Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Happy Birthday"

I have always sympathised with those who have the misfortune of being born on Christmas (Dec. 25).  Usually their "special" day is overshadowed by all the hoopla and tradition of Christmas, sort of leaving the birthday as an afterthought...."Oh, and by the way, happy birthday to Junior too."  Junior ends up feeling pretty un-special!

Their misfortune pales in comparison to those poor souls who were born on February 29!  Their "special" day only comes around every four years!  To be strictly factual, they don't have an actual birthday to celebrate in a normal year.  A makeshift substitute is usually chosen so that poor Junior gets to mark the passage of another year in his life, but it ends up being Feb.28 or March 1, which really doesn't have the same panache at all!  I don't know anyone actually born on Feb 29, but if it were to have happened somewhere in my family, I'm pretty sure that every 4th year when Feb 29 showed up there would have been a great big celebration to sort of make up for the lack in the other three years.  But that's just us, we tend to mark special things with a bit of "over done!"  :)

So for all of those who are actually celebrating their "real" birthday today, I wish you many happy returns of the day.  I hope you stuff four years' worth of goodies and partying and happiness into your SPECIAL day.  Happy Birthday!

Of course, this situation comes along because of the earth's lack of symmetry in making that annual trip around the sun.  In a perfect world, the trip would take exactly 365 days; but it's not a perfect world (as we all know!)  In reality the trip is 5 hours and change longer than exactly 365 days.  In essence we ignore those hours for regular years.  But if we don't add in that extra day every four years to catch up, we would be 24 days behind at the end of 100 years.   The seasons would be screwed up.  The calendar would always be wrong.  No one would be able to agree on what time it was.  You would never know if you were early or late!  After 500 years, without those adjustments, chaos would ensue.  

So by throwing in an extra day (Feb 29) every four years we avoid all that mess.  Very clever.  An easy fix (sort of).  I don't know who it was who first discovered the extra hours.  Nor do I know how the world managed to get everyone to agree to throw in that extra day.  It must have happened centuries ago, because our current world can't seem to agree on ANYTHING, much less something as monumental as adding a day!  Nevertheless, somehow it did happen and we are all living with the result....Leap Year!

I hadn't ever really thought too much about the name of this phenomenon, Leap Year.  As I think about it now however, I really think that whoever chose that name, really got it wrong!  A leap is defined as "to spring through the air from one point or position to another."   Well, we don't spring from anywhere to anywhere else in Leap Year, at least not in the way I understand the words.  We add hours.  We put in extras.  We adjust.  We fix.  We regain that which has been lost.  But we don't leap!  I think it should have been call something else.  Something that reflected the actual action and reason for the addition of that day every fourth year.  Something like "WEDGE YEAR!!"  Don't you?

Though all those folks born on February 29, probably wouldn't like it.  Synonyms for wedge include cram, jam, stuff, crowd, squeeze.  They aren't particularly happy words, they are about making something fit into a space that is too small with an object that doesn't belong there.

Those Feb 29 babies already feel like they don't belong, we don't need to make them feel worse!!
I guess we'd better stick with "leap!"   :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Follow-Up

Yesterday in one of my Dear So and So letters, I asked that who ever was judging the AISD (Austin Independent School District) Regional Grammar School Science Fair to pay attention to a certain 5th Grader and her project on Reading Facial Expressions.

At this age, it is not a competition between the kids (that comes in middle school and high school), this is judged on the basis of how well the project fit the guidelines, how well it was executed, how effective was the presentation, whether or not the premise was met, and so know, the nuts and bolts of doing a science project.

Well, due to absolutely nothing to do with me,  my blog, my letter, my request, or anything about my family or the judging of the fair....M-t-G received a FIRST PLACE ribbon today!!!  There were more than 1,000 (!!) projects from schools (3rd, 4th, and 5th grade kids) all over Austin (I think).  I have no idea how many of the projects were from 5th graders or how many first place ribbons were given out...but that doesn't matter. 

The point is our very smart little cookie got a blue ribbon for 1st Place!  Her project met all (or most of ) the criteria and she earned the right to be in the winners circle!!  What a thrill for her!!  (What  a thrill for all of us!)  And I am a very proud Grammy tonight!

Pardon me while I brag just a little.....our Maddie is one special kid!  She keeps amazing us with her abilities!

Nothing should surprise us about her, she has been unique from the day she was born!

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Things I Couldn't Say" (aka Dear So and So)

Dear So and So...

