Monthly Archives: June 2017

What a diff’rence…

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…a year makes. I  began this blog (officially) on June 28, 2016.  It seems like a reason to celebrate.  It’s time to say Thank You to you, the readers. The comments help me know what connects with you.  The likes suggest that I touched some feelings…maybe some common ground.

In spite of my often impulsive nature, which I think I have tempered with age and reluctance to injure my body or my psyche, I really pondered what writing was going to be like.  Committing to the process required a discipline that I don’t usually harness easily.  It was changing a behavior, and according to behaviorists who find studying these type of things interesting all the time, it takes sixty days for a behavior to become a habit.  During the year I have found that people wonder, when they actually speak to me, not in the comments, but in a face to face conversation, where the ideas come from.  It’s all pretty organic.  Something along my day or week provokes me, whether it is in laughter, or anger or sadness.  Some of the posts are rooted in memories from my childhood or adolescence.  Those stories come to light, often when talking to students about the struggles of growing up, and how despite in those moments my often feeling very alone and judged, that time gives you perspective, and we survive what seems unforgiving and never-ending.  Times when I totally embarrassed myself or challenged myself somehow translates for kids as being someone with whom to identify.

Sometimes, I just make myself laugh out loud and believe (often in error) that others will laugh with me.  My sense of humor is off beat and although you might think that my FHB would be my muse, we have very different senses of humor.  Hence, he does not fit the role of muse.  In fact, the person who knows me and laughs with me (and at me) and in spite of me, is my sister.  When you have a sibling that is the only witness to your life at times when life is  complicated and off kilter, they are also the one with broad perspective, because they knew you then, and gratefully know you now.

I keep a list of ideas and situations and lyrics to songs I will probably never write….in my iPhone. Thanks, Steve Jobs, for giving me a place to store stuff.  It’s like a closet for my rantings, both disorganized and repetitive. Then there are the moments, when I find something, or think of something that I forgot about.  It becomes a new “outfit” or something recycled, that fits the bill.  A great feeling.  Today, in trying to do some research for this post, I found out that the root of “blog” comes from Weblog.  Didn’t know that. Probably the only one in the universe that didn’t.  I’m okay with that.  I do research of one sort or another as I write.  Often, I check my spelling or try to come up with the exact word I mean to convey.  There are moments of historical significance or hysterical significance, that I want to fact check.  The evolution of posting twice a week is actually something I have no idea how it came to be. I did some reading on blogs and experts indicated that keeping your blog in your readers’  collective consciousness by writing frequently, will expand the number of people who see your posts.  Apparently, there are about a trillion, zillion, gabatillion (made that up) people who blog.  That’s why I am so grateful for my “regulars”.  It’s like the number of bars in a big city.  You just hope the same people walk into yours, don’t slobber as the night goes on, don’t get into a fight and pay their tab…and keep coming back.

A riff on  the song Dinah Washington brought to us  “What a diff’rence a day makes” I can say now say that I have blogged for 367 days and the diff’rence is you…

Thanks and let’s keep in touch.

She Took An Axe…

 

My father always was uneasy with my interest in natural disasters, e.g. Pompeii, The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and of course the sinking of the Andrea Doria and as well as  story of the people who were forced to become cannibals in the Andes to survive after a plane crash in 1972.  He thought I was a bit of a ghoulish child.  This was followed by my children thinking I was a bit odd, and then of course, my FHB’s eye rolling which is  often linked to my telling him that I have always had a fascination with the story of Lizzie Borden.  I invited him to join me to take a tour  today, and he politely, with only a momentary eye roll, declined my offer even though we could both get senior discounts! I know that was not a natural disaster. In fact it was probably more of an unnatural disaster.

This is the summer of my delving into slices of history, that include my reading Moby Dick (which is going very well, thanks for asking), as well as  looking into local history, and the story of Lizzie Borden, which took place in Fall River, Massachusetts.  This is only about twelve miles down the road from home,  and New Bedford plays a prominent role in the crime that took place on August 4, 1892. The thirteen day trial took place in New Bedford.    When  I was a child I had read quite a few books on the subject, and saw  the  TV movie starring Elizabeth Montgomery of “Bewitched” fame as Lizzie.  The house where it was alleged that she killed her stepmother and her father with an axe, is now a bed and breakfast and has tours 363 days a week.  I knew the poem about the forty whacks that her stepmother was given and the forty one her father got.  Of course I learned  today that was a gross exaggeration as Abby got 19 whacks and Andrew “only” ten or eleven.   I couldn’t resist.  Who doesn’t love a good mystery?  The facts remain cloudy and yet the story intrigues many, as she was tried and acquitted and went on and lived (in a different house) until she died in 1927 nine days before the death of her older sister, Emma, who was nine years older than Lizzie.   Cue the creepy organ music.

