Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I don't think I've ever mentioned my mother before. She is what one would term a live wire. She is in her seventies, but you would not know that by looking at her. At present, I believe she is working three part time jobs. She is a nurse, actually went to school to become one in her 50's and graduated top in her class. She gives me a lot to aspire to, and according to her, some of her traits have passed to me, without my even knowing it.

She and my dad recently moved to a senior apartment. She insists most of those people are way older and she really believes that. Not so much! But then they say age is just a state of mind.

Getting back to my story - somehow in that move, between climbing up on ladders and pushing relentless shopping carts full of stuff (they don't throw much away) she hurt her back and legs. She was in pretty tough shape. At one point I watched her slowly rising out of her miniature little recliner chair and having to literally force herself to take a step forward. I couldn't help but worry about her, and suggested that she take it very easy for a couple of days to let things heal. I knew she wouldn't do that, but I thought I would suggest it. The next day she called to say she was up on a ladder - much to my sisters' and my dismay. We always feel we have to watch her to make sure she doesn't do way too much, way too fast.

The back didn't heal quickly enough, so Mom decided to go to a chiropractor - another thing that worried me, because she didn't really get a firm diagnosis about her pain problem. Nonetheless, after a few treatments, her chiro declared her improvement to be phenomenal (of course), and told her she would need several more treatments.

She is now completely sold on this guy and his methods of treatment. She was almost gleeful on the phone, as she suggested that I too should consider going to this guy. "You have that same crooked back and one higher hip like I do," she declared. "This guy says he can really help you!"

What? I didn't know I had a crooked back and higher hip! I went to the mirror and studied my body - front, side, back. I couldn't see it, but maybe there was a problem I wasn't aware of. I dug out pictures from my youth. When I was in high school, I was a trim little thing. No one ever mentioned that I was crooked or deformed. My pictures didn't show that either. Some in those days actually thought I was Uh-Huh, not bad looking at all, and maybe even a little good looking.

I looked at my last drivers license photo, and also the one I just had taken (no more full body shots for this girl). I did notice that my jacket in both photos seemed to droop on the same shoulder, just the same amount on each one. Can it be? Am I really deformed? Or is it just that both times I probably had a 20 lb. purse on my shoulder, dragging me downward, ever downward. Could that be it? Is it the presence of my always heavy purse that makes my mother think I am deformed, or has the purse finally twisted my body in this horrible way?

She's got me thinking now...I guess I am going to have to make an appointment with someone to find out for sure. Until then, I'll just keep limping along.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Okay, I'll be the first to say I am no Pollyanna. Those of a "certain age" will get that reference. I am a bit of a grump sometimes, and I can get pretty cynical. All of that is a cover for a hot chocolate melty center - kinda like a Tootsie Roll Pop! Knowing that about myself, I am absolutely taken by the happy, optimism I am feeling these days. I can't help but think all of this is related to the fact that we now have a President-Elect we can believe in. He is a guy of moral and principle, and I really think he means what he says. I no longer feel like an adult child of an alcoholic who lives life being promised one thing, and getting another. Out of that comes a basic distrust of your fellow man. I do believe we have been living under the cloud of that for the past eight years.

Perhaps the U.S. is being washed clean, and we can emerge sparkly and clean, and maybe, just maybe we can feel proud again to say, "I am an American". It has been too long. I have hesitated to travel out of the country in the past few years, because in my heart I know other countries don't think much of the U.S. these days. I found it heartening that when Obama was announced as winner in the Presidential race, people in France drank champagne, and there were holidays and celebrations all over the world.

There are some that believe we have a new generation of youth who are enlightened and will be carrying forth in peace and beauty. Without becoming too metaphysical about all of that, I do believe I see a spark of something special in our youth, and I predict they will someday put down the distractions of youth and shine very brightly. I have five grandchildren who emanate a lot of that already. In the meantime, it makes my soul sing to know we as a country have evolved to a point where we have elected our first African American president. How cool is that? We definitely are better than we thought we were, aren't we?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I like many things about our new president-elect, but the one thing that stood out for me when I heard his victory speech last night was the fact that when he mentioned the groups of disenfranchised people in this country he named the Native Americans. I have found over the years many people, even those who have been discriminated against, have a tendency to forget the original minority. He didn't do that, and I thank God he is the kind of man who is inclusive and considerate of others

True, Native Americans weren't made slaves per se, but they were in many cases forced to work for nothing and they had all they owned and loved taken from them piece by piece while they were placed on reservations which became smaller and smaller. Those atrocities have all but been forgotten, because to make them right would involve paying massive sums of money, or giving back ill-gotten land, and it would literally change the landscape of the United States as we know it today.

