05 December 2013
30 September 2013
16 June 2013
An abridged version of the story appears below. Suffice to say it's filled with my grandmother's wit and knack for storytelling. Her story and the details of the article itself fill in some of the family names and dates, so useful in filling out the family tree. It also fills in the gaps of her life, the childhood that often was unhappy and accounts for the strong willed, often cantankerous grandmother I knew. My maternal great-grandparents died before I was born, and I don't recall ever hearing anything about my great grandfather.
07 June 2013
From a conversation I had with my mother in 2006 (my mom died 3 months ago):
Well, the first question might be who the hell is Esther Williams? She's a movie star that swam in all of her films. Glitzy, splashy Hollywood style movies (couldn't resist the pun).
Muzzy (nearly 80) saw a commercial with a young, really young, mom cooing to her adorable, chubby baby. "That's Esther Williams' baby. Isn't it cute?"
"Nah, nah, that's not Esther Williams. THE Esther Williams, you mean?"
"YE-E-E-S," she said sarcastically, "Esther Williams. You know Esther Williams?"
"Yes. She's wonderful in all her movies."
"That's not Esther Williams. She's like 80."
"What? Oh, stop. That was her right there."
"Mom, she's older than you. That woman was in her twenties."
"Esther Williams is maybe 40 at the most."
Then, she used my full name, middle name and all! "Yes, she's young. That's her baby."
"Her daughter's baby, maybe, or her granddaughter's baby. But Esther is OLD. Too old for babies."
"She is not. Don't be ridiculous." Now she's angry.
"Ok, I'll go google her." And I left the room knowing that no matter what I found out she wouldn't believe me.
When I returned, I said, "She was a member of the 1940's Olympic Team and her first movie was with Mickey Rooney. And I think he's dead. She's old."
"Now I know you are making things up. He is not dead, he's about 50."
I'm thinking I should just give up about now. Obviously, she wants Esther to be young, eternally, as she is in all the films. But something drives me to pursue this ludicrous venture. "When did you see her movies?"
"I don't know. They're on from time to time."
"No, I mean first see her in the movies." Then, I jump to the chase. "She was born in 1922. You were born in 1927. It be--like you having a baby."
"Well,............................ she's just 40. You're wrong. Not 1922, that must be someone else."
Here we go, I pushed her wheelchair through the house to the computer and showed her the Wikepedia on Esther Williams which was showing a photo of Esther at about 20.
"Yes, that's her. Look, see, she's still young."
"IN THE PHOTO, mom. Not today. Read this--born in 1922."
"Oh. I can't believe that."
So, we go back to the kitchen and she says, "I bet no one knows that."
"Everyone knows she's 80 something. I'll call someone and ask. I bet your sister knows." She scowlls at me as I pick up the phone and dial. "Hi, hey, do you by chance know how old Esther Williams is?"
"I guess she's about 40. Why?"
I am shocked and appauled. Has the world gone mad? Is this a dream? "When did you first see her movies?"
"I guess when I was young."
"When we were in school we used to go watch her in the movies."
"It's 2006. How old is Esther Williams."
Gasp! "She must be in her 80's."
"I am handing the phone to my mother. Tell her how old Esther Williams is."
My mother's face says it all. Esther, we now all agree, is 85.
Why do I feel NO relief, no sense of having won the battle. I feel guilty. I've taken away their false reality. What difference does it make if Esther Williams is 25, 40, or dead? I really did think she was dead actually. So, I guess I'm happy to find out she isn't. We should all be happy she's alive and well and recuperating from an infection for which she was hospitalized in sunny California.
Moral of the story: We are only as old as we feel until someone comes along and throws cold water with an old swimmer in it right in our lap.
26 May 2013
make you think of new things and say what you mean?
The keys are alive with the power of words
though the thought of it all is something absurd.
In Bloggsville they type and they type and they scroll.
They read and they search trying to make themselves whole.
