Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Seventy Things

At my birthday party the family presented me with a framed poster with the following sentiments:


Seventy Things We Love About You:  

The smartest person we know - Kelly - The best pops! - Kelly - You are funny - Kelly - Took me out on Fridays - Jenna - One time he ate a tomato and it squirted out all over his shirt - Jenna - He gives the best advice, both serious and funny - Tara - He's my best friend - Gracen - His New Year's resolution is always that he's not going to eat hot dogs any longer because the one's he's eating now are long enough - Kelly - He gives good books to read - Jenna - Is a bookworm - Hunter - Makes the best pico - Tara - Laughs at us grand kids even though no one else approves of our behavior - Tara - Taught us to love books and reading - Rachel - Took us to museums - Rachel - Letting me walk to school by myself in Kindergarten but following me the whole way, hiding behind trees so I wouldn't know. - Rachel - Time spent teaching me to ride my bike, holding on to the back and secretly letting go when you knew I was ready so that I would have the confidence to ride on my own. - Rachel - Coming home every evening after a hard day at work and a long commute and still find the energy to play with us - Rachel - Reading the funny papers before dinner - Rachel - Buying me a horse and the two of us learning about horses together - Rachel - Having the patience to teach me how to drive a stick shift and not getting mad when I drove the truck through the fence. - Rachel -  Always making us your first priority - Rachel - Being the finest man I have ever known - Rachel - Patiently playing your guitar while waiting for the three girls in your life to get ready to go somewhere - Rachel - Keeping me updated on all the sayings and doings of G - Rachel - Making my slumber parties the best with.your hand writing analysis and horoscopes - Rachel - Takes us on great vacations with lots of special surprises - Kelly - Knows each one of us and likes to give gifts specifically for that person - Kelly - Tells corny jokes that make him laugh - Sami - Always has crumbs on his shirt making a good snack for Jenna - Sami - His love and support for us all is unconditional - Sami - He never  tells us no. Instead he says "Ask Grandma". - Sami - Giving us a loving, happy home - Rachel - Giving all of us stability - Rachel - Giving me so many happy childhood memories - Rachel - Making sure I always felt loved - Rachel - Exposing us to all kinds of music - Rachel - The trip to North Carolina - Rachel - Bringing home the homeless man man from the bus stop to have dinner with our family and showing us how to be kind to others through example - Rachel - Taking us to church to have a foundation to live by. - Rachel - Being a guiding force in my girls lives - Rachel - Letting us ride in the back of the old yellow truck to Westville to get a Whatchamacallit! - Kelly -
(continued)

Going to town on Sunday mornings for donuts and a comic book - Kelly - Lunch dates after pre-school - Marley, Hunter, and Jenna - He can grow just about anything - Kelly - Letting us shoot guns at the creek - Burk - Driving to California and listening to Footloose! all the way. Threatening to throw black jelly beans at hitchhikers on the same trip - Kelly - Help with homework -Marley - He didn't freak out when I drove his truck into the fence - Marley - Introducing us to old movies like Laurel and Hardy, Old Batman, Frankenstein, and King Kong - Marley, Hunter, and Jenna - Plans the best vacations and puts up with our arguing on the trip - Marley - Letting us sit beside him in the truck and shift the gears - Marley - Using the top of the carved pumpkin to sing "I'd tip my hat to you but I don't have a hat" - Kelly - Decorates the prize winning egg at Easter - Kelly - He taught us to find local restaurants while traveling. No eating at chains - Kelly - Always  being my hero - Rachel - All the times you played the guitar and we sang. I think I was an adult when I learned that someone other than my Dad sang "The Train They Call the City of New Orleans", "Clayton Delaney", and "Bobbie McGee" - Rachel - Being the most sought after team member for Trivial Pursuit - Rachel - My first memory was seeing him drive up the street in his '57 Plymouth - Dorothy - I always knew what time he would be home after work - Dorothy - One time he brought a hobo home to eat supper with us. Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unaware. Gave him some clothes and shoes. Bought him a bus ticket and wished him well. - Dorothy - Because the first thing you did when you came home from work was to give Mom a kiss - Rachel - Shows us what a good marriage looks like by loving Mom so well - Kelly - Makes the best chocolate syrup for ice cream - Kelly - Cuz' I just love him - Gracen - He never ceases to amaze me with his talents.  He is an artist, carpenter, electrician, and more than willing to help me with my projects - Mom - His sense of humor - Mom - Loves his family unconditionally - Mom - I love to hear him sing and play guitar - Mom - The way he always has time and patience for the grand kids - Mom.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Seventy

I turned 70 last week and on Saturday my daughters threw me a party. Friends and family helped me to celebrate my transition into old codgerhood.