Relatively speaking the numbers of Native Americans are small, and it is much easier to forget about the problem and the missing money being held in trust for them at the Department of the Interior. They just can't seem to figure out what happened to that money, isn't that strange? How can you lose millions of dollars like that and not know what happened to it? It is just another example of the injustices that have been visited on Native people.

Thank God for Barack Obama. I believe he is going to change the world in a very good way.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Since I see so many movies, I've decided to do my own reviews of a few that stand out. Today I went to see Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Overall, I left the theater feeling satisfied, perplexed, and a little annoyed with Woody Allen's self indulgence on this one. That is not to say he doesn't deliver his usual rich, quirky characters, and dialogue as fresh as if it were coming out of the mouths of babes, but in the end he was a little more self indulgent than he was generous on this one.

Scarlett Johansson was vulnerable, adorable and spot on as the young adventurous Cristina-looking for adventure and romance. Xavier Bardem was scrumptious and the kind of rogue any woman would fall for. Penelope Cruz was perfect as the wacky, completely insane Maria Elena. I've always loved the Woody Allen dialogue - ad libbed in the stammering and halting nature of real conversation.

The movie had a narrator, and that sort of thing would annoy me in any other movie, but I'll put up with a lot from Woody. The ending, though - yeah, I'm not gonna be a spoiler and give it away. Suffice it to say there has to be a sequel. Come to think of it, that is probably what Woody was planning on. At least he'd better be. Woody, are you listening?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

On the ninth anniversary of my brother's death, I find myself asking what he would have been like if he would have lived. He died when he was just 40, in 1999. He was so worried about the millennium, and then he didn't live long enough to see that it was all okay. Our computers didn't grind to a halt, banks didn't go into crisis, and those people that stocked up on food and water and cash did a whole lot of work for nothing.

He never had to endure 911 and its aftermath. He didn't have to have his faith in his fellow man shaken to the core. I have to admit he already had enough shake ups in his faith before he died. His world was changing too fast, and all that he believed in was crumbling before him. He was such a fragile guy in so many ways, and yet so down to earth and funny.

If he would have lived through that last day - if he wouldn't have died, how would it be now?  Being the loving and caring guy he was, I would bet he would have eventually gotten things back on track for himself, and he would have moved on with his life and been better for it in the end. He was a straight shooter who wouldn't hurt another person deliberately for anything.

What would he look like today? He would be prematurely gray and handsome. His kind face would have softened even more with age. He did have the spinal degenerative disease, and he might have been stooped over, or he might have been able to have surgery to straighten his back and fuse it that way. We all worried about him fusing bent over, and he was so self conscious of his disability. It wasn't fair that he had to have that, but it was what it was.

If he were alive today, he would be so pleased to see how his nieces and nephews have grown up, and he would have been thrilled to meet the nephew he didn't get to know as a child. He would chuckle as they reminded him of the crazy stories he used to tell them. He would go out of his way to get those kids scratching their heads and wondering if Uncle Bob was on the level about some of those fables. My favorite was when he told them that birds can sit on high line wires and not be electrocuted because they always perch with one leg raised. He would laugh his hearty laugh as he watched them sneak up to the wires and peer up into the sun, trying to see if those birds really were sitting with one leg up. I'm not sure they have stopped checking on that story, even now.

How I would love to be able to feel his reassuring arm around my shoulder in times of worry or distress. He was always there when I needed him most, and he said the right things to make me feel better. After he could see I was coming out of a sad spell, he would hit me with his trademark comeback, "Ya Knucklehead!" after which he'd laugh his hearty, one of a kind laugh. I'm really not so sure I don't feel that reassuring arm now and again, and his laughter still rings in my ears.