I joined   a motley group of tourists with a common goal….to see the scene of the crime and hear the story of the first crime in the United States that used crime scene photography.  The first crime scene that had photography, was two years earlier in London and involved Jack the Ripper. Just sharing some cocktail party fun facts.  On a scale of one to ten, my interest and knowledge is probably about a three and a half.  I was astonished  to find that I was surrounded by some folks who possibly had PhDs in Lizzie Borden, and had travelled from all across the country and from outside the US, who had more than an obsession with this particular chain of events.  I was a rank amateur in this  group.  The story itself was dwarfed by the knowledge that these folks shared.  It was like a convention.  There was constant speculation and intrigue among the visitors. The guide was a veritable font of Lizzie Borden facts.  He stated with total certainty that the house was haunted.  This was followed by the expected “Oohs” and “Aaahs”.   There were copies of the medical examiner reports and replicas of the skulls of Andrew and Abby Borden, the deceased father and stepmother.  There were photographs of the bodies after they were found.  It was a veritable treasure trove of guts and gore.  We heard the stories of jealousy and frugality and the twist on the wicked stepmother theme.  We learned that Abby was the intended victim but that Lizzie had to do her father in, because he came home and would have figured out that Lizzie had murdered his second wife.  I just loved writing “had to ‘do him in’!”!

The gift shop had the movie running in a loop while you waited for the tour and the folks in my group certainly increased the revenue of the B & B substantially with the number of rubber axes that they sold, tshirts that said “I axed you a question!” and a mug that said “I took Anger Management Classes from Lizzie Borden”.

The tour took a very long hour with the recognition on my part that sometimes the mystique is merely  a story shrouded in kitsch. I left quietly and considered what I had imagined before walking through this house.  We are all voyeurs when it comes to other people’s business and that a good story can be pretty profitable and can  probably endure for another 125 years. The people who know what really happened probably never knew what hit them!  Sleep well.

Day 1 ….Me Time

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Good evening…I am just doing a quick check in. School vacation is underway and if Day 1 is any indication, things are going to be pretty darn spectacular.  I am just sitting on the couch in the loft with my FHB.  A strawberry rhubarb pie is in the oven, brownies on the counter, and a blueberry tart made its way down the hall to a dear friend to celebrate a birthday.  Probably doesn’t sound much like vacation to most folks but not having to get up at 5:45 a.m. and sleeping till 7:18 a.m. is pretty awesome.  The morning included breakfast at a local restaurant with Norwegian pancakes and strawberries and some really mellow coffee.  Then we headed to the library (my favorite place that doesn’t sell shoes) and picked up my copy of Moby Dick.  I’ve gotten a hundred pages into it and I have laughed and loved thanks to Mr. Melville.  The rest of the day went by with a little of this and some of that (and a few hours of work in job two, but hey, doing only one work related activity is easy).  It’s time to get back into the book….the narrator is getting ready to get on the ship and ….well you can read it yourself.  I’m wishing you all a weekend filled with things  you want to do and little of what you have to do.  See you soon.   Monday I will report back about Lizzie Borden and the scene of that famous story….

Rude in My Head

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I miss civility.  I was hardly raised by royalty nor am I Victorian in my dreams.  It is just my hope at some point, during my lifetime, that people who have the opportunity to be sitting near me during a performance they chose to attend and paid quite a bit of money  for,  would just behave.  Have you every wished that you could buy all the seats in a concert hall or movie, not for the cool factor of a private screening, but just in the hope that you could really listen and take in all that goes with a great show or film and not have to stew in the desire to turn to the woman behind you and give her a slap and a glare.  Granted the energy surrounding a great performance is generated by the vibes of those in attendance, in a synergistic effect with the musician.  Was the performance ruined by “that woman”?  Well, let’s just say she took up a bit of space in my head, as I conjured up comments to say, things to do (like a voodoo doll) or evil wishes…may her skirt get caught in the seat as she leaves and she is left in her undergarments for all to see. Okay, maybe that is over the top.

Last night, my FHB and I went to see Diana Krall perform in Providence. It was  in a beautiful venue that, according to my FHB, had, in  his youth, been a rundown movie theater in the downtown,  which had undergone a transformation and  became an elegant place to hear a magnificent musician.  She is so talented and her interpretation of songs is well thought out and powerful.  Listening and witnessing a live performance is so good for the soul. The music rests in your being and you can really stay in the moment.  The hyena and her date talked and laughed during most of the performance, as she apparently was counting how many people got up during the show to do what people do, when the show is two hours long without an intermission.  Her laughter led to shrieking and shaking  the back of my seat everytime she counted more people.  I did turn on two occasions, and gave her the hairy eyeball and she would stop for a minute or two.  I used all my powers of self control to focus on the music and not the madness behind us.

