Be A Good Grandparent

There’s so much of the world I don’t understand. A lot of it I don’t want to understand. A lot more than I should understand but I don’t.

I started this blog earlier, but it got so preachy and moralistic I couldn’t tell who really wrote it. So I wanted to try one more time.

I went to a Grandparents Day at my grandson’s school last Friday. It was a blast — there were soooo many grandparents there! We all were great moral support for the K through 5 group. Being on two different ends of the age spectrum, I couldn’t help but be invigorated by the enthusiasm and innocence and goofiness of those 50 years younger.

And I wondered.

Where does all this innocence and enthusiasm go?

We all are inundated with the madness of the world: politics, gangs, superstars, billionaires, mass murderers. The list goes on.

And I wondered.

Were these people ever innocent? Were they ever caring, giving, loving?

When did they take the wrong turn in the road?

I look at my own sons. They are different from each other yet they are the same. One is a controller, one works for a restaurant. One is single, one is married. They both have pasts I’m not 100% ready to know (as -I- have one they don’t want to know).  But they made it through high school and college, not much worse for the wear, and we still communicate.

I look at my grandsons. Will they buckle under the pressure? There are a lot of mean kids out there. All sizes, colors, ages and classes. It doesn’t take much to be mean; you can be merely spoiled or off center or just picked on yourself. Everyone goes through the ups and downs of puberty, but some get turned around so much that they never come out the same.

Women have unrealistic expectations thrust at them when it comes to looks and families and men are pressured by salaries and careers and showing up for their kid’s baseball games. We don’t make the rules — we just hear them from other people. We all are pressured to be more, do more, make more, live more.

What happens when more is not enough?

I looked at the innocence of the kids at school and envied them for the moment. For their moment would soon change. It has to change in order to deal with the madness grownups have created.

There are rewards to being older, of course. We know our way through the world, more-or-less know what we want from life, and eventually realize that it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks. Some of us get there at 30…some at 60. Some never get there, always worried about what others will think or say.

I hope my grandkids are spared most of that mind chatter. I hope all of the grandkids on Grandparents Day are raised in a stronger, more accepting world. Help when you can, don’t make bad choices, forgive and move on.

I never had a Grandparents Day — I never knew my grandparents, period.

I wonder if that would have made all the difference in the world. It did with my husband. His grandparents were heroes in his eyes. And no doubt they adored him back.

I hope I have the same effect on my grandkids.

 

Granny Goes Gaelic

Green sparkly nail polish. Check. Green sparkle newsboy cap. Check. Green beads with green plastic shot glass at the end. Check.

I’m getting ready to do my favorite thing in the world on St. Patrick’s Day — go to a Gaelic Storm concert.

Gaelic Storm is a great pub band that sings happy music and drinking music and brings the memories of my Irish mother to the forefront. Their musical output includes traditional Irish music, Scottish music, and original tunes in both Celtic and Celtic rock genres. It’s a great time, great music, and a great experience. Every time. The audience is a mixed bag of sexy girls and Irish boys and middle-aged wannabe Irishmen…

…and me. Granny.

I become the woman that is embarrassing to be around.

THAT woman.

The pudgy granny that wears all the cliche St. Pattie’s Day adornments, including this year an Irish-leprechaun-cat-riding-an-Irish-unicorn t-shirt. With hand-painted sparkles.

I don’t know what gets into me. My mother was a McCarthy, her father from Ireland. I was a shallow daughter — I never asked her about her family, her heritage. Nor her fears, her dreams, or her disappointments. I justify my inadequacy at knowing more about my parents to the times. My parent’s generation were not the chatty kind. I guess World War II and the Depression can do that. But I loved her dearly and I know she loved me, so that counts for something.

These days I try and make up for my shallowness by embracing the world my mother came from. I know it’s mostly imagination and fantasy, but there is a direct connection to Ireland in my blood, and I want her to know I’ll never forget.

