Consistent People

a business card-willie

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Today I am grateful for consistent people.  Remember how I’ve mentioned that people don’t change much through the years.  At that point I was referring to those in their 40’s who had the same attitude in their 60’s, but I recently learned it can go back much further.


In my high school, back in the 60’s, there were a lot of characters.  There were the mean girl(s), the “clique” girls, the smart girls, the nerd girls, the preppy girls and the regular girls who sort of bounced around everywhere, like me.  There were the “hood” guys, the brains, the jocks, the musicians, the rebels and the nice guys.


Showing up for a 50th class reunion is a trip all by itself.  I went to the pre-event party the night before with a good friend and we chose our seats at the bar carefully. We had a vantage point of everyone who came in.  “Who’s that?” we asked more than once, looking at all of those “old” people, knowing that we hadn’t changed one bit since 1968.  Ha-ha!  As our little group in the corner grew bigger with waves of recognition bringing them into our fold, we came to a quicker consensus.  It’s sort of like how Himself and I watch Jeopardy.  Pause – Discuss – Agree – Re-Start.


Back in the day one of the guys was so nice.  You know the kind.  Asking how you are.  Offering to help with something, just an “always there” nice, kind guy.  We had lost touch through the years, but someone connected us on Facebook a while back.  He would “like” something I wrote occasionally, but we really didn’t have a lot of contact until I wrote something about my dad.


“You’re dad really helped me out 30 years ago when I was starting my business and I’ve never forgotten it,” he wrote.  (Or words to that effect.)  Wow!  We’d respond back and forth a little, but not much more than that.


Sitting at the back side of the bar, I saw him walk in and waved.  Same kind eyes.  Same sweet smile.  Same guy who was so nice to everyone back in the day.  As he burrowed his way through the growing crowd I wondered if the card in his hand was his business card.


“I’ve been saving this for you for a long time,” he said, placing my gone-for-over-28-years, dad’s business card in my hand.  I was stunned, bawling like a lunatic on the inside and speechless on the outside.  Yes, me.  It wasn’t just a nice gesture by a nice kid, who has morphed into a nice man.


It was a visit from my dad.  And I really needed a visit from my dad.  Loud or silent, funny or mad, working or fishing, speaking with farmers or governors, my dad was the epitome of a consistent person. What you saw is what you got.  Each and every person was treated with the same humor and kindness no matter what their station in life or their own perceived self-importance.


Humor and kindness. Just like my consistent friend who saved my dad’s card for all of those years.  And gave it to me. . .to frame.

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Archived Writing – Class of ’68

a earring reunion icon

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Today I am grateful for archived writing.  Apparently my photos are still hanging over Lake Michigan looking for the right “cloud” to land in, because nothing is downloading.  Either that or the WWII bunker of a motel we’re staying in is blocking everything.  For whatever reason, unless I post them from my phone, they are useless.  No worries.


A long time ago, during the first talk about our 50th reunion, I wrote the following piece.  I’ve re-read it, tweaked it and decided to share it with everyone today.  If you’re as exhausted from all of that “fun” like I am, you can read it another time.  Or maybe I’ll publish it again, since I’m not officially old and won’t remember doing it this time.  That’s the great thing about archived writing.


By Mary Mooney

We graduated from high school in 1968.  Fifty years ago!  Fifty!  Our parents told us our lives were about to change forever and we thought that meant only great things would come our way.  We figured if there was no more big-footed Granny Gronseth or Mr. my-zipper-is-always-half-down, VanEss, or Jim Diamond strolling out of the bar on Union Avenue, that our worlds would be golden.  We didn’t have a clue.  Good thing.

Do you remember signing each other’s yearbooks “down by the lake”, swearing we will be friends forever?  That nothing would ever separate us or keep us apart?  Our parents might have forgotten their high school friends but we wouldn’t.  Not ever!

How did that work out for you?  Maybe you haven’t been to a reunion because your opinion is that you didn’t like any of us in high school so why should you go now and fake it.  Maybe it was you, maybe not.  Maybe we’ve changed.  Maybe you have.  Maybe we all should have.  It isn’t too late.  We’ve all weathered a few scars, on our bodies, in our hearts and in our souls.  You can’t live to be our age without them.  Scars are our bond to the future and we should wear them proudly.