Twice, when my sister and I went to see shows in Boston, we were seated near people who felt they could make suggestions that would improve their viewing or enjoyment at our expense.  During the  first show, “The Sisters Rosensweig”, I had unfortunately gotten some type of eye infection which made bright lights really hurt me, so I wore sunglasses to the performance.  That apparently made the people next to us assume that I was blind and possibly deaf, and  thus they spoke to my sister and not directly to me, and inquired if she wouldn’t  mind switching my seat, so they could see better.  She told them, in a very nice tone, no chance.    I glared at them, not that they could see my eyes through my glasses.  We were somewhat incredulous as to how obnoxious people could be.  The second show we saw was “Spamalot” and the man seated to the right of us, told my sister that her chewing was bothering him and his enjoyment.  She hissed at him and said something “snarky”.  I actually think as we left, she said something appropriately nasty in the hope that he knew it was directed toward him.  We have good manners!

In movie theaters, people seem to feel it is necessary to carry on conversations both during the previews and the movie, in what would be considered normal, not hushed tones as in “do you have a kleenex, this is so sad” but rather “So I said to ..fill in the blank…that if she thought….fill in the blank….” and so on, as though  the movie was secondary to her conversation.  I’ve had children pull my hair, people sit next to me despite the theater being empty (that’s another story for another time) and then there are the kickers.  I really hate the kickers but not as much as the people who guess out loud what is going to happen next.  You know who I am talking about…they are also the same folks who sit next to you on airplanes.

Enjoy the show.

Baby-Sitting

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As I write this, in a nearby room, sleeps about 22 pounds of energy, laughter and joy embodied in our thirteen month old granddaughter.  This is our east coast girl and we are  enjoying the quiet, after a few hours of entertaining and ministering to the needs of a little one.  Hanging out with someone who does  not yet use words means there are moments when it is like a game of charades, trying to figure out what has changed her mood, what she is staring at and whether she is tired, hungry or bored with my singing.  I know for a fact that my rehearsal for grandparenting was caring for my own children, and sometimes I forgot my lines and my patience was in short supply.

It amazes me that as I grow older my need to be doing “it” right (whatever “it” might be) diminishes exponentially.  When someone so little looks up and grins a toothy grin that makes you know you are doing it the way they need or want, it becomes the standard of measure.  It doesn’t matter whether you are acting like a fool, or that you are willing to copy any sounds that they utter  or crawl around on the floor, it all meets with approval.  It doesn’t matter that everything else that used to be important, is put on hold because my FHB and I finally get it….time has accelerated, our kids are adults and these little folks (both our east and west coast girls) are willing and available for loving and experiencing  life in this moment with us.  Children have no sense of time as that is a concept that it thrust upon them.  So every moment is freestanding.  The relationship is the connection between moments.

The caretaking is somewhat more daunting, and I am not that sure whether it is because I am older or whether I am more worried about messing up “someone else’s” child.  Having the trust of my child to watch his child is a tall order.  What I did when I parented many moons ago is less relevant to being consistent in caring the way I am asked to do.  It is learning respect for someone else’s system and honoring them for being excellent caretakers, which in the circle of life might just be a reflection of how they were raised.  It is actually such an eye opening experience to know that your child is truly a person who can manage to work, and caretake and be a partner and it all works well.  They already know more about letting certain things go and emphasizing the critical tasks of being available and present for their children than I knew.  It is kind of impressive.  There is also the sense that they are truly grateful for our help and participation in their daughter’s life and that it is not taken for granted and assumed.  All of a sudden the good manners and acknowledgement that seemed to pass me by during their adolescence, comes back a hundred fold.  I like these people. They are kind to us and kind to others.

I had a hard time sitting still when I had a baby.  I thought that everything was equal in terms of cleaning, laundry, and childcare.  I did little caretaking of myself and questioned  how I was doing as a parent.  I was a hard critic and concerned that I was juggling all I needed to, the job, the house, and the children and not doing it terribly well.  I like the current babysitting gig and know that somehow it has all synthesized itself into a pretty lovely system of checks and balances.  I guess the investment of time plus or minus the lack of or increase in life experience, all adds up to a lot of return and drooling kisses.  And you can take that to the bank.

 

 

Wonder-ful Women

 

 

The Bracelets of Submission are the metal bracelets that Wonder Woman wears that symbolize  the Amazon womens’ past submission.  The bracelets are indestructible and allow her to deflect dangers such as energy blasts, weapon fire and other risks.  They are part of what makes her powerful but it is her intellect that fuels her and protects her and helps her problem solve.  Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s power is similar but her power is in her pen driven by her intellect.  They have both had a very good week.  Wonder Woman’s fame continues to flourish through the newest film that demonstrates that her character, and all she represents, endures.  Justice Ginsburg celebrated a long overdue victory for gender equality in which Ginsburg cites her own work in striking down a citizenship law that treats mothers and fathers differently.  Both superheros.

