Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Skeletons In Your Closet?

Do you have any secrets rattling around in your life that you're just dying to tell someone?
Come on....we won't tell a living soul!

Here are a few of my skeletons:
  1. I was once arrested. I was released to my dad (who was really my friend's older brother, pretending to be my dad.) It was a pretty mild incarceration for an hour or so, but it satisfied my wild side.
  2. I still like Barry Manilow.
  3. I got a D- in gym because I was too embarrassed to take showers. I then changed the grade (with the wrong color ink, I might add) to a B+. When my mother accused me of this, I had a grand tantrum, swore at her for not trusting me, and ran downstairs to my room, where I fell on my knees and prayed mightily that I would not be caught in my lie. Any of my own children would have been killed for this type of behavior.
  4. I hate healthy food and exercise. I love cookies and coke while I sit at the computer.
  5. My beautiful two carat diamond is fake.
  6. When movies don't have any sex or violence, I'm disappointed.
  7. Although I really like children, I think they're at their best when they're asleep.
  8. I am a shop-o-holic.
  9. I moan about insomnia, but I actually love prowling around in the middle of the night.
  10. I get very hairy when it's a full moon.

(Now, you've got a ghost of a chance to chase those skeletons out of your closet.
Treat us to your tricks! Scare us with your inside stories. If you keep them to yourself, they can eat you alive! Tell us...just tell US, "er..the goblins'll git yer if yer don't watch out!"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Heroes: Family Life

Long before the TV show, we formed a cast of Heroes.

One Sunday afternoon the six kids had been sent downstairs to "play." There was the usual amount of arguing, rough-housing, and crying going on, while Dee and I commiserated with each other upstairs about the joys of parenthood. Maybe things would improve if we had a little team spirit.

Heroes 1980

I went downstairs and sat in the bean bag chair with a notebook and had the kids help. Using my old high school pep-song for inspiration, we wrote a family song including all our names and a few goals. Here are some of the lyrics:

You know the ----- Heroes are really neat!
They've got six great kids that can't be beat.
They've got the style, the smile, the happy way...
No matter where they go you'll always hear them say,
They'll say, "We love each other, we've got heart!
"And we miss each other when we're apart!"...
We're complete, it's hard to beat the ----- Gang!

A Hero (meaning a person who shows courage in difficult circumstances, sets a good example, serves, and has all the other noble qualities) was chosen as our mascot. I've always been a Superman fan, and he's who I try to emulate.

Our motto would be Heroes Have Heart, meaning we should show love and respect for each other. (This line in the song was complicated by the fact that one kid referred to his nipples as his "hearts." It was innocently sung as hearts for a few years, and later accompanied by furtive glances and giggles.)

The girls made up a cheer, Dee promised to have T-shirts made, and we had a new identity as a family. The song had to be adapted when #7 was born,

Min, 1982

and the dog's name was later incorporated, but we sang it regularly until they all went off to form their own teams.

Dee and I always refer to our kids as our Heroes, and they are, in every sense of the word. In-law kids are Heroes, Too, and grand kids are Heroes, Two (as in second generation.)

Our Halloween party Friday was a partial Gathering of Heroes. Sixteen of them live out of state, and we opted to have a grand kids party on Halloween night, so there were ten of us here for grown-up festivities. Everyone came dressed as one of their heroes. You already saw me and Dee. Here are the others:

Pete as Jim being Dwight (from The Office.)
The Kenyan Within (our marathon woman.)

Attorney (ooo, scary!) and Anesthesiologist (because he brings the epidural.)

Vincent Van Gogh.

Rosy the Riveter.

Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine.

Jim (Dwight) and Rosy, again.

So, who would you dress up as for a Gathering of Heroes party?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Costumes

Dee in Vienna May 2,1969
"Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened."

He had an appointment to Annapolis, but was against Viet Nam; he had a potential job with the CIA but a love for all things German; he had plans for a year in Europe but no money to finance it: these were just a few of the conflicting dreams of my Dreamboat when I met him in 1969. He was an adventurer and a scholar with no responsibilities; an activist, who listened to Bob Dylan, and, of course, he didn't trust anyone over thirty. (He personally had no plans of ever being thirty himself.)

