Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Worm-hole








Worm hole:  A theoretical passage through space/time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe and allow time travel.



Last weekend we went with friends to “The British are Coming…. Again” show on the Ashland University campus.  It featured local musicians and singers recreating the music of the British invasion of the 60’s.   Still performing today after their years as The Ohio Express, Dean Kastran and Dale Powers were two of the performers that came together for the Saturday night fund raiser.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that we are blessed with an amazing number of gifted people in our area.  From the symphony, to the actors on the stage at Renaissance Theatre and Mansfield Playhouse, participating artists at The Art Center, and summer performances in The Brick Yard…there’s something for everyone and we are fortunate to have a thriving arts community. 

Usually it only happens at class reunions, but on this particular evening I was delighted to discover myself in a room full of folks “my age”.   When the band started it didn’t take long for the worm hole effect to kick in; without invitation people came out into the open areas and danced to the delight of the performers.  The crowd had been transported back to 1965 through the magic of the music.

Just as they had in the high school gyms and union halls of their youth the gals formed circles; as the years fell away they danced with abandon.  Men whose time is currently divided between recliners and riding lawn mowers were sheepishly dragged onto the floor.  Suddenly they were busting moves they had forgotten they could make.  Slow songs brought out couples who snuggled and smiled and swayed to the music. Faces relaxed, illness and aggravation fell away just for the moment, and the smiles came from deep in their memory banks.  The worm hole that only music can open transported everyone back to a gentler time.   The concert had become a young people’s dance that could have been held at any high school gym, or the YMCA, or The Friendly House. 

Always a dedicated spectator, I sat watching from the comfort of my rut.   It would have been nice to be as free as the writhing dancers, but that was never true for me even when this music was new.   It was a great evening; the band’s enjoyment was obvious and their talents as sharp as ever.  How fortunate they are to have been given this gift of music that they have shared for so many years, and hopefully many more to come.

Unfortunately, nothing comes without a price; I’m sure there were plenty of the Saturday night revelers with sore muscles and tired feet to contend with on Sunday morning.  But when you get right down to it, isn’t that a small price to pay for a trip through the worm hole?



                                                                           Life is Good



 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Coffee for the First Day of the Rest of Your Life



This very early morning in the very early spring I am enjoy a cup of coffee on the first day of the rest of my life.  Today is my first day as the retired editor of Heart of Ohio Magazine.  It’s a day I’ve known was coming for some time, but still I sit here sipping coffee wondering what comes next.

It’s not as if this is the first time I’ve gone thru this coffee ritual.  I remember sipping a cup of coffee with my new husband at our first breakfast together.   We were on our honeymoon; this was the first day of our married life.  The future seemed to open before us…. now that was one great cup of coffee.

A few years later I sat propped up in a hospital bed having a cup of coffee after our son had been born very late the night before.  The coffee was, well, hospital coffee.  But this was the first day of the rest of my life as a new mother and I looked at the future through the filter of my inexperience.   It was a terrifying and wonderful future that stretched out ahead of me.

Peering at the future over the rim of a coffee cup brings back so many times when the piping hot liquid anchored me.  The first morning after the death of a dear friend or family member…the first morning in the kitchen of a new home…and the nights when sleep was impossible; the only thing allowing the early morning to arrive a bottomless cup of coffee.

My first cup of coffee the morning after my retirement party from a long broadcast career stands out because I wasn’t sure this “retirement” thing was for me.   As it turned out I was right, no amount of coffee could change the fact that I needed something to do.  That’s when, over a cup of coffee, my friend Diane Brown and I put our heads together to bring her idea of a local magazine to fruition.  With no experience in producing a magazine she went from printer to publisher and I went from retired broadcaster to editor.   It turned out to be a great experience that bonded our friendship and introduced us to so many interesting places and people that the nine years have passed in the blink of an eye.

Now Great Lakes Publishing (Ohio Magazine, Cleveland Magazine, etc.) is going to take Heart of Ohio Magazine to a new level.  Diane Brown will continue to supply our community with printing and graphics services, just as she has for so many years at Sun Graphics.  I’ve chosen to continue to look for stories to write for Heart, but I will no longer be editor.  Diane Brown and I will serve on an advisory board meeting periodically to help maintain the local flavor and interest of Heart of Ohio Magazine.   