So I dress in green and sing along with every Gaelic Storm song and pretend I’m in a pub somewhere in Ireland and my mother is not far hanging with her father from Ireland and mother from Scotland. I sing  and “Hills of Connemara” and “Tell Me Ma” and “The Night I Punched Russell Crowe in the Head.” I sway with the gentle ballads and clap until my hands are raw and always sit on the whiskey side for “Me And the Moon.”

The best thing about all this Irish nonsense is that, for one night, we are all one. We are not old or young or black or white. We are one vibration, one thought, one dream. We are simple people singing simple songs. There is no wall, no wiretapping, no conspiracy. All there is is music, love, and laughter.

No one looks strangely at the old lady with the sparkly hat; no one laughs at the green Mardi-Gras beads or the Irish Unicorn on the t-shirt. They see a dreamer, a fellow groupie, a singer of Irish ballads and bawdy drinking songs. We will all share a green beer and green heart and our souls will glow with Irish blessings.

And after all is said and done, I will hang up the hat and put away  the nail polish and hum “Kiss Me I’m Irish” while I drive to work. And I will leave Ireland — and my daydreams — behind.

At least until Irishfest in August.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

 

 

Get Together Now!

mihai-criste-tuttart-2Driving up north to our 10th (or so) annual Ski weekend has me thinking about family and friends and how important they are in my life.

Do you do any “annual” things with your family or friends?

You should.

We have our Polish Sausage Making Party every year — those that participate say we’ve been doing it for 15 years. I look back on my life and remember the girl’s shopping weekends we used to take just so we could stay overnight and drink and eat and gossip and not drive. Further back, I remember fishing trips I used to take with my family; sticking bamboo poles in the muddy bank, playing hide and seek in the woods, and whispering about the strange old hobo man that lived in this nasty little shack down the road.

I wish our minds held more memories, don’t you?

I know I went places, did things, with family and friends. I get glimpses camping with my oldest being only 1-year-old, of taking my in-laws to Las Vegas two weeks before my mother-in-law served divorce papers to my father-in-law. I vaguely remember spending a week out in Seattle visiting a girlfriend when I was younger, and another week visiting a friend in Texas.

But that’s all I remember.

I didn’t take many pictures back then. The cameras were clumsy, and who wanted to bring film to be developed all the time?

These days my phone camera is full. There’s not a get together I don’t try and snap, a sunset I don’t capture. And that includes this ski weekend.

As I get older I find I’m forgetting more and more — not so much a dementia thing, but I’ve got 560,640 hours of experiences in my head. A bit much even for a human computer to recall.

That’s why doing things with family and friends is so important. So many of us hide behind the ego’s judgement of “they should call me” or “they didn’t invite me.” So we therefore skip over thinking or calling or doing something with those who really make our life full.

I learned long ago that it doesn’t matter if I’m the one who’s always calling. So what? Some people have quirks in their personality that stand in the way of their desire to do the same. It’s the same with planning things. I’m always “complaining” that I’m so busy all the time, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Being busy means interacting. Growing. Discovering. You can’t do that locked up in your house behind a computer screen.

I encourage those of you who are on the bring of making plans to MAKE THEM. Don’t let whose turn it is spoil the possibility of a wonderful time. And wonderful memories.

One day your memories will begin to fade, and all that will be left is the smile that was created the day it happened. And if you’re lucky, that’s a hell of a lot of smiles to keep you going.

Happy Valentine’s Day

thIn going through my PPL (Past Post Library), I noticed I’ve never once written on Valentine’s Day about Valentine’s Day.

Why do you think that is?

I do have a husband that I’ve Valentined in my heart for over 35 years. I have two great sons that also deserve my Valentine, along with a sweet daughter-in-law, her great parents, two sets of great best friends, and my two Valentine grandkids.

But somewhere along the line I never connected my love for them with Valentine’s Day.

I know it’s a holiday created by Hallmark, another way to cash in on human emotions. Nothing wrong with that. Candy, flowers, heart-shaped cakes, all fall into the going-the-extra-mile for your sweetie. There are online articles about 10 Valentine’s Day Flowers and their Meanings, Celebrating Valentine’s Day with a Box of Chocolates, and other romantic inklings to set the mood.