We had a Halloween Party the other night, and everyone came as one of their heroes. This is what Dee wore:

Dee Oct 26, 2007

On the other side of his placard, he had this cartoon.

One of the great things about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been. It has been quite a trippy experience!

I wish I'd thought to wear this costume. Dee's always been my hero.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jacoby Ellsbury

This guy's mom used to sleep in my bedroom!

When I got married, there was room for one more, and she became a new daughter to my folks. She's Navajo, and grew up on a reservation in Arizona, but came to Salt Lake City to live during the school year. She stayed with my family from September to June every year when she was a teenager. Even while she attended the university, she treated our house as her home, and came to stay weekends and vacations.

She was a talented artist, and won a Sterling Scholar award in art. She knew traditional American Indian sign language, too. In exquisite Navajo dress, enhanced by her long, glossy black hair, she performed a ballet-type dance, signing the words of The Lord's Prayer, while my sister sang the words. It was stunning and moving, and they were much in demand for various events.

She graduated from our high school, and went on to graduate from college. She married and moved to a different state, where she has raised her sons. My parents were always in touch, and mentioned her often, but since they died, I haven't kept up with her too much. Until I started seeing her son on TV!

My dad, a life-long sports nut, had a soft spot for his foster daughter, so it's fitting that she produced the pro-ball player he always hoped for. If he were alive, he'd have figured out some way to be at every game. I expect there's a special dispensation for angels to attend important family events. Dad might be skipping the dance reviews and the piano recitals of his great-grandkids, but for sure he's at the World Series this year.

I wonder how it feels to be a baseball mom in the Big Leagues. I used to sit on the bleachers in an emotional upheaval when I had kids. I had a daughter who was the only girl on her Little League Team and three sons who played. I couldn't stand it if my kid was on the bench. But having them on the field was just as bad.

One time my son was hit in the head with a line drive, which knocked him right down. I was out on the grass in seconds flat, embarrassing him with my concern. Barely conscious, he whispered through gritted teeth, "Get off the field, mom."

I knew my kids prayed for the chance to catch the winning fly ball, or hit the winning home run. I got nauseous thinking of the dropped fly ball, or the losing strike out.

Miggs wanted to pitch. His coach hadn't recognized his skills in this area, so he'd never had the chance. During one game, they went through four boys playing pitch, and finally Miggs got his wish. He raced over to tell us the great news. After taking the mound, he did the wind up he'd been practicing for years, and threw the ball he hadn't practiced as often. He threw ball after ball, walking several batters in a row, helping the other team score a few runs and take the lead. Parents around me were cursing the coach for leaving this guy in, and my stomach was lurching with every throw. Finally, the umpire called out, "STRIKE!" Micah was ecstatic! He took off his hat, waved it to the crowd, and took a bow.

He went on to break his arm during the game when his school took state. He was on the bottom of the pile up after the big win. Needless to say, I was glad when our baseball career was over. I couldn't handle the pressure.

Every time Jacoby swings his bat, or runs for a fly ball my heart stops as I think of his mom. Time and again he makes the play, and even when he strikes out, he sure looks smooth, with his mother's flashing eyes. It has made the baseball season especially fun for our family. Ellsbury doesn't know any of us, but all over the country we're yelling, "Jacoby's in the starting line-up." and "Your cousin's up!" I chuckled when Dee said, "Hey, OUR nephew just hit a double!" I'm proud to be related, even in a non-related way. I've got butterflies in my stomach for his mom.

Mother Goose Costume

Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose

Ten reasons why Mother Goose is my Hero.
  1. She's old but still productive.
  2. She compiled historic events, political cartoons and accounts of daily life into easy-to-remember rhymes.
  3. She understands women who have "so many children" they don't know what to do.
  4. She says, "Leave them alone, and they will come home..."
  5. She's loved by children and trusted by adults.
  6. She encourages "Merry Old Souls."
  7. She has a healthy fear of spiders.
  8. She has an antidote for stress. "Bake me a cake as fast as you can!"
  9. She gives wise marriage counseling. (Analyze Jack Sprat at your next book club.)
  10. She might be made up, and she might be real, but she's worthwhile either way.
I'm hoping to catch a ride on a "a very fine gander," for Halloween.

