Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"

This year, for a bunch of different reasons, Christmas prep for my family just hasn't been anywhere close to the norm.  Collectively, we just don't seem to have our usual Christmas spirit and enthusiasm.  Now here it is Christmas Eve, and we are about out of time.  The Christmas Eve festivities are set to begin around 6:00 pm this evening, which means we have about 10 hours left to make our surroundings at least, look and feel like Christmas.  This will be a challenge!

A couple of weeks ago Ratchlet, MtG, and I were out for the evening for one of our regular Christmas shopping expeditions.  We were feeling particularly uninspired and basically felt all we were doing was feeding the commercialism of Christmas that has gotten out of hand....buying "things" that cost too much, were not particularly meaningful, and wouldn't do much of anything to bring joy.  This has come about over the years to the point that we felt it was completely over the top and not worth the effort!

We decided to try to limit our extravagance and focus more on changing the way we celebrate to bring about more feelings of sharing, loving, and the happiness of being with our family.  

We have put up no outside decorations and hardly any inside decorations.  We are putting up just the small white tree and a few easily accessible Christmas favorites.  We have chosen a local charity and made a contribution of something needed.  We have reduced the number of gifts we give each other.  We have scaled back the food we share.  We are adding in some new things that might help us feel more of the Season's "good parts."

These are all good things and will hopefully, give us some Christmas memories that will make this a great Christmas.

This will be MtG's first Christmas without Santa.  Mikey and I as well as Ratchlet, TA, and MtG will be spending Christmas Day together at their house and we will try some different things.  

Despite all our efforts to cut back and focus on the things that make Christmas the special holiday it should be,  I haven't started to "feel" it yet.  At this point, with a bunch of things left to do, I'm struggling against my general feelings of Grinchdom.  So far, it still feels like a lot of work to be done.  Various frustrations abound.  There are people we love, miss and wish we could see, but we are separated by uncontrollable circumstances.  Nevertheless, their absence leaves a gaping hole in the midst of what should be a joyous celebration.

So yes, Mr. Grinch has inserted his mean little heart into our Christmas this year and I have 10 hours to kick him to the curb and find that Christmas Spirit that is sorely lacking so far.

Our Christmas shake-up might result in one huge Christmas failure or it could turn out to be the best Christmas ever.....but if nothing else, we will still be together with most of the people we love best in this world, and that is where we always find joy!

I hope that Mr. Grinch doesn't intrude on your Christmas and that each of you enjoys the happiness, celebration, and peace that we all seek at Christmas.

Merry  Christmas, my dear friends.  Thank you for visiting so faithfully over the years.  May your holiday be filled with love!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"What's the Use of Wonderin'?" (one more time...)

You would think that anyone who has lived well into their 60s (like me) would have pretty much encountered most of life's weirdness by now!  It doesn't, however, appear so. There are still a whole bunch of things I don't understand...new trends, styles, inventions, attitudes, behaviours  that I just don't get.  More new ones cropping up every day....and there are still other things that have been around for a long time that I still don't get.   For instance:

1.  I don't know what this is officially called, but to me is seems a bit like a reverse French manicure!  It is a new style of manicure where the majority of the nail is left either natural of with just a hint of color, but the tips of the nails are painted in something bright or sparkly or really dark, or with some small design.  I haven't seen one yet that looked good.  In fact, they are mostly just a big ugly!  've seen it done on both hands and toes.  Why?  Why would anyone want to make their nails ugly??  I just don't get it!

2. I continually come across word usages and phrases that are being incorrectly used.  It's particularly irritating when they writer is close, but misses anyway.  The words they use just don''t mean what the writer thinks they mean!   I read this one on Facebook recently.  The person was talking about starting a new healthy diet plan.  She called it "her  new regime."  What she meant was her new regimen.  The words are spelled very similarly, but leaving out just one letter changes the whole meaning.  She used it several times so I don't think it was a typo.  She just used the wrong word.  It only takes a couple of minutes to look up a word so that you ensure you are saying what you mean to say!!  I just don't get it!

3.  One of life's biggest annoyances falls into the category of a pet peeve:   I am seriously annoyed by people who don't return phone calls, or emails.  By not returning them in a timely manner you are more or less sending the message....." I just don't care about you or your question or your point of view."  It's tantamount to a slap in the face.   Some people just won't get back to you, even when you say please!!  That's flat out rude!  I just don't get it!

4.  People who don't RSVP to invitations fall into a sub-category of #3 above.  We have hosted many parties over the years and we have pretty much always sent written invitations.  We always ask people to let us know whether or not they are coming.  Usually this is to make sure that we have enough food and drink planned, so that no one goes home hungry and we SAY SO on the invitation.  Still we never hear from everyone.  Never, never!  There is some correlation between the no shows and the no response people, but even that's not 100%.  Really it only takes a minute to call and say yes or no!  But it just doesn't happen and the host is left with a mystery.  Maybe they don't understand what R.S.V.P. means....but I doubt it!  It's annoying and I just don't get it!

5.  Have you ever wondered why some days feel like they last forever while other days whirl by like a dervish and its suddenly over and you can't even remember what you did??  That's generally true of all different time period designations.  Sometimes 5 minutes can feel like 5 days and 5 days can feel like 5 minutes.  Our perception of time has a lot to do with whether or not one is doing something enjoyable.  Still I don't quite understand why time doesn't ever feel like a finite thing!  An hour is 60 minutes....always.  A minutes isn't that long of an interval.  Shouldn't they always feel the same??   Why one minute can feel long while another one feels short is a thing, I just don't get!

6. I don't know if this is just me or if happens to everyone, but some days when I am getting dressed (even on an ordinary unimportant day), I will look in the mirror and sometimes I will feel like I look really good.  Other days....not so much.  Every day I do the same routine of skincare, hair, make-up, etc. etc.   Its the same face I had yesterday and I'll have the same face tomorrow,   I should look the same.  But some days, I'm Grace Kelly and other days I'm Emmet Kelly (a  very famous, but sad looking clown from the 50's!!) Why should this be?  I just don't get it!!

