Monday, December 31, 2012

"Sing Me No Sad Songs"

In the last four days, I have lost two friends. That's hard to bear.

 The first, Kay M., I have known since I was about 15 as we were in high school together. She was a year younger than I, but in a small school, being in different classes isn't as much of an obstacle to traveling in the same social circle. The second, Doug A., I have only known since last July as he was our Tech Director for "Bus Stop".  Both deaths came as enormous shock and I am deeply saddened.

Of course, the two of them didn't know each other.  They were my friends at different times, in different places,  and for different reasons.  They probably would have liked each other.  I certainly liked them both.

Kay's mother, who lived with her,  had died during the last year when she was well into her 80s.  They had been very close.  Kay was divorced, her daughter grown, with children of her own and living half a country away.  Kay was an independent, bright, open-minded, and funny lady.  She was a writer.  She had literally just moved from FL to TX a few days before Christmas to be close to her daughter.  She went into the hospital within a day.  She had some sort of respiratory problems that took her life last week.

Two days after learning of Kay's death, I learned that Doug had also died suddenly.  Doug was much younger than Kay (in his early 50s), married, father of two daughters and was highly energetic, driven, and committed to whatever he took on.  He was the father of one of our cast members and offered to do lights for the show.  Over the course of rehearsals that turned into lights, sound, set building, re-wiring, some props, and he even fixed the air conditioning.  Doug was one of those people who saw a need and just did it!  And did it well.  He was extremely efficient and I was hoping to work with him  on many more shows.

There is a memorial service for Doug tomorrow which I will attend.  I don't know about plans for celebrating Kay's life, but I am sure that they will be forthcoming and will be fitting to the dear lady she was.

Although I considered them both friends, the reality is that I didn't know either of them extremely well.  In some ways however, they were quite alike.  The both loved life, had many, many friends, and were positive people, who got things done.  And I am positive neither of them would want their friends and families to be sad and grieve for a long time.  I know Kay, and probably Doug, would both say, "Sing Me No Sad Songs."

So I will try not to.  I will just say to each of them....I'm glad you came into my life.  Thank you for sharing yourself and your gifts.  I will miss you.  May you Rest in Peace, my friends.

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

To all of my sweet friends here in blogland,

Thank you for coming to visit my sporadic blog.  Even though I'm not frequently posting these days, I do go and visit many blogs every day.  I love that you all write so eloquently and interestingly and I feel that we are friends!

I want to wish you all the Merriest of Christmases, filled with love and blessings all around.

I'm sending a warm holiday hug to each one of you!!

All the best,


Saturday, December 22, 2012

"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" (Repeat)

Please forgive me, but I have gotten myself in a real bind this year.  Somehow this year I have gotten to two days before our family's Christmas (which happens on Christmas Eve) and everything is topsy turvy.  I am sneaking in a repeat here just because I wanted to write, but if I have any hope of getting on track, I have to pick up my butt and get to it!  So here's a post from a few years ago.  Maybe you haven't read it!  

Every year, all year, I look forward to Christmas.  I think its "the most wonderful time of the year".  I love the decorations, I love the traditions, I love the music, I love having my family close, and I love the look on my daughter's (and granddaughter's) face when they open a particularly perfect present.  Ratchlet gets all teary and sniffly because a present is a sentimental connection to something important to her.  I've managed to hit the mark with one of her gifts nearly every year.  As she has done with me!  (We are an odd family, the gift that makes you cry is the best gift!)

Maddie-the-Great has loved Christmas since she was old enough to sort of know what it was.  The look of excitement when she sees that "Santa's been here!!"  (usually yelled at the top of her lungs), brings a lump to my throat each time.  She gets so happy as she opens each present.  She says, "Santa brought me just what I wanted!"  

The Big Guy is an even bigger fan of Christmas than I am.  He is the one who insists we bring out all the old Christmas things again and again, even tho they are becoming tattered and torn.  (And I pretty much agree with him.)  I've been trying for years to rein-in his gift- giving some, but he seems convinced that more is always better! 

Poor T.A. had the misfortune of marrying into a family of Christmas-addicts!  His reactions are more controlled and he is not as sentimental about the traditional things.  But each year he understands a little bit better than the year before.  Ratchlet and M-t-G's feelings about the holiday, must be rubbing off on him by now!