Extra touches:
"Diddle Diddle Dumpling....went to bed with his stockings on, one shoe off and one shoe on..."

"Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home..."

"Lucy Locket lost her pocket..."

These details might be lost on the general population, but among my favorite fans, I think they might be noticed.

So, OK, she's not Winston Churchill, or Socrates or Eleanor Roosevelt. But I bet you quote Old Mother Goose occasionally. How else would you remember how many days April has?

Friday, October 26, 2007


I'm remembering all the good old days of Halloweens that I used to hate. First enduring my mother's sewing escapades where I had to go look through pattern books and touch fabrics, and then be pinned into paper pieces while she created award winning costumes. I just wanted plastic vampire teeth. She hand beaded my Indian Princess costume, and created real fringe. She used long grass from the field for my grass skirt, (then made me wear a coat over it.) Inevitably we would have a discussion about me not appreciating all the work she was going to. Yeah...yeah...can I go watch Mickey Mouse Club?

I graduated to being the unappreciated creator. I didn't sew, so my costumes were witty, crafty, and the kids didn't get the joke. Coming up with seven clever costumes was a yearly horror more terrifying that any goblin I might see. (Example: Table of flowers. Box had hole cut in it, then was decorated with tablecloth, place settings, and my adorable daughter stood in the middle of the table, held and walked with it, decorated as a vase and flower centerpiece.) It was avant gard, creative, daring, and not-cool among the ugly plastic WalMart costume crowd. 4th Grade is not the time to be unique.

One year my 5th grade son went as a girl. No matter how we explained the repercussions of this plan, he was determined. Well, he came home early, devastated that we'd made him humiliate himself in such a dorky way. On the spot we had to turn him into the Terminator to counteract the damage done by his role as a girl. The year my daughter went as a Halloweeny was the year I tossed in the towel. Nobody ever liked my suggestions, so why did I bother? They were on their own. Actually they did fine, and we all liked the holiday a lot better.

I occasionally dressed up as a gypsy, or something classic and easy when I was a room mother, or hosted a kids party, but nothing that lasted to the next year. I've always wanted to have a signature costume--one that I could wear every year for the grand kids. I want it to have a little meaning behind it, be comfortable to actually wear the whole time, and not be too hard to put together (since I don't own a sewing machine.)

To spur myself on, I'm hosting a Hero Halloween Party tomorrow night. Everyone comes dressed as a Hero (from a movie, sports, book, life, any Hero that makes sense to them.)

I came up with the epitome of a hero for me, so I've researched how she could have looked, spent some time imagining and planning, and today was the day. After purchasing fabric, and a few notions and extras, I started to cut, design and sew by hand. I measured, folded, pressed and hemmed all the edges, then I gathered the skirt (by hand) and tried to figure out how to make it stay. I created ties and straps, turned a store-bought witch hat into something else I needed; bought and recreated stripey socks, and created little touches. I discovered craft glue is not reliable, but is a mess, and stitchwitchery gums up your iron and ironing board cover, but does work well. I even added a ruffle! It's been a day full of unadulterated creativity.

Tomorrow I'll make my appearance as my hero, and explain why, (both here and at my party.) I'm thrilled that after eight hours of straight effort, I have invented, created and made my own design. I hope you'll judge it by my lack of experience and abilities, rather than your own expertise.

I have to say, though, that I think my mom would be impressed, and that's saying a lot. Considering I always cut crooked, I can't see well enough to thread the needles, which ultimately get tangled and knotted, and poke my poor aching fingers relentlessly, there were very few swear words escaping my tongue tonight. I was having fun!

And You are invited!!! You'll want to get some donuts and cider to celebrate the unveiling of the costumes. It will spice up your little pre-party with Marty. BYOB, in fact bring your own chair, trick and treats, games and prizes. And guests. This will be taking place anytime that's convenient for you, right in front of your own computer. The party will probably last 3-5 minutes, so plan extra activities as well.

