The Grandma Chair

Monday, September 3, 2018

Today I am grateful for the grandma chair.  Notice I didn’t say “grandma’s chair” because the chair is me and not the structure I sit in.  I am the grandma chair and I’m happy to be here.


We’ve been watching our youngest, two-and-a-half year old granddaughter more than usual these days, while her parents ready their house to move in soon.  What a hoot.  I forgot what a sponge a little one can be.  She absorbs. . .and repeats every single thing a bazillion times a day.  It’s wonderful.  And exhausting.  And it’s got me watching my language which is a real challenge for me.  So I don’t watch the news when she’s here, which is the best.


She rarely gets cranky, but when she gets up from her nap, or is a little tired or out of sorts, I say, “Do you need some time in the grandma chair?”  She grabs a pillow and climbs up on me, in my recliner, tucking herself between my puffy legs in her own little nest.  If I put “Ice Age” aka “Acorn Man” on the TV she’s there for the duration.


After a recent zoo trip we stopped in the gift store so she could pick out two toys.  She got three.  C’mon, they were smaller than I expected so there.  She chose a little lion, a little bird and a little monkey.  The next day, while she was sitting in the grandma chair I started to crochet.


“What you doing?” she asked.

“I’m crocheting,” I said.

“What you doing?”

“I’m crocheting sleep sacks for your little guys.”

“What you doing?”


It goes on like this until I have one of the little sleep sacks done and shove the lion in it.  She is thrilled and starts tossing the others at me and grabbing the yarn bag to choose which yarn I should use for the others.


“This one, Gramma!”  By now she is turned around and sitting on my knee facing me, watching every stitch and tangling herself up in strings of yarn, trying unsuccessfully to re-wrap it around the original ball, which she finally just bunches up and shoves at me.



She still uses a pacifier sometimes and with all of the turmoil in her life these days, I don’t blame her.  I thought of getting one for me, but so far vodka and cake are doing the trick.  But when she has “pop-O” in her mouth and tries to talk I can’t understand a word.


When I’m done crocheting and all of the little guys have their sleep sacks on I expect her to leave, crawl off of me and go play with them. But she doesn’t.  She sits very close, staring at me.


“Iblsm uopbokor” she says.

“I can’t understand you with pop-O in your mouth,” I say.

“ilsm uopbokor” she repeats.

“You’re going to have to take pop-O out, sweetie.”  We play this game a lot.  She finally pulls it out, leans in closer and in a whisper, says, “I have boogers.” Like it’s the best kept secret in town.


“You do?  How do you know?” I ask, because I don’t see anything.  She whispers again, “I have boogers.  I need a tissue, please.”


I give her a tissue which she sort of rubs over her nose, producing nothing.  So she goes in there with a finger and pulls out said booger, holding it up for me to see, as if she needs to prove her point.  “Okay then,” I say.  “Wrap that thing up in the tissue and put it on my tray.”


Then she’s off, playing with her little animals, pulling those sleep sacks off, then desperately trying to get them back on, yelling, “I need HELP!” in frustration.  I show her how to do it again.  But when she can’t quite make it happen she clutches them all and climbs back onto the grandma chair, where all problems are solved.

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Genuine Respect

a death-respect slogan

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Today I am grateful for genuine respect.  It took me a long time to nail down today’s gratitude.  I was heading towards, honor, power, honesty, grace and a whole bunch of other words that could have applied.  But I chose genuine respect in combination to stress both words.  Too much?  I don’t think so.


I’ve been nursing a bad summer cold the last few days, but am committed to taking the littlest granddaughter to a small zoo tomorrow so I need to feel good fast.  That forced me to be “down” more than I wanted to be today.  After wasting way too much time on social media, then flicking through mindless TV channels, I stumbled upon the funeral of Senator John McCain.  Wow.


I did not vote for him.  Back in the day when he took Sarah Palin as his running mate, I thought he must have lost his mind.  But last night Himself and I watched a special on HBO about him and it was fascinating.  Biographies usually are.  They delve into a life in a much deeper, more personal way than a news brief can.


I didn’t see the very beginning of today’s service, but I sure saw enough to get a sense, to get a feel for what the overwhelming theme of the event was.  That’s where I got today’s gratitude.  Genuine respect.