It's a long time since I have posted a new batch of "Things I Couldn't Say" or Dear So and So.....but today is the day!! 

Dear Makers of....uhhh....Stuff ,

The other night I was sitting in my house, piddling and puttering around, minding my own business. when I realized I could hear someone talking.  The TV was not on, the computer was muted, it was too clear to be coming from outside.  It being nighttime, of course, I was home alone.  Needless to say, I was a bit frightened...uhhh... intrigued, and I had to track it down immediatly before panic set in....uhh...I called identify the source.

Using my precise and keen sense of hearing....uhhh....By the process of elimination, I realized it was coming from the master bedroom.  Hmmm, that's odd.  There is no way in or out of that room except by the doorway from the small hallway off the family room.  I gingerly opened the door and immediately realized that the voices were coming from the new clock/radio the Big Guy just got.  For whatever reason, it had turned itself on.  (I want you to know that I am using great restraint here in not taking this post off in a completely different direction brought to mind by that phrase!!)

Okay, well, mystery solved, no intruders, no danger Will Robinson, nothing but an alarm set to the wrong time!  Wheeew!!  Relief.

So, you might say, why am I bothering you about this??  Aha!  We come to the crux of the matter!!
Pay attention, this is important.

The little clock radio in its rather attractive, yet sleekly techno looking design, had 7 "buttons" that were the controls.  They were labelled with very small letters chiseled into the metal of the case.
In a dimly lit room, by a set of 65 year of eyes, these letters were nearly impossible to read.  Not to worry, one of them had to be the power switch to turn the darned thing off.

EXCEPT THAT NOT ONE OF THOSE LITTLE BUTTONS DID ANYTHING TO TURN OFF THE RADIO!!!!  This wasn't brain surgery here, I just wanted to get rid of the noise!  I tried all sorts of combinations, different sequences, whatever I could think of.  I was nearly at the point of picking it up and hurling it against the wall!  Finally, after ten minutes of the damn thing blasting in my ears, something I did (I have no clue what) finally turned it off.  Ahhhhhhh!

My question?  Would it really be so detrimental to your "design concept", to CLEARLY MARK the on/off, power button???  There was nothing on the thing that was of any help at all!  Nothing!  No little red light, nothing that even said "start here, dummy"  Nothing, Nada, Zip!

It seems to me to be a perfect example of design over function run amok!  It really shouldn't take a Masters degree in electrical engineering to just turn the damn thing off!

I have just two more words for you.....FIX THIS!!



Dear Whomever,

I don't know who made the decision to completely eliminate the concept of a person on the staff of gas stations being there to help motorists re-fuel their cars, but it was a sucky decision!  Yes, yes, I understand about saving money by pumping it yourself, but there are times when having someone around who was there to HELP their customers (i.e., in bad weather, when a driver is impaired by an injury, in a real hurry, whatever) would be worth a few more cents a gallon!  Especially since we are already paying nearly $3.50 a gallon!!

Little old-ish ladies shouldn't have to stand outside in freezing temps, with a sharp wind, blowing icy sleet particles which feel like little shards of glass, directly into one's face just to get gas in their tank!

Just seems like good customer service to me!  You remember when that was a goal of every company, don't you?  I do!



Dear E-Bay Users,

Could all of you who are looking for the perfect art deco stained glass lampshade just go outside and play for a while?  My Mikey has been looking for days for just the right shade for a vintage lamp he bought.  He keeps getting outbid at the last minute (second??)  He is getting discouraged.  Mikey has very little patience and when he wants something, he wants it NOW.  All you last minute bidders are spoiling his fun.  He's getting a little fact, he's almost snarky.

So, could you all just go do something else for a while so that he can get the right shade and put us....uhh.....him out of his misery?  Please??!

The Big Guy's Wife


Dear Judges of Science Fairs (Austin version),

Tomorrow is the Regional Science Fair for grammar school kids (ages 8-11) in the Austin School District.  I am asking, as the grandmother of one of the exhibitors, that you please give close attention to the effort of one fifth-grader whose project (relating to reading facial expressions....i.e., real vs fake smiles) is dear to my heart.  Actually, it's not the project that's dear, it's the exhibitor!

It would be lovely for that smart, not so little 5th grade to take home a ribbon for her effort.  It was an interesting concept and she executed it very well.  She deserves a ribbon.  Doesn't matter which one (3rd, 2nd, 1st, even Honorable Mention), any of them would do.