7. Why isn't everyone fascinated and intrigued by Science?   We live in such an amazing universe and new things are being discovered every single day.  Yet there are many people that not only seem totally and completely uninterested, oftentimes there are people who don't even believe  that what  has been done is really true!  This blows my mind.   And I'm not just talking about Fundamentalists or others whose belief systems are driven by their church or whathaveyou.  Science is fact.  Just because you have never heard of something before doesn't mean it is untrue!  Not interested in Science??  You don't have to be a rocket scientist to learn new information about this world we live in.  Check out this site; it has some stuff that you probably didn't know and it should amaze you.   https://www.facebook.com/ScienceIsSeriouslyAwesome  It you aren't interested and amazed, well, I just don't get it!!

8.  All of a sudden, there has been an explosion of blogs, Facebook stuff, and other websites where the writer(s) are using what appears to be a GREY or BLUE font.   If that weren't bad enough, the greys or blues  they are using are LIGHT grey and LIGHT blue.  They might not realize it, perhaps it shows up differently on their computer monitor for some reason, but when it shows up here, those fonts ARE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO SEE.  Seriously!!   Often the size of the font is on the small side and between the pale color and the small size, I cannot be the only one who can't read it!!  Please use black ink.  Please use a visible font and size.  I beg you writers, think about your audience!  Some of us don't have great vision for lots of different reasons.  If you want to be read, please, make it VISIBLE!!    If not, well why are you bothering to write?   I just don't get it!!

As always, I probably won't ever understand any of this so, really, "What's the Use of Wonderin'?"  These things seem perfectly clear to me, but others don't agree with me.  Haven't you all accepted the fact that I am always right??    LOL!!  Well, I'm sorry but I just don't get it and I never will!

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Cheer Cheer Cheer for the Highlanders"

This little guy is representative of the Scottish Unit from the band from my old High School in Lake Wales, FL  At that time, the band was under the direction of Mr. Tom Bishop.  Mr. Bishop composed our Alma Mater and arranged a couple of "fight" songs for football games and was really good at his job. Mr. Bishop (from all reports) was an excellent Band Director, which was evident from the quality of the band.  I can't recall how many years straight that the Band received  Superior ratings at District and State competitions. Not being able to play a note on any type of instrument any more complex than a comb and tissue paper, I never personally experienced being in the Band.  But those that were, loved it, loved him, loved the music, loved his marching programs, and just generally loved all the aspects of the Band. 

During the Football Season, the band would present a new half-time show put together by Mr. Bishop for every home game.  While they didn't play at every home game, the Scottish Unit (which was exactly what it sounds like....bagpipes and drums and kilts) would lead the band onto the field playing a Scottish song the name of which I cannot remember at the moment, but it was very stirring and I would get a lump in my throat every time they started on to the field.  The Scottish Unit had uniforms that were completely different from the regular band uniform and basically looked a lot like this little cartoon character. I can't recall the name of the tartan either, but it was black and yellow with a bit of green and red.  The jackets and vests that they wore were black with gold/yellow trim, as were the traditional Scottish hats they wore.  (Photo below, sorry its black and white.  You just don't get the same feel as when you see them in color.)  The rest of the band was in creme colored uniforms with gold/yellow trim, and quite impressive on their own, but never so stunning as when The Scottish Unit would be out in front, and the rest of the band was stretched from one side of the field to the other!  They were the most gorgeous band I have ever seen OR heard....simple wonderful. 

The Scottish Unit
circa 1963

Mr. Bishop passed away quite a while ago, but the legacy lives on.....the Alma Mater is the still the same, I believe, and the Scottish Unit and the rest of the band looks just as stunning as always!  I'm so glad it hasn't changed very much; there is no sense in messing with perfection!

The reason I am writing about this tonight is really quite simple.  This year's football team is about to take the field to play in one of the semi-final games to determine the State Championship for their level schools around the state.  Kick-off is just about now!

Go Highlanders!! I should be there to cheer you on in person (once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader!), I wish I was there, and even considered going, but in the end, the timing just wasn't right.  Nevertheless, I am there in spirit, watching with bated breath, shouting myself hoarse, and on pins and needles as the boys play their hearts out.   Hugs and kisses to the players (both old and new) and I will have my fingers crossed all evening thinking about you.  Do your best, guys!

And if Mr. Bishop was still with us, you could bet that at half-time, the band would inspire everyone as the Scottish Unit took the field!


Sad to say the Highlanders lost,  I don't know the final score, but whatever it was it wasn't quite enough.  Don't feel bad team, there's always next year!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Getting Better"

In another example of how photography and I have a skewed relationship (see  http://mellodeemusings.blogspot.com/2009/11/kodachrome.html ),  I would like to share one of the best photos ever taken of me. 

"Side by Side by Sondheim"
November, 2013

In the world of good photography, this would not be considered anywhere close to a "good" photograph.  The background adds nothing, the image is kind of washed out, the composition is uninspired, and it gives no clue as to why, where, or when it was taken.  

The photo was taken on the spur of the moment before the show I was recently in.  The headshot they had posted in the Lobby of the theatre was vastly different is style from the rest of the cast's.  This was the AD's effort to take a photo that would fit better with the others.   She used no special lighting, no consideration was given to the pose, she just said "smile" and snapped the picture.

Despite all of that, I love the photo!  My hair is behaving, my smile is real, I look a lot younger than I am,  and thinner too!   It's actually flattering.  Amazing....are photos of me "Getting Better" at this late date???

So even though it will never win any prizes for photography, that quick little shot makes me feel pretty.

That's not a bad thing exactly.....is it?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Counting Your Blessings" -- 2013

Sometimes we are not as focused as we should be on what a holiday is truly about.  Life gets busy.  We get hung up in the trappings of the day.  We neglect to take time to think about what is important.

Thanksgiving is perhaps the easiest holiday in which to actually prevent that from happening.  It's right there in the name:  Thanksgiving.  Giving thanks.  Being grateful for all that is good in our lives.  Acknowledging our triumphs.  "Counting Your Blessings."  Taking the time to understand that even in the worst of times there are still blessings in our lives.