Every year I promise myself I will get things all done early so that they can be enjoyed throughout the season.  And every year the promise goes by the wayside.  Even if I get an early start, I am still playing catch-up at some point.   Maybe its because I buy too much, or decorate too much, or delay wrapping too much, or several other "too muches" or it might be because everything absolutely must be finished by 3:00 pm Christmas Eve, whatever the reason or combination of reasons, about a week before Christmas, I get to feeling like a Grinch!  It all becomes overwhelming and too much work and I start to snarl at my loved ones.  All I want to do is go back to bed and skip straight to Easter, a much less high-maintenance holiday. 

I thought this year, being retired and all, I could get things done in a leisurely rush, no fuss.  Take my time, do a little bit every day until its all done.  Doesn't seem to be working so far.  I'm behind, as usual.  I haven't completely given up hope for no rush, no fuss, but it most probably will become big rush/big fuss, just like always. 

Then at about 3:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, I'll take a deep breath, and all of a sudden, its "the most wonderful time of the year" again.  Its a tradition. 

Can you find Waldo..unh...Maddie-the Great??

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"The Best Gift"

I have mentioned before that Mikey and I met in college choir at the Univ.of Ill.- Chicago in 1964.  Our first evening together was on December 10, it wasn't really a date. Our first official date occurred a few days after that.  Nevertheless, December 10 is the anniversary of when we began this long journey we've been on.

The choir was incredibly good.  Both Mikey and I had sung in high school choirs and treasured the opportunity to sing under the direction of  Dr. Edwin Fissinger, a dear sweet man and musical genius, whom we all loved. He was "The Sir" to us all and singing with him was one of the best experiences of my life.  He was a hard taskmaster when it came to music and he got the best from all of us!  We sang beautiful music with complicated rhythms and intricate harmonies and unusual arrangements, some of which were written or arranged by The Sir.  Mikey and I had the good fortune to sing in  the choirs Dr. Fissinger directed --  both of us in the Concert Choir and the Chamber Choir, and I sang in the Madrigal group as well.

The choir presented a Christmas Concert that night at Elmhurst College (I think), which is about an hour's drive from the campus of of UICC.  Like most such events, (from grammar school field trips to college sports team games),  the choir traveled via bus between the two schools.

That night after the concert filled with wonderful Christmas music,  Mikey and I sat together on the bus ride back to our own campus.  How many romances, I wonder, have begun on long, bumpy, noisy rides on a school bus?   We talked and laughed and even had a couple of those heart-stopping moments when two people discover that they have found their special the end of the trip, I was in love!  And the rest, as they say, is history!  We have been together ever since!  This will be our 48th Christmas together!  (Good grief, Charley Brown!)

I don't know why it never occurred to me before now, but our whole history for nearly half a century, grew from its start in the Christmas Season.  Perhaps that is part of the reason we are both such Christmas junkies!  Christmas time is like an anniversary of sorts and we indulge in our mutual love of all things Christmas every year.

I was remembering that whole time just a day or two ago.  Remembering that discovery process and remembering how wonderful it all felt to have an honest-to-goodness boyfriend.  And not only a boyfriend, but I pretty quickly came to the realization that Mikey was my Mr. Right!

But the biggest revelation was one I don't recall ever being aware of before:   Mikey, my Big Guy, my Mr. Right, was "The Best Gift" I ever received on that or any other Christmas!  Without this man and the love that came into my life that night,  everything would be different.  Everything!   None of the best and most wonderful things that have brought me to today would have ever happened!    I, of course, have no way of knowing where I might have ended up without Mikey, but I do know this:  I never would have found anyone else who would have been such a perfect life partner.  We suit each other, we fit together, we've weathered a lot of change over the years, but that start in December of 1964 was just the way it was supposed to be....and I'm pretty sure that Mikey might just feel exactly the same about me!

And we came together at Christmas!  Oh yes, "The Best Gift": indeed!

Friday, December 14, 2012

I was in the middle of writing a different blog post, when I heard the news about the school shooting in New Town, Conn.   Because there is not yet  much factual information about how or why this happened,  so this is my gut reaction without a lot of factual information to back it up.

The shootings took place at an elementary ELEMENTARY school....where children between the ages of 5 and 11 go to school.  Something most all of us did when we were between 5 and 11. I don't know much about the situation other than 27 people are reported dead.  Apparently approximately 9 of them were adults; teachers, staff, and such.  That means that at least 18 of them were children.....children somewhere between the ages of 5 and 11.  Eighteen children, shot dead at school.  It is reported that there was one shooter, who is also dead.