And so, this cup of coffee is the first cup of coffee as I begin this new chapter of my life.  What comes next?  I haven’t a clue.  But, based on so many “first cups” over the years I can’t wait to find out. 

Relax and have a cup of coffee…. the best is yet to be. 


                                                           Life is Good




Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Introduction





Recently the world lost a true role model, the Reverend Billy Graham.  He was a fiery evangelist and a gentle human being.
When I was growing up our small, black and white television was always dedicated to the Billy Graham Crusade when one was on.  My mom admired him, and his altar call at the end of the broadcast never failed to bring her to tears as people surged forward to stand before God.   From the opening hymn sung by George Beverly Shea to the closing when they played “Just as I Am”, my Mom was glued to the set.
Personally, I always like to hear Billy Graham speak.   Not necessarily the fire and brimstone message, but the flow of his accent and the rise and fall of his hypnotic voice.  As a little girl I always thought God must look like George Beverly Shea and sound like Billy Graham.  Much later when Hollywood tried to convince me George Burns was God, I rejected the idea completely.   Even when they paired Burns with John Denver (my favorite)  in one of the movies, I still couldn’t accept the idea that my personal deity was an aged, cigar chomping burlesque star.  It just never worked for me.
Growing up I went to church with Mom and Dad, but when I married my expanding brood went through times when we attended church, and times when we did not.   My mother was the dispenser of all things religious, taking my children to church and encouraging them to keep God at the center of their lives.  I know it made a difference in who they turned out to be…. a very good difference.  As her grandchildren grew my mom continued to watch Billy Graham crusades on television.   Late in her life she even found a channel that played his sermons almost every day; he was an anchor in her religious life. 
Time passed so quickly; before we knew it, mom and dad had reached the age when going out to church became more difficult.   Television became more important as mom faithfully watched evangelists like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Baker, Ernest Ainsley and others.   While most of those preachers eventually proved to be wolves in sheep’s (designer) clothing, Billy Graham continued to command their admiration because of the simple and honest life he lived.   Over the years I must have heard my mom and my dad say, “I’d really like to meet him”, or “I’d like to shake his hand”, often “I’d like to pray with him” when they spoke about Billy Graham.  He was someone they felt they could relate to because they all spoke to the same God every single day. 
The outpouring of feelings when Billy Graham passed away was heartwarming.  His family conducted his services with the dignity and simplicity he had always displayed in life.  I watched the services, wondering how many ministers have the President of the United States show up at their funeral?  What a tribute to an amazing life.  His prayers for the nation, like my mother’s prayers for me, will be greatly missed.  
Billy Graham was once quoted as saying, “When you hear I am dead don’t believe it.   I will be more alive than I have ever been”.  I have only one thought to add to that.   I rest easy in the knowledge that, after all these years, my parents have finally gotten to meet Billy Graham.  

                                                                  Life is Good


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Give Me Some Credit!!!!!







There are things that cause a sinking feeling in the stomach that everyone has experienced.  That feeling when you reach for your purse and it's not there...the shock of spinning your car on black ice...an unexpected call from the doctor's office after a test.  Here's another one I experienced for the very first time today:  "Your credit card was rejected".

We finished lunch, and my friend and I stuck our credit cards into our individual black restaurant folders for the chirpy waitress to pick up.  When she returned she said in a cheerful voice, "Here you go ladies, and your credit card was rejected."  Her tone was so happy that I thought for a second I'd misunderstood what she said.  I had not.

"Did you try it twice," I asked?   She had.  Of course I said what everyone says in this situation, "There's no way it shouldn't work".  Bet she's heard that one before, but in this case it happened to be true.  I was totally mystified.

Back at the office I couldn't wait to rip the offending piece of plastic out of my wallet and call the infinitesimally small number on the back of the card.   I was in such a hurry I misdialed twice, but I finally got the phone tree that told me to press one for this and two for that and three if I was from Mars....something like that.

After being told that my entire conversation would be recorded for quality and training purposes (I was really hoping this conversation wouldn't deteriorate into a training moment but I had no guarantees to offer) I was greeted by a very professional voice who was more than helpful; she was polite!

After jumping through all the security hoops I was allowed to explain my dilemma. That was accompanied by the clicking of keys, and the helpful woman's voice informed me they had frozen my account.  "Did you make any charges at 2 o'clock this morning?  An air B&B?"

Resisting the temptation to put that training moment in gear I replied, "No, I did not".