After three years of projects, this is the first one that has advanced to this level.  It would be a real boon to her to be recognized! 

So what do you say?  Give the kid a ribbon, huh?  She would really be happy!

(GO M-T-G!!)

A Loving and Proud Grammy,


Dear Users of E-readers,

I just have a quick observation to share with you. 

I think it's a real pity that all the various e-readers, like the Kindle and Nook, are not made, marketed, and sold by companies other than booksellers.  Perhaps then the e-book offerings would be priced more reasonably and the selections offered for "free" or at least inexpensively, would be more than just a clearing house for self-published, poorly written, poorly edited, dreck!

And could someone please explain to me what the hell is the point of a Kindle Single, and why I should want to buy one???

I read quickly and go through books like water.  Buying best sellers would break the bank in the blink of an eye!  It is very clear that the e-reader is not for the convenience of the reader, it is for the profit of the publishers and booksellers!

I'm beginning to miss the Library!



Dear Blogland,

If you like Dear So and So, and want to give it a try, just pop over to Kat's Place at Three Bedroom Bungalow ( ), hook up with her Linky and add your own! It's a great way to blow off steam, and you can read lots of other letters even grumpier than mine!!

Your friend,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"A Taste of Honey"

For many years when I was growing up, my dad managed a Howard Johnson's Restaurant.  Anybody remember them??   Well, if you do remember, you might recall, they had 28 Flavors of Ice Cream.  This was before the days of Baskin-Robbins, so 28 flavors was downright amazing.   I don't remember many of the flavors because the only kinds I ever had were vanilla or infrequently, butter pecan.  It used to drive my dad crazy! 

We only had one car (ever), so if my mom needed to do anything other than sit in the house all day, she would have to drive Daddy to work and then go and pick him up at the end of the day.  Dad was usually ready to come home somewhere around 9:00 pm, so I would usually stay at home with Lil' Sis, while Mom went off to get him.  Occasionally, however, we would all go off to the restaurant to pick him up.  On some of those times, we would go in and have a dish of ice cream while we waited for him to finish up.  Mom would get chocolate or butter pecan or sherbet or  black cherry or maybe even peppermint.  Lil' Sis (being only 3 or so at the time) would share whatever mom was having.  And I would have, you guessed it, vanilla.

"We have 28 different flavors!  How can you always get vanilla?  Don't you want to try the featured flavor??  Dad always made some remark to try to get me to branch out, but it never worked.  I would stick to plain vanilla almost all the time.  What I don't recall him asking me is "Why?" 

I'm rather glad he never asked me why I wouldn't try other flavors because it would have been hard for me to answer it honestly.  The truth of the matter is that I really didn't like ice cream all that much, even the vanilla!  I didn't want to hurt his feelings, after all this was supposed to be a treat!  Most of the kids I knew would have turned somersaults for having a dad who gave them ice cream!  But not me! 

You see, not only did I not  like ice cream, I didn't like any sweets!   Oh, I'd occasionally have a plain Hershey Bar or a skinny slice of peach pie, or a piece of birthday cake, but have something sweet every day?  No, no, no!  Dessert was never my thing.  I didn't even like anything candied (yams, carrots, onions, etc.)  No apricot glazes or raspberry dressings for me.   No thank you!   Many things were just too sweet for my tastes, so I would eat as little of it as I could get away with.  Now, Mom, being of the "you have to at least try some of everything being served" school of parenting, would be satisfied as long as I ate some of everything.  So I would, but I didn't like anything sweet!

I don't think either Mom or Dad realized how little I cared for sweet things until I was much older and not so hesitant to say I didn't like it!  There were only two things I could safely refuse to eat:  liver or fish.  Mom didn't like fish and Dad wasn't big on liver, so we rarely had either one at home and if we did have one or the other and I refused to eat it, they could understand.  But not eating sweets?  That was just outside the realm of their belief system!  lol!

When I had my tonsils out at age 6, I totally shocked the nurses when I refused ice cream and asked for cold milk instead!  It just wasn't what kids did!!

Once I was married, I was in charge of meals (sort of) so I could avoid whatever was too sweet for me.  The trouble was Mikey was exactly the opposite.  A day without dessert wasn't worth living in his world!  He accepted the fact that sweets were very low on my list of priorities.   That doesn't mean he understood it, but he did accept it.   But deep down he just didn't get it.  Still doesn't!