The love of my life has never really given me anything for Valentine’s Day. And that’s been over 35 years. Am I insulted? No, not really. I knew 35+ years ago that he was not the roses and chocolates type. And that was alright. It still is. For most of my life there was so much more we could have done with the $50 he would spend on flowers or wine. My Valentine’s Day gift would be an extra pizza in the grocery cart or rent a movie from Redbox.

Times have changed. We are in a better financial place than we were 10, 20, even 30 years ago. Our Valentine’s Day money went to taking my grandson to see the Lego Batman Movie. That was fun — that was love.

Yet…

Three girls at work today had flowers delivered to them. Does that bother me?

Well, a little.

I could say that my hubby shows his love for me in other ways…

…he gives me money to go out and buy my own flowers.

I guess that’s Valentine’s enough for me.

Flash Fiction Dreams

41524-autumn-leaf-heartOctober is for Dreams

 

This flash fiction piece was inspired by my first novel (yet to be published), about a woman who drives through a cornfield, crashes into an old oak tree, and wakes up in small town 1880.

Was it a dream? Or did it really happen? Who is to say?

 

Pretzel Dawn

Her car streaks down the highway in the granite dawn, her heartbeat matching the thrum of the tires. Fluorescent pinpoints from distant skyscrapers become nothing more than blurred starlight as she madly races towards her destiny…a destiny she has waited to fill longer than she can remember.

A sliver of apprehension cuts into her thoughts. A foreboding, like a ghost crossing her path.  Why is it an effort to remember the number of the exit? Why does the city in the distance waver as if seen through crackled glass?

Metropolis turns into suburbia and then into country, yet she cannot slow down. Eventually the Buick veers from the concrete onto the tarmac of some long forgotten road lined with the skeletal remains of fall.  Her window is open, the last breath of night air chilling her, thrilling her.  It’s not far now.  Instinct drives her forward ― instinct and desire.  He is somewhere ahead, pacing on the dew-covered grass beneath the maple archway. Watching. Waiting. She senses the sparkle of his chocolate eyes, his scent of sweat and hay and the muskiness from his turn-of-the-century charm.

The road ahead is shadowed.  She doesn’t remember the giant oak tree on her last drive through this part of the countryside, nor the weathered barn in the distance.  She cannot remember many details of her last visit — but it doesn’t matter.  Her heart pounds faster as crimson streaks highlight the horizon.  She cannot bear to let him slip away again.  Not without a word, without a touch.  He is dark and deep, passion and fury, a flicker of days gone by. He said he would wait for her, and she promised to return.

The car’s acceleration slows, and tears of frustration well in her blue eyes. She is lost.  Too many turns. Too many distractions.  She cannot tell cliffs from moors, fields from meadows.  The dark crimson glow over her shoulder is now a soft magenta ribboned with blue.  She is running out of time. Hills to mountains to boulders along the side of the crushed gravel road, yet this has to be the way. The road twists in a pretzel design, dead-ending at a forest dark and primeval.  She drives to the maple archway at the edge of the wooded glen and stops.

He stands at the hedgerow, a masculine glow in the twinkling dawn. She fumbles and stumbles through the tall brown grass and into his arms.  She has made her way back through time. Her need reaches out to him in the pale light of morning, his response soothing and gentle. His loving words curve and twist around her soul and down into the abyss of her dreams, curving and twirling and tumbling and swirling until they slowly turn into echoes from a conch shell.  Eternity disappears in a starburst of angel wings, only to reappear as the soft drone of the morning alarm.

 Once again, she has returned. Awake. And alone.

 

Best Friends

my-friend-tamar20-28344922-795-595Do you have a best friend?

You know — someone who knows all your secrets, keeps all your secrets, and shares all their secrets. Someone who doesn’t care what you look like, how much money you have, or what you snack on before you go to bed. Someone who loves you, funky wardrobe, personal hangups, and all.