"Someone tried to charge $8,427.00 to your card in four separate transactions. (There's that stomach drop!)  They managed to get two of the charges past, but we stopped the other two.  You have $2,300.00 on your card right now. (A training worthy shriek almost escaped my lips)   I see another $10.00 charge was rejected today," she finished.

"That ten dollars actually was me, but they wouldn't take the card," I sighed.

The thought of being part of a training module on how to handle crazy customers, or perhaps having my voice show up on a Christmas party tape for a group of drunken office workers to hear kept me in check.  I can tell you that $8,427.00 is enough to make me waffle on that, however.

She continued, "I will send you a copy of all these charges and list the ones that are fraudulent.  Our no risk policy means you are not liable for the theft, and we will send you a new card in seven to ten working days."

This lady could have informed me they'd be sending me a dead mackerel in the mail after telling me I wasn't liable for the $8,427.00 some jerk(s) had just charged to my name and I still would have sent her a birthday present.   I was one very relieved person.

I've got some clean up work to do on line, but so far the experience has been relatively painless.  I have no idea if a restaurant server out of sight with my card made a copy, or if a card reader had been installed on a gas pump.  Someone, somewhere had the numbers in hand to make my life miserable for a while and I have no idea how they got them.

I may never know how some criminal element came up with my card, but I am I'm relieved that I don't have to come up with $8,427.00 to pay for someone else's vacation.  I'm also grateful for the calm voice on the other end of the telephone who simultaneously soothed and informed me, thereby keeping me from becoming a cautionary tale to other customer service reps.

                  Thank you faceless, nameless professional...you really made my day.

                                                             Life is Good


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Law of Unintended Consequences




               Sunshine…it lifts the spirits and brightens the day; don’t get enough sunshine  and you just might become depressed. We all get an important vitamin from that glowing ember, sometimes supplementing with a pill to keep those all-important levels of vitamin D where they’re supposed to be.

                In my long ago childhood the sun seemed white hot, and I remember being a happy cowgirl during the long, humid days of summer.  The neighborhood kids would yell from the street, and I’d strap on my Dale Evans holster and off I’d go.  Cowboys and Indians and bad guys and good guys, racing around the neighborhood on bikes till the street lamps came on.  Then, red skinned and ravishingly hungry, we’d go in to eat before running back outside to play hide and seek in the dark.  Not a worry in the world, and it wasn't really summer until you had a sunburn…now that’s a childhood!  

               Before long we were a neighborhood of teen agers. Never mind sunscreen, in those days we slathered on baby oil to heat up the frying process and make the burn more even.   My pasty skinned girl-friends and I added iodine to the baby oil, alternating with applications of Coppertone, we'd stretch out in the sun for as long as we could stand it.   Tanning was a healthy, golden kiss; the look every teenage girl and shirtless boy strove for.  Summer stretched before us and it smelled like a warm macaroon.  We knew the sun was our friend.

                 Smiling and thinking back over those long-ago years I remember the faces, the freckles and nicknames.  What a great bunch of kids to grow up with.  They’ve all scattered to the wind, but I bet we still have a lot in common. The law of unintended consequences has likely knocked at the door of many of my old friends.  I know it has visited me several times.

               Like so many things in my life experience I’ve enjoyed too much of a good thing.  My yearly trip to the dermatologist has turned up yet another spot of skin cancer.  Where did I get this one?   Was I drawing down on a bad guy with my trusty cap gun, or could it have been while I was talking to my BFF while stretched out in the back yard on a beach towel?  Maybe it was a combination of too much time on the ball field and too many afternoons at the pool…hard telling.  It’s my fourth go-round, and if I live to a really ripe old age it likely won’t be my last.  The bad thing is you can’t personally undo ‘too much of a good thing’; you need a surgeon to try to do that.

             If you’re reading this before you keep an appointment at the tanning salon….don’t go.  If you’re leaving for a month in Florida and you don’t want to bother packing sunscreen, pick it up first thing when you arrive in the sunshine state.   Today’s damage was done many years ago, and you can’t go back.  What you can do is try to prevent more damage going forward by using sun screen as part of your daily routine.  Consider this a public service announcement from someone who has always learned things the hard way, if at all.

          I wish you lots of sunshine in your life…just not the kind that causes skin damage!