For example, I remember one time (not all that long ago either), Mikey made something (I think it was chili or spaghetti sauce) for dinner.  When I took the first bite, I made a face and said,  "Ick, it's sweet!!  It's not supposed to be sweet, it's chili (or spaghetti sauce)!  What did you do?"  He swore up and down he hadn't added anything sweet and it took us a little while to figure out it was the onions!   They were Vidalia onions which as you probably know,  are sweet.  They completely wrecked the flavor for me.  Mikey couldn't even taste the sweetness!  Like I said, I really don't like sweets, especially in things that aren't supposed to be sweet!

Now before you start thinking that I am completely and totally weird, let me assure you that I did get sweet in my diet very regularly. Growing up I would drink milk with my meals, but once I was married,  I discovered I loved sweet drinks....Pepsi became my beverage of choice for decades!  I liked sweet iced tea, I would put sugar in orange juice, lemonade had to have a ton of sugar in it before I would drink it.  It's a conundrum that I do not understand to this day!

I stayed fairly thin through most of my life and that I am sure is largely due to the lack of a lot of sweet stuff (except for the drink part).  I have a somewhat addictive personality (may I remind you that I am not allowed to go to a casino by myself!!).  So I am grateful that sweets were not my vice of choice!  I would have weighed a ton....maybe two!

So, all that being said, by all that's holy, would someone please explain to me why, after all these years, have I recently begun craving sweet things???    Pie, cookies, candy, cobblers, fudge, and absolutely worst of all, Hot Fudge sundaes???  I'm afraid to get on a scale!  My teeth are going to rot and fall right out of my head.  So far, it doesn't take much to satisfy that craving --  a piece or two of candy, 3  cookies, a spoonful of cobbler, a small sundae from Sonic without whipped cream...but still.  This is just flat out wrong.  Perhaps I have been invaded by an alien with a sweet tooth!

All I know is that it's got to STOP!  It used to be that I was happy with "A Taste of Honey."  Now I want the whole damn jar...all over everything!!   Arrggh!

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Talk to the Animals"

One of the things I love about blogging is coming across a post from another blogger that strikes a chord....for whatever reason! Today was one of those times. And I just have to share!

I visited "My Four Bubs....Finding Humor in the Everyday Chaos", one of my favorite bloggers. She writes about her life with their three boys and their little sister, four of the cutest kids ever!  One of the boys turned 3 years old this week and to celebrate, the family went to visit the zoo in their town. I enjoyed this post so much I have brazenly "lifted" parts of it to share with you!  Thanks Brandi!

Go and visit "My Four Bubs" when you can, it is sure to give you a few smiles.  Here's a link to this posting: 


(Boy was not part of the exhibit!)

BB was really excited to see all (five of) the 'aminals' at our (tiny) Zoo.....And that about wraps up our Zoo.

Yep, that's it! Just five different kinds of tiger, two rhinos, one parrot, two parakeets, and a goat!   ROFLMA!!! Oh God, I can't stop laughing every time I think about it!!  I mean, what kind of zoo only has five kinds of animals?? 

Now please understand, I am NOT being snide or snarky.  I think it's great for any town to provide a zoo so kids (and grown ups) can see some of the less common animals without having to travel to the big zoos.  This is a town that provides what it can.  Not every town tries this hard.  And they have done a decent job of representing the wide range of fauna in our world....mammals from faraway places, mammals as close as the nearest barnyard,  winged creatures blessed with the ability to FLY!
As large as a rhino to as small as a parakeet!  See what I mean?  It's just like Wild Kingdom in miniature!

Still....pardon me while I giggle some is a pretty tiny zoo as zoos go.  It isn't the sort of zoo you could spend a whole day at!  It wouldn't make much of a class trip!  They could see the whole thing at recess!

Hey, you know if somebody in town would donate a couple of goldfish, they could add an aquarium and increase the size of the zoo by about 16%, and not affect the food budget by very much at all!   Goldfish hardly eat anything!  (Well, ok, that was a little bit snide and snarky! lol!!)

And if the town has a resident Dr. Dolittle who wants to "Talk to the Animals," it wouldn't have to be a very long conversation.  The good Doctor would only need to talk to the tiger, rhinos, and goat!  The parrot and parakeets can talk to each other!

[Laughing out loud again....I just crack myself up sometimes!]

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"How Little We Know" Part Two

As promised, here are the answers to yesterday's quiz.  I'm not sure if anyone is actually playing along, but in case any one is....

