Musings and Amusings

Archive for the ‘Personal TidBits’ Category

Getting Creative With Creative Blogger Award

I’m woefully behind in acknowledging a few awards I’ve received. I truly appreciate the purpose of these awards and the generous support from my fellow bloggers.

As I’ve written, I have mixed emotions about accepting awards because the work can be quite time-consuming, and sometimes the thought of answering certain questions causes me discomfort. I’m responding to a fun one today while not officially following its rules.

creativebloggersaward1

Joey at Joeyfullystated nominated me for the Creative Blogger Award. Thank you, Joey!

This was certainly an apt award for Joey to receive herself. I think of Joey as my RR&R blogging buddy (surprise, Joey). She Rants, Raves and Reveals – I never know what I’ll be reading when Joey scrolls into view, but I’m always entertained, educated and excited by her writing.

Ever think so much could be written about doors? Just see what Joey has to say.

According to the rules, I’m supposed to tell you five things about myself. I decided to focus on five creative things …

Hear the sound of that screeching halt?

I rarely think of myself as creative. Capricorns plod; we don’t create.

But here goes:

I was a child prodigy as a contemporary artist. Remember those springtime wriggly worms that so fascinated me? Mom tells me  when I was about three and she’d send me out to play, she’d look up and find me breaking off pieces of fresh earthworm and ‘painting’ on our front window. When a piece would dry, I’d just break off another and continue my masterpiece.

Look at that HUGE earthworm. I'm not gonna touch it. YOU touch it!

Look at that HUGE earthworm. I’m not gonna touch it. YOU touch it!

When I was a kid, Dad taught me to ‘laugh’ like a loon. I was good at it. Every time we passed a lake or a pond, my siblings would turn to me in the car and say, “C’mon Sammy. Laugh like a loon.”

Loon Laugher on the Right

Loon Laugher on the Right

When I was in the fourth grade, I won the $10 first prize at the American Legion Halloween costume contest dressed as a little old lady. Now I am a little old lady.

Not my Halloween costume, but OLD clothing!

Not my Halloween costume, but OLD clothing!

I owned and operated an Irish Pub with my first husband. Our pub offered Guinness Stout on tap and a menu of authentic Irish fare. Saint Patty’s Day – as you can imagine – was wild! As is so often the case, our restaurant venture was more successful than our marriage. I wonder how the Irish say “C’est la vie.”

Irish saying

Authentic Irish Patrons!

Authentic Irish Patrons!

I took my first dance class (jazz) at age 31 and performed onstage.

Once.

To a recording of Elvis singing Jailhouse Rock.

Hub proposed to me anyway.

In subsequent years, I took classes in ballet, African, modern and – most recently at age 62 – tap. I like jazz best and in my next life I will be performing in Cats during its Broadway run. When that happens, you’ll see a photo.

I’m pleased to pass this award to four bloggers whose creations I look forward to every week – rich offerings that enhance my life.

I do hope you’ll take a peek at their Creativity.

Katie is in the midst of art journaling for International Fake Journal Month, and she has chosen to travel to Italy. Her daily posts are so whimsical and delicious, I’m tempted to try this challenge next year.

Elen is participating in the A-to-Z Challenge for her first time, and her F made me laugh out loud

Raye’s paintings make me green with envy (even when I mistake her figs for eggplant). As if that skill wasn’t enough, her writing stops me in my tracks.

I discovered Sand, Salt, Moon a few weeks ago. She’s picked up a long-lost watercolor practice … paint me green with envy. Again.

Remember, there’s NO pressure with these awards. In case you like rules, here they are:

 The Rules

  • Nominate 15-20 blogs and notify all nominees via their social media/blogs
  • Thank and post the link of the blog that nominated you (very important)
  • Share 5 facts about yourself to your readers
  • Pass these rules on to them
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Hub Says the Darndest Things

This was our conversation last weekend on Hub’s birthday:

Me: “Honey, We are so fortunate we’ve been able to share so many birthdays together.”

Hub: “We are.”

Me: “I hope we both stay healthy enough that we can enjoy many more together.”

Hub: “Me, too.”

Me: “But I know how lonely you would be if anything happened to me. If I die first, I want you to find a companion who can share golf with you because we have such fun when we play.”

Hub: “OK”

Me: “In fact, you should let her use my clubs.”

Hub: “No, I would never do that.”