I confess that for the last reunion I went early to the night-before cocktail party. Not to get hammered, necessarily, though knocking back a couple helped.  I sat on the back of the bar so I could watch the door and try and figure out how come there were so many old people showing up for MY reunion.   I didn’t recognize a soul.  Then my husband, whom many of you know as Himself, says, “Um, How many years since high school?”  I didn’t hit him.

In my seventeen years as a hairdresser I noticed something about the attitudes of people who are aging.  I had customers who were great in their 70’s and I did their hair until they were near 90 and they were still great.  If their attitude was good before, it just became more of the same.  That worked the other way, too.  If someone was a crab-ass in their 50’s they usually didn’t become less of a crab-ass in their 60’s or 70’s.

Where do you fit in?  Social media didn’t exist when we were young.  Knowing some of the crap I pulled. . .usually involving stolen alcohol in a quart jar and a jetty. . .I’m really grateful for that.  Imagine if all of our antics were recorded for posterity.  Half of us would be in jail and the other have would not have bailed us out.  Probably they couldn’t because their piece-o-crap car didn’t run half the time. . .unless six kids were pushing it into the Stardust on Buck Night, then jumping in the trunk.

It wasn’t until I joined Facebook that I realized how enduring the friendships from high school can be and how amazing some of us scarred individuals are.  Some of us have a little titanium in our knees, hips, backs, elsewhere; some have lost hair a few times from chemo; others have just lost it for good; some have had one major surgery after another; some are facing dementia and all the horrors that involves whether you are the one with it or the one caretaking; some have already died; and some are in nursing homes.  But we are too young for nursing homes.  Way too young!

We have one classmate who had a botched medical procedure and has been in a nursing home for years.  Another classmate would visit her.  Soon he brought someone else from our class along.  Then another, then another, then another.  It wasn’t long before there were several groups giving our classmate’s life more quality by taking her to movies, lunches and picnics.  They rallied for another.  Yes, our classmates.  From fifty years ago!

That empathy and character which is orchestrated by supporting one deserving classmate was learned a long time ago.  We have endured failed relationships, the loss of parents, spouses, or children and our own gentle, or not-so-gentle wearing down as we age.  Our lives may have changed forever as our parents predicted, but we haven’t.  Not on the inside where it really counts.   Our hair might be gray or thinning, or gone, but at our core we are still here.  If for no other reason, we should celebrate that.

Connect.  Reach out.  Keep in touch.  We are running out of chances. . . (yes, even the curmudgeons who think it’s all nonsense). . . to get it right.  Together all of our scars only make us stronger.  Great things are still coming to the class of ’68!   Just watch!

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Haven’t take a sledge hammer to my computer!


a lake michigan shot

Friday, September 14, 2018

Today I am grateful I haven’t taken a sledge hammer to my computer.  I want what I want, when I want it and that statement is most true when it comes to my computer.  It’s acting wonky and pissing me off.


Anybody who has ever read anything I’ve written knows that I write a lot and I post a lot and I tell way too much.  Ask Himself.  So now, when I’m back in my hometown, taking pictures like I work for National Geographic, the computer decides to act wonky and the damned cloud won’t download them and that’s a really bad thing since I am now in the town of the best chocolate malts in the universe and a stress (and every other kind) eater!  Charcoal Inn, stand back!  She’s comin’ in the door. . .AGAIN!


I’m a little particular about my blog because, well, it’s the only thing I have that’s truly mine.  Sometimes I get my ideas from pictures, sometimes from conversation, sometimes from a damned piece-o-dirt.  I never run out of ideas because I can usually twist that piece-o-dirt into a pertinent piece-o-writing. Then I get a picture of that piece-o-dirt and post it along with my brilliant prose.  I can still write, but the great pictures I’ve taken are refusing to leave my phone.


Okay, all you techies, just take a chill pill.  I am aware I need a new computer.  That also means I need $300, so I have neither. And I’ve already done everything my guru techie has told me to do.  Delete old pics and videos.  Delete the recycle bin.  Run whatever that thing is he put visible in my icons to clean up my memory. (Wish I had one in my head.) Update downloads, uploads and washloads.  Restart the computer.  Restart the phone.