Answers To Quiz:  
1. The one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends:

2. North American landmark constantly moving backward: 
Niagara Falls.

(The rim is worn down about two and a half feet each year because of the millions of gallons of water that rush over it every minute.)

3. Only two vegetables that can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons:
   Asparagus and rhubarb.

4. The fruit with its seeds on the outside:

5. How did the pear get inside the brandy bottle? :
   It grew inside the bottle.

The bottles are placed over pear buds when they are small, and are wired in place on the tree. The bottle is left in place for the entire growing season.
When the pears are ripe, they are snipped off at the stems.

6. Three English words beginning with dw:    Dwarf, dwell and dwindle...

7. Fourteen punctuation marks in English grammar:
Period, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, apostrophe,question mark, exclamation point, quotation mark, brackets, parenthesis, braces, and ellipses.

8. The only vegetable or fruit never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form but fresh:

9. Six or more things you can wear on your feet beginning with 'S':   Shoes, socks, sandals, sneakers, slippers, skis, skates, snowshoes, stockings, stilts.

So there you have it.  Doesn't seem so difficult once you know the answers, right??  You want to share your results??  Did anyone get them all right?  Wow!  That would mean you DO know everything!!  lol!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"How Little We Know"

You all know that I love quizzes!  My baby sis knows me well 'cause she sent me this one  and she was right....I found out rather quickly that I DON'T know everything!  I didn't do too badly....I got 6 1/2 correct, but I sure didn't know everything!  Do you??

Go ahead and try it....and just to keep it interesting, I won't post the answers till tomorrow! 
Now let's keep it honest, no Googling!!  Just what you know....or DON'T know as the case may be!   You might be surprised at "How Little We Know."

There are only nine questions.  These are not trick questions.  They are straight questions with straight answers.

Have fun.

1. Name the one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends.

2. What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?

3. Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year.
  What are the only two perennial vegetables?

4. What fruit has its seeds on the outside?

5. In many liquor stores, you can buy pear brandy, with a real pear inside the bottle.
  The pear is whole and ripe, and the bottle is genuine; it hasn't been cut in any way.  How did the pear get inside the bottle?

6. Only three words in standard English begin with the letters 'dw' and they are all common words. Name two of them.

7. There are 14 punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name at least half of them?

8. Name the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form except fresh.

9. Name 6 or more things that you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter 'S.'

Oh by the way, this isn't a contest or a giveaway.  No prize!  Just the satisfaction ....uhhhn.... realization that your head might just be stuffed with trivia and minutiae!  LOL!
Come on back tomorrow to see the answers!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"A Capella"

Help!  I feel like I have lost my way in Blogland!  It has been weeks since I have posted something fairly regularly.  And I am finding it hard to pick it up again.  There has been a lot going on in my life since before Thanksgiving....Christmas, New Year's, my accident, Mikey's vacation, rehearsals, learning lines, the shows, my sister's visit.  It just seemed like I was always busy doing something else!  Well, its all over now, everything should be back to normal.  Still, I have procrastinated, lured by doing something mindless like computer games!  How ridiculous is that?

Okay, well, I guess the best way to get back to writing is to just start!  Here goes.....

Before I leave my most recent production behind, I want to devote one more post to the marvelous experience that this show provided.

I have had a rocky history in theater recently.  I've written about it a bit, but not in any great depth.  Nor do I intend to do so now.  The bottom line was that I missed being in a show.  All my upset had mainly to do with various personalities (and the people who go with them) that were a problem.  They would have said that I was the problem and for a while I might have believed them.

BUT....I don't think so anymore.

I had the great privilege of working with a truly great cast and crew.  I had only worked with one of them previously, the rest were all new to the theater group since I pulled back a couple of years ago.  Let me tell you about them.

Our Director is a very experienced actor/director with years and years of working in various community theaters all around the country.  She was easy to work with.  She was open to ideas.  She was willing to try different things.  She was supportive.  She was complimentary.  She was capable of giving direction without making a big fuss.  She didn't micro-direct, instead she relied on the actors' instincts when they fit her vision of the show.  She had a sense of humor.  She was knowledgeable and a real pleasure to work with.  There was no tug of war over who was in charge.  She was.  And she deserved to be.

Our Stage Manager was a true gentleman, who knew how to get a point across.  He was on top of things, always where he needed to be, helpful to a fault, supportive, and capable.  He kept us on track without dramatics.  Low-key and laid-back, yet nothing was left undone.  We stayed on schedule and he was responsive to our needs above and beyond what one might normally expect.  He was flexible where he needed to be and not above helping out an actor in a pinch.  He did a professional job, yet he was part of the gang!