I look back on my life, and see a number that fit that description. A neighborhood girlfriend when I was small. A couple of girls in high school. Another who went with me to the dances at the Navy base in my very early 20s. Different jobs, different besties. 3 or 4 when my children were babies; one or two from my various jobs. I have been blessed to have had their friendship. I don’t talk to but a few these days, and even then a year can go by without a face-to-face meeting.

I have been thinking about all of this since my footing in Bestieland right now is not as solid as it used to be. Different callings often mean different directions. And sometimes the parameters of friendship change.

What does “best friend” really mean?

I am inclined to think the terminology and significance of it changes through your life. When I was younger it was important to have a “best” friend. That buddy that was almost attached to you at the hip. What you bought she bought. Where you went she went.

As you get older, your parameters change. You don’t necessarily need to be attached at the hip, but it’s great to have someone to drink wine with or go to hang at the park with you and your kids.

Different jobs through my life have provided different Best Friends. From grade school to high school to my file clerk job in my late teens to downtown Chicago in my late 20s to my besties when my children were babies — all were gifts in my life at a time when I needed them. These people came into my life for a reason. As I did into theirs. And often, when you have learned and grown from having this person in your life, it’s time to move on.

But does someone always have to move on?

I look back to my grade school years. L was my first real best friend — until she wanted to go play with A, who was older. My Great Lakes Navy Base besties married Navy men and shipped off to who-knows-where. C worked downtown with me, but when the company folded, so did we. D and L and J  and I were all besties when we were raising babies. Living near each other they hung together, but because I moved to another state, I didn’t.

Was I better off knowing all of them?

No doubt.

Were they all  my “best” friends?

Definitely.

As I grow older I understand why being best friends is a two-way street. You need to give and take. To support and clarify. To be willing to correct and be corrected. Best friends hold onto each other because their souls feel good together. And you don’t need to be attached at the hip, either. Just knowing the other person is a phone call away makes life a little easier.

My besties are at the same point in life that I am. Women who have learned and felt the things I have. Women who take me just the way I am yet encourage me to be much more. We laugh and cry and jabber together just like my friends and I did 40 years ago.

Einstein’s time line doesn’t exist for those whose hearts have connected. Whether that connection was years ago or yesterday. Let go of the ones who let go of you, and hold onto the ones who stay.

It’s not the space where best friends used to exist that matters, but the space in which they will always exist that makes you whole.

 

You Rock!

einstein-1When I started this blog back on April 18, 2011, I must have had 20 blogs already written ahead of time. That’s how excited I was. Before I started my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog, I probably had 10 or 11 artists on hold. That, too, shows how excited I was to get started.

Now days I am more of a on-the-spot blog writer, sharing the Goddess’s humor as she calls. Which is all the time. And my Art Blog’s collection is doubling all the time as I find more and more unique artists to showcase.

This is what creativity is all about.

Doing what you love. When you want to. Because you want to.

I don’t have an anniversary to celebrate, or moment in time to highlight today.  All I wanted to do was thank you all for supporting me, reading me, looking at my art. Telling your friends. Or just checking me out yourself.

I can’t believe there are so many branches to Creativity. I’ve talked to quilters, sculptors, painters, publicists, graphic artists, gardeners, writers, poets, photographers, calligraphers — all sorts of artists with all sorts of stories. Everyone has a different story, background, reason for exploring their creative side.

Think of the things you can create! Dragons, spaceships, murderers, gardens, parentless heroes, ghosts, musical prodigies, statues, symbols. You can change history, travel through history, interpret history. As an artist there is nothing you can’t do.

This is why I encourage all of you to “do your thing.” Know your base is strong and expand from there. There is no right or wrong when it comes to the arts. And the more you do it, the better you get at it.

I just wanted to take time to than you all. For your friendship, for your curiosity. And for your encouragement. I hope we hang together for a dozen more years. I hope you continue to enjoy my art and my pretzel-logic mind. You inspire me, and I hope I do the same for you.

Huzzah!