There's so much he would have loved the hell out of in the world of today. I think he would have liked Uncle Kracker as much as I do. That music always makes me think of him somehow. It brings back memories of the times when he would have all of the kids following him as he led them in a parade of silliness. I smile to remember it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My sister lives in a townhouse right across from mine all summer. Today we had one of our epic summer days. We are both batching it this week and have the ability to do pretty much as we damn well please. Today we decided to go to a film. We picked My Winnipeg. We both love indie films and are game for almost anything, even subtitled animated films like Persepolis (which I found myself getting quite lost in, actually).

Since we grew up near Winnipeg, we thought it would be interesting to see that film, especially since the description of the film sounded like something light-hearted and comedic. We walked in with high hopes toting our expensive designer water, chocolate covered strawberries and a bag of popcorn to share. About 45 minutes into it, JMR looked over to me and asked, "What do you think?" I wasn't sure how to answer that. I fancy myself to be somewhat educated and savvy, and more than willing to take a mental romp through all kinds of movies and films. However, in this case I really didn't know what to make of this one. It wasn't funny, not particularly pleasing to the senses, and in the end we couldn't figure out if it was a documentary or a mockumentary. We concluded it was probably the latter and strangely unsatisfying...like eating a dinner of broccoli and rice, or something...so, we decided to seek out another film to give us that uplifted feeling we were seeking.

Our next choice was Young at Heart. It turned out to be heartwarming, funny, and sad all in one. We laughed, we jammed with the music, and we cried. We fell in love with the people in the band, and it inspired us to realize that we aren't too old to do anything we really want to do. In the end we walked out thoroughly pleased with the idea that we pressed on to see that second film. We left there Young at Heart and uplifted. Just the fix we were looking for.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

We had a Father's Day breakfast today for my dad, who is going to turn 80 in two days. There were about a dozen of us at the Holiday Inn paying tribute to one of the most handsome, dapper 80 year old dudes you would ever call yourself lucky enough to meet. He was feeling pretty special- having all three of his daughters in attendance. It is a rare occasion when we are all in one place, along with kids and grandkids (his great grandkids)who were lined up in high chairs and feeling very much a part of this noisy, hectic, but safe group we call family.

We gave him cards and various sums of money. What do you buy a guy who wants for nothing? He wakes up each day smiling and joking and happy just to be who he is. He has been an inspiration to all of us, and has taught us how to smile, sometimes through pain - and that humor can heal a broken heart if you will let it.

He also taught us the value of hard work and always being there for those you brought into this world. There has never been a day when I have gone to him, and he has made me feel he was too busy to sit and chat with me over a cup of coffee about what might be troubling me. He has a knack for making you feel like the most important person in his life at the moment you are spending with him. He has been a tower of strength for each of us at one time or another, and a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.

He worked as a railroad man for 35 years to put food on our table. We never wanted for a clean home or the security of a warm breakfast and dinner. He provided that, helped by mom of course, who worked tirelessly as well. I always remember him as the one who coaxed us out of bed in the morning and greeted us with a warm bowl of oatmeal. He still makes the oatmeal every day. A treat for us when we visit.

I called myself lucky this morning to see that cool old guy circulating around both tables and giving hugs and kisses to all of us who love him so dearly. We are better for having him in our lives, and we know it. Happy Father's Day to the best dad a family could have.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I had a simply delightful Memorial Day weekend, even if I worked a lot. I'm doing some freelance work for a major financial mag and it involves interviewing a lot of mult-millionaires and writing their profiles. It is time consuming, satisfying, interesting and utterly exhausting. I had my plans made for a long weekend of working and eating little frozen and microwaved bites from the freezer. On Thursday I started wondering what the grandkids were going to be doing for the holiday weekend. I was especially wondering about that little brown eyed girl who lives in the same city as I do. When her mom called early Thursday evening, I was glad to hear she was wondering what I was gonna be doing as well.

I drove over and got her that very evening. Plans were for her to hang with me over the entire weekend, so her mom could get lots done. That was fine with me. This kid is one of the easiest kids ever to have in the house, even when you are working. She is literally never bored and if she has a moment when boredom might sneak in, she grabs a pencil and starts drawing and creating. In one of those moments I saw her working madly over on her little table and not too long after that, she handed me a greeting card that was colored with her scented crayons. When I opened it, it said in big letters I Love you!! Those words will melt a grandma's heart completely. I feel even more blessed that this particular little grandkiddy didn't even know me until two years ago.