I may post late (you know how these wild and crazy family parties are) so if "early to bed" is your thing, check us out Saturday. In fact depending on how crazy it gets, I may be indisposed until Saturday myself. This group has a don't BYOB clause, so we get high on Root Beer Floats and hot, mulled cider. A hangover is sugar induced rather than alcohol. Either way they sometimes require an extra bit of recovery time in the sack Saturday a.m. Isn't it all about how to face the people who witnessed you making a fool of yourself anyway?

Whenever your little Marty Party is, it will hopefully get you in the Halloween spirit. I've been dabbling between being a Hallo-winner and Hallo-weeny this year. You can have the final vote. See you there!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

World Series

Back in the day, the World Series was played in the daytime. I remember that if we got our work done, we could listen to the games during school. When I was in 6th grade we even got to place bets! I think I bet on the Pirates, but I don't remember who they played or if they won. I wonder how anyone watched the games while they were at work? (Maybe they weren't on TV yet...1960?) It seems like a pretty all-American classroom activity! We took our Series seriously in those days.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Chronic Insomnia is what keeps my blog alive. My grama used to talk about Herb Jepco's radio show, which she listened to all night. My dad used to take walks at 2:am. I was always able to stay up 'til dawn reading a good book, or writing the last minute term paper. It's part of my inheritance.

It gets more annoying as I get older. I used to have dates, parties, exams; then babies, sick kids, and teenagers to occupy myself from midnight on. I had energy to carry me through the morning even without much sleep. Now I lay awake anxiously anticipating the wipe-out I'll experience about mid-morning. I can't nap during the day, but I usually get a big burst of energy at the exact time I've promised myself I'd go to bed. My mind's clicking, my heart's racing...I'm like one of those weighted clown toys that pop right back up whenever they are pushed down.

I take Ambien, and it sometimes takes a while to kick in (they are unpredictable that way for me.) Dee often finds me asleep at the computer, or with the lamp on, a book on my face and glasses perched on my nose. When the pill finally hits, I'm out like a light for five to six hours, with another hour to actually accept that I'm really awake. There are worse medical problems, but if you have a cure for me, I'm listening!

I've read a lot of suggestions: take a long hot bath (it heats me up so I'm prepared for a night sweat episode) aroma therapy (I must have bought the energizing scent) hot cocoa (mild caffeine jolt) listen to music (I just sing along in my head and end up at the computer trying to locate the actual lyrics.)

If you have any old wives tales of remedies for my ailment send them along. Those that may have actually worked will be especially welcome. Are there herbal teas, oils or potions, a magic lotion scent, relaxing recordings...I'd love to hear how other insomniacs are coping. Are we all just blogging into that twilight zone that brings anxiety when you read it the next morning, wondering what you revealed to the screen that was dancing before your eyes before you confidently punched Publish Post?

Dee hits the pillow and is asleep. He never lays there and rehashes every interaction he's had through the day or lays and plans out all the conversations he could possibly encounter the next day. He never lays in bed wondering if he can still remember the Gettysburg Address, the 23rd Psalm, his high school pep song, or poems he memorized in 9th grade English.

If you have read suggestions, but haven't personally put them to the test because you identify with Dee, don't send them (unless you used to have insomnia and this suggestion cured you.) If you're thinking about this post as you watch the clock go around again and reach 3:am, you are a person who identifies with me. You're the ones I want to hear from with a legitimate suggestion: some special nighttime snack--like graham crackers and milk---that works for adults. If you are a health guru, who knows what enzymes and minerals would help me relax, leave comments.

You may think you're helping just one whacko woman with body-clock issues, but you would reach hundreds of pajama bloggers who just want to obey their mom and "Go To Sleep!!" It's a cause!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pretty Smart: Lucy

I gave Lucy a tiny package of Smarties. She shared them with Chelsea and me, and put two on the arm of my chair. "These can be for Opa," she said. "Will you take them home to him?" "Sure," I said.

A couple of minutes later I absent-mindedly ate them.

"Oh no! Those were for Opa!" she cried. She dutifully counted out two more. "Now save these for him. He would really like them."