My five grand kids and great grand child. LtoR Marley, Hunter,
Jenna, Gracen, Samantha, Tara.








I included all these photos of the same scene to illustrate how 
difficult it is for Gracen to contain herself around a birthday cake.





\
My sisters Kay and Rita

Dennis, Rick, and I


Kelly, Rachel, and their cousin Amy
























Wednesday, August 12, 2015

To be mature you have to realize what you value most. It is extraordinary to discover that comparatively few people reach this level of maturity. They seem never to have paused to consider what has value for them. They spend great effort and sometimes make great sacrifices for values that, fundamentally, meet no real needs of their own. Perhaps they have imbibed the values of their particular profession or job, of their community or their neighbors, of their parents or family. Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Quote of the Day

There’s the ideal beauty of youth and health, which never really changes, and is always true. There’s the ideal beauty of movie stars and advertising models, the beauty-game ideal, which changes its rules all the time and from place to place, and is never entirely true. And there’s an ideal beauty that is harder to define or understand, because it occurs not just in the body but where the body and the spirit meet and define each other.
Ursual K. Le Guin

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Marley's First Car

It seems like yesterday that the family walked Marley to her first day of school and now she is the proud owner of her first car.,



Gracen's First Day of Pre-K

Today was G's first day of Pre-K school.  As is our custom she had a large entourage.





G's teacher gives her the grand tour.


The rules are explained. I thought to myself  "Good luck on that one."






The best part is that G and her best friend Farrah are in the same class.








Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Little Girl's Perspective of Grandma

I was visiting with my sister this evening and she said she liked my piece about Grandma.  She told me she had written something similar years ago. I read hers and really liked it so I asked her permission to post a copy here.  Enjoy:


Grandmothers are very special people. No one else can combine the love of a mother, the knowledge of years of experience, the closeness of a friend and at the same time crack the whip and get wanted results like a grandmother.
The responsibilities of a grandmother are many, The head of several generations, all going in different directions.  The chief cook of those memorable holiday fares.  Reinforcing parents' rules with one hand and with the other slipping their grandchildren a cookie.
My grandmother fits this description completely.  We were fortunate enough to live close to her as we were growing up.  We always knew Grandma loved us.  She told us often.  Not being confined to the role of mother, Grandma could let down and be a friend.
Saturdays were made even more special when we were allowed to spend the night with Grandma.  We sat up late, Grandma right there with us, just as involved in the late show as we were. There were walks in the hills on more than one occasion. Grandma was there, walking stick in hand, leading the way, opening our eyes to things we would have missed altogether if she wasn't with us.
I remember the dresses she made me during the time when my figure wasn't quite what it should have been. They were camouflage for my imperfections.  Now I can look at the quilt she made and discover pieces of those dresses and the memory of quilting day when we all gathered on Grandma's patio, stationed around the quilting frames. Grandma, Mother and the Aunts would stitch and cut the threads.  We kids followed along tying the knots.
My first bra was quite a big deal.  Grandma saw to that.  After living through her reaction I managed to see my first day back to school with little or no inhibitions about the possibility of someone noticing.
The knowledge one uneducated person can accumulate is astounding.  I shouldn't say uneducated, Grandma was self-taught. She read constantly and shared her knowledge with us all.  I guess that's where I and many of us got our addiction to books.  When Grandma read a book the rest of the world did not exist. What else was there for us to do but grab a book and join her.
Learning from Grandma wasn't too bad an experience. Even if her constant motto was "If you're going to learn to do it, you may as well learn to do it right."  And we did.  She was the one who showed me the technique I still use when ironing.