                                                                     Life is Good




Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Staying in Touch






The day before Thanksgiving finds me where it has for many years…in the kitchen.  Looking at all the stacks of pots and pans takes me back to so many holidays before.  In the early days of our marriage I spent the day before feasts trying to decipher a recipe I most likely found in Woman’s Day or Good Housekeeping.  The holiday tables would be full of my mom’s and mother in law’s excellent cooking; their signature dishes center stage.  My contribution was small and usually not very memorable.

As for my mom, the holiday dish she was best known for was her delicious pumpkin cake.  We always joked that it served as our youngest daughter, Tracy’s, birthday cake as well as her Thanksgiving specialty.  Moist and sweet and topped with a cream cheese icing that was to die for, mom’s pumpkin cake was the favorite of most of our clan.  I think the recipe  originally came from my aunt's sister.   From there it was adopted and adapted by my grandmother. Knowing how much I liked it, pumpkin cake became something she always made when I visited.  Eventually mom made the cake, her favorite too, and so it became a constant on our holiday table.

Mother in law, Katie, always made oyster dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I realized soon after the wedding that my new husband didn’t think it was a holiday without the smell of that dressing filling the house.  Katie tried her best to teach me to make it, but my first solo attempt looked like a baking dish of tree moss.  She helped me fine tune it by limiting the amount of sage she let me put into the mixing bowl.  Over the years I got better at it, but to have good oyster dressing you had to have it in Katie’s kitchen.

The years have passed and today I’m in the kitchen alone recreating these two dishes in honor of the two women I loved dearly.   I reluctantly learned to make mom’s pumpkin cake a few years ago when cooking became too frustrating for her.  The last Thanksgiving of her life my daughter, Wendy, and I took all the ingredients to mom’s house to make the cake under her “supervision”.   We encouraged her to stir a little and watch us as we put it together, and hoped she’d feel more included in the holidays.  From that time on it fell to me to lovingly make the cake that still celebrates our many holidays together. 

I finally mastered Katie’s oyster dressing, too.  I’ve found shortcuts to make the outcome more predictable, and learned that sage is a spice best used sparingly.  The smell of oyster dressing fills our home and brings back happy memories of holidays spent at Katie’s house.

I must have watched mom make her cake a hundred times.  I still go thru the steps she took, even the ones I don’t understand, and the cake seems to be a winner every time.  How I’d like to turn to her and ask, “Now, why are we boiling these raisins again?”.   Didn’t occur to me when she was making it, but I’m not going to try to improve on perfection.

I didn’t even know I liked oysters till I had oyster dressing at my mother-in-law’s house the first time.  I was nervous about trying it, but it was love at first bite.  Digging into that casserole reminds me of heaps of buttered mashed potatoes, steaming pots of goulash and stuffed peppers.  Kate was a quantity cooker, always prepared to feed her big family and all the friends they brought home.  The food was hearty and plentiful, and her smile constant.

Snapping the big mixing bowl from my KitchenAid mixer I remember mom stirring cake batter till her shoulders ached.  “I can have this done before I can find all the parts to my hand mixer…” she’d say.  Chopping the onions and celery for oyster dressing I remember being in Kate’s kitchen before the holidays where she would have slices of bread drying on every kitchen surface to make dressing the next day.  How lucky I am to have had such wonderful women in my life, and how fortunate I was to share a kitchen with them from time to time.

There are two important ingredients in these two dishes that were a constant then and still are today.  They are thankfulness and love.  I make them every year with that thought in mind.  This year once again I will look around the table, smell the delicious dishes, and send up a prayer of gratitude for everyone who is there today and the loving faces we miss so much.




                                                                         Life is Good

Monday, October 23, 2017

New and Improved.....Again?


Here’s a question that plagues me:  If company’s want us to practice “brand loyalty” why don’t they make the same things two years in a row, so we can become invested in the product?

This morning I used the last of a small pot of eye shadow that I’ve had for some time.  I like the shade, the texture and the wear ability of this product.   In spite of that, I won’t bother going back to the makeup counter because I’m sure since I purchased this small container the color palette for eye shadows has changed a hundred times and has been “new and improved” just as often.  The only way to beat the system is to buy six of anything you like because you’ll never find it again.

Before “branding” came to mean top of the mind awareness for the company and not the product things were much simpler.  I remember mom always bought Ivory soap.  We didn’t know who made it, but it had to be Ivory soap because it was 99.9% pure (pure what we didn’t question) and it doubled as a bath toy because it floated.  My mom was susceptible to that advertising because her blue-eyed, blonde haired little girl (namely me) developed skin rashes just my saying the words.  Ivory soap never changed; I can still the delightfully creamy scent and see the blue and white wrapper in my mind’s eye today. 