How refreshing to hear people speak in honest, non-partisan ways about someone they respect.  What a joy to see people from different political parties, different walks of life, opposing viewpoints on so many topics, come together with mutual respect for one man.  I might not have voted for him, but I recognize the power he held. . .and I hope still holds. . .over what is expected of our elected officials.  To hear his last speech in the Senate and watch him vote down repeal of the health care act was powerful beyond partisanship.  His fearless honesty and strong-willed talk from his gut ratcheted him up pretty high on my respect meter this last year, too.


In the future could we please elect more leaders that we can genuinely respect?   No matter which political party they are affiliated with, I’d like to at least believe that they care about me and my petty little problems because I am a citizen of the United States of America, just like you are.   I have believed that to be the case with John McCain.  He cared.  About me.  About you.  No matter who you are.


There is something so dignified about the way our military presents themselves during sad events like today’s.  I don’t know Senator John McCain.  I don’t know any members of his family.  I only know that I cried real tears because the tribute was beautiful, honest and genuinely respectful.  Wouldn’t John McCain be happy to know that his memorial services brought those basics back?  You bet.  I hope the feeling lasts.


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Good Sportsmanship

a good sportsmanship cartoon

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Today I am grateful for good sportsmanship.  Look, nobody on earth enjoys losing.  It is human nature to want to win everything you attempt.  But that is not reality, so we need to encourage our children to be gracious losers as well as exuberant winners.  And many adults, too.


It’s a really tough lesson to learn and parents, coaches and sports figures are the best ones to teach it.  Unfortunately they forget and behave poorly themselves, sending the entirely wrong message to the kids.  I get that it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, making it difficult to contain your frustration over things that seem out of your control.  I get that way when I notice the entire bag of Lays, Cheddar-Sour Cream potato chips is empty and I’m the only one home.  “Who did that?”  “Why?” The doubts of a bad call ring in my ears.


I’ve recently seen way too many petty examples of poor sportsmanship.  From the top.  When we allow our own malicious spitefulness to keep us from accepting good advice and walk straight into bad decisions, it shows the world exactly who we are.  Shame.


On this morning’s news they played video of a female tennis player smashing the crap out of her racket.  Wow.  Now there’s a great message to send to our kids.  What happened to being a gracious loser?  Is it gone along with the rest of decent manners and dignity?


Maybe so, but not on America’s Ninja Warriors!  This is a show of tough competition, requiring amazing agility and strength, yet they consistently epitomize good sportsmanship.  When top players slip into the water very early in the completion, disqualifying them from further attempts, they bounce out and say, “I lost my footing.  Next year I’ll do better.”  And off they go to cheer on someone else.  It happens over and over and I have yet to see even one of them get angry.  Disappointed, yes.  Weepy, yes.  But not angry.  I wonder why that is?  Is it because there is no referee involved?  No judging?  You either make it or you don’t and it sure doesn’t have to be pretty if you do.


Good teachers, parents and coaches know that losing is part of the game.  They teach children early on that it does not make you inferior as a person to lose.  It’s just a game.  Everyone should not have to receive a trophy just so they don’t have to deal with disappointment.


Disappointment is a normal part of life.   So is good sportsmanship.   Do you I measure up?  Do you?

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a family clip art

Monday, August 27, 2018

Today I am grateful for families.  Aren’t families wonderful?  And big pains in the ass?  And really great?  And annoying?  And everything in the world they could possibly be?  They sure are.


And I don’t care if you are a family of one, with no other relatives alive, because if you have any sense at all you’ve pulled enough people in close to you to consider them “family of choice” which is one of the best kind of family.  I have a lot of those.  They are too close to just be friends and yet not related to me in any way except in the great ether of ideas, thoughts and dreams.  Love them!


We took our two-year-old granddaughter to the birthday party of the little boy I taught to swim this summer.  I know his grandma and mom from a group I attend and I’ve gotten to know his dad a little better from chatting with him before and after the swim lesson.  I don’t know them really, really well, but for me that isn’t necessary to enjoy someone’s company.


Because our little one takes a little time to warm up to strangers, I was sitting in the shade of the moon bounce with her while she played around on a large blue plastic car.  This gave me some distance to observe the party and got me started on head writing about families.