Little Girl - part two

I helped on laundry day, pushing the clothes through the wringer, into the rinse tub and into the bluing tub went the whites.  I believe my first cooking experience was at Grandma's. The egg I fried was far from perfect. The hardened yolk, framed with a crispy, browned edged egg white, just stared at me from the plate.  But, I got to cook it myself. That's what counted.
Grandma always kept chickens and ducks.  We learned to feed them and to keep their water pans filled with fresh water.  We always knew when one of her hens had hatched some eggs or when Grandma had been to the feed store for a new batch of chicks.  A box would be sitting in the living room by her chair, rigged with a light bulb for heat.  There the little ones would stay until they were old enough to care for themselves outside. That is another practice I adopted from Grandma.  Caring for the fuzzy yellow chicks indoors until they were ready to go outside.
Grandma has always been a lover of beautiful things.   She always kept her yard edged with flower beds.  Bricks, standing on end leaning on each other would outline those flower beds.We spent many a summer afternoon straightening bricks and helping weed between the multi-colored beauties.  I was always fondest of the Fuchsias that hung in the wooden pots around the patio.  And the Martha Washington Geraniums that grew along the fence.
My favorite memories and those in which I would gladly live over again, if possible, are the eves of holidays, especially Thanksgiving.  Although Grandma's house was small, that's where the family gathered at holiday time.  Some of us kids would spend the night before Thanksgiving with Grandma.  We would sit up very late just to watch Grandma put the turkey into the oven.  Always a large bird, overstuffed with cornbread stuffing.  After careful preparation into the oven it went and into the feather bed we would go.  Waking up to that aroma of baking turkey, climbing up  out of the feather mattress is something to remember.The family would soon start drifting in, filling the little house to the corners.  It didn't phase Grandma.  She followed through the day, a whip in one hand and a cookie in the other.
I regret that my girls couldn't have spent more time with this remarkable person before we moved away.  I'm sure most of their shyness would be  melted away layer by layer without them realizing it.  They would have been exposed to much more than they are at home.  Going to Grandma's is a little like entering the world of Auntie Mame without the frills.
At seventy seven and with failing eyesight she still charms every kid in the neighborhood.  The little one come to Grandma Ada's for cookies and coffee. The older ones come to get a booster shot of confidence. I'm hoping when my turn comes I can put aside the role of mother and step in to the role of friend, fun-maker and teacher.  The role of a very special person like my grandmother.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Story - The Original Photo Bomber

We've had a death in the family and I am out of sorts. So before I continue my narrative here's a photo taken in 1957. Pictured here is my cousin Ronnie and his wife Wanda.  It was taken in my grandma's front yard in Manhattan Beach. Note my dad's '53 Buick parked on the street. And of course, there I am at 12 years old peeking around from behind them. I'm wearing my black and white high top Red Ball Jets.



Saturday, July 04, 2015

July 4

While we are waiting for the family to arrive for the holiday festivities I went to the garden for some photos:





I
I didn't find these in the garden.  Red, White, and Blue cookies.




Progress Report

On Tuesday I had the surgery on my nose.  It went well.  I'm amazed at how much tissue can be cut away and yet the reconstructive procedure can return the appearance back to normal. (after healing has occurred and swelling goes away.) Gracen has been impatient with her Poppy unable to join her outside for play time. Grandma has tried to spend time with her in the yard but grandmas are just not as silly as grandpas so it's just not the same.
The doctor is pleased with how I've brought the glucose levels under control.  I haven't heard the results of the kidney function test.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Story

I think I'll put my grandfather's story on the back burner for awhile.  I didn't know this narrative was going to be so difficult. None the less I'll begin again soon. In the mean time I have a couple of issues I have to deal with that are weighing on my mind. Tuesday I will have another MOHS surgery on my nose to remove a basal cell carcinoma. This is the second one in four years. Another thing grabbing my concentration is the fact that I recently had my annual physical exam and found out my glucose level is elevated and the doctor is a little concerned about my kidney function.  I think every thing is going to be ok but until I get the all clear signal it will be on my mind. I'm a worrier.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

"One of the most startling developments of the late twentieth century has been the emergence within every major religious tradition of a militant piety popularly known as 'fundamentalism.' Its manifestations are sometimes shocking. Fundamentalists have gunned down worshippers in a mosque, have killed doctors and nurses who work in abortion clinics, have shot their presidents, and have even toppled a powerful government. It is only a small minority of fundamentalists who commit such acts of terror, but even the most peaceful and law-abiding are perplexing, because they seem so adamantly opposed to many of the most positive values of modern society. Fundamentalists have no time for democracy, pluralism, religious toleration, peacekeeping, free speech, or the separation of church and state. Christian fundamentalists reject the discoveries of biology and physics about the origins of life and insist that the Book of Genesis is scientifically sound in every detail. At a time when many are throwing off the shackles of the past, Jewish fundamentalists observe their revealed Law more stringently than ever before, and Muslim women, repudiating the freedoms of Western women, shroud themselves in veils and chadors. Muslim and Jewish fundamentalists both interpret the Arab-Israeli conflict, which began as defiantly secularist, in an exclusively religious way. Fundamentalism, moreover, is not confined to the great monotheisms. There are Buddhist, Hindu, and even Confucian fundamentalisms, which also cast aside many of the painfully acquired insights of liberal culture, which fight and kill in the name of religion and strive to bring the sacred into the realm of politics and national struggle."

Karen Armstrong -- The Battle for God