Tomorrow is the day that we all (or at least most of us) will celebrate the bounty in our lives.  Sharing a day with our families, being glad for our good fortune and knowing that even though life could be better, it most definitely could be worse....much worse.

One of the best is a blessing we, if we are very lucky, all  share....the caring, support, and joy given to us by families,  friends, and the people who love us.  I am grateful for each and every one of you. I wish you a joyous day celebrating all that you have, all that you love, all that  brings you happiness.  I will be doing the same!

As has become my custom, below is my annual list of what I am thankful for above and beyond my family, my good health, and all the basic goodness of life:

26 Things I am Grateful For  -  2013

This year I give thanks for:

1.  Artists who share their perceptions of the beauty and wonder of the world we inhabit,

2.  Balloons which can lift our spirits even though they are just a bag of air.

3.  Children who give us such joy and will, one day, fulfill the promise of tomorrow.

4.  Dreams that come true (and nightmares that Don't!)

5,  Elephants those generally gentle giants who lumber through our world and fascinate us.

6.  Fun that keeps us from being overwhelmed by life.

7.  Games like board games, card games, computer games....challengers of luck, speed, brain power, and skills of all sorts.  Definitely one of the Fun things in life.

8,  Houses those cleverly designed, beautifully made, individual havens for families.

9.  Intellect the amazing ability found within us to learn, retain, and respect knowledge.

10.  Jewelry those beautiful, dazzling, and flattering adornments that enhance not only the way we look but also the way we feel.

11.  Keepsakes those things we collect as reminders of the places we've been, the people we've known, the things we've done and moments we'll never forget.

12.  Luck that fleeting and uncontrollable factor that can bring us great things just by being in the right place at the right time.

13.  Men the males of the species who are so easy to love, so difficult to understand, and so handy to have around.

14.  Nighttime and all those wonderful and fun things that can be done after dark...like theater!

15.  Oceans, most specifically the Atlantic Ocean, where I have spent a great deal of time in the sand, by the water, under the sun,  under the stars, and renewing my spirit.

16.  Pockets those handy little hideaways for tissues, change, keys, and hands which appear in all men's clothing but only occasionally in women's clothing!!

17.  Quilts one of the last remaining sewing traditions still practiced by a talented few, which result in beautiful, hand-made, bed covers made up of snippets of  cloth which often come from our pasts.

18.  Reunions those wonderful gatherings of your oldest and dearest friends (often from school) that you still connect with even after all the years.

19.  Sunshine that which provides our world with light, warmth, energy and at least for people like me anyway....happiness!

20.Travel the experience of going somewhere new, or somewhere different, or somewhere that's home!

21. Umbrellas those useful gadgets that give me something to be grateful for that starts with "U" that ISN'T underwear!

22.  Vision both the essential gift of sight and the individual gift of being able to "see" how a play should be staged, cast, and acted in order to create and direct a good production.

23.  Women the females of the species who make up the Sisterhood of mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, cousins, friends, forever friends, teachers and role models....each of whom is special, unique, original, and essential to one another.

24.  XXXXXs and OOOOOs all those kisses and hugs received over the course of my lifetime,  which allowed me to know I was loved.

25. Yesterdays all the days of my life and the lessons I have learned thus far that have made me into the person I am today.

26.  Zings all of those feelings of pure joy at priceless moments of excitement and happiness that come at suddenly special times when you least expect them.

There, that's it for this year, 26 things I am grateful for.  Some are new, some have appeared on previous lists, some are serious and some are just silly.  Nevertheless, tomorrow when we give thanks for all our blessings, I'll at least have a place to start!

Happy Thanksgiving, my good and dear friends.  Don't forget to count your blessings as well!

Monday, November 25, 2013

"That's The Way I Remember It"

As I'm getting older (as we all are) I'm finding that my memory of past events is not as clear as it once was.  I used to be able to remember conversations verbatim, I'd remember an entire event from start to finish, I'd remember family stories and history pretty clearly....at least I think I did!  The sad truth is that I can't do that anymore.  I'm not concerned that it is senility or dementia creeping up, I just think my mind is too full of "stuff" gathered over a lifetime!

My memories have always been important to me.  I suppose that's true of a lot of people, but I have always been aware that my past can explain who I am today.  I've always understood that some events are life-altering while others are trivial, mundane, and pretty much dull as dishwater!  But you never know when a memory will pop out of your psyche and serve to clarify or help you understand something that is happening in your life in the present.

For instance.....

As you probably know, I grew up in a couple of small towns in Florida.  They were both slow-paced, quiet little towns that were pretty typical of their time.  There weren't any "big" stores in either town, the biggest stores in town were grocery stores.  Of course, the "big" chains didn't exist back then.  No Targets, no K-Marts, no Wal-Marts, and no enormous shopping malls either.  Cities, both large and small, had a "downtown" where most of the commerce and retail businesses were located.  There might have been a "Dime Store" like Woolworths or McCory's but not in the towns where I lived.  What we had were family-owned drug stores, an independent department store, a dress shop or two, a couple of shoe stores, a stationer's, a kids' store carrying everything from clothes to toys to schools supplies for the infant to teenage set.  There might have been a restaurant or two, a post office, insurance companies, banks, and a movie theater.  It met our needs and we had no real complaints.

There were several bigger towns within a drive of only an hour or two.  We and most everyone we knew would make regular but not all that frequent visits to one of those towns (like West Palm Beach, or Tampa, or Orlando) a couple of times a year.  We'd make those trips for back to school, Christmas and other holiday shopping. summertime shopping, and any special occasion that required something new to wear, or a nice gift, or something specific like sports equipment or furniture.

There were catalog stores for the in-between kinds of things and we all used Sears, or "Monkey Wards", or Spiegel's.  The "dream books" came out twice a year plus a special one for Christmas, and for families such as mine (above the poverty line, but nowhere near wealthy!)  Those catalogs did, in fact, allow us to dream.  But everything purchased through the catalog certainly fit into the category of delayed gratification.  You would place your order (by mail!) and wait (and wait and wait, at least it seemed like that to a young girl waiting for her new school clothes!) and finally the package from Sears (or whomever) would arrive....always with some successes and a couple of failures (it didn't fit, the color was awful, the shoes were ugly, etc., etc.).  The returns or exchanges (also all done by mail) were difficult and annoying but there was no other choice.  The catalogs provided access to all sorts of things that were affordable (of huge importance) and that you couldn't find in small towns like mine.