We watched lots of movies this weekend. I introduced her to the delights of the original Parent Trap. She loved it completely. I couldn't believe the physical violence in that version. It seemed like nothing when it was first released, but now it would be politically incorrect in so many ways. The other movies we enjoyed together were Swiss Family Robinson and Pollyanna. I think I've got me a fellow Hayley Mills fan going in this girl. She also liked my stories of wanting to go to summer camp after seeing Parent Trap as a young girl, and actually getting to go to a very similar camp. To my amazement when I got there, I met a set of tall slender red-headed twins named Collette and Colleen. I was living it that year. My dream had come true! Now she wants to go to summer camp. There's got to be a great summer camp like that somewhere for her. I'll be checking.
On the way to school she started singing the song from that movie, to my utter delight. That used to be my favorite song!!

Last night when I was getting her moving in the direction of her room, she started batting those big brown eyes at me and asking if maybe please couldn't she finish watching her movie in bed. It wasn't all that late yet so I said, "Well, you know I'm just an old softie and when you ask me like that, you know I'm going to say yes." To that she replied, "You're not old! You're young...ish"! I guess being young...ish is better than being old, huh?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mother's Day will soon be upon us. Every year on Mother's Day a lot of moms stop to think about their children and also the job they did as a mother. Some moms think if they don't hear from their kids on that holiest of days in motherdom that they did a bad job. I myself have wondered that in past years when I don't hear from my kids on Mother's Day. I go back through the years and put myself through the most brutal of analysis. How was I when they were little and sick and needing their mom? For two of them I was not bad on that account. I sat up with them when they were sick. I literally slept on the foot of their beds. I watched their every breath and felt their heads way too often to see if they were too hot or too cold. When they suffered, I suffered.

I can't help at times like that to think of the little one I didn't get to be there for. My heart still aches that I couldn't have been there to bandage his skinned knees, and kiss his hurts to make them better. I know we have each other now and I can be there for him when he wants me to be. I do take comfort in knowing the wonderful woman who was his mommy. She is a gentle soul who I know was there for him during those times. I look at pictures of all of them from his childhood times, and I see the love they all had and have for each other. Pictures where he is lovingly being held and shown things in his environment like a piano or a painting on the wall. Funny how he turned into an artist and musician and he was showing interest in those things as a baby. Bravo for those two wonderful people who did and do give him unconditional love. In some ways he is doubly blessed, because now he has two moms who not only fuss over him, but love him unconditionally. And he has a dad who sees him as a best friend, and a quasi-step dad who thinks the world of him.

As for the two kids I got to raise, I guess I feel I have always been there for them. I have been too hard on them sometimes, expecting them to be the best that they could be. We did a pretty good job with them though. They are good people, productive, smart - wonderful adult people who love their spouses and are conscientious loving parents. At the end of the day, I rest easy with the people they have become, even if there are a few niggling feelings of remorse for the times when I was less than a perfect mom.

Why is it you only figure these things out when it is all in the past and you can't do it over? I know! Because it then qualifies you to be a grandparent!! I don't have many regrets in that department at all. Thank God!

Friday, April 11, 2008

A few days ago as I was working at my computer next to the open patio door, I heard some sounds that literally made my heart sing. I heard children playing below - laughing and scurrying about. I heard the call of the mourning dove. The mourning dove is my very favorite bird, and the call of this bird brings me back to peaceful innocent days of sitting in my parents back yard in North Dakota. I can smell and taste the freshness of the air in those days. I can hear the sound of the town stretching and yawning and waking to a new day. Life was rife with possibility, and it pleasures my soul to realize that today my days feel just as filled with possibility.

There is no better feeling than first stepping across the thresh hold to a brand new spring. We are again entering into that magical time of year when all of nature is stretching, yawning and coming back to life. The sleep of winter is rapidly coming to an end and everything is abuzz. The trees are budding, grass is turning green, and the birds are coming back. It is the season of the year when enthusiasm swells and thoughts of the garden fill one's head. What fresh veggies and gorgeous flowers will we bring to life this year? How shall we arrange them? Is this the year we finally put in those lilac bushes? Maybe we should plant some fruit trees! What new things can we do to make the yard more family friendly? The possibilities are endless, and I can't wait for the first day when we can dig into that rich earth and get things going.