Another must have at our house was Prell shampoo.   What was not to love?  It was shamrock green liquid in an hour-glass bottle.  I remember the time they put a plastic pearl in the bottle and it moved around in the lovely green liquid as mom poured the shampoo onto my hair.  Now that’s marketing. 

Today everything is new and improved, bigger and thicker and faster, battery operated and less fattening.  The packaging changes all the time; often I’ll overlook something I want to buy because it doesn’t look familiar.  I can’t become attached to a product because it’s gone from the shelves before I have an opinion…good or bad.  In the ancient past we just assumed it was as good as it could ever be, and on the shelf it always looked the same.   My whole childhood was one, long, Ivory soap commercial.

With all the problems we have today this isn’t an earth-shattering change…. just disconcerting.  All those years ago shopping with mom meant picking up the things we always used and trusted.  If there was something written on the packaging, we never knew it.   Today the must-read label information is almost overwhelming…. country of origin, ingredients (listed in order of included amount) and nutritional information.  They want me to know if it’s been produced in a plant that processes peanuts, whether the plastic bottle is PBA free, and if the product can be microwaved.  I’m sure there are other things I could find out if I was just smart enough to decipher the small print.  Oh, and don’t forget to check your product alerts before you go shopping so you don’t buy something that’s been recalled for some life-threatening reason.

Whether or not you believe life was better in the “good old days” you must agree life was simpler because we were simpler.  We believed what we were told about products and we stuck with them year after year.  I don’t necessarily think I want to go back to those days, I just want to be able to buy an item I like and know it will be there when I return next week.   Well, that and I want my soap to float……



                                                                Life is Good

   


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Home Again




Maddie

Having a new puppy is very much like welcoming a new baby.   There is a great deal of excitement as the time for the date approaches.  Do we have what we need?   Bed…. dishes…. food…. treats…. what should we name the new arrival??    Finally, the day comes when you bring your new family member home.  Then it’s all smiles and cuddles and chuckles until the dog settles in.

Larry and I brought Maddie (half Yorkie, half Chihuahua) home about a month ago.   Her first couple of days she stayed cuddled on my lap, looking up at me with those big, liquid, puppy eyes.  What a piece of cake, I thought.   This dog is peaceful by nature, quiet as a mouse, and she sleeps a lot.   What more could I ask of an eight-week-old creature?

Fast forward one month. 

Our originally-pretty-but-now-ugly baby gate, woven with fabric and duct tape and zip ties, still won’t contain the hound as she runs through the house as if her closely bobbed tail were on fire.  We’ve become programmed to take her out to the same spot every hour in the hope she’ll pick up her own scent and realize this is THE spot to do her business.   Unfortunately, the spot she has adopted for this purpose is immediately in front of our dishwasher.

After much discussion, we are still convinced it’s best to crate train our new housemate and, uncharacteristically, we’ve managed to stick to that.  (Usually by this time in our relationship the puppy is taking up more than his/her share of our king-sized bed.)   Every night we tuck her into her kennel, where she vocalizes into the wee hours.   For a month now she has sung the song of her people, howling for the mistreatment of puppies everywhere, all night long.

Today my normal routine consists of getting up around five, grabbing a cup of coffee and rescuing Maddie from the crate.   The moment she’s free of the cage she goes into a deep sleep, so the next couple of hours till dawn I sit with her in my lap trying to make my coffee last and wishing I’d grabbed the remote before settling in.   If I move now she will wake up, I’ll have to take her out and risk having her slip her harness and disappear into the darkness.  And so, I sit nursing a half cup of cold coffee, trying not to disturb the sleeping puppy, while struggling to reach a magazine on the floor with my toes. Just. One. More. Inch.  Darn!!

I keep telling myself we’re only a month into this new living arrangement.   One positive is that she will get older and with that will come some form of calm and understanding on her part.   One negative is that I, too, am getting older and with that comes a lot less patience and stamina on my part.  