She was busy coloring, but kept checking on the candy. "Don't eat them, Oma. Take them home for Opa." I reassured her I'd deliver the Smarties and tell him they were a special gift from Lucy.

Finally she decided to put them in my purse for safe-keeping. After a thoughtful minute she retrieved the two now disintegrating pieces, and popped them in her mouth. "I really don't think Opa is hungry," she said.

Ain't Misbehavin

"I don't say that we ought to misbehave, but we ought to look as if we could."
Orson Welles

Five things that can give a hint of sauciness to your persona: (I'm too chicken for any of these. I look too well-behaved for my own good. I want some suggestions!)
  1. Let an animal print camisole peek out accidentally.
  2. Click down the tiled floor in red stilettos, wearing a mini skirt.
  3. Dip the brim of a fedora hat with confidence.
  4. Sweep into a party wearing a full-length fur coat, and survey the crowd over giant sunglasses.
  5. Do the double cheek, non-touching kiss, kiss, without feeling or looking fake or silly.
These are my feeble efforts at misbehaving:
  1. I order dessert when nobody else does.
  2. I drive my car to a meeting only one block away.
  3. I bravely tell the waiter I don't really like my main course, and he brings me another one.
  4. I go to Talbots for the 70% off sale, and head straight for the new full-price racks.
  5. I let the grandkids stay up late and have a movie fest, yet I coax them to take an afternoon nap when I'm sleepy.
I feel like I need lessons. Where are big brothers when you need them? (Mine is home with his very well-behaved wife doing good at every turn.) I am starting to miss 10-year-old boys and 15-year-old girls. There's always a little crazy misbehavin' goin' on with those folks.

Dee added a beard and suspenders when he needed to jolt himself from youthful to middle aged with a flare. He's always been a little eccentric naturally, so he's grown into his personality. I'm scared I'm stuck in the young mom phase, well past my prime. There are young people to handle those conversations!

I feel like I've become a sugar cookie without sprinkles. Still sweet, reliable and soft. Just not a standout amongst the highly decorated and frosted choices. Do you have some tips that add spice to your attitude or demeanor, that make you a babe? Or are there others you have observed enviously? I still want to be secretly well-behaved, but I need a tang in my icing, or a secret spice to enhance the basic recipe that is me. Give me some misbehavin' guidance and add a kick to my step!

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Private Problem, a Public Debate.

A Summer Place
Starring Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue

Remember this movie? It came out in 1963, the story of a teenage couple in love, with a pregnancy complication. I thought of it when I read the journal of Jeanne, (a lovely woman who was at one time an acquaintance of mine,) written about that same time. It puts a personal face on a public debate.

I'll call her daughter Marci. The family was upstanding, honorable, close: Marci had two outstanding older brothers, her parents were teachers, her widowed grandmother lived with them, and looked after the kids during the day. Marci was 20 years old. It was 1963, in a conservative, middle-class suburb back east.

One night she tearfully told her mom she was pregnant. The mother was upset, but not terribly surprised, since Marci spent every available second with her fiance. She asked what their plans were. Unfortunately, the fiance had informed Marci that very afternoon that he wasn't going to marry her, and in fact had impregnated another girl, too. Overwhelmed and disappointed, she felt trapped. She told her mom that she'd decided she couldn't let someone else raise her child, but with the new details about her fiance, she wasn't raising his baby alone. She had talked to a doctor who would not break the law to perform an abortion, but he had given her some names.

The mother was horrified at the turn of the conversation. She quickly made other suggestions, and assured her daughter that they would provide financial and emotional support for her to have the baby, and raise it if she wanted to keep it. She could "go away for awhile," and let the baby be adopted out, or an invented relative could "die" suddenly, and leave the family a baby to raise. There was a nice boy that thought highly of Marci, and would probably marry her and raise the child as his own. There were other options. Marci was confused and upset, and exhausted from her condition and worry. "I'm sorry I told you," she said. Her mother comforted her, promised her they would help, and Marci agreed to think about it. Together they would tell her father that weekend.