It may be unfair and judgmental of me, but at this point, I don't give a rat's ass about that shooter.  I don't care if he was mentally ill.  I don't care if he was a lost soul.  I don't care about whatever happened in his life that brought him to a point where he made the choice to kill 18 young children and 9 others who probably were devoted to the education and preparation for the future of young children.  I don't care about him.

NOTHING in his life, or belief system, or background, mental condition or anything else could possibly explain or excuse why those 18 young children and the 9 others were killed today.  NOTHING!

All I can care about is that 18 children woke up this morning and went off to school just like any other day and just like millions of other children all around the world.  They went off to school with their books in hand, maybe with a lunch bag, possibly nervous about a test, or excited about a school event, or even hating school as kids are sometimes wont to do. Most of them were probably really excited that Christmas was coming in just eleven more days. They went off to school where they are supposed to be safe, protected, and normal.

How can this be happening again?  What kind of world is this we live in?  How will the parents, families, friends, teachers, other residents of that town ever survive the loss of those 18 innocent children??

They were young children.  They went off to school this morning, but they won't be coming home today....or ever again.

"I've Got It Made"

I don't know how this happened; believe me it wasn't exactly intentional!  I usually try to accomplish this every year, but it's never happened before!  I'm not quite sure how to handle it either.   The truth is "I've Got It Made,"  oh yes, indeedy, I do!

I hesitate to actually write it out for all the world to see because that just seems entirely too risky.  I don't like to tempt fate. I figure though, if I just tell it to a few of my closest, good friends here in Blogland, well, maybe it won't cause any unforeseen disasters....but keep it to yourselves, OK?

I am just about finished Christmas shopping!   SHHH, don't say anything!

It is December 13, and that is fully 11 days before Christmas!  Eleven days!  It might have come about because of the early Thanksgiving.  Maybe I got started sooner. Maybe it was because we received 3,723 catalogs from 1,246 different companies.  And ordering on-line is getting easier all the time (Hallelujah!) Or it could be that I didn't have a lot of very specific ideas in mind that necessitated a gazillion trips all about town to find exactly what I wanted.  My shopping was more laid back.  If I saw something, I bought it!  No dilly-dallying, weighing the pros and cons:  Will he like it?  Is  it her style?  Is this too babyish for our big girl??  Is this what she was hinting about??  Much more straightforward this year....see it,  ponder it briefly, like it, buy it!  Done!

Actually, I am not quite done.  I still have two very specific items yet to purchase, but they are easy and will be completed in one last little trip to a certain store.   Bim, Bam, Boom!  It's a wrap!

I even bought a bunch of wrapping stuff.  I probably shouldn't have, we have more wrapping than we could possibly use up in 10 years, seriously!  The problem with all the wrapping stuff that we have is that we keep re-using things like bows, certain kinds of ribbon, and bags.  We also tend to buy the BIG rolls of wrapping paper, because it is so annoying to only get two packages wrapped from each of the "regular" rolls of paper. They only have something like 5 feet of paper on them.  The BIG rolls last for freakin' ever!  Trust me, this is true! I have been using mostly the same four rolls of fun kid paper for M-t-G's presents since she was about 4!  I don't waste a lot of paper when I'm wrapping, so there is still paper on each of those four rolls!  I think it is actually regenerating in the attic over the course of the year.  Must be because of all the heat and dark up in the attic! Things multiply up there, really!  I mean, what else is there to do in a dark, warm room for weeks and weeks?

But I digress....what I am trying to say is that I am sick to death of those wrapping papers, and ribbons, and bows. I wanted something new, something different!  We've had some of those things for soooo long that they have shown up for Christmas in Chicago, Christmas in California, and Christmas in Austin --  multiple times. And we haven't had Christmas in Chicago since 1991!   No more!

So I indulged myself and bought a bunch of new things.  (No, I am not a total spendthrift...I bought things at Big Lots on Sale.  I spent less than $30 and I got enough to cover all of Christmas with a whole new look.  I'm excited to start wrapping it all up.

Of course, I really can't wait too long to get going on the wrapping, because sure as shootin' it will be while I'm wrapping that I will realize that I have completely forgotten someone, or what looked so darling in the store will fall apart as soon as I try to put paper around it! And THEN I will have to make a gazillion trips all about town to find some replacements.  That will undoubtedly occur on December 23!