She is adorable, and often enjoyable, and always energetic.  Just like childbirth you must forget the pain or you’d never do it again, so I will focus on the innocent eyes, the puppy breath and the pitter patter of four little feet.   My defense wounds from fighting off her puppy play and sharp puppy teeth will heal.   She hasn’t done a lot of damage, but the next time I’m in a department store I’ll need to pick up a new pack of golf socks.  For some reason, I have only one each of four different colored pairs left intact.

It’s a big commitment, and just like having a baby, you’re all in or you’re all out.   Understanding that, I’ve decided the early morning with her snuggled in my lap is a great time to be quiet and listen to my own thoughts.  She’s an addition to our exercise program, because the necessity of frequent trips outside makes both of us move more, and that’s a good thing.  Watching her learn about this new world around her makes us laugh, and seeing the trust growing in her eyes gives me a feeling of accomplishment.  

 As aggravating as it can sometimes be I know it’s time well spent; our little Maddie will be a good family friend for a lot of years.  More importantly, if there’s a takeaway from having a puppy it must be this:  it’s not what you say, but what you do that makes a difference.

                                                                Life is Good  

            

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

It's a Dogs Life





If you’re a dog lover you know how difficult it is to let go of a long time, four-legged, family member.  That’s just what my husband and I had to do last month with our 17-year-old Yorkie, Molly. Just like every family dog on the planet, Molly was unique.  She was loving and long suffering and spoiled rotten…and we loved her. 

Larry and I find ourselves at the stage of life where many couples don’t take on another furry friend.  The adage, “Life begins when the kids move out and the dog dies”, is very true.  For just a moment the thought crossed our minds that this might be the doorway to the freedom years.  No more waiting in the rain for a dog to complete its mission…no more bounding out of bed to the unmistakable sound of a dog hiking up a hair ball, or a dead mouse, or whatever disgusting thing it’s digestive tract might be expelling.   Tempting……

The siren song of freedom lasted exactly two days.   That’s how long it took our girls to take their mother on a puppy hunting mission.  And guess what?   We found one.

Enter Madison…. Maddy….3.2 pounds of Chorkie attitude.  This eight week old ball of fire, half Yorkie and half Chihuahua, charged into our lives to remind us how pleasant life actually is with an older dog.  No long adjustment period for this gal; she immediately began tearing through the house at breakneck speed as she explored every inch of carpet and happily christened half of it.

We had promised ourselves not to make the same mistakes we made with Molly, so Maddie is being crate trained.  In truth it sounds more like crate torture because she screams most of the night.  The only pay off seems to be that her exhausting nights keep her sleeping much of the day…. a side effect I can live with.

To corral the critter, we went on line to find a reasonably attractive baby gate to use until she is trained.  After carefully measuring we decided on the expensive, but less obnoxious, wood and metal version with a door in it. The thought was we would let her sleep in the kitchen, allowing her to come and go from the crate, thus giving her the feeling she had her own little “home”.  Isn’t that sweet?  As we patted ourselves on the back for this great plan after finding and installing this piece of art, Maddie walked right through the bars and stood watching our progress from the other side.

Not to be outdone, Larry squared his shoulders as he headed to the basement to find something to help us out.   He returned with a roll of fine, plastic screen which we carefully wove through the wooden bars to create a particularly ugly barrier.  Maddy climbed over the screen.   A second layer of screen blocked the bars entirely, but it wasn’t until the next morning we discovered she could weasel her way between the carefully woven layers.   I found her blissfully asleep in a pair of my husband’s athletic shoes under his desk in the den.
Without adding barbed wire I can't see a useful future for this gate.  Until further discussion it will remain where it is, flapping uselessly in the tail wind created as Maddie blows thru the kitchen at warp speed.  This useless piece of equipment gives our kitchen the look of someone preparing for a terrorist attack, but it is what it is.

Maddie-2, Humans-0

Three weeks into this experiment in forming a new family unit we are enjoying a vigorous exercise program that consists of taking Maddie out every hour, chasing her down and clearing her mouth of mulch, and fending off her little shark teeth (I clipped her fish hook toenails). 

Like the pain of childbirth, I know the pain of housebreaking and training will pass.  I will forget the gnawed shoes and the ravaged socks, and my defense wounds will heal.  There will come a time in the months ahead when it will no longer be necessary to type with one hand and fend the dog off with the other.  And, best of all, I won’t have to keep the carpet cleaner on speed dial.  This too, in time, shall pass as I keep my eye on the prize.