Me: “Why not? They are really good clubs, and I don’t mind.”

Hub: “No, I can’t.”

Me: “Why not?”

Hub: “Because she’s left-handed.”

April Fools

Ha ha ha – April Fool’s Joke!

THAT conversation never happened.

But the following conversation actually occurred a few years ago …

If we don’t spend Thanksgiving Day with friends or family, we like to go for a long walk after dinner. One of our traditional walks meanders through a local cemetery where our talk often turns to our own lives, our remaining years, and whether we want to be buried, cremated, have a tombstone – more in a reflective than maudlin way.

That particular year, I was feeling thankful for all the spectacular vacations we’d taken, especially to some quaint locales before development changed their character and made them over-populated tourist meccas.

Honey,” I said, “when I die, I want you to cremate me and take my ashes back to all the places we’ve traveled together and have such fond memories. Sprinkle a little of me each place you go, and enjoy being there again yourself.”

Like where?” he asked.

Oh, you know, like Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands, Young Island, Maui, Mackinac Island, the Lake Superior shore, San Francisco, Paris, Carmel, Telluride, Santorini  the Maine coast. What do you think? Would you like to do that?

Hub … thinking … pausing … grinning … “Would I have to go alone?”

Flying into Turks & Caicos 1987

Flying into Turks & Caicos 1987

The Art of the Possible

I have compiled the results of my stealthy, unscientific survey of our blogging community’s New Year’s Resolutions. No one will be surprised by these results:

  • 1% make resolutions and have a track record of keeping them
  • 1% don’t make resolutions and feel no guilt

The other 98%:

  • Make resolutions and expect to keep them (only to be sadly disappointed when next December comes into view)
  • Don’t make resolutions and feel like guilty slackers
  • Relist the same resolutions from the past three years, hoping THIS will be ‘the year’
  • Make resolutions and immediately explain why they won’t be able to keep them
  • Make resolutions and cross their fingers, wishing for a miracle

Why is this annual ritual such an uncomfortable process for many of us? The common denominator? Resolutions = Improvement, as in “You need to do better!”.

new year 1

Photo Credit: Google Images

Think about it … December – the month when we eat too much; drink too much; stay up too late; don’t get enough exercise; and spend too much money … that’s the month we ponder the coming year.

Is it any wonder our recourse is a list of vows to ‘do better’ in the New Year?

I write this post somewhat facetiously because New Year’s Resolutions are such a time-honored tradition, and many people take them seriously.

For me, they’ve always been one of many stressors that make December a difficult month. I never made resolutions, but I carried the nagging guilt of not doing so. A couple years ago, I ‘consciously uncoupled’ from my guilt. Doing so freed me to look at the New Year in a whole new light. Not overshadowed by ‘do better’, I could envision activities, studies and pursuits which open windows on parts of myself I’ve never explored.

This New Year’s ‘Envisions’ include:

  • Music and Keyboard
  • Mapping and Footsteps
  • Urban Sketching and Watercolors
  • Word Origins – a self study by Great Courses
  • Writing Craft and Practice

The ‘Envisions’ are primarily new uncharted pursuits – even writing is largely uncharted because I’ve barely scratched the surface. My desire to pursue these interests is triggered by connections to my writing – either because of inner links I’m uncovering beyond creating words or from sparks that fly when a particular blogsite piques my curiosity.

I will write about each as I dip my toes; it helps me understand my interest as well as co-ordinate my approach to learning, experimenting and practicing. I have no expectations that I will master any of them; only that I want to explore and appreciate what is possible.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to subject you to a slew of neophyte etchings or miscued keyboard recitals.

Maybe a few …

grand piano

Photo Credit: penguingiftshop.com

C’mon!

The alternative could have been me droning on for the next twelve months about improving my diet!

Wow, the WordPress gremlins attacked me today! First arbitrarily shutting off comments, then messing with the format of my already-published post. Grrrrr!!

King of the Wild Frontier … Man Crush #1

Count me in.

Tossing my warm ‘n fuzzy beret in the ring at Linda Hill’s Jots for January.

Flinging my who’s-your-Man-Crush cap into the wide open blogosphere.

After Maggie revealed her childhood penchant for a man in a cape  mouse in lycra and Joey responded with a fondness for Inspector Clouseau  a frog in a trench coat, my musing mind went into overdrive. Not only do I have a slew of Man Crushes (serially monogamous, of course), but I’ve got a love-letter-list of Female Crushes.