In the meantime, however, I can say with complete honesty and justifiable pride when it comes to Christmas shopping....I AM almost DONE!  (I hope!)

And it's still ten days (it's after midnight now so it's one less) til Christmas!  Whoo Hoo!!

Of course, I haven't decorated anything yet.....oh dear!

Monday, December 10, 2012

"My Grown-Up Christmas List"

1. Last Christmas  play you saw in a theater?    A very bad rendition of A Christmas Carol

2. What is your favorite Christmas movie?   We're No Angels.,,,Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov...delightful!

3. Who is your favorite fictional Christmas Character?    Olive....the other reindeer!    :)

4. Favorite magazine for Christmas ideas?   Better Homes and Gardens

5. Favorite smells of the Season?    Cookies baking and fresh evergreens

6. Favorite sounds of the Season?   Love the sound of jingling bells!

7. The saddest part of Christmas?    Not having my parents and other family with us at Christmas

8. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up on Christmas morning?   How much time I have before I have to be dressed and ready for the day's celebrations to begin.

9. Favorite Christmas treat?    Homemade Christmas Cookies

10. Where is your best hiding place for gifts before Christmas?   Without kids in the house, hiding gifts in a closet is sufficient.  Mikey would NEVER peek, would you Mikey?

11. Finish this statement. “If I had lot of money I’d….give more to charities and good causes..

12. What is the best present you remember ever getting for Christmas?   There have been scores of "BEST" presents over the years.  I loved them all!

13. What kind of weather do you like to have on Christmas?  The same as for every other day....sunny, clear, and temps above 50F!   Definitely without snow or ice or rain!

14. Favorite holiday drink?   Eggnog

15. Something I used to do at Christmas that I don't do anymore.....send Christmas cards to everyone I know.

16. Do you wear anything special for Christmas?   On Christmas Eve I always wear my Santa hat..

17. Favorite Christmas memory?   The year Ratchlet and TA surprised me by coming home after telling me they couldn't!  I was ecstatic!

18. What is your favorite Christmas activity?   Carolling, singing Midnight Mass and a Christmas Concert

19. What activity is traditional in your family on Christmas Day?   Playing a new board game.after dinner.

20.  What is your favorite Christmas Carol?  "Tonight Jesus is Born"

21.  What is your least favorite part of Christmas?   Taking down all the decorations and packing it all away again!

So, what is on your Grown-Up Christmas List??

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"I'm Old-Fashioned"

Okay, here's a question for you:

If you were reading the following statement aloud, would you say the same thing I do??

Price:  $35.00 plus S&H

If you are under age 45, you  probably said:   Thirty-Five Dollars plus Shipping and Handling.  Right??

However, if you are over 50, I would bet at least a few of you said:  Thirty Five Dollars plus S&H Green Stamps!!

Those kids under 45 wouldn't even have a clue what I was talking about!

When it comes to speech patterns, I freely admit it.  "I'm Old-Fashioned!"  I am forever spouting dated phrases, anachronistic references, and passe slang!  I get the oddest looks from people sometimes.  And the younger the person, the odder the look!!

Here are a few of my regulars.  How many of them do you say and conversely, how many of them have you never heard and have no idea what they mean??  Or am I the only one still stuck in days gone by?

*  A bunch of songs recorded by a single artist included on one device??   That's an ALBUM, right?  Even if it's on a CD, it's still an ALBUM, isn't it?

*  When I make a phone call, I still DIAL the number.....even though I haven't   in years!!   Do you??

*  Also when I'm finished I still HANG UP, even though nothing is hung any where and the process of disconnecting usually involves pushing a button DOWN.

*  Is your world populated by FIREMEN, POLICEMEN, and MAILMEN?   Mine is!  At least until I remember to be gender neutral!

*  Occasionally, when I am talking about leg coverings I still say, STOCKINGS!  Even though I do not own one single pair, and haven't for years!!  Panty hose just doesn't have the same panache.

*  When talking about someone who endlessly repeats their wishes or desires or whatever, in my world they sound like a BROKEN RECORD!  No, not like a record high-jump or record time for a mile....a record like the round black disc full of  recorded music that's in an ALBUM!  (And around and around I go!)

*  If I learn something new or surprising, it is not totally unusual to hear me say, "FAR OUT" or even occasionally "GROOVY".  For this one though I have an easy explanation.  When faced with that blank look, I can just say, "It means COOL!"  Luckily that one seems to have survived into this generation!