But all that arrives on the screen are the bits,
the tids and the flotsom and whatever fits.
The blogging goes on, day in, and day out,
as they wonder out loud and shift with each doubt.
It's a Zeuslike land all the words that they blog.
Yet, the bloggers blog on, blog, blog, blog-blog, blog.
originally published online May 16, 2003 FIRST POST - title has been updated
Since then, I've met some famous authors and asked them what they would blog about today if they could. Here are two of them:
23 April 2013
Drinking and acetaminophen don't mix. Too much even without alcohol can lead to an overdose. Hundreds die each year from too much acetaminophen. If two tablets don't perk you up and the existential downer lingers, you may have to make a change in the people with whom you associate.
Depression can "rub off" on others. Recent studies show that cognitive vulnerability is contagious. If your friends respond with pessimism, angst, and a mood slump to less than perfect situations, you may find yourself needing to take two Tylenol to lift your spirits.
20 April 2013
My reasons for leaving (what to some would appear) a good job made sense to me, though articulating the rationale for others has not been easy. Maybe the main motivation came from my gut--an intuitive knowing that life needed to turn. So I tossed the coin and let it turn.
Several articles written about knowing when to change jobs helped me discern whether my gut reaction had value. The best one lists six reasons to quit a job, all of which were a near perfect fit:
- You dread going to work in the morning.
- You truly dislike the type of work you're doing.
- You can't shake the feeling that you just don't fit in at the company.
- You are getting passed over for promotions.
- The work has become so routine you could do it in your sleep.
- You have serious concerns about the financial stability of your organization.
I have the dime in hand and have taken a good long look at the other side of change. Not bad. The journey of life often goes uphill, requiring more than a dime's worth of effort and risk. At the top of the hill I don't expect to see anything except a new view, another hill, maybe a ravine to cross or a steep cliff, and many more hills to climb. The last hill was good while it lasted. And the view from the top? It's worth a million!
19 April 2013
And who gets to participate in these studies?
"If you take just a sip of beer, and moments later—before you’ve had close to enough alcohol to get intoxicated, perhaps even before the beer has hit your stomach—feel a distinctly pleasurable sensation, it might not be strictly due to subtle aromas that result from the beverage’s blend of malt, hops and yeast. The cause of your pleasure might be due to tangible changes in your brain chemistry—specifically, a surge in levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine."
Do they know about other things leading to surges in dopamine? Will there be more studies? They could just pay me to tell them how to increase the dopamine and pleasure in life.
Or they could just guess, like this: "The researchers believe this could be a clue as to why some people are predisposed towards alcoholism—and why it’s more difficult for them stay on the wagon if they’re trying to quit." Yes, a clue!
14 April 2013
it's the first weekend
of the rest of my life
and all the people who want to tell me
who i'm supposed to be
have been left behind
a new dawn
a new day
and i'm feelin' good
do you know how i feel?
09 April 2013
13 February 2013
I first heard about Bento lunches on NPR. That's where I hear about everything because I'm a faithful (addicted) listener. Japanese children enjoy lunch at school because their mothers make itzy-cute lunches with creativity only surpassed by the nutritional value. When my children were little--and the Rolling Stones were young--we made banana faces on pancakes with strawberry red hair and raisin noses. We decorated bologna with shredded cheese for hair and olives for a nose. We had books on "Feed Your Kids Right" that told us kids will eat things that are cute. In my house, that worked for awhile. Eventually, cute wore off and the oldest daughter regressed into a picky eater snubbing her 8-yr-old nose at vegetables, which lasted until she was in high school and became a dedicated vegetarian, dedicated to saving cows, pigs, and chickens. Urbanfig's photo of uber-cute food design tells me that I didn't try hard enough. Now that I have grandsons, I have another chance. I'm going for the pirate ship!
13 January 2013
26 December 2012
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
Not easy advise to follow.