For the day to day things, though, you accepted the lack of variety, limited items, and higher prices and shopped locally.  At least you did when you could!  For one of the other aspects of life in the South in those days (prior to about 1965), was that the stores that you did have in your small town were not open all the time!  Most retail establishments were open Monday through Friday (or Saturday), usually from about 8 until 5.  In addition, they closed on Wednesday afternoons and sometimes Saturday afternoons.  Nothing was open on Sunday except a few restaurants, a gas station or two, and all the churches!  I imagine that one could find bread or milk or a few such items in a gas station, I really don't remember for sure, but for the most part the limited hours were universal.  As I recall the drug stores had posted phone numbers in case of a pharmacy emergency, but I don't think we ever had one.  Still, it was available for those who did.  And NOTHING much was open on a holiday....even the "lesser" holidays like Labor Day or Memorial Day.

This situation meant that you had to plan ahead!  You had to make sure that your trips to the grocery store were complete.  If you needed something for Sunday night, you had darn well better get it by Saturday or you wouldn't get it at all!  I think it was those kinds of situations that led to the stereotypical "borrowing a cup of sugar" that we all did from time to time.

"That's the Way I Remember It" and it worked just fine!

About a year or so before I moved from Florida back to Chicago (where there were VERY different retail practices),  A few of the retail establishments in the small town where we were living began to stay open until 8:00 pm on Thursday evenings!  Oh my word, that was an amazing concession to the fact that not every one had free time during daylight hours to accomplish their shopping.  Those extra three hours felt like such a gift!  I truly believe that this change came about for the convenience of their customers, NOT for the profit or benefit of the store's coffers!  Nevertheless, it was the beginning of the end.

Before long stores began staying open every evening, even Saturdays; and then open a few hours on Sundays....SUNDAYS!  Then all day on Sundays.  Then REALLY late before Christmas (shopping at midnight?  Yep, I guess so!)  And then there were stores that began staying open 24 hours a day (the big box stores mainly, but not exclusively!)  Then most stores staying open, at least for a while, on the lesser holidays and soon we arrived at where we are today....there are generally only two days a year where the majority of stores are still closed -- Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Everything was Closed for the Holiday!

And now Wal-Mart is causing a flap by deciding to open their stores on Thanksgiving Day. The reality is that this has been coming for a loooong time.  The reality is that there atr  people who will go to shop there on Thanksgiving.  The reality is that eventually even Christmas will become a "shopping day".  The reality is that some people don't celebrate those holidays and to them they are just another day.  The reality is that Wal-Mart will stay open no matter how much of an outcry there is because the reality is that as long as people are willing to go there and spend money, more and more retailers will put aside their "principles" and open their doors to capture every penny that their customers are willing to spend.  The reality is that the 1950s are long gone and the world never goes into reverse.

And as for the employees of those retailers who have to work on those holidays, well, that's a shame but ministers and doctors and wait staffs and the police and firefighters and pilots and bus drivers and thousands of others have been doing it for YEARS!

The final reality is that if you don't approve of stores being open on Thanksgiving (or eventually Christmas), don't go there!   Spend your money another day!  It's really up to us, you know....

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Here's That Rainy Day"

Oh yes, Here's That Rainy Day  Week!  It has been gray , drizzling, and right around 40 degrees all week long.  Still not enough rain to be ending the drought as it only rains in small increments, but it is just enough to make the roads a little slick and if the temps fall just a few more degrees, we could be looking at snow or worse yet, ice!

That combination of weather conditions would be just enough to shut down most of the city.  People in Austin are not good drivers when there is any kind of dampness about.  About half the drivers drop their speed by half or even two-thirds, the other half of the drives speed up!  I swear!  I think they are just trying to hurry up and get out of the wet, but it could very well be that those drivers are the group of daredevils who insist in believing they are invincible and immortal.  What they are is just plain stupid!

People who learned to drive in other parts of the country where you encounter multiple types of weather conditions, mostly show their good sense and get the heck off the roads!  Let the Texans....uhhhhmm.... untrained drivers play hopscotch with each other while they create water spray all over the road and insist on keeping their headlights off until it is actually pitch dark outside. They actually just make things worse.  

It's bad enough when its just for a day or two, but this has been going on all week.  There is only so long that one can stay indoors!  Eventually you have to venture out to get bread or something.  Sometimes it feels like you are taking your life in your hands, but there is no choice!

I'm sad to say that the existence of poor drivers isn't really limited to any one city or even area of the country.  It seems that drivers get worse every day.  As traffic increases so does the number or risks drivers take without seeming to give it any thought at all.  When I learned to drive (back in the Dark Ages), there was a lot of emphasis on the rules of the roads (those are actually laws, folks!) IN ADDITION to good driving habits, courtesy, and defensive driving skills.  I could be wrong but some of that stuff seems to be missing from a lot of drivers these days.

I've written about this before because it makes me crazy to have to deal with other drivers who appear not to have a brain in their heads!  I've been driving for years and years and have never been in a major accident.  Now that I'm retired and don't have to go anywhere I don't WANT to go (and isn't that great??), it would be the worst kind of irony to get into an accident because of someone else wanting to get somewhere right NOW, no matter how reckless and irresponsible they are being.  

Of course, the thing that would help the most at this time, would be if the darn grey skies moved on out of town and took all the damp, cold, and drizzle with it!

I am definitely ready for "Here Comes the Sun!!"


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Don't Blame Me"

I am so angry I could spit!  And it's Google/Blogger's fault....

I wrote a post a little while ago, nothing very important (just noting the unusual date -- 11-12-13).  But I spent some time on it.  I got it finished, proofed it, corrected spelling and other such things, and actually posted it.  Then I realized I had forgotten to label it.

