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Monday, January 30, 2012

Grandfather's Prayer

I was crazy about my father.  We all were.  We adored him.  When he was in the army in World War II, his nickname wasn't Killer or Sluggo or Tough Guy; it was Bambi because he had kind eyes. 

When the first of his grandchildren turned 13, my father wrote this wish for his coming of age.  He subsequently gave it to each grandchild at whatever ceremony marked his incipient adulthood.  My daughter received it posthumously, through me, at her high school graduation.  I have given it to other young people as the most important part of a congratulatory gift.  My Dad was quite a guy.

                                Grandfather's Prayer

May you always be upright in character, just in action, yet compassionate; may your life be long and healthy both in mind and body; may your life be full of peace, contentment, and love; may you relish and enjoy whatever activities you undertake; and may you realize your best and fondest dreams.  (Milton S. Winters, below, with a happy grandchild)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reading With Dick and Jane

When I was in first grade, my parents worried that I wasn't learning to read, but the way I remember it is that I read ahead in my little Dick and Jane book. Then, when the teacher called on me, I didn’t know where the class was and so couldn’t take my turn. We Look and See, the first of many gripping  novels to come under my purview.

I read out loud to my children, of course. Long past the age of independent reading, we’d sit on the couch where I’d read YA or adult books to them, and we’d talk and laugh over them. (Yes, at that age, you can dispense with the funny voices.) On long car trips back in those pre-DVD and i-pod days, we’d pass a book around and take turns reading to each other. Well, not Dad, of course; he was driving. 

So it goes down the line. One of my favorite activities is reading to my grandchildren, and now the tables are turning again. Suzie read Owl Babies to me over the phone the other day, whining Bill’s line, “I want my Mommy” with admirable realism. Not to be outdone, Alan informed that that his (imaginary) brother had liked The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar when he was little. Alan's four, so one wonders how little his imaginary brother was at the time. 

Looks like my certification as a reading specialist paid off.  We're a family of readers. I no longer teach, but I do tutor kids in reading, and it seems to take pretty well. At the least, the children come without a fuss and don’t seem too twitchy to leave. I mean, everybody loves to read, right? If they don’t, they just haven’t found the right reading material. That’s been my viewpoint until . . . .

The other morning when our new TV guide arrived folded in the Sunday Post. I realized that sports lovers have no need of the written word. It’s all laid out in little icons. A stick figure bouncing a round ball, that’s basketball. One running with a ball in front of its foot, that’s soccer. The same figure with an ellipsoid means football. Here’s proof of what I long suspected:  the actual teams don’t matter. Why bother with details? One printed icon and the channel number is all that’s wanted.

My husband will watch any of the shows represented by the stick people.  I’ll join him on the couch. I can sit there quietly with my current Dick and Jane.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Almost X-Rated

Whew. you think I was embarrassed about going to see Twilight? Just you wait! If you are the parent of a child of tender age, and you let him or her read this post, you will have a lot of explaining to do. If you are a child of tender years, go do your homework.

I have been invited to a sex toy party. Hey, I always thought I was the sex toy. Not so, it seems. I was invited to this party, and I pondered on that old philosophical question, “What does it mean that I’m the type of person who's invited to a sex toy party?” I wondered how to decide if I should attend or not. I mean, if you show up, people will know.  On the other hand, I don’t want people to think I’m too snooty to attend or that I think I'm above good, dirty fun.  On the other hand, I don’t want everyone to think I’m the kind of person who has lascivious thoughts. Well, I’ve been married 40-odd years and have two grown children, so I guess that ship’s sailed.

I was invited to this party and, because the hostess is too self-conscious herself to invite many of the people she knows, I was asked to bring a friend. Do you know how difficult it is to decide which of your friends would be appropriate to ask to join you for such a shindig? I told my friend there would be good snacks; that’s the only reason we’re going.

Truth to tell, I went to a sex toy party back around 1990. After 22 years, I figure an acceptable amount of time has elapsed for me to attend another one. At the end of that party, I crept into presence of the discrete saleslady in the privacy of the secret back room and could work up only enough courage to buy eye glitter.

Now I’m older and wiser so I’m not telling you what I’m buying this time.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The New Zombies

Once vampires were all the rage.  Now it’s zombies. But what about poltergeists? Poltergeists are going to be the new zombies. Where are all the poltergeists, you ask?  Well, one is hanging out at my house, and I can prove it.