Friday afternoon the mother got an anonymous phone call. Her daughter had gone through with her plan, and was now in critical condition. She had been transported to a hospital from an unidentified clinic where she was extremely sick. The mother and father came quickly, but were not allowed in the room, where Marci was being interrogated harshly and repeatedly by the police. Her personal effects had been taken away from her in an effort to discover who had performed the abortion. She would not give any information. The next day she died. She had been treated at the clinic with a toxic substance, coupled with severe infection. The hospital was unable to save her.

Marci's parents were devastated. They were unable to retrieve her belongings, which had been deemed evidence. They were ignored by medical personnel, unable to get answers to their questions. The family was treated by the hospital staff like they were criminals. They had nothing to do with the abortion, but they had a daughter who died surrounded by rude, uncaring officials with an agenda. The family trauma unfolding was in the way of facts the officials needed, whatever the cost to her loved ones. The police questioned them all and threatened them with arrest if they didn't divulge the name of the doctor who had performed the procedure. They didn't know.

Neighbors and friends were shocked about the abortion but abandoned the family (on principle) in their grief. A donation was made to a school to set up a scholarship in Marci's name. The money was seen as tainted and never used.

Because of harassment by the police, Jeanne's husband eventually hired a lawyer who reminded them they were victims, not criminals. Jeanne questioned herself throughout the journal entry, wondering if she could have saved her daughter Marci's life somehow, by responding differently that fateful night. It was a heartbreaking event that changed their family forever.

A newlywed couple who live in our hall had a terrible decision to make. Sarah was 21 when she became pregnant. They were delighted. The doctor was concerned by some of her tests, and they were soon informed that she had cancer. She was advised to abort the baby and start chemotherapy immediately. They could have another baby when her health and future were more secure. The couple decided against that, and she had a healthy son several months later. She began treatment, and right now her baby is a year old, and her cancer is in remission. If she had been my daughter, I wonder what I would have advised. What if she already had children when this situation arose?

My own mother in 1959 was pregnant with twins which died in utero at five months. Amidst her sadness, and her anxiousness and the hope of soon starting over again, she was told she'd have to wait until they passed through her body naturally. A D& C under her particular circumstance would be termed an abortion. So she walked around for two months with two dead babies in her womb, watching her pregnant friends get bigger and her own belly shrink. After a month of that, she did deliver them in a natural way and could finally move ahead with plans to try for another pregnancy.

I'm against abortion, and I would react as Jeanne did, with promises of help and support if my daughters approached me with this problem. We are extremely blessed to have two grandchildren who were adopted into our family. We love and respect their birth mothers for the courage they had to give their babies life in every sense of the word. If marriage is out of the question, then adoption is a way to create joy and love out of despair. Abortion is not a black and white issue. There's a Jeanne, a Marci, a Sarah, a mom, a dad and a daughter at the center of each of the stories, even when they are represented with statistics instead of names.

Just something to think about in the middle of the night. I think I'll get that movie. This is an emotional debate and a little wisdom from Hollywood might get my heart in a softened state. These issues take a soft heart, not a hard one, and while I'm not changing my mind, I want balanced perspective when I learn about political issues, and the real people who deal with them.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Wired: Internet Woes

Lightning struck! The other night we had a big show of fireworks in the sky, and the next morning this is what greeted me on my computer. I've had this notice show up before, so I went through my little routine: turn off, turn on, restart, listen to welcome didn't work. I tried again. Repeat. Nothing.

Oh well, I'd give it some time. Maybe the computer just needed a rest. And besides, I have a life outside blogging. I'd do my banking. Huh. Well, I was going to check my Netflix. Duh. I could order those books from Amazon. Oh. Maybe I would call my internet folks. The number? Just click Dex. Hmmm. That didn't work either.

I was resourceful. I found the phone book, found my glasses, and voila. I was on it! My next challenge: the phone wouldn't work either (so that's what Digital Voice means!) I dug out my cell.

I'm sure you've all met the friendly people at customer service. They're unreal. Really. After I started to explain my problem to a couple of voices that turned out to be recordings, I relaxed to the music they thoughtfully provided, and patiently waited. After all, my call was important to them.

I was all ready with my explanation when an actual person answered, (I'd had plenty of time to write it down) but it turned out he and I didn't speak the same language. We tried, but a few minutes later I was connected to someone named Greg.