* sound of frenzied scribbles in ‘future posts’ notebook *

My first male crush wore a coon-skin hat and deerskin leggings; carried a rifle; and steel-trapped my heart. In 1954 Fess Parker, playing the role of Davy Crockett, roamed the black-and-white-tv hills of Tenneesee while I – an impressionable 3-year-old – hung on his every backwoods adventure.

photo credit: tvacres.com

photo credit: tvacres.com

 

As true heroes do, Fess/Davy saved my life. Or rather brought me back to life.

Remember those days when small town parks consisted of bare dirt, a one-room log cabin, a slide, a merry-go-round and a picnic table? The slide and merry-go-round made of metal that blistered so hot in the July sun, it burned your skin? The picnic table of wood so rough you’d go home from craft day with a sliver or two in your hand, elbow or bottom?

photo credit: loganwv.us

photo credit: loganwv.us

 

The good old days.

When slides were simple constructs of steep steps with skinny handrails and a top landing so narrow, you barely sat before beginning your downward skid.

One day, like any seasoned three-year-old slide fanatic, I wanted more speed. Squatting on the top landing, I reared back to give myself a big push-off; accidentally let go of the handrails; and tumbled back down those unforgiving metal stairs, knocking myself out by the time I hit the ground.

Mom rushed across the street from her parked car; scooped me up; raced home to lay me on the couch and call Dr. Vastine. “Wait and watch” he advised. “If she’s not awake in two hours, call me back.”

Moms in the ‘50s didn’t ‘wait and watch’. They had chores to do!

Mom was scrubbing pots in the kitchen when she heard familiar offkey singing from the living room: “Davy. Davy Crockett. King of the Wild Frontier…”

 

 
To this day she tells me, “That’s when I knew you’d be all right.”

I have forgotten a lot of things about my early years, but Fess/Davy and his signature song will be part of me all the way to Heaven.

All’s Well That Ends Well

imageMeet Quinn (mannequin), Raqi’s new BFF – at least until next-door buddy Em gets home from visiting her grandparents on the other side of the Continental Divide.

Despite my reservations, our sewing sessions went remarkably smoothly without me cracking open the gin bottle. My wingman, Hub, came through like a champ using his superior eyesight and abstract thinking to figure out the bobbin-loading diagrams, maneuver his fingers in the very tiny space to thread the machine needle, and leaving both of us looking like savvy sewers in Raqi’s eyes.

image

Coincidentally, I found this paragraph in a book shortly after our sewing project was completed:

Until fairly recently, needle skills were considered an important part of a girl’s education. Girls learned a variety of stitches and embellishments that they would need later as the seamstresses of their families.”

Map Art Lab by Jill K. Berry & Linden McNeilly

No wonder our Mothers and Home Ec teachers put so much pressure on us to become qualified seamstresses. It was considered a life skill for females. And no wonder it created lingering anxiety for those of us who couldn’t measure up!

Thankfully, I had no expectations of Raqi’s mastery nor did she. She didn’t even want to open a pattern; she simply wanted to maneuver pieces of fabric around the mannequin in a semblance of a top and skirt; click the machine dial to sew a variety of fancy stitches for about 15 minutes; glue on some Velcro fasteners and call it a fashion success. One she can’t wait to show Em.

On that high note, I reflect on other unanticipated, pleasurable surprises of 2014:

Number 1 on that list – YOU. A year of you, me and us – gleaning words of wisdom, snippets of inspiration, and validation of our shared humanity through your writings, photos and illustrations. Chuckling, commiserating, comforting each other along the way.

Blogging relationships are every bit as complex, delicate and rewarding as in-person interactions. They are at once uniquely public and intensely personal.

When I assess my 2014, I find it has been one of my happiest, most contented years, and I attribute much of that positive feeling to how my daily world has changed because of blogging. My own writing gives me challenging satisfaction, but it is the warmth and sense of belonging with all of you that is the greater reward.

Other small joys of 2014…

527Golfing with Dad. Only in Michigan would a round of golf with cart cost $20, and include a historic-brick-home clubhouse, a red barn cart storage, a course cultivated from cow pastures and hayfields, and baby turtles newly hatched in the sand trap marching their way to the nearby pond.

