you really care about but don't always get to share much time with during the rest of the year. That's why I love reading my friends' blogs -- finding out the funny, wonderful things that are going on in your lives and your minds. Have a wonderful 2010 -- I'll be looking for you here.