15 November 2012
On her blog, she tells us how. If anyone else gave me these suggestions for following my dream (which doesn't have to include Bali), I'd be tempted to say something cheeky, like "Riiiiiiight, and you would know!" But she actually did it so I think she just might know.
If you don't like four letter words that start with the letter which makes the same sound "ph" makes, as in philosophy, you might not like Sarah's advise. Joseph Campbell gives similar advise using a word that starts with the same letter, "Follow your bliss." That's his philosophy. If Sarah's (FIP) Philosophy rubs against your grain, substitute Campbell's and continue reading what she has to say.
I don't think I'm ready to pack, yet. But my non-profit job may be up for grabs soon.
Read about it here. The taste is good, but we didn't bring any home.
I'm busily working on making YouTube videos of the trip. And more will be posted on our Where In The World blog, when all the photos have been downloaded and my journal entries are typed up. In addition to Civet poo poo, we'll have stories about the volcano, the elephants, the monkeys, the taxi drivers, and walking on the bottom of the sea.
Always good to come home. Sleep in a bed without mosquito netting or mosquito coils burning in the room. And make coffee from Trader Joe's just the way I like it.
03 September 2012
"Having spent most of her life in London, our guest blogger Sarah Alderson quit her job in the non-profit sector in 2009 and took off on a round-the-world trip with her husband and princess-obsessed daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. After several months in India, Singapore, Australia, and the US, they settled in Bali where Sarah now spends her days writing by the pool and drinking lots of coconuts. She finished her first novel Hunting Lila (now in the early stages of film development) just before they left the UK, wrote the sequel on the beach in India, and had signed a two book deal with Simon & Schuster by the time they reached Bali. A third book, Fated, about a teenage demon slayer, which was written during their stay in California, was published in January 2012 by Simon Pulse (an imprint of Simon & Schuster). Sarah is currently working on several screenplays as well as two further young adult novels - both thrillers - which are scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster in 2013.'
11 June 2012
Play the game. Pick a posh condo in any New York, NY, neighborhood.
03 June 2012
The youngest daughter took a shot with the Beatles—assuming, I suppose, that everyone of a certain age likes the Beatles. And then she suggested Beach Boys. I had no older siblings and was just a few years too young to have really grown up with either of these bands rooted in my soul. Music that engages from the deep memory level is more than just period music.
14 January 2012
A contemporary writer I have been interested in lately, one I'll probably never meet, is Paulo Cuelho, a Brazilian. His stories fascinate me and his writing inspires me. Cuelho has begun a VLOG (video blogg) on writing--or at least his writing process. In addition to being a great writer, Cuelho is great communicator. He's interested in using all forms of technology to provide people the opportunity to read his books and to share his ideas.
I have not followed Mr. Still's advise very well in my life. Sometimes I write. Most of the time I think about writing, letting work and other responsibilities get in the way. The same with drawing and painting. Someone asked me yesterday if I had a passion for the work that I do. Sadly, I had to say no. I have a competency for the work I do, and most of the time I like what I do. Maybe I even have a gift for it, but no passion. If I quit tomorrow, the work would be done by another who may even be more competent than I am at getting the work done. Maybe someone who is passionate about the work. The pay will be the same for both of us.
Cuelho's vlog reminds me of what my passion means. Mr. Still probably would say I 'd be better of writing instead of viewing a vlog on writing. I'm watching them anyway.
08 December 2011
From an article in Art in America on Joan Mitchell:
"...and Mitchell grew up rich. Yet as a young woman in New York, she donned worn-out clothes. . . and tried with limited success to keep her wealth a secret from her Abstract Expressionist peers. In spirit at least, she held fast to the romantic ideal of the penniless bohemian."
Faux Bohemian. Complexity in the costuming of the authentic self.
Image and book info.
05 November 2011
Another time-passing tool I like to use in meetings actually involves the pencil or pen, glasses are optional. I like the pencil because it allows more freedom of form in drawing actual caricatures of the people speaking. After the first 15 minutes, I start with the person who has had the most to say. As long as his mouth or hers is moving, I'm looking at them anyway, and my pencil sketches the main features.