 

Every Praise sung by Hezekiah Walker. Of the multitude of crap that flows through my Facebook page, this one stuck. I want to sing it, dance it, pray for some progress in healing our racial divides.

My traditionally favorite Christmas movie – Love Actually. Many of my alltime Brit favorites – Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson – just pure ‘love, actually’ with a whole bunch of laughs and dance wiggles thrown in.

Two other excellent movies: Chef and 100-Foot Journey

imageBooks I read and 5-starred – a sampling; by no means a complete list:

Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young
Loved It!! It reads like a stream-of-consciousness blog taking me back through several iterations of Neil’s musical career and my own life chapters influenced by his music. At the same time, it’s very much a ‘future vision’ outlook on environmental and music projects Neil is determined to bring to fruition.

Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian
Chris is one of my top five all-time novelists (with his Idyll Banter essay book an equally compelling read). I am constantly amazed to scan his list of works and note the variety of locales, topics and characters he imagines into being.

Set in Tuscany during and a decade after WWII, this novel is a lush family saga with historic significance and intrigue, complete with Chris’s uncanny ability to fully develop his female characters. Having toured Tuscany with a guide who was steeped in WWII history of that region, I felt I was transported right back to those verdant hills and ancient villas.

Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, M.D.
I am loved and cherished. I have nothing to fear.
I don’t know about ‘proof’, but I liked finding a book that mirrors my long-held beliefs.

My Promised Land by Ari Shavit
Flummoxed as ever by centuries of unresolved Middle East conflicts, I chose this one based on several reviews by noted Middle East experts. I started reading this a couple days ago.

How to Climb the Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein
I met Elizabeth, who blogs at http://www.elizabethhein.com during the 2014 A to Z Challenge, and her novel was published this year. Click the link to read a synopsis of the book. Based on the quality and organizational skills Elizabeth exhibits on her blog, I expected a well-written novel, and it is. Elizabeth maintains a good pace; has created realistic, complex characters, and she excels at writing dialogue. I especially enjoyed her rounding out Lara’s character by including substantial work-related scenes and relationships, which added context to the other parts of Lara’s life.

Well there you have it – 2014 in a nutshell. Throw in a slew of good bike rides, a few rounds of decent golf and repeated handfuls of chocolate – even using New Math, that adds up to a well-rounded, highly satisfying year.

I’d be remiss not to mention how much I love my constant companion and dearest friend, Hub. He makes every day special just because he’s part of it.

imageSee y’all in 2015 !

Santa, Pack a Seamstress. PLEASE!

In the ‘What Was I Thinking’ category, I bought Raqi this child-size mannequin

image

and these It’s So Easy (even an idiot can do it) Simplicity patterns

image image

and filled a sewing basket with shiny pins, assorted needles, pink pin cushion, measuring tape, colorful ribbon, spools of colorful thread, my button collection, black snaps and Velcro strips.

Raqi has been designing and hand sewing rudimentary clothes for her dolls, and she asked for fabric and a mannequin for Christmas to make herself some clothes. Her Mom told me she bought Raqi a ‘beginner’ sewing machine, so I jumped on Ebay to look for a mannequin.

As I was dressing up the mannequin in a scarf and skirt to put under the Christmas tree, lightning struck.

I CAN’T SEW.

I HATE SEWING!

Who is going to help Raqi thread the sewing machine, translate those mind-numbing pattern illustrations, measure and cut the fabric, sew in a straight line?

All my childhood trauma of my complete and utter failure as a seamstress came flooding over me. Mom made all our clothes and fully expected my sister and me to follow in her footsteps. She tried to teach me, cajole me. She even threatened to disown me from the realms of Home Ec majors who’d paved the way in my family.

I can’t make head, fingers nor foot-pedal sense of bobbins, nap, salvage, pinking shears. I can’t even fold the patterns up once they’ve been unfolded, not even with those permanent fold lines seared in that tissue-like paper.

Panicked, I emailed Parker: “Can YOU sew?”

Her response: “No, I thought you could.”

Running through my non-existent list of Plan B’s, I thought of Charisse, Raqi’s next-door-neighbor-Super-Mom who French-braids hair; makes daily meals for six from scratch; paints Halloween faces with the skill of a makeup artist.

I emailed Parker: “What about Charisse? Does she sew? If not, can she learn overnight?”

Parker’s response: “Charisse is out of town. You better bring gin.”

Merry Christmas to all my dear friends, readers, fellow bloggers and your families. May your Christmas celebration be as blessed and loving as I know mine will.