I don't know if anyone every utilizes the labels for searching or whatever, but I add them just in case.

Well, I had a bit of difficulty in getting the label right.  Why is unimportant.  But I needed to go take care of something, so I shut it down.  Just the way I always do!

When I came back 10 minutes later, the whole post was GONE!  Completely and totally missing!  Not only that post (and this is what really angers me!!), but also the one I wrote on Sunday too!  GONE, GONE, GONE!!

I don't know what I did to make that happen but it certainly wasn't my intention!  So when you're looking for something new from me you won't find anything but THIS.  "Don't Blame Me!" that there's nothing new.  Google did it!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

"Three Little Fishies"

Happy Halloween everyone!

I know, I know, Halloween is pretty much over for another year.  In fact as I start to write this, there are only 42 minutes of it left.  But I had an experience  tonight that I would bet large amounts of money,  no one else, anywhere, ever had.  And I want to tell you all about it.

As with all of my stories, there is a bit of background that I must tell before I get to tonight's events.  It all started on Halloween two years ago.  As usually happens the largest segment  trick or treaters starts out as soon as it gets dark, before dark are some of the very little kids who have no clue what is going on, sometimes even still being carried by mom or dad.  They are completely adorable and I love the look of utter confusion on their faces and their various efforts to say some semblance of  "trick or treat".  So cute, but so funny.

Once dark hits though, the kids begin to get older.  It's almost a chronological progression.  The later the time, the older the kids.  By about 7:30 or so we are getting the middle school and early high school kids, the 11 to 14 crowd.  Things begin to thin out as the younger kids are taken home with their overflowing pumpkins and bags.

So two years ago, at somewhere around 7:30 or so, the doorbell rang and a small group of girls who looked to be around 12 or 13 shouted out "Trick or Treat" as I opened the door.  They were a happy, giggling group of maybe 2 or 3 girls.  I cannot recall exactly how the conversation went, I think I made a comment about one of their costumes which had something to do with fish (she might have been some sort of aquarium or some such thing.)  Anyway, as frequently happens, it reminded me of a song, soI sang a couple of bars of "Three Little Fishies," a song my mom used to sing when I was a little girl.  Evidently the girls hadn't ever heard it and one of them asked me if I knew the whole song.  Well, of course, I did.  So I sang it and the girls laughed and loved it.  As I gave out the candy the girls were extremely polite; they thanked me for the candy AND for singing for them and they went on their way.  They were a nice group and I enjoyed talking to them, but there were more kids coming up the walk and it was time to move on.

Well, the next Halloween (which would have been last year), around the same time, the doorbell rang and on the porch stood a slightly larger group (maybe 5 or 6).  When I opened the door, one of them said, "Hi, do you remember that last year you sang for my friends and I??  Of course, I remembered.  She then said, "We brought a couple of our friends with us tonight.  Could you sing the Little Fishies song for them too?  They've never heard it either."  Well, that was a real surprise.  I couldn't imagine that these girls would have remembered something like that for a whole year.  So of course, I sang the song again for them, with all the verses I could remember.  Well, they laughed and applauded, and complimented my singing and they told me that they were part of the choir at their school.  We chatted a little, I gave them their candy, we waved goodbye and shaking my head with a little wonder, I turned to the next group.

Okay, fast forward to tonight.  You can probably guess what happened.  At about 7:30 again the doorbell, when I opened the door there was a group of at least 15 girls!  They were probably 14 and 15 by now.  The girl from the first year, smiled and said "Hi, Remember us??"  You sang for us before.  These are all the girls from our Vaudeville group from school.  Would you sing for us again, please?"   I couldn't believe it, but I said sure and asked if they wanted 3 Little Fishies again!  Several said, no, just sing whatever you want to!  So I sang  "Strong Woman Number" from a show called I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road, written by Gretchen Cryer.  (I chose that because I was pretty sure I knew all the words!!)  They smiled and laughed through the whole things (it's a great song.)  They loved it!  When I finished they applauded enthusiastically, and smiled, and thanked me again!  While giving them the candy, one of girls who had been standing near the back wiggled her way through group to the front and she looked at me and with a little hesitance asked, "Were you on Broadway?"   I smiled at her and said, "Oh no, honey, I've never been on Broadway."  She smiled sweetly and said, "Well, you should have been!  You are really good."

Oh. My. Word.  I was blown away.   I'm no where near that good a singer, but to think this sweet girl thought I could have been just felt unbelievably good.  And to think that this group of girls comes back each year just to ask me to sing them a song....what a unbelievable compliment.  Even if they never come back, I will never, ever forget these lovely girls who are in the process of learning to love music just as much as I do.  I wish them all a future filled with the music they love and I hope that one day some of them will be called on to entertain another group of girls who value music even more than Halloween Candy!!

I am touched down to my soul!  Bless their dear sweet hearts!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Stealing

I haven't done one of these in awhile, so thought I'd do a spot of Sunday Stealing....  More stuff you probably didn't know (or care) about me!