Restart the car so I can get to beautiful Lake Michigan and throw the computer in the bucolic waves. . . followed by the phone and the 100 pounds I didn’t lose before my fiftieth class reunion. . .which is tomorrow!  A toss like that might be more satisfying that taking a sledge hammer to the computer.  Probably not.  If I ever get this all sorted out I’ll be back.  Lucky you.  Don’t hold your breath!


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a balderdash pic

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Today I am grateful for Balderdash. We played the game last night, but I’m talking about that word when it is used with great expression, to call bullshit when someone says something you find hard to believe.


Himself and were married 36 years yesterday.  Before I besmirch him, I have to say that Himself is one of the best story tellers I know.  First of all he never ever forgets a detail.  Second, he usually has a good sense of timing.  Usually.  And third, the man has never, ever forgotten a joke.  Ever.


But I have listened to his stories and jokes for so long that my eyes start to roll before he even gets the first word out.  Based on conversations we are having with other people, I know exactly which tale he will tell.  Sometimes I know he’s already told it to them.  Ten times.   Because where he never forgets the story, he rarely remembers who he’s told it to.


There are usually three versions.  The cryptic.  (He doesn’t do cryptic often) The basic.  (Necessary when people are trying to get out the door because they just learned their house is on fire and they must get the cat out.) The shaggy dog.  (His favorite.)  If I feel he’s heading for the shaggy dog length, droning on and on, losing his audience, I’ll poke him to speed it up.  Sometimes I’m subtle, with a gentle kick under a table.  Sometimes I give him the cranking hand, like I’m sharpening a pencil in the wall holder in third grade.  If he doesn’t pick up on my cues, I’ve been known to throw my head back like a gymnast and shout, “For the love of God speed it up before we all expire from the bloody wait!”


Look, he’s probably not boring the people if they are hearing the story for the first time because he is funny and clever and knows how to tell a story, so I definitely shouldn’t do that.  My bad.  But 36 years of this and we have earned the right for some shorthand and my shorthand needs to shorten his stories.  Often.


Last night, we celebrated our anniversary at my sister’s house.  She invited our niece and her husband over for a great spaghetti dinner and afterwards we played Balderdash.  One of the answers led to a discussion about Canada, which lead to Himself saying that his North Plainfield New Jersey Team, were called the Canucks, which led to him quietly declaring that their mascot was a Christmas Tree.  Say what? My head snapped around fast enough to get vertigo.


“I’ve been married to you for 36 years and you’ve never mentioned that your mascot was a Christmas Tree?” I asked.  “How is that possible?  Was it decorated?  Did it have lights?” The one liners from all commenced: “They didn’t have batteries back then.”

“Was it like Electra, the stripper in the play Gypsy?” “Did they run a long extension cord and then yank it back, making that tree fall like it was still rooted in the forest, just for kicks?”


We went on and on and the laughter did, too, until we literally could not breathe.  Any of us.  Except Himself, who, when asked who would be given such a task as to be the Christmas Tree Mascot, answered in a dead-pan, calm tone, “It was a girl who had a big scar on her face.”


I didn’t want to laugh because I’m not a mean person, but his sincerity. . .and timing. . .had us all on the floor.  “Oh great!  Make the poor girl who’s already suffering from issues wear the bloody Christmas Tree.  Who’s idea was that?”  What happens when she won’t do it anymore? “Wait, we need a new mascot!  Get the scar stencil.”

“All girls with scars line up for your audition.”  Or, “when she took the costume off was she shaped the exact same way as the tree, just like the Cone Heads on Saturday Night Live were when they took off their hats?”


We were awful.  All of us.  And funny. And it was a hoot.  And soon phones were coming out and research was happening and if you really want to laugh, Google “Ten Worst Mascots” and keep scrolling to the end.  Yikes! You’ll be shocked at some of the things we found.


Thirty-six years and there are still surprises.  I’ll take it! And yes, the Stanford University Band has a Christmas Tree for their Mascot. . .but there was nothing from North Plainfield, New Jersey in 1953.  My niece is on the task, so I’ll keep you posted.  But be warned I am more than ready to cry Balderdash to the whole thing.


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Road Trip

Alina in my hat

Friday, September 7, 2018

Today I am grateful for road trips.  And we are off on another one, so I don’t know when I’ll get back on to post a Heartprints  story.