Our light and sound guys were a bit removed from us....but that's just the nature of the game.  The sit up in the tech booth performance after performance hitting their cues every time!  Lights came on and went off right on schedule.  Sound effects were never early or late.  I caught no mistakes!  Just as it should be.  And the remarkable thing is they laughed everynight.  After nine performances and lots of rehearsals, they never lost interest is us or the show.  Real troupers!!

As for the actors??  Oh my, what a wonderful cast!  Each perfectly cast, each totally on top of their role, if mistakes were made, they were covered, each one of them very talented and able to bring their characters to life.  They delivered lines with great comedic timing.  They were completely believable in their roles.  And they made the play soar from one laugh line to the next....and there were a lot of laugh lines!  We started as strangers to one another (mostly) and ended as friends! 

We were blessed, too, by wonderful audiences.  Each performance was well attended (70-80 per show for all but one).  There were appreciative and best of all, they laughed when they were supposed to!!  Music to an actor's ears.  Our last audience was the best of them.  They laughed at everything!  They didn't miss once!  Actors respond to a lively audience, they want to do their best and it  turns into a mutual spark!

Of course, we were fortunate to be doing one of the funniest plays I have ever been involved in.  Anna Pie (an accent mark goes in there somewhere, but I can't get my computer to do it), the author, took a somewhat unusual situation and brought out all the humor inherent therein.  She also wrote the funniest line I have ever had in all my years of theater.  Taking it out of context and trying to explain it here would never do it justice and might give you a wrong impression of what kind of play it is.  But let me tell you, it was the longest, loudest laugh in the none!  

Sometimes in community theatre, there are weak links, someone who is not as talented or who isn't easy to work with, even sometimes one who just never gets it right at all.  But for this show every single person involved was good at what they do.  They were terrific actors/tech staff who made the show work night after night.  And what was the most remarkable of one got mad at anybody else!  There was no angst, no squabbles, no one missing in action, no one who made demands, or was difficult to get along with.  Nobody ended up in tears.  Nobody ended up being an outcast or a diva! To put it simply, they were sane, cooperative, supportive, and good at what they do.  It was lovely to be a part of that cast.  I'd work with any or all of them again in a New York minute!  And unless, I completely misread them, I think they would work with me again too! 

They were theater people of the best kind.  They restored my faith that theater can be done without pain!  And even more, they restored the joy in theatre I have missed so much! 

So Jo, Geoff, Ron, Dale, Mallory, Bradley, Misty, Rina, Tamara, Allen, and Gary, thank you, all!  You are my kind of people!!  And I miss you already!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"We Are Family"

After spending most of the evening learning how to use our scanner correctly, I finally figured it out!!  And I am proud to share with you some of our family photos.  There isn't anything special about these photos or these people, except that "We Are Family".  I love them and I miss all who are gone.  But now, thanks to my lovely Little Sis,  I have lots of photos of  treasured faces and the wonderful memories they bring.  Here are just a few shots of random people at random times and random places.  I am happy to share them with you. 

(*They will enlarge if you click.)

My mom (mid-blink) and I in Phoenix in the late 1990s.
Little Sis and I around 1961.
She's a lot bigger now, but she's still just as cute!
My mom and dad, 1957
My dad always smiled for photos,
except this one!!  1957
(I wasn't much help either!)

Dad, Mom and I, 1953

My cousin Sherry and my Gram, 1952
(I'm not exactly sure who was teaching who!)
Me and my Gramps, 1950
(He never smiled in photos....except this one!) 

"Goomby" and Me, age 2, 1948
My Gram, two of my aunts, and me.
One of my aunts' wedding, 1945
(from L to R:  my great-grandmother,
my grandfather -- see? No smile --
the happy couple, and my grandmother -- who always smiled!)

This lovely pin-up is my Mom, 1945
(There is writing on the back indicating that she sent the photo
to my dad overseas....and he brought it home all safe and sound!)
My mom, Lorraine C. Lisk, 1930
First Holy Communion

My grandfather, Norbert M. Lisk, Sr., 1921
(I think this is the oldest photo in the bunch.)