We went through all the hoopla of me divulging the same private information I'd already discussed with the recordings, and then he started asking for details about my modem. Whoa...we must have our wires crossed! He was supposed to explain all this to me.

Laying on the floor underneath my desk, trying to keep the phone trapped between my shoulder and ear, wriggling my nose so my glasses wouldn't slide off my slippery face, I examined my wires. Greg wanted me to tell him where each one went. Eventually he discovered my modem was not sending any signals. I was out of luck until the repairman could come in two days. They'd call before they came.

This morning, as I anticipated the call heralding the restoration of contact with the outside world (sometime between 10 and 5) I realized they couldn't call me. (You know..the phone.) I wondered if they were smart enough to figure out that I couldn't receive their call until they came and fixed my phone. Also, to buzz someone into my building, I have to use the phone. The panic started to rise. I'd kept it in check for two long days and nights, but now the possibility of being stuck in the communication age without communication had me near frenzy. Besides, I had an appointment at noon for some gray that needed hiding. How could I choose between two such important fix-ups?

Dee covered for me at home, and the tech support pulled through. The guy was here about five minutes. He unplugged something, and plugged it back in, told Dee we needed a new power bar (only $70 at our convenient computer store) and assured him he could install it himself.

So now we're back in business. I discovered my daughter-in-law was worried we were sick and my daughter thought we were dead. I'm delighted to know we're noticed enough to be missed! The past two days (and nights) have been long and quiet, giving me time to ponder. I have discovered something about myself that I hadn't fully accepted before. The internet is my life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ten For Ten

Me, 3rd from the right, age 10

My oldest grandchild just turned ten. She's tall and beautiful with new holes in her ears. She has her own e-mail and is a computer genius. I'm amazed at how grown up she is.

I remember being that age. I was short with goofy teeth and did my hair in pin-curls with bobby pins. We had to wear dresses to school every day, and my mom made me wear thick wool leggings under my skirt when it was cold. (They weren't cute, or stylish, so neither was I.)

I was in Mrs. Ludwig's class, and I had to stay in for recess because I didn't finish my long subtraction problems. My sports were Double Dutch (jump rope,) Hopscotch, Four-Square and Tetherball. My best friend was Patty Sheffield, and my boyfriend was Kent Spencer. He was Patty's boyfriend, too. I guess we were learning to share.

I discovered Nancy Drew that year, and my mom gave me a special booklet called Now You Are Ten, explaining all the new womanly changes that were coming up. The Weekly Reader told us that someday there would be television telephones, and all our school papers were printed on the mimeograph machine because copiers hadn't been invented yet.

Here are ten more facts about 1959:
  1. Alaska and Hawaii became states. All the flags had to be re-made to have 50 stars instead of 48.
  2. The war in Viet Nam started.
  3. Castro came into power in Cuba.
  4. Sleeping Beauty by Walt Disney was released.
  5. The song Edelweiss was sung on Broadway for the first time in Sound of Music.
  6. Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon were the teen idols.
  7. Black people in the south were still treated terribly. They were made to ride in the back of buses, and drink from drinking fountains labeled "Coloreds" while white people drank from fountains for "Whites Only."
  8. John F. Kennedy was just getting ready to run for president.
  9. Cowboy shows on TV were everybody's favorites. (Bonanza and Rawhide were mine.)
  10. The hit song wasn't a song at all. A very cool guy stood and just combed his hair, while some girls knelt at his feet and said, "Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb" over and over, and then he snapped his fingers. We loved it.
Looking at my class picture, I can still name most of the kids. I remember where they lived, and a few details (one boy's dad died in an explosion; one girl had four Dobermans that barked from behind a fence as I walked to school; another girl had leukemia and a boy's big brother had been crippled by polio.)

The most exciting thing about being ten was that I was finally in double digits. That changes a girl.