What was your first alcoholic drink? 
  • I was about 20 and we went to a Christmas party at Mike's boss's home.  I had never had any kind of drink, so when asked what I wanted to drink, I asked for what my dad always had....a 7&7.  I was seriously sick the whole night.
What was your first job? 
  • While in college, I worked part-time in a Kresge's 5&10 (it was the same company that later started K-Mart).  I worked one of the check-out registers and was  quickly promoted to work in the office totaling up the day's receipts and counting the cash.  Me and numbers!  Right, they had no idea the chance they were taking!!  :)
What was your first car? 
  • In the early 70s I got a 1967 Corvair convertible. 
What did you do on your first date? 
  • Went to a movie in the afternoon with David F.  I don't even remember what it was, but I wore a yellow dress!  He was also my first grown-up kiss but that was a couple of years later!
What is your first proper memory? 
  •  I remember the house we lived in when I was 3, my 4th Birthday party and the dress I was wearing.
Who was your first teacher? 
  • I had Sister Regina for both 1st and 2nd grade, she seemed very, very old, but she was a good teacher and she like me.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • Oh, that's easy....a little town in central Florida called Lake Wales.  It will always be home!
Where did you go on your first ride on an airplane? 
  • I think it was from Chicago to L.A.
Who was your first best friend? 
  • Janie T. and we're still in touch (thanks, Facebook!)
What was your first detention for? 
  • I was never in trouble in school....I was a very good little girl.
What's your strongest sense? 
  • My emotions, hands-down
Who was your first kiss? 
  • Should I count Buddy Young in 1st grade??
What was the first film you remember seeing at the cinema?
  • "The Wizard of Oz", I got scared when the house fell on the witch, started screaming and we had to leave! 
What's the largest amount of money you've ever won? 
  • Won?  Won???   I don't win ANYTHING, much less money!
What's the largest amount of money you've spent in one spree? 
  • I don't spend a lot on myself at any one time, couldn't have been more than a $200-300 tops
If you had a warning label, what would yours say? 
  • Caution, Volatile Substance, Handle with Care!
Have you ever got sweet revenge on anyone? 
  • Oh yes, but I can't write about it! It was Very satisfying :)
 Have you ever been to a live concert? 
  • Of course, many, many.  I've performed in concerts as well.  Seen lots of personalities in concert, only two "rock" concerts though...Air Supply and  Paul McCartney about 30 years apart.
Have you ever been to see stand up comedy? 
  • Sure, no one famous though.
Have you ever needed stitches??  
  • Unfortunately yes, badly cut two fingers on my left hand at work one day.  Still have the scars too.

"Nights On Broadway"

Theater is a night time thing!.  Honestly it is.  The vast majority of all type of performance art takes place at night.  "Nights on Broadway" start with an 8:00 pm curtain.  This has been so for decades and decades, even centuries.  

It is too hard to create illusion while the sun is up.  The sleight of hand that occurs when creating the illusion of a reality on the stage requires dark and shadows and mystery.  The wrong kind of light will expose all the little tricks and illusion for what they are....make believe.  In daylight a costume that sparkles and gleams under the lights of performance, will be revealed to be a bit shabby, kind of tacky, and no longer beautiful.  You might see the tears and patches of a well-used costume, the repairs made with thread that doesn't quite match, the safety pin that replaces a missing button. Things that are invisible under stage light, become glaringly obvious in the bright light of day.   The walls of a seemingly impenetrable fortress will be revealed to be nothing more than cleverly painted flats or even  Styrofoam or cardboard.  Anytime you try to create a set, a character, a costume, or a situation that seems real but really isn't, you are asking for a huge suspension of disbelief from everyone in the audience.  The audience sits in the darkened theater with stage light directed only where it helps the illusion.  The stage pops into reality, but the rest of the space visible to the audience remains completely dark and quietly disappears.

There are, of course, performances that are matinees, but those performances are always in a theater just as dark as it would be at an 8:00 show.  The theater staff must completely block out any source of natural light that might spill into the theater and detract from the illusion on the stage. For the performers, leaving the theater after a show and emerging into bright daylight can be disconcerting at best.  We do it to maximize audiences and revenue, but most actors don't like it.  It just feels wrong.  The energy level is off.  The reactions of the audience are usually diminished and the whole experience just doesn't feel quite right.

Most of the time rehearsals are done at night as well; at least in the area of volunteer, community theater entities.  Mostly this is because the cast and crew all have "real jobs" and a "real life" which take place in the daytime.  There are times when the luxury of a nighttime rehearsal is just not possible and we suck it up and make do with an afternoon rehearsal.  But a certain number of night time rehearsals are really essential to take advantage of all the benefits of the night that allows the creation of that illusion.

What theater does not do well is mornings!   It is just wrong in every possible way.  Most theater people seem to be night owls, so mornings are their least favorite times of day.  Not only do you not have good energy, your creativity, coordination, attention span, voice, agility, timing, and memory is just not there either!

And the absolute WORST thing is having a rehearsal scheduled early in the day for an energetic musical with lots of dance!

Like the one I had today....that required an 8:00 AM rise (after only 5 hours sleep), a 20 minute drive to the rehearsal space, for a start time of 9:00 AM and lasting until 12:00 Noon!!!

Really, that just sucks!  I'm lucky I didn't fall off the stage and break my neck!

9:00 AM, indeed!    Honestly, the things I do for love of theater!   lol!

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"

I will never understand why it is so hard to start a good habit, break a bad habit, or re-start a good habit that you broke!   Changing any behavior pattern is never easy.  Like change in any relationship, "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do!"

For the last several weeks I have had lots of things to write about but somehow I just haven't been able to get back to writing.  For instance:

*  We have a brand new roof that turned out great; but we're still waiting for approval on the deck replacement and addition of the pergola.  The urgency is somewhat mitigated by the weather, it's been a lot cooler, not always good outdoor weather for me.  Maybe it will get done in time for Spring!  Maybe!

*  I'm in rehearsal for "Side by Side by Sondheim," a musical review of Sondheim's early works.  Having a  really good time with it.  This is the first musical I have done since moving to Austin!  That's 13 years!!  New group of nice people, makes all the difference!

*  In the early stages of discussion of establishing a new theater group with two very good friends!

My baby,
the world traveler!
*  Ratchlet went to Shanghai, China representing UT in discussions about a cultural exchange of some type!  She was gone for a week, had a "fabulous" time, but is still suffering from jet lag even though she's been home for almost 3 days.

*  Neither Ratchlet nor I nor Mikey was able to attend M-t-G's first band concert this year.  First one I've missed.  So sorry, sweetie!  I hope it went really well!  I won't miss the rest!!

*  After my trip (see below), I returned to a house with no kitchen sink or water, partially torn up counter tops and a mess. It's a big project and I knew Mike would be working on it, so it didn't come as a huge shock. I hope that it won't take a millennium to finish, but I have lived through Mikey's projects before.  It will take longer than he expected, be more work than he hoped for, but will be gorgeous in the end.