It is my nature to reflect on the events of my life, and I’ve decided the challenge of adjusting to a new puppy is just a short story about life.  You cannot replace a loved one, but you need to move on.  It will be painful at first…but like breaking in a pair of shoes the new normal becomes more comfortable with time.  Like it or not, pain and joy is the cycle of life.  Add to that puppy breath and you know things are going to be just fine.

                                                                    Life is Good




Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hermetically Sealed








Of all the things I miss about the time in which I grew up, I miss the packaging most.  Yes, the packaging.   In simpler times, we didn't wrestle with childproof caps, tamper proof shrink wrap, vegetables and foods sealed into bags that would withstand rocket re-entry from a moon voyage.  No! Caps twisted, popped and bags zipped open with ease....sigh.

This all came to a head this morning as I struggled to open a bottle of rice vinegar.  The screw off cap seemed to be quite enough protection to me.  (After all, the terrorist warning codes for vinegar haven't been elevated in months.) The inner plastic block with a round rubber pull-ring seemed over the top.  It is, after all, vinegar.  Of course, the pull ring broke, leaving me with two options.  One: find a very sharp, thin bladed knife and dig the whole thing out or, two: get dressed, get into the car and drive to one of our local football-field sized grocery stores to look for more.  I opted for the first, all the while cursing the people who work overtime to come up with the impenetrable packaging that protects us all from those who would foul our vinegars.

These small aggravations always make me think how unnecessary this stuff was in my youth.  I guess one might glean from todays security measures that people are more inclined to tamper with food or steal things nowadays.  I've read a few stories about tampering with food and OTC drugs, and I understand the bulky, uncooperative packaging of so many items is to make theft more difficult.  This wasn't something necessary to keep me on the straight and narrow when I was a kid, because I had the greatest deterrent to theft ever known to the world....a fully engaged mom.

I am not looking back at my childhood with rose colored glasses, lots of kids has "sticky fingers" back then, too.  I remember some girls bragging about shop lifting; they considered it a sport.  I asked one girl, sporting a freshly acquired cashmere sweater, how she accounted for a stack of things that didn't belong to her.  Her response was her mom didn't pay any attention, and if she did notice the girl just said she had borrowed it from a friend.  No problem.

Here is just one of the ways my life was different from those gals: boy did my mom did pay attention!  If, on some sunny Monday afternoon, my mom had been filling my dresser drawer with freshly washed, Montgomery Ward cotton underwear and her fingers had struck a vein of cashmere she would have investigated immediately.  Her mom-radar would have locked onto anything that had not come through our front door under her watchful eye.  She knew what I owned, how much it cost, and what my babysitting money had been used for.  In true Mom fashion, could also detect a lie before it crossed my stuttering lips; if she had identified a stolen item I guarantee the woman would have marched my shameful butt right back to the store to return it. It never would have crossed her mind that I might have been embarrassed and scarred for life; no excuse would have changed my fate. In addition, I'd have been grounded so long she might have missed out on grandchildren altogether!

We certainly weren't rich, but I had the luxury of a stay-at-home, dinner-on-the-table, full-time parent.  She wasn't Donna Reed or Harriet Nelson....but she did her job so well I was shocked to discover how tough her career choice had been when my own kids came along. We need more fully engaged moms and dads today, an army of parents armed with love and expectations!

Next time you're struggling to open a vinegar bottle, or free a cd case from its three-foot square, shrink-wrapped block of plastic, or locate someone in the store who can open a locked case so you can buy a phone cord, remember this:  When we don't have the security of enough fully engaged moms and dads, we must make up for it in other ways.

It's a different time and a different world, but the need for parents who pay attention has never been greater.  Hold your kids accountable...and hold them close to your heart.  Let them know you’re on the job, because it's the only way to teach your kids the things that stay with them for a lifetime.

                                                               Life is Good

   








Monday, July 24, 2017

The New Continental Breakfast: Politics and Hashbrowns




This morning, like most Monday mornings, my husband and I met a group of neighbors for breakfast.  Although we’ve moved from our old neighborhood, these are people with whom we keep in touch because we like them. 

Like most weeks the discussion eventually wound up on politics.  Understand, this is a diverse group.  We have feminists, democrats, republicans, concealed carry advocates, vegetarians, and one person who is politically confused…that would be me.

Sometimes the discussion gets lively.  Other times, like today, the conversation might be full of dismay.  It’s never dull, it’s hardly ever shrill, and it sometimes changes the way I look at things because I come away with someone else’s viewpoint to measure against my own.   In short…it’s healthy.