What happened when you were ten?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Life is Out to Get Me

I went into Nordstrom today to use the restroom and get a much needed coke. The coke machine was broken, but happily I found two shirts on sale. My total was $38 and I paid with a $100 bill. The salesclerk acted surprised and said she'd have to go find change. She went to another cash register, came back and said she was sorry but she had to go to the customer service office. About ten minutes passed before she came back. "They don't give us any money. Nobody ever pays in cash." No biggie. I'm a patient sort.

Next, I went to the gas station. I tried to use my card at the pump but the machine wouldn't take it. I noticed a sign that said to pay inside. No problem. I could get my coke. The only salesperson was on the phone, and waved for me to wait. It was obviously an important personal call.

A few minutes later she hung up, and said I should be able to use my card. She followed me out, remembered that machine was broken and had me pull up. She ran my card through and asked if I wanted a car wash. I said sure. She punched in the extra $4 fee, and told me the code would be on my receipt.

It took a few tries before I got the former customer's receipt, and then my own came out. I drove around back, realized I was going the wrong way, turned around, and pulled up to the car wash. My receipt was illegible. When I went back inside the lady was on the phone again. She seemed pretty busy, but she took time to tell me another code. It didn't seem to be the right time to try and buy a coke.

After I put in the new code, a little voice told me, "Invalid Code." It happened two more times. When I went inside again, my friend was still on the phone. Rather than bother her, I just drove off, and lost my car wash. Oh well. It will probably rain soon.

I went to Target to return a $24.28 purchase. I asked the guy if he needed my credit card. He said no, I had paid in cash. After some paperwork, he said, "Shall I put it on your card?" I said I'd just take the cash. He said, "The thing is, I don't have that much cash." So then he went in search of it. Another guy took his place and helped four customers before my guy came back with my cash. He had forgotten the change. "I'd have to open the register again if I give you back your change." I decided it was probably not worth his trouble.

Starving now, and a little shaky with frustration, I decided to drive through Carl's Jr. While I sat at the order voice box, I realized two cars were ahead of me, and two cars were behind me. I was trapped and apparently nobody was home. I could see inside, and there were no diners.

Eventually somebody asked to take my order. "A Star Burger, no onion, and a small coke." "Do you want a combo?" "No," I replied. "Same price," he insisted. "No thanks," I said. "Do you want a medium coke?" "No, just a small." "A combo is actually cheaper," he said. "OK," I said. "Whatever." "I'll be right back with your total."

He never returned. After a long while, the cars ahead of me moved up. When I finally got to the window, he handed me a medium drink. "I asked for a small." "Same price," he said. "But it doesn't fit in my drink holder. That's why I get a small." He came back with a new drink.

"It's taking extra time because you requested no onions," he announced accusingly. Then he asked, "Have you paid?" "Who was I supposed to pay?" I said. "Me." (He's a few fries short of a Happy Meal, I thought.) My total was $4. 58. I gave him a fiver. "Do you need your change?" he asked? "YES!" I said.

With the change, he gave me my food. I pulled up into the parking lot to devour my burger. It turned out to be chicken strips! Oh well, I was starving, and chicken strips would do. Plus, I could eat them while I drove. They were cold and needed salt. Luckily, I had gotten a combo meal and the fries would taste good with my coke. As I pulled out onto the road, I stuck in my straw and took a big sip. It was limeade.

Thursday, October 11, 2007



Remember Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window? His character was a kind of Peeping Tom, an eyewitness to his neighbors activities. We saw it all from his view. Fear, curiosity, lust, love, perception; his emotions were expressed in the raise of an eyebrow, the widening of pupils and the narrowing of eyes. He was confined to a wheelchair, and alone at critical times, but even without action or dialog we perceived and shared his panic. It's one of my favorite movies.

"Eyes are the windows to the soul." Can you look at someone and tell if they're sick, or sad or savvy? Can you recognize when someone is genuine or phony? My mom could tell if I was lying by looking in my eyes (although the law of averages worked in her favor,) and I can tell when Dee is worried by his eyes, even if he denies it.

What can you read about a person by looking them in the eye? Have a look at these pretty peepers as practice.

















If you have a caption for any of these photos, please share!

* Cousins Club Special: Eighteen eye-catching Heroes are featured here. Can you name them correctly? E-mail your answers and if you get them right, I'll send you a prize!