Yes, we are family and I love "seeing" them all again!!  I miss them every day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"The Way We Were"

For reasons that I never really understood, my dad was absolutely opposed to owning a house or property of any kind.  He didn't mean for everyone, just for himself or his immediate family.  They always rented a house or an apartment.  The biggest thing they ever owned was a car (when they had one).  Both he and my mom worked hard to make our lives comfortable and to meet our needs.   We were a solid, hard-working, on the low-end-of-middle-class family.  We were never truly poor. We never were in need.  They never needed assistance from anyone.  Our family was always self-supporting and we never suffered from "want" of anything important.

Neither did we ever accumulate great wealth or expensive possessions.  No antiques, no valuable family heirlooms, no jewels, no artwork by Old Masters (or even New Wannabees!).  There was nothing of monetary value to be handed down to the next generation. 

The heritage our parents handed down to Little Sis and I was much more important.  We received love, morals, intelligence, values, judgement, humor, and tolerance.  And memories, wonderful, loving memories (mostly...for times were not always terrific....but the good surpasses the not-so-good by a country mile!)  But when it came to "things" there wasn't much.

There was one significant exception.  It was a treasure beyond price.

In the back of my parent's closet, there was a medium-sized canvas suitcase (for lack of a better word).  If I was very good and caught Mom at just the right moment, she would allow me to bring it out and examine the contents once or twice a year.  It was one of my very favorite things to do when I was a child.  I found those contents fascinating and never grew tired of looking at them.

Fast forward now to Little Sis's visit here last week. When I picked her up at the airport, I teased her a bit about her luggage because she had two suitcases, plus a good sized carry-on. After all, she was only staying for five days! She explained that she needed the extra suitcase for the ice packs for her arm )a rather large contraption that held two ice packs that would surround her arm on two sides and a couple of other things. Well, that made perfect sense; I was a bit embarrassed that I teased her.

That night, after dinner and getting settled, we were just talking and such. I went to get something and when I got back to the room, one of the suitcases was sitting on my sofa. She said that what was inside was for me.  I teased her again, asking if something was going to jump out at me.  She said no.  I didn't have a clue what was inside, but I slowly unzipped the case and lifted the lid.  It only took half a second for me to recognize immediately what the case contained.  I threw my arms around my Little Sis and started to cry.

Of course, it was our family treasure!  It never occurred to me that that would be inside.  It stunned me but made me very happy and of course, I cried for happy.  My Little Sis brought me the best possible gift.

By now, you have probably figured out what it contained.  That case held all of our family photographs going back years and years, even before I was born.  Pictures of my grandparents, my mom's brothers and sisters and cousins.  There were pictures of old boyfriends, old wedding photos, and photos of events from my childhood and then much later from Little Sis's childhood.  It was our family history in photos.  As I said, it was a treasure beyond price.

Over the course of years, several attempts were made to identify, date, and sort all the photos.  Invariably, however, we would get distracted by just looking at the photos and hearing the stories that went with them and the sorting project would go uncompleted.  Mom did, at some point, sort and date most of the photos by year.  But many of them remained unidentified.  We always thought we would get to it one day.

After Dad's death and Mom's declining health and move to a nursing facility, Little Sis had all of Mom's things put into storage where they remained until a couple of years after her death.  Little Sis ultimately removed them from storage and kept them, still in the canvas bag, in her home in Phoenix.  And there they sat.  I think it was two years ago that Little Sis made copies of some of the photos for me.  As I had no photos at all from my childhood or of some of the relatives, this was a big thing to me and I was grateful.  Still, there were many more old photos that I remembered, but hadn't seen for over 25 years.

I stayed up three nights in a row until 3:00 in the morning, just looking at them and remembering.   There are a very few that are from the early 1920's making them over 80 years old!  Most are from the 1930's to the mid 1950's.  Some of them made me laugh, some made me teary, but they all filled me with joy. 

Most of the people in those photos are gone now, but they will be with me always.   For us, our family heritage is memories of  "The Way We Were" and these photos are truly a treasure.

Mem'ries light the corners of my mind,
Misty water-colored mem'ries
of the way we were.

Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind,
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were.

Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again,
Tell me, would we, could we?

Mem'ries may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember,
We simply choose to forget.
So it's the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were,
The way we were

What a wonderful thing for my baby sister to do for me. I love her to pieces anyway, but this was more than I ever expected.   She is the real treasure beyond price! 