*  And the piece de resistance??  I went to a multi-class High School reunion that was just the best trip ever!  Saw and reconnected with so many old friends, met some spouses, caught up on nearly 50 years of history, ate, danced, laughed, talked, hugged, and generally had a wonderful time. I was even able to spend a bit of time with the mother of one of my old friends.  She is 90 years old, very much present, and still  a hoot.  What a dear lady, I've always loved her.   Through the extreme generosity of my oldest best friend forever, Flossie, I stayed in her lovely new home with a beautiful view of the lake the town is named after.
My good friend , Bart A,  he and I danced and danced.
It was going home for me and made me realize yet again how much I love that town and especially so many of the people in it! I'm still feeling sad that one of the best experiences of my life is over. Again, the memories will have to serve! I'll never forget it and I'll always love the special people I saw. Lake Wales NEVER lets me down!!

I'm sure there are other things that have happened since my last post, but this is a start.

So here it is, Resolution #375  to Start Writing Again.  I will get back to this. I will!  Really!!  (I hope.)

Monday, August 19, 2013


Have you ever read a book to your children or grandchildren called, "If You  Give A Mouse A Cookie"?   It's a great little book about how even the simplest things can get complicated before you know it.  If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll want a glass of milk, but you have no milk, so you'll need to go to the store.  When you get home you'll find that all of your glasses are too big for the mouse to hold, so you'll need to find a little glass and.....whatever.  And it goes on and on.  It's very cute.

I have come to the conclusion that that book is really an introduction to home ownership.  "Huh??"  you say. Really, it's true!  I'll prove it to you....

We had some hail damage to our roof a couple of years ago and the roof needs to be replaced.  Okay, that happens.  Not great news, but not horrible either.  With the interest rates down so low, the decision to replace the roof became a decision to re-finance the house..  Because we are in a good equity situation with the house that led to a decision to take out money for the re-roof rather than finance it separately.

While we were looking at the roof, we were reminded that the deck needs replacing too and that project could be folded into the re-fi.  And I've always wanted a pergola for our completely open and uncovered deck.  If we are replacing the deck (which is neither very large nor multi-leveled), it would only make sense to add in the pergola at the same time if it isn't cost prohibitive.

Okay, we've got a plan!  Okay, time to get the bids....Okay, got the bids...Now for the okay on the re-fi.....Okay we got the re-fi....Now we have to get the HOA approval....Once we get that, we're good to go.  So we're getting closer to actually getting started on the roof.

While we were waiting for all that, we decided to go ahead and replace our garbage disposal.  It was 20 years old and recently gave up the ghost.  So....we were in Home Depot looking at disposals and the Big Guy said, "You know, if you ever wanted to get a different kitchen sink, this would be the time."  Really?  Well, of course, I've wanted to get a new sink that was deeper that the 7 in deep sink we have now!  So we bought a disposal....and a sink.   And then Mikey said, "You know, if you ever wanted to replace the old Formica counter top, this would be the time."  Really??  Really???  So we're looking at new counter top materials.  No decisions on that yet, but I bet we'll find something soon!  Mikey will do those projects himself, so they are not as costly as they might be otherwise.

And you know, with the new sink and the new counter tops, and the pretty view of the new deck and pergola outside the windows of the kitchen......this would be the perfect time to do something to update the cabinets....paint and new hardware maybe??  Oh and the lighting fixture will then look even more dated than it does now.

No, No, don't even look at the wood flooring!   Really, NO, don't look....that flooring covers not only the kitchen, it also runs into the family room  and down the hall to the front door area.  DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!  Hmmm,  I hear bamboo flooring is nice......NO NO NO NO NO!

So you see...."If you give a mouse a cookie...."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Little Sister" Part II

Finally the day came!  My little sibling was ready to be born!  We were ready too.  Couldn't wait to meet him or her..... Mom and Daddy went off to the Hospital and I spent the bulk of the day waiting with our good friend Mrs. L.   I don't remember exactly how long a wait there was, but it seemed like days!!

Daddy promised to call when there was news and he did!  WE HAD A NEW BABY!  Mom was okay and baby was okay and oh, by the way, I had a new little.......SISTER!!!   YAY!   I was dancing and yelling and jumping up and down.  My very own little sister, Debra Ann, had arrived.

I'm sorry to say I don't remember when I first saw her or got to hold her.  I know mom and the baby were in the Hospital for a couple of days, which was pretty standard.  I know Daddy took me to the hospital to peek into the nursery and there she was.  A little blonde-headed, blue-eyed, cutie who looked exactly like....nobody!  I was disappointed, I wanted a little carbon-copy of me.  She didn't look like me, or mom, or daddy!  At a couple of days old, to me she just looked like all the other babies in the world!  I didn't realize until I was actually able to hold her when she came home, that it takes a bit of one on one time to begin to see beyond the "baby-dom" and begin to see the little person.

As soon as I held her I fell head over heels in love with this precious bundle!  As I recall she didn't cry much and was a pretty happy baby mostly.  After that first couple of days when she still looked kind of squished and red and a little on the skinny side like all newborns, all of a sudden she blossomed and she was gorgeous!! Really!

I was fascinated by this little miracle.  It was like a training school for how to take care of a baby.  I watched and learned and was little like a second mom.  I loved to hold her and sing to her.  She would let me hold her for along time in the rocker on the back porch as long as I was singing.  I think it was probably our best bonding time.

As she got a little older she really was an adorable little girl, her pretty blond hair like a cloud of gold around her face.  She began to become her own person and I spent a lot of time with her.  I played with her and helped her and read to her and she would stick to me like glue, following me around whatever I was doing.

But the reality is that she was 12 years younger than I.  That's a pretty big gap.  As she started school, I was already in college!  She was in 2nd grade when I got married, so we never had the true sister to sister experiences of growing up together.  She was a part of my life, but before long I had a baby of my own and a life separate from hers.

Her life experiences were so different than mine, other than having the same parents, we had very few similarities in our childhoods.  She grew up in the urban environment of a big city, I was a small town girl.  She lived in one place from age 6 or 7 until she was finished with college and got married.  I moved more times than I could count and lived in multiple different towns.  She went to Catholic school all the way through high school.  I was in public schools from 7th grade on.  She went away to college and I went to a "commuter" school.  She chose a profession (Pharmacist) and stayed in school through a five year degree program.  I never finished college.  I was married at age 19 and a mother at age 20.  She married after college and didn't have kids until she was about 26 (I think, its hard to remember exactly.)   I've been married forever, she is now divorced.