Not that the finished product is in any way a keenly drawn portrait. It's not. But I'm usually able to capture the significant features. Nearly anyone looking on to my notebook can discern the figure in the margin to be the person in the room talking, and talking, and talking. Later, when I review my notes, I have found my drawings to be reminders of who said what, and the details they've shared come pouring back in my memory.
I use the same two tools during lectures. Some of the best lectures are made even more interesting, from a personal level, and the really worst of all lectures are definitely made more tolerable. Unfortunately, it also makes them memorable.
Doodling is one of the best ways to help the brain retain incoming information. it's true--as in proven. If you like to doodle, but you don't like the sneers from those who think you are not paying attention, check out Sunni Brown's TED lecture.
And if you find yourself on the TED webpages unable to stop watching and listening to the "ideas worth sharing" pick up a pencil and doodle away.
*Note: if you don't wear glass, by some weak reading glasses and bring them along to your next meeting. You've got some serious head shrinking to do.
29 October 2011
Alice sits with my mother at every meal. They live in a nursing home and only see one another at meal times in the dining room. My mother is non-ambulatory, using a wheelchair all day every day. Alice can still walk on her own and lives in a "secured" wing for people who have Alzheimer's and tend to wander if not kept under close guard. Each day Alice's daughter, Dorothy (names changed for confidentiality), visits for lunch and sits with the two elderly women, helping them order their meals, use utensils, and keep up a conversation.
My mother's been in the hospital for a week. The change in environment has caused her to be confused, even more so than the rampant infection that sent her to the hospital. Confusion, anger, and depression occur regularly with dementia. Nurses and family members learn to repeat directions and stories over and over and over before the point finally hits the mark. In my mother's case, her difficulties in hearing increase the number of times and volume one has to tell her even the simplest of things.
"I wonder where Alice and Doris are today," she asked me when I visited at lunchtime on her first day back from the hospital.
My first thought was to fudge the truth a little, tell her Alice had the flu or a cold. Like the old joke about telling the family their cat died, I'd start with "Alice is on the roof."
Knowing I'd have to tell her eventually, I said plainly, "Alice died last night."
Now, my mother, whose memory is not very keen on the best of days, hadn't seen Alice or Doris in a week. During that week, she's been in every state of mind except lucid. I wasn't even sure she really remembered Alice.
"She's where?" My mother asked.
"She died," pause, "last night," I said right up next to her ear, so the other residents dining at the table might not overhear. I wasn't sure the staff told residents when another resident passed away. Seems reasonable that they would tell them, but with HIPPA who knows what's private and what's not.
"He died?" was her response.
Momentarily confused myself, I changed the subject and asked her if she was going to drink her juice. Maybe she didn't remember Alice. Still I thought it was an odd response. The woman to her right was having difficulty with her wheelchair, and I offered to help her. Meanwhile, my mother was trying to fish out the details of the death from my husband who had to shout "Alice died. Not Dorothy's dad. It's Alice. She died." At which point my mother turned to me with a look of horror and said, "Alice died!!"
Now everyone knows, I thought. Like a punch line to the jokes we often tell her, I figured they would all forget within minutes and we'd play this scene over at every meal for weeks until their shorter than short term memory let go of Alice.
I suppose there's a certain grace in having dementia as we age. The people we've met along the pathways of our life's journey step off the path when their time comes, and all we see is the vista before our eyes at that moment. We can't mourn or even miss someone we don't remember. At the same time, dementia brings with it delusions and visions of people who passed away long ago making them ever present before us. Conjured up at will to keep us company.
Alice left her friends on the path and began another journey. She stepped off the path the way we would all likely prefer it--fall asleep, "To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come. When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause: there's the respect, That makes calamity of so long life." Alice slipped off without pain, without an ambulance ride, without hospice help for family, without a chance to say goodbye.