In the meantime, here is something for you to listen to, as you dream of spring. Just click on the link on the upper right hand side of this page. Go ahead, it is worth the effort (hint: you may have to click the play button twice, but this is a safe site it comes from, so enjoy).

Monday, March 10, 2008

I truly do not know how I could be any more miserable than I am right about now. I have given sick people a wide berth all winter in an effort to avoid all of the creeping plague that is going around. Today I became one of those people that I cuss about all of the time - you know the type - the hero who has a huge red dripping nose, but feels he/she must go out anyway and infect half of the civilized world with whatever is sneezing/coughing/running out of said nose.

I swear to God I avoid my own grandkids when their little noses are running, and my aging father when he is coughing and hacking. I always advise them to get the best medical care possible, and I have even been known to leave little care packages outside of their doors, but avoid I do. So, how the hell did I get punked here????

Here's how it goes, you are invited by a loving family member to come and visit, have a nice dinner, stay the night. Your germ radar doesn't detect any snuffling, stuffy noses, or untoward hacking, so you figure, "Great! It's a good time for some family bonding."

Upon arrival it is evident that some family member is a "little off". Oh, it's nothing contagious, you are assured - just a sinus infection. You eye the peaked relative with suspicion and you keep your distance, but lo and behold just a few days later ZAPPO!! The cold germies have landed in your nostrils, and before long it is full-fledged snotty warfare.

In my case, I have to be the most miserable looking cold victim you would ever want to see. My eyes are red and tearing, my nose is swollen, and all of the skin around it is red and peeling, my lips are parched, my tongue is thick and at times I sneeze so hard and so often it is difficult to maintain my equilibrium. I am thoroughly pissed to be feeling this way, and just when I think I would love to pummel the person who gave me this, I get visions of the most adorable baby girl anyone would ever want to hold and love, and the graying old guy that I love so dearly. How can you fault either of those two?? It had to be one of 'em!!

Oh, well in about a week, my nose should get back to its normal color and my mucous membranes will shrink down from the size of a king-sized mattress. My eyes will turn from red back to white, and this will all be a distant memory. In the meantime, I'll keep pushing the liquids, vitamins, and nasal swabs of zinc. Times like this, I wish I were a drinking woman!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Has anyone seen that trailer for the Steve Carrel movie Get Smart? There is a scene where he is in a phone booth and can't get out. He keeps pushing and pushing and looking more and more frustrated. When we saw that, I turned to Frank and said, "That's the kind of stuff that happens to me all of the time!" He chuckled, cuz he knows it is true. Anyway, this morning, since it was Valentine's Day, I decided to pan fry in butter some of those nice litttle crappie filets that Frank brought home from ice fishing yesterday. His friend Duane occasionally sends me a baggie of spices that I mix with cracker crumbs. It is called Everglades seasoning or something like that. This morning for an extra treat, I decided to use buttermilk pancake mix dry with the seasoning stuff just to coat those nice little filets. Okay, so I fried up a whole batch of those and I had a few myself. As we sat down to eat them, I asked Frank if they tasted sweet to him. He said, "Hmmm do you taste orange?" I said, "Well maybe, but maybe that is just the buttermilk in the pancake mix." We continued to eat, and I continued to wonder. "Does this taste like when Duane cooks them?" I asked. "He deep fries his in canola oil", was Frank's kind reply. After we finished our fish, I went and got the seasoning bag still musing, "This is Duane's seasoning stuff isn't it?" I stuck my finger in and tasted it. Orange and sugar!! Does anyone remember giving me some Russian tea seasoning at any point??? I think I made fish rolled in Russian tea seasoning for breakfast!! It was kinda weird, but not too bad, actually.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I just saw a headline somewhere, "How to Maintain Portion Control". It made me wonder what novel ideas anyone could come up with to help a person keep track of the size of portions she was consuming. Then as weirdly as my mind works, I started thinking of novel ways to do just that. The first idea that came to me - before you sit down to eat, get a strong pair of reading glasses, put them on. Your portions will suddenly take on gargantuan proportions. And to help matters - when you try to eat your food, the big magnifiers will make it difficult for you to actually find your mouth. In the middle of all of that, you will find a distinct case of nausea creeping in on you, and you won't feel like eating anyway. So there it is, probably the most innovative idea for portion control that you will find on the internet or on your local bookshelf. Don't say I didn't try to help!