O Holy Night.

‘Up at the Legion’

Today, November 10, 2014 we celebrate the United States Marine Corps’ 239th birthday.

Tomorrow is Veterans’ Day when the United States honors all who have served in the US Armed Forces.

Below is a photo of my grandmother who bore twelve children, eleven of whom lived to adulthood and some of whom she watched with her steadfast fortitude and optimism as they left town on their way to distant battlefields.

Grandma and Marine Recruiter

Grandma and Marine Recruiter

 

During World War II, four sons enlisted in the Marines and were deployed to the Pacific Islands while one daughter enlisted and was stationed as a Marine recruiter in Chicago. Grandma also had two sons-in-law deployed in the Marines and Air Force, and a younger son who later joined the Marines.

Aunt Dot, Dad, Uncle Chuck, Uncle Art, Uncle Pep, Uncle Walt

Aunt Dot, Dad, Uncle Chuck, Uncle Art, Uncle Pep, Uncle Walt

 

During her sons’ deployments, Grandma – along with so many other women on the homefront – worked at Clark Equipment Co., a manufacturing plant that assisted in military support by transitioning its manufacturing lines to produce heavy duty lift trucks and towing tractors for overseas missions.

As a tribute to the Marine Corps birthday and Veterans’ Day, I’d like to honor Uncle Pep and a veterans’ organization – the American Legion – because they were an integral part of my childhood.

Small town life in the 1950s centered around school, church and a few civic organizations. For my family, that organization was the American Legion.

At the time, I couldn’t have told you much, if anything, about the American Legion’s purpose. All I knew was if we had a family Christmas party, summer family reunion, town Halloween party or just about any other local festivity, it would take place ‘up at the Legion.’

That was a phrase heard often in our house and those of my many cousins. The Legion – a nondescript one-story blond brick building with a large social hall, roomy kitchen with a pass-thru window and serving counter, and two single stall bathrooms – was located on the way out of town on our steepest, longest hill.

For me as a child, both the hill and the Legion loomed large. Hence ‘up at the Legion’ was said with reverence not only because the Hall itself held such allure, but because of its ‘majestic’ setting.

I don’t think there was ever a time I was ‘up at the Legion’ and didn’t see Uncle Pep. I thought he owned the Legion. Or at least lived there.

Uncle Pep

Uncle Pep

 

Uncle Pep always seemed to be surrounded by my Dad, Uncles and other men – talking, playing cards, giving each other grief.

His nickname fit him perfectly; Uncle Pep was exactly that – full of energy, enthusiasm and a twinkle in his eye. No matter the event, he was always in the thick of it – setting up tables and chairs; cooking up something on the stove; washing pots and pans; doling out the decks of cards – all the while making sure everyone else had what they needed and felt welcome.

Because we held so many family functions ‘up at the Legion’, I thought of the place as simply ‘our’ gathering place, not making the connection to the Legion’s true purpose.

Sure, Uncle Pep, Dad and other men wore those odd-looking hats. And every Memorial Day and 4th of July, we – the adults in their military uniforms and kids in Boy and Girl Scout uniforms – met ‘up at the Legion’ to begin the parade that marched through town to the cemetery. Afterwards, we reconvened ‘up at the Legion’ for crowded picnics and games that lasted well into the night.

But I didn’t realize the haven that Hall provided for the men and women who came home from WWII struggling to fit back into ‘normal’ lives; learning how to move past the flashbacks and nightmares that could be shared only with those who’d marched through the same hell.

If you’ve seen the HBO series The Pacific, you know some of what these men endured. Guam, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Peleliu – places etched deeply in their souls because of the young friends and comrades they lost in battle, not to mention their own gruesome actions on missions of unspeakable horror. Dad and my Uncles were fortunate to all come home from the war, but no one comes home without wounds and lasting scars.

The American Legion (http://legion.org) was chartered by Congress in 1919 after World War I to focus on serving veterans, servicemembers and communities. In my small town, the Legion served us well. It continues to do so in numerous communities across our nation.

Uncle Pep passed away a couple years ago, having lived a fully engaged life until age 90. For four of those years, he was an active duty Marine. For approximately 65 years, he was a veteran and proud, active member of the American Legion.

You military veterans and your families have my highest praise, my deepest gratitude  and my steadfast support.

Semper Fi

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