“Chocolate cake and what kind of ice cream?” the grandma asked a bunch of kids sitting at a picnic table.  She brings it.  “No!  I said vanilla cake and chocolate ice cream.”  Wrong cake.  Wrong ice cream.  No problem she goes and gets another.  It’s a dance done by grandma’s everywhere, but not a dance we did for our own kids.  With our kids we said, “So what if it’s not what you asked for.  Eat it anyway.  Children in China don’t even get cake!”  Or was that just me?  I doubt it.  Grandmas allow way more latitude for choice than we did as parents.


Watching the family of the birthday boy laughing and joking and just being together, was eye opening.  One of the aunts supervised the moon bounce.  From inside.  With six boys.  I couldn’t watch them because I was ready to barf from motion sickness, yet there she was, flying all over the place, sweating brick-bats, playing with those kids like she was only ten years old herself.  That’s family.


I love to be in the heart of things; at the core of good conversation; in the middle of the jostling laughter.  But sometimes it’s really enlightening to take a step back and observe. . .just watch a family interact.  It’s a game I play at every airport, train station or park.  I have played it literally around the entire world and in my humble opinion families are families are families, the same everywhere!


It doesn’t matter what configuration your family is.  It doesn’t’ matter if you have birth children, adopted children, step kids, or no children.  It doesn’t matter if you have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins or how many of all of the above.  It makes no difference if you’re gay, straight, married, or single.  It doesn’t matter if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish or agnostic.  It doesn’t matter if you have mixed races and nationalities from every continent in the world.


Whether a family of birth. . .or a family of choice, there will be cranky ones and quiet ones and nasty ones and happy ones and bozos and beauties, because that’s what a family is. And I am grateful for mine!  Every single one of them. . .even those I chose.



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Cat Talk

a ruby hiding in plant.jpg

Friday, August 24, 2018

Today I am grateful for cat talk.

Ruby here:

Just about as soon as the big evil, yellow beast left, the old woman silenced me.  Nothing.  Not a meow, purr or growl crossed her fingers.  That’s why I had to pee on the papers where she had my litter dish before that dog thing arrived.  I needed to get her attention so I could share what I’ve been enduring.


Now that the responsibility for entertaining the old folks is mine alone, I feel responsible to shake them up a little.  I used to climb high and fly through the house like a bat-shit squirrel.  Now I’m going low.  Hiding.  Everywhere.  They never know where I am.  Isn’t that a hoot?


Last night I climbed up on the chair that leads to the tower at the top of the living room, psyched them out and went low behind the chair.  The old guy was worried about me.  Sucker!  They also left that bedroom door open the other morning for a few minutes so I zipped back under that bed, which is dark and cozy!  I’m driving them nuts, which is my job.


This morning I decided to shake the old woman up a little because she had the nerve to empty the dishwasher before feeding me.  At six in the morning.  It can wait, bitch!  FEED the cat!  So to drive her nuts I decide to not let my feet touch the floor again.  She loves it when I do that.  I act like the floor is on fire and leap from one piece of furniture to another, knocking everything over and creating destruction.  Hey, that stuff is in my way, so I don’t even feel bad when it falls over.


The birds and bugs and butterflies and just plain “air” is moving around a lot today so I couldn’t wait to get to those big back windows, climbing right over the old woman’s head on my way.  Instinctually I’m a hunter, you know, so I channeled a few of my best jungle-fighter moves, hiding in the plants for camouflage.  Bet you can’t even find me.


Caught a fly.  One lousy fly.  It’s isn’t a bird, or rabbit, but it isn’t bad for a housecat of extraordinary beauty. . .like me!  Cat talk out!

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People Who Make A Difference


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Today I am grateful for people who make a difference.  I strive to be one of them and probably you do, too, but when recent potential pictures for my blog were lost, leaving me stymied today, I realized that it was a great opportunity for a shout-out to one of those people.


A friend I met on Facebook. . .who is now a friend in person. . .and is an amazing song-writer and performer, shared an experience he recently had in his hometown of Sandusky, Ohio.  What’s not to love when he’s another Midwesterner, growing up a little later than I did, but in much the same way.  And he writes about it.  Thus the deepest connection, except he is smart enough to have one book and be working on another.  Good for him!


Google Dan May to read his story.  Or get his book, “Adventures in Grocery Shopping. . .” available on Amazon, to get a clue about him, too.  The gist is that he started a career as an opera singer, went into the military during the Vietnam era and got cancer that ended the opera career and opened up song-writing and a more folksie sound.