Our personalities are different too.  She will avoid conflict whenever possible, I am confrontational.  I liked the pink cats, she like the blue but wouldn't SAY so!  (This is an inside joke just for Little Sis!)  I have rarely seen her angry, I am angry half the time!  She has a wicked sense of humor that pops out at just the right moment.  A lot of people don't even know when I am joking!  However, she always gets my jokes and she can make me laugh at the drop of a hat. I tend to want to talk everything to death, while she holds things in and doesn't go in for long conversations exploring her feelings or experiences.

She came home from college to see me in a show!
Circa 1980

When she first went away to college, I began to see what a great person she was as an adult.  I knew that we were on our way to being best friends forever!   I have always been extremely proud of her, she is a good person, a loving sister, a great caregiver, and a person I like very much.

But our lives continued to take us in different directions.  She and her family moved to Phoenix, then the Big Guy and I moved to California and then to Texas.  Although we talked on the phone frequently, we wouldn't actually see each other for years at a time.  Even now we see each other only sporadically.  It's been a year and a half since the last time we were together.  Her kids are grown, close to fully achieving their career goals and it looks very much as if they will settle in Colorado and Washington.  Once they are set, I'm pretty sure my little sis will head to one of those states permanently.  It's what parents do these days.  So yet again, we are doomed to be in different places.  These days, emails and Facebook are our main mode of communication.

Little Sis and her children, Matthew and Christina

Tomorrow my "Little Sister" will reach her 55th birthday. It's hard to think of my baby sister being that age. (But then it's hard to think of being MY age!)  Despite all our differences, we still are alike in many other ways, But our lives have been different.  We have different interests, different experiences, and different desires.  Those 12 years have never become completely irrelevant.  I struggled with bridging the gap.  I always wanted to be best friends forever but the years and the paths we took never quite allowed that to happen in the way that I wanted.

I realize though, that being best friends forever has never really  been a realistic goal.  We both have several great friends, a couple of which are even considered to be "best friends."  The reality is that we each only have one sister.  She is the only person who has known me all of her life,  the only person who loves me as unconditionally as only a sister can, the only person who shares our family history, and the only person who understands what that means.  She's my Little Sis and I will love her and be grateful for her and for everything she has brought to my existence all the days of her life.  I miss her and wish we were able to enjoy each other's company more often, but I know that we share a mutual admiration, pride, love, and caring unlike any other relationship in our lives.  She's my Lil' Sis and I am her Big Sis and nobody could ever change that.  A best friend forever??  Nah, she is something far better, she is my SISTER.

Photo: My big sis took very good care of me.  :)
My poor wounded Lil Sis!
She's been dealing with that broken wrist for nearly two years!!!

Happy Birthday Deb!  I hope you have as wonderful day as you deserve!!  Wish I was there to sing you Happy Birthday in person!

Friday, August 9, 2013

"Little Sister"

When I was somewhere around 3 or 4, my mom suffered an ectopic pregnancy.  The doctors told my mom that it would be very unlikely that she would ever get pregnant after that.  I don't know what Mom's reaction to that was, though my Mom was a very accepting person.  I'm pretty sure that she just accepted that and went on.  She never talked about wanting more children, I think she was perfectly fine with having only one child, after all she came from a family of 11 children!  Being able to pour all her love and attention on just one child might have been wonderful to her.

I wouldn't say that I was spoiled, exactly.  We didn't have the money for me to be too spoiled!   Mom was a strong disciplinarian and a very down-to-earth woman.  Nonetheless I never wanted for anything important.  My mom and I were very close and we enjoyed each other's company..  She was a great mom and for most of my childhood I had her all to myself.  My dad was in the restaurant business and he worked afternoons to closing around 10 pm.  So mom and I did things together.

I do remember mentioning several times that I wanted a little brother or sister, but Mom always made it pretty clear that there wouldn't be either one.  That was disappointing to me.  Like most only children I wanted somebody to play with, and a built-in playmate/friend/sibling would have been just the thing, but somewhere along the way I gave up the idea and stopped asking for a baby sister or brother.

Then came 1958.  I turned 12 in 1958. I was almost a teenager!  I got a bit taller that year.  My hair was cut fairly short and it was up to me to keep it nice.  I had a poodle skirt and crinolines and I could finally wear shoes without socks!  I had my first real crush.  I was going into 7th grade and 1958 was the year rock 'n roll burst into my life (and everyone else's too!)  Bill Haley and the Comets', "Rock Around the Clock" was a huge hit and I remember being at my first "dance" and dancing to that song about 15 times.  It was a great song, it had a great beat and you could dance to it! I gave it a high mark!

I was almost a grown up!  I was thinking about boys, and fashion, and music, and boys, and girlfriends, and boys and did I mention....boys??!!

And then Mom had news!

A baby was coming!!!  Really, after all those years!  Our very own  baby!  A little brother or a "Little Sister"  I was thrilled.  I guess part of me had never given up hoping!  Wow!  I was still young enough to get excited and not be embarrassed that my mother was......GASP!.....PREGNANT!   My Dad was thrilled, my Mom was thrilled, our friends were thrilled.  My grandparents were thrilled.  My mom's sisters and brothers were thrilled.  But I was the most excited of all!  It was wonderful news.  I could hardly wait!

Mom had no big problems with the pregnancy (at least none that I knew about.)  She was active and energetic and as long as she got a little nap in the afternoon, she was in a great mood.  We talked about possible names for the baby.  Mom and I decided on a boy's name and a girl's name.  (I'm sure Dad had an opinion too, but I didn't see him very much because of his work hours).

Nobody expressed a preference for a boy or girl, we just wanted healthy!  Still deep in my heart of hearts, I wanted a sister....a sweet, cute, "Little Sister" who would be my best friend forever!    I didn't think August was ever going to come!

More to come....

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