I smiled quite a bit today reading about RBG (as she is called) and her newest triumph.  My FHB (as he is called) is currently reading and relishing her biography.  He becomes so elated as he reads (and then recounts to me) her journey from childhood to the Supreme Court. Thinking back to the biographies that I was drawn to as a child/adolescent/young adult I recognize that I was always reading about women who forged the way and seemed fearless and driven to do what is right.  They were historical figures like Clara Barton, Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth I, and Florence Nightingale.  I read stories about Amelia Earhart and Christa McCauliffe and women who led countries like Golda Meir and Indira Ghandi.  They were a lot of firsts who took risks.  Their courage and intellect were their bracelets.  My most favorite book was “Little Women” and Louisa May Alcott and her character “Jo” made me know and comprehend  that it was all right to step outside the comfort zone of gender and stereotype  if your vision for recognition was rooted in the belief that it could be the best for all.

I highlight the vision of women who have made gains for all people.  It was a good week to be aware of the relevance of change and the level of consciousness raising we are all often “forced” to acknowledge through tragedy ( e.g. “Pulse” nightclub) and victory in the courts. Telling stories through pop culture and comic superheros, as well as reading the stories of courage in all people who face challenges and yet pressed on, makes me feel like both an observer and participant in change.  Wonder Woman’s mission was to represent love, peace and truth.  Justice Gisburg would probably support all those values along with equality for all.  As Bob Dylan sings ….

Come senators, Congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

There’s a lot of “right” but there’s still a lot of “wrong”.  Interesting times.  Good to know we have some strong and powerful people, who just happen to be women,  leading the way.

Hot Fun in the Summertime

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Nine days and counting…to the last day of school, not including the weekends.  As folks in my circle, both students and staff would say…but who’s counting?….WE ALL ARE!  Love my job but knowing that it’s almost time to call it feels so good.  I have this ritual as the weeks count down. I keep a list on my nightstand of the things I want to attempt, places I want to visit, and experiences I want to experience between the last day of school and the first day back.  I still have some leftovers from last year but they actually don’t go bad and I roll them into this year’s list and my success rate of accomplishing is usually +/- 80%.

Most of the list involve solitary pursuits.  It’s not to be unfriendly, as I consider myself to be social most of the time, but part of recharging my own batteries, is knowing that doing things on my own will make me far more pleasant to be around overall.  In a helping profession, this is considered the “me first” remedy.  Some of the things under consideration might seem off beat, but that is for others to judge and me to find out.  I thought I would share some of them.  Here goes and they are in no particular order:

  1. Find foods to turn into dyes to paint.  I am curious about condiments and whether doing this will be disgusting or interesting. Dijon vs yellow?
  2. Try to find my pen pal from when I was ten. Elizabeth Feijoo of Manila, The Phillipines….if you’re reading this, you’ll save me a lot of research. Please write back.
  3. Getting my German Passport, since my parents were both born there and had to leave before WWII, I am entitled to have dual citizenship and my sister and I have decided to look into this as it is something we can pass down to our children.  Unclear if my FHB would be able to access this through me.  Could raise some interesting conversations.
  4. Read Moby Dick.  Have avoided this for many years.  Can’t live in New Bedford where it was written and not say you’ve read it.  It’s time.
  5. Go to the JFK Presidential Library in Boston to celebrate his 100th birthday. You can go online and sign a card.  Did that. Want to remember the good and not the tragedy.
  6. Want to go and see the St. Lawrence River and Seaway and see how the locks work. It’s probably dorky but I’ve been curious so time for a road trip.
  7. Try grilled tuna and/or swordfish.  I’ve had swordfish a few times and I didn’t like it but something tells me it was supposed to taste better than it was.  Never had tuna other than out of a can.  Seems like an adult food to consider.
  8. See if my FHB  and I can try a week of vegan clean eating.  Not sure if that will be before or after #7.
  9. Try doing shibori, the Japanese art of tie dying.  (hold over from last summer). Bought the supplies and they stare at me.
  10. Get my car detailed.  Never buy a light color interior. Even water stains.
  11. Swim in the ocean.  It has been too long and I want to remember how much I love to swim.  Planning not to drown.
  12. Visit Lizzie Borden’s house.  Fall River is just down the road.  I want to see if I get creeped out.
  13. See a couple of sunrises.

I’ll keep you all in the loop.  Enjoy your weekend.  Make your own list.