I am very happy to say that we have laid eyes on all of our kids and grandkids in Pennsylvania before leaving.  For some reason that was really important to me.  I didn’t get pictures of everyone, so I decided to use the one from yesterday and the youngest is representing for the rest.  I did look into all of their eyeballs and it was great!


I’m packed, but it isn’t pretty.  One suitcase of clothes, one of accessories!  I might have to leave Himself home.  Or he might need to leave the magic home, or the golf clubs, or the fishing gear.  And I might have to get rid of the tackle box full of paints, the coloring books, gel pens and markers, books on tape, or the computer.  Not happening.


It’s all going.  I don’t know how, but it’s going.  Right now it looks pretty daunting.  The weather could change before we get back home so there is an entire suitcase of “clothing for cold weather”.  Geeze.  I should have mailed that one, since it’s still the frigging tropics here.


You know you’re getting old when you have a small duffel full of replacement medication for when the weekly, Sun-M-T-W-Th-Fri-Sat cases run out.  Holy smokes.  And I just now realized I didn’t put my makeup in a bag.  I’ll be like Eleanor Rigby, “keeping her face in a jar that she leaves by the door.”


Gotta go pack that makeup right now.   Don’t want to scare anyone. Play nice.  Wish me luck on this road trip!  I’m gonna need it.  Himself and I in a car for 18 hours.  Wish him luck, too!

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Today I am grateful for suitcases.  Ruby here for the last time!  At least for a while.  The suitcases are coming out and they are all over the place.  That means someone is leaving and it better be me!


I keep hearing about this awesome new house I’m going to live in but have I seen it?  Nope.  Not once.  The old folks saw it.  The kid saw it.  The parents saw it.  Does anybody bother to show it to the cat?  Nope!  It’s like I’m invisible here.


That’s why I took up residence in the middle of the crap they were packing up.  Do NOT forget the CAT!  I’ll be in that big black suitcase you shove me in when I go in the car.  And don’t forget my toys, my food, my tree, my food, my fluffy bed, my food, my litter dish. . .and my food.


And next time leave those suitcases open longer so I can get a decent nap on your clothes!  Geeze.  No one cuts the cat a break!  Ruby OUT!

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Passing on Amazing Lighting

a great lighting pic

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Today I am grateful for passing on amazing lighting.  Some families pass on great eyes, high intelligence, or a musical ability.  Apparently I’m passing on my love of great lighting and I couldn’t be more pleased.


Both local sons are in high-remodel on their homes.  One has lived with his family at his for many years, so they are finally making it exactly the way they want it to be.  It looks fantastic, even though it’s not done.


We’ve been getting photo updates from both of them.  The son who bought a house with his wife has done an unbelievable amount of deconstruction, reconstruction and painting.  He’s been exhausted, but they all finally slept there one night so all of his hard work is paying off.


We are leaving soon for an extended Wisconsin visit, so we got an early showing of the gut-remodel at the others house the other day. . .and even a meal, though I don’t quite know how they pulled that off.  “How does the oven work?” my daughter-in-law asked at one point.  My son answered with, “Look, mom!  The oven light stays on whenever you are cooking something so you don’t have to open it or turn on a light to check it out.”


“Grandma,” said the 15 year old granddaughter, opening the door, “This dishwasher plays music when you open it.”  Bizarre.  They are hoping they can turn that off, but I tried to adjust the annoying beep on my microwave (are three beeps really necessary?) but even with the manual all I could do was turn down the volume.


Both have made it a point to tell me how they are changing the lighting, with the destruction son talking about dimmers and pocket lights and the other son saying, “Look it!” as he flips a switch on the complete under cabinet lighting!  I am so happy for them and so jealous, since I’d light my house like a stage production if I could get away with it.


“I have ideas on how to use succulents on the shelves and help my mom arrange them,” said the granddaughter with the artistic eye.  Smart kid.  Later, when her mom was discussing what to do with them, I laid the ground work for that happening, telling her the ideas her daughter has.  Smart grandma, too.


It has been a hoot watching all of them step outside their comfort zones, deal with the ensuing clutter and mess, and make excellent designing choices.  I will never tire of watching my kids “discover”.   Especially if it’s amazing lighting.

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