I love you Little Sis, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

(If I can figure out how to do it, I'll try to scan a couple of them to include here. NOTE: Darn!  Didn't work, I'll try again tomorrow.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Little Kid Sister of Mine"

After five wonderful days of visiting, shows, memories, hugs, and lots of laughing, we dropped off that "Little Kid Sister of Mine" at the airport about four hours ago.  Her visit was just the best!  The only thing that could have made it better is if we had been able to convince her to stay longer or even better, to move here to Austin.  Despite my very best efforts, she had to return to Phoenix.  But I'll keep working on her!

We crammed a lot into those five days she was here.  Wednesday evening we talked and caught up on all sorts of things that tend to be overlooked when you only communicate by phone, email, or Facebook.  Thursday was Maddie-the-Great's class play and D, the Great Aunt, was able to see it!  That made M-t-G very excited!  My pick-up rehearsal was cancelled for that night, so I was able to go too! 

It was a darling show with the entire fifth grade participating.  They recreated the songs and characters from "School House Rock",  a TV kid's program most of their parents grew up with.   And, yes, they included "Conjunction Junction"!  It was a very cute program and the kids were great.  M-t-G sang in the chorus and her Mom and Dad and Grammy and Great Aunt D were pleased as punch to be there!

We went out for dinner afterward and talked and laughed some more!

Friday Little Sis and I did a little bit of thrift shopping and then after dinner she came to see my show and she enjoyed it.  We hung around with the cast for a bit after the show and I think she got a feel for what I mean when I chatter on about theater folks! 

Saturday afternoon, Mikey cooked for us and we had a real family dinner, just like old times.  Afterward, Ratchlet, T.A., and Little Sis came to see the show (seeing it twice is definite proof she loves me! lol!) while M-t-G stayed here and played Nerf wars (or something!) with her Poppa. 

Today, we all got together for lunch and our last chance for chatting and catching up.  Then off to the airport we went!  Little Sis should be arriving home before too long.  We had a wonderful visit and I am so very glad that she was able to stay for five whole days!

I'm sure Little Sis will be glad to get back to her own home and her own bed.  But, if I could, I'd get her back here permanently.  I think my best tactic would be to work on my niece and nephew to convince one or both of them to move to Austin, then getting my sister here would be a slam dunk!!

Now I must admit, just reading over the above, the visit doesn't sound all that interesting or challenging, but, au contraire, my friends, au contraire!  I mentioned awhile back that Little Sis fell and broke her wrist.  Well, the break was much worse than I realized.  Her hand was pretty much disconnected from her arm!   She has three pins sticking out of her arm inside the cast.   She brought her x-ray to show us.  Major EEK!! 

Even after nine days, she is still in a lot of pain and had to ice her arm a couple of times a day.  She was taking Ibuprofen to ease the pain and bring down the swelling.  And several times a days I would see her face go kind of pale, she'd go still, her eyes closed, and I'd hear a quick intake of breath, and I knew that somehow she had hit it, or move it, or someone had bumped into it.  You could just see how much it hurt!!  It was painful to see!  And there wasn't anything we could do but wait for it to go away!  Poor thing!

Even though she is right handed and she broke the left wrist, there are lots of things she cannot do!  I helped her with her socks and sneakers every day.  I washed her hair for her.  Someone had to open sugar packets for her and on and on.  She had gotten to the point that she could dress herself as long as she wore something that buttoned down the front!  I don't know how she is managing by herself!

One of the reasons we couldn't talk her into staying longer (because she will be off work for 4-6 weeks!!), is that those pins I mentioned have to be "tapped in" by the doctor on Tuesday.  "Tapped in???"  Seriously??   OOOOWWWWWWIIIIIEEEE!  OW, OW, OW!  That makes my tummy go all wonky just to think about.  Icky, icky, pooh!

So this whole trip was a real challenge for her.  But that just makes me all the more grateful that she came anyway!  You are a champ, kiddo!  I was so glad that you came and I'm sooo sorry that your arm pained you so much in the process.  All her life Little Sis has been a joy in my life!  "That Little Kid Sister of Mine" is a great sister and I'm immensely glad that she's mine!

So, thanks Little Sis!  Having you here was a real treat.  It was great to see you.  I hope your arm gets better very, very soon.   And I know that this puts the ball directly in my court and that tables have turned!  (In other words, it's my turn to visit her!)  I'll try to manage a visit someday before too long, but I'll try to be sure that it is with two "whole" arms!

Love you bunches, Little Sis!


So, would you like to hear about the enormous bonus gift that came along with Little Sis's visit??  Well, come back tomorrow and I'll tell you!

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