How COOL is that?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Cappella

I don't know why exactly, but this strikes me as extremely profound!
It is a point of view we don't often consider!  Just something to think about.

Monday, December 3, 2012

"Everything Old Is New Again:

Evidently I am not the only one who misses some of the old tried and true ways of doing things.  It isn't nostalgia, exactly. It's just that the latest and greatest "improvements" are not always an improvement!  Sometimes the old ways were better; but many of those old things had, I thought, gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Au Contraire, Mes Amis!   I have actually seen several things I thought were gone forever in Christmas catalogs and stores this year!!  Now these are not vintage items.  They are either items that have been made all along, but were hard to find or they are replicas of items that disappeared many years ago.

I guess sometimes, even in today's world, the new gadgets just aren't as reliable, usable, functional, affordable, efficient, or classic as the old stuff.  There's a lot to be said for the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

So here are just a few examples of what you can get when "Everything Old Is New Again!"

A manual typewriter  (It actually works when the power is out....awesome!!)
  • The Wordsmith's Manual Typewriter.

Ladies White Gloves  (These are Queen Elizabeth's choice for "Daytime" gloves, she's been using this maker's gloves since her Coronation!!)

  • The Queen¿s Favoured Gloves.

Hand set for iPhone and the like  (looks kind of silly, doesn't it?)
  • The iPhone Desktop Handset.

Year Round Rain Barrel   (Rain water is great for washing hair!)

  • The Canadian Year Round Rain Barrel.

A record player   (I was right to hold on to all my old records and albums!!)
Crosley Collegiate Turntable

An AM/FM Radio  (No snooze, no clock, it has DIALS and an on and off clearly marked!)
Crosley Solo Radio

And just because this was always one of my favorite things to do when my mom went grocery shopping, and because a galloping horse with real reins beats out any space ship or cartoon character ever made:

Classic Storefront Champion Ride  (Hi Ho, Silver!)  $6,500.00  (Hammacher Schlemmer, who else?)

  • The Classic Storefront Champion Ride.

Yep, "Everything Old Is New Again!"  Ain't it grand?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"I Enjoy Being a Girl"

I have never wished that I was male.  I am perfectly content to be female.  "I Enjoy Being a Girl;"   in fact, I love being a girl!  I've never suffered from sexual harassment, never felt undervalued just because I was female, never felt downtrodden or in any way a lesser human being.  I never experienced a lower paycheck than a male counterpart.  I pretty much reached the peak of my profession and I was well paid for my efforts. And I know that I have been fortunate!  Many, many thousands of women have not been so fortunate.  There has been much written about the inequities that women have suffered through the ages.  I acknowledge that suffering, recognize the disparity, and feel the same outrage as any other thinking human being when there are gender bias, gender prejudice, and double standards still a part of our civilization.

However, change in that regard is occurring....excruciatingly slowly certainly....but it is occurring and I fully believe that someday (that ephemeral "some day") Planet Earth will become a place of fairness, equality, and respect for all its people.  It will take millenia I'm sure, but some day!

But in the meantime, I have never been one of those females who would rather be male.  In reality my satisfaction with my gender is due to many different things, including the female propensity for compassion, caring, loving, and all things warm and fuzzy!

But the biggest reason I am happy being female and extremely glad that I am not male, is much less admirable.  In fact, I am slightly embarrassed to tell you.  Basically, it all boils down to one simple aspect of being male vs. being female.

Their clothes are boring.

There, I've said it.  Boring, uninteresting, tedious, repetitive, and downright dull!

For most of recorded history the male of the species has worn some variation of pants and a shirt with a jacket.  Blah! Blah! Blah!! Over and over, day after day, year after year, century after century....pants, shirt, jacket.  Oh the monotony!

Think about it:
Vikings -  10th Century

15th Century

17th Century
18th Century

19th Century


21st Century

Oh sure, there is the occasional kilt, nightshirt, kimono, or  robe.... but for most of the European/American culture it's just:   pants, shirt, and a jacket.

Lots of different colors, but the basic thing is still:  pants, shirt, and a jacket!

Different syles, different lengths and different designs, but the basic thing is almost always:  pants, shirt, and a jacket!!

From straitlaced, uptight, trussed up like a turkey to loose, hot, and too cool for school, nevertheless:  Pants, Shirt, and a Jacket!

From the day they are christened:

to the day they are buried:


How do men stand it???

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