As the coffee pot made the rounds we talked about how politics had become so volatile, severing friendships and dividing families.   For me, I can honestly say many of my long-term friends have been in my life without my ever knowing (or caring) what their politics are.   Every now and then a badge or bumper sticker might show up, there might be some ribbing associated with it, and then the subject was dropped to discuss more important things like kids, house repair and vacations.   I don’t attribute this to the fact that I only associate with politically and intellectually lazy people, I know it to be quite the opposite.

Today it is so easy to be angry; each television channel and radio broadcast is filled with political rants and venomous attacks on every political figure and everyone with whom they’ve ever had a conversation.  The internet is filled with misinformation, ugliness and hatred.  People aren’t just convinced they’re right, they are foaming at the mouth right!  Do unto others has been amended to ‘do it to them first’.  As we left the restaurant I had to pause and wonder how such a group as ours could meet each week and not end up in a food fight.    

Somehow our little group does okay, and I think I have it figured out.  I like these people, and I know them.  Despite any political differences we have I believe I could ask for help from any one of them and they would reach out a hand just as I would for them.  I believe when they make a decision it is based upon a good moral character and a kind heart.  We have a great deal in common; love of family, home and community. The fact that we may differ politically does nothing to convince me that these are anything but good people.  I respect their right to disagree with me, and their opinions more than anything I see on Face Book, in a right/left wing newscast, and more than any political ad.  For the most part we listen to one another, and while we haven’t had an “conversions” we sometimes leave the table with more than we had.  

Unfortunately, our breakfasts won’t cure the problems of this shaking, quaking country or calm the nerves of its citizens.  But, for half a dozen people enjoying breakfast and conversation, it gives us a look into the thoughts and lives of neighbors with whom we may not always agree, but always welcome with care and respect.   It’s a start.

                                                              Life is Good



                                                  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Surviving the C+ Mom



             
                    
      
Having a good Mother is a wonderful thing...being a good mother is quite another.   My children are grown and I am watching them raise families of their own now.  Each of the three is half of a team of very good parents...two of the three are mom's.  This particular blog posting is to remind them what good mothers they are in spite of the very "I'm only human" woman who raised them.  

I married quite young; it seems to me I went from cuddling a Betsy Wetsy doll to the real thing over night.  We had three babies in three years, and overwhelmed became my middle name.

Our son was born April 24th of our second year of marriage.  The middle daughter was born August 27th of the following year, and a second baby girl arrived November 26th the year after that.  At least I think so.

While everyone was tiny I managed with a production line approach to most things.  Like three little ducklings they followed me from room to room, and when they didn't I knew they were conspiring against me and destroying property.  Feeding, bathing and dressing were all done together...keep the line moving, was my motto.

The real tricky thing became finding time for each child, just 'me and thee' time to do some important parental bonding.  And of course, we always made each one feel special on his or her birthday.

The birthday boy or girl got to choose their favorite meal for dinner, and there was always a special birthday cake, and ice cream, and gifts, and doting grandparents.  Birthdays were a very special day, indeed.

Eventually everyone was in school and life with little ones slowed a bit, but  now a full time job in addition to family life kept the pace healthy.  At some point our middle daughter needed her birth certificate for a long forgotten reason, so I went to the family album to fish it out. To her horror (and my embarrassment) we had been celebrating her birthday on the wrong date for years.  The August 27th And November 28th..or was it November 27th and August 28th?   Whatever...I had been doing it wrong.   That means the piƱata had been hung on the wrong date, the Barbie doll cake devoured at the wrong time.  Even the cupcakes had gone to school for the class treat on, you guessed it, the wrong day.

In my defense,  I'm not a total wash out....I get their ages right and the month is solid.  It's just that stinking 26-27 or 28 that gets me every doggoned time.

The years have passed and I'm happy to say my daughter has forgiven me.  The whole family was together to celebrate her brother's birthday last month, and she made it a point to tell me I should just forgive myself for my birthday date faux pas.   "After all, mom...it was only the first eight or ten developmental years of my life," she reminded me.  Such a sweet girl!  I'll have to come up with something really special for her birthday this year...on a date in August that will be announced later.

Happy Mother's Day to my  two beautiful daughters, Wendy and Tracy and my wonderful daughter in law, Carla.