As a part of their bicentennial celebration, the powers that be in Sandusky had the best idea and asked him to perform with their Firelands Symphony Orchestra.  To say he was honored is an understatement.  Hometown boy makes good!  Hometown boy comes back to share.  Hometown boy is still cherishing his hometown roots.  Perfect


I’m not sure when, but years ago he composed a song as a gift to The D.O.V.E. Fund.  They are a group of Vietnam Veterans who return to Vietnam to provide humanitarian aid.  Dan sang his song, “Dove” at their charity auction this weekend. Then they presented him with a plaque.  But that wasn’t all.


There was a video. And two screens.  And it sent me over the edge in the first minute because there scrolling on my little screen, were the beautiful faces and voices of dozens and dozens of Vietnamese children singing Dan’s song.  It is a treasure to me, so I can barely grasp what it meant to him done in such a big way.  Brilliant!


It made me wish I had another chance to live in Indonesia, where I would spend less time whining and more time helping the Indonesian children.  But it isn’t possible to go backwards.


I’ll just have to concentrate on throwing little pebbles of goodness into the big pond, like Dan does and hope they ripple out and touch someone in a positive way.  In the end, it’s what people who want to make a difference do.  Inspire!

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Clever People

a us at sellersville theater

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Today I am grateful for clever people.  Our local radio station has a wonderful summer give-away event and we made out like bandits.  We got tickets to a wonderful small zoo, a water park (gave those to a kid), tubing (traded those for theater), more to the small movie theater and also for several musical shows at a reginal venue.  We went to both of them last week.  Wow!


I’ve already waxed poetic (or not) about progressive jazz so I’m all done with that.  Literally and figuratively.  But last Thursday’s performance was just great.  I had never heard of Shawn Mullins, but more on that later.


Jaded by jazz and old and lazy, with hot, humid temperatures, we were not too excited about going to our second show in a week.  We decided up the ante and go to a diner first, which added just enough to make us almost enthusiastic.  Food does that.


At the theater I found our seats while Himself went to where even the Queen must go on foot.  As soon as I entered our row, the people in the row in front started chatting.  “We’ve been waiting for you,” someone I didn’t know said.  “Well didja think we weren’t coming?” I answered.  Another woman showed back up in her seat, turned and looked at me and I said, “Where in the Hell have you been?”  It was the kind of stranger-new-best-friends-forever banter that I love more than almost anything.  We were representing Telford, Lansdale, Doylestown, New Jersey, Perkasie and Old Forge.


All were huge fans of the featured performer, but first, the opener.  Annalise Emerick was great.  She had a clear voice and easy manner that set the tone just perfectly.  Performing is way more than just singing.  The banter and lead-ins to songs is almost as important as the songs themselves.  She handled all of it with ease.


Halftime send Himself back to his favorite room, but I wasn’t bored for one second because I now had 10 of my new best friends to play with.  By the time Shawn Mullins appeared it was a party atmosphere.  Sometimes it got a bit too Baptist Church for me with all the hand waving and arm pumping over the head, but it was still fun.  And he was good.  Really good.  And I appreciate exquisite guitar playing way more now that I have attempted “Eye of the Tiger” on guitar hero.  Geeze.  How does anyone know what they are doing?  Shawn’s gritty, deep voice was a perfect match with his amazing skill on the guitar.


It merits mentioning that the changing lighting for this show really enhanced the experience. . .and was more obvious based on the lack of it at that jazz thing earlier in the week.


I get it that probably even the performers don’t mind the use of cell phones to record because think of the publicity they get for free if each person posts to social media.   But I don’t like it.  Why do people come to a live event and hold their damned phone up to record every minute, thereby MISSING every minute? The same thing happens at anything we attend.  Take a picture for posterity if you must, but put your damned phone away.  It’s distracting to ME and I want the LIVE experience, not YOUR canned one.  We talked about this on the way home, having seen Greek singer, Nana Mouskouri many years ago and remembering every treasured moment because it was only being recorded in our hearts and brains.  And we haven’t forgotten. Put your phone away!!!


We enjoyed the evening so much it made me wish we had the disposable income to attend more shows.  And it’s especially nice when an evening is filled with not only great entertainment, but you are surrounded by clever people.  If you live anywhere in the northeast, Sellersville Theater is a little gem you should check out.  Their schedule has something for everyone!  Trust me!  Everyone!

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