A few weeks ago, I moved the White Out from the kitchen peninsula drawer to one near the calendar. I have used it since I moved it, but last time I dug for it, it was not there. “Obviously, Ann,” you say, “after you used it, you put it somewhere else and forgot where.”  Fair enough, but it’s not in the old drawer or the new. It’s not in my desk drawer, and it’s not out on the porch, either. Why would it be on the porch? I don’t know; that’s not the point. The point is, it’s not anywhere!

Next:  my favorite Christmas CD is the one where John Denver sings with the Muppets. (Were you under the impression I was a sophisticated, worldly-wise woman? Yeah, that’ll show you.) Every Christmas, I take the Muppets out and listen to them. I especially love Carol for a Christmas Tree. I have no idea why it’s called that; it’s not about a Christmas tree. There’s no tree mentioned in it at all. The song is not even about Christmas. It’s more Zen Philosophy Carol. It has a lovely, soft melody, and the words are:

It’s in every one of us to be wise,
Find your heart, open up both your eyes,
We can all know everything without ever knowing why
It’s in every one of us, by and by (by and by).

“Open up both your eyes,” that’s my very favorite line. It’s literal and metaphorical and lyrical all in one. I keep the CD on the bookcase with the other Christmas CDs, but this year, it was not there. I opened up both my eyes and really looked, but it wasn’t anywhere. Furthermore, I do not believe someone walked into my house, looked behind the easy chair on the bottom bookcase shelf and boosted the Muppets. The only logical explanation is a poltergeist.

Okay, at first I was kidding about the poltergeist. Like you, I figured that I misplaced things or loaned them to someone or did something with them.. Then, just before we left to visit my sister, I checked my address book for her cell phone number. I have a ring-bound address book so the open pages will sit flat on a table while you read the numbers and dial. I swear when I looked up a number earlier that morning, I had absolutely no issues. Now the Bs were not there. No, wait, the pages were rearranged. First was IJ/KL/MN/OP/QR/ST, then AB/CD/EF/GH and then, UV/WX/YZ. Wha?

Whatever you thought about the White Out and the CD, you can’t explain the alphabet mix-up, can you? No one can, and so I posit the following.

IF I put the white out and the CD away, but they disappeared,
IF I was not the one to rearrange the address book pages,
THEN there is a poltergeist in my house.

I call him Pookie, and he is the first of the new zombies.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Face Is Red

I have a secret shame.  It’s really hard to raise my head and write it out loud.  I, um, all right, here it is:  I go to see the Twilight movies.  *sighs*  Shouldn’t it feel better to admit stuff like this?  I remain mortified.

I don’t read the books.  At least I can say that.  I tried to read the first one to see what all the fuss was about, but c’mon, how many pages of angst and ashen skin can you take?  In my case, not enough.  These are not Harry Potters, let’s just put it that way.  I can’t even say that I really like the movies.  Yet, I go to every    last    one.  I have to admit that I  addicted to bad TV, too.  Not reality shows; I’m not a fan of those voting-off-the-island shows or the scare-the-pants-off-you shows or even the see-what-I’m-cooking shows.  I do, however, watch Gray’s Anatomy and Angel reruns with great enjoyment.  To further my point, I’ll tell you that back when I was dating my husband, a good night would be spent watching B horror movies.  There’s nothing like mutual enjoyment of The Ghost of Drag Strip Hollow to cement a relationship.  It's watching the sheet descend along the guide wire that makes it fun!   Anyway, my point is that a movie doesn’t have to be good for me to like it.  I cannot explain this, I'm just saying.

This week my friend and I snuck out for lunch and to see Twilight:  Breaking Dawn, Part I.  (Part I -- yes, really.)  I figured I was safe.  Paneras on a weekday, that's innocent enough, and if I did see someone I knew, I wouldn’t have to tell them that we were going to a movie, any movie, right?

But my friend?  We plunked our trays down next to a table occupied by  two of her friends.  My pager flashed and buzzed, and by the time I got back with my tray, she’d told them everything.  No shame, that one.  There are two women I can never look in the face again.
So there we went, Twilight:  Breaking Dawn, Part I.  And well, it wasn’t so bad, not quite as insipid as the other.  Perhaps I’ve become inured to the inanity.   The plot of this one is still awfully bland, but the photography of the north western scenery and the sequestered ocean island were spectacular.  Jacob’s abs were, as always, well worth the price admission, and, while we’re waiting for Part II, at least we know Bella’s finally, FINALLY arisen with red eyes to true blood lust.  Be wary, girls; this is the result of having sex, even society-approved marital sex.  You wake up the next morning deathly ill and pregnant and then you have to, HAVE to become a vampire with endless amounts of energy and wealth.  Hmm, why didn’t that happen to me?