My mother will continue to ask about her, probably remembering the answer as soon the question leaves her lips. I'd always thought of Alice as an angel. A gift of a friend to eat meals with, so that my mother always saw a familiar friendly face at the table. And I think it was the same for Alice. I won't see Alice anymore. But in my mother's dementia, I wonder if Alice will visit from time to time. I hope so.
***Photo taken today by an angel that visits my mother! (Matt 25:35-40)
15 August 2011
18 June 2011
The scene opens on North Bay Watch, as five friends defy the wind at Crissy Fields to view the Golden Gate Bridge. Our adventure began the night before, near Haight Ashbury at a boutique hotel, the Metro, where our friend, Pat--she who LIVES in San Francisco, met us after we'd flown in from St. Louis (Gateway to the West). Pat, SWLiSF, recounts the three day tour here Late to the Haight.
We could have been cast in a movie, filming that morning in one of SF's many parks. But since we'd promised to meet SWLiSF for our tour of the city sites, we walked on by this active city set.
Perhaps they chose to film the movie in this park because of the lush shoe garden.
After all, it's not often you see a garden full of shoes in bloom.
Our tour, unlike the typical SF tour, promised pizza, Picasso, and plenty of panoramas. Not the usual tourist attractions. But then, we had NO usual tour guide!
11 June 2011
23 April 2011
When I awoke today, I thought today would be just another rainy day. Here at the seventeenth hour of a rainy Saturday, following destructive weather in the Midwest that tore up the airport, I sit in my comfy chair composing my acceptance blog. Award winning writer and blogger, Dianna Graveman of Write in the Midwest has bestowed upon me the Versatile Blogger Award. The award comes second to being mentioned on Dianna's blog. Write in the Midwest is just one of Dianna' noteworthy accomplishments and it inspires me each time I visit.
The award comes with modest rules:
Here are the rules:
1. You have to thank the person who awarded you & link them back in your post and let them know you "accept" the award.
2. Tell everyone 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award to other bloggers --some sources say 7 (I'm going with my top three, and being versatile, I can do this).
4. Contact each blogger and let them know you have passed this award onto them.
Thank you, Dianna, for giving me the Versatile Blogger Award. You will always inspire me to write more, think of myself as a writer, and encourage others to do the same.
Random facts gathered from the versatility of my life and my blog must begin with
1. the random award I received from the Riverfront Times, St. Louis, for Blog of the week five summer's ago for the my blog Part I for the posting that remains the last one for that site.
2. I began blogging in May 2003, and no one I knew had a blog then.
3. I met my husband when I was 15 at a high school party that I crashed with a friend.
4. Like Dianna I have a guitar and piano that I never play anymore. (Actually, I have two guitars, two keyboards, and a piano; all collecting dust.)
5. And not to be a copy-cat, but like Dianna, I don't care much for sugar either, preferring all things salty for my food vice.
6. I can't eat eggs unless I want to feel icky for three days; probably because many sweet things contain eggs I don't like sweet things--hense #5.
7. Water is my favorite natural element and I must be immersed in it regularly, thus the present remodeling of the bathroom to add a tub.
As for the passing on of the award, I hereby bestow the Versatile Blogger Award to bloggers I love to visit:
In the Aquarium, which is one of the earliest blogs I read and still read because I can live a Londoner's life.
Late to the Haight, which I've read since the first post and tickled my heart with all things San Francisco.
Mirabilis, and I'm smarter because of each visit.
To close this post, I must say a few words on behalf of versatility, a quality that keeps life from being totally boring. Dare I name it as a virtue? With versatility comes a knack for changing your mind. And changing it again in order to suit the moment. Being versatile lessens the chance of being disappointed. Failure, too, takes a back seat when you can switch lanes to avoid a collision. Finally, versatility is fun. Consistency will have her fans but I'll take a second helping versatility anytime. No eggs, no sugar. Water on the side.